LCU Business Administration

Home of the Business Administration department at Lincoln Christian University, Lincoln, IL

Two things: the outrageous cost of bad writing and show vs. tell

Life Skills, ClassroomMichael GowinComment

My AD101 Introduction to Business students were preparing résumés the other day. We talked about the things that matter to employers besides the job-related skills: trustworthiness, integrity, punctuality, a demonstrated ability to work well with others, and good communication skills.

What are bad communication skills—in particular, sloppy writing—costing businesses? About $400 billion every year.

We also mentioned the importance of "show, don't tell" on your résumé. Don't tell me you're trustworthy—show me. How? You can tell me, "I'm trustworthy." Or you can show me by saying you made the nightly bank deposit for the retail store you worked in. Showing carries a lot more weight.

And that works in everything, not just résumés.

Take these things to heart and you'll have an easier time finding and keeping a job. Or, if you own and run your own business, winning and keeping clients.

Two quick tips to rock your job interview

Life SkillsMichael GowinComment

You know you need to make a great impression on your job interview—but how do you do it?

Here are two quick ideas:

  1. Set hooks — A hook makes you memorable (Chip and Dan Heath might call it sticky). When an employer is interviewing a lot of candidates, you need to stand out. According to Jeff Haden, "Your hook could be clothing (within reason), or an outside interest, or an unusual fact about your upbringing or career. Hooks make you memorable and create an anchor for interviewers to remember you by—and being memorable is everything." You might be "the guy who did an internship in Estonia" or "the girl who started a rabbit yarn business." Whatever—but come up with something that helps define you.
  2. Ask what they expect in five years — Interviewers commonly ask, What do you expect to do in five years? So turn the question around: "What does a successful candidate in this position look like in five years?" If you're hired, this will give you a clear idea about what you'll need to do to succeed. If, on the other hand, they can't give you a good answer, you may find yourself struggling in the organization—simply because they don't know what they want.

Thanks to Nate Officer and Andrew Beatty, who just completed the AD292 Business Communication class I taught this fall. They raised these fine ideas in class.

What did you learn today?

Life Skills, ClassroomMichael GowinComment

If your answer is, “Nothing,” you didn’t try hard enough.

Learning isn’t something that happens; it’s something you do.

At school, you can learn from your classes and teachers—or in spite of them.

At work, you can learn from your boss, your co-workers, your customers—or in spite of them.

Pick up a book

Take a walk outside.

Watch a TED Talk.

Watch people.

Join a reading group.

Listen—really listen—to your colleague, your child, your spouse, the checkout clerk.

Pay attention.

Ask questions.

Be curious.

There’s always something you can learn.

So—what did you learn today?

Extra credit: what did you help someone else learn today?

Is It Really About Talent?

Life SkillsMichael GowinComment

When you see someone doing something well—playing basketball, performing an instrument, killing a presentation—you usually say that person has “talent.”

But nobody picks up a basketball and starts hitting free throws 90% of the time.

No one picks up a violin and starts playing the third movement of Brahms’ violin concerto.

And no one is talented enough to trot up to a stage and present like Steve Jobs.

People who do those things get there with a lot of practice and hard work.

It’s skills vs. talent.

And research shows persistence trumps talent.

The most successful people consistently put in the effort and do the work.

Coaches, parents, teachers—stop telling kids and students they’re talented when they do well. Instead, praise them for hard work.

And young people: keep trying when you fail. It's the only way to get better.