Feb 13

5 Ways to Avoid Getting Blindsided in Meetings

BlindsidedBusiness meetings are often political events where unsuspecting participants can get the wind knocked out of them. I specialize in coaching people to successfully handle meetings. If you want to be an expert meeting participant here are 5 things you should do before attending.

1. Question why you were invited.

You would be surprised how many people accept meeting invites without questioning why they were invited in the first place. I have learned that most meetings are strategic battles where one small group exerts influence over the decision making of the entire group. If you go into a meeting without knowing the true agenda or what is at stake you might find yourself agreeing solutions without understanding the ramifications of your choices. Whenever you sign off on a decision your name gets attached to it. If it goes terribly wrong your boss is will want to know why you supported the decision in the first place. A couple of misses like this can negatively affect your reputation.


2. Determine the outcome you want ahead of time.

Identify in advance how attending this meeting will benefit you. Otherwise you’re wasting your time. And time is the one thing that you have in limited supply! Write down what you might gain from the meeting. For example; resources, political clout, insight or advancement. And the negative consequences of not attending. Remember, “office politics” are embedded in most every business meeting. So attending just to be “seen” can be a worthy strategic move. (Tip: Consider only attending for the parts of the discussion that relate to your work.) Read the rest of this entry »

Feb 08

3 Reasons to Beware of Meetings

Beware of MeetingsBusiness meetings are dangerous events. Make no mistake, no matter how mundane the ones you attend may seem, there is always a sub-plot at work. Think about it, if the agenda items and desired outcomes were crystal clear to management they could simply send a memo. And if employees believed  in the competence of management they would read it, follow the instructions and follow through accordingly. The truth is we call meetings is because the items on the agenda are not clear and employees do not believe in management. Against this backdrop the typical business meeting can have negative effects. Here are 3 reasons why.

1. They are time hogs.

Most meetings are slotted for 60 minutes and have no formal agenda. The meeting organizer reads from a notepad of scribbled items. Because the meeting participants aren’t aware of the discussion points a lot of time is wasted explaining what needs to be talked about. Meetings like create more questions than answers end without decisions being made. There’s an hour you won’t get back!  Even meetings where an agenda is present miss the mark by closing without strategic decisions being made.

2. They give you extra work.

Meetings are organized around business issues. Employees come together to discuss these issues and management expects solutions. If these items fell easily into the responsibility of a department or an individual then they would be assigned and that would be that. But they don’t fall neatly anywhere. They represent work. Work that somebody has to do. And if you’re in the meeting while these issues are being discussed chances are that “somebody” will be you.

3. The can make you look foolish.

I have been in many meetings where managers are put on the spot to report on the work of their department. It amazes me how poorly many of them respond to this simple request. What’s even more amazing is when a professional stumbles through the agreed upon weekly report or business update. Meeting participants often roll their eyes, check their blackberries or start doodling instead of watching their colleague squirm. You know who is going be the topic at the water cooler later on!

Jan 27

5 Ways To Get Noticed At Work

Stand Out

Good news. The US Economy is coming back! Corporate profits are up, inflation has slowed, lending requirements have eased and gas prices are $2.00 a gallon. WOW! Even the website Profit Confidential, in the midst of their usual tirades, had to admit things are going quite well.  All this upward momentum  might just trickle down to your company creating advancement opportunities for greater numbers of employees. You will need to boost your profile to be one of the chosen few. Here are 5 ways to get yourself noticed.


1.  Adjust your priorities

Face it, upper management doesn’t have any idea what you’re working on. And if it doesn’t align with what’s important to them they probably don’t care. As much as we may think that corporate executives don’t know what’s going on, they do spend an inordinate amount of time coming up with business goals and targets. The way to get their attention is to make what’s important to them, important to you. Look at all of your goals and prioritize those that support the goals of your executive team. When you report out on your work frame it with the stated business goals. This makes upper management feel like you “get it”. You understand what’s important and you make it a priority.

2.  Lead on trends

We’ve all heard of Big Data. Well big data can be a big problem. There is so much information out there that it’s hard to keep up with it all. Your supervisor and those above them aren’t always plugged into the next greatest thing. You to have you finger on the pulse of the next greatest thing and also know what other businesses are saying about the greatest thing. The goal is to be relevant. You want to in-the-know with everyone else during both business and casual conversations. People in whatever business you’re in expect you to know what’s on the horizon. Think about it, why should you be promoted if you don’t know what’s going on?

3.  Strategically Participate at Meetings

Following on from point #2, be mindful about what you say in meetings. Meetings are dominated by two types of people; the people who just can’t wait to say something and the people that can’t wait for the meeting to end. You want to stand out among your colleagues by always adding value to the conversation by contributing valuable information. Ensure that your comments either advance the conversation or present valuable information. And whatever you do, don’t parrot back what someone else has already said. No matter how brilliant it may be!

4.  Get on key committees

Every company that I’ve worked for has set up cross-functional teams. These teams get a lot of regular work done by bringing diverse talent together. However, a select few have high profile deliverables. You want to find your way onto those select teams. Participation can quickly put your talents on display to influential audiences and top executives. Positive press gets you noticed and helps you advance.

5.  Know your numbers

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched managers squirm when senior executives ask them about their “numbers”. All business work is numbers driven. Numbers relate to activity. Activity relates to money earned or money spent. The top brass is interested in both. When you are asked about your “numbers” what you are really being asking is “How valuable are you to this business?”. If you don’t know the numbers then you can’t prove you’re adding value. And if you’re not adding value, how do you expect to advance?

Jan 17

3 Sites to Boost Your On-Line Presence

Job Hunting

If you’re looking for a new job in 2015 you’re gonna have to get creative. The Internet and Social Media have changed the way companies find talent. Interestingly enough, once you get past the recruiter and into the interview not much has changed. Some of my coaching clients have reported to me that the questions interviewers are the same old ones from 20 years ago!

“What’s your greatest strength? …your greatest weakness? …your biggest accomplishment? …Why are you looking for employment at this time?” 

Like I said, once you get to the interview it’s all familiar territory.

Getting in the door of a company can be tricky. Employers are using LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media sites to learn more about their candidates than what their resumes show. But there’s more to you than your resume! Plus resumes are static. They are a snapshot of you at the moment. Aren’t you evolving all the time, taking on new responsibilities, expanding your skills and making new connections? Your resume is outdated long before you get to the interview.

Since employers are trolling the internet anyway give them something that sells the complete YOU! Here are 3 sites that can help.


This is a paid service that creates a collage of your social media posts. You can highlight a picture of yourself then have your social media activity stream onto your page. It’s like an advertisement to your potential employer letting them know who you really are and what you’re interested in. Hopefully what you love is something that your potential new boss is excited about too!


Very cool free service. Your face or full body shot or professionally taken photo is front and center on your personal site. Put a great image of yourself there. Your potential employer will recognize you at the interview in an instant. “Oh yeah, you’re the guy who loves…..” Talk about breaking the ice! Now you can easily launch into a conversation about your interests then transition into talking about the job.


This tool allows you to bring your work history onto your personal page. So not only will the potential employer learn about who are they will also get your work experience all in one place. Sweet! Be sure to include your accomplishments in your work summary. Potential managers like to hire a winner!

Good luck with your job search.

Jan 06

Dang, it’s 2015 now what?

Live Your Dreams 2

I have friend who’s turning 50 this year. He’s stressed because he feels his life is half over. He’s raised his kids. One is doing well. One is struggling a little. Both are in their 20’s. Both live on their own. He’s settled in his career and started pursuing an advanced degree. He lives alone. He questions what’s left for him in this world as a single guy with few responsibilities.

My answer…


He actually said to me out loud; “I’m already in school, I’m comfortable at work, the kids are pretty much ok.  What’s left?” You gotta be kidding me! If it were me I’d launch 2015 by  spelling out all sorts of crazy and wild things I’d have to do before kicking the bucket. I’d pressure my kids to tell me what the heck they plan on doing with their lives. Just so I can decide if I’m staying put or moving into a studio apartment in NY City! Hmmm….maybe I’ll move someplace warm of live abroad for a while.

In 2015 I’d take Spring Cleaning seriously. How much stuff does one dude need anyway? If I didn’t use it in 2014 chances are I don’t need it. Feels like there’s a garage sale or an “in-front-of-the-stoop” sale in my future. What’s left over goes right to the Salvation Army. They pick up!

There must be something that I’ve put off doing because I was too busy working and raising kids. Let’s do some research and get into that. Try something new to expand my mind. Take on a health and wellness project. I’ve heard that a sure-fire way to slow the onset of memory loss and debilitating health is continuous stimulation of mind and body with new things. Sounds like a plan to me!

I could go on.

After a while my friend admitted that there were a couple of things he could do differently this year. Hopefully you picked up a few ideas yourself from this post. Or maybe you’re stimulated to investigate other things. Either way, make 2015 an exciting year. It’s all yours and it’s right her in front of you!


Dec 29

5 Reasons to click “Unsubscribe”


Tis the season for eNewsletters, eAnnouncements, eUpdates, eDeals, eDiscounts, eSpecials and all sorts of other “e-nesses” that you subscribed to all year. Remember when you subscribed to them? These convenient alerts were meant to keep you informed and save you time. Great idea then. A year later they’re jamming up your Inbox and sucking the life out of you. If you’re like me you have to clean out your Inbox from subscription based announcements twice a day. Just clicking Delete on each one can take 15 minutes. At times I spot a subject line that appears interesting and I’ll explore a bit further. Now I’ve spent 30 more minutes on useless information. UGH!! Nine out of ten times, the content provided or the offer presented is pretty useless.

I recently overheard a colleague say; “I’m going to unsubscribe to everything and start over next year.” That’s actually not such a bad idea. In the spirit giving here are 5 reasons you should follow his lead.

  1. Automated eSubscription messages clutter your Inbox. They are like the commercial that you invited in one time that keeps getting replayed randomly throughout your work day. Who needs that?
  2. You can waste up to an hour sifting through and deleting useless messages. I’ve spent hours trolling through messages, clicking onto websites and filling out registration forms in search of the Pot of Gold, only to come up empty time and again. What a waste.
  3. Chances are you can’t remember why you subscribed in the first place. When I looked closer at my eSubscriptions I could hardly remember why I signed up for them in the first place.
  4. You can always get them back. Yep…these companies aren’t going anywhere. If you really need their information you can always subscribe again. No harm…no foul.
  5. The subscriptions you really need will quickly become clear. First “unsubscribe”. Within 30 days you will know which ones are important. Simply subscribe to again. The others….what others….?

Here’s the best part. Once you have purged yourself of  eSubscriptions you’re free to re-subscribe in a meaningful way. Before signing up for new ones or renewing old ones ask yourself; “Why do I you need this subscription?” and “How do intend you use it going forward?” These two little questions could mean the difference between a manageable Inbox or an overcrowded one.


Dec 28

Happy Birthday To Me

Happy Birthday

Birthdays are always a reflective time for me. Maybe because I was born so close to the new year. Maybe because I’m always on some “self-improvement” kick. Maybe because I have more questions than answers. Regardless I like to hope that each year I’m better off than the last. So to put myself over the top in 2014 I’m launching a new theme for my blog. I’ve been blogging now for over a year and I think my initial look needs a face lift. I chose a theme that displays images better and highlights post information in a more consistent way. In 2015 I plan to increase the frequency of posts and add guest authors in an effort to provide a variety of  relevant content to help readers live their dreams

Also in the works is a home page that describes other services that I offer like  Executive Coaching, Leadership Training and Program Assessments. I’m still working on some of these elements so only the blog portion is being launched today. But I’m excited about the direction that PiVI is going. Keep visiting regularly there’s much more to come.

Happy Holidays!


Brian Dunn

Dec 22

The Procrastinator’s Christmas

Gift - Red and Ornaments

December 22nd and you still haven’t finished Christmas Gift Shopping. Well I’m here to help out those procrastinators out there with 3 gifts ideas guaranteed to please the last few adults on your list.

1. Gift Box Subscriptions. Boy oh boy was this one a lifesaver for me this year. Surprise them with a box of unique grooming and cosmetic items picked fresh each month. These cool boxes have toiletries, cologne and even a gadget in the men’s version. You can order 3, 6 or 12 month subscriptions. To me the best value is 3 months. It gives them a taste of the subscription then the giftee can choose to keep up the subscription on their own. BIRCH BOX

2. Give an eBook. I discovered this while coaching one of my clients. We were talking about reading resources to help him with leadership development and I suggested a few titles. He was eager to get going right away and I wanted to gift him his first resource. I was all set to send out a hard copy of one of my favorites the next morning. Unfortunately that day and the next 5 got away from me. By the time I remembered his book it was a week later. How could I get him the book he needed right away? Send him an electronic version of the title from Amazon.com. Find some great titles at AMAZON EDITORS PICKS.

3. Tickets to an  Eat-In Movie Theatre. Before you turn up your nose at this one consider a “Date Night” where you bring the kids AND leave the kids at the same time! You arrive at the movie theatre and send  them on their way to watch a movie and get some grub while you go your way to watch yours. On top of that they get to eat their favorites movie food with a soda – while you get to eat yours with a cocktail!  AMC Theatres satisfies both audiences; FORK & SCREEN  for teens and CINEMA SUITES for adults. Give 4 tickets to your favorite family and watch 8 arms hug you!

Happy Holidays my friends. Well it will be after you buy these last gifts. :-)

Dec 17

3 Important Pre-January Questions

During the holidays you might find some down time to think about next year. Most people create New Year’s resolutions and set personal goals in the first weeks of January. This could be a stressful time as people expect you to have something to strive for next year. Take some of the edge off this process with these three reflective questions.

Take out your 2014 goals then ask yourself these 3 questions;

“Is this goal still valid?” Sometimes we make goals based on specific conditions. Twelve months later those conditions may not exist. Try not to carry goals into the new year that are no longer relevant. As creator of your goals and the master of your destiny you have the freedom to leave the bad ones behind! Make room to add truly exciting goals to your 2015 list.

“Am I still excited about this goal?” The more passionate you are about your goals the greater chance you have of achieving them. Steer away from goals that are thrust upon you. They produce anxiety and are quickly abandoned when you’re stressed. Even well intended goals like losing weight or changing your diet because “the doctor said so” can be hard to achieve if you’re not passionate about them yourself. Add these goals after you have created the 2015 goals that you’re really excited about. This way you enter the New Year with renewed energy and great expectations.

“Where do I want to be in March and in June?” One of the easiest ways to procrastinate is to focus on the entire year. Here’s a typical procrastinator conversation…

“Twelve months is plenty of time to get things done. What’s the big deal if we waste 2?
“Ten months is still a lot of time to get things done. I’ll get energized in the Spring.”
“Ok, now I need to get moving! I have 7 months to reach my goals.”


You see where this is going. Before you know it you’re shopping for Thanksgiving Turkey! Set interim targets. It’ a great counter-strategy to procrastination.

Use these three questions when you begin working on your 2015 goals. I’m sure you will achieve more by using them.

Dec 15

4 Reasons to Abandon Your 2014 Goals


Ahhhh….it’s that time of year again. We are firmly into the holiday rush. How much can you possibly fit into these last few days of 2014? Um, probably not completing your goals. Listen, if you’re not close to finishing them off  already, you’re better off abandoning them until next year. Here’s why…

1.  Anything that’s not more than 95% done you won’t be able to finish. This is just simple math folks. We only have 2% of the year left. Face it…you’ve run out of time.

2.   Anxiety over achieving your goals will ruin the Christmas party. Don’t be the  poor loser sitting in the corner of the room lamenting what you haven’t completed for your boss while the office slacker is dancing on the table with mug full of eggnog. “…it’s fun to stay at the Y M C A….” Isn’t it funny that both these you guys will have a job in 2015? Take the hint. Enjoy yourself while the buffet is open and the free drinks are still flowing!

3.  Your performance review is already baked in your boss’ head. If you haven’t impressed him all year, attempting to do it now is like picking up a winning lottery ticket that someone accidentally dropped. Not gonna happen!

4.  Santa won’t be evaluating you on your goals. Shoot, he doesn’t even know what they are.

Here’s my advice. Enjoy the festivities, go to every party, dance with people you know and some you don’t. Eat, drink and be merry. Gorge yourself on the good times now because come January 1st you’re gonna be very busy!

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