Quest Milestone 50 – Microsoft Premier Career Advisory Program – Minneapolis

James Gray - CSF MinneapolisOn November 4th I had the pleasure to lead a career strategy workshop for the Microsoft Premier Career Advisory Program (CAP) in Minneapolis, MN.   Each year Technical Account Managers across the Premier business are selected for this one year program to strengthen their career and receive coaching feedback from leaders.  The Fall conference is an opportunity to define a career strategy and development plan that is then executed up to the Spring conference.

Premier CAP Nov 2014I became affiliated with the Premier CAP program in March 2014 after a speaking event in January to a Premier team in the Redmond area.  After hearing my presentation they thought the Career Strategy Framework would be a great foundation for the program.   I then went on to a speaking event at the Spring conference in Bellevue, WA on March 27, 2014.   The CAP opportunity came about after the Microsoft Global Women’s Conference on October 23, 2013 where a Premier colleague attended one of my speaking tracks.

My experience is that the Career Strategy Framework can require a lot of deep thought so at the Fall conference I provided attendees a Microsoft OneNote notebook that included theory and questions for each step.

All attendees were required to create a career deck that is then presented to leaders for feedback at the conference.  The goal of my session was to enable CAP members to refine and enrich their career strategy leading up to the Spring conference.

My aspiration for CAP members is that the framework concepts will ensure a strategic lens to both their career and life.

I will return for the Spring conference in Dallas, Texas in March 2015 to assess progress and support CAP members on their journey.


Quest milestone 55 – SMSG Women’s Learning Circle

James Gray's Career Strategy Framework Quest

My quest to share the Career Strategy Framework with enough people to fill a football stadium continued today with a Microsoft Sales, Marketing and Services (SMSG) Women’s Learning Circle lunch in Bellevue, WA.

Stop #55 on this journey safely puts me over 2,900 people I have connected with to share how a strategic framework can help you lead a life that has intentional outcomes.

During our hour we explored the key concepts of the framework processes and how they built on each other.    Fellow colleagues confirmed that self-reflection and soul-searching in “Know” was something that would take time and focus outside your normal routine.

I reinforced the need to articulate a clear value proposition during “Target” to focus on a market opportunity that aligns with your strengths.  Refining the value proposition would also make it easy for potential buyers to understand your offering.

We continued the journey to “Plan” by viewing a sample career roadmap that identified potential pathways.  This setup “Develop” that reinforced the need to architect a learning plan for your current role and learnings that would enable your next transition.

Every product needs great marketing and “you” are no different.  “Sell” reinforced the need to deliver your marketing message using a mix of channels that would reinforce the value proposition that was articulated in “Target”.

Running the length of the framework we discussed how the “Relationship” process would engage others in shaping and supporting your career strategy.  We closed by seeing how “Insight” was critical to taking stock of where we are on the journey of life and being conscious to make the necessary adjustments.

I reinforced that the Career Strategy Framework is not a silver bullet but a mindset for learning how to adapt to our changing needs and the world around us.

Career strategy is more than just who we are at work so I encourage people to engage those special people in your life on shaping and supporting your strategy.  It’s not about perfection, it’s about charting a course and making the most of each day.   Answering many of the questions posed by the framework will enable you to quickly make choices throughout a day and align your time to those intended outcomes that represent happiness.

I closed with a short story on an unintended journey that I started in 2008 by mentoring fellow Microsoft colleagues and helping people apply the concepts of the Career Strategy Framework.  What started as a hobby has taken on a life of its own to places I would have never imagined.

Sometimes we find out a life purpose later in life in ways we never intended.  But when we do we are convicted to live it each day.   I keep on spending time here because it keeps me true and accountable to my message.   The best of all I get the opportunity to meet some amazing people during my quest that have helped and inspired me.

This evening I was delighted by an email from one of the learning circle colleagues inviting me to speak at another Microsoft Women’s 100+ event in January or February.   The quest continues with 4 more planned stops in early 2015!

One of the best things you can do for yourself,  your organization and your relationships is to refine your career strategy for 2015.   I believe anything is possible when we take personal responsibility for our career and life using a strategic framework.  What is stopping you ?

Career Strategy speaking tour at Microsoft last week

Last week I took my first road trip to talk about the Career Strategy Framework with my fellow Microsoft colleagues at the Make It Happen Career Conference in Mountain View, CA.   A day later I spent the morning speaking at a career advisory program in Bellevue, WA.

Microsoft Silicon Valley Make It Happen Career Conference

This side job has become a personal passion over the last few years to help people take a deliberate approach to the one life we live and how careers can fit into an overall strategy.  I delivered two presentations at the Mountain View, CA and Bellevue, WA events.

Self-Knowledge - Driving Career Strategy from Within

Career strategy starts from within.  My first presentation was based on the Know and Target processes of the framework with the following key messages:

  • Know what’s important, who are you, who you want to become and be remembered for to guide your career strategy. It all starts from within.
  • Our career is one part of our life story. Plan and manage your career in that broader context to bring balance and fulfillment across all of the roles you play in life.
  • We live one life and it’s not forever – lead, love and let go.
  • Strategically apply your time, talent and treasure to a target where there is a market opportunity that aligns with your profile to create a compelling value proposition.

Developing and Selling Your Own Unique Career Path

My second presentation was based on the Plan, Develop and Sell processes of the framework and how the Relationship and Insight processes help navigate the strategy.

  • Plan and deliver on short-term priorities to create momentum and outline a hypothesis on future roles to guide competency development and relationship building.
  • Develop competencies that reinforce your current value proposition while strategically adding skills you will need in advance so that you are ready when opportunity knocks.
  • Your product needs great marketing – Sell your message consistently across multiple channels to create demand and reinforce credibility to your value proposition.
  • Telling your career and life story to others is the best way to create an emotional and memorable connection to your relationships so they can help you achieve your goals. That’s essential since people are not mind readers.
  • Integrate insight to guide your day and journey as the complexity of the one life we live is too precious to be left up to chance alone. Use your heart, soul and data to adjust your approach before it’s too late.
  • Commit to daily habits that accrue value to the critical success factors and desired outcomes of your life. Experiment with strategies to move your key metrics.

James Gray - Career Strategy Framework

Our career and life journey is only possible through the support of a partner that is committed to a shared vision of what the future holds.   We in turn need to support the career and life goals of our partner.   Life happens and there be successes and failures.   Our needs must be balanced with those of our partner to ensure happiness and fulfillment in whatever we do.  A sense of purpose and goals are what makes great companies last and the same is true for the relationships in our life.   Relationships have there up and downs but it’s the willingness to learn, adapt and reinvest that makes them built to last.  My wife took the trip down to San Francisco last week and we explored the early days our life together in Marin County.   We visited the three places we lived and talked about the times we had there before moving to Seattle in early 1999.  It was going back in time and reading the story of our early days.  That evening at dinner we retraced the 20 years of our marriage and talked about the experiences we shared and decisions we made.  We both agreed that we have a broader and smarter perspective to life and what we want moving forward.  It’s easy to look back and justify life and say what we would change.   Each day of our life is an opportunity to change the future and live it to the fullest.   The career path we take and who we take it with are some of the most important questions in life.

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