Monday, November 30, 2009

Getting Ahead in Your Corporate Career

Joe Lavelle was my podcast guest on June 19. He has some wonderful ideas to share about getting ahead in your corporate career. Not everyone has time to listen to a half-hour podcast, so for those who would rather read, I am posting the basic questions and answers he and I (Yvonne Perry) covered during the interview.

Accelerate Your Career Success The Employee Handbook That Your Employer Hasn’t Given You is for career-oriented professionals who want to accelerate their career growth and find strategies, knowledge, and tools to get promotions and raises faster.

Joseph R Lavelle (Joe) is an accomplished management consulting executive and business coach assisting with the technology challenges of diverse organizations including health delivery networks, health plans, healthcare software vendors, and several Fortune 500 companies. Joe has dedicated his career as a strategic business advisor to ensure that his clients achieve maximum performance. You will find Joe and his book at

1. In our current economy, what motivated you to write a book on career acceleration?
Actually I completed writing most of the book before the economy started to collapse, but the strategies and principles that I present in the book are independent of the economic climate, as it is always appropriate to seek to be the best you can be.

I was motivated to write the book because I want to help accelerate the careers of more than the people that I know and manage or coach personally. I want to impact a much bigger and broader audience.

2. Tell us a little bit about your book and what might we learn from it?
Quite simply, the book describes the best strategies for accelerating your career growth including getting promoted faster and getting bigger raises. I have developed and refined the strategies over the past 20 years and have used them personally. I have also mentored their use in hundreds of my direct reports and coaching clients.

3. Who will benefit most by reading Accelerate Your Career Success, The Employee Handbook that Your Employer Hasn’t Given You?
The strategies presented are intended to benefit all professionals who want to accelerate their career growth and who are working at companies where career advancement is possible. The strategies are equally effective in large companies with mature human resources and performance management systems and in small companies with little career development infrastructure.

4. What is so unique about the Act As If approach?
Great question! I used to ask the same question of those that worked for me and those that I coached because I thought everyone would have a similar approach to accelerating their careers. But my network convinced me that the Act As If approach is unique and that I should write a book and start speaking about it.

First, the strategies are proven and have been refined over my 20 year career. I continue to have a “day job” because I really love to help people grow faster and I really love that my team helps me to continue to innovate and adapt the strategies.

Second, since my very first management position (of which I was a total failure by the way), I became passionate about learning the inner workings of performance management at my companies. To be honest, I wanted to earn more money and have more responsibility and I learned that mastering the performance management processes of my companies gave me a competitive advantage. Since that time, I have been integrally involved in creating and maintaining the performance management systems not only for my companies but for my clients as well.

Third, I learned early on that I would get promoted faster if my team was the most (measurably) productive team. So I have put tremendous energy and time in coaching my team to help them be more productive and to show them how to measure that productivity.

5. How do you differentiate a successful person relative to someone is unsuccessful? What is your definition of success?
I believe that success is defined in individual terms, though most people I know define success by how much money the make and how fast they get promoted, at least in the early part of their career. I believe that success is simply achieving the goals that one sets forth.

I get great pleasure from helping people identify their goals and achieve them and I get even greater pleasure from “raising the bar” and watching people exceed their goals in ways they could never imagine.

6. Can you summarize what it takes for a professional to be successful in the world today?

Sure, first I believe that anyone can be successful and those people that are not are probably their own worst enemy.

Successful people do the following:

• They set goals and measure their progress toward that goal
• They seek and get real and honest feedback about their progress, especially the things they are doing wrong or need to improve
• They are generally optimistic and have a contagious positive attitude (the Act As If It Were Impossible to Fail attitude)
• They are voracious readers and learners And
• Most implement many of the strategies in my book!

7. Are there common characteristics of those that do not succeed?
I think so. As I mentioned a minute ago, many people are their own worst enemies. Negative attitudes, entitlement, and laziness will all lead to someone falling short of their goals.

8. Is it possible for everyone to achieve their dream of success?
I believe so. Because of my passion and success in career acceleration, I have often been assigned to manage underperformers. A great percentage of those people are very successful today as a result of implementing the Act As If approach.

9. What are your suggestions for career development during a recession?
My suggestions are not much different than in great economic times. The most successful people find unique and better ways to serve their clients or customers met or unmet needs.

Recessions can create more opportunities because of the financial pressures on clients or customers require them to do more with less. If you can help a client do that , you will be successful. If you can help MANY clients do that, you will be wildly successful.

10. What impact has technology (instant messaging, social networking, blogging, etc) had on the ability to accelerate success?
People can network like never before. They can access people and information that they would have never been able to before. Those that take maximum advantage of existing technologies with leapfrog their peers.

I would also say to be careful in the area of social networking. As anything else, it must be done within the context of a greater plan or you could spend a lot of time connecting and interacting and not enough time getting your job done.

11. What have you learned from writing your book?
Quite a bit actually. In my research and marketing efforts, I have connected with an incredible number of brilliant people that are as passionate as me about helping people succeed. My ideas and the book have benefited a great deal from these new influencers in my life and in my thinking.

Additionally, I was initially terrified about writing because I believed that I was not a very good writer. To overcome my fear, I focused on “what I had to say” instead of how effective a writer I was and that really helped me.

Finally, I learned that it also “takes a village” to get a book to the market, and though I have been deeply involved in every step of the process, I have worked with some phenomenally talented people to create the final product. So I now believe that I understand each step of the book business and I have access to a network that I will tap more thoroughly in the future.
12. Will you be writing more books? If so, what will they be about?
Yes , I have several concepts in mind that will build upon the Act As If brand and its strengths.

Let’s switch gears and talk about how your book was published and what you are doing to market it.

1. Who published your book and how has your experience with them been?
I decided to work with Booksurge because their process seemed pretty structured. Additionally, I liked the fact that they were an Amazon company and had tight integration with Because I am a rookie and Booksurge’s processes are a little impersonal, my experience has been a little rocky.

2. Tell us ways you are promoting your book? Have they been successful?
I am starting to get really busy on the marketing and since the book has not been released I am not sure what will be successful. I have done an incredible amount of social networking the past year so that I am increasingly becoming known in the career strategist market. I am working with Writers In The Sky on a marketing program and I am advertising in key places that professionals “congregate”. Additionally, I have started to blog at

3. Can you give aspiring authors words of advice towards getting published?
Getting published is really easy. You can do it yourself for under $1,000 these days. So my advice is to get busy, start writing your first book. And then self-publish it.

You will learn so much along the way that will be important to future efforts. Additionally, you will hopefully build a tremendous following that will help you “sell “ your future books to well known publishers if that is what you want.

4. What future projects do you have in the works?
I just joined a start-up Healthcare Management and IT Consulting firm which is keeping me very busy as I continue to oversee my Coaching and Recruiting business, Results First Consulting.

So, right now I am putting 100% of my additional energy into marketing Act As If It Were Impossible to Fail and I hope to learn a great deal about how to effectively market a career advancement book.
5. Where is your book available?
It will be available at and

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