Talent agent and career advisor Steve Herz ( @StevenHerz ) has a new book out, Don’t Take Yes for an Answer, in which he
shares his methodology for launching both career and life forward in the right direction using AWE – Authority, Warmth, and Energy. Steve shared with us his inspiration for writing the book, things that executives should be focused on, and why avoiding the “vortex of mediocrity” is so important.
Q. What made you write this book?
Four years ago, I decided to take what I had learned as a talent agent – coaching on-air talent – and apply it to business people and organizations that had nothing to do with the media (e.g.,bankers, doctors, lawyers, etc).
At a speech on March 8th, 2017, someone in the audience on International Women’s Day at Bank Leumi, asked me if she could buy two copies of my book. I sadly told her that I didn’t have a book and she said, matter of factly, “You should write one.”
Ultimately, I wrote it because when she asked me that question I decided I had something to say that was unique and helpful — and hopefully people will agree.
Q. What do you see is a danger executives should be aware of as they get back to work after such a long shut down?
Two that they should be focused on:
- Doing things as if nothing has changed and being unable to adjust to the new reality. Think Lululemon vs. Brooks Brothers. Lululemon has been pivoting for years and leaning into the new casual work environment while Brooks Brothers has remained hewed to the formal business attire that has long since departed the typical office.
- Doing things as if everything has changed. Some things will revert back to normal, and those companies that abandon their core business like cable TV companies immediately pivoting to streaming while tens of millions of people are still embracing the cable bundle
Q. It seems like you have declared war on participation trophies. What are some of the dangers of fear of criticism on professional development?
The danger is a total lack of growth and what I have labeled “the vortex of mediocrity.” My motto (paraphrasing others more succinctly) is: Grow or Die. If you’re not growing in your career often because you have no idea what to improve upon precisely because you receive no criticism, then you could end up being blindsided and losing your job (or customers)! That’s the biggest danger of all.
Q. How can readers use your book to improve their executive performance?
By learning about the importance of AWE (Authority, Warmth, Energy) and the huge correlation between those “soft” skills and the overrated “hard” skills, you can find yourself with more influence because you’re perceived as more competent, trustworthy, and magnetic in your organization. That will be a huge improvement for anyone.
Q. What advice do you have executives seeking new and different opportunities either because of job loss or need to transition?
Align your skills with those in demand. The internet (and local community colleges and other online learning platforms) gives people an opportunity to retrain themselves in a myriad of in-demand areas. And secondly, make sure you are winning the “room” either in person or via Zoom when you get the chance to interview. Right now it’s a buyer’s market. But in many areas, people with the right hard skills and the compelling soft skills are and will always be in demand.