Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Jim Claussen and I’m a Social Leadership Coach in partnership with Executive Connexions. I founded the Executive Social Academy to help senior leaders learn to thrive and make a bigger impact in today’s digital and connected economy.

What was your first job?

Well, my very first official job, at the age of 15, was washing dishes at Saint Mary’s College in California. I will add that I was quickly promoted to food server in the cafeteria and for catering events on campus. I recruited several friends. We all worked together and had a great time for a couple years in high school.

What are you most proud of in your career?

Three things stand out for me. First, I think I am most proud of a 20 year string of introducing firsts-of-a-kind launches: new programs, new services, new solution offerings, new approaches for the businesses and organizations I have served. Second, I am proud of the extended leadership coaching I have provided for a number of former employees who have gone on to become very strong senior leaders across a number of industry organizations. The third thing I think I would say I am most proud of is introducing, modeling and winning board approval to establish a carbon offset program at ILOG, offsetting the organization’s monthly global travel and infrastructure energy use, creating one of the first ‘carbon neutral’ software companies in the world.

What or who has inspired you?

Many people have inspired me, but someone who stands out for me was a former colleague named Julie Firsty. I hired Julie three times into three different organizations. Julie battled cancer for over 5 years, and throughout an incredible personal and family struggle, she remained positive and optimistic. She was a great role model, professionally and personally. Thinking of Julie always gives me inspiration and helps me put things in perspective. She was an amazing person, friend, colleague and mother.

What is the most valuable lesson you have learned?

Don’t wait to be picked… be intentional about your life and your career. If you truly want to make a difference, step forward, make it up and make it happen.

What is the biggest professional challenge you have faced?

Over 20 years, there have certainly been a number of professional challenges across the businesses I have served, but I think the hardest challenge for me was having my CEO, in the midst of an acquisition, come to me to tell me that I had to lay off my entire team. We were a startup, we were a close team and it was unexpected. I was a relatively young manager at that point… I lost a lot of sleep through that experience.

Social media – friend or foe?

Clearly friend. In a digital economy and world where social platforms connect and bring people together at scale completely unimaginable not long ago, social plays an increasingly important role for today’s organizations and leaders. We now live in a digital age. Across both major and emerging markets, millennials now make up the majority of the workforce. To lead a digital native workforce and to be relevant with a digital native consumer, embracing and engaging social media is now simply one part of leading and doing business today.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

Focus on working on your business, not in your business. It’s about working smarter, not harder.

What advice would you give now to a senior executive looking for their next career move?

Build a digital brand and presence. With >70% of today’s senior executive role unlisted, in the hidden job market, being findable, being intentional about what you are known for, and being intentional about building and nurturing a robust digital network is the most effective way to attract opportunity, build advocates and create the serendipitous interactions that will lead to a next career role. In today’s leadership and talent marketplace, digital executives have an extreme competitive advantage over traditional (non-digital) executives. You are either leading the opportunity here, or chasing it, but what we are seeing is that the opportunity gap is widening for mid and senior level executives.

Looking back on your career so far, what would you change?

This is a great question. Looking back and thinking about what I would do differently…. there are two instances in my career where I should have moved sooner. In both cases, executive management above or around me changed, completely changing the culture with values I did not condone. I did make intentional changes, but looking back, I would encourage myself to make those changes sooner – life is to short to not be working with people your respect, a vision you align with and a mission you are passionate about.

Connect with Jim here:

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Discover how Jim can help you make a bigger impact by joining him for a social leadership webinar. You’ll find out how to land your next senior executive role faster using a social and digital approach to unlock the hidden jobs market.

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Webinar: Wednesday 18th May 2016