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Career Development Tips – The Secret is F.O.A.M.

Picture this: you’re sitting among an audience filled with employees of all ages, waiting for a career development seminar to start. The seminar begins with a speaker, who opens his presentation by exclaiming, “The secret to successful career development is … F.O.A.M.,” before spraying an entire can of shaving cream on the podium in front of him. While the reactions from the audience may vary from nervous laughter to frantically finding paper towels, there’s one thing in common: the speaker has their full attention. It’s now time to teach them a lesson they’ll never forget – why the acronym F.O.A.M. is a great key for developing a fruitful career.

Throughout the years, I’ve used this demonstration in many career development presentations to illustrate how F.O.A.M. can help one establish a flourishing career. Whether you’re just joining the workforce or you’re a C-suite executive, these four letters can help you advance in your profession:



As evidenced by the many articles and books published on fitness, most of us want to be as healthy and in shape as possible. However, getting to that level of fitness takes dedication and high energy, two qualities that are difficult to maintain on a daily basis. These attributes give people the drive to achieve their goals every day, whether it’s sticking to a diet or reaching a new personal record at the gym.

When it comes to the workplace, mental fitness, or “learning agility,” is just as important. More organizations than ever are assessing potential talent for learning agility to find those who can quickly study, analyze and understand various business situations. Employees who have that dedication and high energy are able to effectively turn action plans into results. In addition, staying mentally fit requires us to be continuous learners. Don’t underestimate the amount you can learn on the job from your leaders, peers and colleagues – they are some of your best educational resources. There are thousands of online courses and seminars to help you, as well.

In short: Stay physically and mentally fit, and never, ever stop learning!


Quite simply – be on time. This is a career-derailer that can certainly be avoided. Whether it’s being on time for meetings or hitting project deadlines – it’s a necessity for every employee. You may be able to come up with excuses and get the benefit of the doubt a few times. However, once you earn the reputation of never being timely, it will be difficult to overcome that impression in the short-term. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the amount of back-to-back meetings and upcoming deadlines you have, don’t be afraid to talk to your managers. By having a conversation with them, you’ll be able to set realistic expectations and show that you’re trying to manage your time as effectively as possible.

On the other side of the coin – leaders must be aware that they set the tone of timeliness for their employees. When scheduling meetings with your team or individuals, remember to be respectful of their time, as well. I’ve seen leaders push back meetings and disrupt their employees schedules too often. It’s a bad habit that can creep into even the best leader’s behavior and daily routine. While situations like this may not always be avoidable, try your best to keep it to a minimum.

In short: It’s okay to be 15 minutes early. Avid football fans call this `Lombardi time’.


Whether it’s at home, in the office or elsewhere, we all know at least a few people who have positive attitudes. They tend to be great teammates, colleagues and leaders because of their ability to help the team through rough patches. When hiring new employees, organizations look for those people who possess a positive outlook and that “can do” spirit. They bring a contagious, encouraging energy that can help fellow employees tackle challenging issues in a more open, creative way.

As companies set tougher expectations, it’s okay to ask questions and get clarification in a positive way. I’ve often said that it’s normal to be skeptical about the path forward. However, if you find yourself feeling more cynical than skeptical, then it may time to move on.

In short: Time and time again, it has been proven that a team of people with positive attitudes can achieve the goals that seem almost impossible to reach. Stay positive and bring that “can do” spirit every day.

 Make an Impact:

Once you have the position and your objectives are clear, it’s time to make it happen! Deliver the results. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and need help, look to your colleagues for some assistance. Gather a team together, ensure you’re on the same page, map out the timing for the project and go for it! Organizations often give high marks to those who pursue the goals with passion and energy. They value people who are able to collaborate and communicate well, accomplish tasks efficiently and are willing to go the extra mile. Making a consistent, sustainable impact is a key factor for visibility, recognition and sometimes – promotions!

In short: Make it Happen!

Bottom line – remembering these four letters can enhance your career and help you grow into the best possible version of yourself, both in and out of work.

P.S. – feel free to use the shaving cream exercise with your teams. Better yet, take the team out and pour a large pitcher of beer with lots of FOAM into a small glass. That will surely get their attention!

2 Responses

  1. Nicely put! I think my secret for getting consistent promotions is exactly this. Stay knowledgeable, be a problem solver, motivated with positive attitude and always look to make an impact.

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