Posted in Business

10 Questions for Every Job Seeker

You MatterHere are some questions you should ask during the interview process in addition to the usual salary, compensation package, insurance, time off, and other benefits information normally discussed when looking for a new job or career path.

By asking the questions below (or a variation thereof), you will be better informed about the culture and practices of the organization you may be committing to for the next 3-5 years or longer.

  1. What are some examples of employees suggestions ideas/changes that were actually implemented as a result of an innovative thinker on your staff?
  2. Is work culture compatible with your personality/style… work methods… are there options? Productivity is important to both employer and employee, but so is having fun and feeling appreciated, a sense of belonging. Would it be okay for you to talk to some of their employees?
  3. Is there an opportunity for a move within the corporation if initial assignment isn’t the greatest fit. What are the job rotation/transition opportunities within the organization–do you have examples?
  4. What type of incentives and rewards are given for outstanding performance? Do employees have input into incentive and recognition programs?
  5. What is the method of collaboration within the organization (face-to-face, media facilitated, portal technologies, instant messaging) outside of the organization (social media, telephone, visits)?
  6. How many meetings per week is my participation expected; how long do they last?
  7. How are tasks/project assignments communicated? (Email, Supervisor to subordinate, group venues–staff meetings, scrum/sprint sessions) Are employees invited into decision-making related to how best to accomplish a task?
  8. How is work prioritized? (adhoc by the hair on fire emergency of the day or by a numbers/fact-based analysis)
  9. What does the company’s on-boarding process consist of?       (Training [instructor-led, CBT, or virtual webinars], Orientation, Mission-Vision-Values, Introductions)
  10. What types of team-building activities does the company sponsor?  Do employees get involved in the planning of these activities?

For some people, a job search without adequate preparation can be quite intimidating. In addition to the standard resume and job history (no matter how short or lengthy) you have needs, boundaries and know how you work best. Don’t override your comfort zones in exchange for monetary reward just so you can say you have a “J.O.B.”

The answers to these questions are often issues/situations that add or detract from our quality of life while “on the clock!”  Seriously consider asking these questions when you go for your next interview–interview them back when they ask–“Do you have any questions for me (us)?”

Life is too short…no matter what, value who you are in the negotiating process. Take the time, ask the questions, do your research and make sure the company you commit yourself and talents to will appreciate and value your contributions.  You matter!

Note:  Republished from my LinkedIn account

Posted in Branding, Business, Customer Engagement

Empty Candy Dishes and Half-Dead Plants

A smile and a handshake is very important, but only part of the verbal and non-verbal communication volley. The office appearance holds many non-verbal branding messages. What does your environment communicate on your behalf?

Cues in the environment communicate professionalism (sincerity, conscientiousness, commitment, attentiveness–or the lack thereof) more loudly than the framed mission statement, fancy business cards, and name-dropping.

It is the little things that catch the eye of potential customers. It could be the intricate skillet-sized lacey cobweb the draws attention to itself each time the A/C kicks on or the door is opened? Maybe your thumb-tacked yellowing philodendron (three-loops around the office perimeter) has taken on the appearance of a cruel experiment in water deprivation? Perhaps your customer hears you finishing up your phone call and they reach for the mint in the empty candy dish after coming from a “bloomin onion” at the Outback? Everything you can do to make your guests and potential clients feel cared for and considered will enhance their overall experience and leave them with a good impression of their time spent with your organization.

The human eye is often drawn first to the odd/unusual, the out-of-place, and mismatched environmental landscape. Does your office practice file management or pile management? These oddities cause our minds to begin evaluating and critiquing the responsible owner of the environment–which leads to perceptions and assumptions about personal character, work ethic, and trustworthiness.

Consciously or unconsciously, these environmental branding messages speak on your behalf to potential clients. Even tools and tool use methods speak on behalf about your ability to handle the scope and scale of a potential clients business. Are you using tools and systems that communicate you are capable of meeting customer requirements who work in high-tech business transactions?

Before finalizing your budget requirements, make sure to scrutinize your office and professional environments. Better yet, ask someone who doesn’t work in your environment to visit your office and share their impression of what the office “says” to a new visitor. Evaluate the potential return on investment by de-cluttering, organizing, modernizing, and upgrading your environment. Before you make investments in an office environment make-over, I suggest you visit your competition (or have someone else visit competitor environments). With a few changes here and there you can improve your brand messaging!

Posted in Business, SocialMedia

Socially Speaking – #UsGuys Connections

Lois Creamer
Lois Creamer

This last Tuesday evening, I had the privilege of a telephone discussion with a dear friend I’ve only known from an online interaction over the last couple of years.  We are both part of an online community called #UsGuys on Twitter and Facebook!  If you see the #UsGuys hashtag in your Twitter stream rest assured you are seeing the digital exhaust of some extremely social savvy people.

Each night around 10:00pm there’s a ritual known as #Nightshift #CheckIn.  I haven’t been as consistent in my check-ins due to the pace of life, but I know that any evening where time permits; I can jump into the stream and connect with other socially interested professionals.  My friend and I both discovered that we loved the old show, Walton’s Mountain that used to be a weekly television show in the 80’s.  So, I would bid her goodnight by saying good night Mary Ellen….she would respond by saying “good night John Boy!”  Its amazing how many incredible people I have met over the last couple of years in this group!

So, let me introduce to you my Mary Ellen ~ Lois Creamer is a professional speaker!  She’s quite the accidental entrepreneur!  She decided when she became a mother that her focus was her child.  Her time would be dedicated to pouring her passion and love into being a parent.  When her child entered school and she had some free time during the day, someone informed a gentleman who had a professional speaking business that Lois would make a great assistant.  He called her and asked her to come speak to him.  Although he was looking for full-time help, he finally relented to her firm offer of part time hours that would still allow her to be there for her child before and after school.

She was a quick study and after several years decided there was an opportunity for her to develop a business of her own on the speaking circuit.  15 years later, Lois Creamer is an invaluable resource consulting professionals and business teams from all over!  She traveled much of her early career but lately has been able to bring more clients to her town of St Louis, Missouri.  If you’ve never visited that part of the country you’re missing out.

I shared with her my future aspirations about the entrepreneurial  life and she encouraged me to consider talks in different venues.  “One of the best ways to spread the word about your business is to find opportunities to speak about it!”  She encouraged me, as she does others, to join my local Toastmaster‘s group to gain experience.  Because I’m a huge TED Talk fan, Toastmasters sounds like a great boot camp for the TED Talk big-time! 😉  Anyway, our phone conversation was our first connection beyond the electrons emanating from our screens I’ve had with Lois.  I’m forever stunned at how true to the personality I’ve come to know via our electronic connection is reflected in the real life connections.  I mentioned this fact to her about my Tweetup experience in the Twin Cities and how amazing that was.  If you or your business have not taken the social media plunge you’re missing out on some valuable connections you may otherwise never make.

So, for the readers out there, be encouraged if you too are considering your hand at an entrepreneurial endeavor.  Follow Lois on Twitter….and Lois’ blog at BookMoreBusiness for expert advice and practical assistance on how to achieve your dreams.

Posted in Business, SocialMedia

Younger Skin & Profits to Boot!

Lexus RX350
Lexus RX350 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This post isn’t about me!  Its a story about continued and proven success in sales!  Its about my sister, Peggy Pearson!

Rodan & Fields Level 5 Skin Care & Dermatology Consultant
Rodan and Fields Level 5 Skin Care and Dermatology Consultant

Peggy has been working in sales for 33 years!  In every venture she’s quickly worked her way into the top tier of best selling consultants and sales reps.  She’s done it again…and this time she’s about to earn a Lexus RX350!  She has become a Skin Care and Dermatology Level 5 Executive Consultant with Rodan & Fields!  You can visit her site here:

This year, their company has come out with an amazing product called the Redefine Macro Exfoliator! This product is an amazing “in-home” microderm abrasion hand-held device that removes dead skin cells!  Two visits to your dermatologist and you’ve paid for the product!  It was so popular they quickly sold out…but not to worry, it will be in stock again in 13 days!  Dr. Katie Rodan and Dr. Kathy Fields have developed the patent pending technology that enables an incredible clinically proven visible improvement to the appearance of your skin after only one use!

Peggy has developed an amazing team of consultants, and is quickly rising in the ranks!  She’s involving social media as an aspect of her outreach to grow her team.  Follow her on Twitter @pjpearsn … she’s garnered a list of over 370 other consultants (R+F Consultants), as well as reached out in her local community to curate a list of Arkansas Social Savvy businesses and professionals!  You can take advantage of these resource by clicking on the hyper-linked lists in the previous sentences and subscribe.

If you’re looking to find a virtual mentor in the sales arena…Peggy is the one to watch!  If you have an entrepreneurial side to you and are looking to change a few things in your life–perhaps younger looking and healthier skin is your thing?  The profits aren’t too shabby either!


Posted in Business, SocialMedia

How to Manage & Increase Your Twitter “Following” @ No Cost

This blog is the result of a light bulb coming on after observing some personal angst/confusion about “how” to be an effective follower.  My last post on this topic “What IS a Follower” in 2010 still has merit.  But I’ve decided that another post might help those of you who ask “How do I get beyond the limit of being able to follow 2000 tweeps?”

Remember, like I said in another post in 2010 about “Why I Tweet” I’m not here to “sell you anything” or make you chase annoying adds about some quick get rich course.  I’m here to help minimize confusion and guide newcomers along this social media landscape.  I’ve been “Twittering” and blogging for several years now and enjoy sharing what I learn.

So, onto the meaty part of this post.  How can I manage my throttled Twitter “Following” budget and still attract new followers?  There are two ways to “follow” twitter users.

  • The approach of pushing the “Follow” button on a users’ profile may or may not result in them following you back.  Remember the value of a Twitter account is in increasing the number of people your message can reach.  Every time you push that button you move the total number of people you can follow to some strange ratio of following to followers ratio that Twitter has set on each Twitter account.  So how do you get more followers once you’ve reached the 2,000 limit or that magic ratio limiter?
  • Another technique of “following” involves a couple of additional steps but is well worth your time.  List creation is one of the best ways to recognize people their profession or passion.  By creating a List with a catchy title (category), you can add people to your list (in effect, a behavior that allows you to consume the thoughts (tweets) of people who interest you.  The best thing about this form of “following” is that it does not count against your follower limits.  You’re not “following” them using the button method, your following them using a more powerful method of expertise management.

For example, some day I will complete a lifelong goal of publishing a book.  So I used that goal and Twitter as a resource to create a “Writeminds” list.  On this list of authors (hobbyists, newly published, seasoned authors and publishers) I have added over 400 Twitter user accounts who have identified themselves as being writers, bloggers, authors, publishers, or screen/script writers.

Here’s the magic/value of this form of following over mashing the “Follow” button:  By adding a Twitter user to a list I accomplish four simple things:

  1. I have recognized the aspirations or activities of an individual for something they are devoted to or passionate about.  Who doesn’t love to be recognized for their desire to become something they are working towards?
  2. I have created a simple way to better manage my time in searching for content related to a particular topic; in this example what are writers working on, talking about, sharing, revealing?  Its better than Google search results–I can make contact with the horses mouth.
  3. I have established a connection with expertise I could not have easily encountered by walking through town or browsing the phone book looking for “people” who might have the ability to help me along my journey.
  4. I have created value for others!  Anyone can subscribe to my “Writeminds” list and take advantage of the resource.  My list of authors most likely will not be the same as your list of authors so you can create your own and subscribe to mine.

When you “follow” people by curating a list of Twitter users who identify themselves with something that interests you, you immediately expand your virtual family with other birds of your same feather.  You also reward the individual you “follow” by recognizing their contributions!  The best part is, because you have recognized another’s talent, time & effort, many can’t resist following you by the easiest method out there (mash the button).  So, your follower count begins to rise because others begin to recognize you as someone who is offering something with no expectations in return.

Social media for professionals is a value based proposition founded in charity.  Go out of your way to make someone’s day.  Build a list, start adding people to the list and watch your follower count grow!  The greatest benefit of this behavior is you now can quickly stay abreast of topics that interest you with these interest “channels (lists)”  you’re creating on Twitter!  If happen to make (in real life~telephone, email, in person) contact with the people you follow using the list method, feel free to spend some of your follower limit by mashing that “Follow” button.

I’m interested in hearing how this method works for you~please share.


Posted in Business, Creativity, Relationships

Omaha – Franklin Covey ~ Review of Leadership and Management Sessions

COPA Airlines fleet parked at Tocumen Internat...
COPA Airlines fleet parked at Tocumen International Airport, Panama City, Panama. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Date:  14 December 2012


Morning:  Management “Essentials”

Afternoon:  Leadership “Contract and Essentials”

Hosts:  Randy Nelson, introduced by Elizabeth Burton

Location:  Omaha Marriott ~ Regency Court

Thesis:  Workshops geared to managers who are seeking to effect change in their organizations; developing new mindsets and thinking differently.

Overall Assessment:  Both of the sessions offered were “teasers” for what would normally be a full two or three day event hosted on site for any corporation purchasing a Franklin Covey workshop.  These were highly informative sessions that provided a high-level overview of techniques, habits and tools used to improve an organizations communication, workplace culture, and employee wellness.  The overview was punctuated by book recommendations, thought leaders, and numerous short videos to support session content.

The introduction video for the Management session emphasized that one of the biggest mistakes made in organizations is “trying to manage others before managing yourself.” People will manage themselves…most put enough pressure to perform on themselves, supervisors piling on doesn’t usually help the situation.  The seven habits embody the maturity continuum:

1)      Be Proactive ~ “Use your R&I”  (Resourcefulness and Initiative)  There is always a way.  You just have to be persistent, creative and believe that failure is not an option.

2)      Begin with the end in mind ~ When an initiator or team member, make your contribution—don’t hold back.

3)      Put first things first ~ Learn to focus and distinguish the important and urgent from the unimportant and not urgent.  Come up with three Wildly Important Goals (WIGS)

4)      Think Win Win! ~ Find ways to ensure that all stakeholders come out as winners!  Use performance agreements to obtain employee commitment and engagement. Never give feedback if you can’t work it so that both sides achieve a win/win!

5)      Seek 1st to understand, then to be understood ~ Be sure you’re practicing the art of “active listening” rather than just hearing when employees are speaking to you.

6)      Synergize ~ Combining talent, skills, resources and energy across your organizations, teams and individuals can provide amazing results otherwise singly not achievable. Use prototypes and countertypes to find the best fitting solutions.

7)      Sharpen the saw ~ Seeking continuous improvement to perfect a work/life balance is key.  Each one of us has four parts that mustn’t be neglected:  Body, heart, mind & spirit.

In addition to the Covey family, the following thought leaders, authors and companies were mentioned:

  • UCLA Coach John Wooden (Author of “Manage Yourself First”)
  • Commander Abrashoff:  USS Benfold ~ Author of “Get Your Ship Together
  • Benjamin Franklin (fascinating founder, entrepreneur, self-made millionaire)
  • Nathan Myhrvold (Former CTO of Microsoft, Co-founder of Intellectual Ventures)
  • Dave Kelly (Founder IDEO – Palo Alto, CA. – Imagine & Create 90 new products quarterly)
  • Peter Drucker (Author, Thought Leader)
  • Copa Airlines ~ (Panama City, Panama) 90% “On Time” Rate
  • Warren Buffett ~ Acquired $23B McLane Company (subsidiary of Walmart) with no extensive paperwork drill (completed transaction in less than a month)
  • Muhammad Yunus ~ 2006 Nobel Prize Winner, Micro Credit Entrepreneur and founder of “Village Bank” in Bangladesh – Author of “Economics of Poverty”
  • Pierre Midyar ~ New York Hot Dog Vendor who doubled his business volume/profits by allowing customers to “make their own change!”
  • Steven M.R. Covey ~ Author of Speed of Trust

Some interesting quotes from materials/videos across the morning and afternoon session:

“Unstoppable teams are unified by singular purpose of vision and commitment”

“Keeping people requires trust and engagement of employees”

“’Rebels/Quitters’ aren’t hired that way”

“EVERYONE on a team has the power to help the team win or lose”

“See alternatives, not roadblocks”

“Obsessing about things which you have no control over begins to affect the things which you do have control over.”

“Ability will get you to the top, character will keep you there!”

“Adversity reveals a person’s true character.”

“The devil is in the details, success is in the systems”

13 Behaviors that instill trust:

Talk Straight                                        Practice Accountability
Demonstrate Respect                      Listen First
Create Transparency                       Confront Reality
Right Wrongs                                      Clarify Expectations
Show Loyalty                                      Keep Commitments
Deliver Results                                   Extend Trust
Get Better

I really enjoyed the both sessions and would attend others if they were available.  Both of the sessions had great discussion prompts, guides, templates and tools in the small books provided.  The videos were excellent and supported the material exceptionally well.  Each of the books has a “Top 25” book list for managers/leaders.

I was especially inspired by the video of the IDEO team using their teams and methodologies for improving upon the shopping cart.  The team consisted of a diverse group of professionals from a variety of academic backgrounds.  They used basic principles of trust and acceptance—no bad ideas—no criticisms.  They all practiced the art of visualizing success in open “free thinking” forums.

The inspiring message from the Copa Airlines video was that they developed a company mantra, “On Time!”   This message permeated through all levels/layers of the company—cascading goals and objectives of the company to all workers.  Here’s a quote from one of the workers who took tickets from passengers before boarding:  “We used to just do our jobs…now we all do whatever it takes to get the job done.”  Their entire company celebrates when they meet their goals—truly a team/family culture.

There is quite a collection of tools like the “Five Minute Meeting Planner” in each of the books they provided.

Posted in Business, Education, Relationships, Uncategorized, Writing

2012 Accomplishments

I have begun a new tradition…starting the end of year in recap mode and planning for the next!   I really have much to be thankful for…its sometimes hard to remember that on Mondays!

This has been a year of accomplishments:

  • Completed Bachelors Degree in Business (made Dean’s List w/4.0 average)
  • Received a promotion & a new job
  • Found reliable renters for our small farm
  • Sold old farm truck
  • Updated our family photo (1st in 7 years!)
  • Twin daughters started driving and completed 1st college level course
  • Participated in #NaNoWriMo with my children (Megan was only one to complete hers, but at least we all got started on writing a novel!)

I turn 46 in January!  I seriously don’t feel that old, except when Mondays roll around 🙂 Did I make it clear that I don’t like Mondays?

So, what I am shooting for in 2013?  Do It Yourself (DIY) home repairs; foodscaping my yard; building a close-knit community of dads who want to be better dads, husbands, and friends; becoming more involved in the education process of my mostly home-schooled children; and brushing up on my sign language skills.

Do you have an annual ritual for setting goals and holding yourself accountable to them?