Category Archives: Career

How to Create Smarter Goals

We set goals to make things happen in our lives however, not all goals  are created equal.  High achievers, people with a passion to succeed and who do succeed have found a method to create smarter goals.  Here is a simple formula for setting smarter goals:

S – Specific – A clear thing to be accomplished

M – Measurable – Actionable identifiable items

A – Agreed – Announced and accountable

R – Realistic – Can be done  

T- Time framed – Scheduled with a start and stop

E – Evaluate – Redo, reload, succeed

R – Rewrite – Adjust the goal to meet the new need

 Your success is just setting the right goal away.  Boost your productivity by setting SMARTER goals.


© 2015 Marben Bland


5 Tips That Will Dramatically Improve Your Public Speaking

Public Speaker

Those of us who have the opportunity speak publicly to business groups, professional seminars and in churches are always looking for ways to improve.  Here are five ways we can dramatically improve our abilities to become a more effective public speaker.



1. Learn How To Tell Stories

From the dawn of time humans have told stories.  Stories are extremely effective; and we public Speakingrespond to stories that are written or told orally.  Stories move us; they make the complicated simple.  The ability to tell a good story can be learned. The National Association of Storytellers suggest these steps to start your journey as a storyteller:

  • Be Brief – The best stories are told with descriptive language that covers a lot of ground with few words.
  • Develop Characters – Stories are best when they are told with and about people. Don’t forget the best stories are ones that include you.  Therefore, make yourself a character in your stories.
  • End on a High Note – Some stories are engaging. Others  are filled with action or horror; and some are hilarious. Whatever the direction of your story, always end on a high note.  Give your audience something to think and laugh about; leaving them feeling that the time they spent listening to you was worthwhile.

 2.  Make Your Body A Communication Tool

young modern ballet dancer posing on white backgroundCommunication is an entire body experience.  Effective communicators understand the following:

  • Don’t be afraid to use your hands
  • Move away from the podium
  • Use your voice to bring emotion, clarity and humor to your speaking


3, Watch And Learn From Other Speakers

MLK&MikesMake it a practice to listen to other speakers; both, great and not so great.  Take notes of things that you would like or not like to incorporate.

Regardless of what you find, remember that it is important to be you.  Sure, you may love Ronald Regan’s flair, or Martin Luther King’s oratory.  However, trying to mimic them when you speak will make you look like a bad version of the real thing. Therefore, use the stuff that you learn and weave it into your style.

Remember, no one can do you better than you.

4, Write, Practice, Rewrite

writingExpert speakers will tell you that their speaking improved dramatically when they started incorporating the principals of writing, practicing and rewriting:

  • Writing – Putting your thoughts down will make any speech better. Writing allows your speech to be clear and it will make it more concise.  Writing the speech does not mean that you have to deliver your talk by reading it word for word. Actually, writing your speech will give you the ability to go “off the cuff” and deliver the remarks you have written earlier without notes.
  • Practice – The Reverend Billy Graham one of the great speakers of our time said, “Great speeches are made with greater practice”. Here are some suggestions:
  • Practice alone or with others
  • Practice in front of a mirror
  • Practice by recording your voice
  • Practice with video

Your practice will give you the information for the next step:

  •  Rewriting – Any good speech gets better when it has been reviewed and rewritten. There is a real balance between the rewrite and overwriting.   Speech perfection is not possible; while we always want to do our best there is a time when you have to put away the pen and just do the speech.

5. Join Toastmasters

If you want to become a confident, strong, and effective speaker you must have a place to Toastmasters logoregularly practice your craft.  Toastmaster is a supportive learn-by-doing environment that allows you to achieve your goals at your own pace.  Toastmaster was the launching pad for my professional speaking career.  It can be the blastoff post for what you want to do with your speaking.  Go to to start or power-up your speaking journey.

Public Speakers: Some are born most are made



Sure, you may have natural speaking ability.  However, great speakers know that there is always more to do and learn. I hope these 5 tips will help.  As all of us try to dramatically improve our speaking ability.



© 2015 Marben Bland

Brian Williams And The One That Got Away

Embellishment! The whopper! The big lie! I have done it; perhaps you have too. We have all done it. We have told our friends, co-workers and even our family an account of the “one that got away”. A story that started in truth. However, over time with every added twist and turn, it becomes an outright fabrication; or, as my mother would call it… “A Bald-Faced Lie.”

We are seeing the results of “telling the one that got away” play out in the saga of Brian Williams; the anchor of the top rated NBC Nightly News. For years, Williams has been making the rounds with a story claiming that his helicopter was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade while reporting from Iraq. Now, after a decade of soaking in the accolades reserved for a war hero the story has proven not to be true.

Williams issued an apology saying that over the years he unfortunately, conflated the account of the helicopter that was hit with rocket fire, with the account of his helicopter; which actually was not.   This was the explanation given to us from a man who the nation trusted for accurate reporting; and he has done very little to clear the air. Williams, who has the job of reporting the news has now become the news; which resulted in him voluntarily removing himself off the air for a few days.

So, what can we learn from this, besides the obvious? If we are the most “trusted” news reporter in the United States, should we jeopardize our career by telling the one that got away?

I believe that there are additional things that we can learn from this story: Trust, Integrity and Second Chances

Here are my thoughts.

1, We All Lie

In John, chapter 8 a woman who was caught committing adultery was brought to Jesus before being stone to death. The Jewish leaders, attempting to trick Jesus asked Him what should they do with the woman. He said “Anyone here who has never sinned should throw the first stone at her.”

As we stand here with stone in hand, ready to throw them at Brian Williams, we need to reflect on ourselves, first. Have we ever embellished? Have we also conflated? Have we ever lied? The answer for me is yes. I love stories, one about myself, and others and as a writer and speaker, I have fallen to the temptation to inflate, to over hype and to lie.

From what I know now, there is no question; Williams’ actions were wrong. He may not be able to retain his current job; if accounts are true and he told the story many times, including to a national audience on David Letterman. However, that decision belongs to his employer, NBC.

The Bottom line for me: But for the grace of God go I; and therefore the stone of this writer, speaker, human resource executive and humble servant of God will remain in his pocket.

2. Money and Power are Blinding  

Brian Williams anchors the top rated nightly news broadcast in America. The program rakes in millions of dollars for NBC. Williams has been given enormous power as anchor of the News and managing editor.

Williams’ fused account of the helicopter rocket fire, has been known by many at NBC for years. There was an NBC crew with him on the helicopter; and let us not forget the executives that signed him to a 10 million dollar per year contract. However, no one challenged Williams about the lie and the possible consequences. Could money and power be the cause of the blindness?

The credibility of the network, the hardworking staff and the other reporters who are actually in the war zone were placed in danger by those that chose to keep quiet.

David the powerful and rich King of Israel involves himself in an adulterous, murderous affair with Bathsheba. David believes that his actions have gone unnoticed until Nathan was sent by God and in a dramatic encounter in 2nd Samuel 12 declares to the King. “You are that Man”

The Bottom line for me: Power and money can blind us from the truth. All leaders, teachers, human resource executives, preachers and anchormen need Nathan’s in our lives. We need people with the courage to withstand the pressure that the money and the power bring. So that we can mount the power to reveal the truth to those in power.

 3. Everyone Deserves A Second Chance

We all know that trust is hard to earn; but easy to lose. In nearly a decade in the nightly news anchor chair Brian Williams has earned our trust. In the days and weeks that follow, we will see if he can keep or regain that trust.

However, if that is not the case and Brian Williams lose his job as anchor of the NBC Nightly News, he deserves more than a second chance. He deserves our forgiveness.

Jesus Christ died on the cross so that our sins would be forgiven. Forgiveness is giving pardon, acquittal and mercy for our sinful acts. Jesus forgives us regardless of what we have done.

Luke 7:36-48 tells the story of a sinful woman who crashes a dinner party attended by Jesus asking forgiveness by washing his feet with her own teas and drying them with her hair. The outraged party host demanded to know why Jesus would even allow such a sinful woman in his presence. Jesus responds by saying “I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But, a person who is forgiven little, shows only little love.” Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.”

The Bottom line for me: Brian your sins are forgiven. Your second chance is now; regardless of your job status at NBC. You are a talented reporter and broadcaster and I look forward to seeing you on the air again.

The one that did not get away

The teachable moment for all of us is not about the conflations of Brian Williams.

We should take this moment and think about how we acknowledge our own sinful nature and reframe from throwing stones. How can we become Nathans and resist being blinded from the truth, money and power? Additionally, how do we give second chances and forgive?

For if we truly love our neighbor as ourselves, we would want nothing less, when we find ourselves as Brian Williams has with the one that got away.

©Copyright 2015 Marben Bland

What is your take on Brian Williams?

Write a comment below or send me an email:


The Best Advice I Have Ever Received

Note: In February LinkedIn has asked professionals to share the words of wisdom that made all the difference in their lives. This is my contribution to the #BestAdvice stories of posts.

I grew up in a mystical, magical, place that I lovely call the Georgia outback. As part of the first decade of transition from the segregated “Jim Crow” south to the integrated “New South” question abound sounding the capabilities of me and my fellow “Negro” students as we left the “separate but equal” all Black school to enter the integrated world at the previously all white school.  

Considerate to the concerns that many in our tight netted community the pastor of our church and the principal of our school held a joint meeting for encouragement, support and prayer.   The meeting was a combination of a church service and pep rally, with inspiring songs, brilliant prayers and rousing speeches.

Our principal Gerome Guy made one of those rousing speeches where he remained us of one simple thing and that was: “You Can”   Mr. Guy said told us that we had been prepared well by the teachers and staff of the Maggie Califf School. Over the years graduates of the school have gone on to become doctors, lawyers, businessmen and other highly regarded professions. Mr. Guy when on to say that reason why these students facing the impossible odds of being poor, growing up in a small segregated southern town were successful was because they knew they could and you can as well.

Then J. Hansel Lismore the pastor of the Saint Paul, African Methodist Episcopal Church got up to speak. In measured tones the pastor who had risen from poverty to become an officer in the Navy and had overcome blindness said, with all due respect to principal Guy he is correct that own your own “You Can” however, with God You Will.

He then reminded us of how with God, David defeated Goliath, he told us with God Moses parted the Red Sea and with God, Jesus was risen from the dead. Finally, Reverend Lismore said if God and do all of that just think of what He can do for you when you take Him with you to that school. – “You Will” if you take God with you!

Nearly 45 years later the advice “You Will if you take God with you” has proven to be the best  advice I have ever received. Taking God with me has been the difference in obtaining my education, raising a family and being successful in business.

In reading the #BestAdvice posts I have been truly amazed by the thoughtful, clever, and wonderful advice given. Many of these nuggets, I have treasured, will follow and will share with others. However, I challenge anyone to find better advice than I received from Reverend Lismore that day, “instead of you can, you will if you take God with you.”

©Copyright 2015 Marben Bland

P.S. What was the best advice you have been given? Drop me a line you notes to me are always confidential.


How To Become A Great Interviewer

Understanding how to assess talent is one of the essential requirements of a leader. Leaders who are great at interviewing are great at the critical skill of assessing talent.

Leaders that are great at interviewing are rarely born that way. They become great at interviewing; because they work at it. They recognize the importance of the interview and become committed to mastering the art.

I have been around some great interviewers and have coached leaders who have become great interviewers. Here are some tricks of the trade:

  1. Is the Preparation Stupid

Great interviewers know that preparing for the interview is key to making the right hiring decision. Helpful tips:

    • Fully understand the job: Read the job description completely. Seek out people that have been in that position; paying attention to their experiences and expectations. Find customers of the job and get their take regarding the needs of the position.
  • Research the candidate: Take the time to review the resume of each interview candidate. Do a social media search to uncover blog post, news articles, LinkedIn profiles and other important information.


  • Write interview questions: Jack Welch, the legendary CEO of General Electric always wrote 7-10 especially designed interview questions. Attention to detail was crucial in finding the quality of people Welch had on his GE team.
  1. Conduct Conversations Instead of Interviews

Brian Lamb the founder, executive chairman, and now retired CEO of the cable public affairs network C-SPAN, has been recognized as one of the best interviewers on Television.   He describes himself not as an interviewer; but, rather a conversationalist intent on having an informative dialog with his guest.   Along with the afore mention of the importance of preparation, Lamb’s style translates well from the studio to the office. Tips on making your interviews, information filled conversations.

  • Make the candidate shine: Understand that it is your job to provide the best climate possible to get the information needed in the interview. That can only happen when a candidate is relaxed and has trust in you.   At the beginning, layout the vision of your time together; along with the next steps after the interview.
  • Ditch the Desk:  Sure you have a nice desk; but, so did the principal when you got hauled into his office. Remove the symbol of intimidation by finding an informal setting. I often used our company café before or after lunch, it was nicely decorated along with the added bonus of refreshments.


  • Lose the Jargon: Our workplaces is filled with an internal language that the outside world does not know or understand. Therefore, unless you are willing to provide an interpreter; craft your questions in plain English.
  1. Don’t Forget The Postgame Show

Now that the interview is over, now comes the real work. Assessing the candidate and making a hire or no hire decision is all a part of what I call the postgame show. Tips for the show:

  • Make no decisions during the interview: Yes. This may seem impossible; as we are tempted to fall in or out of love with the candidate during the interview. However, despite the tendency, stay focused; keep asking the questions with the intent of evaluating when the interview is over.
  • Build in scheduled time of an assessment: I strongly recommend to my clients that they conduct a debrief session right after the interview is completed. Let me extend my sports analogy. Writers want access to players directly after the game is over; while recollections are still keen, and reactions are at their best. No postgame show is complete without a player interview, so include one in yours.




  • Make a decision now: In his bestselling book Blink, author Malcom Gladwell draws on examples from science, advertising, sales, medicine, and popular music to reinforce the idea that accurate decisions can be made without an abundance of information. If you have done all the steps outlined in this post you will have enough information to make a “hire or no hire” decision. Clearly, if the decision is to hire, a background check along with other quantifiers must be successfully completed before a formal offer is made. However, to get to that step a decision must be made. Trust your process and your gut; slay your inner Hamlet and make a decision and make it now.    

A Great Interviewer Is Within You

Preparation, conversation skills, matched with the wiliness to do an assessment that will lead to a decision is all that is needed. However, to become a great interviewer one additional element is needed. Barbara Walters, homed her famed interview skills by “interviewing” the performers at her father’s playhouse. Larry King, became a great interviewer through years of radio shows.   Practice will develop that great interviewer within you. Take on all the interviews you can at your company even if you are not the hiring manager or directly involved with the job. If that is not possible team with a college or a job placement group to conduct “mock” interviews. Regardless of the venue the practice will help produce one of the essential requirements of leadership; the ability to assess talent. Great assessors of talent are great interviewers.

 ©Copyright 2015 Marben Bland │

Marben Bland is a business strategist professional speaker and writer. Specializing in assisting business with the acquisition of human and financial capital along with the strategies required  to do well.

Making Your New Year’s Resolutions Stick

January 2015Welcome to January! How are your New Year’s resolutions going? A recent Gallop survey indicates that nearly 90% of all New Year’s resolutions are broken by the end of January.

So, how do you make your resolutions stick? It may sound crazy; but, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Oprah Winfrey don’t make any resolutions. Instead they make goals.

Goals can transform those vague, often unattainable resolutions into solid actionable plans that become real and attainable.

The goal of this post is to build the case for goal making; enabling you to make those New Year’s Resolutions Stick.

The Case For Setting Goals

  1. Goals Makes Things Happen

Written goals with a target date for accomplishment is the catalyst for making things happen.

Resolution: I want to find a new job.

Goal: I will find a new job by September 1, 2015.

A written goal with an accomplishment date is an external representation of your inner desires. It is a constant reminder of what you need to accomplish.

 2, Goals Bring Focus to Dreams

Dreams are a powerful force in our lives. New Year’s Resolutions are a direct by product of our vision for a better future.

However, dreams and resolutions lack the focus needed to make them happen. Goals can bring that focus.

Dream/Resolution: “I want to find a new job.”

Goal: I will have a new job by September 1, 2015. The job will be within 40 miles of my current home and will pay at least 90K.

Notice how much more focused the goal statement is and it gives the dream a fighting chance to be accomplished.

  1. Goals Trump Failure  

Resolutions are normally an all or nothing proposition. Almost 90% of our sincere attempts at improvement ends in disappointment.

Goal setting provides a safety net against the mayhem that will accompany our efforts when we fail. By establishing a target it allows us opportunity to simply readjust, recommit and move on. A luxury that the all or nothing resolution cannot give us.

Look at the chart below. A goal and target date has been set. The chart shows how the resolution of finding a job is doing one month later.

Job Goal 1

Goal charting is an excellent way to stay on track and to readjust our goals when things go wrong.

  1. Goals Can Bring Help

Going solo is a big reason for the failure of many resolutions.

For example look at this resolution: “I will exercise more this year.” The nature of this resolution “I”, has the “go it alone” approach. This resolution is already doomed for failure.

Take a look at the next goal chart. We will take this one a few steps further. We have included others; which will increase the likelihood of accomplishing our goal.

Exercise Goal2

The simple act of taking the resolution and detailing the steps needed for accomplishment will provide the help we need.

  1. Goals Are S.M.A.R.T

The hardest part of converting a resolution into a goal is writing it. The most effective goals are SMART. A SMART goal is should be specific and measurable. It should also be attainable, relevant and time based. Click on this link to use the S.M.A.R.T chart as a way to get started in writing goals that will stick.

In 2015 Your Resolutions Will Stick!  

Henry David Thoreau said “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”

Our resolutions are dreams. We imagine a better life than we are living now; but, it is up to us to successfully bring those images to existence. Get the confidence you need. Make your resolutions stick by turning them into goals that will be accomplished.

©Copyright 2015 Marben Bland

Note: This blog contains material form Marben’s new workshop: Goal Set Your Life!!! An action packed seminar designed to give you simple yet, effective tools to live the life you imagined.

Call Marben today at (608) 358-1309 to set up this or other informative seminars for your office, church or civic group.

Marben Bland is a certified project manager, steeped in Six Sigma and Lean methodologies. His unique background in the military, business and the faith community gives him the experience, plus the credibility to obtain results for you in a wide range of consulting, training and speaking assignments.

Contact Marben today (608) 358-1309, for a free assessment of your needs.



6 Moves To Turbocharge Your Career in 2015

Welcome to 2015! A brand new year to be all we can be! As we pursue our yearlong quest for optimal personal productivity, many of us make New Year’s resolutions.

Instead of making resolutions I set goals. Because the goals you set today are the actions you keep for the year.   Tomorrow in this spot I will discuss the importance of goal setting to get things done in this New Year.

Regardless of your stance on resolutions, we can all make career moves. Career moves are simple adjustments to way we conduct ourselves in our professional and personal lives. So, on this first day of a sparkling New Year; here are 6 moves guaranteed to turbocharge your career in 2015.

Move #1: Be Flexible

The odds are that the way you’ll do work on January 1st of 2015 will not be the way you’ll be doing work on December 31st of 2015. In a recent Gallop poll more than 50% of employees responded by saying they have experienced “significant change” in the way they worked in the past 12 months.

From reorganizations to new workflows, and layoffs; change is a big part of the workplace. Make sure you are flexible. Your boss will see that you are someone who can get the job done. No matter what’s happening around you.

Move #2: Stay Current

Keep up with trends in your industry by either reading trade, business and general publications or checking out online sources. Then, take what you have learned and apply it to solve problems in your workplace. It will make you a more valued employee.

 Move # 3: Strengthen Your Network

In today’s workplace sandbox everyone has to play well with others. Fitting within the network of the workplace is a part of the new definition of a great employee. The idea that you can be an individual contributor and be successful is an idea of the past. Why? Look at the numbers, research from the Corporate Executive Board indicates that 40% of all employees work with more than 20 people on a given day; and more than 80% work with at least 10 people. It is arithmetic! People who can build strong networks on the job and outside of the job have a big leg up in getting things done.   Next week in this space I will review ways to power up your networking.

Move # 4: Seek Leadership Opportunities

No matter how small, large, trivial or daunting the task may seem; pursue a strategy to actively seek opportunities for leadership. For example: chairing employee teams, or leading projects. “Be selective about taking on leadership assignments; but, aggressively seek them,” says General Colin Powell. “There’s a difference between begging for these opportunities and raising your hand,” he warns, “but if someone says there’s a job to be done, raise your hand first and then ask for help. Powell ended by saying, “The biggest mistake a person who would like to get ahead or stay employed can make is passing up the opportunity to lead.”

Move # 5: Make Friends with the IT Guy

Technology is the lifeblood of a productive workplace. According to the Corporate Executive Board the average number of work-related emails we receive each day has increased fourfold since 2005; underscoring the explosive importance of technology in the office. This makes the IT Guy and the IT department, not just another employee or department; but a vital part of the workforce.

However, don’t stop with making nice with just the IT Guy. Making friends with admins is an important move as well. In the 2015 workplace power, authority and decision making is cropping up in some unexpected places.

Administrative assistants are at the center of it all. Underestimating their authority—or missing the opportunity to develop a strong relationship with the IT Guy or the admins is something no employee can afford to do.

Move #6: Become A Thought Leader

A thought leader is an individual that is recognized in and out of the company as an authority in selected areas of specialization, making that person a go-to source.

Strategy consultant Dorie Clark, wrote in the Harvard Business Review 6 steps on How to became a Thought Leader; 3 of those steps include creating a robust online presence, networking, and public speaking.

I urge you to read this post to discover the secrets of sharing the knowledge you already have with the world as a thought leader. In the post you will learn that good employees are nice to have; but thought leaders are irreplaceable — and indispensable.

The Bottom Line: You are the Turbocharger

You are much more than an employee. You are flexible. You are a networker; a leader and a thought leader — you are a turbocharger!!!! A turbocharger knows that the arc of your career is in your hands. In other words you are in control.

Happy New Year!!!! Go out and make 2015 your best year ever!!!

©Copyright 2015 Marben Bland

Need an inspiring speaker for a seminar, workshop or conference keynote? Let’s talk! My unique background in the military, business and the faith communities allows me to speak effectively on many topics of interest to your audience. From a project management seminar to stirring speech about the importance of leadership. I can give a presentation that will leave your audience entertained and informed. Call me today at (608) 358-1309 or email me

Marben Bland is a business strategist professional speaker, faith leader and writer. Specializing in assisting business with the acquisition of human and financial capital along with the strategies required to succeed in the marketplace. Find more post at