3 Goals for 2013

If only I’d bought that Apple stock 20 years ago or Oracle way back when. Or in the 10th grade told Sally Harris I was crazy about her, or actually taken that trip down the Amazon, or turned right instead of left. Life’s full of “if-onlys” and “what-ifs” and there ain’t diddly you can do about it but let it go and move forward.

As I write this post on Thanksgiving evening in my “bathroom” office, full of Food, Football and Family there are less than 50 days remaining in 2012. On January 1st even if we have fallen off the fiscal cliff many of us will be living the first day of a new year and a new world where we have made resolutions to do or not do something. Resolutions that will change our lives, resolutions that will make us more money, resolutions that will make the world a safer place. – So I exaggerate a bit… however, every year we make resolutions…. and how many of those resolutions are kept past February 1st?

As a longtime resolution maker and resolution breaker, I have learned not to depend on them to change my behavior or to accomplish some impossible task. . What I have learned to depend on is to set Goals. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time based or SMART Goals.   Goals unlike resolutions can be set at any time of the year. And if your goals are made openly either to a trusted advisor or to the entire world they have the added value of accountability.   Which can be a marvelous impetus to get the “thing” that you want to get done. Avoiding at least some of the “if-onlys” and “what-ifs” that hamper our lives and keep us from moving forward.

So today embolden by the power of my Aunt Tina’s lemon pound cake I would like to share with you 3 of the many goals some personal some professional I have set for 2012. I do this not as a narcissistic exercise but as a true example of what goals can do if they are SMART and are shared with others.

 

Goal❶:Launch a Reimagined Blog Site by 4/1/2013

By April 1, 2013 design and introduce a new blog site. The site will have enhance video capabilities, greater conductivity for blog readers and a cool new look.

Goal❷In 2013 Run At Least One 5K Race Per Quarter

Reignite my passion for running by committing to take part in at a minimum of 4, 5K races in various parts of the country this year.

Goal❸In 2013 Devise Various Ways to Discover What My Blog Readers Want

I am proud to report that you are one of over 4,000 weekly readers of this blog. My efforts started out as a way for me to share job search information but it has become much more. I am extremely grateful for your readership and I want to produce content of interest to you. This survey link is designed to get your feedback, please take a moment complete this simple 5 question anonymous survey.

I hope you will take the remaining days of this year to think about what you want to accomplish in 2013. If making resolutions have not worked for you, please consider setting goals. In a demonstration of the power of goal setting I will share my progress on the 3 goals outlined in this post. Until then Happy New Year and happy goal setting!!!!

How Strong Are Your LinkedIn Contacts?

5 Shades of Thankfulness

This week, we celebrate my favorite holiday…Thanksgiving.  Yes, I favor it for the food, the football and the family.  But more than that, I favor it for the reflection…the reflection on the shades, if you will, of thankfulness that wave over my life.   For this year these are five of my many shades of Thanksgiving thankfulness.

❶I am thankful for my Faith.

God is my anchor.  His teachings are the guidepost of my life.  His love has given me peace; His grace has given me perspective.  And, His mercies has given me my life, my joy, and my stability.

❷I am thankful for my Family.

My family is a constant source of joy, wonderment and pride.  Joy, that comes with the privilege of every moment I get to spend with my magnificent 86-year old mother.  Wonderment, when I look into the sparkling eyes of my granddaughters while seeing my son growing into becoming an excellent father. And, pride in being the third child born into a remarkable family parented by Benjamin and Mary Lois Bland.

❸I am thankful for my Friends.

My friends–new, old, and more numerous to name, have been an endless source of intelligence, advice, and unconditional love.  But what my friends really are a source of a great deal of silliness and fun!!!  And for that, I am truly thankful.

❹I am thankful for my Country:  The United States of America.

Yes, I know we have just experienced a bitterly contested election where money, lies, and voter suppression substituted for ideas, honesty, and leadership. However, despite of and because of its faults, I am so thankful to live in this country–a country that is the beacon of liberty for the world; a country of innovation and hard work.  A country where despite our tinged racial history a child, born in Hawaii to a white mother and black father, can grow up to become the President of the United States.

❺I am thankful for my Work

During a time when millions of my fellow citizens are out of work, I am thankful to have work.  I am extremely thankful that part of my work has been to assist those looking for work.  I am thankful to never forget that work is more than just a paycheck; work represents the dignity that comes from using your talents and skills to support yourself and your family.

The bottom line

These are only five of the many shades of thankfulness that I am grateful for.   I hope, amidst the food, football and family, that you will spend a moment reflecting on your shades of thankfulness.

A final word of thanks

Finally, thank you for reading my weekly blog post.  Your comments week after week are a heartwarming affirmation that the words written and the stories told… matter.  I am forever amazed and grateful for your readership.

Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving. 

A Soldier’s Last Letter Home

On this Veteran’s Day as we wind down the longest war in American history the war in Afghanistan.  I would like to share with you the true cost for those who served in uniform and their families in a soldier’s last letter home from the war that just ended the war in Iraq.

Private First Class Jesse Givens had been in Iraq for a less than a month.  The 34 year old married with a stepson and a new son on the way was unable to shake a sense of dread – and a need to say goodbye to his family.

On May 1, as he helped to snuff fires set by insurgents, his tank crashed through a berm and fell into a canal off the Euphrates River. The rest of the crew escaped through a hatch, but Givens was trapped inside. Of all the dangers they were warned about, of all the terrible scenarios that went through the minds of his family, it was a scene nobody imagined:

Jesse Givens husband, father and father to be drowned in the desert.

A month later Melissa Givens, Jesse’s 27-year-old widow while going through her husband’s personal effects fond a letter that simply said “Open after my death”.   This is Jesse’s goodbye to his wife, Melissa, his stepson Dakota and his unborn son Bean.

My family:

I never thought I would be writing a letter like this, I really don’t know where to start. I’ve been getting bad feelings though and well if you are reading this . . .

I searched all my life for a dream and I found it in you. . . . The happiest moments in my life all deal with my little family. You will never know how complete you have made me. Each and every one of you. You saved me from loneliness and taught me how to think beyond myself. You taught me how to live and to love. You opened my eyes to a world I never even dreamed existed . . .

Dakota, you are more son than I could ever ask for. I can only hope I was half the dad. You taught me how to care until it hurts, you taught me how to smile again. You taught me that life isn’t so serious and sometimes you have to play. You have a big beautiful heart. Through life you need to keep it open and follow it. Never be afraid to be yourself. I will always be there in our park when you dream so we can still play together. I hope someday you will have a son like mine. Make them smile and shine just like you. I hope someday you will understand why I didn’t come home. Please be proud of me. Please don’t stop loving life. Take in every breath like it’s your first. I will always be there with you. I’ll be in the sun, shadows, dreams, and joys of your life.

Bean, I never got to see you but I know in my heart you are beautiful. I will always have with me the feel of the soft nudges on your mom’s belly, and the joy I felt when we found out you were on the way. I dream of you every night, and I always will. Don’t ever think that since I wasn’t around that I didn’t love you. You were conceived of love and I came to this terrible place for love. Please understand that I had to be gone so that I could take care of my family. I love you Bean.

I have never been so blessed as the day I met you Melissa. You are my angel, soulmate, wife, lover, and my best friend. I am sorry. I did not want to have to write this letter. There is so much more I need to say, so much more I need to share. A million lifetimes’ worth. I married you for a million lifetimes. That’s how long I will be with you. Please keep our babies safe. Please find it in your heart to forgive me for leaving you alone. . . . Do me a favor, after you tuck Toad and Bean in, give them hugs and kisses from me. Go outside look at the stars and count them. Don’t forget to smile.

Love Always

Your husband

Jess

Private First Class Jesse Givens – Thank you for your service.

3 Costly LinkedIn Profile Mistakes

LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network with 175 million members and growing.  LinkedIn’s ascendancy makes having a profile on the social media site a must for any job searcher, small business owner, or corporate professional.  Why?  Because LinkedIn gives you the keys to controlling your online identity in Google and other searches LinkedIn profiles typically rises to the top of search results.  Your LinkedIn profile allows you to directly control the first impression recruiters, customers and fellow professionals get when seeing you online.

Despite the growing importance of the impression gained by an effective LinkedIn profile a number of professionals are making profile mistakes which are costing them potential jobs, customers and professional opportunities.

What effect does your LinkedIn profile have…?

  • On your job search?
  • On how your customers find you?
  • On your online image?

This quick quiz will provide a measurement to gage if you a making any of the 3 costly LinkedIn profile mistakes.

  1. Is Your Profile100% Complete?  – A LinkedIn profile basically acts as an online resume giving recruiters, customers and professional contacts access to your experience, thoughts and interests.  LinkedIn estimates that you are 40 times more likely to get found in a LinkedIn search if your profile is complete.  Click on this link to find how to get your profile to 100% complete    Give yourself 10 points if your profile is 100% complete.
  2. Are you a member of at least one group?– LinkedIn groups provides an opportunity to join other industry professionals adding value to your own profile and helping you to get found by other industry contacts.  Click on this link to find out more about groups   Give yourself 10 points for each group you are a member of.
  3. Request recommendations – Obviously don’t ask everyone, especially if you don’t know them that well. But having recommendations will help your profile to stand out and will help to build trust in your reputation to visiting users. This will help improve the visibility of your own profile within internal LinkedIn searches as well.   Find out more about LinkedIn Recommendations by clicking on this link

Scoring: 

0-10:  You are in need of a LinkedIn profile makeover

10-50: Your profile is good but could use some work

50 & Above: Wonderful you have an effective profile

 

The Bottom Line  

LinkedIn makes much of its money by charging an elite group of corporate recruiters’ big money for the right to sift through member profiles, hunting for great candidates to hire. Old or threadbare profiles aren’t much use to recruiters. In contrast, profiles that sparkle with members’ latest awards, new job responsibilities and fresh professional qualifications are regarded as treasure.   I hope you will make your profile a treasure.

3 Cool Career Tips

I am an entrepreneur.  I am a thought leader on social media marketing and job search tactics.  I make keynote speeches, conduct seminars, and write blogs, articles and books. I coach corporate leaders, produce content, market and sell my services for a living.  I travel a lot, meet a lot great people and at this stage of the game make a fraction of my corporate salary. However, I have never been challenged as much, I have never used my brain more and I have never been happier.

While I will never say that I won’t go back to the corporate life.  I do know that I have learned at least 3 cool things that will hold me in great stead in whatever I do.  I present them to you with the hope they will enhance your career.

 1. Never Stop Learning

In order to be (and stay) competitive in your industry, you need to develop expertise. You need to enhance and expand your knowledge base, and you need to update it regularly. Armed with that knowledge, you can show your stakeholders—your investors, your board, or your clients—that they’re getting the best.

So, on an ongoing basis, take an honest look at your skill set and ensure that it reflects the latest trends and developments in your field. Read a lot. Make a regular effort to scan blogs and news articles, attend lectures and seminars, enroll in online or local classes, and find training opportunities in your market.  Yes, this demands an investment of time and resources, but the payoff will come in the form of your new, competitive skills.

2. Nurture Your Relationships

Anyone who runs his or her own business knows that good relationships can mean the difference between success and failure. Surrounding yourself with people who are smart, capable, connected, and interested in helping others gives you access to a wide range of resources—plus, the opportunity to learn from those who’ve “been there.”

Joining professional groups and being active on social media platforms, including Twitter and LinkedIn, are easy ways to start. Comment on the blogs of people you respect—they will notice. (Your comments to this blog are welcomed!!!) You can also create a “Mastermind Group,” a small group of like-minded professionals that meets regularly to share expertise, discuss challenges, and hold each other accountable to goals.

3. Take Risks

Very few successful people got to where they are by playing it safe. So, whether you plan to start your own business or not, consider developing the frame of mind of a risk-taker.

The greatest opportunities involve some measure of risk. And yes, you need to prepare yourself for that course. But, you also need to believe in yourself. You need to know that you have the strength to weather potential failures. And then, ultimately, you just need to go for it.

The Bottom Line

Over the years, I’ve met many successful business owners, corporate chieftains, and faith leaders. In working with these people, I’ve found that the most prolific of them all embrace the same foundational strategies for success: they rely on others, but they know that their very best resources lie within themselves.

So the real cool career tip is this:Each one of us is our own best investment. Devoting time, energy, and resources to bettering ourselves is the most effective way to reach our full potential and ensure success for the future.  ….. Live long and prosper!!!

 

What does breast cancer and bullying have in common?

Admittedly it may seem rather odd to think that breast cancer which almost 12% of all U.S. women will experience in their lifetime and bullying which 56% of students have personally felt would have much in common

Here are three things that this unusual paring have in common:

  • First, October is awareness month for both breast cancer and bullying.
  • Second, dramatic reductions in the rates of breast cancer and bullying have occurred in the last 3 years according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Third, breast cancer patients and people being bullied both have the power to succeed in the critical moments.

In this post it is my honor to share the story of two people one with breast cancer one who was being bullied both succeeding in the critical moments.

Before we meet these remarkable people let’s become more aware of what is at stake in the struggle against breast cancer and bullying.  

Breast Cancer

  • About 1 in 8 U.S. women (just under 12%) will develop breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.
  • In 2011, an estimated 230,480 new cases of breast cancer were diagnosed in US women.  In 2011, 2,140 US men were diagnosed with breast cancer. A man’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is about 1 in 1,000.
  • Though death rates have been decreasing since 1990 — especially in women under 50.  Still in 2011 about 39,520 women in the U.S. died from breast cancer.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure®  

Bullying

  • 56% of students have personally felt some sort of bullying at school. 90% of students between 4th and 8th grade are victims of bullying.  1 in 4 teachers see nothing wrong with bullying and will only intervene 4% percent of the time.
  • 9 out of 10 LGBT youth reported being verbally harassed at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation. One out of 10 students drops out of school because they are bullied.
  • Bully victims are between 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims.

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Stories of courage and action:  

In June of 2011 Peat Hampton was at the top of his game.  He was a computer programmer from suburban Houston a husband a father and an athlete. During a shower after taking a swim Peat felt a lump on his breast.  Because of what she learned from the American Cancer Society, Peat’s wife Cindy instantly knew that something was wrong.  Two weeks later her fears were confirmed Peat was one of the 2,140 men in the US diagnosed with breast cancer.

Peat was devastated by the diagnosis a “man’s man”… not only did he had cancer he had the “women” cancer.  In the two weeks before his surgery Peat was down in the dumps until he met another “man’s man” Roger Windom. Roger an Iraq war veteran was diagnosed with the “women” cancer while on the battlefield. After successful treatment Roger was back in the war zone within in a year.  Roger’s message to Peat…man up!  There is no “man’s cancer” there is no “women’s cancer” there is just cancer. Have the surgery and then go tell other men in your shoes about your experience.”

Peat summed the courage and had the surgery. Now a year later he is part of the largest group of cancer survivors in the U.S., the nearly 3 million people who have been successfully treated for breast cancer.

His health restored Pete then took action he joined Roger and others to raise breast cancer awareness among men. They have formed a group called “Pink Men” which has gone across the country sharing information and saving lives.

Tracie Altman is the model teenager.  She is an accomplished student at the top of her class, she was the stage manager for her high school musical, and she was the editor of her school newspaper. However, despite all of these accomplishments Tracie was being bullied. She was the target of crude and degrading Facebook posts bullying her for being fat, bullying her for being a nerd, bullying her for being gay.

Showing awareness and courage beyond her years Tracie did not let the attacks bring her down instead she took action.  Using her platform as the high school newspaper editor Tracie penned articles about bullying.  Aware of the problem perhaps for the first time her fellow students started to take action. Tracie’s Facebook friends posted her articles for others to see, and reported the names of those who bullied her. The school board was so moved by Tracie’s articles they took action, developing a comprehensive bullying prevention program including awareness training for teachers, and students along with procedures to report bullying. These measures have helped countless others all because of the awareness, courage and action of Tracie Altman.

The Bottom Line

While the examples of Tracie and Peat demonstrates the power to succeed in the critical moments.  Others facing the same critical moment have not been successful.

  • Many have suffered and died perhaps needlessly from breast cancer because they were not aware of its symptoms.
  • Many have been bullied because they or others lacked the courage to stop it.

For those of us who do not have breast cancer or who have not been bullied it up to us to take action for those who have.  For when we do we are increasing awareness, we are giving courage so that those who are in the critical moment can take action.  If we can do this then breast cancer and bullying will have one more thing in common…they will both be things of the past.