Mentoring — Top Tips to Mentors

November 12th, 2015

When you successfully mentor, both you and your mentee grow and develop, and you will discover rewarding experiences and new opportunities.

To help you understand the mentoring process and its potential, Dr. Lois J. Zachary, President, Leadership Development Services, LLC, offers Top Tips to Mentors. The Center for Mentoring Excellence is a division of Leadership Development Services.

Top Tips to Mentors

►  “Listening is critical,”  Lois explains. “You should not talk more than the mentee. Mentoring is about the mentee’s growth and development. Don’t make assumptions without checking them out first. You might jump to incorrect conclusions if you do. How good are you at listening, asking questions and clarifying your mentee’s perspectives?”

►  “Try to walk in the mentee’s shoes. Different generations see the world differently. They have different experiences and interests. Ask questions so that you can understand your mentee’s perspective.  In conversation, check things out. Say ‘I am assuming…’  Or, say ‘I’m curious about…’  Your mentee will appreciate that you’re trying to understand where they are coming from.

►  “Mentoring is mentee-driven, so clarify your role and mentee expectations, and as you move along in the process, make sure you’re on the same page.”

►  “Hold yourself accountable for supporting your mentees and helping them develop a vision and a goal for the future. At the end of every mentoring session, ask the mentee if the feedback you provided was relevant and useful.”

►  While you are helping and supporting your mentee, “look at mentoring as an opportunity for self-development and growth,” Dr. Zachary explains. “Always consider how you can become a better mentor. It will help you become more effective with co-workers and strengthen your skills as a leader.”

► “Your mentees must leave with the capacity, competence and confidence to achieve their goals.”

The potential for your growth and development, new personal insights and lessons you will learn as a mentor are transferrable to many situations as you consider your potential – and whether you might seek a mentor for yourself.

To subscribe to the Center for Mentoring Excellence monthly eletter: or text MENTORING4U to 22828 on your mobile device.



Job Hunting — Think Like an Employer

October 22nd, 2015

“The short list of candidates all have the ability to do the work, so what makes the difference? Whether employers know it or not, intuitively they are always looking for a candidate who meets or exceeds their expectations in these six qualities [presented as PADMAN]:

  • Presentation
  • Ability
  • Dependability
  • Motivation
  • Attitude
  • Network”

In their book, The 6 Reasons You’ll Get the Job – What Employers Look for Whether They Know It or Not, authors Debra Angel MacDougall and Elisabeth Harney Sanders-Park offer new perspectives and approaches, dozens of specific tips, examples and resources that lead to rewarding opportunities.

For example, “from the employer’s perspective, presentation is not just a matter of looking good; it’s about looking, sounding, and acting like the employer.”  Do you have the right presentation, one that is consistent with the company’s culture, team spirit and customer expectations?

In your pre-interview research, “target companies with images similar to your own, and adjust your presentation so you will easily fit into a company’s image.”  The authors also address the many “common employer complaints and mistakes in interviews.

When you’re job hunting, you may “think ability is the most important of the six PADMAN areas. In reality,” the authors explain that  “ the lack of ability may get you screened out, but it’s usually one of the other five areas that get you hired. … Only in the case of technical jobs for which there are few people with required skills is ability the final reason you are hired.”

What does dependability really mean?  Most people think it’s about coming to work every day, on time. However, employers want to know if   “you will work in the company’s best interests. Can they  trust you with their money, customers, secrets, products, and reputation?. … Employers want people they can depend on to follow instructions, produce the quality and quantity of work required, meet deadlines, and stay until the job is done.”

How would you define your motivation?  “From an employer’s perspective, motivation is not just about taking initiative, doing the extra or being ambitious – it’s about using all that to help them achieve their goals.”  Thus, have you done your homework?

Before the interview, review the company’s mission and goals in every area, including the industry or field the company operates in. Besides searching the Internet, talking to staff and customers,   consider your professional experience from different perspectives and share  relevant examples. If, at the end of the interview, you are asked if you have any questions, make sure you have some. For example, you can clarify the company’s goals, priorities and challenges and how you can contribute.

Consider your attitude. Authors MacDougall and Sanders-Park explain that  ”from the employer’s perspective, attitude is not just being friendly and respectful; it’s about fitting in.”  Employers want to know if you will complement  their culture,  team members  and customers, and do you have a strong work ethic.

While “different employers value different attitudes, there are some that all employers value.”  Do you have a strong work ethic, which includes your commitment to stay until the job is done…sometimes five to ten hours more per week?  So if you’re asked about this during an interview, explain your availability and areas of flexibility.

What may come as a surprise to job hunters is how important their networks are to potential employers. Your network includes industry contacts, membership in associations and clubs, social networking sites, online groups and connections, as well as references and referrals. Employers appreciate your ability and skills, but often more important is your potential to increase company potential and profits through networking.

The 6 Reasons You’ll Get the Job “will challenge many of your beliefs about job searching…and prove you are the ideal candidate for their job.”


Time to “Brand” New You

September 10th, 2015

Branding is receiving lots of attention. Is it time to create a brand for yourself or reconsider your current one?

Your brand evolves over time, reflecting a personal and professional commitment to your goals, beliefs and the expectations of others. A brand is what we (consumers, employers, colleagues, friends and family) trust you for.

Each of us has a personal brand – characteristics and experience we offer. Many, many articles and books discuss personal branding and the importance of authenticity and trust, and here are a few that offer insights and advice as you consider your approaches.

► “Personal Branding Guerrilla Style…Shape Up Your Brand with Attitude,” Chapter 2, Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 3.0, by Jay Conrad Levinson and David Perry, John Wiley & Sons.

► Branding and the “Me” Economy, The New York Times,

► Branding Gets Personal for These Job Seekers, The Wall Street Journal,

► Your Personal Brand Needs a Growth Strategy, Entrepreneur Magazine,

► Rethink “brand you,” and find your authentic self, Forbes Magazine,

► Clients Want Authenticity – Your brand needs to reflect the real you,

► Is your business [brand] male or female?

► Your Brand – My Gut Feeling and Trust,

► Brand New You,

► Personal Branding (Perspectives),

Ready for a “brand” new you?

Public Libraries Help You Grow Your Business

August 9th, 2015

Entrepreneurs, retailers, corporations, nonprofits, and home-based businesses appreciate their public library’s business centers and diverse resources.

“Large businesses use our Business & Career Center’s private rooms to interview potential employees.  Other organizations present special programs in our fully equipped meeting venues. And, entrepreneurs who have researched a new business concept can work with SCORE counselors to develop business plans,” says Terry Ratoff, Business Services Librarian, Skokie Public Library, Illinois. “If you’re starting a new career, we can  help you with your resume and identify potential employers and job sites.”

The Business & Career Center is also useful to home-based and other small businesses, providing additional space for meeting clients and hosting presentations. “One business owner told me she moved her business into a small office space near the library because she knew she could hold larger meetings here.”

The library’s Business & Career Center offers access to other library resources, available online and at the library via a free Business Library Card.

  •  Online Resources open new doors. You can research a variety of business, industry and investment sources, technology venues, sites to learn another language, and technology and software training from your home or office.
  • The Business and Career Center’s meeting rooms are equipped with wi-fi, SMART boards, voice conference and projection equipment. The largest room accommodates 49 individuals, another seats 16 around a large conference table, and the smallest room seats 5.
  • The Digital Media Lab provides equipment and staff support for creating digital videos, music, photography, websites and more.
  • Ongoing classes and programs presented by the library as well as other expert presenters include: SMART Phone Photography and editing, Managing Your Business Cash Flow, Creating a Business Plan for loan applications. The library  holds regular Business before Hours sessions which cover a variety of subjects to help small businesses use social media such as “Build Your Business with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.”
  • Business and technical books and magazines for small businesses are available in the library or online
  • SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) offers two opportunities at the library: one-on-one business consultations with SCORE counselors as well as SCORE programs on specific subjects.
  • Library experts will schedule one-on-one sessions with you to introduce new resources and technology and help you meet challenges in other areas, such as mobile devices or software questions.
  • Skokie Public Library’s ongoing programs and classes feature a variety of business and career oriented subjects.

Whether you want to escape your office clutter and distractions to work on a special project, or you want to take photos/videos of your pizza parlor for marketing purposes, or you want to meet with a client in a private room, or you want to explore new career opportunities, or you want to reserve a room for your association’s program, your public library is there for you. Check it out to grow your business!

Business Center Meeting Room at the Skokie Public Library:

Overview of the Skokie Public Library Business Services:

For more information, contact Terry Ratoff, Community Engagement Librarian Business Services, Skokie Public Library:, 847-324-3417.



Copyright Protection in Today’s Times

July 22nd, 2015

Although the Internet has changed the world and the countless ways we can communicate, copyright laws have not really changed. You may be a creator whose work has been altered or reproduced without your permission (“copyright infringement”). Or, if you would like to share small portions of someone else’s creation, you may not understand when you can (“fair use”).

“While copyright laws have basically  remained the same, the challenge is trying to enforce the laws. Fortunately, the Internet offers us many services and resources that protect and inform us,” explains Andrew L. Goldstein, Attorney at Law, Freeborn & Peters, LLP.

Here are a few of the many issues we should be aware of.

Photography. “For example, you can register photos with a photographic copy infringement service such as Pixsy, an automated copyright infringement software. Pixsy searches the Internet for your photos that have been used without permission. Large stock photo houses also provide copyright infringement services. It finds videos, images and photos that are available to use.

Social Media and Photos. Whether posting a photo or video on Instagram, Twitter, YouTube or other social media, it helps if you protect it with a copyright symbol. If it’s a photo it might help if you post low resolution images. Instagram, for example, encourages you to protect your copyright to avoid infringement.

E-books. “E-book copyright issues are similar to classic copyright infringement issues. For example, if you are writing, producing or reading an E-book, Kindle books do have copyright protection.

News Aggregation and Deep Linking.

You probably receive emails from news aggregators or head to their sites. They offer information and articles from several sources (theirs and others) usually with a general common theme (e.g., public relations, home maintenance, etc). If you are introducing them to the site itself, then use a general link.  “Deep linking” could be a violation of the terms of use on a particular website.

“Gotcha” Responds to Misleading Consumers.  The Federal Trade Commission has responded to misleading marketing of products or services. Whether you’re a blogger, Internet marketer, or promote via other media, full disclosure is required. Full disclosure requirements and guidelines include endorsements and testimonials that have been paid for. And, if it applies, disclosure includes “native advertising” that is presented as objective editorial content. The first case that the FTC brought under its revised Endorsement and Testimonial Guidelines was against a video game company and its PR agency. The agency posted positive reviews of its client’s games under various account names.  Because the posts did not disclose the poster’s relationship to the video game company, both the video game company and the PR agency were held to have violated the FTC’s guidelines. In another case, the FTC recently investigated the Ann Taylor company when bloggers failed to disclose that they received gifts from Ann Taylor. However, because Ann Taylor had a policy in place requiring bloggers to disclose any consideration provided by the company and it cooperated with the FTC’s investigation, the FTC did not bring an enforcement action against Ann Taylor.

Copyright protection does apply in today’s times, and you will find more information in a previous discussion with Andrew L. Goldstein at “Whose Words Are They: Quotes, Copyrights & Testimonials,”






“Feeling stuck? Try something that doesn’t ‘make sense’ for a change.”

June 24th, 2015

Entrepreneurs’ block? Time for a career change?  Writers’ block?  Weak executive presence? Or, phobias that affect your behavior?

“We think we’re naturally logical and should know how to respond to these challenges,” explains Mark R. Hurwich, MBA, Concentrated Coaching, LLC. “People have passions to pursue or realize they need to open a new chapter in their lives. But internal struggles get in the way and block progress. Because it makes no sense when we get stuck that way, we respond by trying the same ‘rational’ things over and over – forcing ourselves to try to do what we know we ought to and have enough skills for.”

“However, trying to act in that rational way itself makes no sense! Humans aren’t designed to be rational 100% of the time…and when we can’t be, different strategies are needed.”

Mark offers alternative strategies, insights, success stories, FAQs and experience that can lead to a dramatic difference at Here are a few of his suggestions for getting unstuck.

  •  “Acknowledge your emotions.” Mark reminds us that our behavior will not always be logical and is affected by our emotions, which we must acknowledge, identify and address. Thus, when we’re “feeling stuck,” there are emotions behind the scenes, especially fear. Coming to terms with them can be liberating and help us see and act on rewarding possibilities and opportunities
  • “Explore the solution, not just the problem. When we’re stuck, we tend to dwell in that space of problem and failure, and recreate more negative energy. We can change that by looking at what it will be like when we have the outcomes we want.”
  • “Remind yourself of your gifts. When we get stuck in a problem state, we feel incompetent. That feeds our fear and saps our energy for change. Reminding yourself of the special talents you bring can be an antidote for that—especially when you have a trusted friend of partner to help you,” Mark adds. For example, you might say, “People appreciate my creativity, my team spirit or my leadership skills.” That can build confidence so you can represent yourself in a way that supports a new working relationship, whether as an entrepreneur or working for another organization. “As my clients recall their gifts, they often say, ‘I needed this useful lesson and helpful reminder’.”
  • “Experience the journey with self-compassion and playfulness. People who are too hard on themselves delay the process and their potential. If you have been in this position – feeling stuck and more confused – try to step back, relax and accept yourself. That’s when the magic happens.”
  • “Put yourself in the future you want, and then interview yourself from that perspective.” Think of it as a time machine taking you into your future. When you imagine the experience you want, it helps you achieve it or a version of it in reality. Do it by actually putting yourself in the future – not looking at the future from the present. The former eases our fears because most of our brain can’t distinguish imagining from the actual experience. The latter tends to focus us on how-to’s that aren’t relevant yet and only build fear. When our fear circuits are active, it’s hard to be creative.”
  • “Talk to your parts.” Mark reminds us that “we’re not monolithic and each of us has different parts and personalities. It’s like an internal family system – sometimes in a civil war. [See the movie Inside Out if you want a current, fun example!] So, moderate the conversation between your two opposing parts, identify pros and cons, and you will soon understand the different perspectives and find common ground that helps you feel unstuck.”

As you consider Mark’s suggestions, you might also appreciate his Warm Up Exercise:





Workplace Relationships – Professional You and Personal You

June 2nd, 2015

When you’re at work, you’re at work…one of a team trying to achieve your employer’s and organization’s goals. This is your professional side.

But, things get complicated when you’re only a few feet away from your colleagues. You hear their personal and professional conversations, and they hear yours; you want to discuss something personal or they do; or maybe you’re “attracted” to another employee, which could present problems. Now it’s getting personal, and how do you handle that?

 ”You have to understand the boundaries between personal and professional relationships and conversations at the workplace. It’s important to allow your personality into your workplace to a certain extent. This enables you to be more fully engaged in your work while ensuring that you’re perceived as a genuine person. But the idea is to   find a happy medium – a small fraction of your personal side complementing the more relevant, important dimension that’s professional,” says Karen Field Bolek, writer, editor and author.

Her book, How to Apologize to Your Woman…so that she won’t use it against you in the —  covers gender-based communication skills in personal relationships, but many of the suggestions and techniques also apply to workplace and impersonal situations. Karen’s career experience, on-site and as a consultant, has provided many insights on the challenges of drawing boundaries at the workplace.

“If a colleague starts a personal conversation about something not related to work and it seems to be going on for too long, simply say, ‘I need to get some work done now. Let’s discuss this at break, or lunch or after work.’  Never have personal discussions through email or social media. They’re not as private as you might think.”

Your employer may have given employees the company’s professional code of conduct as well as work and other information that it considers personal or inappropriate in a workplace. Yes, of course, you will meet co-workers who become personal friends. However, while at work, treat each other as colleagues.

“Besides your employer’s standards, you will learn more about your own boundaries (personal and professional), what’s driving you, and whether your expectations are realistic.”

Personal/professional boundaries include sexual harassment from a boss or colleague. “Be respectful,” Karen advises, “but decline inappropriate suggestions. “

Then, as you explore and consider how others see you and how you see yourself, you will better appreciate feedback from team players and your boss.  Even when it’s not what you imagined or when it’s negative, their opinions and observations can be very constructive and thought-provoking.

“As we progress through the different stages of our lives,” Karen adds, “we encounter ‘critical points of growth.’ These are challenges that must be faced squarely and worked through in order to succeed according to your own definition of success. Unless your job is performed in isolation, learning to converse with others appropriately and to draw boundaries where needed comprises critical points of growth for your career. If you realize you have a problem in this area, take the opportunity to re-open your mind and re-align with your purpose.”

“Moreover, each workplace has a unique culture and specific personalities and expectations. Thus, if your conversational challenge is affecting your job performance, then I suggest you initiate a dialog with your manager or a mentor about how best to grow through your particular situation.”

You’re always learning more about the professional you and personal you as you create positive workplace relationships that can lead to new and rewarding possibilities.


Conversational Footnotes:

Volunteering — Rewards & New Opportunities

April 28th, 2015

Volunteering for a nonprofit organization offers many benefits: supporting a nonprofit’s mission, discovering a personal passion, meeting new people who share your interests, increasing your professional skills, or finding a new job.

One of the ways we choose our volunteer experiences is by first using a nonprofit’s services for specific needs, which reflects Jill Minetz’s experience with Tuesday’s Child Chicago, a nonprofit that helps families address children’s behavioral challenges and concerns through individualized training for both parents and children.

“I was referred to Tuesday’s Child more than 30 years ago, when my first child was just three years old, “Jill explains. “Our daughter and I had a terrific relationship until we had a second child. Given the fact that my eldest daughter no longer received my full attention, critical behavioral issues developed. I needed professional help to learn how to address my behavior…as well as my daughter’s…and chose Tuesday’s Child because it works with parents and children simultaneously.”

When their family’s issues settled down – offering new insights and approaches – Jill saw that other parents, who had also benefited from the nonprofit’s services, decided to volunteer in its Parents Training Parents program. After going through the training, she has been volunteering for 32 years.

Jill offers advice about volunteering. “Know yourself. Why do you want to volunteer for a particular nonprofit? What type of commitment can you handle…one or more times per week, just for special fundraisers, or something else? What are your goals and interests, and do they complement the nonprofit’s?

The following resources can help you find mutually rewarding volunteer experiences and new opportunities.

Why Volunteer?

How to Choose a Volunteer Experience

 Does Volunteering Lead to a Job?




Customer Service and Public Relations — They Go Together

March 23rd, 2015

It really doesn’t make any difference whether your job title relates to customer service or public relations. If you communicate with a customer, or a customer is trying to communicate with you, then this is the bottom line.

Whatever our formal titles, whether we’re new to a job or very experienced pros, whether we’re selling, serving or buying, the need for responsive, positive customer service is always there and part of your personal and organization’s public relations and marketing goals.

The following 1st Person PR blog posts present different perspectives and insights into customer service and offer direction for mutually rewarding experiences.

What are your customer service stories?

Getting Ready to Negotiate with Others? Start by Negotiating with Yourself!

February 16th, 2015

Whether we’re negotiating with managers, parents, colleagues or friends to find a mutually rewarding agreement or relationship “…the biggest obstacle is actually ourselves – our natural tendency to react in ways that do not serve our true interests….But this obstacle can also become our biggest opportunity.”

In his latest book, Getting to Yes with Yourself and Other Worthy Opponents, author William Ury explains “that if we learn to understand ourselves first, we lay the groundwork for understanding and influencing others.”

Ury introduces “Six Challenging Steps” that may at times seem like common sense…common sense that is uncommonly applied.” Ury’s experience includes 3 ½ decades of working as a mediator with people and organizations from all walks of life. The Six Challenging Steps offer specific, in-depth information on how to negotiate with yourself (“Inner Yes Method”) and how this approach will lead to rewarding outcomes for yourself and the “other side.” Here’s an introduction, and there’s a detailed chapter on each in his book.

 “1. Put Yourself in Your Shoes. Understand your worthiest opponent, yourself.”  Don’t prematurely judge yourself. Listen to and explore your underlying needs, which will influence your negotiation strategy.

“2. Develop Your Inner BATNA. Almost all of us find it difficult not to blame others with whom we come into conflict. The challenge is to do the opposite and to take responsibility for your life and relationships. More specifically, it is to develop your inner BATNA (Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement), to make a commitment to yourself to take care of your needs independently of what the other does or does not do.”

“3. Reframe Your Picture. …The challenge is to change how you see your life, creating your own independent and sufficient source of contentment. It is to see life as being on your side even when it seems unfriendly.”

“4. Stay in the Zone. … The challenge is to stay in the present moment, the only place where you have the power to experience true satisfaction as well as to change the situation for the better.”

“5. Respect Them Even If. … It is tempting to meet rejection with rejection, personal attack with personal attack, exclusion with exclusion. The challenge is to surprise others with respect and inclusion even if they are difficult.”

“6. Give and Receive. It is all too easy, especially when resources seem scarce, to fall into the win-lose trap and to focus on meeting only your needs. The final challenge is to change the game to a win-win approach by giving first instead of taking.”

 Ury also discusses The Three Wins: A Win Within, A Win With Others, and A Win for the Whole. “As I have personally experienced,” Ury says, “getting to yes with yourself is not just the most challenging, but the most rewarding negotiation of all.”