Want to Change Your Life? Use the Power of Small Groups!

August 15th, 2018

Whatever your age, are you wondering about the next phase of your life? If so, do you wish you had a concrete, practical plan of action and solid support to help you change, maybe even re-invent yourself?

“It may be time to join an existing small group or form a new one yourself,” says Sue Baugh, a veteran small-group leader. “Ideally, your group should be limited to six to eight people to allow everyone time to share. Have a clear focus for the group—such as exploring next steps for your life, taking chances in a new direction, discovering what new ideas and abilities are emerging in you. Then gather like-minded people to share the journey. Besides bringing their experience and expertise to the group, members can also ask questions and offer insights that would never occur to you. Often we can’t see how we might be stopping ourselves–but others can.”

Group Support. Baugh recommends that small groups meet in person and keep a regular schedule—once a month, twice a month, whatever members feel they need. “I’ve found there’s a greater benefit in meeting face to face than in meeting online or over the phone. Being together physically sends the message that you’ve taken the time and trouble to show up for each other. And once you’re together, there’s a kind of spirit and electricity in face-to-face groups that’s missing otherwise.”

Baugh says that small groups often benefit members in ways that go beyond their original purpose. “For instance, author Lynn McTaggart in her book, The Power of Eight, organized small groups to focus healing energy on others. To their surprise, the members found that over time, they were experiencing healing as well! You can’t underestimate the power of a focused group to change the lives of its members.”

To help groups succeed in their goals, Baugh offers the following practical advice.

Guidelines for Successful Groups.

  • Set a clear intention for the group. What would you like to accomplish? Your intention may change over time, but start with a clear focus.
  • Listen carefully to each other. Ask good questions to clarify issues. Active, empathetic listening is a powerful tool in small groups.
  • Be honest and constructive when you give feedback to others. Have faith in them until they have faith in themselves.
  • Be open to moving past your comfort zone. Maybe it’s time to take the limits off your creative self. The group is there to help and support you.
  • Collaborate as a group to find solutions or actions for problems members raise.
  • Celebrate small as well as major successes. Small steps are critical for change.
  • End each meeting with some type of “homework”—a question, a task, a goal—to be completed by the next meeting. This helps build group momentum and keeps the creative juices flowing.

 Finally, Bring Your Commitment. “This is a major factor in a group’s success,” Baugh says. “Commit yourself 100 percent to the group for the time you have agreed to meet. And keep meeting at the appointed time even if only two of you can make it. You are holding the space for other group members. The more you commit to this process, the more creative power it has.”

Gift of Group Experience. A dedicated, focused small group can help you gain a new understanding of who you really are and what you have to offer, no matter what phase of life you are in. As Baugh affirms, “If you feel it’s time to make a real change in your life, I highly recommend you explore the power and rewards of a small group to help you do it.”

#

Sue Baugh, email: sue.baughws@gmail.com

Will you retire from work when you’re 65 or 95?

July 24th, 2018

Some people retire when they’re 65 or 70. Others are not the retiring type and still work in their 90s. Others go back to work after retiring. Or, you might want to volunteer. Your decision will probably depend on your financial resources, your personality, your interests and how rewarding your lifestyle is.

Here are some helpful resources as you consider the next chapter in your life.

Consider your possibilities to see what “works” for you?!

Market Yourself for a New Job – Starting this Summer

July 5th, 2018

Yes, you can enjoy summer while job hunting.  Many employers look for and hire new, permanent employees during the summer. If you’re interested and look forward to interviews, these resources will help.

Start Here:

Advantages to Job Searching in Summer

http://www.prepary.com/job-searching-in-summer/

4 Reasons Summer is Actually the Best Time to Job Search

https://www.themuse.com/advice/4-reasons-summers-actually-the-best-time-to-job-search

Books for you all year long:

  • Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 3.0. How to Stand Out from the Crowd and Tap into the Hidden Job Market Using Social Media and 999 Other Tactics Today. By Jay Conrad Levinson and David E. Perry
  • Use Your Head To Get Your Foot In The Door – Job Search Secrets No One Else Will Tell You. By Harvey Mackay
  • Cracking The Hidden Job Market – How To Find Opportunity In Any Economy. By Donald Asher
  • The 6 Reasons You’ll Get the Job – What Employers Look for Whether They Know It or Not. By Debra Angel MacDougall and Elisabeth Harney Sanders-Park

Best wishes, and stay cool. There’s a new job for you!

 

How to Set and Achieve Goals

June 18th, 2018

Setting goals gives some of us a sense of direction and accomplishment now or for the future.  Other people may prefer spontaneous decisions – their own, someone else’s suggestions, or unexpected opportunities.

One approach to achieving goals is SMART:  “First consider what you want to achieve, and then commit to it. Set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound) goals that motivate you and write them down to make them feel tangible. Then plan the steps you must take to realize your goal, and cross off each one as you work through them.”

On the other hand you will know when something triggers a spontaneous decision and unexpected goal.  Here are just a few of the many resources that can help you discover and pursue your possibilities and new directions.

 

Time to “Brand” a New You?!

May 29th, 2018

Is it time to create a brand for yourself or to reconsider your current one?

Your brand evolves over time, reflecting a personal and professional commitment to your goals, beliefs and the expectation 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.

By Marla Tabaka, Inc. magazine

By Jayson DeMers, Inc. Magazine

  • Branding Yourself: 6 Tips for Professional Success, By Robert Half

https://www.roberthalf.com/blog/salaries-and-skills/branding-yourself-6-tips-for-professional-success

Ready to Create a Website Yourself?

May 14th, 2018

If you want to personally create your website but don’t know how, read on.  Luke Renn, graphic designer, will take you through the steps and resources that will introduce you to consumers interested in your services and products. “From establishing a domain name to learning how SEO attracts online interest, you will be ready for prime time,” Renn says. www.Lukerenndesign.com.

Domain Name and Web Host. Your new website needs a web address, where people can go to find you on the internet, also known as your domain name. You also need a web host, the service company that will store your website files. GoDaddy, HostGator and DreamHost are among the many possible hosts.

Luke Renn suggests that you “sign up with your host for multiple years, preferably three to five years. Or, if you want to sign up for one year, click ‘auto renew’.”  This is to avoid your website going offline in case you don’t check in on your hosting account regularly. Then consider what your email address will be (luke@lukerenndesign.com)  You can also use Gmail or other email services.

Website Design.  Now it’s time for the look or design of your website. The service company you choose will probably offer templates that you can adapt to your site. For example, WordPress has “themes.” Or, you can work with a website designer. Start the process by looking at other sites, including competitive companies. Ask colleagues for their feedback.

“You need to make sure your website has ‘responsive’ design so it can be easily seen on a desktop computer, tablet and cell phone. From a design standpoint, a website typically has a logo in the upper left corner, a header along the top with navigation links, and a ‘banner image’ or ‘slideshow’ on the homepage. The ‘banner image’ or ‘slideshow’ is generally horizontal in size and spans the width of the website. Other elements include social media icons,” Renn explains.

Renn reminds us that there are many resources for stock photos and images that are reasonably priced. One of them is the website, istockphoto.com.

SEO – Search Engine Optimization. If you want people to visit your website, then you have to learn more about SEO. It helps your business grow and meet your professional objectives. Because users trust search engines (e.g., Google) you want to include the keywords they are searching for and to increase your website’s potential and value.

This means that when you are developing and writing your website’s content, you have to research how people look for your type of business. Your copy and website content should “attract” search engine interest up front and throughout your site.

You will find resources about SEO and keywords and how to choose them at First Person Public Relations: http://sallychapralis.com/blog/?p=1102

“There isn’t a magic way to get good search results. It requires time, effort and maintenance,” Renn explains. Google and other search engines will return better search results over time as your website grows and establishes an online presence.

“WordPress is a free content management system that currently powers 30% of all websites online. Its themes or templates allow users to change the look of their website without altering the site content. Basic themes are free, although you may want to purchase a custom-designed theme that offers superior layout and customization, such as those found at https://www.elegantthemes.com/,” Renn adds.

These premier themes usually sell for under $100.

“An extensive library of plugins, which offer custom features such as Search Engine Optimization, Twitter feed, etc., allow users to extend the functionality of their WordPress websites easily and inexpensively.”

“Be warned,” Renn adds, “that WordPress can be vulnerable to security issues if not properly maintained. You must be diligent in keeping all of your themes and plugins updated. Also, strong passwords are a must for your site administrators.”

Learn more about WordPress at:  https://wordpress.org/

 

Do Your Customers Love You?

April 20th, 2018

Because “you need your customers more than they need you,” Jeb Blount offers the “Seven Essential Principles of Customer Service” in his book, People Love You – The Real Secret to Delivering Legendary Customer Experiences.

As Blount explains, “The fact is customers are not loyal to products, services or companies. Instead, they are loyal to people they like, trust and believe in.” So while the mechanics and process of servicing customers are important, your real goal is to build “strong emotional bonds with customers that last a lifetime.”

Thus, Blount presents “The Seven Essential Principles of Customer Engagement”:

“Principle 1: You Need Your Customers More Than They Need You. The number one reason companies fail is a lack of customers. Whether you are the boss, account manager or sales person, top customer service professionals believe their mission is to help their customers win and reach their goals. They are advocates for their customers. And they believe that by helping their customers reach their goals, they will reach their own.”

“Principle 2: Customers Are People. They are emotional, irrational and human. They feel fear and stress. They are overworked and underpaid. They are time starved. They have ambition and goals. They have an insatiable need to feel important and appreciated. They have families and priorities. Each interaction with a person crates an experience that they remember. Though you may believe that your product or service has a greater impact on your customer’s experience than you do, remember that customers don’t do business with companies, they do business with people – you.”

“Principle 3: You Are Always On Stage. Business is a grand stage and…from that stage you deliver customer experiences. Everything you say or don’t say, do or don’t do, your facial expressions, tone of voice and body language can and will have an impact on your customer’s experience. Your words and actions have meaning. A misspoken word, display of raw emotion, or slip of the tongue will impact the relationships you have with customers. … This is where customer experience is born. Yours and theirs.”

“Principle 4: Customers Act on Emotion and Justify with Logic. “One of the core principles of the ‘People Love You’ philosophy is the universal law of human behavior: People act first (or buy) on emotion and then justify those actions with logic.’ Yes, there are ‘folks who will argue this point to the death.’ And, yes it is true that we all try to make logical purchasing decisions based on facts, numbers, observations and stats. But it is the emotion we feel that causes us to act.”

“Principle 5: Customers Do Things for Their Reasons – Not Yours. Account managers or customer service professionals should embrace the belief that though customers may not always be right, they are always first. They stand in their shoes and view situations through their customer’s perspective.”

“Principle 6: Customers Don’t Do Illogical Things on Purpose. While some managers believe ‘customers do dumb things on purpose’ … there is usually an alternative explanation for their actions. … Top customer service professionals assume positive intent. In other words, they recognize that the customer thought she was doing the right thing. They know that when a customer is doing the wrong thing, there is a reason and it is in their best interest as a service professional (because they need their customers more than their customers need them) to investigate why the person is doing something that seems illogical rather than simply judge it as such. This helps them to either gain understanding or uncover and remove the root cause.”

“Principle 7: Always Give More Than Is Required. Generally, when discussing customer service, the cliché is to ‘exceed customer expectations.’ But, Jeb Blount explains, ‘it is not always possible to exceed their expectations, since you may not know what they are or can’t exceed them. “At my company, we have a simple value statement that we live by. We always do more than we have to and we will be kind to everyone, no matter what. … Focus on what you can control – your actions. … That is, ‘give your customers more value that they paid for.’ We often forget about our expectations and instead think about how good we feel and our experience.”

Blount discusses the “Five Levers of Customer Experience that help you move people to love you by tapping into the motivations that are driven by human emotion,” and he explains how to “make breaking up hard to do.”

###

SEO and Keywords – We Can Find You!

April 11th, 2018

You will find lots of different opinions and suggestions on SEO and which keywords to use to attract your target markets and achieve your goals. If you want to be discovered by the right consumers, here are just a few resources that will help in your SEO keyword research.

Here you go:

There’s more, including KWFinder, Keyword Tool, and SEMrush (whew?!).

“Powerful Writing Changes Lives”

March 20th, 2018

“Oprah calls it a ‘heart song’ … for me, it’s a calling … and I’ve been blessed with two,” explains Carla D. Bass, retired Colonel, USAF and author of the award-winning book, Write To Influence!

Bass set her heart on a career in Air Force intelligence when she was in 7th grade. She followed her father’s footsteps … and her own dream … and served her country in locations worldwide that include Germany, Bulgaria, Korea, Turkey, Hawaii, and Washington, D.C. She retired in 2007 but in 2008, joined the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, where she is still happily employed.

Her first heart song led unexpectedly to the second … empowering people to change their lives by teaching them to write. How did this happen? When she commanded a unit of 480 people, Bass saw the direct correlation between powerful writing and career progression. Talented, deserving people lost professional competitions because their bosses couldn’t write powerful nominations.

She analyzed her own writing, composed a small handbook, and taught her unit to write. They swept the awards … often! She’s since taught thousands of people. Her battle cry is “Powerful writing changes lives!” because it opens doors to opportunity.

Bass’s experience and drive to help others led to Write To Influence!, published in January, 2017. Its audience is expansive, as the subtitle indicates, “Personnel Appraisals, Resumes, Awards, Grants, Scholarships, Internships, Reports, Bid Proposals, Web Pages, Marketing, and More.”

According to Bass, “Powerful writing is the lifeblood of effective organizations. Employers value people who write concisely, conveying messages in minimal words and time. But, they struggle to find that skill set.” Therefore, Bass teaches people to capture and retain attention. How? She replies, “Make each word count and every second of the reader’s time play to your advantage.”

Write to Influence! consists of a four-part journey: 1) Word Sculpting – tools to craft hard-hitting sentences, 2) Strategies to Make your Case, 3) Strategies to Clinch the Deal, and 4) Exercises (with answers and explanations). She explains, “This is not a grammar book. It’s entertaining, fun and effective.”

When interfacing with clients in her workshops – students in high school or college through work force professionals – she applies the same open-handed, easy going approach, teaching techniques that enable them to better compete for jobs, selective career opportunities, promotions, and awards.

“Ace Your Annual Review,” “College Applications – Essays that Open Doors,” “Powerful Writing … for Professionals,” “Write to Influence! – The Fundamentals,” and “Powerful Resumes – Stand Out from the Crowd,” are just a few of her offerings.

As Bass explains, “My goal is not necessarily to sell books, but to empower people through their own writing to achieve goals they might not have imagined.”

For more information on Bass, her book and workshops … see, http://carladbass.com. By the way, she celebrated her book’s first birthday – with a cake! Scroll down to see the photo she took on her kitchen table! Happy 1st birthday, Write to Influence!

Professional Associations Help You Succeed

February 25th, 2018

Thousands of professional associations – local, national, international – serve their members in many rewarding ways. Whether you’re new to your profession or an experienced pro, you will see how invaluable they can be in your career – from networking with knowledgeable peers to a variety of important professional resources, ongoing programs and services, and new jobs.

►Why Join a Professional Association?

http://www.ilcounseling.org/?page=whyjoin

►Top 10 Reasons to Join a Professional Organization

https://blog.cccctech.com/top-10-reasons-to-join-a-professional-organization/

►Millennials Have Rediscovered the Benefits of Joining a Professional Organization

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/246691

►13 Basic Benefits of Joining a Professional Organization

https://www.educba.com/joining-a-professional-organization/

►Professional Associations and Why They Matter

http://www.slaw.ca/2012/01/20/professional-associations-and-why-they-matter/

►American Society of Association Executives

https://www.asaecenter.org/

►The Encyclopedia of Associations covers thousands of professional associations categorized by subject. You can find it at your local public library or online.

Here’s to your success and the professional associations that help you achieve it !!