Tag-Archive for ◊ advice ◊

• Monday, December 09th, 2013

Staying productive while snowed-in

You can stay productive while snowed-in today!

Many of us along the Eastern seaboard are stuck inside after a brutal snowfall over the weekend, resulting in slick streets, icy roads, and general weather yuckiness. Sure, we would like to go out and make snow angels with the kids, or catch up on some guilty pleasure TV (cue the Housewives of whatever city), but the truth of the matter is that we still have to work.

So, here are five tips to keep you focused and productive while you are stuck indoors working.

Play first, then work

If you are like me, snow is actually a welcomed friend that I’m happy to see. So, to shake off the excitability and get focused, allow yourself time to revel at the winter wonderland for a few moments, including calling your loved ones to commiserate, and then get your workspace ready and operational. Having satisfied the kid inside of you before getting to work, you can reduce the urge to stray away from work.

Prioritize your day

You probably prioritize work responsibilities anyway, so tweak your agenda to include unanticipated interruptions, scheduling a play date for the kids because school is closed, shoveling the sidewalk, impromptu office teleconferences, and altered project due dates. If you are the most productive early in the morning, work on the most complicated tasks, or the assignments that take the most time to complete, at the beginning of the day.

Give yourself a break

For some people, working solo at home means that they can work nonstop with little interruption. That means progress, right? Sometimes, it can lead to burnout, brain freeze and frustration. So, schedule brief reprieves during your home-day workday. Take a coffee or tea break, make sure you have a bite to eat for lunch, and give those fast fingers a break from your smartphone, tablet, or laptop.

Stay connected

Staying connected with co-workers and team members while working from home during bad weather creates camaraderie, and keeps you on task. Checking in also helps you stay in touch on project updates, gain management input, and inspire collaboration through trading ideas in a more relaxed environment (your home!) and one-on-one conversations that may not happen during a normal day at work.

In addition, if snowy weather gets you down, staying connected to co-workers can help ease the effects of cabin fever.

Establish a routine and stick with it

Discipline can be tough in the best of circumstances. Staying on task when working alone at home can test your resolve, so it is a good idea to establish a work routine – especially if you anticipate being at home for more than one day – to help you keep on track with expectations from your supervisor, client, and colleagues on your project team.

Do you have any tips that help you productive during a wild weather shut-in? Share in the comment section below, or Tweet us @CareerConnectDC using hashtag #CCSnowDay.

DISCLAIMER: ASK THE STRATEGIST is a blog that highlights information on business, entrepreneurship, careers and the workplace, health, community, and women’s issues. Any content or advice dispensed through Ask The Strategist is solely for informational and entertainment purposes. All content is the property of Ask The Strategist and affiliated companies unless otherwise noted. We occasionally address questions from our readers and subscribers in posts. Send your question or conundrum  via video or regular email to ask@ksgsc.com. All submissions become the property of Ask The Strategist. Names and other identifying information may be changed to protect the person asking for advice.

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• Monday, August 06th, 2012

 

In an era of seemingly uncivil people (cue slap fest on The Real Housewives of New Jersey), I recently stumbled upon Rules of Civility: The 110 Precepts That Guided Our First President in War and Peace, edited by Richard Brookhiser.

Originally published in 1997, with a healthy update from Brookhiser in 2003, Rules of Civility pre-empted the onslaught of reality television, and stories of soccer moms behaving badly on the field. This book takes a refreshing look at sage advice President George Washington followed, which he first found as a child in the 1700s.

While a few rules appear outdated (rule #9 – spit not into the fire, nor stoop low before it), the majority of the ‘rules’ are practical ways of living…and conducting business affairs. More than a primer in etiquette, Rules of Civility focuses more on the motivation beyond the action. For example, rule #23 admonishes that “when you see a crime punished, you may be inwardly pleased, but always show pity to the suffering offender.” The motivation is to treat others the way you would want to be treated.

Here are the top five career-related rules:

1. Rule #12: Shake not your head, feet, or legs, roll not the eyes, lift not one eyebrow higher than the other, wry not the mouth, and bedew no man’s face with your spittle by approaching too near him when you speak

These are a few non-verbal communication no-no’s that job seekers and entrepreneurs meeting with potential investors should avoid.

2. Rule #15: Keep your nails clean and short, also your hands and teeth clean, yet without showing any great concern for them.

Be neat, tidy, and professionally garbed when you interview for a job, or go to work everyday; however, take care not to overly emphasize your appearance, for it can make you appear conceited and superficial.

3. Rule #35: Let your discourse with men of business be short and comprehensive.

Brevity, when speaking with business leaders – men and women – is always a plus.

4. Rule #40: Strive not with your superiors in argument, but always submit your judgment to others with modesty.

The boss – or customer – is always right. Also, do not be heavy handed with your judgment, so as not to embarrass your co-workers or become the office know-it-all.

5. Rule #82: Undertake not what you cannot perform but be careful to keep your promise.

Enough said.

Which of these rules hit home the most for you?

© Copyright 2012 Ask The Strategist™

 

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• Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

Theatrical release poster/New Line Cinema

Horrible Bosses pulled in $28.3 million during its premier last weekend. That should come as no surprise as the summer heat beckons us to cooler environments. Movie theaters are the perfect place to enjoy a little humor while keeping cool. The draw, however, was not solely the promise of frigid air for a few hours. Folks flocked to the big screen comedy to gain a glimpse into the characters’ world of horrible bosses – and how they dealt with the annoying rabble-rousers.

In Horrible Bosses, art imitates life for most of us. We have, or have heard about, horror stories involving supervisors who demonstrate weird behavior in the workplace: sexual harassment, slacking off and doing no work, or basic ineptitude.

Characters played by Jason Sudeikis, Jason Bateman, and Charlie Day are believable on the big screen, even though their zany plans to eliminate their horrible bosses is far-fetched. For the rest of us real people, how can we bear the burden of horrible bosses, get our work done, and even thrive in a dysfunctional environment?

In all fairness, there are probably multitudes of great, supportive supervisors out there. For those poor souls who brave the horrible bosses every day, here are some helpful strategies for dealing with them.

Surviving Horrible Bosses

1. Know who you are dealing with and act accordingly

If your boss morphs into the Incredible Hulk when employees approach her early in the morning, take this cue to ask any questions or get feedback later in the day. You can easily gauge your supervisor’s personality by taking time to observe her in the workplace. This includes how she treats her inner circle, including the executive assistant, human resources manager, and any interns assigned to the department. Does she treat certain individuals differently? If your boss seems to become more pleasant with an individual than the rest of the team, figure out why.

Does that employee anticipate what your supervisor will ask for and have it in advance? Does the staff member exert extra initiative? Does the employee cower or stand up for his or her rights in the workplace? Take a moment to study an employee who seems to get some level of respect from horrible bosses (yes, there is usually one), figure out how the positive interaction can work for you, and implement the process for yourself. Take care to avoid artificiality. Bosses will notice it, and it may place you in a less desirable situation than you are already in at work.

2. Don’t give them an inch and they won’t be able to take a yard

Some bad bosses simply get away with bad behavior because employees, who want to make a good impression when they begin work, change the game in mid-play. Most people, at work and in life, get used to the way people behave and respond. If you started the job with a can-do, bend over backwards to get it done spirit, your supervisor will always think of you as a go-to person who never says no. Even when it is 7:00 p.m. and you are trying to leave the office to pick up your son at daycare before it closes at 7:15 p.m., a bad boss will expect you to call your spouse, neighbor, or stranger to collect your kid from the babysitter. Having a little backbone in the beginning, while still displaying the ultimate professionalism, helps curtail excessive expectations from an insensitive supervisor.

3. Let them know when enough is enough

There are times when a bad boss’ behavior crosses the line – morally and legally. I do not recommend that you consider hit men to take care of these annoying individuals as the protagonists did in the movie Horrible Bosses. Instead, do three things: take your temperature; get feedback; and, put them in their places.

Taking your temperature – or surveying yourself to identify if you are responding appropriately, or are overreacting – is the first step in identifying what, if anything, you should say to a cantankerous supervisor. Consider the boss’ behavior. Is the perceived violation a personal affront? Offensive to everyone? Offensive to women, transgendered, or racially different (from the supervisor) employees? A bad mood leading to a one-off slight?

If the temperature is off the charts, the next step is to get feedback from someone else. It always helps to get another perspective. A coworker who reports to the same supervisor, or has witnessed bad behavior by the boss, can shed light on the situation and help you determine if you should advance to the final step: put them in their places.

There are many ways to check bad behavior in the workplace. If your supervisor’s activities warrant intervention, there is a way to address the behavior professionally, and without potential repercussions. If you have a good relationship with your horrible boss (it can happen – think Dwight Schrute), then you may be able to gently approach the subject. If your supervisor is not that congenial, you may want to take the situation to your human resources department and let the hr professional deal with your supervisor directly. Not only does it take the pressure off you, it lessens the likelihood of potential retaliation if human resources handles the issue appropriately.

4. Become indispensible at work

Chances are that if you are indispensible in the workplace, horrible bosses may check their rude behavior so that you do not quit your job. They may still be ill tempered and rude; however, these supervisors generally know not to press their luck with you.

Develop and display your exceptional skills – fiscal responsibility, the ability to troubleshoot and fix office technology, exceptional speech writing capabilities – that your horrible boss relies upon to get through his or her day. When people have to ask you to do things, they are less likely to tick you off for fear that you may not help them or will be reluctant to assist when you are truly needed. Sadly, this is a reality in some workplace environments.

Do you have a horrible bosses (or staff) story to share? We would love to hear how you overcame the situation.

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• Tuesday, May 17th, 2011
 

Build It! Grow It! Sustain It! Nonprofit Leaders Gather in Silver Spring to Learn How to Get Funding, Build Partnerships, and Thrive In the Future
 
 

Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards (official portrait)

Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards (D-MD) hosted the 2nd Annual Nonprofit Forum in Silver Spring, MD yesterday, drawing nonprofit executives, corporations, foundations, and community-based organizations.

 

Rep. Edwards opened the session, saying that she hoped the nonprofit leaders in attendance would gain guidance and prepare for the next successors within their organizations, alluding to the challenges that many nonprofits face: shutting down when a plan is not in place to deal with internal and external challenges.

 
 

 

The first plenary featured representatives from the federal government, who shared their perspectives on obtaining, maintaining, and sustaining grants. Moderated by Chuck Bean, Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington, panelists included Michael Robbins, United States Department of Education; Acacia Salatti, United States Department of Health and Human Services; and, Marvin Turner, United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Robbins’ takeaways: Spending and support of educational initiatives rests in the hands of community based organizations; partnerships are the “new normal,” and developing collaborative initiatives will help nonprofit organizations maximize services.

Salatti’s takeaways: Focus on what your nonprofit does well; ensure that your mission, capacity, resources, materials, and served constituency are in alignment.

Turner’s takeaways: Nonprofit organizations should deliver what they promise in the grant proposal; decision makers and granters are “impressed by accountability and integrity”

A snapshot of breakout sessions includes:

  • Writing a Successful Grant Proposal: Jennifer Jones (moderator), Prince George’s County Commission for Women, Eric Brenner, Maryland Grants Office, and Patricia Pasqual, Foundation Center
  • Nonprofit Advocacy: Melissa Bondi (moderator), Think Twice Before You Slice, Hope Gleicher, Nonprofit Montgomery, and Lee Mason, Human Services Coalition of Prince George’s County
  • Succession Planning: Glen Ogilvy (moderator), Center for Nonprofit Advancement, Heather Iliff, Maryland Nonprofits Consulting, and Raphael Lopez, Annie E. Casey Foundation
  • Youth Partnerships: Luisa Montero-Diaz, Maryland Latin American Youth Council, Nat Chioke Williams, Hill Snowden Foundation, and Pandit F. Wright, Boys & Girls Club
  • Education and Literacy Partnerships: Brenda Mitchell, Prince George’s Community College, Mary Mulcahy, The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, and Nancy Nuell, Montgomery College

The closing plenary session, moderated by Dennis Serrette of the National Urban League, focused on survival strategies for nonprofit organizations, including a discussion on funding priorities for 2011 and beyond. Curtis Etherly, Coca-Cola; Karen Campbell, Verizon; and, Craig Muckle, Safeway all agreed that nonprofits need to do extensive research about the companies they approach for funding.

Top takeaways from the closing panel discussion:

  • Pay attention to grant submission guidelines
  • Find out the best way to communicate with decision makers, i.e. email or phone calls
  • Requests are often reviewed by a number of people, so ensure that submissions are concise and succinct
  • Even if a company denies financial support for programs and events, reach out to appropriate company contacts to purchase a ticket to your event
  • Do not take rejection personally; more often than not, the issue is about limited resources the company has to distribute among a growing number of organizations
  • Take advantage of where your organization is geographically located – in the nation’s capital

 

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• Monday, April 11th, 2011

Ric Edelman takes the bestseller, The Truth About Money, to televison. His new show, of the same title, premieres on PBS in April.

Financial Expert, Ric Edelman, Screens New PBS Show, The Truth About Money, in Washington, DC 

Financial expert and New York Times Bestselling Author, Ric Edelman, screened his new show, The Truth About Money, in Washington, DC at the National Press Club today. The show premieres nationally on April 22, 2011.

Check out our exclusive interview on YouTube now>>> ASK THE STRATEGIST interviews Ric Edelman-The Truth About Money

Read my review of The Truth About Money with Ric Edelman on Examiner.com. To get The Truth About Money show schedule, visit www.truthaboutmoneytv.com.

Let us know if Ric Edelman’s strategies work for you!

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• Monday, March 28th, 2011

ASK THE STRATEGIST: Copycat Coworker
March 28, 2011

Dear ATS: I have a coworker who copies everything I do – how I talk and the clothes I wear. We were cool at first, but now I try not to associate with her unless I have to. She even changed her hair to how I used to wear mine. How can I get her to stop and let me be me? – Anonymous, Maryland

An old adage says imitation is the best form of flattery. We humans tend to like it when people embrace us and want to emulate our ways of thinking, values, and even our physical characteristics. However, when imitation goes beyond our comfort zone and becomes “weird,” what was once flattering can start to feel freaky.

Since your quest for advice primarily focuses on your coworker’s penchant for imitating your appearance, I assume that your coworker still acknowledges the boundaries insofar as work performance, i.e. not taking credit for your work, or throwing a temper tantrum if she is not partnered with you on a project.

Your coworker may be a young person who respects and admires how you present yourself in the workplace and merely wants to emulate it. If the employee seems harmless, then say nothing and let her infatuation drift off in time.

If her fawning severely impedes your productivity on the job, then you may want to talk, gently, with her over lunch. If you are good at humor, presenting your concerns in a light-hearted manner may be most effective. Whatever you do, avoid appearing as if you are chastising her, which inevitably will make your coworker defensive. If she makes you feel uncomfortable to the point that your gut instinct is telling you there is a potentially more dangerous issue, including stalking, you may want to talk to your human resources representative or an immediate supervisor for intervention or workplace training.

Good luck, and keep us posted.
THE STRATEGIST

Ask The Strategist - every Monday at 7:00 p.m. EST on Twitter @atstrategist

DISCLAIMER: ASK THE STRATEGIST is an advice column that seeks to address business, career, workplace, and etiquette issues. Any advice dispensed by The Strategist is purely for informational and entertainment purposes. Take the advice and opinions at your own risk – and betterment! Follow us on Twitter @atstrategist. Post your question/email your conundrum/send your video to ask@ksgsc.com. All submissions become the property of ASK THE STRATEGIST. Join ASK THE STRATEGIST on Twitter every Monday at 7:00 p.m. EST. Tweet me @atstrategist.

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• Monday, March 14th, 2011
ASK THE STRATEGIST: Get Yourself a Support System!
March 14, 2011
 
This week, Ask The Strategist is reprinting an updated blog entry that is one of my most viewed (originally appeared on our blog on August 12, 2009), and one that I think we could all use right now: Get Yourself a Support System. Read on…
During a recent conversation with a friend, we talked a bit about friends and family supporting goals, whether it’s a business, desire to sing professionally, or any other goal we dreamers tend to have. I shared with her a lesson I learned long ago: surround yourself with like-minded individuals who, even if they cannot relate to your dream, will at least support your efforts.

Here are some tips to help you develop your own support system:

Create your support system wish list: Do you want to align with someone in your professional field or industry, or would you like support from someone outside of it (perhaps to minimize perceived competition)? Would you like a mentor who encourages you to reach your goals, or a person who merely listens when you need an ear? Do I want someone who has a “tough love” approach and can motivate me, or is someone whose gentle approach best exhorts me to strive toward the next level (professionally, personally, or spiritually)?

My original wish list, which I wrote about 15 years ago, included three individuals who were exemplars in their careers, had strong character, and were willing to devote the time to mentor me. Two of those individuals still remain on my support system list and are good friends.

Build your support system: Once you have built your wish list, start building your team! You should identify each person’s strength that will help you become better – professionally and personally. For example, you may need extra motivation. Someone whose ability to rev you up when you are running out of steam is vital. Perhaps, you need advice when you feel you have exhausted all options and need a different perspective on your situation. An analytical person who supports your efforts is perfect. Your support system can include people in your family, but should also include those who have specific areas of expertise, or can provide unique insight. You do not need a posse of people, just a small group of cheerleaders who have your best interests at heart.

One of my most valuable supporters is a former supervisor who took a keen interest in my professional growth, provided opportunities for me to learn and contribute in the workplace, and was a sounding board for my ideas – no matter how far-reaching they may have seemed.

Appreciate your team: Remember to show appreciation for those who share sage advice, are always there when you need someone to listen, and are your unwavering cheerleading team. A verbal act of appreciation, or a note of thanks is always a good idea. Invite your team to lunch, tea, or dinner to thank them in person.

As you achieve your goals, and reach new heights in your professional and personal accomplishments, remember to be a support system to someone else. Pay it forward!

Good luck, and keep us posted.
THE STRATEGIST

 

Ask The Strategist - every Monday at 7:00 p.m. EST on Twitter @atstrategist

DISCLAIMER: ASK THE STRATEGIST is an advice column that seeks to address business, career, workplace, and etiquette issues. Any advice dispensed by The Strategist is purely for informational and entertainment purposes. Take the advice and opinions at your own risk – and betterment! Follow us on Twitter @atstrategist. Post your question/email your conundrum/send your video to ask@ksgsc.com. All submissions become the property of ASK THE STRATEGIST.

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• Monday, March 07th, 2011

ASK THE STRATEGIST: Advice for the Divorcing Couple

March 7, 2011

Dear ATS: My husband and I are in the process of going through a divorce (only our close family members know). He has a very high profile job and we often host dinner parties and events for his clients and executives from his job. The trouble is we are hosting a party for some potential international clients in a few weeks and our relationship has gone from bad to worse – he has technically moved out of the house. My question is considering that we are splitting up, should I still host the event with him? – A.E., New York, NY

Going through a separation or divorce is hard enough, but being in close proximity during an intimate event when no one knows how bad the situation is, can make co-hosting trickier.

Have you spoken to your husband about your trepidation? Having a conversation, perhaps in a coffee shop or other non-threatening environment, will help you articulate how you are feeling about hosting such an important event while you are at a marital crossroads. If you feel as though you would both end up in an embarrassing disagreement during the soiree, tell him! If you decide to host the party, make a pact that you will not engage in hurtful verbal or nonverbal behavior – no insults, silent treatment, or staring competitions – during the evening. It will definitely put off your guests and potentially jeopardize the pending deal.

Ultimately, you have to decide if spending a few hours in a potentially uncomfortable environment is out of your comfort zone – and worth the sacrifice. If you choose not to go through with it, though, let yourself off the hook. Sometimes it is better to not play along and give the appearance that everything is okay. Remember, if the guests become clients, they will expect to see you at all future corporate events. Are you okay with that?

Good luck, and keep us posted.

THE STRATEGIST

DISCLAIMER: ASK THE STRATEGIST is an advice column that seeks to address business, career, workplace, and etiquette issues. Any advice dispensed by The Strategist is purely for informational and entertainment purposes. Take the advice and opinions at your own risk – and betterment! Follow us on Twitter @atstrategist. Post your question/email your conundrum/send video to ask@ksgsc.com. All submissions become the property of ASK THE STRATEGIST.

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• Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

ASK THE STRATEGIST – Interview with the Director of the DC Women’s Business Center

We asked Samira Cook-Gaines, Director of the DC Women’s Business Center (www.dcwbc.org), to detail some key strategies for business owners. Take a look at the video interview to hear what she has to say!

COMING SOON…Stay tuned for our new video diary,  A Day in the Life, featuring corporations and nonprofit organizations from around the country. The DC Women’s Business Center will be the first featured!

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• Monday, February 21st, 2011

ASK THE STRATEGIST: Shy Guy Needs Networking Help
February 21, 2011

Dear ATS: I am a very, very shy man who has no clue how to properly network when I go to business events, whether it’s a conference or after-work social gathering. My job mostly involves handling technology issues/problems for employees, so I only have to have limited contact, which is fine. But, I really want to get better at connecting with people during networking events. What should I do? – D.B., Washington, DC

You can employ a number of strategies to help you emerge from your shell during networking events. The first step is preparation. If you know who the main speaker is (or even the participants in attendance), you can do a little research – put your IT expertise to work for you! Google the speakers or participants, and look at their websites. You can also easily find out if you have mutual connections on social networking sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Look for the commonalities you share that can help break the ice when you meet these individuals in person.

Remember: there’s power in numbers! If you have a friend or co-worker who is a bit of an extrovert, ask him/her to accompany you to a function. Your friend’s accompanying you should put you at ease, a bit. A word of caution – establish the ground rules before you go to the event. A well meaning, extrovert friend should be there, in the background, to help you relax while making the rounds, rather than dominate the conversation you may have with a new acquaintance.

Before you go to the networking event, practice your elevator pitch (trust me, you’ll use it) on a family member, friend, or colleague. An elevator pitch articulates who you are and what you do in a brief amount of time. Perfected, your elevator pitch can help you introduce yourself, while engaging the listener. An elevator pitch, used as an introduction, should be no longer than 10 to 15 seconds. Yes, it is a short amount of time; but, if you are succinct, you will best capture the listener’s attention and interest in learning more about you.

You can also brush up your public speaking skills. A well-respected and trusted organization, Toastmasters, International (www.toastmasters.org), helps folks find their voices, while enabling an opportunity to bond with other participants. There are a number of local chapters in the greater Washington, DC area. I recommend visiting a few until you find the chapter that most appeals to you. Visit the Toastmasters website to find more than 400 local monthly meetings.

Good luck, and keep us posted.
THE STRATEGIST

DISCLAIMER: ASK THE STRATEGIST is an advice column that seeks to address business, career, workplace, and etiquette issues. Any advice dispensed by The Strategist is purely for informational and entertainment purposes. Take the advice and opinions at your own risk – and betterment! Follow us on Twitter @atstrategist. Post your question/email your conundrum to ask@ksgsc.com. View ASK THE STRATEGIST videos on www.youtube.com/user/AskTheStrategist. All submissions become the property of ASK THE STRATEGIST.

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