A Sobering Reminder of What’s Important in Life

This morning an eight year-old girl passed away from a rare form of cancer. I learned about it through Twitter – many of my friends on Twitter were following the story of this young girl and re-tweeted the note that she had passed on. My heart goes out to her family – I can’t even begin to fathom what they are going through (and have been going through). But it’s a sobering reminder that life is a gift and can be taken away at any time.

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How to Find Out the Dress Code For A Job Interview

These days many companies don’t require formal dress. Some go as far as allowing casual dress – I once worked for a company where I’d go in with sneakers, khaki shorts and a nice t-shirt and feel over-dressed. But does casual dress mean that people coming in for a job interview can dress down?

Dressing for an interview is a challenge in itself: under-dressing makes you look unprofessional and overdressing may make you look stuffy. I once had a discussion about this with a former boss after we had interviewed a prospective candidate that wasn’t wearing a suit. I felt that he didn’t take his job search seriously where my boss found it to be more comfortable to interview someone dressed more relaxed. Ironically, at the time I was 23 and my boss was 33 but he was more used to working in technology where I just finished my master’s degree at a business school – so there are a variety of factors that contributed to our opinions on the situation. Ultimately, the candidate wasn’t hired as his attitude wasn’t a good fit for the group – and I felt the way he dressed for the interview was an example of that.

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The Trouble With Thinking Big

Many people that keep up with the latest trends in personal development find themselves surrounded by fads. These fads are often started by a new book, film or web site and then spread like wildfire. Some of them work while others are just noise.

One that I’ve been seeing and hearing over and over again is the concept of thinking big – if your goal isn’t big, throw it out and find a bigger one. To me, it’s just another way for people to feel like they’re moving towards their goals when they’re really not.

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Ten Things I Learned About Speaking Beyond Toastmasters

I’m frequently invited to speak at Toastmasters clubs about how to speak beyond Toastmasters. Last year, I gave a presentation at a District Conference on this topic and was excited about how much interest there was in learning more about it. It’s just a natural progression – once you’ve peaked in Toastmasters, you feel ready to go out and use these skills that you’ve mastered.

So here are the top then things I’ve learned about speaking beyond Toastmasters:

  1. Ums and ahs don’t really matter unless they are excessive.
  2. Going over your allotted time can quickly turn your audience against you.
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The Power of Habits

My first job out of college was at a media company and one of the things I found interesting was the addiction to coffee that many of my coworkers had. I stopped drinking coffee several years prior to that so I didn’t understand the need to add an extra thirty minutes to my morning commute for something the company offered for free in the kitchenette. So I asked a coworker why one would waste time and money in such a way and was enlightened by her answer.

She explained that there were two types of coffee -the good stuff that you get at the Starbucks and the like, and the cheap stuff that companies try to pass off as coffee (and a benefit to employees). Someone else got wind of this and decided to replace the coffee at work with the good stuff. They got a local premium coffee company to set up a station in the kitchenette at work with one of the highest quality coffees available and a number of their best flavors. One would think that this would have been a big hit but it only lasted for about a month.

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Transitioning From Toastmaster to Professional Speaker

I’ve had a number of people ask me lately about how to go from a Toastmaster to someone who makes money speaking. Many of these people want to speak on their area of expertise while others are looking to speak about speaking. Those in the former have it a little easier because the key there is to just continue to develop your expertise while you graduate as a speaker to different audiences. Those in the latter have a more challenging road ahead because speaking to a Toastmasters audience is significantly different than speaking to other audiences – a fact which is often overlooked when speaking about Toastmaster-related topics. So I’m going to focus on the latter group for this article, but the former will definitely get some benefit from this too.

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How Big is Yours?

Your following on social media that is. Is it big? Does size really matter? Whether you’re a professional speaker, writer, artist or business owner, social media can be an excellent tool for making new connections. But in order for it to be helpful, it needs to be used correctly.

The problem with social media is that it’s always evolving so many people misuse it. While hackers and spammers are the prime misusers of these services, a vast amount of people with good intentions struggle to make use of the medium. Many treat it like a mailing list – like it’s another method of one way communication. Some use it as a popularity contest – the person with the most connections wins. However, the point of social media (especially from a business standpoint) is to create and maintain relationships from the comfort of your keyboard.

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