Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Looking Back on 2005

As you look back on 2005, how would you rate your professional accomplishments?

  • What were the highlights? As strange as it may seem, it’s important to take note of things that you did well. Don’t be shy – write them down! Why? Because these descriptions can come in handy later (at your year-end performance review with your manager, or on your next interview with a recruiter). Besides if you don’t write it down, you’ll probably forget subtle details that could make your story that much more compelling.
  • What were the low-lights? It’s just as important to keep track of the things that didn’t go quite as well as you would’ve hoped. Why? Having a clear sense of what areas you’d to like improve can help you focus and channel your energies. It also will help you identify the resources you’ll need to make the changes become a reality.

Based on your reflection, what professional goals will you set for 2006?

And, what resources and experiences will you seek to help you accomplish those goals? How about ...

  • Classes or training
  • Mentors
  • New opportunities
  • Professional associations
  • Trusted advisors

On a personal note, I’d rate my 2005 professional accomplishments a 7 on a scale of 1-10. I was able to achieve some of the goals I set (e.g., developing the InStep Consulting website) and embark on new endeavors I hadn’t even considered, such as launching this blog!

In 2006, I plan to continue expanding the Competent Advantage TM program through the KIP Learning Center, and find new partners to bring more career development resources to this network.

I’m looking forward to exchanging ideas with you in 2006.

Until then, have a HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Friday, December 16, 2005

‘Tis the season to be jolly … not for career folly!

So, it’s that time of year again – holiday parties sponsored by your company and/or professional associations. With good sense and foresight, these events can be excellent venues for you to demonstrate your competent advantage.TM

Here are some tips to help you be the "life of the party," but NOT the subject of post-event gossip.

Before the event:

  • Get a feel for the mood and expectations for the party. Do people dress up or is business attire more appropriate? Regardless of the official attire, you should always dress to impress.
  • Will there be any announcements or formal activities? And, if so, when will they occur? The last thing you want to do is stroll into the room just as your President or CEO is making his/her holiday toast!

During the event:

  • Watch your food and alcohol consumption. Have fun, but be careful not to overindulge. This is NOT the party for you to demonstrate how many tequila shots you can drink or how many cocktail shrimp you can eat!
  • Take notice of who attends the event. In addition to chatting with coworkers, look for ways to informally connect with managers or executives. It’s not necessarily the place to give a long speech about why you deserve a raise or promotion. However, you should always be prepared to give a 30-second pitch about your role in your organization. Be sensitive to their desire to talk about business. Parties can be great occasions to discuss hobbies and other interests that identify otherwise unknown commonalities.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Take notice of when the party starts to wind down. Why? Well, do you really want to be around when the cater waiters are clearing the tables and putting up chairs? Remember, you don’t have to go home but …

After the event:

  • Make sure you have a safe mode of transportation for the evening.
  • If you do happen to connect with a new colleague, make an effort to reach out via phone or email within a couple of days. Expanding your network at holiday parties is a great way to leverage your competent advantage.TM

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Have 6 Minutes to Plan for 2006?

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving and took advantage of the "early-bird" holiday sales. I'm excited about the upcoming season and the tidings it will bring to all of us in the new year.

There are many ways that we can help you discover your competent advantage. Rather than guess at what those strategies might be, I'm asking for your input.

How will you take your career to the next level in 2006?

Take a moment to complete our brief survey (~6 minutes):

Thursday, November 10, 2005

SIGN UP for Dec. 7 Competent Advantage Workshop

Hi everyone, I hope you have been having a good autumn (although the weather in NYC has been pretty spring-like these days).

For those of you in the New York metropolitan area, I hope you can join me for the next Competent AdvantageTM Workshop, offered via the KIP Learning Center.

When: Wednesday, December 7 from 6:30 - 8:30 PM

Where: Midtown New York

Why: You're cool and you want to get a jump start on planning your 2006 career objectives! (besides, midtown is really nice in December with all of the holiday decorations ...)

To view the full course description, check out:

For more information on the workshop location and how to register, contact the KIP Learning Center at (646) 546-5671. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, September 29, 2005

JOIN ME: KIP Learning Center Launch Party on October 4 in NYC

Join me for a powerful evening of "moving & shaking" as we celebrate the launch of the KIP Learning Center for Accelerated Business and Personal Growth!

  • When: Tuesday, October 4, 2005, 6:00 - 9:00 PM
  • Where: Romi's Lounge, 19 Rector Street (@Washington Street), New York
  • How: Take 1, 9, N or R trains to Rector Street
  • Why: In addition to networking with a fabulous group of professionals, you can find out about the schedule for KLC professional development workshops including What's Your Competent Advantage? TM

TO RSVP: Email: OR Call: (646) 546-5671

I hope to see you there!

Friday, September 09, 2005

It's Back to School Time ...

coWe all know what September means -- even if we're not actually in school anymore. It's time to hit the books, so to speak. The hazy, lazy days of summer are over; and it's time to get back on top of our respective games.

I must admit to a little end-of-summer blues myself. However, much as I relished posting audio blogs to you from the beach, I am excited about the new things in store for Fall 2005.
  1. COMING SOON: "What's Your Competent Advantage?"TM goes LIVE! I'll be conducting workshops in conjunction with the upcoming launch of the KIP Learning Center. Keep an eye out here or visit their website for dates and registration information.
  2. My company is launching a new employee orientation program called Getting Onboard! It's designed to help people like you (as you get new, exciting jobs!) to navigate the waters so you can truly exhibit your skills and talents once hired. Help me to "create a buzz" about the program -- check out the description on our website.

I would be remiss if I did not share my regards and prayers to those who have been affected by Katrina and its aftermath. I know we each are trying to do our part to support and assist. At the bottom right of this site, there is now a direct link to the American Red Cross website.

Not to say that anyone needs additional motivation to assist, but perhaps mobilizing a volunteer effort at one's job or school on behalf of Katrina survivors may be a way to "step out of a comfort zone" to demonstrate one's leadership and project management abilities ... Just a thought.

My best regards to you all!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

What Career Suits Your Personality?

I just took the Free Career Test at Simple Minds. Based on my responses to 50-questions, I was given a list of potential careers (see below). Surprisingly, the list includes my current roles as Facilitator & Corporate/Team trainer!

Take the test and let me know if your results are as accurate as mine!

Career Inventory Test Results

Emotional Stability43%

You are a Persuader, possible professions include - entertainer, recruiter, artist, newscaster, writer/journalist, recreation director, librarian, facilitator, politician, psychologist, housing director, career counselor, sales trainer, travel agent, program designer, corporate/team trainer, child welfare worker, social worker (elderly services), interpreter/translator, occupational therapist, executive
Take Free Career Test
personality tests by

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

"No Foam" Resumes?

Are you spending too much time at Starbucks during your job search?

Apparently some people are – consider the person who indicated on a resume that s/he graduated “cum latte.” Click here to check out these and other Funniest Resume Bloopers.

Having worked in Training & HR for over 10 years, I’ve had an opportunity to speak with several recruiters. They all say that it’s important to create a positive first impression. In many cases, your first impression comes from your resume and cover letter.

I’d recommend you not only proofread these documents but also have someone else read them. After creating several drafts and making revisions, we often miss errors – the message is clear in our minds, so we may overlook minor mistakes on paper.

Demonstrate your Competent Advantage TM by ensuring that your career gear – resumes, cover letters, portfolios, writing samples, etc. – is accurate and precise.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Are you PROUD of your job?

According to a Harris Interactive poll, the top five professions with the most prestige are:
  1. Scientist & Doctor -- 52% (for both)
  2. Firefighter & Teacher -- 48% (for both)
  3. Military Officer -- 47%
  4. Nurse -- 44%
  5. Police Officer -- 40%

We're all affected by public perception of ourselves (even if we don't like to admit it). When you go to a networking event or social function, are you excited to tell others about what you do? Do you proudly talk about your company and your role or position?

In the Competent Advantage TM program, we discuss the benefits of aligning your work with your personal drives and motivators. Simply put -- when you're excited about your doing your job, you're more likely to make an effort to do it well. Even if it means you have to learn something new or discover innovative ways to solve your workplace challenges.

We also talk about the importance of Creating a Buzz about what you do. If you're motivated by your job, you're more likely to tell others about it -- be it your manager, colleagues or friends. The buzz starts when people begin to associate you with specific accomplishments. Then, the buzz spreads as they tell MORE people about you, and so on ... Now, you're really humming!

Don't forget to "buzz" us about your career moves via the Competent Advantage TM survey!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

What's Your Next Career Move?

I'm interested in learning more about what's on your career horizon. Are you:

  • Looking for a new opportunity?
  • Thinking about going to graduate school?
  • Vying for an internal promotion at your company?

Take a moment to tell me about your next career move.

Click HERE to take the Competent AdvantageTM online survey. It's really short (only 10 questions).

I look forward to hearing from you!

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

What do you want to be when you “grow up?”

It's a question adults often ask of children – some suggest that we ask kids to get ideas for ourselves.

Upon thinking of my career progression, it’s been a long "checkered" road to my current role as a speaker and facilitator of ideas around career and personal growth. I've had to professionally reinvent myself several times along the way.

I've done it by following the Competent Advantage TM process:

  • Assessing my strengths -- speaking & facilitating
  • Discovering what motivates me -- helping people use knowledge to achieve great things
  • Being willing to step out of my comfort zones -- launching InStep Consulting LLC
  • Creating a buzz about my accomplishments -- this blog!

As a child, I wanted to be a teacher – my role model was my first grade teacher.
I next considered medicine, first becoming a nurse, and then a doctor – the second option at the suggestion of my pediatrician.

In high school, I became enamored with the law – served as the lead prosecutor on my HS Law team. This interest continued through one-year tenure as a paralegal with the New York County District Attorney, and another year-and-a-half as a corporate paralegal.

I then became interested in what makes organizations work -- starting as a capacity building (organizational development) consultant for not-for-profit organizations. Since then, I have expanded my practice to consult with leading Fortune 500 companies.

Looking back, it is clear that I’ve had a focus on helping others. InStep Consulting enables me to work with diverse people and organizations to identify needs and create learning programs.

In some way, I've come full circle to my childhood desire of teaching. Yet, I know that my students, colleagues and clients teach me everyday how to be a more intuitive advisor and facilitator.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

It's Tax Time: Did you get an education tax credit?

Hopefully, you have prepared or filed your taxes as April 15th is a few days away.

Tax time is typically a retrospective time. You gather all of your receipts, W-2's, 1099's, etc. and head off to your tax professional to find out how much money you'll be receiving from (or paying to) Uncle Sam.

Tax time can also be a forward-thinking time -- to set financial and professional goals for the next year.

Are you aware of the education tax credits that are available?

The Hope Credit applies only for the first two years of post-secondary education, such as college or vocational school (not graduate or professional school), while the Lifetime Learning Credit applies to undergraduate, graduate and professional degree courses, including instruction to acquire or improve job skills.

To qualify for either credit, you must pay post-secondary tuition and fees for yourself. The Hope Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit are education credits you may be able to subtract in full from your federal income tax, not just deduct from your taxable income.

In addition to these federal tax programs, look into whether or not your company sponsors a tuition reimbursement program. This might enable you to continue your education with financial assistance from your employer. Your company may include some guidelines around types of courses they will pay for, however, it can be a great way to further your education and improve your competent advantage.TM

Monday, April 04, 2005

Spring Forward: Let's Look Back at Your Goals

Hopefully, you remembered to turn your clocks FORWARD over the weekend.

Well, along with daylight savings time comes the second quarter -- a good time to revisit your new year's goals and resolutions. Were your goals SMART?
  • Specific -- can you articulate the goal in a clear, concise phrase or sentence?
  • Measurable -- does your goal include metrics (numbers) to measure your success?
  • Achievable -- given your available resources, will it be possible to achieve the goal?
  • Realistic -- given your other responsibilities, is it realistic that you will achieve the goal?
  • Timebound -- have you set a due date or deadline?

Setting SMART goals allows you to be clear about what you're trying to accomplish. It also allows you to "chunk" your long-term goals (e.g., getting a degree, moving into a new industry) into achievable milestones, by documenting the interim steps that you'll need to accomplish along the way.

I find it helpful to write down my goals. I even use Microsoft Tasks to document the short-term tasks I'll need to tackle along the way. That way, I can set reminders to help keep me on track.

Remember, you can adjust your goals based on changes in your situation. But, if you don't write them down you won't know where to begin!

Monday, March 28, 2005

Ask and You Shall Receive ...

Thank you, Nina, for sharing your thoughts on the gender earnings gap.

I wanted to bring to the forefront the Harvard Business Review findings you shared on career and salary negotiation -- if we don't ask for something, how can we legitimately expect to receive it?

Relevant to your comment "the squeaky wheel gets oiled, and the ones doing the squeaking are not women:"

In the Competent Advantage workshop, we help people identify ways to document, promote and leverage their accomplishments.
  • Documenting accomplishments is important -- how will you know what (or how much) to ask for during a performance management meeting if you don't have a full sense of what you've achieved?
  • Promoting accomplishments is crucial -- you can't presume that your manager knows all that you've accomplished in a given month or quarter (let alone a full year!). Use the documentation you gather to provide him/her a regular "heads-up" on what you're doing.
  • Leveraging accomplishments pulls it all together. Once you've documented what you've done and told others about it, how can you use these accomplishments to your advantage?
  1. Asking for a role with more visibility?
  2. Bidding for a new project or committee?
  3. Developing a new relationship with a key stakeholder?

I'd suggest that these strategies are relevant for both genders. However, the reasons you mentioned from the Babcock study ("socialization, penalization and frustration") could erode a woman's confidence to make the request.

Thoughts? Experiences?

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

So, why DO men earn more than women?

In honor of Women’s History month, I thought I’d start a dialogue about a pretty controversial topic. I’m really interested in hearing your thoughts on this one!

Dr. Warren Farrell, PhD argues in his new book Why Men Earn More: The Startling Truth Behind the Pay Gap -- and What Women Can Do About It that 25 different workplace choices that men make lead to the fact they earn more than women. The workplace choices he identifies include:
  • Putting in more hours
  • Taking on more hazardous assignments
  • Moving overseas or to undesirable locations
  • Training for jobs with less people contact

He contends that women’s choices are driven by their desire to achieve a balance between their lifestyle and their career. Therefore, he argues that women tend to pursue jobs that offer this balance, and are lower on the pay scale. Dr. Farrell suggests that women actually earn equal pay (or more) for equal work – i.e. in jobs with the same level of responsibility and hours.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics “Highlights of Women’s Earnings in 2003” (September 2004) “women’s median earnings for full-time wage and salary workers in 2003 were $552 compared to $695 for men.” Women’s earnings in management, business and financial operations occupations were 69.9% of men’s in 2003. [Data provided by Catalyst]

So, what do YOU think?

Is it different workplace choices or are there other factors that lead to the earnings gap between men and women? What has been your experience? What have you observed in your industry?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Are You in the Right Job?

The activities in the What’s Your Competent Advantage? workshop are designed to help you examine the alignment of your strengths and driving forces with your current job or business endeavor.

In other words, are you using your best skills to fulfill your responsibilities? Or, do you spend most of your time doing tasks that are above (or below) your skill level?

Are you performing your functions with energy and enthusiasm? Or, do you approach your workday with lethargy and indifference?

In today’s job market, it can be challenging to find the “right” job at each stage in your career. However, contemplate the short- and long-term consequences of working in a job that does not challenge or inspire you.

  • What does it do to your productivity?
  • How does it impact your ability to progress through the organization?

As managers and team leaders, find ways to “check the pulse” on how people are aligned within your organization.

  • How can they learn (and demonstrate) new skills or talents?
  • Where are there opportunities for people to grow or advance?

Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Are You CEO Material?

Check out this quiz from Fortune Magazine. It is based on a recent book by Kathleen Kelley Reardon, PhD The Secret Handshake: Mastering the Politics of the Inner Circle (Currency/Doubleday, $14.95).

We've begun with the premise that being competent -- or aware -- of one's abilities is important for the success of one's career or business. This book and the survey point to another important factor -- an awareness of the internal politics of one's organization. Navigating your way through an organization, building relationships and alliances while maintaining one's expertise and integrity, can sometimes be challenging.

How often have you witnessed people get derailed for not being aware of how "things are done" in an organization?

I'm curious to hear your thoughts and ideas.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Thank you for taking time to visit the Competent Advantage community.

Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary offers several definitions for competent, including:

  • Having requisite or adequate ability or qualities
  • Legally qualified or adequate
  • Having the capacity to function or develop in a particular way

It also provides various definitions for advantage, including:

  • Superiority of position or condition
  • Benefit resulting from some course of action

In creating this Competent Advantage community (and corresponding workshops), aside from coining a somewhat unique title, I would like to encourage dialogue and information exchange about how we each use our knowledge to achieve great things.

I’d define competent advantage as a keen awareness of the talents and abilities that will help one to stand out (and for) something great. [Greatness, of course, is in the eye of the beholder.]

This, to me, implies a greater focus on developing and tapping into one’s internal strengths as opposed to concentrating on external rivalries. Not to say that we should be blind to what’s happening in the world around us. More that we should leverage our strengths (and lessons learned) to succeed in spite of obstacles that may be thrown our way.

I’m happy to share my thoughts and ideas with you, as I’ve learned that it’s important for us to tell our stories. Hopefully, this information exchange will help you step out and think more creatively about your goals and begin defining your competent advantage.