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Navigating Project Chaos: My Four-Step Strategy For Structure And Success


Three weeks ago I was invited to join my CEO in a last-minute meeting. Without giving too much detail (for obvious reasons), we were meeting a marketing executive from a major brand. He was interested in our technology and wanted to learn more. It was a first meeting, so we did the usual demo and discovery questions; we showcased relevant case studies and brainstormed high-level ideas. Very unexpectedly, we came away from that meeting with a project outline and a mandate to be ready to pitch in less than a month. Great—if only every meeting went so well and every (potential) client moved so decisively! But walking out of that meeting I was immediately facing two issues:

  1. Internally, how do I allocate my resources and talent to deal with a fast turnaround pitch, and a potentially long-term project to follow? And how do I do that without impacting my existing projects?
  2. How do I nurture a forward-facing relationship and manage the expectations of a new partner?

Because of its quick turnaround, this project, in particular, required clarity and a very proactive approach to planning and execution. As an executive producer who works predominantly in start-up and early-stage environments, I work across multiple touchpoints with multiple stakeholders. And I’m usually working with very limited resources. Implementing a framework is vital to defining the vision of a project and keeping it on track.

Whether working across business development, creative and content production, or tech integration, I work through the same four-step process. It’s a simple framework that I adapt to every project. And it’s exactly the framework I used on this project.

(Aside: We pitched early this week and received a great response. I hope to have an update soon and will share more when I can. It’s a very fun project. I can’t wait to tell you about it.)

1. Assessment

This step is all about clarity. Start by defining objectives and goals, and know the difference between the two: the goal is the long-term outcome; the objective is a measurable short-term action that helps you achieve it. In this instance, my goal is to secure a new client partnership, initially producing a single project with additional projects in the future. The immediate objective was to create a pitch and presentation that fulfilled the brief provided to us in that first meeting.

With your goals and objectives in mind, assess your resources. How much time do you have? How many people are available and what do they do? What technology is available to you? What content already exists? What processes are in place and where are the gaps? Be specific here, and think about why it matters. This is your energy tank: knowing what you have and how you can use it will make for a much more efficient process further down the line.

2. Planning

“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan… There is no other route to success." —Pablo Picasso

It’s time to define the project and build a plan. In this step, you are thinking about strategy and tactics. Both terms originated as military terminology in Sun Tzu’s writing The Art of War but are now used in a variety of everyday scenarios, especially in the workplace and business environment.

Strategy comes first. This is the "big picture." It’s an overarching plan of how you intend to achieve your objectives and goals. Tactics, on the other hand, are the specific steps you will take to execute that strategy.

Strategy is where you want to go, and tactics are how you will get there.

The type of strategy and the framework you use will vary depending on what type of project you are working on. If your objective is efficiency and process, you might focus on an operational strategy; you could analyze technology usage or measure the effectiveness of existing systems. Either way, the emphasis is on internal capabilities and how they can be improved. A content strategy might be beneficial if you are trying to drive visibility or sales-centric messaging. This type of strategy is more externally focused and designed to build awareness.

Process mapping is also useful at this stage. Anyone who knows me knows I love a good diagram or flowchart, but visualizing a workflow or plan is actually a very effective communication tool, particularly if you are working across multiple stakeholders or departments. These can be as simple or as complex as they need to be and can be used to demonstrate existing processes as well as suggestions for future optimization.

In the case of our pitch, we used process maps to demonstrate our production process and the integration of technology into existing workflows. We also used them creatively to illustrate content narratives and moments of audience interaction and participation.

The key here is to remember that your strategy and tactics should always be aligned with your objectives. Collectively you want everyone and everything to be moving in the same direction and towards the same common goal.

3. Implementation

Most people get caught in the planning stage, but this is the time to execute. In a start-up environment, especially with limited resources, it’s easy to fall into a pattern of reactivity and respond to situations rather than actively driving them. The key to being proactive is to draw on your previous planning and mobilize your action plan.

As an executive producer, it’s my responsibility to understand the bigger picture, and in turn to educate, facilitate, and mentor everyone else who is working on that project. Start this step by assigning roles, getting clear on responsibilities, reinforcing timelines and budgets, and clarifying that everyone understands the objectives and expectations. This is where the earlier assessment of resources comes into play too, ensuring that everyone has the tools they need to complete their tasks.

Good communication is integral to maintaining momentum towards your goal. Decide on your preferred methods of communication in advance, whether it’s a group Slack or Telegram channel; schedule regular check-ins and stand-ups; and agree on how best to pre-empt and address any blockers.

Task management tools are a great way to monitor progress, especially on a fast-paced project with lots of moving parts. I personally stick with Google Drive and have used Zapier to integrate my emails, Slack, and calendar. Asana, ClickUp, Monday, Trello, and Smartsheet are all great platforms too. My advice is to try them out and see which one works best for you and your team.

And if all else fails: communicate! communicate! communicate!

4. Optimize

This is where you measure and review the project. How effective were you at achieving your objective? What worked? What didn’t? What other opportunities did you find? The actual data points you are measuring will depend on the project specifics, but these should be agreed on when you are defining your objective. You’ll measure before the project begins to set your baseline, and again after to see how you performed.

The types of metrics are usually categorized according to efficiency, performance, accuracy, or financial impact. You might also consider whether a measurement is leading or lagging. Does it offer insight into future performance? Or does it assess the impact of past actions or strategies? Both are valuable.

We were pitching a content project that involved aspects of user engagement, and so our suggested KPIs were: active users; new users; session time; retention; and revenue. We’re also including AI functionality, so we added some KPIs to measure accuracy and performance.

Metrics are a great way to measure project successes, but they can also uncover areas of weakness, providing opportunities for improvement. Be sure that you are measuring the right metrics and—you should know this by now—ALWAYS REVERT BACK TO YOUR OBJECTIVE.

Plans are not static and step four is not the end.

It’s time to take all the information you’ve gathered and feed it straight back into step one, ready to start all over again. The world of start-ups and production can be fast and frantic, but implementing structure is a game-changer for productivity and efficiency.

In the next few weeks, I’ll dive into more of the processes I use to manage workflows and will showcase some of the exciting projects I’ve had the privilege to work on. Stay tuned for a mix of unfiltered opinions on everything related to creativity, planning, and interactive technology.

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 7 hours 13 minutes ago

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Why You Shouldn't Put MBA After Your Name On Your Resume Or LinkedIn Profile


If you have an MBA and you're looking for a job right now, I strongly advise you not to put MBA after your name at the top of your resume or on your LinkedIn profile. Here's why...

Recruiters are skimmers, and when they're reviewing resumes for a job that doesn't require an MBA, they don't expect (or want) to see applicants with MBAs.

So, when the very first thing recruiters see on your resume is your name with MBA after it, they think they shouldn't even bother to contact you.

You Might Be Considered "Overqualified"

There are a lot of jobs that no longer require advanced degrees. Therefore, when you put MBA after your name on your resume or LinkedIn profile, your application could potentially be skipped over because you're being seen as overqualified. This is why I don't encourage you to put MBA after your name.

As a career coach, the only letters (abbreviations for degrees/certifications) I advise my clients to put after their name are the ones you need to have in order to do the job.

For example:

  • JD
  • CPA
  • PE
  • PhD

Those abbreviations, and others like them, are the exception. However, the job market is saturated with MBAs, and I have many clients with MBAs who are being told they're overqualified, so why broadcast that degree only for you to be screened out before they even look at your skill sets?

Instead of putting MBA after your name, keep that information in the education section on your resume and LinkedIn profile. That way, if a hiring manager needs someone with an MBA, they'll be able to find that information there.

You're not taking the degree off your resume or LinkedIn profile. You're simply changing how you market yourself so you don't come off as overqualified in your job search.

This is one of the many tips and tricks that a lot of people aren't aware of, and it's impacting their ability to be seen in this super competitive job market. Play down the MBA right now. You don't need the letters after your name. Trust me.

Good luck, and go get 'em!

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 8 hours 43 minutes ago

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7 Things To Consider When Managing Projects In The Apparel Industry


Navigating project management in the apparel industry involves anticipating challenges and seizing opportunities. This guide covers seven key considerations to help you deliver successful and innovative apparel projects.

1. Defining Clear Objectives

Defining a clear objective for a project and how it relates to your business goals is crucial. Does the new product aim to acquire new customers or supply existing customers with more of what they love? Is the launch meant to make a splash or test the waters in a new direction?

The objective acts as a guiding principle, informing production planning, initial inventory, marketing strategies, and everything that comes afterward. You can refer back to a well-crafted objective, ensuring that every decision made aligns with your overarching goal, and ultimately results in a coherent product strategy.

2. Using a Pyramid Approach to Data

When using data to gain insights into developing new products and making strategic decisions, it’s important to devise a strategy for how to use it. It is easy to decide to offer a product in a mid-tone blue if the data proves that the colorway is already a best seller, but how does one introduce a new product if there is not enough data to support it?

The Pyramid Approach to data organizes product ideas by their level of data support. The most data-supported ideas form the base, while the least supported but potentially innovative ideas are at the top. For example, when launching a new apparel line, place proven colors and styles at the base, moderately supported new designs in the middle, and bold, trend-setting designs at the top. This structure then acts as a roadmap to developing a product offering—produce more products from the bottom and fewer from the top to mitigate risk.

3. Building Vendor Relationships

Vendor relationships can impact product quality, pricing, and delivery times, all of which contribute to the overall success and growth of the business. When negotiating and communicating with vendors, consider what is best for developing and maintaining a strong relationship. If the relationship is not mutually beneficial, the supply chain becomes unreliable. Will a vendor accommodate last-minute changes in product specs or the timeline of the launch if they are unsatisfied? Maybe not.

Open communication and fair negotiations with vendors can establish mutual trust and improve collaboration when problem-solving. A good relationship can not only ensure a more agile and resilient supply but also enable quick pivoting in response to last-minute changes in products, timelines, and trends.

4. Open-Minded Product Testing

The product creation process should be iterative and flexible to allow for the identification and incorporation of unexpected discoveries. Allow for deviations in the prototype phase, let the best product prevail, and consider customer feedback after launch. Flexibility in the initial phase of development and launch can greatly impact the success of a product.

For example, flexibility and an effective feedback loop played a crucial role in renaming Skims after a public backlash, enabling the products to be salvaged by sewing new labels over the former name (see vendor relationships). This is one of those "happy accidents" where adjustments made based on real-world feedback led to a more user-friendly, memorable name for the brand.

5. Communicative Production Planning

Planning production schedules to meet demand without overproducing or overspending can only be achieved with proper communication. Managing a project usually has more than a few moving parts, and the project manager is often the only party holding all the information.

To prevent mishaps, create a detailed timeline with built-in milestones to distribute to the necessary parties in order to communicate the importance of target dates. If necessary, flesh out the costs associated with various delays such as expedited shipping or work stoppages, then communicate those to the relevant parties. Oftentimes, an understanding of the consequences of one part of the process falling behind can encourage on-time delivery.

6. Developing Contingency Plans

Projects are seldom executed without having to navigate unexpected obstacles. To mitigate the risk of delay, practice creating contingency plans at the first sign of a potential problem. Address different scenarios such as worst-case, best-case, and expected-case outcomes, and outline specific responses for each.

These plans enable project managers to take action to address issues quickly and can prevent problems from escalating or creating a domino effect that disrupts the entire project.

7. Post-Launch Evaluations

Post-launch evaluations can lead to a greater understanding of the successes and failures of a product after launch and help to highlight growth opportunities in the development process. Return to the objective of the project and measure the outcome through performance metrics, customer feedback, and overall market reception.

Evaluate the process—what worked, what didn’t, and how the process can be improved. Assess how resources (time, budget, personnel) were allocated and used throughout the project. Identify areas where resources were underutilized or stretched too thin to optimize future project planning. Each successive evaluation offers an opportunity to improve the operations of the company.

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 3 days 7 hours ago

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4 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Accepting A Job Offer


Receiving a job offer after a long job search is one of the best feelings in the world. Before you say "yes" though, it's important to determine whether you're making the right decision for you and your career.

After an incredibly difficult job search, it can be tempting to take the first job offer you receive. Of course, there are many factors that go into whether you should accept that job offer, but for most professionals, it's not wise to blindly accept your first one, unless it's a position at one of your bucket list companies.

The decision to accept a job offer shouldn't be taken lightly. In order to advance your career, you need to make sure each job you take provides you with opportunities to grow as a professional, while also factoring in work-life balance.

Here are four questions you must ask yourself before accepting any job offer.

1. Do I Like The People I'd Be Working With At This Company?

It may be hard to know if you'd work well with the people at a particular company just after a few interviews and handshakes. But it's important to make an effort to get to know the people you'd be working with before moving too far into the hiring process.

Your co-workers can make or break your experience at a company. If you didn't get a good vibe from the people you met during your interviews, then maybe you should think twice about accepting the job offer. We're not saying you should be friends with your co-workers. You just need to be able to work well with them.

By getting to know as many people as possible early on in the interview process, you won't only learn who they are and whether you could get along with them, but you'll also strengthen your network within the company.

2. Will I Be Able To Leverage My Strengths In This Position?

Part of your job during an interview is asking the right questions so you can learn as much about the company and the position as possible in order to make an informed decision if a job offer comes your way.

After a couple of rounds of interviews, you should have a clear idea of what you'd be doing every day if you were to accept the job offer. Are you excited about those projects? Will you be able to leverage your strengths to help the company meet its goals? If not, then you probably won't get very much satisfaction out of the job.

An employer will offer you the job if they believe you can add value to the company. But if the way they want you to add value doesn't align with your career goals or strengths, it might not be the right position for you.

3. Can I Relate To The Company's Values And Beliefs?

This question is an easy one to forget to ask ourselves when we're offered a job.

Although you should always feel connected to a company's mission or values before you apply for a job there (so you can write a disruptive cover letter and actually land an interview), maybe you haven't considered the company values and beliefs until this stage in the hiring process. If you haven't done so, you should research the company until you know what its purpose is. Why does the company exist? What problem is it trying to solve? Could you work towards this mission every day?

The bottom line: If your values and beliefs don't match up with the company's, then you won't be truly invested in what you're doing, and your performance, career happiness, and job satisfaction will suffer.

4. Will The Location Of This Job Work For Me?

A commute is a bigger factor in your career than you think. A lot of people underestimate the kind of toll a long and difficult commute will have on them. That's why it's important to be honest with yourself: Do you really want to spend an hour or more on the road every day?

Before saying "yes" to a job with a long commute, consider your schedule, lifestyle, and family commitments. Are you willing to sacrifice and compromise on certain areas of your life for this opportunity? Will you still be able to achieve some type of work-life balance with a long commute?

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath, more and more professionals want to work remote jobs, and companies are listening, offering more remote work opportunities to attract top talent.

If you'd prefer not to commute at all, then you should probably apply for jobs that offer the flexibility to work from home (at least some of the time). Being a remote or hybrid employee definitely has its perks when you consider how stressful, expensive, and time-consuming a commute can be, and it absolutely should be a factor in your decision to accept a job or not.

By asking yourself these four questions before accepting any job offer, you'll be sure you're making the right decision—for you and your career.

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 3 days 11 hours ago

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5 Ways To Deal With An Incompetent Boss


To make sure we're on the same page about dealing with an "incompetent" boss and not a "bad" boss, let's be clear on what the term means. An incompetent person is someone who is functionally inadequate or insufficient in knowledge, skills, judgment, or strength.

If this is what you're talking about then you're right, they are incompetent. It happens. In other words, the boss doesn't know squat about being a manager and probably knows little to nothing about the area of work you do.

While it can be frustrating to have an incompetent boss, an incompetent boss can also seriously damage or derail your career. If they do have a serious lack of knowledge, we know that they can do nothing to help you grow as an employee which means any growth will be yours to make happen through creating your own opportunities outside of your job.

Let's look at the potential damage an incompetent boss can inflict and what you can do to minimize or avoid the career problems that might arise from having one.

How An Incompetent Boss Can Impact Your Career

Bad decisions - Because they don't know your work, the decisions they make can have an impact they are clueless about. They lack insight and understanding. This means the impact on you can range from cleaning up a mess to putting you in a position that makes you look like you tanked the business. It can make you lose precious time and focus or even cause you to get fired.

Bad direction - We look to our boss to provide direction in the form of "how to" all the way to yearly planning. When the boss is incompetent, their directions can be bad or pointless, often leaving important issues untouched.

Bad support - Our boss can be the single biggest supporter of our career trajectory, but if they are clueless about the nature of your work, they may be supporting either the wrong things or people. You can't expect them to really know or understand if you're delivering well. They may be a roadblock in your career or simply no help at all.

When you have an incompetent boss, you have to think through how this person functions in order to use whatever strengths they do have to your advantage or minimally avoid career-limiting outcomes.

Let's look at some of the things you can do to deal with an incompetent boss...

1. "Upskill" Yourself

In other words, leadership can come from you. If you know your area well enough, there is no reason to not go ahead creating and pursuing a direction you know will achieve good results for your company.

People who upskill at work are naturally regarded by their peers as informal leaders. Management, although maybe not your direct boss, will notice your initiative. Of course, you don't want to do something that undermines the boss, so keep them in the loop.

2. Figure Out The Problem Spots

The boss's incompetence is annoying, but it usually impacts you and others in specific ways. Try to observe what those are and make a plan to counteract the problem.

I once had an incompetent boss. The biggest issue was that he would sometimes make decisions for the group I managed that negatively impacted the company. I sat down with him and asked if I could either be involved in those decision discussions or if he could direct the person asking questions to me. It mostly worked. There were times when that direction simply wasn't possible, but people soon learned that they needed to come to me for good decisions. We worked around the problem.

3. Teach Them

Every time you speak to your boss, you have an opportunity to train and teach them about your area. It seems kind of ludicrous to train your boss, but the ongoing investment will be worth it once they are savvy enough to know what you're talking about.

It's very important to avoid being condescending when offering to help your boss get a better grasp on things. Be respectful, and always come from a place of genuine kindness.

4. Look For A Mentor

Just because your boss doesn't bring much in the way of growth doesn't mean there isn't someone in your company or industry that can be good for your career.

Look around for someone at a higher level who is sharp and going places. Ask them to be your mentor. It will be flattering to them and helpful to you to have someone supporting you and helping you navigate your career.

5. Leave

Ultimately, this kind of situation can be damaging to both you and your career. Sometimes it's better for your career to leave rather than try to stick it out. If you've tried several things and there is no improvement, it may be time for you to pursue another career opportunity.

While an incompetent boss can be annoying and frustrating, it isn't the worst kind of boss to have—unless they are nicely packaged with other shortcomings in the personality department. Many times you can make up for their shortcomings and also "manage up" as they know innately that they lack many skills and knowledge.

Don't let your frustration get in the way of managing the situation more effectively!

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 4 days 11 hours ago

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From IT Developer To Strategic Leader: My 25-Year Journey At Greyhound


When I joined Greyhound back in 1996, as an IT developer, my plan was to stay for a year and then move to some cutting-edge development company. Greyhound was not the sexy development shop that I had hoped to work for.

Now having worked there for 25 years, I have nothing but fond memories of the challenges, opportunities, and people.

Joining Greyhound

I’m pretty sure everyone knows what Greyhound is. This has been a benefit, never having to explain to people what my employer does. The problem has been convincing people I am not a bus driver. Why would Greyhound have any IT needs? As it turned out the technical opportunities were thoroughly abundant and sexy.

Key Projects and Technological Milestones

I was initially hired to “retire the mainframe.” The mainframe was used for several key business processes including dispatching and managing the fleet. Being young and aggressive, I was sure I could knock this out quickly. Digging in and realizing the complexity of a national network, ensuring DOT compliance, union rules, and having a bus and driver available was a challenge. I became obsessed with accomplishing this project. I quickly realized this was a multi-year project, hence my one-year plan was quickly dashed.

This ended up being a very large, sexy, and evolutionary project for Greyhound, leaving me hungry for the next big sexy project. Thanks to the economy, getting the big sexy projects approved became a new challenge. With my ability to understand technology, work with the business, and present thorough and convincing business cases, I was able to keep the projects flowing. Projects included implementing e-commerce (greyhound.com), implementing mobile phone sales solutions, implementing mobile phone driver applications, as well as implementing a data warehouse and moving to the cloud amongst several other projects.

Navigating Ownership Transitions and New Opportunities

Throughout my tenure, Greyhound was purchased by new parent companies a few times. Each owner presented different opportunities and challenges. The most recent purchase was by a German company shortly after the pandemic. This was a technology company with several existing systems. This proved to be another sexy project that even included international travel.

I was an integral part of the operational integrations and was excited to manage the integrations and development teams. The business relied on me to help them understand and trust the new systems will meet their needs. I architected the integration to protect business processes unique to Greyhound. Some systems were too cumbersome to replace and really had no application for European operations. This included the core dispatch and operational systems I developed 25 years ago, still in use today.

So, the not-so-sexy company can have some sexy projects, providing several years of rewarding and challenging work. I have since moved on from Greyhound feeling confident I left them in much better shape than when I joined.

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 5 days 6 hours ago

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Community Engagement For Impactful Public Health


Community engagement is at the core of good public health. Every successful public health project I’ve been a part of has had community voice at the core of every aspect of the work. Leading with community voice assures that equity is not only a discussion point, but a value.

In a project to assure a fair and accurate census count in diverse Michigan communities, I collaborated with local organizations to reach the hardest-to-reach populations and managed a project that improved community voice and power.

Background: The Census in Michigan 

Everyone Counts, Everyone Wins. That was the message of the nonprofit community campaign that was put in place in late 2018 to assure Michigan not only achieved a fair and accurate count in the 2020 Census but reached (and counted!) the hardest-to-count community members.

Typically, the once-a-decade count of the U.S. population conducted by the federal government undercounts many people in our communities: people of color, people who have experienced incarceration, people who are undocumented, and people who are low-income. Missing these populations is a huge miss for communities, as census counts determine community power and funding for vital programs.

The hypothesis of the Be Counted Michigan project was: leaning on trusted, local organizations to help educate people about the census and provide opportunities for them to take it would mean higher numbers and a more accurate count, and, therefore, more funding and a stronger voice for local communities. When communities can come together in a project like this, it means empowerment, involvement, and a win for everyone.

Key Project Elements 

This state-wide campaign included four key elements:

  1. Focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  2. Leveraging nonprofits and community-based organizations as trusted voices in diverse communities; having these organizations leading projects and advisory councils.
  3. Providing grant funding (distributed in each county) for local nonprofits, coalitions, neighborhood associations, colleges, and cities and towns.
  4. Creating a marketing campaign that centered around communications that were culturally sensitive and reflective of the communities where the work was being done. This was accomplished through online, print, social media, TV, and radio communication.
Barriers and Equity Gaps 

Many barriers already existed that prevented fair census counts and access to being counted. It had already been shown in every previous census that communities were undercounted, particularly communities of color and low-income areas. These barriers were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, increased government distrust, and the possibility of the addition of a question that asked about U.S. citizenship (a question that had not been included in the census in decades).

As a result, multiple Michigan counties were at risk of being undercounted. Further, this was the first census that would be online-first, meaning those without internet access or those who were transient were at risk of not being counted. All of these factors made for a challenging environment that took creativity to overcome.

Local Highlight: Great Lakes Bay Region

The Great Lakes Bay Region (comprising Saginaw, Bay, Midland, and Isabella counties) sought to address the many barriers and assure its communities were counted. This region experienced the most community engagement around the census that had ever been seen previously. Unique ideas flourished and community members were engaged with the ultimate goal of reaching the hardest-to-reach neighbors.

One example of the excellent outreach that took place as part of this project is in the city of Saginaw. Multiple community partners came together to throw the block party of all block parties. Grant dollars covered a mobile census unit (a city bus, wrapped with a locally designed Be Counted! logo and a DJ on the bus spinning hits). The bus was equipped with volunteers and iPads and went to neighborhoods all over the city, providing an opportunity for community members to take the census and ask questions. The party continued at City Hall, where grant funds covered food, music, games, and prizes, along with more opportunities to be counted in the census and interact with local celebrities.

Thousands of people were counted that day, with volunteers celebrating major victories and inroads with communities. It was rad to see. This is one example of over 50 grant projects in the Great Lakes Bay Region and shows how communities came together to reduce barriers, improve community knowledge, and work together for a positive outcome.

Results

Michigan finished eighth in the country for census self-response rate and exceeded its 2010 self-response rate. Unfortunately, despite achieving a higher count than expected, a seat in the House of Representatives was lost. But what was gained is of huge importance. This project showed how to work with communities, how to engage local organizations, and how to build something together to make sure everyone is included.

The gains in trust that were made in local communities can’t be counted. People felt part of something and empowered to push for improvements. Networks of partners grew and developed, and this project laid the groundwork for similar endeavors going forward. It showed that when communities are valued and engaged in culturally sensitive ways, long-term and sustainable changes can happen. Now that is good public health!

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 5 days 8 hours ago

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7 Tips For Writing A Great LinkedIn Invitation


Whether you're new to LinkedIn or a seasoned user, connecting with new people can be a challenge, especially when you're not sure what to write in your LinkedIn invitation. You might be tempted to use the generic "I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn" template, but beware! By not personalizing your message, you could lose a precious opportunity to network.

Here are seven great tips on writing LinkedIn invitations from our approved career experts.

1. Be Honest

"Explain why you want to connect with the person," says Amanda Haddaway, author of Destination Real World: Success After Graduation For New And Soon-To-Be College Graduates. "Just say something. There's nothing worse than receiving a LinkedIn request with the standard, generic format and not having any earthly idea who the person is or why he/she wants to connect with you."

Dorothy Tannahill-Moran of Next Chapter New Life says honesty is the best policy when trying to connect with someone, especially if you're looking to do some serious networking. "If you want to work for their company," Tannahill-Moran says, "don't be shy about admitting that they are working for your targeted company and are looking for insights about that company. Open communication is always best."

2. Tell Them How You Know Them

"I get a lot of requests and I always appreciate a brief mention of why the person wants to connect," says Jenny Yerrick Martin of Your Industry Insider. "Whether they saw my post on LinkedIn Groups, found me through my website, or know someone who knows me in real life, that extra step usually gets me to accept the invitation."

3. Find Something In Common

When trying to find something in common with your potential connection, Haddaway suggests asking yourself these questions:

  • Is it a mutual career field or interest?
  • Do you have connections in common?
  • Are you connected through LinkedIn Groups?

Here's a request example offered by Debra Wheatman of Careers Done Write...

Dear Jane: I see that you are a member of X Group. I am also engaged with this group and would like to share some ideas with you. Please accept my invitation to connect.

This example is short and sweet, but it gets the point across effectively.

4. Make It Personal

"One-size-fits-all invitations are a waste of time," says Cheryl Simpson of Executive Resume Rescue. Always personalize your invitation to connect in some way, she advises. Mention a shared group membership, note a common contact, or point out similar backgrounds, education, or experience. If all else fails, tell the prospective contact what you hope you both will gain from the connection.

5. Be Enthusiastic

"If you're approaching the CEO/founder of a startup on LinkedIn, as part of a job search, you want to start and end by showing your enthusiasm for their business," says Kathy Ver Eecke of Working For Wonka. "Your expertise, background, and skill set should take a backseat to your enthusiasm and passion for their business. You want to get their attention and break the ice? Lead with that and you're in."

6. Reference Their Profile

Ben Eubanks of Upstart HR suggests taking a moment to check out your potential connection's profile and referencing something in it.

Example: Hey, Mike! I saw on your profile that you attended XYZ University. I have a good friend who went there and have heard great things about it. I'd love the opportunity to connect with you. Thanks! Have a great day.

"Reaching out without offering some reason is a quick way to get your message relegated to the 'spam' folder, and LinkedIn will eventually suspend your account if you hit the limit of those responses," he says.

7. Thank Them

Arnie Fertig of Job Hunter Coach says it's important to thank the person in advance for agreeing to connect. Not only that, but you also want to offer to help them in any way possible and encourage them to call on you. That way, your potential contact feels like they can benefit from the connection. It's all about providing value. Remember, you get what you give!

The next time you're trying to connect with someone on LinkedIn, follow these seven tips. You'll grow your professional network faster than you think!

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 5 days 11 hours ago

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9 SaaS Hospitality Apps To Streamline Business Operations


I recall a time when software for the hospitality industry was almost non-existent, mostly consisting of Excel spreadsheets and Word documents to track revenues and maintain customer records. Utilizing Excel to maintain customer accounts and ensure opportunities for future marketing campaigns was extremely inefficient and cumbersome at best.

Driven by the lack of a comprehensive events management program available at the time, or the costs to purchase what was available on the market were prohibitive or inadequate at best, led me to develop a software application of my own. Utilization of relational databases to track client contracts, determine pricing models, ensure operational efficiencies, and ensure revenue capture took years of toiling to create a system that would automate the process of maintaining sound client relationships and ensuring operational efficiencies.

Today, the hospitality industry has grown to such levels where projections for current revenues in the United States have surpassed the hundreds of billions of dollars and increasing exponentially by roughly 7% yearly to 2028. The hospitality software industry’s revenue projections in the United States are slated to be in the tens of billions and growing.

The multitude of systems available on the market is vast, and often confusing, requiring a deep dive into understanding what each system does, and how it might compare to its competitors. Systems exist for point of sales (POS), integrated operations, customer retention and marketing, small restaurant and online ordering, and the list goes on and on. Most likely, any hospitality industry venture may require several different software applications to run a particular business.

It is important to remember that when choosing software ensure that you are choosing wisely. Selecting software that is easily updateable and will not become obsolete within a few years, or that information inputted into past systems can be easily migrated to new systems as your company scales and grows are keys to successful software mitigation and renewal.

Because the hospitality software landscape is so vast, I selected a number of different types of software available on the market to synopsize.

1. Cloudbeds

Cloudbeds is an integrative software service available for the hospitality industry. Using the latest technological improvements to ensure viability between various booking platforms, Cloudbeds provides users with opportunities to not only customize the guest experience but enhance marketing efforts and increase efficiencies within the operations sphere. Cloudbeds provides a wide variety of software modules to create a seamless operational platform to better serve guests' needs through increased efficiency, tracking guests’ reservations and history, and managing the backend operations in the hospitality industry.

2. Dack

Dack software assists the vacation rental market by helping to manage the user experience and ensure seamless opportunities by making the check-in and checkout process easier for guests. Additionally, Dack provides rental owners the ability to customize guests' experiences by offering additional services, and to increase revenue potential. Ensuring that customers receive specialized booking availability as well as providing useful information about the rental and environs increases opportunities for guests to enjoy their stay.

3. Lighthouse

Lighthouse Hospitality Management software provides users with insights into their business by integrating functionality of disparate data into one system. Lighthouse enables the user to understand the competitive landscape and ensure that room rental pricing complies with current market rates by viewing and comparing competitors’ pricing. The software also enables users to develop targeted marketing campaigns for potential customers through predictive analysis.

4. Revinate

Revinate software for the hospitality industry provides users with the ability to advantage marketing through customer contact and reviews. Utilizing customer feedback to develop marketing campaigns is an essential means for hospitality properties to ensure that information is current and accurate. Additionally, Revinate enables users to contact guests for follow-up through a variety of different mediums to maximize potential outreach.

5. Superb

Superb POS software provides restaurants and customers with the useability to meet current market demands. Superb acts as an all-in-one system for restaurants and cafes whereby ordering, seating, kitchen menu management, customer online ordering, and payment are integrated for a seamless experience. Currently, the drawback of Superb POS is it is only used in Europe and may not be available in the United States.

6. Tablevibe

Tablevibe enables restaurants to take control of their online ordering opportunities and maintain customer data which is so important to engendering customer loyalty and customer promotion. Additionally, Tablevibe enables restaurants to market directly to past customers and create marketing schemes to further engender loyalty. Lastly, Tablevibe aggregates online ordering initiated through other online ordering systems that a restaurant may use and ensures a seamless experience for the customer.

7. Thynk

Thynk hospitality software provides users with an integrated solution to better manage various aspects of the user’s business and integrate multiple properties into one seamless application. Thynk software enables users to have greater control and functionality of the data available to make more informed decisions regarding future revenue streams and opportunities. Additionally, Thynk software helps to automate specific processes and generate functional reporting on a consistent and easily accommodating basis.

8. Vouch

Vouch hospitality software automates operational tasks to increase efficiency for both guests and staff through an easily usable and highly functional application. Increasing efficiencies in hotel operations engenders added customer satisfaction and generates greater operability for staff. While human interactions are important in the guest experience, having the ability to bypass lines during check-in or ask for more towels in your room enables staff to better manage guests’ expectations and reduce wait times for needed services.

9. Wheelhouse

Wheelhouse hospitality pricing software enables users to better understand the market and competitive marketplace when determining pricing strategies. Wheelhouse software uses available data to help users better understand what aspects competitors may be using to develop pricing strategies and better help you understand how these aspects can increase profitability and generate additional revenue opportunities. Wheelhouse enables users to better understand the competitive marketplace by developing data sets that generate increased insights into the competitive landscape.

Determining which software to purchase depends on the type of business that you have and the needs of your operations. Understand that when selecting software, it is important to ensure that what you purchase will integrate with your current systems, or that your current systems will allow for the information to be migrated to the new software. Do not get caught up with the idea that one software system will do it all, but rather ensure that if purchasing multiple systems they are working together with either your current systems or that the underlying architecture allows for easily migrating information in the future.

Assume that you may be required to take smaller steps toward software integration or capacity versus ensuring that you are set for the next 10 years. Remember that technology changes so rapidly that most likely by the time you have purchased a new system, it is already out of date.

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 6 days 6 hours ago

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How To Explain A Job Gap On Your Resume


If there's a noticeable employment gap on your resume, you may be concerned that it's impacting your chances of landing interviews and moving forward in the hiring process. Explaining a job gap on your resume can feel tricky, but there's a right way and a wrong way to do it.

Here's how you can successfully explain a job gap on your resume.

DO NOT: Use An Objective Statement

Don't mention your employment gap in an objective statement. Objective statements don't belong on a resume anyway. They show what you want, but it's what the employer wants that matters.

An experience summary should replace your objective statement. This is a list of any skills you possess that are required for the position you're applying for. So, not only should you not mention your job gap at the very top of your resume in an objective statement, but you shouldn't be writing an objective statement at all.

Instead: List Your Job Gap Under Experience

If there's a big employment gap on your resume, you have to list something to fill it. Companies might discriminate against you for having nothing to show for that period. Even if they don't, they will still ask you about the gap. You're better off explaining it yourself first.

Be careful, though, because if you go on for too long about it (on your resume and in a job interview), employers will be turned off. Sharing too many details will make it sound even more confusing if your reasons are already complicated. Keep it short and sweet to get your point across effectively.

Answer This...

Why were you out? Were you raising a family? Were you caring for sick loved ones? Were you in school? Whatever the reason is, make sure it is listed. That way, the employer will have something to ask you about instead of being suspicious of missing time.

All they want to know is what you were doing, so one line on your resume should be enough to satisfy them.

One Last Thing...

Don't try to explain an employment gap in your cover letter!

Just like a resume, a cover letter is not about you. It's about what you can do for the employer.

Unless you learned quite a bit from your job gap experience, then it's not worth mentioning in a cover letter. Cover letters are supposed to be concise, and do not include superfluous information.

Tell a story about how you've come to understand the power of that company's product or service. You need to show your support and passion for what they do and how they do it. Share how you're connected to their mission, so they understand your importance to them. The more interesting a story you can tell them, the more connected they'll feel to you before you even meet them. If it's done correctly, you'll get an interview because of it.

We hope these tips will help you feel more confident navigating the job search process with a job gap of any size. A gap in employment won't prevent you from landing a great job if you have the right strategy in place!

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 6 days 11 hours ago

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Why Job Interviews Are Out Of Control In 2024


Is your job search driving you crazy? You're not alone. A recent survey from The Hustle found that 58% of job seekers believe job interviewing is out of control. And they're right: interviewing is grueling right now.

If you're looking for a job, you know what I'm talking about—hiring managers being disrespectful, getting ghosted after multiple rounds of interviews, and so many more horror stories.

We know job interviews are out of control. Now, let's unpack why...

It's A Buyer's Market

First of all, it's a buyer market. When there are so many qualified candidates in the job market, companies feel obligated to see what's available and consider every option.

Think about what you do when you're making a really expensive purchase because, essentially, that's what's happening with employers. They're investing thousands of dollars in you, so they need to make sure they're getting the right person for the job. They're not just going to pick the first person who comes along. They draw out the hiring process in order to compare and contrast people and, hopefully, hire the best candidate.

 Recruiting Confusion

The second reason interviews are out of control is that AI has sped up the death of the resume, and it has created a lot of recruiting confusion. People are applying online with fake resumes. They're using AI tools like ChatGPT to create a resume that's a direct match for a job in order to get through the ATS (applicant tracking system) only for a recruiter to then call this person, do an interview, and waste their time to find out this person isn't really who they said they were.

This is creating a lot of messiness in the recruitment process, and recruiters are pretty upset about it. They now have to authenticate that somebody is who they say they are. This draws out the interview process. There are more interviews involved. There's more testing involved. This is the new reality. But the good news is that this is also speeding up the improvement of the interview process.

The First Interview Is The Most Important

The most important part of the entire hiring process is the first interview, that first time you talk with a recruiter or a hiring manager because that's the moment when you're authenticating yourself—you are who you say, and you're also providing "impact evidence" that you're the right candidate for the job.

Your resume and LinkedIn profile only list your features, and in the beginning, employers compare your features to other candidates' features, so the applicants they choose to interview all look the same. But that first interview is where you start to break away from the pack, where you're able to convey the benefits of hiring you, your unique value add (UVA). This is the moment when you can really shine and catapult yourself into being the must-have candidate.

Now, how do you make that happen?

First, create videos of yourself answering some of the most common interview questions. Then, proactively send those videos to recruiters and hiring managers.

The key to getting hired in this job market is documenting your knowledge and expertise. And that's what this strategy accomplishes.

Plus, when you use a tool like the McCoy mobile app, you're able to record those videos, put them all together in one link (kind of like a LinkedIn profile link), and send them to recruiters and hiring managers in a few easy steps. This is the kind of game-changing technology that's going to help you and other job seekers get better jobs.

Video is the way for you to authenticate yourself and provide that impact evidence to recruiters and hiring managers before the first job interview. Try it today so can get more interviews and beat out the competition.

Good luck, and go get 'em!

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5 Red Flags Employers Watch For In Job Interviews


Getting through to the job interview stage in the hiring process means the employer believes you have the right experience and skills for the job on paper. But now comes the real deal-breaker: whether you can communicate those skills effectively in person and come off as the right fit for the company's workplace culture.

There are typical red flags employers watch for in job interviews. Any red flag can reduce your chances of getting a job offer, so here's what you need to avoid in your next job interview...

1. Poor Communication

This includes everything from talking too little, talking too much, or simply having poor nonverbal behavior like a lack of eye contact or making the situation uncomfortable with poor body language. When it comes to questions and answers, a job candidate who can't provide effective responses to questions that are necessary to assess their experience and skills is always a problem.

Be prepared to address every point you have on your resume. And when an employer presents a follow-up question like "Tell me more about..." they are trying to dig deeper either because they're curious, or you provided an insufficient response.

An inability to communicate well in a job interview will leave the employer questioning whether you have the experience and skills you say you have on paper.

2. Question Of Permanency

When an employer puts out a job offer, it's going to be to someone they believe is committed to the job—not to someone who's simply looking to fill in an employment gap until a more fitting job comes along. Any reasonable job seeker wouldn't present such a front, but sometimes casual conversation can lead you to say things that are better off unsaid.

Avoid talking about challenges in your job search or how you were looking for a job in fashion marketing, but somehow you're now applying for this job in healthcare marketing. It brings into question if you're really interested in the job the employer has to offer.

Also, avoid talking about any long-distance relationships, and try not to mention that your spouse and kids remain in another state. The employer will question if your personal situation may impact your job loyalty down the road if a relocation package is not going to be a part of the offer. And if they ask where you want to be in three years, answer with a position that corresponds with their growth opportunities.

3. Bad Talk

The purpose of the interview is to demonstrate why you're a great candidate for the job and effectively convey what you have to offer. It's not about letting your frustrations out about a boss you don't like or people you don't like working with. Any bad-mouthing sends a negative message about your character. It'll also make the employer question if you can manage workplace relationships professionally.

Often, bad-mouthing occurs when employers ask questions like, "Why are you leaving your current job?" Stay focused on answering with a positive response that relates back to the goal of improving yourself and utilizing what you're capable of offering.

4. Not Dressing The Part

Yes, it's wrong to judge a book by its cover. But in a job interview, this is what happens. If you're not dressed the part to look like you suit the job, it's going to be hard for the employer to see that too.

It might also make the employer think that if you can't even manage to present a well-groomed appearance for a job interview you'll be a slacker when on the job—and that's not going to work, especially if this is a position where you may have interface with customers or business partners that require a professional appearance.

5. It's All About The Money

Salary is a factor in determining whether the job offer is ultimately right for you, but bringing it up too early in the interview process comes off as though you're only in it for the money. And when you're the one to bring it up, it puts you at a disadvantage. You create a situation where you need to reveal your desired salary before the employer offers insight into what they're considering, which may end up being much lower or much higher than what the employer has budgeted.

The point is to first make the most impressive mark you can. If you're the one they want, they'll bring up the topic of salary and you'll have an idea of what they're offering, which you can then further negotiate so it meets your expectations.

Employers take into account many factors during the job interview. It's not just about the experience and skills you put on paper. Now, you can avoid all the typical red flags to keep yourself in the running.

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Why You Need A Work Buddy


While it's good to have regular friends, everyone needs a best friend. You know, that person you can go to whenever you need help, a confidence boost, or just a laugh. The same concept applies to the workplace.

While it's great to have trusted colleagues, it's especially nice to have one person in particular to confide in—a work buddy.

How To Make Friends At Work

Sometimes if you're a new employee just starting with a company, you'll be assigned a work buddy to familiarize yourself with the job and work environment. There's nothing wrong with this. It could be that your supervisor has a particular person they want you paired with based on job responsibilities who could help you ease into and adapt to your new role.

If you're assigned a work buddy, that's one less thing you have to worry about. But if you're not assigned a buddy, look at it as an opportunity.

Some of the best friendships are the ones that are formed organically. Be open to getting to know all of your co-workers. Be friendly. Ask questions about their jobs and lives. Try to make a connection.

The Benefits Of Having A Work Buddy

Having a work buddy is a great way to help you assimilate into the company culture and quickly fit in with other co-workers. An office buddy not only has knowledge about job requirements and expectations, but they can also provide information about the work styles and personalities of co-workers, and give a rundown of any office politics.

Beyond the office landscape, having a workplace buddy helps to improve confidence. It's nice to have someone who can share advice and make you laugh.

All jobs can be stressful at times, so being able to face work challenges with the help of a buddy reduces stress, too.

How To Build A Bond With Your Work Buddy

When it comes to building a relationship with your colleagues, it shouldn't always be about work.

Check in with your work buddy from time to time about how things are going in their lives. Grab lunch, attend happy hour, or plan some other fun activity once a month.

Trust goes beyond the workplace, so it's important to work on the relationship like any other friendship.

Strengthening the friendship is also beneficial if you ever reach a point where you are no longer co-workers. You may want to keep this person as a personal friend or use them as a professional reference in the future. At the very least, you'll both be valuable connections for each other in your professional networks. This is where those bonds formed at the workplace really come in handy.

Be Proactive About Fitting In At Work

Many companies have incorporated the buddy system into their onboarding process as a way to be more efficient in getting new employees familiar with the company.

If your company doesn't have such a system, be proactive about finding a buddy and make an effort to fit in with co-workers.

Fitting into the company's culture can be just as important as learning job responsibilities. One of the reasons why you were hired is because your employer thought you'd be a good cultural fit. Now, it's your job to prove them right. A work buddy can help.

At every company you end up working for, make sure you have a work buddy. Not only will they help you learn the ropes at your new job, but they'll also be a valuable friend and connection—someone you'll be able to count on as you grow in your career.

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 1 week 6 days ago

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6 Tips For Staying Healthy With A Desk Job


Millions of Americans struggle to work at desk jobs, often unaware they're jeopardizing their health. Sitting down all day long can be a pain—literally. The sedentary lifestyle associated with sitting for prolonged periods can lead to a variety of physical ailments and chronic pain.

Whether it’s back pain, neck strain, or increased risk of cardiovascular issues, the act of being seated for the majority of the day can have severe consequences on your well-being. However, with a few alterations to your daily routine, you can significantly decrease the negative impact that a sedentary 9-to-5 job could have on your health.

Here are six tips for staying healthy with a desk job.

1. Focus On Proper Sight Lines

Maintaining proper sight lines means keeping your eyes at screen level so that your neck does not have to contort. Adjust your monitor and chair to put your neck and head in a comfortable position.

2. Know The Ergonomics Of Hand And Wrist Placement

Staying ergonomically pure with your hands and wrists prevents serious joint and ligament injuries. Consider a cushioned wrist mouse pad to keep your mouse hand comfortable. Pads are also available for keyboards, while ergonomic keyboards enable hand placement that seems more natural.

3. Maintain Proper Posture

Proper posture is probably the most important tactic in staying healthy with a desk job. Good posture is essential to overall health in general. Keep your back straight and your feet on the ground. If you are experiencing any back pain, you'll need to consider an ergonomically fit chair. Chairs for back pain enable positive posture and help restore the back and spine to a more natural state.

4. Look Away

It sounds simple but looking away from the screen periodically will benefit your eyesight. Constant monitor viewing strains our eyes. We need a break from time to time. Take 15 or 30 seconds every 10 minutes to ensure that your eyes remain strong. Also, consider investing in a pair of blue-light glasses to further reduce eyestrain.

5. Get Up And Walk Around

Research demonstrates the benefits of leaving your desk at periodic intervals to stretch and walk around. Grab some coffee, visit the bathroom, check in with your boss, or just take a five-minute walk. A five-minute stretch and walk every hour or two will do wonders for your body. A few minutes away stretches your muscles and reorients your skeletal system. You'll also be refreshed by the time away and able to refocus on your tasks.

6. Exercise Regularly

Of course, proper diet, rest, and regular exercise remain essential ingredients to any healthy lifestyle. You'll find that exercising three to four times per week will keep you energized at your desk and able to endure through the day. On days off, be sure to stretch to stay limber. You'll notice a big difference.

These six tips are simple ways to stay healthy while working a desk job. Try them out today and you'll feel a lot better by the time you log off!

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 2 weeks ago

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3 Easy Ways To Be Happier At Work


It's no secret that many people wish they could be happier at work. So, what's the solution, if any?

Money is often thought to be the biggest predictor of job satisfaction, but a survey from the BBC that ranked nearly 300 jobs from most to least satisfying shows that although money does play a role, it's not the only motivator.

For instance, internet technology and telecommunications professionals ranked at number 147 on the list, while farm workers were rated as the 23rd most satisfied workers, despite earning only about half as much as IT people.

Arnold B. Bakker, professor of Work and Organizational Psychology at Erasmus University Rotterdam, has found that job resources can have a hugely positive effect on work engagement and, more importantly, there are practical changes that employees can make to increase their job satisfaction.

"Job resources, such as opportunities for development and growth, social support, skill variety, and performance feedback, are the most important predictors of both job satisfaction and employee work engagement," says Bakker. "Our research clearly shows that employees can 'craft' their own jobs so that they become more satisfied and engaged. Job crafting refers to changes employees can proactively make in their own job demands and resources. It can take the form of increasing one's job resources, decreasing one's hindrance job demands, or increasing one's challenges."

Professor Jane E. Dutton from the University of Michigan and her colleagues Justin M. Berg from the Wharton School and Amy Wrzesniewski from Yale School of Management have also done extensive research into the effects of job crafting. One interesting finding is that people in low-status jobs, which are arguably also the least satisfying, are actually in a better position to craft their jobs than people at higher ranks.

Their research outlines three broad ways in which employees can shape their own work experiences and find value in just about any job.

1. Change The Way You Work

Although it's probably safe to say that most of the time you would prefer to be doing something else, there are likely at least some aspects of your job that you do find enjoyable. To increase your overall job satisfaction, you can emphasize the tasks you enjoy by spending more of your time and energy on them.

For instance, a professor might feel most fulfilled when interacting with students. So, in order to increase their job satisfaction, the professor might decide to limit the time they spend contributing to university committees and spend more time working with students instead.

Another way to make work more meaningful is to take on an additional task that you find fulfilling. Even if this increases your workload, it can still be beneficial if it helps you feel happier about heading to work every day.

Finally, if you can't emphasize or add tasks, it might be possible to re-engineer existing ones by introducing an element that inspires you. If you could use some help figuring out what jobs you'd feel truly happy in, take our free Career Decoder Quiz!

2. Change Your Workplace Relationships

Another way to create your own happiness at work is to create meaningful relationships with your colleagues. Research on employee interactions indicates that even short-term connections, especially when they are high quality, can be reinvigorating. So, taking the time to build up relationships with colleagues, customers, and overseers can be another way to increase job satisfaction.

For example, you could spend time mentoring a less experienced co-worker, or get to know some of your colleagues on a more personal level. Even just making a point of chatting with customers and getting to know the regulars can help you derive more meaning from your work.

3. Reframe The Way You Think About Work

The way you view your job and the tasks you perform on a daily basis also affects your engagement and satisfaction in the workplace. Crafting your perceptions about work, or "cognitive job crafting" as the researchers refer to it, isn't as physical as building relationships or performing specific tasks, so it can be more difficult to do. But the goal is to help you to find more meaning in your job as a whole.

"The more you look for the benefits of what you're doing, the more it feeds you psychologically," explains Dutton. For example, although zookeepers spend much of their time cleaning out enclosures and feeding animals, they tend to view their work as a way of ensuring that the animals receive proper care, rather than as a series of menial tasks, which helps them find meaning in it.

By doing these three simple (but important) things, you'll improve your job satisfaction and find happiness at work. Don't wait to be happier at work today!

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What Can You Do If Your Employer Is In Breach Of Contract?


"Always read the fine print." Isn't that what they say? It's a vicious, dog-eat-dog business world and, more often than not, it's the underdog who suffers. However, if that underdog is properly prepared and has a few tricks up their sleeve, the tables could be turned.

If you feel as though you've been mistreated by your employer and they are in breach of your employment contract, you can take action. With the right knowledge and proper foresight, you should never need to worry about being swindled by your boss or company.

It's a sad fact, but most workers are simply not aware of their contractual rights. They very rarely take the time to read through their employment contracts. This is a dramatic oversight that is easily rectified by employees simply taking the time to read what they are agreeing to.

What Is Classified As A Breach Of Contract?

As with any formal contracts, contracts of employment are legally binding documents with the express purpose of establishing a written agreement between you and your employer. If any of the terms of that contract are broken, then it's considered a breach of contract.

The problems arise, however, when the breaches are against terms that were not written down as they are far more difficult to prove. For this reason, it is always advisable that you make sure every term you negotiate with your employer is written down in your contract. It might seem a little paranoid at the time but it's better to be safe than sorry.

What Can I Do If My Contract Has Been Breached?

If you think your employer is in breach of your contract, first check the hard copy over and make absolutely sure. There could be clauses written in "legalese" that you may not understand (indeed, that's essentially the point of legalese) so you might need to hire a lawyer or ask a friend from a legal profession to help.

Then, you should take the problem to your employer and attempt to sort it out face-to-face. If this fails, you may be forced to take legal action. Common breaches of contract that you could be able to claim compensation for include, but are not limited to:

  • A non-payment of wages or travel expenses owed.
  • A non-payment of holiday or sick pay that was negotiated in your employment contract.
  • Changes to the terms and conditions of your contract that you didn't sign off on. (For example, if a term of your contract is that you are given a company car and the car is taken away from you.)
  • A non-payment during your "notice period" (the period between handing in your notice and leaving a job).

Remember that not all of the terms of your employment will be written into your employment contract. Some of the terms are your right by law and some of the terms such as work hours and the job description itself might be found on the initial job advertisement, so remember not to delete or throw that away! Pay slips, staff handbooks, and other particulars can also be used as legally binding documents in the case of a contractual breach.

Loopholes

It's rarely straightforward when you're dealing with matters such as these and, as you would expect, there are numerous commonly held misconceptions and "loopholes" that employers can and will use in order to legitimize their contractual breach. You may, for example, think that it is not in your employer's power to force you to relocate against your will but there could be something called a "mobility clause" in your contract that states your employer has the right to move you and avoid paying you if you refuse.

There are also workarounds that they'll use when it comes to bonuses and countless other specifics, so make sure that you have at least a vague knowledge of what you're signing before you sign it. Really, it's as simple as looking before you sign, something far too few people appear willing to do.

If you're not familiar with the terms of your employment contract, get on it! Familiarizing yourself with it will make dealing with your employer far less stressful and, if you're really clever, you might even be able to renegotiate terms in your favor! Stranger things have happened in business.

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 2 weeks 4 days ago

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What Customer Success Has Taught Me About Proximity


Proximity is an essential tool in measuring the customer experience. The right mix of proximity could move a company’s customers from satisfaction to loyalty. The lack of proximity or the wrong mix could be the canary in a coal mine of a company’s fall from grace in their industry. CS professionals will benefit greatly in the SaaS industry when applying common sense measures to significantly impact the customer experience by leveraging proximity.

In this post, we will define proximity as it relates to customer success, its importance, and how two best practices can unlock improved business relationships and outcomes for your company.

What Is Proximity?  

Dictionary.com defines proximity as nearness in place, time, order, occurrence, or relation; closeness. In the mid-'90s, during the origins of customer success, the concept of helping customers to achieve their definition of success through a company’s products and services by being close in both a physical and virtual sense had not yet matured, primarily because there were no digital platforms, as there are today. Yet proximity to the customer experience is critical to product vendors and service providers.

Why Is Proximity Important to Customer Success? 

In present-day corporate America, companies can feel a proximity bias toward vendors and service providers who are or are not in their orbit. Proximity bias has been described as an unconscious tendency where people in positions of power or leadership tend to favor those physically closer to them (Cooks-Campbell, Leadership & Management, 2024). I would argue that this type of bias extends to the vendor-customer relationship.

In 1990, United Airlines released a commercial that portrayed a sales manager who told his account team that they had lost one of their oldest customers. He said the customer, whom they had been with for 20 years, claimed not to know the sales manager’s company anymore. The sales manager said he and his team were to get back in front of their customers because they had relied more on technology (phones and fax machines) than face-to-face interaction. Today, product vendors and service providers have a portfolio of tools to connect and engage with their customers; however, they will require the right mix of engagement throughout their journey from awareness to consideration, purchase, retention, and advocacy. Indeed, this journey will require purpose, planning, and performance.

Real Examples of Proximity

Place

Being geographically close to customers has its privileges. One of my largest customers was scheduled to renew 70% of their portfolio within 12 months, and even though we were in constant contact with them, face-to-face meetings would be crucial leading up to the renewal date. Many of the account team members were flying into town from faraway states. Coordinating schedules to get value from meetings was already challenging for both sides. I, however, resided only 90 minutes from the customer, and it was nothing for me to jump in my car and head to their offices for important follow-ups that required a quick physical response time when needed. Meeting face-to-face provided the regional presence that was needed to provide personal service.

Time & Occurance

As a customer success professional, I’ve seen my share of support cases, some involving outages. These cases can be damaging from a financial and reputation perspective and can get tricky when the incident happens in different time zones. My previous company had a Severity 1 notification system with follow-the-sun support, which informed me and support management of any outages the customer experienced. The standard response time was one hour. I would have such notifications sent to me via email and text so that I could connect with a support manager to get an engineer assigned immediately rather than receiving automated notifications that may not get a response until closer to the one-hour mark. I would then brief my account team on the incident and discuss the next steps to troubleshoot and resolve the issue. Within minutes, I would connect with the customer to assure them that we had the right people working on their behalf to address the outage. This type of proximity in time was the high-touch experience crucial to confirming to the customer that this issue was promptly addressed.

Order

Customers expect priority status regardless of what product or service they have purchased or licensed from you. Other companies are willing to pay a premium to get that priority service. When planning a customer’s upgrade to a more current release, migration to a different application, or even doing a hardware tech refresh, I would coordinate with support to make them a hot site. A hot site is the status given to a customer when planning the date and time of the above-mentioned events after hours or on the weekend. Should the customer experience a problem during the above-mentioned events, they could contact support and receive priority status to resolve their issue. It’s sort of like the FastPass at Disney! This type of proximity, in order, provides personal service and assures the customer that they are in good hands.

2 Best Practices to Improve Your Proximity and Have Better Relationships and Outcomes With Your Customers 

Below are two common sense, evidence-based applications that are working in the CS industry to build trust and credibility between vendors and their customers:

Physical Proximity

  • Onsite Visits: Make sure they are consistent, as agreed to by the customer, particularly if they are high-touch customers. Local or regional face-to-face meetings create stronger bonds, allow you to better understand a customer’s environment, and pick up on nonverbal cues that could otherwise be missed on virtual platforms. Ensure that every visit has an agenda and adds value to address specific needs communicated by the customer.
  • Local or Regional Events: Organize or participate in regional or local industry events and workshops. Your presence will demonstrate a commitment to your customer’s success within their community, and these events could also produce networking opportunities.

Relational Proximity

  • Communications: Consult with your customers to identify the meeting cadence that best suits them. Would they prefer communications by email, phone, video conference, or a combination of these options? Do they prefer weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, or quarterly calls? You can use CRM tools to track all interactions and preferences relative to your customer's priorities. Be aware of and sensitive to excess communications.
  • Proactive Engagements: Based on your customer’s industry, business profile, and historical engagements, anticipate their needs and reach out with potential improvements they could validate. Understand their pain points and provide success plans related to them. You can assess these needs utilizing customer success platforms that track usage, health scores, and other metrics.
  • Feedback: In addition to survey tools you may use, solicit feedback regularly from your customers to get a perspective on what they desire from you for continuous improvement and how well you are executing these improvement plans.
In Closing

Proximity is linked to customer success's effectiveness by building and nurturing relationships. CS leaders should develop and project a clear sense of being near their customers through these personalized engagements.

References

Cooks-Campbell, A. (2024, March 12). Leadership & Management. Retrieved from BetterUp: https://www.betterup.com/blog/proximitybias#:~:text=Proximity%20bias%20is%20an%20unconscious,the%20expense%20of%2 0remote%20workers.

Cooks-Campbell, A. (2024). Proximity bias: definition. BetterUp.

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 2 weeks 5 days ago

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3 Tips On How To Answer "Why Should We Hire You?"


"Why should we hire you?" is actually one of the most common questions asked in a job interview. If you're feeling upbeat and glad this question is being asked, you're at a good starting point because it's a question that gives you the opportunity to specifically inform the employer what you have to offer, why you make a good fit, and continue to sell, sell, sell to seal the deal to get a job offer.

When answering this interview question, there are several things you need to think about...

1. What Do You Have To Offer That Others Can't?

Often, when you're asked, "Why should we hire you?" the thinking is to simply respond with relevant skills and experience. But if you really want to win the employer over, you need to take it a step further.

One of the most important questions to ask in an interview is: "What is the biggest challenge someone will face in this position in the first six months?" Knowing this, answer as to how you have faced these challenges before and stress the results you have achieved. Also think about not just the relevant skills and experience you have to offer, but how those skills and experiences differ from what other candidates may be able to offer.

2. Why Do You Want To Work For Them?

Employers want to hire talent who will be excited to work for them, so when you respond expressing your interest in the company and the business, make sure it's backed up with information.

You don't just want to say a blank statement like: I like the company and its culture. Offer details on it like: "I've seen how the company has maintained its competitiveness with the product launch of X, Y, and Z and infiltrated new markets like Asia and Europe. I believe in the company's approach and that it will be a long-standing leader in the industry, and I'm passionate about the product and the company's mission, so I'd like to be part of it. I believe I can add value with my previous experience and success in…"

This latter response informs the employer more about why you want to work for them and how you can bring them value. Of course, you will have to do some research ahead of time on the company and business to be able to provide such a response.

3. Where Do You Want To Be In Three Years?

The last thing to consider when asked, "Why should we hire you?" in a job interview is where you want to be in three years. This is where you have to show that you want to stay with the employer since retention is key to them.

It is also a great opportunity to ask the hiring manager about career growth. Good answers include: "I like to stay challenged and learn new things, and I think your company can give me that opportunity. What kind of positions have others who started in this role moved onto?"

Whether you're asked, "Why should we hire you?" in a job interview or not, be prepared with a response to this question by thinking about these three areas. Either way, you'll want to make it a point to talk about what you have to offer as an employee and business-of-one, why you want to work for the company, and where you see yourself in three years. With this strategy, you'll secure the job offer in no time!

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8 Ways To Get Your Foot In The Door At Any Company


"If I could just get my foot in the door…" is a complaint we often hear from job seekers. With AI and automated applicant tracking systems in such wide use, how do you bypass computers and connect with hiring managers?

Actually, there are multiple ways to do exactly that. Let's take a look at eight.

1. Apply For Open Positions

This isn't the most effective way to get your foot in the door at most companies, but it does still work for some. To maximize your chances of landing an interview, make sure you customize your resume by adding keywords from the job posting and write a disruptive cover letter.

Why isn't this an effective way to bring your candidacy to a company's attention? First, you have maximum competition for each role you apply for since applicants typically number in the hundreds or higher. Second, only 25% of available jobs are ever advertised on job boards, which means you're overlooking 75% of open positions at any given moment.

2. Follow The Company On Social Media & Interact Online

The vast majority of employers offer you multiple ways to interact with them online—LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter/X, Instagram, TikTok, and one or more company blogs. If you're targeting specific companies (Have you created your interview bucket list yet?), make sure you follow them on social media.

Even more important, though, is to interact with them through that media. Follow them on TikTok or Instagram and comment on their posts and videos. Review their LinkedIn profile periodically and "like" their updates. Share their blog posts. Give them the impression that you're interested in them as an employer.

3. Arrange An Informational Interview Within Your Target Department

This is an old strategy that still works. An informational interview is just that—an interview you schedule to access insider information about an occupation or employer. It is not a job interview and shouldn't be treated as one. Rather, this is your opportunity to ask the questions you're not likely to find answers to on the internet.

Used strategically, informational interviews help you explore the company's culture and structure and determine which departments are most likely to have roles that match your skills and capabilities.

4. Request A LinkedIn Introduction

When you come across a hiring manager on LinkedIn that you want to connect with, find another LinkedIn member who knows them and request an introduction (not right away). When you stop by the profile of someone you want to connect with, LinkedIn shows your mutual connections. If you leverage these specific connections into an introduction request, you're essentially getting a "warm" referral.

Make your case to the connection you want the introduction from. Sell them on the reason you want the introduction and assure them your request is serious. We strongly recommend leveraging a "serving" approach that involves offering something of value before you make a request of any networking contact.

5. Submit Your Marketing Materials To The Hiring Manager

Once you're connected to the hiring manager you can, of course, share your resume with them. However, keep in mind that many other candidates are doing the same thing. It would be smart, therefore, to look for a way to make your candidacy stand out.

The best way to stand out from the competition is to write a disruptive cover letter, where you can tell your connection story that will get the hiring manager's attention. Remember that you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

6. Build Connections In The Company On LinkedIn

LinkedIn also tells you how you're connected to companies when you visit a firm's profile. Take advantage of this feature to help you deepen your connections with the company.

Request introductions to other folks in the same firm and issue invitations to others in the department you're targeting. Identify key employees in the company relevant to your search and review the groups to which each one belongs. Find an industry group they're a part of that you are eligible to join and do so. This establishes a third-level connection without you having to tip your hand or approach the contact. Best of all, once you achieve this third-level connection, you can message that contact directly without requiring an introduction.

7. Research External Recruiters & Build Relationships

As you build connections in a target company, try messaging those contacts to find out which external recruiting firms they use for the types of positions you'll be pursuing with them. Once you identify one or more external recruiters, build connections with them as well.

It's critical to leverage a "give to get" strategy with recruiters since they are inundated by emails, voicemails, and LinkedIn messages/invites from candidates. If you approach them in the same way you'll have to battle to stand out. Why not approach them differently from the start? Offer them something of value and allow your candidacy to prove itself over time. You'll stand head and shoulders above the crowd as a result.

8. Court The Hiring Manager

With number five above, we mentioned sending your resume to hiring managers. An even smarter strategy is to court the hiring manager over time as we just recommended doing with recruiters.

Research the hiring manager via your favorite search engine and check out as many social media profiles as you can find. Ask your mutual connections to tell you about the person's interests and the needs faced by his or her department. Then, brainstorm resources you can share with them that they may find helpful before you bring your candidacy to their attention. Prove your worth first and a deeper connection is likely to follow. After a time, you can then request a phone call or meeting with the person to explore ways you may be able to contribute in more significant ways to their team.

With a little ingenuity and a fair amount of persistence, you can get your foot in the door at almost any company you can find. Make use of as many resources as you can, including as many social networking options as you're comfortable with to build a web of connections with your target companies. The result will be more interviews and more job offers—a decent payoff for a little work.

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The Importance Of Taking A "Week Of Rest": A Look At Our Innovative Approach To Employee Well-Being


At Work It DAILY, we understand that true productivity and creativity stem from a well-rested and balanced mind. This is why we have implemented our "Week of Rest" initiative, where our team takes two one-week breaks each year to ensure everyone has the opportunity to reset and come back even stronger.

As a small, dedicated team of five full-timers and three part-timers, we understand the immense value of taking true breaks from work. Our commitment to well-being extends beyond offering resources like our "Break Through Your Burnout" training and insightful articles on managing burnout: we also practice what we preach. That's why, twice a year, we take a full week off to rest and recharge, ensuring we remain energized and effective in our mission to support you.

The Genesis of the "Week of Rest"

The "Week of Rest" initiative is not just a random occurrence, and Work It DAILY isn’t the first to do it either. Other brands like HubSpot, Nike, Mozilla, and LinkedIn also provide their own versions. It is a carefully thought-out strategy rooted in the commitment to promoting mental health and overall well-being within an organization, brand, and community. Work It DAILY continues this conversation about career satisfaction, work-life balance, and the critical need for dedicated downtime with members and audiences.

The Benefits of Taking a Week to Recharge

1. Enhanced Creativity and Productivity

Rest is not merely about taking a break from work; it is about giving your mind the space to wander, dream, and innovate. Studies have shown that periods of rest can lead to significant improvements in creative thinking and problem-solving skills.

2. Reduced Burnout

Burnout is a growing concern in many industries. It can lead to decreased productivity, low morale, and even serious health issues. By incorporating regular rest periods, we help our team avoid burnout and maintain their enthusiasm and energy for their work.

3. Improved Mental Health

Taking time off reduces stress and anxiety, promoting better mental health. It allows our team members to disconnect from work pressures and focus on personal well-being.

Implementing the "Week of Rest" at Work It DAILY

Our "Week of Rest" occurs twice a year, strategically planned to ensure minimal disruption to our operations and to coincide with American holidays when most employers and organizations are away. During these weeks, all team members are encouraged to leave their work responsibilities and engage in activities that help them relax and rejuvenate. Whether it's spending time with family, pursuing hobbies, or simply enjoying some quiet time, the goal is to come back refreshed and ready to tackle new challenges.

Communicating the Importance to Our Community

Leading by example is one of the most powerful ways to influence positive change. By openly sharing our "Week of Rest" initiative with our community, we hope to inspire others to prioritize rest and self-care in their own lives. Our members have responded positively to this initiative, often expressing how our approach has encouraged them to rethink their own work habits and make room for rest.

How You Can Incorporate Rest into Your Routine

While not everyone may be able to take a full week off, there are still ways to incorporate regular rest into your routine:

  • Schedule Mini-Breaks: Take short breaks throughout your workday to stretch, walk, or meditate.
  • Unplug After Hours: Set boundaries by turning off work notifications during your personal time.
  • Plan Vacation Time: Even if it’s just a long weekend, plan (and TAKE) periods of time away from work.
Conclusion

At Work It DAILY, we are committed to fostering a work culture that values balance, well-being, and personal growth. Our "Week of Rest" is one of the many ways we strive to support our team and community in achieving a fulfilling and sustainable career. As we continue to promote the importance of rest and recharge, we invite you to join us in prioritizing your own well-being, ensuring you have the energy and creativity to excel in all areas of your life.

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