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We believe leadership is a lifestyle which is why this page shares articles to enhance your career and your personal life.  We hope you find value and as always, we welcome your questions and ideas for future articles.


 Top 40 Impact Questions Fueled With Emotional Intelligence 
by Dena Moscola
 
We’ve all been there: That awkward conversation where you are caught off guard, frustrated, intimidated or simply don’t have the time. What do you say without sounding lost, disreaspectful, confused, unsupportive or weak? These are perfect conditions for an unfavorable outcome. Or perhaps you are approaching a sensitive topic, seeking critical buy-in or disagreeing with someone more senior than you. It gets harder to concentrate on what they are saying because you are distracted as you wonder what to say next. How do you ask questions without sounding intimidating or dismissive?  You know these situations call for the right approach and you may not get another chance. So, there is no room for error.  It’s OK. You are about to receive fool-proof questions that you can use in multiple situations, to ease stress and move things forward.
 
These questions are useful in multiple settings at work and at home. It doesn’t matter if you are in a leadership role or not. They are useful when talking with direct reports, co-workers, clients, customers, managers, peers, partner, spouse, children, family, friends, strangers!  These questions are even great for teenagers. YES, TEENAGERS! And there is no need to become a therapist, have all the answers, understand or even agree. These questions allow you to have more influecne, provide powerful support and inspire thought-provoking, creative thinking. They can pave the path to clarity and save a lot of time. They enable positive productive support that often has lasting impact.
 
A few things to note upfront:
 
·         Safety First: These recommendations apply in situations NOT requiring urgent action.
·         Use Good Judgement: You will need to decide when to use which question since every scenario is different and sensitive.
·         Be Highly Self-Aware: Your tone and facial expressions must be congruent with your emotions. If the slightest bit of judgement in your voice or body language is silently detected, those whom you are speaking with will shut down and your message will be missed. Avoid this by focusing on curiosity and compassion.  
·         Avoid “Why” Questions: The word “why” can often cause someone to feel judged which will cause others to either shut down or defend themselves. Both stray away from best results and often impairs rapport. You’ll find multiple alternatives below.
·         Effectiveness is Inevitable: When you first start using these questions you may feel uncomfortable or “out of character” because it may not be your usual language. That’s ok. Doing things differently often feels awkward. Trust it & go for it!  These questions are PROVEN to be successful and as you use them, your comfort level will increase. Soon you will feel more comfortable and authentic.
·         Don’t Reinvent the Wheel: These questions are proven to work. A slight alteration in wording could change results drastically. Use good judgment.
·         Practice Makes Perfect: It is recommended to get comfortable with 1 or 2 questions, at a time.
·         Expect Improvement: Be mindful, choose carefully and enjoy the results. 
 
Top 40 Impact Questions:
1.      What else can you do to help this along?
2.      How can I support you?
3.      What can our organization do to support you?
4.      What challenges are you facing?
5.      What worked well in the past?
6.      What about that is challenging?
7.      What exactly is frustrating you right now?
8.      What about that made you upset?
9.      How might personalizing this be limiting you?
10.  What do you think is the best way to handle that?
11.  What questions do you have about that?
12.  What specifically is the problem?
13.  What exactly makes you think that?
14.  How realistic is that?
15.  What might get in your way from accomplishing that?
16.  How can you overcome, prevent or avoid that?
17.  How might some of these thoughts be limiting you?
18.  How might some of these thoughts be limiting your team?
19.  How else can you look at this so you will be more comfortable?
20.  If you could have everything work out perfect, what exactly would that look like?
21.  Tell me more about that….
22.  How can I help you right now?
23.  What resources do you have available that you can consider?
24.  What additional resources will you need?
25.  How willing are you to do what it takes to make this happen?
26.  When would you like to accomplish this?
27.  Based on all you are facing, how realistic is your time frame?
28.  What will it look like when you accomplish this?
29.  What smaller milestones will you acknowledge along the way?
30.  How will you reward yourself for your milestones?
31.  If we go with that idea, ___ may happen. How do you suggest we handle that, if it happens?
32.  Can you help me understand what your thinking is around that decision (idea, situation, etc.)?
33. What obstacles do you think might come up?
34. Have you considered _____ ?
35. How can you support us if ___ happens?
36. In addition to that, can we look at ___ because _____?
37. In the past, I've seen that result in ____. What are your thoughts around that?
38. To save time and money, can we discuss a couple more blindspots, before moving forward? 
39. What are your suggestions to prevent ___ ?
40.  You've put a lot of time into this. What do you think about ____ ?
 
* EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE Strengthens Impact: Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to recognize, understand, express, manage and control emotions in yourself and others. To apply EI to impact questions, remember that we cannot always eliminate feeling of angry, frustrated or disappointed at work but we certainly can manage them. If these negative emotions go unmanaged, you will emanate a critical vibe which will cause others to feel awkward and judged. As mentioned earlier, when someone feels judged, they often shut down or defend themselves causing your message to have less impact. All of this happens silently and it is up to you to recognize how you are feeling and decide if switching your focus to a more curious or compassionate state would better serve. So, the key is not about never feeling critical or having negative emotions. It is about recognizing those emotions quickly and managing them positively and productively. Shifting your focus will help you avoid having a tone or vibe that sabotages your results. This automatically aligns your good intentions with your actions and your message will have stronger impact.

Executive coaching is proven to be a beneficial resource in building emotinal intelligence. Feel free to contact Dena directly to confidentially discuss your situation and explore possible solutions. 

Surviving Performance Reviews
By Dena Moscola
 
It’s that time again and if you’re like most, performance reviews are not your favorite. They can be time consuming, nerve racking, awkward, scary and confusing. Plus, it is a reminder that increases are less than desired. Whether you are providing feedback, receiving it or both, it can be challenging.
 
As a coach, I am approached for guidance on this topic year round from leaders and staff seeking more positive and productive results. Let's be honest -most performance management processes are flawed and it doesn't matter how big or small your private or public organization is. As a result, frustrations usually accompany the process. And to the surprise of many, it is not the rating system that presents the greatest challenge; it is the feedback itself that brings in the most stress. And sadly, much resentment lies silently year round as a result which of course, affects performance.  But it is in the feedback that lies the most opportunity for development and this article will show how to highlight that.
 
Traditionally, Resolutions shares customized, new, refreshing approaches and perspectives proven to reduce defenses and increase performance. The intention of this article is to hopefully alleviate some frustration as you navigate through this process. Feel free to share with your team, management, colleagues, etc.
 
Feedback is Never Wrong....
That can be a tough statement to swallow which explains why feedback is often defended or silently rejected. Nonetheless, feedback is true and accurate because it is a reflection of another’s perception. The problem comes from the perception not matching the employee’s intention. Good news is a slight alteration in perspective can turn that problem into an opportunity. Traditional Performance Reviews reveal strengths and weaknesses. Good and bad. But what if you looked at it from a coaching perspective instead? Let’s define that for those receiving feedback and then for those providing it……….
 
As the receiver, you may have apprehensions around your review. Most do. A coaching perspective welcomes feedback by believing it is an opportunity to understand how you are being perceived. We all have blind spots and this is your chance to learn your.  If you disagree, it is best to resist defending yourself. Remind yourself that a misunderstanding is being revealed. Seek to learn a better way of demonstrating what is being misunderstood to ensure your best intentions shine through. Perhaps technical training and/or enhancing your communication skills could help? Your Performance Review meeting is a great time to brainstorm with your manager or supervisor to identify the best approach. If you are meeting with someone that is not offering this perspective, it is ok to respectfully request the support you need. Try responding with something like, “I appreciate this feedback and would like to improve this perception. Can we brainstorm around ideas?” You also might respectfully request specific examples of the unfavorable perception so you are clear on what needs to change. A positive, proactive reaction to feedback will speed up your accomplishments and reduce stress.
 
As a provider of uncomfortable feedback, a coach approach recognizes your employee has probably been stressing over this for a while or may be unpleasantly surprised. The stressed may show, or not.  Either way, for best results, validate them. Let them know you understand this is a difficult conversation for them. Explain that feedback can reveal misunderstandings and is not personal. We all have blindspots. To improve, we must look candidly at those blindspots and decipher what needs to change to be sure our best intentions shine through. Help them reduce defenses by welcoming their input with curiosity instead of authority. Too much authority can create stronger defense or worse, they shut down and say what you want to hear, which only leads to growing silent resentment and lower performance. If your employee disagrees, be glad! That is your opportunity to compassionately hear their views and better understand their intentions so you can identify the gap. That leads to the higher quality brainstorming together on potential solutions. When leaders effectively share this approach with employees, defenses are reduced which simmers emotions to allow for clear, logical thinking. End result – your employee feels more valued and walks away with a deeper understanding and significantly increased motivation.  
 
Additional Performance Coaching topics include:
  • Managing Employee Reactions To Ratings
  • Effective Communication & Stronger Influence
  • Managing Conflict
  • Completing Reports
  • Year-Long Performance Management
  • Accountability
  • Goal Setting
CONTACT US NOW and explore how Resolutions can help your organization transform to performance coaching.

Creating Radical Resolutions Success
by Dena Moscola
Its February and how many of you are really kickin’ butt on your New Year’s Resolutions? I bet some of you are smiling big right now with pride as you think about the great progress you are making. BRAVO to you for you are not the majority. More of you are discouraged by your lack of progress. And some are just turned off completely by that New Year’s opportunity for a fresh start. And I get it …. After repeated failed attempts its only matter of time before failure turns into resentment and before you know it – you’re part of that group that says “ See Resolutions don’t work”. !!! But is that really true? Or is the truth that there is a missing link preventing the success that down inside you crave?
This article is for those who either want to be one of the few who actually succeed at creating new awesome habits in the beginning of the year or step up the success you already are having.  
 
Last year, I posted an article on goal setting and supporting others with some very strong questions to ask yourself to get and stay on track. Scroll down a bit review that if you'd like. The remaining current article will share 3 super strategies to create radical success.
 
3 Success Strategies:
1. Create the Right List: Just writing a list of things to do isn’t always enough unless it’s the right list and you actually look at it – all the time! Start with a blank page. On the left, list all the actions that will sabotage your success. Label it – “Past Habits”. Then o the right, start a column “New Smart Habits” and list of all the actions you are willing to take that will lead to success. This will serve as your reminder of what to do and what not to do. Sounds elementary but often the obvious is what we forget most. I recommend posting this in a place you will see often and when needed. Some examples are your desk top, calendar, screen saver, phone wall paper, refrigerator, bathroom mirror, car dashboard – maybe all of these places and more. Make it visible so it is easy to read every morning, noon and night or more each day. Repetition is important during early habit changing times.
2. Get the Right Resolutions Partner: Lack of accountability is a leading opportunity for failure. Find someone who will be on your side but not pity you, punish you or feed into your failed attempts. Someone you can share your list with who is willing check in with you to hold you accountable. Someone that will remind you to celebrate small achievements and encourage you to push through challenges. Someone that knows the balance between not judging you and at the same time not accepting your excuses. Someone who is good at achieving goals that you can model and learn from. So if you are looking to spend less money, your partner should not be a shopaholic! If you want to lose weight, partner with someone who already has a healthy lifestyle. Partnering with the person that has your same challenge may feel good at first because you both are going through the same challenge. But later may not be the best person to cheer you through those challenges if they are having them too. That person is good to buddy with. Your best Resolutions Partner is someone additional and for best results, this partner should be someone that is already successful at what you are trying to achieve. Psychologically, you will be more inclined to be accountable when the going gets tough.
 
If you’re having a challenge finding that right person contact us! It’s our specialty! At Resolutions, your Resolutions Partner is highly trained, skilled and experienced to assist you in identifying the blocks, barriers, missing links, valuable insights, education, kudos and anything else needed to help you reach your accomplishments faster and easier and long term.
 
3. Surround yourself with the right people. Piggy backing off of #2 - Who you hang out with is critical.  If you are trying to quit smoking and you are surrounded by smokers – you’re climbing a steep hill. If you are trying to break a gambling addiction but work in a casino, you will always be tempted. To change a habit, reach a new goal, chances are, a lifestyle change needs to come with it. Re-evaluate where/who you spend your most time. Set productive boundaries that filter out temptation and lead you on the most productive path.
 
Resolutions are an opportunity to build to your fulfillment in life, any time of year, especially in the beginning. Why not do the opposite and be a role model to the others so they can see how setting yourself up for success, leads to success!
 
Remember, we’re here to make it easier. Feel free to contact me direct, anytime! Dena@ResolutionsCTC.com

Managing Former Peers
by Dena Moscola

A challenging task for many is to be promoted and suddenly become your friends’ boss.  It is a natural instinct to tell your friends that nothing will change. But is that completely true? That may be your intention but in reality, change is unavoidable.  You accepted a new role. Along with that came some new challenges that are critical to your career and friendships – both are something you took responsibility for when becoming a manager.  Not always easy but always necessary.  The most common challenges faced when people start to manage their peers are:
           
·         Friends are afraid of feeling deserted or betrayed by their new leader who “was/is” their friend
·         Friends actually feel afraid of being deserted or betrayed by their new leader who “was/is” their friend
·         You, a new leader, may feel uncomfortable disciplining friends and therefore either avoid it or over discipline
·         Staff that are not in the friend  “circle” feel left out
·         You want to avoid staff from feeling left out so you overcompensate and unintentionally ignore your friends
           
More people will be looking to you for guidance and support—you are a role model.  People will expect attention from you.   Your friends and those you are not close with will expect your attention to be fair.  You know this already but how you demonstrate that will determine how you are perceived in day-to-day interactions. Mindful communication is crucial.  
 
Rules will be important to follow.  It may be tempting to give special favors to friends or to “let things slide” or close your eyes to rules being broken.  Rules need to be followed but there is always room for an occasional favor or to let something slide.  That is only acceptable if it is not hurting others and not interfering with departmental and organizational goals. Special favors are only good if you give special favors to everyone from time to time.  Be fair.  If your friend thinks they can get away with more (which is common) you will need to confront that. Often people misunderstand being disciplined by their friend. They might think you have “changed” even if the discipline is warranted.  That can cause tension also.  Remember, as a leader all you do and say sends a message and so does all you do NOT do and say.
 
To prevent or lessen challenges, be honest and upfront. Communicate what you think does not need to be said.  Tell your friends your actions are not about ego and authority, it is about fairness. Never expect them to assume this just because you are friends. Often this assumption is only noticed by the one assuming. I rest my case on that one! You accepted a leadership role and the more you communicate your fair intentions upfront, to your friends, the more you will be able to balance your friendship with your responsibilities and gain respect for it.
 
Solution-based Questions for yourself or others:
 
Ø  How can you better support your friends, as a manager to prevent them from feeling betrayed?
Ø  What can you now do/think to feel more comfortable disciplining friends?
Ø  What can you do, without overcompensating, to assure others do not feel left out?
Ø  As a role model, what else can you demonstrate as a good example?
Ø  How can you shift your actions and/or words to send more positive and productive messages?

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Goal Setting: FINALLY, 16 Really Awesome Questions for Success
by Dena Moscola

Have you ever set a goal that meant a lot to you and then worked towards it with best intentions only to lose motivation or forget about it or simply blow it? If you answered yes, you’re not alone.  Most people fail to achieve goals which is why many rely on New Years to set their resolutions – again! “This time, I’m going to succeed!”………… famous last words…………… how discouraging!
 
There are many reasons…………… (or excuses?) … for failing to achieve goals. We all see this often in ourselves or others. So what is the real reason goals can be so difficult to achieve? 2 biggest answers:
 
1. Poor planning:
Missing a small but important detail here can cause unexpected delays, lack of resources, missed opportunities, setbacks, disappointment, excuses………etc. We’ll get to this in a moment. But first let’s talk about the BIGGEST roadblock to reaching goals:  
 
2. Lack of reason why:
This may sound simple but did you ever think that your reason why you want to achieve a particular goal may not be your real reason why? That makes no sense, I know, but I challenge you to think about it for a second. We all focus on the obvious ie: get the promotion for the money, lose weight to be thin, etc. Those reasons are good but they are often not deep enough to push you through till the end. You already know thatspot, sk, "our goal? What will that look like, sound like, feel like, you can reach your goal. In that case sometimes, reaching goals can be challenging because it can require doing things you don’t enjoy, sacrifices, changing habits – ugh, I’m discouraged just thinking about it!! But, it’s crucial. Spend a moment contemplating WHY you want that particular outcome? For example: What will being thin bring you besides smaller clothes? How will it feel? What will that extra money do for you? How will it feel? How will your life change? Your real reason why is how it will feel. Everything else is merely a vehicle to that feeling. Once you uncover your real reason and let yourself start feeling it, as if you already have it (that’s important!), it will be much easier to stay focused and enthusiastic along the way even when times get tough.
 
To help that along, here are your Really Awesome Questions to help you plan more effectively as you create and pursue your goals. This can be useful for yourself or while helping others; great questions to ask during performance management sessions, after confronting a difficult situation, while raising teenagers! Yes, it works with them too!! Some of these questions may not apply to your exact situation but as you read, I’m sure you’ll find a few gems that can identify a blind spot, clarify your direction and enable stronger success.
 
Happy New Year and remember – if you’d like stronger support and accountability along the way to assure faster and easier success, our coaches are only a click away! Email us now
 
16 Really Awesome Questions for Successful Goal Setting:
Use the following for extra clarity; empowering; confidence building; motivation; compliance and higher achievement. Some questions might identify a need to accomplish or acquire something else   before you can reach your goal. In that case – alter your process and go for it!
1.   What would you like to achieve by the end of the year? ………in 3, 5, 10 years, etc?
2.   How realistic is that?
3.   How will you know you achieved your goal? What will you see, feel, hear, etc.?
4.   What do you need to do to make this happen?
5.   What might get in your way?
6.   How will you overcome, prevent or avoid that?
7.   What resources do you have available to you now?
8.   What additional resources will you need?
9.   How will you go about acquiring those additional resources?
10. On a scale of 1 – 5 how willing are you to do what it takes to make this happen?
11.  If the answer to #10 is less than a 5, what will it take to make it a 5?
12.  When would you like to accomplish this?
13.  Based on all you are facing, how realistic is your time frame?
14.  What milestones will you acknowledge along the way?
15.  How will you reward yourself for your milestones and larger accomplishments?
16.  If you’re assisting someone else ask, “How can I support you on this?”
Email us now 

6 Hot Tips for Client Relationships: Part 1 
by Robin Dente


“Diane” had not been in her new position for long before “Ryan,” a frequent visitor to her organization, stormed into her office and demanded her help, punctuating his request by thrusting a handful of papers at her.  Despite her shock at this unprovoked anger, Diane managed to maintain her poise and assist him, but the encounter troubled her.  She soon learned from her colleagues that for years, Ryan was a repeat, but unhappy customer.  


What Ryan had not realized, was that tossing his papers at Diane was the equivalent of throwing down a gauntlet, and she unhesitatingly accepted the challenge.  As she later confided, “When I realized his frustration was not with me personally, but with the organization, I made it my goal to turn the relationship around.”

Diane’s determination paid off.  The client relationship she slowly and carefully cultivated with Ryan became mutually respectful, cordial, and full of trust.  “I realized how far we had come,” Diane explained, “when he gave me a book on cake decorating after he had seen a write-up in the newspaper about my artistic baking sideline.  The book had great personal value for him, since it had been written and signed by one of his relatives.  I was very touched and knew at that point the full extent to which our relationship had changed for the better.”

How had Diane achieved such a dramatic reversal in the interaction between her and Ryan?  
By using subtle, but powerful tools to recreate it.

These same techniques can be used by any organization to fortify and grow a client base and construct a strong, favorable public image. When it comes to building client relationships, contrary to the popular adage, your “words” speak just as loudly as your “actions”.  Both are equally important when you are trying to engage a customer or client and establish a connection.  

For now, let’s take a look at three of the "6 Hot Tips for Business Relationships" for easy, effective ways you can empower your words to achieve this goal.......

1. It’s All in the Approach…

As any good pilot will tell you, the key to a successful landing is all in the approach.  The same holds true of your communication skills.   Your ability to create a positive impression, or persuade someone to “buy in” often hinges not only on what you say, but how you say it.  If there are barriers your client needs to overcome to reach the outcome he or she is looking for from your organization, don’t just state the problems without offering alternatives to resolve them.  From a client’s perspective, nothing is more frustrating than hearing the dead-end “no”, no matter how politely it’s rendered.

So how do you handle those occasions when you do have to deny a client’s request?   If you’ve demonstrated that you’ve been as flexible as you could be in the past, he or she will be more accepting of the refusal, because you’ve built a level of trust that when you were able to say “yes” (or had to find a viable alternative) you did.   Remember, perception is reality.  You always want to strive to create the perception that you are a resource to overcoming an obstacle, not the obstacle your client is trying to overcome.  

2. The Platinum Rule

For business relationships, it is useful to reframe what you learned as a child.  Instead of treating your clients the way you would want to be treated (The Golden Rule), treat them using the Platinum Rule - the way they would want to be treated.  It’s a given that courtesy and professionalism must underlie all interaction, but it’s important to tailor it to the individual preference of how your client wants to be approached.  Do they like you to cut to the chase and get to the bottom line, or are they more comfortable with hearing as much information as you can provide?   Are they looking for facts and figures because they’re thinkers who are most comfortable processing objective data, or is the greater appeal for them a subjective, empathetic outreach that appeals to their emotion?   Do they enjoy socializing with you as a prelude to tackling the business at hand or would that frustrate them because they are action oriented and need to make quick decisions so they can move onto the next project? Flex your style to mesh with theirs, and you will be amazed at how dynamic your communication grows. 

3. Mirror, Mirror…..

One of the best ways to align your style with your client’s, is to mirror it.  To use this tool, pay attention to some important clues your client gives early on in your interaction.  Do they text you, e-mail you, or call you?  When they do reach out, what’s their communication style?  Do they favor long flowing sentences packed with great detail or do they condense their message into a short blurb?  In a meeting, do they navigate through a structured agenda, or do they take a more free-flowing, stream of consciousness approach to bring up ideas that surface as a result of your discussion?  What is their body language telling you when you’re talking to them?  Is it saying that they’re fully engaged and you’re presenting the information in a way that appeals to them or do you need to change how you’re conveying it to keep them from drifting?  

Whatever their style --  reflect it!  If the client is too new and you’re uncertain of how to do that, don’t be afraid to ask.   Inquiring about their preference as to how you follow up – a quick e-mail or phone call or a detailed report --  does two important things.  In addition to letting you quickly hone in on your client’s expectations, you will also communicate that their needs are your top priority.  This is a very positive message to send to a new client and a great first step on your path to growing a strong connection. 

Communication is the mortar of client relationships.  Use these three simple, but powerful tools to build and strengthen yours, and you’ll see an amazing difference in your interaction.

Now, if communication is the “mortar” of client relationships, than “actions” are the bricks.  Read Part Two of “6 Hot Tips for Client Relationships” below and discover three techniques to structuring your actions to align with your words to take your relationships to the next level and make them soar! 


6 Hot Tips for Client Relationships: Part 2

By Robin W. Dente
Have you ever noticed how many insights you can gain by viewing situations from “the other side of the fence”?  So much of what I’ve learned about cultivating positive, enduring business relationships originated from my own experience as a client.  For example, as a patient of my eye doctor, I discovered an amazing technique for making clients feel important.  
 
I vividly recall my first visit to her many years ago.   I had no prior knowledge of her bedside manner, so I was a little dismayed when I glanced over at the number of charts stacked up outside her examination rooms.  “Oh, great.” I thought.  “With that heavy caseload, will I be just another pair of eyes to check:  part of a medical assembly line?”  
 
I needn’t have feared.  Not only is my doctor a highly skilled physician, she has an extraordinary gift for making you feel as if you are her only patient.   How does she do this?  By maintaining full focus on you during your visit.  There are no ringing phones, medical checklists or other distractions that keep her from giving you her complete attention.  And she shows great patience with her patients by allowing them to ask as many questions as they want to.  This “mindful communication” -- staying fully present while you are dealing with your client -- is extremely validating.  
 
Clients of any business or organization want validation -- to be taken seriously, appreciated for the business they bring, and to feel as if they matter to you.  My visits with my eye doctor and other experiences I’ve had from the customer side of the fence, made me realize how important “actions” are in making clients feel valued.  
 
In Part 1, we looked at adapting your approach and style to each client to enhance your communication and forge a strong connection.  We covered tips 1 – 3:
1. It’s All in the Approach
2. Platinum Rule
3. Mirror, Mirror
Scroll up to review that article. Now, let’s take these tips to the next level, by looking at three ways your “actions” can bolster your “words” to bring your relationships to new heights.   
 
4.  Be 100% Present
Do whatever it takes to make sure you always give your clients full focus.  Block out time to spend with them, forward your landline and silence your cell phone while you’re talking or meeting with them, so you will not be diverted by calls, texts or e-mails.   It’s also important to redirect colleagues and unexpected visitors who might walk into your office or a conference room while you’re with a client.  Yes, when they realize you’re unavailable, they’ll quickly leave, but their unintentional distraction, momentary as it may be, could be enough to derail your train of thought while you’re focused on your client or worse, make him/her feel as if they’re competing with your colleagues or other clients for your time.  I reroute my office traffic by closing the door and hanging a polite advisory sign explaining that I’m in a meeting and directing my visitors to another office for help.   By isolating myself from anything that might divert me, I am able to channel my full energy and resources exclusively to my client, which makes them feel greatly valued.
 
5. Be a Valued Resource
Another key way to validate your organization’s clients is to “own the problem” if it reaches your desk.  I once had a call transferred to me that had nothing to do with any work I handle.  The frustration and tension in the caller’s voice were coming through loud and clear as she explained her situation and what she was seeking.  Little wonder she was so stressed -- I was the seventh person she had been passed along to!   She gave an audible sigh of relief at my response.  I told her quite honestly that I couldn’t help her directly, but I would look into it for her and have the appropriate co-worker follow up with her, or I, myself, would get back to her.  Either way, I assured her she would get an answer from us within a day, if not sooner, and that was what she needed to hear.
 
In fairness to my colleagues who transferred the caller so many times, their intentions were good in sincerely trying to find the best resource to assist.  Unfortunately, good as the intentions were, they resulted in frustration for the client.  After that experience, I made it a practice that if I can’t help someone and I don’t know who can, I will still own the problem.   I do this by listening to him or her, and asking relevant questions to be able to research it later.   It usually doesn’t take more than a little outreach by e-mail or voice mail to my co-workers to get an answer and connect the client with the resource who can help. As a bonus, I learn something new that will assist me in directly helping future clients.
 
6. Exceptional Follow-up
Another important aspect of “ownership” is being proactive in following up with clients.  Be mindful of the need to promptly return phone calls, e-mails and to give project updates.  If you’ve ever had to repeatedly “chase” someone for help or wait days or weeks for a return call or e-mail, you know how frustrating that experience can be.   Did it make you feel like a priority?  Probably not, and your clients will feel the same if you don’t actively and routinely reach out for them.  Even if you can’t immediately assist them, or the final outcome will take a while, getting back to them to let them know you are working on their project or request for help, and providing status reports proclaims, “Your needs are important to me and my organization.”
 
Regardless of your deadlines and priorities, never put a client in the position of having to pursue you.  If you are struggling with a heavy schedule, take a team approach and enlist the aid of a colleague who can make the time to follow-up on your behalf.  As long as this is a temporary measure, and you do reach out yourself as soon as time allows, you are sending the validating message that even at the busiest of times, your client matters.
 
So, are you ready to add these three techniques to the communication tools that strengthen and increase client relationships?    With time, patience, and the recognition that these six POWERFUL methods are readily at your disposal for cultivating these important connections, your return on investment will be high.  Make this a priority for your business or organization and enjoy your success!  
 
To learn how Resolutions can help you customize and execute these and other strategies to build stronger relationships with your clients, CLICK HERE for your free consultation. 

6 Hot Tips for Client Relationships: Part 2
By Robin W. Dente
Have you ever noticed how many insights you can gain by viewing situations from “the other side of the fence”?  So much of what I’ve learned about cultivating positive, enduring business relationships originated from my own experience as a client.  For example, as a patient of my eye doctor, I discovered an amazing technique for making clients feel important.  
 
I vividly recall my first visit to her many years ago.   I had no prior knowledge of her bedside manner, so I was a little dismayed when I glanced over at the number of charts stacked up outside her examination rooms.  “Oh, great.” I thought.  “With that heavy caseload, will I be just another pair of eyes to check:  part of a medical assembly line?”  
 
I needn’t have feared.  Not only is my doctor a highly skilled physician, she has an extraordinary gift for making you feel as if you are her only patient.   How does she do this?  By maintaining full focus on you during your visit.  There are no ringing phones, medical checklists or other distractions that keep her from giving you her complete attention.  And she shows great patience with her patients by allowing them to ask as many questions as they want to.  This “mindful communication” -- staying fully present while you are dealing with your client -- is extremely validating.  
 
Clients of any business or organization want validation -- to be taken seriously, appreciated for the business they bring, and to feel as if they matter to you.  My visits with my eye doctor and other experiences I’ve had from the customer side of the fence, made me realize how important “actions” are in making clients feel valued.  
 
In Part 1, we looked at adapting your approach and style to each client to enhance your communication and forge a strong connection.  We covered tips 1 – 3:
1. It’s All in the Approach
2. Platinum Rule
3. Mirror, Mirror
Scroll up to review that article. Now, let’s take these tips to the next level, by looking at three ways your “actions” can bolster your “words” to bring your relationships to new heights.   
 
4.  Be 100% Present
Do whatever it takes to make sure you always give your clients full focus.  Block out time to spend with them, forward your landline and silence your cell phone while you’re talking or meeting with them, so you will not be diverted by calls, texts or e-mails.   It’s also important to redirect colleagues and unexpected visitors who might walk into your office or a conference room while you’re with a client.  Yes, when they realize you’re unavailable, they’ll quickly leave, but their unintentional distraction, momentary as it may be, could be enough to derail your train of thought while you’re focused on your client or worse, make him/her feel as if they’re competing with your colleagues or other clients for your time.  I reroute my office traffic by closing the door and hanging a polite advisory sign explaining that I’m in a meeting and directing my visitors to another office for help.   By isolating myself from anything that might divert me, I am able to channel my full energy and resources exclusively to my client, which makes them feel greatly valued.
 
5. Be a Valued Resource
Another key way to validate your organization’s clients is to “own the problem” if it reaches your desk.  I once had a call transferred to me that had nothing to do with any work I handle.  The frustration and tension in the caller’s voice were coming through loud and clear as she explained her situation and what she was seeking.  Little wonder she was so stressed -- I was the seventh person she had been passed along to!   She gave an audible sigh of relief at my response.  I told her quite honestly that I couldn’t help her directly, but I would look into it for her and have the appropriate co-worker follow up with her, or I, myself, would get back to her.  Either way, I assured her she would get an answer from us within a day, if not sooner, and that was what she needed to hear.
 
In fairness to my colleagues who transferred the caller so many times, their intentions were good in sincerely trying to find the best resource to assist.  Unfortunately, good as the intentions were, they resulted in frustration for the client.  After that experience, I made it a practice that if I can’t help someone and I don’t know who can, I will still own the problem.   I do this by listening to him or her, and asking relevant questions to be able to research it later.   It usually doesn’t take more than a little outreach by e-mail or voice mail to my co-workers to get an answer and connect the client with the resource who can help. As a bonus, I learn something new that will assist me in directly helping future clients.
 
6. Exceptional Follow-up
Another important aspect of “ownership” is being proactive in following up with clients.  Be mindful of the need to promptly return phone calls, e-mails and to give project updates.  If you’ve ever had to repeatedly “chase” someone for help or wait days or weeks for a return call or e-mail, you know how frustrating that experience can be.   Did it make you feel like a priority?  Probably not, and your clients will feel the same if you don’t actively and routinely reach out for them.  Even if you can’t immediately assist them, or the final outcome will take a while, getting back to them to let them know you are working on their project or request for help, and providing status reports proclaims, “Your needs are important to me and my organization.”
 
Regardless of your deadlines and priorities, never put a client in the position of having to pursue you.  If you are struggling with a heavy schedule, take a team approach and enlist the aid of a colleague who can make the time to follow-up on your behalf.  As long as this is a temporary measure, and you do reach out yourself as soon as time allows, you are sending the validating message that even at the busiest of times, your client matters.
 
So, are you ready to add these three techniques to the communication tools that strengthen and increase client relationships?    With time, patience, and the recognition that these six POWERFUL methods are readily at your disposal for cultivating these important connections, your return on investment will be high.  Make this a priority for your business or organization and enjoy your success!  
 
To learn how Resolutions can help you customize and execute these and other strategies to build stronger relationships with your clients, CLICK HERE for your free consultation. 

6 Deadly Mistakes Made While Listening
By Dena Moscola
 
We all know the importance of being a good listener and I am sure most of you believe you are good listeners. But is that enough? As a leader, and in life, being a GREAT listener is critical for optimum relationships.  But it is not as easy as one might think.  For example, when busy, stressed, annoyed or excited, are you just as attentive of a listener as you are when you are calm and centered?  These are the times GREAT listening skills are needed most.
 
Time and time again, I am called upon to work with highly experienced and successful leaders, quite confident in the quality of their business relationships, only to unveil invisible challenges and/or roadblocks caused by their listening skills. Here are just some of the more common situations often caused by less than GREAT listening skills:
- Repeating challenges
- Repetitive complaining
- Lack of cooperation
- Lack of accountability       
- Lack of buy-in
- Reduced respect
- Blind misunderstandings
- Reduced motivation
- Avoided questions and problems
- Admitting mistakes

I could go on but seriously, can you afford any of these?  Here are the Top 6 Deadly Mistakes Made While Listening and some initial tips on how to “demonstrate” you are listening. “Demonstrate” is accentuated because intentions mean nothing – perception is everything.          
 
1.  Avoid judgment
We all have inner thoughts that show up when we disagree, dislike or are bored and these thoughts block our listening ability. Most people will not read your mind but judgment can be felt.  It can cause someone to feel defensive without knowing why and they will most likely shut down. Judgment is in the air like the tension after an argument.  Instead, compassionately take genuine interest in understanding instead of judging. Get curious.
 
2. Interrupting
I know, I know, you have something really great to say or several questions!!! So what!  Save it!  It is their turn, let them have it!!
EXCEPTION: Politely “intruding” is acceptable only when it’s in the best interest of the person speaking. That is acceptable when the talker is:
·         Continually repeating themselves
·         Completely off topic
·         Running out of time
 
3. Problem Solving
You are listening intently and you cannot help but trouble shoot in your mind or see the solutions as crystal clear, and as soon as they are done talking, if you can hold out that long, you offer out the solution. You are so excited because you have solved the problem. Woe, slow down a minute. Timing is everything and at this moment, solution is not the best answer. It can rob someone of the opportunity to learn or may not be what the person is even looking for. Take it slow. Acknowledge their situation and verbally validate their emotions before being the hero. This will help move them from an emotional state to a more logical state which will enable them to participate in the solutions and learn more. More importantly, while you are mentally trouble shooting as they speak, you are missing critical cues that tell you what they need.  Maybe they just want to vent.  If you solve too soon, you just deflated their reason for coming to you in the first place.  Opportunity lost forever. Take your time. Give them what they need not what you need and give it when they need it or you will either repeat history or damage the relationship.
 
4. Asking questions
The need to ask questions usually comes from premature problem solving.  The risk is being perceived as interrogating.  Let someone process their thoughts.  Help them by acknowledging their situation and validating their emotions.  This demonstrates you listened. Then ask questions and you’ll get better answers.
EXCEPTION: In emergency situations, ask needed questions and validate later.
 
5. Sharing your experiences
Do you believe it is great when you can relate to what someone is telling you as it causes you to reflect on your own situation?  WRONG!!! Thinking about your own experience causes you to not hear all the talker is saying.  Talking about your situation when they finish takes them off topic too fast and they will feel interrupted. Share your experience later and give them their full turn.
 
6. Changing the subject
This is the deadliest of all listening mistakes. As obvious as it sounds, it happens all the time.  It happens when one is short on time, bored, distracted or simply has no idea what to say next. It is viewed as being inattentive, uncaring and extremely rude and there is no backtracking here.  To avoid this, stay present, focused, and genuinely interested in the conversation. If at a loss, acknowledge their situation and validate their emotions.  Are you noticing a theme here? Should be; works every time!
 
Consciously focusing on avoiding these 6 deadly mistakes will help you connect better with everyone and will contribute to being perceived as a GREAT listener!
 
To learn stronger listening techniques or identify your (or your team’s) listening blind-spots contact us by CLICKING HERE.

Take Your Leadership Challenge!

Inspired by an excerpt from Golden Nuggets of Leadership by Dena Moscola
 
This is a self-coaching activity called: “Stepping It Up”. It is beneficial to leaders in all industries and experience levels. Enjoy!
 
Below are 10 qualities, in no particular order. I am sure you will agree they are crucial to strong leadership. As you read, you will probably think “OK, I already have these qualities”. Great! I hope that is the case. Now, here’s your challenge:  
 
Step 1: For each quality, list all the things you do to “demonstrate” that quality.
Step 2: After completing a list for the 11 qualities, go back and list at least 1 new action you are willing to do to demonstrate that quality more often.
Step 3: Put your new list in a place you will see daily – i.e.: screen saver, mirror at home, car dashboard, desk, refrigerator, etc. Awareness and repetition is key here.
 
Helpful Hint: For best results read your new action list at least once daily for a minimum of 30 days.
 
Purpose: So many try to complicate leadership by looking for the latest greatest most complicated teachings. Leadership improvement does not need to be complicated. I recommend simplifying when possible.  One way to do that is to get in the habit of circling back to the basics. Once we learn and master a personal quality, it is common (if you’re human) to shift focus to another achievement or challenge, which eventually lessons our effectiveness of the basics and we seldom realize it. You owe it to yourself and those around you to occasionally get back to basics. Allow yourself to relearn things from the level you are at now and then apply it in new and better ways.  Conscious awareness of this often breeds obvious and impactful results.

Here you go:
 
1. Teachable                                   
2. Willing to share vision
3. Realistic risk takers       
4. Approachable
5. Emotional management of self
6. Genuine interest in others
7. Focused                           
8. Passionate          
9. Strong character/integrity (when no-one is watching!)           
10. Emotional management of others

Leadership Nugget: To become a stronger, more effective leader, go back to the basics…
 
Next Step:  Be accountable.  Share with someone, your intentions of completing this activity.  Ask them to check in on you in a week so you can tell them how you enhanced each quality and what you observed since. If you’d like a stronger level of accountability, contact me directly for a coach.  We’ll help you accelerate and advance all your efforts for greater results.

Click NOW to get your copy of Golden Nuggets of Leadership

Top 4 Strategies for Accountability
By Dena Moscola
Exert from "Golden Nuggets of Leadership"

To build the highest level of trust and have strongest influence, the level of accountability you demonstrate on a regular basis is CRITICAL.  Now, I’m sure you believe you are being viewed as accountable. But, you know me by now, so I have to ask the famous question – how can you step it up?….. Because you can always step it up!  
Below are 4 strategies I encourage you to add in or do more of:

1. Delegate then follow up – check in periodically and verbalize appreciation when completed – even the small things.

2. Remember what you say and what you don’t say – Many times unexpected priorities take your focus off of small things and on to new projects, ideas, challenges, etc.  You naturally reprioritize and forget about the small things.  Others remember.

3. Keep people posted on previous discussions, requests, organizational projects, etc. That builds trust and helps them feel valued

4. Hold others accountable! No excuses, it must happen.  Many are uncomfortable with this and create excuses to avoid it. Big mistake.  Lack of holding others accountable makes you unaccountable and significantly reduces respect from others.  If you are uncomfortable, seek to learn an effective approach. It is highly worth it.


Are You Respected As Much As You Think??  
by Dena Moscola
 
* Three out of every 10 employees feel they are not respected
 
* Most leaders do not realize when others are losing respect for them.  
 
You are dedicated to your organization, your team and your career. You do your best to respect others and guide them.  But we all have blind spots. And when it comes to respect, different people need to see different things to feel respected; making respect, not as easy as we think.
 
You do your best to treat others the way "you" want to be treated.  But what happens if a certain behavior is acceptable to you but another finds it insulting?  And they never tell you?   
It's unintentional.
But, it can sabotage relationships and performance........invisibly.
 
Common yet overlooked symptoms of disrespect:
  • Talking negatively about each other behind each other’s backs
  • Ignoring each other when passing in the hallways
  • Meetings consisting of complaining, squabbling and second-guessing
  • Team members failing to introduce each other to visitors such as customers and suppliers
  • Team members who use their smart phone, work on laptops and/or take calls during meetings or when speaking to each other
  • Arriving late to meetings, consistently
  • Responding to emails late (teams need to define “late”)
  • Team members demonstrating poor manners, such as:
    • Not opening doors for each other
    • Not refilling the coffee pot when it is empty
    • Leaving dirty dishes in the sink
    • Sending too many brief emails without personally addressing each other by name
    • Sending email requests without a “please”
    • Emails lacking proper acknowledgements and thank you’s
  • Team members interrupting and talking over others
  • Lack of common etiquette in conversation or in passing, such as please and thank you
  • Lack of verbalizing and demonstrating appreciation
You may view some of these points as insignificant or time consuming while others see them as demonstrations of respect. When missing, feelings are hurt and performances are affected. It is important to clarify what individual team members need to “see” to feel respected to eliminate dangerous misunderstandings that can blindly hurt morale and slow down the team.  It is worth taking the time to learn this because it will save you time in the end and strenghten all relationships.  And like all leadership lessons, this too, applies to personal relationships also.



6 Tips to Prevent Misunderstandings At Work
by Dena Moscola
 
Misunderstandings in the workplace are very common and easily caused by an unintentional lack of clarity. Often leaders assume that their teams understand the unspoken details or their intent. This is a critical mistake I see time and time again on the average day and also when going through transitions. The results: conflict, lower performance, wasted time, less respect.  None of which are acceptable. Here are some solutions:
 
1.  Ask open- ended questions:  Be aware that there are people who feel uncomfortable asking for clarity or do not realize they need it.  Many say they do not ask someone to repeat what’s been said in fear they may be viewed as incompetent or rude. To avoid this, many leaders ask, “Do you understand?” etc.   But that can be a waste of time because the response is most likely going to be “Yes, I understand”.  But, how do you both really know? This leaves too much room for assumptions and will take extra time to repair later. To provide maximum clarity and save time, say something like, “I want to make sure I explained this properly.  Please tell me what you heard.” This open ended question eliminates defenses and insecurities by putting the attention on your communication instead of theirs. In the end, clarity is either confirmed or provided.  A small moment invested upfront, saves time later. 
2. Use assertive language while delegating: Passive language ultimately leads to misinterpretations. Be specific with deadlines, requests and instructions.  Be overly clear.  Use assertive language such as “Please have this complete by Monday” instead of “Please get this to me as soon as possible”. 
3. Avoid redundancy: Occasional repeats can be strategic and have impact; redundancy risks losing the attention and respect of your listener(s) which may affect their understanding of your point. Once you’ve stated your piece stop talking, seek input or move on to another talking point. 
4. Tell the end result first: Many people like to lead into their request or announcement, as if telling a story. Like redundancy, that can often lose the attention and respect of your listener(s). Provide clear and direct details.  How? State the bottom line first to get attention then provide the process and details. 
5. Confirm for clarity:  Avoid the assumption.  After you receive a request, repeat it back by saying something like, “What I’m hearing you say is………………..”  or “What you are asking is………?” 
6. Provide the “Why”:  It is very easy to get caught up in a heavy workload and make fast requests or share information quickly. Often, especially when seeking buy-in, the reason behind something may seem insignificant or obvious to you.  But to your recipient(s), that reason may be needed for understanding.  When people fully understand the “why” behind requests, changes, etc, they are more likely to want to help you. Share your intent, even if it is obvious. Your results could be a stronger commitment and better performance.
 
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Top 4 Tips to Maximize Your Networking Efforts
By Dena Moscola
 
Is there anything more annoying than someone trying real hard to sell you something?  OK, maybe a few things, but to me, this definitely ranks high in the “things that turn others off” list!  Last week I was at a networking event and someone came up to me and said, “Hi, I’m Mr. Smith. So, what do you do?”  I wanted to run for my life! Clearly a newbie!!!
These days, networking is a vital contributor to building and maintaining a steady client/customer base. But bad networking backfires. 
Networking is often misunderstood.  It is not about selling, it’s about building and maintaining “genuine” relationships that keep you in the radar in your market place. The word competition has been redefined. Providing a high quality needed service is no longer enough. Your relationship with your clients/customers needs to continuously grow stronger. Your uniqueness and dedication need to stand out.  And that needs to be visible, regularly, with a large circle of influence.  Meaning: make sure many people know you, know what you do, like you and know they can count on you.  Stay in the radar of your network so when they need you, you are top of mind.
How?
1.       Take a sincere interest in people as individuals not customers/clients.  Learn about THEM – their non-work life and interests, while also letting them get to know you.  Spend more time on them              than you!
2.       Trash the agenda.  People will sense it and be turned off. Sincerity feels natural and flows easily. No weirdness. It allows people to get to know each other without knowing where it will lead.  And that is when the magic happens.
3.       Seek to serve. Who can you refer your contacts to, beyond your services? What else do they need? Become a connector. BUT careful here.  Do not connect just to connect. Make sure you refer top quality only! Provide reliable resources and you will be remembered and appreciated forever!
4.       Manage your time. Put aside a realistic amount of time each week for planned networking events, meetings, etc. Don’t over-do it but be sure to blend it in as a priority. At the same time, remember networking also happens naturally, when/where you least expect it. 

    2013's TOP Eating Tips for Stronger Leadership
    By Dena Moscola
     
    Have you ever felt…
    ...tired in the middle of the day?
    ...as if you are running on adrenaline for fuel?
    ...impatient and irritable for no reason?
    …too sensitive to sugar?
    …tired of yo-yo dieting? 
    If you answered yes to any of the above, it is quite possibly a result of your eating habits because everything you eat has a hormonal effect. Food either gives you energy or depletes your energy. 
    Male or female, when your hormones are off-balanced, you will feel more tired, achy, irritable, impatient, unfocused, depressed, overwhelmed, etc.
    And as a leader, those symptoms have a negative impact on your performance. 

    Eating is one of the most effective ways to keep your hormones balanced and your energy up. But when working long hours, stressed and under pressure, it is easier and more instantly gratifying to select something fast, skip meals or reward yourself with the wrong things. Unfortunately, those are the exact choices that cause the sabotaging symptoms mentioned above. And as a leader, wouldn’t you be more productive if you felt naturally more alert, patient, energized and positive instead of running on adrenaline or caffeine? 

    Biochemist Dr. Barry Sears states, “By maintaining hormonal balance, you are able to: think better because you maintain stable blood-sugar levels; perform better because oxygen transfers to your muscle cells faster; and look better because you will shed excess body fat at the fastest possible rate without hunger between meals.”

    Being the best leader you can be requires you to be as alert as possible and hold sustainable energy levels despite high pressure, sleep deprivation and deadlines. So when stress is high, eat for energy instead of comfort.  

    Everything you consume is either a carbohydrate, protein or fat and all are necessary. But too much or too little of either will cause off-balance and deplete your energy. For balance, each meal should consist of a good palmful of protein, palmful of smart carbohydrates and a drizzle of good fat.

    Some ideal choices:
    ·         Proteins: Eggs, lean organic meats, whole soy, fish, occasional seafood
    ·         Smart Carbs: Leafy green vegetables, fruits, whole grains
    ·         Fats: Almonds, extra virgin olive oil, avocado, sunflower seeds
     
    Changing eating habits takes trial-and-error but the rewards can absolutely improve your performance at work, your health and your overall happiness.
    To monitor your progress, pay attention to how you feel two-to-three hours after eating. If you are tired and hungry, you probably ate too many carbs. If you are just tired, you probably ate too few carbs. If you feel great, you had the perfect meal.
    Track your results and with enough practice you will begin to change habits.    
    LEARN MORE                                 

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    10 QUICK Tips to Eat Your Way to Success
    By Dena Moscola

    1.     Look at food as fuel.
    2.     End starvation binge-eating by packing high-energy snacks such as nuts, seeds and fruits.
    3.     Avoid white starchy carbs.
    4.     Ignore advertising on food labels; instead read food tables and ingredients.
    5.     Moderate or eliminate juices, sodas and alcohol because they are bad carbs.
    6.     Drink a half-ounce of water per every pound of body weight, daily, to flush out fat and other toxins.
    7.     Eat natural and organic foods as much as possible.
    8.     Avoid artificial ingredients.
    9.     Eat fruit alone.
    10.  Never diet.

    LEARN MORE

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    Prioritization Styles & Their Tips for Success

    By Dena Moscola

    Below you will find a summary of 4 Prioritization Styles followed by tips to improve each. As you read through the styles, you may realize you fit into more than one.  For best results, focus on the style that slows you down most and choose some new solutions. Plus, think about what style’s those around you have to better understand them and enhance your effectiveness.
     
    1. The Dreamer:  The Dreamer is the big picture thinker; the visionary.  A faster thinker, they love to start new projects but get bored easily resulting in unfinished tasks/projects, procrastination or over-delegation.  The Dreamer often avoids/forgets details and organizing, leaving those things for others.  The Dreamer can sometimes spend too much time involving others.
     
    2. Stressed-by-Choice:  The Stressed-by-choice is the one who thrives on stress and believes their best work is done under pressure. They procrastinate and enjoy last minute chaos which stresses those around them. 
     
    3. Juggler: The Juggler loves variety and enjoys new tasks.  They love to move quickly from one task to another and try to complete more than one thing at a time.  As a result, they often fail to complete any one task.  The Juggler loves interruptions and is easily distracted by low priority items. 
     
    4. Perfectionist:  The standards of a Perfectionist are higher than anyone else’s and they are proud of that.  In fact, their standards are often unrealistically high causing them to be over-critical of themselves and others. The Perfectionist also believes no-one else can do it better so they will have a difficult time delegating and asking for assistance.  They also have a tendency to work long hours and get frustrated by it.
                      
    Prioritization Solutions: 
    Dreamer:
    o   Give yourself deadlines
    o   Focus early in the project
    o   Surround yourself with detail oriented folks
    o   Remember to make decisions based on facts, logic and emotions
    o   Hold people accountable
     
    Stressed by Choice
    o   Prioritize lists
    o   Create several intermediate deadlines as well as completion deadlines
    o   Give yourself a bonus when reaching intermediate deadlines
    o   Ask for help by holding yourself accountable for the specific steps before deadline comes
     
    Juggler

    • Juggle “A” items  - keep “A” list visible as much as possible - remove B’s & C’s from sight
    • Limit unnecessary conversation
    • Prepare & stick to a strict daily schedule
    • Create intermediate deadlines & completion deadlines
    • Reward yourself on intermediate deadlines
    • Recruit assistance and hold them accountable for specific steps
     Perfectionist
    • Compromise – do “A" items perfectly but not “B’s” & “C’s”
    • Ask for assistance more
    • Give others the freedom to do it “their way”
    • Occasionally, settle for less than perfect.  Put energies into things that count and learn to walk away when other things are reasonably completed
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    Leadership Challenge:  Are you as loyal as you think you are???

    By Dena Moscola

    Loyalty is a strong word and is critical to leadership and life.  People pride themselves on their loyalty.  Rightfully so!  Loyalty holds relationships and teams together during the toughest of times.  It drives us to push beyond comfort.  It helps inspire and binds commitment.  This article will challenge you to analyze your loyalty at a new level to discover potential gaps that you are innocently unaware of.  Or perhaps you are aware of your gaps and feel they come with good reason. Hmmmm………..could be an opportunity for you to re-evaluate your reason and perhaps discover other options that work better for you……….AND those around you. 

    That being said, you will need to decide if you are really ready to delve into how powerful your level of loyalty can affect leadership effectiveness.  It is an advanced concept and you may not be ready.  And that’s ok.

    For those of you who are high achievers, you may come across some points that are obvious.  That is when you can benefit most by asking yourself the challenging question: “What am I already doing that demonstrates this?”  Remember, just because you think it, does not mean others see it.  Then ask yourself, “What can I do to demonstrate this at a higher level?”  Remember –

     Intentions mean nothing.  Perception is everything.  Step it up!

    There also may be points in this article that perhaps push a button or two and that is good!  That is how our mind and body reacts right before we are ready to learn the most impactful lessons.  So I encourage you to read on.  Open your mind, think beyond yourself and strongly consider new possibilities.  How can a new perspective benefit your team?  How can you make a subtle adjustment & have huge impact?  Expand your thinking to grow …………

    We will cover 2 aspects of loyalty:

    1. Personal priorities – do they get in your way without you realizing it?

    2. Team commitment – which team should your strongest alliance really be with?

    Loyalty defined:  a sense of duty or of devoted attachment to&nb sp;something or someone………. faithfulness to commitments or obligations

    Part 1: Loyalty VS. Personal Priorities

    A strong team is committed to reaching a common goal.  Personal agendas will ultimately sabotage and block a team’s performance.  You know this.  But how much do personal agendas affect loyalty and how often do they show up?  The answer may be more serious than you realize.  It can happen very easily and quite often unintentionally.  Then, before you know it, a new habit is formed and the effects are invisible.  This happens to folks with the best intentions.  How?  It happens when your personal priorities become unaligned with your team’s priorities.  No, we are not talking about multiple deadlines and schedules, etc.  We are referring to deeper priorities such as:

    • Need to be right
    • Need to be the best or better
    • Need for recognition
    • Need to intimidate to accomplish a result
    • Need to seek what you believe is well-deserved revenge
    • Need to cover up a truth or mistake that might make you look bad
    • Need to withdraw or retaliate because of resentment and/or jealousy
    • Fear of being wrong or not good enough
    • Fear of being intimidated because of someone’s style or position
    • Fear of hurting someone’s feelings
    • Fear of having your feelings hurt

    This list goes on but it shows personal priorities are driven by emotions and can be experienced by the best of the best, at any given time.  Most often, emotions show up, you deal with it naturally and it passes without much or any attention.  Other times, your buttons may get pushed and have a stronger impact.  That is when, without realizing it – you do what it takes to fill the need or avoid the fear.  As a result, your input and/or performance will not be serving the team at its highest level.

    A few examples are:

    • If someone on your team intimidates you because of their style, you may feel a need to hold back on providing feedback or making suggestions because you do not want to be rejected.  But that input may be valuable to your team. 
    • If you made a mistake you may try to cover it up to avoid “looking bad”.  But sharing that with someone may help you learn an important lesson that the entire team can also benefit by.
    • If someone on your team has frustrated you in the past, you may not be so inclined to go out of your way for them.  This can decrease your performance level. 

    Studies show that when you feel your best, you perform at our best.  So be prepared.  You owe it to your team to manage those situations and most importantly, the emotions they trigger so you feel better faster.  Then you are free to give your all to your team to prevent these times from blocking your loyalty.  Ignoring this only drives resentment deeper causing you to “go through the motions” thinking no one notices – and they might not – but your performance is still stronger when your personal priorities are aligned with your team’s best interest.

    So the key is to recognize lingering negative emotions and manage/diffuse them – before they interfere. 

    ….. BUT HOW?

    Sometimes awareness is all it takes.  Paying closer attention can help you to shift your thinking, look at things from another perspective and get back on track emotionally.  Studying topics such as managing conflict, communication and most importantly, emotional intelligence will assist greatly.  Working with a Resolutions Coach can catapult your ability to recognize, understand and manage your emotions so you can demonstrate a high level of loyalty at all times.  The reason why this is helpful is not because a coach knows more than you – you are the expert in your field.  But, our coaches work with advanced leadership skills and perspectives every day, all day long for years so they are trained to catch critical points and blind spots you may not see clearly because you are so close to it and focused on your priorities.  A coach will speed up the process, advance your skills and hold you accountable. Learn how a coach can accelerate your success - CONTACT US NOW

    Part 2. Loyalty & Team Committment

    Another aspect of loyalty is about knowing where your #1 commitment is.  Most people are on one or more teams.  All are priority.  But where does your first commitment lie?  There are many misconceptions here. 

    Contrary to popular belief, in order to create and maintain the leanest, highest performing teams that are completely aligned with your organization, your first commitment is to your senior leadership team.  That is where organizational visions and goals are born and rolled out to the rest of the organization through objectives and projects, etc. Often teams break away from that due to disagreements eventually form silos.  As a result, inconsistency and poor moral follow which ultimately lowers an organization’s performance.  A strong, healthy senior team will share best practices, brainstorm through challenges and when necessary, respectfully disagree – while always sticking together. 

    This can often be frustrating and confusing because you want make sure your other teams knows they can count on your support. Plus, your relationships with those other teams may be stronger than those on your senior team. These are dynamics that are healthy and should remain in place, despite your strongest loyalty rolling up to your senior team.

    HOW?

    First of all, continue to support your other teams help them understand where your alliance is and why and how that will benefit them.  Here are just some of the benefits I recommend you share and demonstrate with your team

    • You will always honor their confidentiality and support them
    • You have a stronger focus on making sure what happens within your group is always aligned with the high organizational goals as well – which means your team will have a stronger impact on the organization’s success
    • You have a deeper understanding and clarity of high level decisions and will share as much as possible with them 
    • You have negotiating opportunities to make suggestions and alterations
    • You may not always agree with them and you may not always win when going up to bat for them BUT you will promise to do your best, keep them posted and stay aligned with the goals.

    Verbalizing these points and demonstrating your accountable to them, will help eliminate frustrations and questions regarding how your loyalty will play out. 

    The biggest challenge is when you disagree with the senior team.  This is when the largest disconnect can happen and because your loyalty is tested. What choice will you make?  It will help to expect that all decisions do not go the way you want them to, no matter whose team you are on.  You know this already, but consciously expecting it will help the frustration levels.  Your understanding of your senior team’s reasoning is vital. Sometimes, depending on the team’s culture and communication, that may be difficult, at times. And when that understanding is not there, despite your attempts to gain it, then it must come down to respectfully disagreeing.

    Respectfully disagreeing means releasing resentment, avoid talking down against your senior team because it lowers respect, reduces morale, generates office politics and fragments an organization.  It also gives others permission to talk negatively about you!  Instead – take the high road - find a level of respectful disagreement while committing to standing by all goals. That loyalty will also help leaders get buy-in to tough tasks.  You will be viewed as a team player and be respected for that.  Others will follow that loyalty.

    Hopefully, this article has raised your awareness to how deep loyalty can actually go and has provided some initial direction.  I encourage you to always strive to get to that next level.  You may want to consider working with a coach to get the best and fastest results and to be held accountable.  To discover how that could work for you before it becomes more difficult so you can eliminate those invisible blocks, lead at the highest level of loyalty and help others do the same, CONTACT US NOW

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    Seasons of Leadership: A High Level View of Business & Life Patterns

    By Dena Moscola

    Do you believe that life plays out in seasons? It is a firm belief of mine. I also believe that businesses go through seasons.  As a leader of your personal life and your career, being aware of your seasonal paths will give you impactful insights.  It can help you increase your understanding, flexibility, confidence, patience, relaxation and productivity.

     Here’ is a quick glimpse of the seasons.  Think of how you can incorporate this into your thinking and strategies in your career and personal life ……

     1. WINTER: A time for contemplation, re-evaluation, planning, creation, experimenting, rest and recovery.  Like many do in the New Year, it is a time to learn from the past, create new goals, build more strength, strategize and prepare for what you would like to achieve next.  It can bring a variety of feelings such as discomfort, disappointment, confusion, fatigue, fear, etc.  As you work through this season, keep your eye on the prize because as long as you are seeking to learn and positioning yourself for what is coming, spring should be fruitful and hopefully, right around the corner.  For those of you whose glass is half full, winter can bring feelings of excitement and opportunity to create, achieve or attract something bigger and better.

       2. SPRING: Generally a happy time filled with rejuvenation, change, new growth. The way nature brings new growth, this is a time for you to experience new things.  It can be bright, exciting and energizing, leaving you feeling refreshed, optimistic and welcoming.

       3. SUMMER: A time to celebrate and enjoy your recent change and accomplishments. Like a child has no (or less) school, your summer can be exhilarating and fun, bringing feelings of joy, security, pride, stability.

       4. AUTUMN: A time of completion, the end of a cycle and a time for closure.  Nature sheds its colors in the autumn.  Letting go of what has died to make room for new growth. In life and career, this is an opportunity to get rid of the old to make room for the new.  Often change happens suddenly during autumn so it is a good time to let it flow.   Resisting will only lengthen the process and build stress.  Go with it and see what new ideas and opportunities follow.

      Remembering that your life and career can be in two different seasons at the same time and they might not coincide with Mother Nature.  A season has no given time frame and lasts for different periods of time – weeks, months, years.  The more conscious you are of your cycles, in all aspects of life, the easier it is to master the most productive responses.  This ultimately enables the next season to arrive easier.

      With that in mind - What season are you in?  What season is your company in? What season is your business in?  How can this awareness help your ability to make decisions, reduce stress, improve your optimism and create more realistic expectations?  How can it help you help others to be more comfortable with current changes and more confident about the future? 

      Knowing that everything comes in cycles can help you remember “this too shall pass”.  It can help find lessons when there seem to be no answers.  It can enhance motivation and excitement about things to come.  Looking at circumstances from a higher level is a proactive approach to enhance your plan, reduce stress and take more control of your reactions. 

      Roll with your seasons by consciously:

      1. Learning, rebuilding, preparing and repositioning during your WINTER;
      2. Rejuvenating, growing and implementing in your SPRING;
      3. Celebrating, relaxing and appreciating during your SUMMER;
      4. Re-evaluating, finding closure and begin preparing to move-on in your Autumn

      Want to learn how to apply this to your situation or team?  Please reach out to us (Info@resolutionsctc.com) to comment or learn more about this helpful tool.  

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      STOP Treating Others How You Want to be Treated: Approach Styles for Better Results & Faster Buy-in

      By Dena Moscola
      Exhert from "Golden Nuggets of Leadership"

      Were you taught that a good person treats others the way you want to be treated?  When I pose this question to classes, I inevidably get the same response – everyone raises their hand, quite proudly.  This is, by far, a very common belief with intentions that are pure and sincere and requested through most religions as a Golden Rule to live by. I support it and it applies to the general guidelines of being a good person. IE: Be good to others and others will be good to you. Let's take this a step further and think about how you deal with the intracies of your business (or personal) relationships. Haven’t you ever treated someone exactly how you want to be treated and it back fired? And then you rationalize and say to yourself, “Well, at least, I treated them the way I would expect to be treated………….” 

      Let’s say you like to work independently so when you work with your direct reports you practice a “hands off attitude” and let them run with their projects.  You give them freedom to work on their own and you resist the urge to check in.  Those who love independence are thrilled and feel free to excel!  Those who like more of a patnernership or sounding board often feel silently let down by this approach. They can feel disconnected, unmotivated, disrespected and eventually lose respect for you.  Some may have questions and are not comfortable asking unless you are more present.  As a result, there is less accountability or performance quality is lower than its potential.  The real reason goes uncovered, but so easily preventable. 

      Another example is when you need to correct someone’s behavior.  You like people to be very direct and tell it like it is.  So you approach this individual in a direct manner when you are correcting them.  Someone that likes to be treated the same way will respect your approach.  What about the person who has a different style?  Perhaps they are more sensitive than you.  If that is the case, there is a strong chance they will be insulted by your style; feeling hurt, disrespected and as a result, shut down which will decrease the lesson they learn and leave them feeling resentment towards you.

      Turning that example around; if you have a more gentle approach and take your time delivering bad news to avoid hurting people’s feelings, you may be losing the attention and respect from those that have a dominant direct style.

      The bottom line is, different people need to be treated in different ways. In your professional AND personal life, it is critical to take the time to get to know how others need to be treated and give them what they need.  It is not about changing your core, it is simply flexing your approach regularly so people receive your message faster and easier.  As a result, you will increase respect and collaboration, open communication and strengthen influence. 

      How?  Commit to learning how other’s need to be approached when delivering feedback, bad news or seeking buy-in.  One resource (which is Resolutions’ most popular and successful choice of assessment tools) is for everyone to take the DiSC Classic Personal Profile.  This will identify and provide understanding of the 4 basic work and behavioral tendencies to improve communication, motivation, cooperation, accountability and more – all resulting in improved performance.  In addition to that, ask!  You’d be amazed at how much you will learn when you simply ask others what approach style is best for them.  Feel free to check out our past articles on relationships.  (Link to articles list on site)

      Invest the time to continuously strengthen relationships.  It will pay off tenfold. 

      To get you started, below are some initial pointers to identify how people need to be approached based on certain behavioral observations you can easily make:

      1. Strong domineering styles

      Common observed behaviors: Direct, result oriented, realistic, assertive, visionary, skeptical, opinionated and intense. At times, they can be viewed as overbearing, controlling and aggressive.  Their decisions are based on facts that will bring them the fastest and highest quality results.

      Getting their buy in is easiest when you:

      Show respect by making the most of their time

        • State the bottom line first and support it w/very brief details
        • Keep emotions minimized
        • Be aware of their short attention span

      2. Social, high energy styles

      Common observed behaviors: People oriented, creative, social, optimistic, and flexible.  They are visionaries and good at delegating.  At times they can be viewed as dreamers, not serious enough or too trusting.  Intuition plays a large part in their decision making and they like to enjoy their work. 

      For best results when working with this style, keep the following in mind:  

      •  
        • Remind them of important details
        • Be clear on expectations and deadlines
        • Be aware of their short attention span
        • Keep track of time

        3. Practical analytical styles
        Common observed behaviors: Curious, loves learning, logical, businesslike and detail oriented. The more information they have that makes sense, the more the support and cooperation you can expect.  At times, they can be viewed as too serious, know-it-all’s and over analytical.  

        A working relationship with this style is strengthened when you: 

        •  
          • Show respect by giving them time to process information
          • Provide many facts, details and clarity
          • Take the time to explain “why”
          • Avoid the words “I feel”  -  instead use “I think” 

          4. Sensitive steady styles:

          Common observed behaviors: focused, loyal, enjoys status quo and compassionate.  When they have respect for you and your purpose they will excel in their role and exceed your expectations.  At times they can be viewed as over-sensitive, too emotional and revengeful. 

          To maintain a rewarding relationship with this style consistently practice the following:

          •  
            • Remind them to depersonalize by focusing on the situation not the person 
            • Build trust by showing your human side
            • Consistantly demonstrate how much you appreciate them
            • Use manners and be fair

          Hopefully this has provided an initial look into how beneficial it is to understand people’s needs at a deeper level.  Exploring this further through assessments, coaching and/or training will accelerate your effectiveness and improve your business AND personal relationships.  Contact Resolutions NOW at 973-627-6551, to see how this can add to your success.  

          Back to the Top

          SEO BASICS: What You Really Need to Know about Search Engine Optimization

          By Paul Gonzalez

          I have recently been asked by a number of people, “What should I do to make more money with my website?”  The other most common question I get is, “How do I get to the top of Google?  That’s where I need to be!”  Those are great questions, but the answer can sometimes be hard to get to.  If you happen to be one of those people asking that question beware of anyone who gives you a quick response.

          My advice?  Do things the easy way.  Rather than giving yourself brain damage by trying to become an expert in a very complex field that is always evolving, have an expert do a Competitive Website Analysis for you. An expert can tell you quickly how well or how poorly your site is doing and then start making the fixes. Believe it or not, a lot of experts are willing to spend some time with you and give you a few pointers free of charge, but don’t try to monopolize their time as they need to make a buck too.

          There are two very important things experts can do for you very quickly:

          1- Make sure your online strategy is targeting the right people!

          It amazes me how many people are satisfied to have a website running and don’t realize that it’s really not doing them any good.  With a little research and fine tuning your site can become more Search Engine friendly and start moving to the top. 

          A Couple big items to look at are your Keywords and Meta Tags:

          A)     Keywords/ Keyword Phrases –   Keywords will be the most basic building block of your website.  What is a keyword?  When you go on google looking for a new set of golf clubs and you type into the search engine “Taylor Made Golf Clubs” and hit enter you just used a keyword phrase.  The words you type into a search engine are all Keywords and Phrases.  You need to research your products or services to find out what people actually type into a search engine.  The way we speak can often times be different from the words we type.  Even the difference between the singular and plural version of a word can mean the difference in thousands of potential customers. Once you find the right keywords or phrases for your product or service, then you need to incorporate those very same Keywords and Phrases into the programming and structure of  your website. 

          A great tool to do some keyword research is the Google Adwords Keyword tool

          https://adwords.google.com/o/Targeting/Explorer?_ _u=1000000000&__c=1000000000&ideaRequestType=KEYWORD_IDEAS#search.none

          Once you have determined your best Keywords to use you’ll want to strategically build those into your Meta Tags. 

          B)     Meta Tag – The word Meta in Greek means “ABOUT.”  Meta Tags tell the search engines what your website is “ABOUT” in a very quick way.  The tags you should always use are the Title and Description tags.  I’d also throw in the Keywords Meta tag as a best practices practice.  Between these 3 tags you have just told the search engine 3 times what your website is about, specifically, what you are really good at.  If you sell golf clubs and the Title Tag says “golf clubs”, the Meta Description says “we sell the best variety of golf clubs” and your Meta Keywords Tag says “golf clubs” what conclusion can the search engine come with except that you belong in the search engine results that have people selling golf clubs and you are an expert.

          By bringing these simple on page factors in line with what search engines expect from a well designed site, you can make a big leap forward.  After all, Google considers 98% of websites to be garbage.  Doing these few things right will jump you into the top 2% and that’s a good place to be.

          2- Show you exactly where you rank against your competition!

          It’s like a map to show you where you are compared to where you want to be, which should be #1 on Google.   Just being on the internet won’t necessarily bring you any new business.  Sure, your clients will be able to find you because they already know your name, but what about all those potential clients out there looking for a business like yours?  Over 95% of the business done on the internet happens with those websites located in the top 10 results on the search engines and almost 60% goes to the people in the top 3 spots!  That is a lot of business for anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort to please the search engines.

          Look at it like this   – Google (or any search engine) has a checklist of desirable factors for a website.  The more of those you can check off for your website, the more they like you.  The more they like you the more people they will put you in front of.  The more people you are in front of the more opportunities you have to make money.

          Here’s a short example I showed one of my clients:

          If you were an attorney in Philadelphia looking for new business you might want to target the Keyword Phrase “Philadelphia Attorney” which has an average of 49,500 searches a month.  That’s a lot of people looking for legal help in Philly.  Now if you were the #3 result on Google for that search you could expect around 5,104 people looking at your website every month wondering if you’re the right firm to help them.  Out of that 5,104 people, on average, you should convert about 7% of them into paying clients.  That’s 357 new clients in a month.  If each one of those new paying clients was worth only $100 to you that’s an additional $35,700 of new business income to your firm.  Not bad.  But that’s if you do the work to get there.

          The first page of the Search Results is what your goal should be.  Any less than that and you’re cheating yourself.  Once you get to the first page you should be shooting for the top.  There are many more pieces of advice and more detail we could get into, but this should help.  And again, the very best bit of advice I can give you? Have an expert do a free Competitive Website Analysis for you.  This is the best way to get a personalized start on your own website. If you do not have someone to do it for you, feel free to contact me at Info@ResolutionsCTC.com

          Paul Gonzalez is an Internet Marketing Expert and Strategist who studied International Business and Markting at Utah Valley University, where he enjoys spending time in the mountains, near his home with his family.  Paul is known for going above and beyond to continuously help numerous entrepreneurs (Resolutions included) successfully accomplish higher google rankings and website credibility.  Because Resolutions has been so impressed with his professional talents, very reasonable rates, sincere and patient customer service, it is our pleasure to announce Paul will be contributing SEO tips to our newsletter regularly. We hope you find this beneficial.  Please contact us if you have questions about how Paul can assist you, as you build your internet ranking.

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          5 Top Holiday Survival Tips

          by Dena Moscola 

          1. Manage Your Time Wisely

          •  Prioritize
          • Say NO - Don’t over commit
          • Make a list and keep it handy.  Cross off accomplishments daily.
          • Delegate:
            • Create (or increase) ride shares with other parents
            • Create a family chore chart with your family & kindly ask everyone to pitch in
            • Having company?  Ask guests to bring a dish and/or consider catering.  Then put kids in   charge of cleaning make it fun!  Reward them!  It’s worth it!
            • Hire a landscaper and/or the kid across the street for winter yard clean up

           2. Stay Healthy

          • Prevent too much weight gain: Give yourself permission to over eat/drink here and there but in between reduce your carb intake and eat for energy not comfort.  Increase protein, vegetable and water intake. 
          • Never beat yourself up for gaining a couple extra holiday pounds. If you go back to eating normally after the holidays, it goes away by itself.
          • Exercise –It’s ok to reduce your exercise temporarily during the holidays but be sure to keep moving and get back to it, right away to keep your habit strong
          • Sleep: a good 7 hours usually does wonders for your energy
          • Take vitamins – a little extra Vitamin C during flu season can sometimes (or more) be more effective than a flu shot!
          • Take time for YOU

           3. $ Manage Your Money Wisely $

          • Create a realistic budget and stick to it
          • Pay with cash
          • Re-evaluate gift giving habits: Do you need to buy as many gifts?  Do you need to spend as much money on each gift?  How can you get creative to reduce spending?
          • If you have to use credit cards, be sure to pay them off within a month to avoid interest or you will be spending >14% more on each item. 
          • If you use credit cards that offer temporary low interest rates, be sure to document when the interest goes up to be sure you are paid off by then.  Watch out for hidden fees
          • Keep receipts and confirm return policies
          • Avoid unnecessary warranties

           4. Create Realistic Expectations: 

          • Expect a little less sleep
          • Expect to spend more money
          • Expect a long list of “to do’s”
          • Expect annoying family members to be annoying so they annoy you less!  Love them anyway!

           5. Deal with Holiday Blues:

          • Replace negative or stressful traditions and routines with newer more peaceful times for everyone
          • Remember lost loved ones
          • Be honest about your feelings
          • Appreciate the small things
          • Give to those less fortunate

          Happy Holidays!

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          Accountability Tool: Creating Team Guidelines 

          by Dena Moscola 


          It is important for team members to honor and respect each other but often misunderstandings or unclear expectations sabotage the most sincere efforts. Those innocent mistakes can silently fragment a team and lead to more serious problems. For prevention, it is recommended to establish clear and firm Team Guidelines. These Guidelines serve as an agreed foundation that in a way, casually but effectively, governs the team during times of stress and conflict. 

          Stress and conflict are normal and natural. When stress and conflict are expected and managed effectively, teams understand each other best, work together easiest and achieve peak performance. 

          There are many different ways of handling uncomfortable situations and your style most often influences how you handle it. It is your responsibility as a team leader or member to demonstrate sensitivity to others that have different approach needs than you. Always do your best to flex your style or accept theirs without judgment. 

          Team Guidelines provide you and your team the opportunity to express how you want and need to be treated. 

          Below are some examples of Team Guidelines to help you and your team create your own. These are questions around situations that tend to arise unexpectedly and often slow down a team's progress. We recommend you discuss them with your team then decide on appropriate responses in each scenario. Draw up a document with your team'’s agreed upon conclusions to serve as their “Team Guidelines”. Feel free to use all or some of them and/or come up with ones that better match your team’s needs. 

          • What are our team'’s expectations around tardiness to meetings? How should someone that is repeatedly late be handled? What are the consequences?
          • What should the team do if there is a conflict amongst the group? How does everyone want to be approached? Ie: Direct? Gentle? Fast? Slow?
          • When should a situation be handled as a group and when individually?
          • How should we handle trouble meeting deadlines?
          • How often should we all meet as one group? Is that working for everyone? If not, why and what are suggestions for improvement?
          • Are team meetings productive for everyone? What can be done to enhance meeting efficiency?
          • Where should we hold our meetings? (ie: if you normally meet internally, you can discuss an occasional meeting over a meal or cocktail hour.)
          • Response time: What is the team'’s acceptable response time for average level of importance and for urgent issues? How can everyone distinguish, at a glance, between the two?
          • As a team, how should we handle someone who is not accountable?
          • What else?

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          Accepting, Implementing & Managing Change

             By Dena Moscola            

           A strong leader is able to accept change, implement its course and manage its journey.  But for many, change is difficult to accept.  Leaders must learn to work through their own views on change and then be able to support and guide others through it.  To do that, understanding the reasons for a resistance to change are a helpful first step in moving forward with compassion. 

          Why do many resist change?

          Emotions:  fear, anger, uncertainty

          Perceptions:  failure to see the need for the change

          Attitudes:  feeling that all changes must be negative

          Reluctances:  moderate acceptance of change or a “wait & see attitude”

          Resistances:  failure or refusal to see the positive opportunities inherent to change

          The first step to work through change successfully is to avoid assumptions and resentment.  Instead, seek greater understanding.  Do research; ask for clarity; look for outside opinions.  Once you are clear on the reasons, strategy, realistic challenges and potential outcomes of the change, then decide on your comfortable level.  If you are still not comfortable, seek to influence change.  That may entail asking more questions and attempting to alter the situation with compromise and creative ideas.  It may also mean choosing to walk away from a situation (ie: leaving an abusive or hostile environment, etc.)  And yet there are those other times that altering and avoiding are not possible, or not a wise immediate option.  That is when acceptance is yours to consider.  Even if it is temporary, while you work towards change, accepting what you cannot change, will ultimately save you unnecessary stress and help you better support others.  Acceptance can only come when you let go of resentment & help others do the same. 

          Change it or accept that you cannot change it.

          Strategies for Implementing & Managing Change

          For change to work, everyone needs to be on board 

          • Respectfully accept upper management decisions that are out of your control, even if you disagree 
          • Listen deeply and openly to understand reasons others resist the change 
          • Never openly criticize others managers, peers or direct reports 
          • Exhibit a “can do” attitude 
          • Continually strive to build commitment in others by consistently building your rapport
          • Communication….. Communication –Communication …….
          • Make over communicating the goal

           People cannot deal well with something they cannot see.  Create the vision and then continue to create it.  Repeat in as many ways as possible.  Help people see it.  When they know what they face and why, people become more confident.  During uncertainty, remind others that you are in this together and whatever challenge arises, you will work it out, together.  Repeat it over and over again because — people need to hear it over and over again.  When you are sick of talking about it, you are starting to get through.

           Use a united forum for sharing huge news

          Best when everyone receives the information at the same time.  Explain the reasons for the change in a way that your group will understand.  Share how the plan was developed and the benefits it will have to everyone.

          Invest the time – it will pay off!

          Be aware of your nonverbal communication.  Is your body language consistent with your message?  It must be.  If it is not, that means you have resentment that has not been worked out.   Your coach or EAP consultant should be able to help you diffuse the buried emotions of resentment.  This is critical to successfully helping others and managing your own emotions (emotional intelligence).

          Focus attention on the change and continuously demonstrate what needs to be done to achieve it.  Acknowledge and reward others as they move through change.

          Remember: Change is not optional - It MUST happen

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          Top 10 Rapport Building Tools

          Exert from "Golden Nuggets of Leadership"

          By Dena Moscola             ;                        
          1. Support mistakes 6. Ask for feedback
          2. Be a strong mentor 7. Acknowledge/validate
          3. Have realistic expectations   8. Praise
          4. Strive to be a better team player 9. Delegate
          5. Relate to others 10. Motivate even on a budget
           
          1. Support mistakes:  Create a safe place for mistakes. Mistakes are inevitable.  They are an opportunity to learn.  Using criticism, a condescending tone or sarcasm is a great way to lose respect.  Instead of judging others, empower them to learn from their mistakes by helping them see how serious the consequences are, what needs to be done to correct the situation and most importantly, what needs to be done or learned to prevent this same mistake in the future.  When people feel empowered they are more confident in taking risks.  Great things happen when people take risks.  Of course, if there are continued mistakes that are truly interfering with results, it may be time to re-evaluate skill levels and/or responsibilities.  Even then: an opportunity to learn, grow and move on. 
          2. Be a strong mentor: Be someone that others want to learn from.  Share your stories. As mentioned in the previous chapter, be careful not to share only your successes.  Share your past fears, objections, challenges and mistakes.  Tell how you overcame them. What did you learn?  How did it impact your career?
          3. Have realistic expectations: Unrealistic expectations hold everyone back and lessen results. Continuously re-evaluate your expectations to be sure they are realistic. Never expect others to be something they are not or reach a level they are not ready for.  Think about it – how excited are you to work with someone that expects the impossible?  It is demoting and sabotages rapport.  Reevaluate to help others strive just beyond their perceived potential and they will probably exceed your expectations.
          4. Always work at being a better team player: You know what you expect of your team. Can they expect the same from you? Demonstrate integrity.  Be congruent.  Be accountable.  Stand by your team.  Go to bat for them.  Never expect something from them that you would not do or be yourself.  You know you are not above your team because you are a leader.  Make sure they know that by demonstrating it - seek to be a better team player today than you were yesterday!
          5. Relate to others:  Many times leaders are perceived as someone that is different, unreachable, unapproachable, smarter, more successful or intimidating.  Any and all of those will block rapport and maintain a distance.  To eliminate that while still maintaining respect share challenges you have experienced and how you overcame them, share lessons and successes that surprised you, share fears, share goals, most importantly, get acquainted personally and remember to stay humble.  This will help others relate to you and increase your connection.
          6. Ask for feedback:  Show that you are always willing to receive feedback and improve your performance to build trust.  Others will view development more serious if you demonstrate that you take it seriously.  Additionally, it shows that feedback is a positive tool for success for everyone.  And as a bonus, you will show your trust in someone when asking for candid opinions.
          7. Acknowledge/validate:  This is a CRUCIAL piece to any relationship but unfortunately, is often overlooked by the most compassionate people.   It is critical to be aware of how people need not only acknowledgement but also validation.  Acknowledge a situation that someone is experiencing by verbally repeating back what you heard and/or saw, in your own words.  Then take an extra few seconds to validate the feeling they have towards it – even if you disagree.   It shows you are hearing them.  This is an automatic rapport builder. Without it, relationships deteriorate silently.  This is so important that it can reduce resignations and save marriages.  Seriously.   Verbally acknowledge the facts someone shares with you and then verbalize the feelings they might have.  Because it is very easy to misuse this tip unintentionally, and the damage is strong, it is covered in more detail in the book under listening skills.
          8. Praise:  You all know praise is critical but how you praise will make a difference.  Saying “thank you” and “good job” are nice and needed but after a while tend to go unnoticed or undervalued and sometimes are viewed as insincere.  Step it up by acknowledging exactly what you are appreciating.  For example:  “Good job during today’s meeting.  You really got the VP’s attention.  Looks like we might get the buy in - I’m impressed!”  Next time when praising, remember to complete the sentence by sharing the whole thought.  It will go a lot further.
          9. Delegate: Many view delegating as a way to relieve their workload.  That it certainly is.  It also has a hidden bonus. It strengthens rapport and ultimately helps empower. People feel trusted and valued when they are given responsibility.
          10. Motivate especially when on a budget: You already know how important it is to provide incentives to increase and maintain motivation.  But, what do you do when budgets are low?  You get creative! 

          Work with what you have.  Remember, people stay at work because of how good they feel. Help people feel good.  Give them something to look forward to and get excited about. Create a fun place to work where people can feel valued - especially when times are tough and budgets are low.  People need distractions from their stress as incentives to go the extra yard.

          Below are some ideas.  Not all are good for everyone.  But if one works for you, you are on your way.  Or, this list may trigger some new creative ideas for you and your team.

          Pizza lunches    

          Create playful weekly/monthly/quarterly awards:

          Most pleasurable to be around              &n bsp;            Least likely to complain

          Give certificates, applause and brag to your managers about high performers

          Create your own calendar of in-office special days              &nbs p;                    

          Sneaker day  Crazy tie day
          Hat day Appreciation day
          Pizza day Health day
          Dress down day

           Hold lunch-n-learn classes that give people a break from work and provides tips on how to manage the demands of life easier – which ultimately improves work performance.  Local coaches, trainers, EAP’s, medical centers and community businesses often come in and speak on topics such as: 

          • Parenting teenagers
          • Caring for elder loved ones
          • Work/life balance           
          • Vacationing on a budget
          • Health tips         

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            10 Things to be Happy & Productive during Uncertainty By Dena Moscola

            With so much out of your control you have got to accept what you cannot change and focus on what you can. And accepting does not mean ignoring and resenting. It means truly embracing it and being determined to make it work for you. Yes, make it work for you. The key is your mindset.

            For example: Those of you who keep up with these newsletters know that I experienced huge cutbacks and loss due to the economy. BUT I was determined to make it work. As a result, I revamped the way I do business to produce better results for my clients and myself plus I wrote a new book (Golden Nuggests of Leadership) and as a bonus, I changed my lifestyle which has made me happier than ever! All because of some reevaluating I would have not done had I not been forced by the economy. But I did not have to take that route. I could have felt sorry for myself or gotten angry and bitter. UGH, that just didn’t seem inviting. Life is short so I decided to make it work for me. It wasn’t easy. In fact, it would have been easier to give in to disappointment and resentment.

            You always have a choice over how you deal with something so take control of what you think and get better results. Don’t wait for someone else to make it better for you. Be proactive. Make the most of what you've got even if you are searching for more. And for those who feel they have nothing—you always have your mind! How you view your current circumstance will impact how well you manage it. As I work with so many people in a variety of challenging situations from unemployed providers in foreclosure to those overworked and unhappy to business owners struggling to keep going, I notice one thing repeatedly; the folks with the strongest, most positive mindset are getting more accomplished, feeling better and attracting great opportunities. So I ask you...what are you doing to stay strong mentally? What can you do to step it up even more? Here are 10 things you can do right now to start accomplishing more and feeling better:

              1. Change your perception:
                Never allow yourself to be a victim. Things happen for a reason, even if you do not know what the reason is or don’t like the process. There will be difficult situations and people that do not always behave as you expect. Rise above the situation. Pick your battles and control your thoughts. Don’t waste time feeling sorry for yourself or annoyed at others. Move on. Spend that time working on feeling better so you can re-energize and be more productive.

              1. Downsize to relieve the pressure:
                If finances are challenging, review your lifestyle every 3-6 months and reduce spending. Yes, that is not easy. We all feel like we earned and deserve all we have but how necessary is it all? I understand. Those of you who follow these newsletters know I sold my home, downsized my car and entire lifestyle and have no regrets. It actually freed me to do more and have more fun! Do you need the high car payments? Do you need the high mortgage? Some that cannot or will not move are renting their home out and renting a smaller home for themselves to temporarily save some cash. Consider spending less on eating out and cooking more economic meals? Meet friends for tea or a drink instead of an expensive meal. It’s still warm out which brings lots of inexpensive outdoor options. Reduce activities for one season. Lots of choices...which habits are you willing to let go of to relieve the pressure, reduce stress and feel better??

              1. Deepen relationships:
                Talking is (one of) the most inexpensive meaningful things you can do with someone you care about. Think of ways you can increase your quality time with others while cutting back. Appreciate small things. If you are reducing expenses, try reconnecting with someone by phone or internet instead of going out. Even more important than the money is the fulfillment you can achieve by strengthening relationships. That enjoyment helps fuel you to manage tough times easier.

              1. Get healthier:
                Take an extra walk, reduce meal sizes once in a while, eat an extra piece of fruit, drink a little less alcohol, cut back on carbs...commit to making 3 new changes to your habits that can improve your health. The healthier you are, the more energy you will have to deal with tough times, making tough times easier!

              1. Be grateful:
                It may not be ending as fast as you’d like but keep going anyway. Find something to appreciate, even if it’s a sunny day, a child’s smile, a hug or a dog jumping up to say hello! Make it a point each day to appreciate at least 5 things. This will help your mood and push you forward.

              1. Move your body more:
                Even if you already exercise. More stress means more energy to burn off. When you are stressed at work, a change in physiology will shift your mood automatically. Get up and move around then go back to what you were working on. If you can throw in a laugh, that will help even more!

              1. Give 100% to each day:
                We all need to feel valued and accomplished. With uncertain times those things can get lost. Others may be stressed too. They may not show appreciation as much as you need them to and often they do not even realize you need it. Don’t let that slow you down. Give 100% to every day because you are here. Avoid waiting for others. At the end of the day, if you know deep inside that you did your all, no matter what happens you will feel better. Push to maintain a level of contribution to your day that is unstoppable, no matter what. After all, it’s YOUR day, no one else’s, so make the best of it. You will never get another chance at today. Live it like it means something. Live it like it’s your last. Do it for YOU!

              1. Keep a MASSIVE action list:
                Throw out the “to do” list! “To Do’s” sound overwhelming. Instead make a massive action list that gets you to your goals every day. Start by writing down your goal as specifically as possible. Make sure it is realistic. Then list why you want to reach that goal. Make your reasons compelling by identifying how achieving that goal will make you feel. For example: Your goal might be to get to the gym 3 x’s a week. Your reasons are not to lose weight but what losing weight will make you feel. So creating a strong reason why would then be to feel more energized, less stressed, lighter, sexier and more in control. Aren’t those reasons more exciting than “losing weight” or “I should work out”? After listing your reasons why, list your massive action plan consisting of what you are willing to do to reach your goal of getting to the gym. That should include breaking through any barriers that will sabotage. So your massive action list might be to wake up earlier, lay out or pack your gym clothes the night before, join a gym, take a shorter lunch, focus harder at work to get done earlier, arrange child care in advance, prep family meals in advance, etc. Those are actions you can take immediately that are guaranteed to have massive impact on achieving your goals. And all the while you focus on the reasons why which will keep you motivated to stay on track. Knowing you have something “to do” versus looking forward to taking massive action towards what you really want is much more mentally motivating, don’t you think? You can also apply this to help you get through boring or difficult projects. Your goal is completion, your compelling reasons why may be to feel relief, happy, pride, freedom, etc. Then your massive action list launches you and keeps you going.

              1. Pay it forward:
                One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is to help someone. Food banks need assistance more than ever; natural disasters are wiping out cities and villages around the world. If your neighbor is struggling, invite them to dinner, cut their grass, get to know them more, etc. Get creative. There are an endless amount of options for you to serve. It doesn’t have to cost anything and will rejuvenate you more than most other things the average person does to relax.

            1. NETWORK:
              So valuable...so underused! Like paying it forward, networking is about helping others. Most people think networking is for meeting new people that can help you. Well, that would be great but the true essence of networking is about taking a genuine interest in others and doing your best to help THEM! As a result, if you are in their radar and they do need you, they may look to you for assistance. Reciprocity is one of the laws of persuasion. Stay connected. You just never know who you will meet, who they know and where it will lead...when the time is right.


            One idea to help follow through on the items listed above is to form alliances with others in similar situations by creating a Master Mind Group. A concept certainly under used but when facilitated properly, is very beneficial. A Master Mind Group brings together like-minded individuals to brainstorm solutions, stay pro-active and hold each other accountable leading to reaching goals faster easier. If you are interested in setting up a Master Mind Group, please contact us for FREE information on how to set this up.

            About Dena 

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            * Overcoming Workplace Negativity:
            8 Strategies for Managers to Take Their Teams from Anxiety to Enthusiasm
            by Michelle B. Guacci

            Our current national economic uncertainty translates into employees feeling a loss of control, ultimately manifesting into deep levels of negativity. As a manager, this negativity can drain the energy out of an organization and deflect attention away from work and performance. It can spread as rapidly as a plague and be devastating to your team and ultimately your organization. It is critical for you to look for early warning signs of negativity. Symptoms may show up as increased absenteeism, missed deadlines, fewer smiles and less laughter, more push backs, increased irritability, etc.

            People develop attachments to their work situations, both structurally and environmentally. Organizational changes, such as cutbacks, layoffs, restructuring or the anticipation of the possibility of changes, cause fear and anxiety at every level. This anxiety creates a tsunami effect that ripples to ALL employees.

            So how can you counteract (and PREVENT) the fear and anxiety that produce negativity?

              1. Communicate
                Talking to your employees about the exact situation that your organization is facing and how it is affecting the workplace helps them to feel connected. Don’t limit the number of employees that you share this information with to a select few. Often only upper or mid-level managers will be included in these discussions, leaving remaining employees to feel unimportant and giving them the opportunity to create their own incorrect negative version of the situation. Find an appropriate way to share more information with your team to help them feel valued and respect you more, ultimately leading to improved moral and increased accountability.

              1. Provide Clarity
                Providing clear goals and defined missions leaves little to the imagination of the negative employee. In times of uncertainty, we all look to a dynamic and positive leader. Don’t make the mistake of underestimating your employees, though. It is important to be a cheerleader and generate enthusiasm; however without a realistic agenda for moving ahead, you leave a door open for fear and confusion.

              1. Be Consistent
                Loss of control during times of change often results from diminished structure and consistency in the workplace. While long-term structure may be uncertain, it is essential to maintain consistency and direction in the everyday functions that your employees are responsible for. Hold regular staff meetings to discuss plans, concerns, and any changes to policies or procedures. Consistency leads to a feeling of control, ultimately reduces stress and anxiety and can derail negativity before it can take root.

              1. Accelerate Team Spirit
                “We are all in this together.” “All for one, and one for all.” No matter what level of responsibility an employee has in your organization, they want to matter. Ultimately, creating an atmosphere where your employees feel invested in the success of your organization, no matter how difficult the current circumstances, will add to their sense of control. Provide opportunities for employees to make some decisions about their jobs and to express their opinion regarding structural or policy changes. Encourage the belief that they are not losing what they had, but re-creating it in a new form. Help them turn their anxiety into enthusiasm.

              1. Listen
                Often, an employee’s negativity stems simply from the belief that their concerns are not being heard. Once the early warning signs of negativity are identified in an employee, take them aside or set up a meeting, and invite them to share their concerns. Times are uncertain, and concerns over the organization’s future and their own financial security are likely. If their anxiety is well founded, offer to help. It is important to remember not to allow them to drag you into their well of negativity by affirming their complaints. See how you can work together to find a positive solution to ease their concerns. And in times where there are no immediate solutions, being heard is quite powerful.

              1. Encourage
                Simply assuring someone that everything will be ok is not enough. Taking the time to recognize this employee, to let them know that they are valued and integral to the success of your organization goes a long way. Encourage them to use their communication skills to promote a positive, glass-is-half-full attitude amongst their co-workers. This not only assists you in spreading enthusiasm, but also promotes a trust between you and that employee that will benefit both of you down the line.

              1. Set a Good Example
                While self-analysis can be difficult and at times feel pointless, it is essential to take a look at your own management style. Just like parents in a home, our employees learn from our behavior. Studies show that productivity increases with optimistic managers. Something as simple as being more aware of your phrasing and word choice can encourage positive actions and lead to increased productivity. Try to limit your use of negative words such as can’t, don’t, always, and never. Use of more positive words such as can, will and we, encourages optimism and gives the employee back a sense of control.

            1. Challenge
              Negativity thrives in situations of boredom. It is said that “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop” and that statement proves itself true over and over again in the workplace.

            A bored employee often feels undervalued and useless, and these negative feelings spread quickly to even the most productive co-workers. In times of uncertainty and change, this downtime only provides increased opportunity for “Nervous Nellie” to convince those around her that the worst-case scenario is bound to come true. Take this opportunity to evaluate a negative employee’s responsibilities and then challenge them. If they are a valuable employee and worth maintaining, suggest a time filling project, or have them assist a co-worker who might be overburdened.

            In times of uncertainty, attitude is everything. Your positive attitude and that of your employees affect the important decisions you have to make. Turning anxiety into enthusiasm may be as simple as adjusting our perceptions. Managers need to help their employees overcome any self-limiting behaviors and encourage them to reach their full potential. Ultimately, reducing negativity in the workplace will enhance not only the lives of your employees, but your organization’s future and potential for growth.

            Michelle Guacci is a graduate of the State University of New York at Albany and spent many years in account management for some of the largest advertising agencies in New York City, responsible for, amongst others, the Fruit of the Loom business as well as "I Love NY" tourism. After taking time off to spend with her family, Michelle entered into the field of municipal government where she was able to utilize her marketing and public relations skills in parks & recreation administration. Currently, Michelle is pursuing freelance writing and marketing opportunities. For further information or to speak with Michelle, please contact us
             

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            Creative Ideas for Networking Success By Dena Moscola

            Today, perhaps more than ever before, networking is a vital tool to keep, enhance or find a job. They say, "It's not what you know, it's who you know". You certainly need intelligence and talent in your area of expertise to succeed but you ALSO need a strong network. We are living in a world where the word competition has been redefined. With unemployment consistently reaching higher levels and budgets tighter than ever, it has become an employers market. To keep your job you need to be better and brighter and demonstrate more than your value on a regular basis. Kicking back and feeling secure is now passé! If you want to grow in your career you need to prove yourself worthy in stronger ways than before. And if you are looking for a job you need to not only have something to offer but you need to work hard at creative job searching strategies. And if you are in client services, a good service is only half the battle. Your relationship with your clients/customers needs to continuously grow stronger. No matter what your situation, your uniqueness and dedication needs to stand out. Set yourself apart from the rest.

            One proven approach is to establish and maintain a high visibility with a large circle of influence. That means make sure many people know you, know what you do, like you and know they can count on you at anytime. Most importantly, stay in the radar of your network so when they need what you offer, you are in the front of their mind. This, my friends, is smart networking.

            Proven: People work with who they like. Think about it. Let's say, you were new in town and needed to find a primary care physician. Unfortunately, you had no referrals. You narrowed it down to two doctors within the same distance from each other. Both had similar track records, specialties and backgrounds. When you meet with them you notice a distinct difference between the two. Doctor A is happy to meet you and quickly sends you off. Doctor B takes the time to sit down and inquire about your life; briefly share some personal things about themselves; assure you that they will do their best to provide as much details as you need; answer all your questions and be there when you need them. Who would you choose?

            Documented studies reveal that doctors with the best "bedside manner" have less law suits. Why? Because most folks tend to like the doctor who demonstrates a sincere interest in them by being approachable and available, sharing important information, explaining options and showing compassion in times of need. People generally do not sue those they like. Instead, they are forgiven when they make a mistake.

            If an unexpected layoff or promotion comes up and you have the same level of talent as the next person in line but your relationships with "the right people" is not as strong, you may not be the one chosen to stay. If you are serving a client with a satisfactory product and your relationship is fine, but your competition has a very strong relationship with your client, you can bet it's only a matter of time before your client explores the possibility of replacing you w/the provider they have a better relationship with. It's how we are wired as humans.

            This works for job searching also. A colleague of mine was searching endlessly for a job by sending out hundreds of resumes. She came across a potential position within a company that coincidentally manufactured the same product her nephew's baseball team used. Her keen networking radar started flashing as she realized, with a little leg work, she might be able to provide this company with a lead for more sales. So she did some research and called the CEO directly. She proceeded to tell him her idea and he loved it. When the time was right, she asked if they were hiring and BAM! She got an interview and eventually a job offer. So how is this networking?

            Networking is a topic that I am often asked to speak on and it is also a standard topic in our leadership training. When I ask my groups what they believe networking to be I often hear misleading definitions such as "socializing to bring in business" or "spending social time with current clients to keep business". Those "definitions" may be desired results BUT, when you look up the word "networking" you will find it means to meet people, make contacts, exchange ideas, and interact. No where do you see the word "business" or "client".

            Networking is about building relationships by taking a sincere interest in people as individuals plus allowing them to get to know you. In order to be sincere, the agendas need to go away. Where you ever at a party or even a networking event and while you are talking to someone you got the feeling that they were only after your business? Doesn't that turn you off and make you want to run away? That is because you sense their hidden agenda. There is an intangible vibe that comes across when someone have an agenda. But sincerity feels natural and flows easily. No weirdness. Sincerity allows people to get to know each other without knowing where it will lead. Real friendships can then evolve. And since people chose to do business with who they like, you need to be likeable. The first step to being likeable is sincerity. Be genuine.

            During the 1st 14 years in business, I never spent a dime on advertising. All business came through networking. My intention when I am out is to meet people and learn about them. While I am getting to know them, I listen for a need - any need. If I can help, great. If not, I probably have someone I can refer them to. Sometimes I never get to telling people what I do for a living until after a few encounters; not because I am holding back but because other conversation took priority; friendship first.

            Professional networking organizations are a great way to meet and keep in touch with industry contacts. Networking also takes place anywhere and everywhere that you are open to. I like to say, "If you are talking to them, you are networking". Why? Because even if they are not a potential client, you never know who they know or will know one day that may be referred to you. Everyone you know should know what you can offer: friends, family, community members, colleagues, peers, etc.

            Now let's step this up by saying the power of networking is not in meeting people it is in the power of that connection. View networking as an opportunity to be the person that others know they can turn to when they need anything. Not only can you help them through your own professional service but be so connected that you have a large variety of resources ready to be referred to anyone you come in contact with. How? Keep your eyes and ears open beyond your "professional role". Talk to people about real life things and seek opportunity to serve. Connect others to resources for anything. If a client or anyone you know is looking for a mechanic, landscaper, babysitter, accountant, financial planner, hair dresser, real estate agent, new car, etc., and you know someone that might be good option for them – connect them. Make sure you refer out top quality only! Also make sure you are not the person that is so focused on winning business, that you forget to see the opportunity that lies beyond the obvious. Build your relationship with someone by providing reliable resources and you will be remembered forever!

            About Dena

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            Networking Success Stories by Dena Moscola

            The following are real life stories submitted by either myself or Resolutions' clients and associates. If you have a great networking success story that you would like to share, please email it to

            More than Mortgages
            Evelyn, my trusted Mortgage Officer, helped me discover and fix mistakes on my credit report that would have slowed or prevented my mortgage if she did not go above and beyond her role. She is also well known for finding her client's jobs, projects, used cars, contractors and more because she is a fabulous networker. I believe a huge part of her success is attributed to her taking a sincerely interest in her clients: Evelyn is a smart networker. Email me at Dena@resolutionsPlus.com if you would like to connect with Evelyn.

            Six Clients Later
            I was sitting with my friend and trusted colleague Joy Pedersen who, like myself, walks, eats and drinks networking as a lifestyle. In fact, that is her business. She is so good, that if you want to get connected, please reach out to her because she knows a large variety of quality folks from all walks of life (ExpressSuccess@optonline.net). Anyway, one day, we found ourselves reflecting on a referral she gave me for a business consultant a few years ago. I was very satisfied with the results plus, I truly like her as a person. I was so pleased that I have since sent her five new regular paying clients. Additionally, I recently learned that one of my referrals actually hired her daughter who say's "Its a dream come true!" Here is the best part – this consultant never asked Joy or I for more business. But, when we (Joy & I) meet someone we think we can help by connecting them to others, we do it. We believe that networking is not only about our needs. Focus on helping others and you will be remembered more than you realize.
             
            Take a Sincere Interest in Others Beyond Your Job
            While visiting my brother, I noticed an ad saying “Big Brother Big Sisters pick up all your used items”. I immediately remembered my client lightly mentioning the need for this about a month ago. I figured I might be too late but sent her the connection anyway. It has nothing to do with my job. She was extremely grateful which made my 30 second email worth it, certainly a small but sincere step toward strengthening our relationship.

            There are No Coincidences!
            At a Chamber of Commerce breakfast, that I did not want to go to, there was an exercise that instructed us to randomly choose a business card and get together with that person socially, at a later date. Coincidentally (or not!), I picked the same business card of the person who chose me. We met for breakfast and instantly became friends. During our conversation she asked me about a particular service I provided and decided her team needed it. She referred me to someone and after a year of referrals and meetings, I landed a huge contract that lasted several years and enhanced my business in ways never imagined. So glad I went to that networking breakfast.
             
            Stay In Touch
            I worked with a guy, John, at my first company about 15 years ago. We stayed in touch over the years. About three years ago his daughter's boyfriend (Brett) was looking for a job in NYC in Learning and Development. He sent me his resume to see if I had openings at Digitas. We didn't at the time but since I knew John so well, I decided to take it a step further and sent Brett's resume to a network email group of HR folks in the advertising industry. From that email the HR lead for RGA saw his resume, interviewed him and hired him! I later met Brett over lunch after his first promotion. He was still so appreciative of how I put him in touch with the role and company.

            When You Least Expect It!
            One holiday season while pondering what gift I could give my family, my dad suggested printing my artwork on note cards. Amazingly, this simple idea quickly sprang into an LLC - all because I wanted to give something personal to those I love, for the holidays!
            So here I was with my very own business and vision, yet no idea how to grow it. I reached out to a family friend who connected me with Brian Leatherberry, a marketing consultant. To my surprise he offered to take me in as a pro-bono client! It has been such an educational and positive experience and the business is growing!!
            Then, the ALS Association, to which I donate a percentage of my profits, invited me to sell my cards at their walk and asked to include my art pieces in their annual holiday calendar. I am grateful for the opportunities that continue to come from good friends and surrounding myself around good people.
            Julie Wions, Owner, Creations by Julie
             
            Tell Your Story to All
            I was around 24, and eager to live in NYC to pursue my acting career. Unfortunately, I was not financially ready at the time. After sharing my thoughts with a friend, she connected me to her sister who was traveling abroad and needed someone to cat-sit in her Manhattan apartment. I wound up living in Manhattan for four and a half months rent free due to this offer!

            During that time, I needed new head-shots and was trying to scrounge up about $1,000 while researching photographers. One night, while heading back to the apartment, I was approached on the subway. This stranger and I began talking and realized we knew some of the same people. Coincidentally (or not) he was a photographer, and ended up doing my professional headshots for free!
            Whether at a party, on the subway, or at a neighborhood barbeque, you just never know where using those wonderful talking and listening skills can get you!
            Julie Wions, Artist, Actress, www.JulieWions.com

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            * How to Rejuvenate Yourself During an Economic Crisis By Dena Moscola

            During challenging times, the first thing you must do is understand and accept that you are in control of your emotions. Too many times I hear people say "You made me feel _______." Or, "I can't help it, that is just how I feel". It's an illusion folks. It's the easy way out. Blame it on your emotions, blame it on someone else. Or better yet, blame it on a situation that lets you off the hook. The minute you buy into that illusion, you have lost control. Lose control of your emotions and you lose power, then your words and actions show it. Basic emotional intelligence states that a leader who has a strong level of emotional control will be more effective during tough times. This applies also to your personal life. Someone who is in control of their emotions will get through hard times more positively and productively and will better support others in the process.

            Neuroscience
            The study of the nervous system (check out www.neuroscience.com) proves the way you think effects how you feel. Several years ago, the AMA (American Medical Association) documented research proves what you think about, talk about and/or experience within a 45 minute time frame before going to sleep will repeat in your mind while you are sleeping. So what is the big deal? Well, I will let you answer that. Please participate right now in a brief experiment to demonstrate this.

            Take a moment and reflect back on a stressful time. Nothing too stressful; mildly stressful; a long boring day; an annoying conversation, something you worry about, receiving non-life threatening bad news, etc. Take a few moments and let yourself think back on this. Take your eyes off of your screen for about one minute and just feel this experience. OK, enough of that. Now, shake off that thought. Next, I'd like you to think of your fantasy vacation. Take a moment and picture your dream vacation. Imagine you can go away for four weeks, all expenses paid and the best part - you can take anyone you want with you! Yes, that means you can leave some behind! This is your fantasy - make it good. Go ahead. Spend a minute dreaming. I will bet that those of you who did this little experiment felt kind of blah or uncomfortable when thinking about their stressful moment. But when you started thinking about your dream holiday, you instantly changed your state and felt good. Some of you probably smiled. Maybe others left to book that trip!!! The point is, by controlling your thoughts, YOU control your emotions. And it happens with a snap of a finger. Your thoughts control your feelings and your feelings dictate your actions.

            Getting back to the AMA study: If you watch the news before bed, go to sleep after an unresolved argument, etc. your sleep is not as deep as it could be if you had more positive thoughts before bed. Those who have a peaceful routine prior to sleep, sleep better. Why? Because what you think about most reflects how you feel. Sleep disturbances occur from stress. When you are most relaxed and feel best, stress is less and deep sleep is more likely.

            Therefore, when you feel best, you can relax easier. Taking that to your daily life - when you feel best you have more energy and can be most productive.
            Thoughts = Feelings = Actions

            What you do with that information is up to you. You can walk away and say "Oh, too foo-foo for me!" or you can take control and decide to pay more attention to the thoughts that slow you down. What I like to do is pay attention to how I am feeling, and when I am not feeling 100% ask myself, "What I'm thinking about and how can I change that thought to work better for me?"

            Example:
            Original negative and unproductive thought: Oh my Gosh, more companies are closing. That will have a ripple effect on all of us. My business is suffering from it. What if this continues? How will my business survive? How long will this take? What if I run out of money? What if I have to sell my house???? There is nothing I can do about this etc.

            Feelings that thought created: fear, hopelessness, anxiousness, fatigue, less motivation

            Actions: Slow moving, less productivity, irritability, slower thinking

            New positive and productive thought (remember to stay realistic!): Despite this economic crisis, despite the losses I am experiencing, I will remind myself it is cyclical and I will work smarter, stay strong, positive and support those around me to fight through this also.

            New feelings that thought created automatically: optimistic, empowered, less confused, increased energy

            New actions: increased mental clarity, new action plans and the energy to run with them, HOPE

            Results: Increased professional productivity, increased quality time with loved ones
            So, here is the bottom line - no matter who you are, where you live, what you do and how much money you have (or don't have) you cannot afford to let your emotions take over. Time is short and what you think will dictate what you feel and what you feel will lead to how you react. Simple - only if you do something with it.

            When times are tough your peers, teams, family and friends need you to be strong and fight through this. You need to believe that despite these times you will get through. If you suffer loss - you will still get through. It may be sad and frustrating - you may even need to change the way you do things. You may need to create new goals, new dreams. But if you sulk over what material things you lost - you will only feel worse. No matter what your situation - now is the time to create new goals and yes, create new dreams. Our country has new leadership stepping in soon. No matter who you voted for, its time to look towards the future and realize this change will bring new confidence and new strategies. Confidence alone always has a positive repercussion.

            For those of you who have teams. Support them. Listen to their concerns - more than once. Be realistic but hopeful. For questions that do not have answers yet, build confidence by reminding people they will get through this. Even if the present and the future needs to be different than expected or hoped for, folks will get through this. If you need support contact us. We are offering recession rates right now because we believe developing your people needs to continue to encourage organizational growth and keep moral up.

            There comes a time when blind faith needs to take over. Blind faith comes from within. It does not have all the answers and is not something you can touch. It is something that will bring new ideas, true support, opportunities and confidence. What do you have to lose?

            The one's with the positive mindset and the most flexibility will survive the easiest. Be open to change. We do not know what our worlds will look like when this is over. Chances are, we will need to change something even if it is how we view things. The more you resist, the more stress you will have. One important tip is to never let material things control you so much that you forget what is most important. Worst case scenario, we can always get another car, another home, another job, a new business, etc, etc. Do we want to? Probably not. But, if we must, we will. And time will dictate how. Never, never ever, let material things take over your peace of mind. Life is too short. Didn't we learn that in 9/11? We need to pull upon that now and forge forward together.

            Make a list NOW of everything important to you that is not material such as your health. Be grateful for the health you DO have and take new actions NOW to become healthier. Think about your family and friends. What can you do to support them through this? What can you do to demonstrate your appreciation of them just a little more than you usually do? Think deep about that. Build your relationships now. You need each other.

            Who else do you know? Who is in your professional network? Nurture those relationships. You never know who will be able to help you tomorrow AND who you might help too. Remember, you are not the only one going through this.

            Make a preliminary plan for tomorrow. Who do you need to reconnect with personally and professionally? What have you been saying you want to do but have been putting it off: plan it now! Below are some more tips to help you get through these times more positively and productively:

            • Never worry about things out of your control - even if it is unfair - ignore it or strategize to get through it instead

            Take control of your emotions by changing your thoughts to work better for you ie: thoughts = feelings = actions

            • Distract yourself from negative self talk to stay focused
            • Listen to uplifting music
            • Watch only positive TV shows and movies
            • Avoid negative people (or limit your exposure!!)
            • Watch the news less
            • Encourage others to fight mentally and build a positive outlook
            • Reach out to old friends and make them smile
            • Give back to those that are less fortunate by donating or volunteering your time
            • Clean out that old closet or basement
            • Cut back on eating out and cook your favorite meal or try a new recipe
            • Create special moments at home with loved ones, such as a Game Night, Movie Night, Sport Night, etc.
            • Have a Beat the Recession Party - everyone brings something to keep costs down and you all commit to talking about only good things!
            • Take a hot bubble bath with scented candles and a glass of wine
            • Seek to learn something new every day - JOURNAL IT - watch for breakthroughs
            • Stop eating for comfort - it is making you more tired and depressed - learn how to eat for energy then do it!
            • Make time for exercise
            • Do that extra something special with a loved one
            • Re-evaluate how you are spending your time and make changes
            • Take one thing out of your day and do not replace it with anything!
            • Before you say there is no time, ask yourself how important this is to you?
            • Stop procrastinating and start doing!

            This is a topic I can write endlessly on and cannot emphasis how critical it is to take serious and take action - continuous action. Focusing on this for a day is not good enough. I focus on it nonstop. And even though I am in the habit of this type of thinking, I am human and still find my thoughts drifting to the "dark side" from time to time. But I quickly change them and feel better instantly. Start new habits by focusing on what will work for you. Embrace blind faith and watch the difference. This is something that takes effort, energy and repetition. The rewards are priceless, I promise.
            Those who persist succeed!

            We, at Resolutions are here to support you during challenging  times. We are working with everyone's budgets to make sure you can continue to develop yourself and your people to stay positive and PRODUCTIVE despite hard times. That is the most important thing right now. Contact me directly NOW to find out how.
             

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            Case Scenario: Step Up: Get Fear Out of Your Way

             Fear is normal and healthy. It can drive you to achieve higher accomplishments. But if you allow it, it can sabotage all efforts. There are many fears that get in our way. Some commonly shared fears of leaders are fear of failure, rejection, being too good, and being recognized as not being good enough. Fear will cause you to procrastinate and blame it on something else. It can even cause you to make a life altering decision that is not exactly what you want. It can lead to not going after that position you always dreamed of or cause you to feel like something is missing in your life. It can cause boredom and hurt relationships. This list can go on but I'm sure you get the picture. I ask you "is it worth it?"

            The bottom line is a fear is just a fear. It literally has no value other than an emotion that gets in your way. But getting rid of it can be tough. Some ways to rid yourself of fears:

            • Change your perspective
            • Do things that build your confidence
            • Be around people that make you feel strong and supported
            • Build your skills
            • Seek mentorship
            • Get a coach

            Jim chose to get a coach to help destroy his fear. He was bored with his current role and knew his only option was to leave or apply for a senior management role. It was time to step up.

            No one knew Jim struggled with fear. He was uncomfortable around people and his fear held him back. He did not build the quality relationships he needed to succeed. As Jim moved into management positions he was uncomfortable confronting difficult people so he avoided it. He also ignored the opportunities to apply for the promotions he really wanted.

            One day Jim had enough. He decided it was time for a change. He started working with a coach. Not only did he quickly break through the barriers that held him back but he also made huge changes in his life. He no longer held back from confronting difficult situations and people. He had nothing in his way. Jim was unstoppable! With persistence Jim turned his whole life around. He learned new skills AND felt more and more comfortable applying them. At first it was difficult but he practiced until they became habit.

            The results were far greater than he ever imagined. He built stronger relationships with his manager and team. Morale improved in the office. His wife even noticed positive changes! And to his surprise he got more than one promotion and has never felt happier at work. Jim feels that getting rid of his fears improved aspects of his life that he did not realize were even affected by his fears.
             

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            The Validating Power of Periodic Recognition by Robin W. Dente

            As seasoned professionals, we will always remember that threshold moment of our careers where we first encountered that special mentor or manager who inspired and motivated us to strive to achieve our full potential. That experience came for me, when I worked as an editorial assistant for a publishing company. I'll never forget what the owner of the company did my first year there on what we now know as "Administrative Professionals Day", (back then called "Secretary's Day.") He gathered all of the staff together - editors, assistants, art directors, graphic designers, typesetters, sales and marketing staff, bookkeepers, secretaries and receptionists, and addressed us as a group. As we all stood in a large circle, he told us that he viewed "Secretary's Day" more as "Employee Appreciation Day", and he proceeded to acknowledge our efforts in working together to produce the magazines he published. This in itself was very uplifting, but I found what he did next, even more so. Each employee was given a box of chocolates accompanied by a hand-written card acknowledging something that each of us did as individuals that contributed to the success of the team. The effect of this simple, but sincere gesture was amazing, partly because it was so random and unexpected, but mostly because it sent a clear message to every employee:

            I know you. I recognize what it is that you bring to our organization that is unique and adds value.

            The owner of this publishing company knew full well the power inherent in validating an employee's worth, and he used this tool to meld a group of individuals from all different educational and socio-economic walks of life into a dynamic, creative, cohesive, team. Long after I left that company, I would think back on how much as an employee, I appreciated "being appreciated" for what I contributed.

            Today, as an Administrative Assistant in the public sector, I realize now from a management perspective the potential of spontaneously acknowledging the special efforts of members of the staff. Or, as one HR professional so aptly phrased it during a management seminar I recently attended, "Catching an Employee Doing Something Right."

            As managers you might ask yourselves - "why bother?" "Isn't it enough that staff members are well compensated? Don't we give them feedback on their annual performance appraisals? Why should I have to acknowledge them just for doing what they're being paid to do?". To all this, I reply, "With so much to be gained, why would you not want to use this powerful tool?"

            In addition to boosting morale, validating an employee by periodically acknowledging things he or she is doing well, increases productivity, strengthens team relationships, builds trust between management and non-management employees, and can actually make it easier when you have to confront an employee to discuss a performance issue. The fact that you have acknowledged in the past when that same employee has done something worth noting, will allow him or her to view your discussion within a constructive framework. You are less likely to be perceived as "always picking on me for something" and more likely to be perceived as a manager who is "helping me identify and resolve a problem so I can continue to succeed in the organization."

            So, what exactly are we talking about here? Granted, not every CEO or manager can do what the owner of the publishing company did in sending personal notes to the staff, but what about an email, voice mail or telephone call? Remember, we're not talking about performance reviews or a project that required an extraordinary amount of time or effort. This is just simple acknowledgment of something a staff member did that was a cut above. Here are some guidelines to get you started:

            Recognize Something Out of the Ordinary
            Complimenting an employee on a task that he or she has done well for the last five years on a regular basis may actually work against you. The employee may be suspect of your ability as a manager and think, "Where has he been the last five years? He's only noticing that I do this now?" Or, "Oh, no. He's buttering me up to ask me for something. Maybe he wants me to work overtime this week." But if that same employee has taken a routine task to another level, for example, successfully drafted a more complex letter for you than is usually required of this employee, take a moment to point out to the employee that you noticed that he or she did a nice job in meeting the challenge.

            Do This Periodically, Not on a Daily Basis
            Keep in mind, one of the reasons that this tool works, is that it is periodic, unexpected reinforcement. Imagine if you acknowledged an administrative assistant every day for something he or she did well. Even if each day you picked something different to acknowledge, eventually, your words would lose all meaning and you, as a manager, would lose credibility. Psychologists agree that a "Variable Schedule of Reinforcement" is the strongest in terms of fulfillment. In other words, giving acknowledgement only on those intermittent occasions when an employee has gone above and beyond will be more rewarding for the staff member, and will actually strongly motivate him or her to repeat the kind of behavior that got your attention.

            Be Sincere and Specific When Making the Validations
            When it comes to positive feedback, employees can easily tell when you are acknowledging them for something they themselves know they did well, as opposed to giving them an insincere compliment. Insincerity can do far more harm than good - the employee may view you as manipulative and untrustworthy. So, remember, make sure you really do believe the employee deserves the recognition you are giving, and be specific. An email saying, "Gee, nice job on that Cost/Benefit Analysis," won't be nearly as effective as one that says, "I really appreciated the way you structured that Cost/Benefit Analysis. You did a very thorough job showing the difference between cash outlay and total cost, which is key. Your report will help me demonstrate to the Board how outsourcing this service will enable us to be more efficient. Nice job".

            Share the Recognition
            As a manager, when you are given validation, graciously accept the recognition, but also make the person giving you the acknowledgement aware of what any of your support staff or colleagues did to contribute to your efforts. Then take the extra step of passing along the recognition to those persons who assisted you. In so doing, your boss and your peers will view you as a team-builder, and your support staff will perceive you as a manager they can trust to always acknowledge what they contributed to the success of a project. When it comes to recognition, noting everyone's role is one of the most powerful ways to strengthen your team.

            At a time when many employers are being forced to downsize, cap salaries, and cut back on benefits, you, as managers, are being challenged on a daily basis to find ways to keep morale and productivity high. Harnessing the positive energy of giving validation to your staff through periodic recognition will give you an important tool to help you meet that challenge, and with a small investment of time, will yield amazing benefits.

            Robin Dente is a graduate of Montclair State College and began her career in publishing as an associate editor for a crafts magazine. She then moved on to become the managing editor of "Dad" magazine, a publication supporting and celebrating the more involved role of fathers in today's society. She later changed career paths and ventured into the realm of municipal government administration, where she has successfully applied her skills in communication, public relations, human resources, and management for the past 18 years. Looking toward the future, Robin will pursue opportunities to be a resource to businesses and local government in the area of hiring, and will return to her publishing roots through free-lance writing. For further information or to speak with Robin, please contact us at (email)             

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            Raising Financially Responsible Kids by Robin Gardner, CEC

            "Money doesn't grow on trees"... I'm sure that sounds familiar. In fact, maybe you grew up hearing it. And today you may even say it to your children. So what does that statement really imply? Perhaps money doesn't come easily, or you need to work hard to have money. And with that message, it's no wonder that money will be difficult to earn. It's sayings like "money doesn't grow on trees" and "money is the root of all evil", and "what do you think I am, made of money?" that set up those negative money patterns for life. And if that's what you grew up with, then what message are you sending your children?

            This is important to understand, since teaching children about money and financial literacy is just as significant as teaching them their ABC's. Teaching your children to have a positive relationship with money is a gift that will serve them for the rest of their lives. Just as you teach them the importance of eating right, brushing their teeth and taking care of themselves, so too is the need to educate them on the value of money, how to respect money, and the importance of financially supporting themselves. As you know, without this knowledge, life can be pretty difficult to navigate; and to make up for it, they'll have to try hard to get up to speed in order to be financially stable in their adult life. The statistics on this are alarming. Young adults age 18-24 are the largest growing population declaring bankruptcy today. In fact, bankruptcies in this segment have increased 96% in 10 years.

            Helping children understand what money represents and what it can do for them is an important first step. Of course, you can encourage them to feel good about money by helping them to understand the many uses money can play: living a good life, supporting themselves and their family, helping others, investing in their future, donating to specific causes, etc. What's really essential is that they honor money by using it with positive intentions unencumbered by limiting beliefs. So be aware of the "habitual phrases" you use about money and the messages they send.

            Teaching children to be responsible with money is key. Being responsible with money means knowing how to earn it and knowing how to save and invest it, as well as being aware of all expenditures. When young adults act responsibly in this way, they get the message that they can take care of themselves, which fosters self-empowerment.

            Talking with your children about the importance of money is not enough. Remember it's not so much what you say but what you do...your actions and your results speak louder than your words. For example, if you say that it's important to invest your money, but they constantly see you spending it, they may internalize the need to spend money just as you've shown them. Therefore, to counter the impression of spending, consider demonstrating how you regularly make deposits into your savings or mutual fund accounts.

            Being aware of your own money patterns gives you the ability to separate out the positive messages that you want to send to your children. An example of one message that relates to the value that you place on money is how you demonstrate the rewards of "earning" money. Do you ever acknowledge that? How about the rewards of disciplining yourself to save money for something that is important to you? Do your children do chores around the home, or have some type of responsibility for contributing to your household as a family member? Whether you have limited or unlimited income, it is important to teach these values to children. It will enable them to be proud and motivated to work for their desired lifestyle. It will also foster team-building skills and teach responsibility. Be sure to dialogue about these topics, and point out the actions that must be taken in order to achieve and appreciate the many benefits of money.

            When thinking about the messages that you send out, ask yourself how you demonstrate the importance of giving back to society and making charitable donations. Ask yourself, "What positive money messages do you want your children to learn?" Write out your ideas about earning an income, saving money and investing, and then share these thoughts with them.

            Your children are never too young to start learning, and the results of financial guidance...priceless.

            Robin Gardner-Paden, CEC
            Robin is a Certified Empowerment Coach (CEC) and Founder of Phoenix Life Coaching, specializing in personal development and its impact on the business world. Robin is a graduate from the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (IPEC), which is accredited by the International Coach Federation, and has completed over 18 years of research in the area of personal development. Robin coaches business professionals and offers group seminars on the topic of money and professional success. Her experience and passion for supporting people, especially women in their quest for financial freedom has led her to the financial industry where she works with financial advisors and their clients. Her innovative approach to money and wealth addresses the topic from the emotional aspect by focusing on beliefs, behaviors and money mindsets. Robin has been a featured guest speaker on the radio talk show Money Matters, has written articles for local publications and is currently working on a book, A Smart Woman's Guide to Mastering Money. For further information or to speak with Robin, please contact us at (email)

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            Building Better Business Relationships - It's CRITICAL!  by Dena Moscola 2007


            Businesses today are focusing attention on building their relationships more than ever before. For many the focus on relationships is their New Years Resolution – but why? Relationships are not new to the business world. However, as business evolves, those who are innovative enough to take their relationships seriously NOW will reap the reward of greater success later. Lets look at some facts:

            Newer generations (soon to be the majority) are demanding more communication, inclusion, support and different levels of respect than previous generations. Women (a fast growing workforce) are choosing companies that offer flexible work schedules and understanding of family responsibilities. People in general are seeking a balance between work and home that will enable them to have a higher quality of life.

            Technology growth is requiring IT leaders to be stronger at the Executive table and have teams that work closer with the rest of the organization. Buy in, teamwork and accountability are CRITICAL to organizational success that is driven by the quality of the relationships. Studies continuously reveal that people stay on the job NOT because of financial incentives but because of how they FEEL about their work environment. Simply put - people do not leave jobs they leave managers.

            Organizations are beginning to experience a sense of urgency to deploy initiatives and create cultures that support their people and build better relationships to secure talent as productively as possible.

            The following are examples of what organizations are finding invaluable to building better relationships:
            Reward with time off Flexible work schedules Women's initiatives Career development counseling Mentor programs Leadership development programs with a strong focus on coaching and relationship building skills

            Clients continuously report that Resolutions' Leadership Program is extremely effective in guiding leaders and their teams to enhance their effectiveness. It provides a clear understanding of why the softer skills are invaluable to business success and teaches how to implement new strategies and perspectives that achieve priorities faster and better.

            There are 5 key elements to building and maintaining successful business relationships. Those are:

            • Good Rapport
            • Minimal Conflict
            • Shared Commitment
            • Accountability
            • Aligned Priorities

            Challenges in one area will ultimately affect the relationship. At the same time, all elements are needed to simultaneously build strong relationships. For example, when rapport is strong, people are more likely to want to work with you and go out of their way to follow through for you. They also will be more willing and open to work through conflict, which strengthens commitment, builds accountability and in turn motivates everyone to keep their priorities aligned. What are you doing to improve the relationships in your organization? How high on the priority list is it? Many find it helpful to take a look at the 5 key elements listed above and jot down 3 NEW things you can do to strengthen each. And for those of you who say, "Those areas are already strong!", you might want to consider how beneficial it would be if those areas were even stronger.

            Ideas for improving each can be found in our other articles. Be sure to check them out!

            About Dena

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            5 Strategies Guaranteed to Strengthen Rapport by Dena Moscola

            When rapport is strong, people tend to:

            • Admit to challenges and mistakes
            • Ask for help
            • Accept questions and input about their areas of responsibility
            • Give one another the benefit of the doubt before arriving at a negative conclusion
            • Appreciate and tap into one another's skills and experiences
            • Focus time and energy on important issues, not politics
            • Let go of issues once resolved – No grudges
            • Offer and accept apologies without hesitations

            When any one of the above mentioned conditions are absent motivation decreases, accountability suffers, risk for conflict increases and performance is down. Employees are less likely to reach their full work potential if they are not comfortable approaching their manager with a challenge or question. A very common complaint among employees is that they do not feel comfortable approaching their manager about missing an approaching deadline. They find it less stressful to be late or do a poor job with an assignment than to admit their challenge up front. Building rapport on a regular basis will help strengthen communication, increase approachability and create a greater level of comfort, which, in turn, makes happier employees.

            Here are 5 strategies guaranteed to strengthen rapport with your customers, clients and even those in your personal lives:

            1. Be approachable: Managers are often viewed as different, unreachable, unapproachable, smarter, more successful and intimidating. These perceptions prohibit rapport and create obstacles to communication. To decrease these barriers, while still maintaining respect share challenges you have experienced and how you overcame them. Share lessons and successes that surprised you, share fears and most importantly, get acquainted personally and remember to stay humble.
            2. Ask for feedback: Show that you are willing to receive feedback and improve your performance to build trust. Others will view development more serious if you take it serious. Additionally, it will demonstrate that feedback is not negative, but a positive tool for success for everyone. And as a bonus, you demonstrate your trust in someone when asking for candid opinions.
            3. Praise: You all know praise is critical but how you praise makes a difference. Saying thank you and good job is nice but can be viewed as insincere after a while. Strengthen the power of praise by following through and acknowledging specific behaviors or outcomes. For example: "Thank you for staying late last week to finish that project. I know you have other responsibilities and you had to juggle to make that happen. It's appreciated." Or "Good job during today's meeting. You really got the VP's attention. Looks like we might get the buy in. I'm impressed!" Next time when praising, remember to complete the sentence by sharing the whole thought. It will go a lot further.
            4. Commit to being a better team player. Leading by example will show your peers, managers, customers, clients and teams the value in developing ones self. It will show others that self-responsibility is priority
            5. Let others be themselves: It is imperative for those around you to feel comfortable in making mistakes. Although, there are consequences for all actions, people need to have the confidence to take initiative and risk in order to reach higher potential. It is through our mistakes that we learn the most and then achieve greatness. People need to be confident that they have that opportunity.

            These are just some examples of how you can boost rapport. After all, it can always be stronger.
             

            About Dena  

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            3 Essential Tips to Managing Conflict By Dena Moscola

            The last couple of articles discussed the importance of building and maintaining strong business relationships and how rapport is truly the foundation. This article will focus on the next critical factor in a relationship – managing conflict.

            In any relationship, conflict is inevitable. When managed ineffectively, conflict can kill relationships, teams and businesses. When managed EFFECTIVELY conflict can reveal strengths, talents, questions and ideas that can benefit the relationship. Those benefits might never have surfaced if the conflict had not been revealed and handled productively. Positive conflict management is essential. Simultaneously, striving to prevent unnecessary conflict is invaluable as well. Some say, "I do not have the time". Rightfully so! Everyone is busy focusing on the bottom line. But you also do not have time to lose talent due to a conflict that could have been prevented. A little time invested early on, saves many hours and headaches later. Below are 3 measures you can take to prevent and better manage conflict:

            1. Seek Feedback: You do the best you can to get the best results. But is that what others see when you want them to? Research proves - when people believe they are being viewed as effective, they often are being viewed as ineffective by at least 1 key player, despite best intentions. It is VITAL to seek feedback from your peers, teams, managers, clients, customers, etc. This will uncover how others view you and offer opportunity for you to develop, enhance and flex your style so you can improve relations and get better results. Feedback through formal assessment tools and/or informal dialogue enhances everyone's clear and realistic views of their performance and behavior so they can ultimately minimize conflict and be more effective.

              For more information on assessments, visit our DiSC page.
            2. Understand the needs and styles of the new workforce of today and tomorrow. Never before are four generations working so close together. There are drastically different views on work ethics and expectations that are causing performance to wane. Below are some insights, and initiatives that can support your efforts in managing today's multigenerational workforce:


            Effective management for newer generations

            • Provide opportunity to incorporate skills that transfer
            • Provide situations that challenge
            • Reconsider expected work styles/schedules when appropriate to get better results
            • Give freedom with how it gets done
            • Provide opportunities for fun at work and off site  
            • Reward extra effort and excellence
            • Build and maintain open and connected relationships

            Effective management for experienced generations

            • Recognize that change may be difficult to understand and accept
            • Provide support through change by communicating reasons and understanding of difficulty dealing with it
            • Acknowledge and demonstrate consistent respect for their experience
            • Seek input often
            • Provide details and clarity around expectations and deadlines
            • Provide opportunity for work/life balance
               3. Create Team Guidelines How? Meet with the team and TOGETHER establish core guidelines to avoid basic assumptions and misunderstandings that have large consequences


            EXAMPLE of Team Guidelines:

            • Meeting management
            • Tardiness
            • Protocol for confrontations
            • What to do when you think you might not meet a deadline  
            • Who cleans the break room

            It is reported that managers spend over 20% of their time managing conflict. In my experience, I'd say that percentage is low! If your manager is making $80,000.00 then AT LEAST $16,000.00 of that salary is going towards managing conflict. How many managers do you have? If you invest a small portion of your time up front by learning about people's styles, concerns, interests, motivators, values, etc., you end up with more time later, which ultimately brings better results!  

            About Dena  

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            Commitment & Its 2 Greatest Attributes By Dena Moscola

             Business relationships can be complicated at times, as you know. Often people assume commitment levels of others and then are surprised when outcomes are not as planned. Additional common assumptions include thinking others to have the same thoughts, beliefs and expectations as we do. Big mistakes! This article will highlight the 2 greatest attributes of commitment and provide solutions that help eliminate assumptions and bring better results.

            The 2 greatest attributes of commitment are clarity and buy in. When you have both commitment is strongest. When someone is not committed to your goals or projects or to you, chances are one or both are missing. When present, you can be assured that you will get the most from others and they will be dedicated in the process. Let's take a closer look:

            1. Clarity:  Ask for clarity on what others said and expect. You know this already but how often are you doing it? After you receive an important request simply say something like, "OK, let me confirm that I have this right. What I'm hearing you say is_____."

              Confirm clarity on what you said/expect. You also know this but how often do you do it. Most people feel uncomfortable with asking for clarity. They feel it will be insulting to ask someone to repeat what they heard. So instead, many say, "Is this clear?" or "Do you understand?" etc. Then the response you get is usually "Yes, I understand". But how do you both really know? Huge room for assumptions here. To provide maximum clarity saying, "I want to make sure I've explained this properly. Please tell me what you heard". That eliminates defenses by putting the attention on you and in the end, clarity is confirmed or provided.
            2. Buy-in:  Identify the style of those you are seeking commitment from to understand what motivates them. When motivated, buy in is easier. Those who are strong, direct and assertive want the bottom line clearly identified with a firm plan for results. Someone more socially oriented might need to enjoy the process. Those having a tendency to be sensitive need to know their contribution is valued and the cause is worthy of their time. The analytical needs to have all details up front and time to process it all.


            Provide round table opportunities after major decisions. Once a decision is made, ask everyone around the table to provide their thoughts as well as what they believe will hinder success. Keep expectations realistic by making sure everyone realizes this is an opportunity to be heard and work through potential challenges and decisions may or may not change.

            Ask for the buy in! Stephan Schiffman's book Asking Questions, Winning Sales puts it perfectly when he says, "Just ask!". Be direct and ask "Do I have your buy in?" If not you say, "What can I do to get more buy in on this from you?" If you want to step it up a bit, come from a coaching perspective by asking "On a scale of 1 - 10, how committed are you to this?" Then you have something to work with and increase your chance for greater success.

            Relationships that are committed:

            • Create and confirm clarity around direction and priorities - in ways that match the styles of others
            • Help keep the entire team aligned around common objectives
            • Develop an ability to learn from mistakes
            • Change direction without hesitation or guilt
            • Trust enough to move forward w/o hesitation - even if consensus has not been reach
            • Depersonalize and face conflict head on
            • Are crystal clear with expectations therefore are accountable

            Focusing on building and maintaining commitment is critical to the success of any business relationship. Resolutions often facilitates think tanks with teams to create a committed team structure that gets better results. Want to learn how your group can benefit from this? Contact us at info@resolutionsforleadership.com for more information.

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            Influencing for More Accountability by Dena Moscola

            One of the most critical factors in a business relationship is being able to count on timely results that match your expectations. This is also one of the most common challenges. As a leader there are many things you can do to ensure accountability. It is a worthwhile process that begins in the beginning of any project, task, request, relationship, etc. and places all parties responsible.

            Most great initiatives that fail do so because of a lack of accountability. Many team conflicts occur because of the same reason. Often leaders are unaware that this is the root of the issue.

            Lack of accountability contributes to:

            • Resentment with others who have different standards of performance
            • Mediocrity
            • Missed deadlines
            • Holding others back in their success on a project or worse, in their career
            • Placing undue burden on leaders as the disciplinarian or worse
            • Places undue burden on a more junior person which increases conflict


             It is critical to accept that accountability is not only about making sure someone follows through. It ALSO involves positioning people in a way that eliminates assumptions and ensures the ability to follow through. This article will explore how your delegating style and level of rapport are critical factors to accountability.

            Years ago, people followed a request simply because it was their job. Work ethics were different. Levels of initiative were different. Today, in changing times, managers need to do more to get needed results. It can often seem like a waste of time to put in the maintenance just to get things done. The reality is, implementing accountability measures is not a new task, it is simply having a deeper understanding of what motivates people in today’s workforce as well as what people need. When you sincerely give people what they need, they tend to want to do things for you. Accepting this AND being open to implement what it takes to hold people accountable will bring tremendous results.

            The rapport you have with a person or team will have strong influence on how accountable they are. Everything you do to build and enhance your business relationship will help someone feel more committed to your request and more eager to assist. In our past articles in The Building Better Business Relationships series we discussed building rapport, managing conflict and strengthening commitments which all lead into each other. The better your rapport, the easier it is to prevent and work through conflicts which makes it easier to commit to projects, assignments, teams, etc. Each work hand in hand. The stronger the relationship, the more accountable people will be.

            A common issue expressed by managers happens when a team member does not work up to standards. Often the manager’s response is, "There is no excuse for this. They should know what is expected of them". The reality is that many do not.

            The process for accountability is easy if you are watching real closely. Often people move so quickly through things and assume everything is taken care of and understood, but that assumption often leads to disappointment. The advice is to be aware of what words you use and how they influence...or not. What works for many does not work for all.

            Below are some tips:

            • Use assertion. Be sure to avoid passive language. It leads to misunderstandings of instructions, deadlines and level of importance. For example, when you have firm deadlines and expectations avoid the words: soon, maybe, please try, right away, as soon as possible, etc. Instead, be specific by giving exact dates and clear directives.
            • Give reasons. We spoke in an earlier article on the importance of reasons for some people. Some people do not need reasons to move forward. They just do it. Others have a different thought process and need to fully understand why they are doing something or how it fits into the big picture. When delegating, give reasons. It only takes a minute or two.
            • Provide clear expectations. Research shows that most people who do not meet expectations are unclear with what was expected. Many do not feel comfortable asking for clarification. Probably more than you think. Others think they understand but unknowingly have a different perception of your expectations. After making a request ask an open ended question that will reveal if you are understood. The advice is to be direct. For example, say, "To make sure I am being clear or to avoid a misunderstanding, please explain to me what you heard or what your next step is going to be." Get their version. Another option is to simply ask, "What more information can I provide you to clarify?" or "What questions do you have for me about this?" or "How can I support you further to get this accomplished?" Close-ended questions will not bring the best results. Use assertive language with open-ended questions for best results.
            • Agree on timelines & deadlines. Often timelines and deadlines are unrealistic in addition to the fact, that those receiving the request are either unaware that they can push back, are uncomfortable with disagreeing, or do not realize how unrealistic the timeline is. Then deadlines are missed or quality is less.
            • Be accountable. Lead by example...an age old phrase, but it stands alone and powerful. To influence others to be accountable, demonstrate accountability yourself by following the tips below:
            • Delegate, then follow up. Check in periodically and verbalize appreciation when completed.
            • Remember what you say or don't say it. Many times unexpected priorities take your focus to new projects, ideas, challenges, etc.
            • Keeping people posted on previous discussions, requests, organizational projects, etc. builds trust and helps them feel valued.

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            Managing Multi-Generational Differences By Dena Moscola

             Are you ready? Well, here they come. They are young, bright and confident. They dress trendy, wear flip flops and expect to be heard. They listen to iPods at their desks and crumble at the thought of living without instant messaging! They want to work but do not want work to rule their life. Who are "THEY"? They are the newest generation just entering the work world. And they are causing a stir.

            Fascinating that never before have 4 generations worked so closely together. There are 60 year olds working with 23 year olds; 30 year olds managing 55 year olds. And the extreme in mindset is confusing and sometimes even bewildering! Typical reactions are shock, frustration, avoidance, exclusion, sarcasm, hopelessness, etc. The disconnect grows deeper but with some understanding middle of the road agreements are quite reachable and productive. Lets take a closer look...

            Lets clarify who is who. We have the veterans and baby boomers who were born mid 60's and earlier. They are slowly retiring. They tend to have a heavy focus on work as an anchor in their lives. Next we have Generation X who were born between the mid 60's and late 70's. They enjoy work but are more concerned with the challenge of managing a balance between their work and life responsibilities and interests. Then we have the Generation Y born late 70's and later. Gen Yers are relationship oriented.

            The differences between the older generations and the newer generations vary greatly. The more seasoned person tends to view the newest generations as less commitment, less loyalty. They are viewed as having not enough or too much initiation. They show a lack of respect towards the business and its leaders and they dress too casual. At the same time, the younger generations are watching us older folks saying "They really need to lighten up! Its only a job!" According to many Gen Yers the more they see the Baby boomers working round the clock the more they refuse to! So are we really the role models we hope to be? Is the work world changing beyond our control?

            Compromise is the answer. As leaders it is critical to keep an open mind to learning and understanding this new work force. There are increasing in numbers and need our guidance. But influencing the way we are used to is not going to work. They do not want to be told what to do. They want to understand why. They need to feel included. They want a chance. Then they feel comfortable committing.

            Years ago people went to work with the philosophy of "If my boss says jump, I say 'how high'!" Now days, it goes something like this "If my boss says jump I'm going to ask why and loose respect if I do not get an answer!!" So the challenge begins.

            And with every challenge there are solutions. Here are a few ideas that are working to bridge the gap between the generations and get more done faster and easier:

            1. Stop assuming: Just because you were raised one way that does not mean it was the only way. Realize that what you believe to be common sense might be foreign to someone else. Provide clarity. Set realistic expectations up front - during the job interview, at the onset of a new project or task, etc.
            2. Get creative: Provide opportunity to incorporate skills that transfer including opportunities for frequent change and challenge
            3. Reconsider the norm: Re-evaluate expected work schedules and styles when appropriate to get better results
            4. Provide freedom: It's not always how it gets done its gets done. Be open to new ways of getting to the same result.
            5. Have fun: Provide opportunities for fun at work
            6. Be human: Build and maintain open and connected business relationships
            7. Reward: Instead of "expecting" it, reward extra effort and excellence

            And if you find yourself lost for the "how" simply ask! People love to tell you what they need!

            Bring this and more to your organization as a presentation or program to step up your effectiveness! Find out how.  please contact us (email)

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            The Gift of Gratitude by Dena Moscola

            We all know how important it is to appreciate others and how great it feels to be appreciated. Simple things like saying thank you can mean a lot. Traditionally around the holidays, presents are an offering of gratitude. After a year that has been enormously challenging for most, I’m encouraging you to give the gift of gratitude by demonstrating more appreciation than ever before. This does not cost anything but worth millions! Show your gratitude by expressing yourself more than usual. Go beyond the thank you. Tell people what you are thanking them for. Step it up. I guarantee it will have impact.

            Example A Simple boring thank you = Good job!

            Gratitude with impact = Thanks for all your hard work this year. I know it was a year harder than most and you stepped up, even though you were stressed. You put in long hours when I know you would have rather been home. Thanks!
             
            Example B Simple boring thank you = Thanks for making your bed.

            Gratitude with impact = Thanks for making your bed. I know it’s boring and you’d rather be playing with your friends. I don’t like making beds either. So thanks again! (Yes, as you can see, this works with kids too!)

            Simple yet Strong Offerings of Gratitude for Impact (guaranteed to make someone happier):

            • Give a loved one a list of all the reasons why you love them
            • Tell your kids what makes them a good person
            • Thank a dear friend for the honor of being such a big part of their life
            • Call an old friend and let them know why you still consider them a friend
            • Give an extra hug
            • Smile more with eye contact
            • Say hello to strangers
            • Tell the waiter/waitress why they are good at what they do
            • Next time you see a police officer, thank him/her for protecting you
            • Tell a public restroom attendant that you appreciate their service
            • Thank a soldier

            This list is endless but guaranteed to be at least as rewarding to you as it is to the receiver. Get creative, even if it is uncomfortable...Step it up, make someone’s day. Have impact!

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            Giving Back: A Tribute to the Baltimore / Washington Power Team by Dena Moscola

            We all know how important it is to appreciate others and how great it feels to be appreciated. Simple things like saying thank you can mean a lot. Traditionally around the holidays, presents are an offering of gratitude. After a year that has been enormously challenging for most, I’m encouraging you to give the gift of gratitude by demonstrating more appreciation than ever before. This does not cost anything but worth millions! Show your gratitude by expressing yourself more than usual. Go beyond the thank you. Tell people what you are thanking them for. Step it up. I guarantee it will have impact.

            And while you are giving deep appreciation, remember those less fortunate than you. Take time out of your busy holiday season and help someone in need. For those of you who do this on a regular basis, I congratulate you for your kindness. For those of you who say you are too busy, broke, tired, etc…Well, maybe this is the year to give a little bit – hey, isn’t that a song??   : )  It’s easy. You can give pocket change to the Salvation Army when leaving local stores, call your church, food bank or Red Cross, etc. and ask how you can serve.
            This year I had the distinct privilege of joining the Baltimore/Washington D.C. Power Team for their annual Basket Brigade. They are a group of successful and highly motivated individuals who focus on peak performance in all aspects of life, including but not limited to business, finances and health. They are very active in serving their community and each year they collect food to donate during the holidays. For this year’s Basket Brigade, we packed a bunch of food into baskets then delivered them to over 200 needy families. People of all ages came out to help and had a blast! It was an amazing demonstration of serving, gratitude and teamwork by a group of incredible people who truly care. To be part of such a rewarding experience is worth its weight in gold.

            Thanks Power Team Members! www.baltwashpowerteam.org


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              • Prioritization Styles & Their Tips for Success


                  Prioritization Styles & Their Tips for Success