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Cheers to a new year

“The Mayans were wrong.”

That my friends, was the text one of my best friends sent me at on December 21st. Not that I had any doubts mind you, but it was a little unnerving to see POSSIBLE DOOMSDAY ALMOST HERE constantly splashed on TV.

We made it through 2012 and opened our eyes to 2013.

Countdown-to-Fabulous-Dazzling-Styles-for-New-Years-Eve

I could list 10,000 about the past year, but I think Google sums it up a little bit better. Watch the Zeitgeist 2012: Year in Review – but be prepared for emotions and possible tears! The video of NASA celebrating the Mars Rover Landing at 1:26 got me a little choked-up.

So another year to be a better person and make more of a positive difference in the world. Every time I click to Facebook or Twitter, I see a post of friends and colleagues stating several New Years resolutions. Lose 10 pounds, straight As for the upcoming semester, planning a wedding for less than $15,000, increase patience and more.

Seeing all of these resolutions really made me think about my own. In the past, I’ve made resolutions…kept some, modified some, forgot some.

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So for 2013, I want to make my resolutions about my health, my future and the business woman I want to become.

  1. Take advantage of every opportunity at school. Learn as much as possible, spend time with my amazing classmates and continue to be thankful for this incredible adventure
  2. Read 3 Wall Street Journal articles a day. AND, not immediately click to Media & Marketing! 
  3. Train for my 3rd half-marathon (I’m trying to run it in under 2 hours) 
  4. Cook a little bit more (no, LeanCuisine dinners do not count! I did make a delicious chili crockpot yesterday – so far I’m doing well!)
  5. Enjoy life – try not to over-think and stress about absolutely everything.

My mantra for 2013: Work hard, stay true to yourself…and have faith that everything will work out. 

When I hear people say that the new year is a great time to start over, it makes me me a little sad. Does that mean that the last year was a waste?

We always want to start fresh and begin again. But what if the previous year was great? I think that entering 2013 should mean remembering all the great things of 2012 – and being happy. Little changes and ways to improve are great, but don’t ever completely call the previous year a waste.

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taco chili

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Mind your manners

Quick dinner etiquette:

Napkins in the lap once everyone is seated.

Don’t touch your silverware until everyone at your table is served.

Drinks on the right, bread on the left.

Consume small, bite-size pieces.

Be aware of your silverware’s resting and finished position.

Never, ever, push away your plate and stack your dishes. 

 

Are the rules above ingrained in your mind and simply second nature? GOOD! Or, do you have no clue what proper etiquette is – and even less of a clue what a fork’s resting position is? PERFECT! Then this is the blog post you need to read!

For us Fisher Graduate students, the Etiquette Dinner this past Monday at The Blackwell  was a great way to brush-up, and learn, proper etiquette and table manners.

Hosted by At Ease Inc., our dinner was was a 4-course meal with soup, salad, entree, dessert and the trickiest food of all…BREAD.

Our wonderful host taught us the true intention of business meals (to enjoy the company of those around you), and how to properly eat soup, bread, pasta, meat and more. I had a basic understanding of proper etiquette (thanks, mom!), but it was so great to have a refresher course.

These simply tips are great to know how to act when out to lunch/dinner/drinks with coworkers, leaders or clients. In a professional job setting, you are always being observed and slurping your soup is not the way to impress your boss!

For more tips and tricks of etiquette, please check out the book, One Minute Manners by Ann Marie Sabath, president of At Ease, Inc.

This website also gives a great demonstration for the proper “resting” and “finished” position of silverware.

One of my favorite things about the Fisher MBA Program is the HUGE variety of activities offered. If you would told me four months ago I would be  having the time of my life in my program and learning how to eat temperamental pasta without embarrassing myself, I would have thought you were crazy! Fisher gives numerous opportunities to step away from classes and enjoy time with your fellow students, while still learning more about the business world. Where else can you get these fun experiences?

My favorite tip that I learned? When at a happy hour or networking event, keep your drink in your LEFT hand. This way when you are going to introduce yourself to someone, you are not awkwardly shifting your drink around and have a cold, wet hand

See you guys soon!

*images taken from google.com

Are you indispensable?

This book took me a little over two months to read (what can I say? The family vacation to Hilton Head and studying for the GMAT cut into reading time!). But, overall, I enjoyed this piece by Seth Godin. This book talks about the timeline of factory workers, lizard brains and workplace perception. A major part of the book is becoming a “linchpin”  in today’s society and in the workplace – going above and beyond the call of duty, adding human element to every task and making personal connections.

Godin, through many paths and stories, explains why we should be  a linchpin and not simple factory workers. Linchpins cannot be replaced and do not settle for the status-quo. They think outside the box, they push their limits and they come in to work everyday with passion and excitement.

A real linchpin: a fastener used to prevent a wheel or other rotating part from sliding off the axle upon which it is riding (wiki definition) 

Another topic discussed at length was art. Everything is art and everyone is an artist. I had never considered my passion an “art” – it open my yes to thinking about a proposal, business plan or memo as art.

Godin talks about how every person has two sides: one that focuses on survival and basic function, and one that thinks outside the box. While I do not believe our lizard brain is our “original brain”, I do think that anxiety and nervousness can take over a person during scary situations. Godin discusses letting fear pass through and not wasting your energy on things you cannot change, a lesson I need to learn!

The main part of the book was breaking through the mold and choosing your own destiny. Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself and for others, find energy every day and change how YOU view the world. I love that idea. It was inspirational to hear that I had a challenge in the workplace, I needed to become someone a company needed. 

breaking the “factory setting”

But other parts were  almost too much. My critiques of the book are that is came across as a lecture and Godin attempts to make you feel guilty if you do to want to be a linchpin.

Personally, I know my father worked long and hard at his job – but he left his work at the office. He went in, worked, came home. Was he a linchpin? Maybe not. Was he the best dad on this planet? attend each one of my soccer games, swim meets, theatre shows, horse shows and award banquets? Did he coach my sports team as a kid, have a seat at family dinner and stood by me as a became a college graduate? YES.

Where is that aspect in this book? It is so deeply entrenched with how to make your work life so enriching by going in early, staying late, making human connections, thinking outside the box and so on…it loose the “human feel”.

As always, just my opinion.

Thanks for reading!

Discovering Your Strengths

My professional read for the month of May was Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath.

I was given the book as a gift, used my code to access the website, answered the questions – then BAM! I was presented with my top five strengths.

For those not familiar with the assessment, you are presented with questions and have about 20 seconds to answer. The questions keep you on your toes and the entire test takes about 30 minutes to complete. Once you receive your top strengths, you are presented with additional online resources that help put your answers into motion and how to build a stronger team in the workplace.

Pretty awesome. 

It’s almost like Mr. Tom Rath and his team knew me and my personality. I was extremely impressed with my results and their descriptions.

Here are my top 5 strengths.
Please note the quick summary appearing after each word comes from my Strengths Finder 2.0 book.

  1. Discipline (Your world needs to be ordered and planned. The routines, the timelines, the structure, all of these help create the feeling of control.)
  2. Focus (You need a clear destination. Goals serve as your compass, helping you determine priorities and make the necessary corrections to get back on course. You are efficient and become impatient with delays, obstacles and tangents.)
  3. Individualization (You are intrigued by the unique qualities of each person. You are impatient with generalization…you instinctively observe each person’s style and motivations, how each thinks, and how each builds relationships.)
  4. Positivity (You are generous with praise, quick to smile, and always on the lookout for the positive in the situation. You inject drama into every project and you celebrate every achievement.)
  5. Significance (You want to be very significant in the eyes of other people. In the trusts sense of the word you want to be recognized. You want to be heard, you want to be known. An independent spirit, you want your work to be away of life rather than a job.)
I would say these are pretty darn close to perfect. I am someone who loves making lists and crossing things off, I hate wasting time, I try to know the true soul of every person and – I’ll be the first to admit it – opinions of those around me do matter.Overall, a pretty good representation of my strengths.What i enjoyed about this book is that it takes your strengths one step farther. It discusses “ideas for action” and  how to work with other people who have the same strengths. All of the themes are positive in some way – you cannot have a bad or “uncool” strength.Tom Rath constantly goes back to the point that we spend almost all of our life focusing on our weaknesses, both professionally and personally. He talks about teachers and parents focusing on the lowest letter grade, instead of turning their attention on a student’s HIGHEST grade – the subject the enjoy and excel. He continually hits on the point that we will be happiest when we allow.

It’s an unique and interesting concept. 

 This is in no way a perfect representation of my personality, my work-ethic, my strengths of my true character — but I will say it rings pretty close. It was exciting to take the test and see what this assessment considered my strengths. I liked reading how other individuals in the professional world, with matching strengths, went about their daily duties.
Bottom line, this book made me think. 

“You cannot be anything you want to be – but you can be a lot more of who you already are.” – Strengths Finder 2.0

Great things to know before you turn 25

My friend tweeted an article a couple weeks ago and as soon as I saw the title, I immediately clicked over to read.

11 Things to Know at 25(ish) – published in Relevant magazine.

How could I not read this post? Shoot, I’ll be 23 in July….what if I only know a couple of these things? What if I don’t know ANY of them?!

I think this is the fastest I’ve ever read an article. While I don’t agree 100% with everything listed, this is a wonderful read for any college-grad.

(1) You have time to find to find a job you love &  (2) Get out of debt and stay out of debt. As a young college grad there is SO MUCH time to figure life out. I’ll be the first to admit, I have a hard time not stressing about, well, everything. Life, love, job, future, family, finances, friends, world….career, career, career. See? List goes on and on.

But when I take a step back and really look at the big picture, this is a time to be happy and LIVE. Things always fall into place. As for the second point – learn to budget and stay out of debt. I feel if I could give any college student financial advice it would stick strictly to budgeting. If you have time to go out on the weekends, eat out and shop, you have money to save. It can be a real slap in the face when you start paying rent and bills and debt can be the scariest monster of all.

(3) Don’t rush dating and marriage & (4) Give your best to friends and family. While there is nothing wrong with dating now (obvious of my relationship status) and getting married, this is the time to figure out your values and what you’re not willing to compromise. This is a great time to learn about yourself and what you really want in a relationship. Don’t think that marriage needs to happen right now, or tomorrow or even next week. Relationships take time to develop – and you need to be happy and settled personally before embarking on mature relationship.

This flows right into the next statement: give your best to friends and family…I’ll take it one step farther. Find out your true friends. Who is going to stand by you in a year? OK, scratch that, who will stand by you when you need them? Finding out who matters now, and showing them your thanks, is a great way to build relationships that will last.

The list by RELEVANT Magazine continues as such:

(5) Get some counseling
(6) Seek out a mentor
(7) Be part of a church
(8) Find a rhythm for spiritual disciplines
(9) Volunteer
(10) Feed yourself and the people you love
(11) Don’t get stuck

I believe the first four are extremely relevant (and important), but I do want to touch on the last seven.

(5,7,8) Find something to believe in. Prayer, faith, karma…SOMETHING. When the world travels 1,000 miles a minute and a young professional is finding his/her footing in the real world, sometimes religion/faith is the only thing that stay solid. It’s a great foundation to build life.
(6) FIND.A.MENTOR. That may need to jump to to number one. Find someone that you can turn to when you need help with a résumé, a job search or a situation at work. Make note: this is not a best friend, this is someone who will help you in your career. This is a person that cares for you – but will be honest when giving critiques and feedback.

(9, 10) We’re so blessed – share that. Go out and see the world and give back. I truly believe one person can make a difference and it is so easy to get involved with the community. As for cooking, well, it saves money and it’s healthier. I’m slowly falling in love with the kitchen and nothing makes me happier than inviting friends over for drinks and appetizers (that I made). Your wallet, and waistline, will thank you when you start cooking at home.

(11) Don’t get stuck 

“Don’t get stuck. Move, travel, take a class, take a risk. There is a season for wildness and a season for settledness, and this is neither. This season is about becoming. Don’t lose yourself at happy hour, but don’t lose yourself on the corporate ladder either. Stop every once in a while and go out to coffee or climb in bed with your journal.”

I love this excerpt from the article. Around the age of 25 you need  to know how to say no to a beer, but network at a happy hour. Know that you can change the world and can chase your dreams. Nothing is set in stone – and mistakes can be fixed.

Great way to end a wonderful article.

 

a little personal growth every month

Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends – Walt Disney

I stumbled across this quote while I was working in Orlando. One of my managers had some famous Disney quotes taped to the wall next to her desk and I loved seeing the focus Walt Disney put on quality service. Even during my  College Program the Disney Basics and the 4 Keys were taught, practiced and reinforced.

One great thing about my new job is the incredible room for personal growth. While I am learning my way around a “big-girl job” and slowly figuring out life as a college-grad, I am realizing what values are important to me – both personally and professionally. To help with my professional development, I am beginning to read one self-help book a month.

Not a huge commitment – but putting forth a small effort to (in a very inexpensive way) better myself.

April’s book is: Zingerman’s Guide to Giving Great Service by Ari Weinzweig.

Even though I’m just a few chapters in, the book is phenomenal! It is a written in a way that is easy to understand, and even more imporatant, easy to understand. What is the point of a self-help book outlining the way to interact with customers, handle complaints and reward employees for outstanding service if it’s full of theories and written in a way that takes forever to read? This book is highly accessible and written in a way that transports you from your house to a deli in Ann Arbor.

I am reading about the five elements on the Zingerman’s approach to service and three steps of great service. What has really struck a chord with me is the fact that company proudly empowers and rewards their employees for practicing great service. BUT Zingerman’s guide avoids the rut that some companies seem to fall victim – they define good service and reward it both formally and informally.

This book reinforces my belief that many small actions lead to great service. It isn’t hard to give customers or guest with outstanding service, but companies need to teach their employees, lead by example and they reward outstanding service.

Being positive, approaching guests with a smile and making sure that all guests’ needs are met (before they even can ask) are my three easy tips for great, Disney Princess service. And I think Mr. Zingerman himself would be proud.

More self-help/professional developement book reviews coming later!