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Professional Development

mingle before meeting team building

Overcoming Public Speaking Fears

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Sometimes you just can’t help it. Your turn is up and your heart starts beating faster, your palms start getting sweaty and your anxiety levels skyrocket. The key to overcoming public speaking fears is all about practice! However, bear in mind that practicing your discourse is not enough. When you start losing your audience’s attention, your anxiety and nervousness will come rolling back. So the real key is to practice with the right pointers!

Here are 9 steps developed by the London Speaker Bureau so that you can rock your next public speaking event.

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english-language-day

5 Tips to improve your English skills, effectively!

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Learning a new language can be difficult, trust me I know! They always say, the person giving advice doesn’t take their own and I would agree. In the current moment, my urge to learn Spanish is more of hobby than it is a necessity. Here in Latin America and across the world English is a lifeline of new opportunities and for those of you who need a few extra tips on how to land new vocab, here are five tips for you.

1. Read articles online.
Reading online is possibly the best thing you can do. Find a newspaper, magazine or other source of media that interest you. Reading out loud a little bit allows you to hear yourself and it’s a plus because you will practice your pronunciation. Circle words in the article that you do not understand. Challenge yourself and try to figure out the word by trying to understanding the sentence. If you understand the sentence than you can take an educated guess as to what the word means.

2. Look up words you don’t know.
Number 1 and 2 are friends. If you cannot figure out the word do yourself a favor and read the sentence before and after and try again. Really try and understand what the sentences are saying and try to pinpoint the root of topic of the word. Is the word negative or positive? Is it a noun, verb or adjective? So if you are still stuck, grab a dictionary and look it up.

3. Keep a small journal of new words.
Learned a new word? So, write it down and put the definition next to it, and under that use it in a sentence. Keep a small book of your new discovered words so you never forget them. You will also be surprised in a year how many words you taught yourself by reading.

4. Change topics frequently.
If you read the same genre of articles, novels or magazines repetitively then your vocabulary will not grow. If you are into the local news that is great, you will learn some great vocab. Make sure to read an article about space and travel every so often too. Switching up your articles will expose you too new words that you possibly wouldn’t see in your everyday reading English sessions.

5. Watch and read advertisements.
Ads teach a lot of creative words. If you want to be a more detailed speaker ads will be your guide, and the great things about ads are they’re everywhere. Ads also relate to many different types of topics and will increase vocabulary as well. Use ads to your advantage sometimes you can learn a regional language or slang that is not English spoken world wide.

When finding or identifying new words, be patient and be ready to challenge yourself first before surrendering to the dictionary. Also if you want to understand proper pronunciation use the power of the internet to help you. On dictionary.com, google translate and other sources you have the ability to hear audio of English words, use this to pronounce the words correctly.  Try these and home and see where it takes your English.

-Patrick

persuasive business person |IBAgt

6 Steps to becoming more persuasive at work

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You have great ideas and important messages to deliver; however, you can’t seem to get your point across accurately?  You don’t necessarily have to be in sales to find persuasion useful, you might need to persuade an employee to improve, persuade your boss of taking on a new idea, or gain support from colleagues.  Whichever the case may be, here are some incredibly useful tips for your next persuasion feat.

1. Persuasion is not Manipulation

Although it may seem that the end result is the same, manipulation uses force in such a manner that people do things that they didn’t want to; whereas, persuasion is through willing participants.

 

2. Drop the ‘I’ and replace it with ‘you’

Want to become more persuasive? Focus on them instead of yourself. If you want them to support you, tell them how they can benefit, or why it’s in their best interest in doing so.

 

3. Listen to their goals

Genuinely listen to other people’s concerns and goals. If you ignore them, you will more than likely be met with resistance and lack of engagement. I mean, why not? When you are dismissive of others, they will reciprocate the same sentiment.

 

persuasive business woman | IBAgt

 

4. Validate their goals and ideas

It’s not enough to just listen, you need to reassert the fact that you have been listening. It’s something that’s easy to do; simply repeat their goals back to them so that they feel as though they have been acknowledged and they will be more willing to listen to you as well.

 

5. Be Flexible

Flexibility is vital. Influencers have the final goal in mind, and are ok with things playing out differently from what they had envisioned in the first place. You will increase your influence if people think of you as open to change, and hearing their perspectives.

 

6. Pick your battles

If you are always advocating your point of view consistently, you will be perceived as a pushy bully on a one track mind. Pick your battles smartly by knowing when it is time to persuade, and when it’s a time to shut up.

 

Sources: entrepreneur, inc, forbes, huffingtonpost

interview1

6 ways to keep your interview from going off-track

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We’ve all been there at one time or another. We start off the interview excited and confident, but somewhere down the line it starts digressing into a failure. Don’t dismay and don’t give up. Regain your confidence and turn things around.

ONE: Blanking-out

For the job you’re applying for, you may be expected to have specific knowledge. If you blank-out at the question, instead of pretending to know the answer, you can call on their sympathy by admitting that you’re nervous and can’t remember at the moment. And instead, try to recount a similar situation in your experience to try to recall the answer to show that you can work under pressure.

 

TWO: You don’t know the answer

Like before, instead of pretending to know the answer by circumnavigating the question, tell them that you don’t know but immediately follow it with ‘how’ you would go about finding out the answer. This shows confidence, and problem solving skills.

 

THREE: Being incoherent

Sometimes our nerves get the better of us, and we end up saying absolutely nothing. Instead of letting it slide, show them that you are self-aware and address the issue. Possibly use humor to show them that you acknowledge that you were being incoherent and ask if you can try again.

 

interview2

 

FOUR: Distracted interviewer

An interviewer might seem distracted because of a myriad of reasons: last minute meeting before the interview, a sudden problem in the office, or they haven’t had a chance to go over your resume. Be prepared for the possibility that they don’t have a copy of your resume by bringing a printed one and offering it. If that doesn’t seem to get the interviewer’s attention, genuinely ask if they would prefer to reschedule for a later time. More than likely they will welcome your flexibility and sympathy.

 

FIVE: Hostile interviewer

In the case of a hostile interviewer, don’t get flustered because this may be a test. Remain calm and polite and offer information on why you are the best candidate for the job if they aren’t interested in asking questions that elicit your best skills sets.

 

SIX: Awkward silence

Obviously you would have looked into the company’s website or other literature before you showed up for the interview. So prepare some questions that may not have been addressed in the website, annual reports or brochures. Ideally ask questions about the position you are applying for, the training program, advancement or promotion paths available. Remember to stay away from questions that have already been addressed in the website or job application.

 

Sources: Entrepreneur, everydaylife, pvamu

 

pro

10 Things every employee should know about their company

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Regardless of which department you belong to, knowing these 10 things about your company will make you more valuable to the company.

 

1. The company’s current share price (if it is publicly traded)

 

2. Market share or growth over the last two years

Has your company grown at all over the last two years, and if so, by how much?

 

3. Primary product brands or services offered

Do you absolutely know everything that your company sells? Can you name them all off the top of your head?

 

4. How the company makes money

In a company that provides a variety of products and services, it’s still important to identify the top sellers.

 

5. How customers are being satisfied

What purpose does the product or service hold for the customer, are you meeting their needs?

 

professional welding

6. How the product is manufactured or service is delivered

Understand where the product or service is coming from, what does it take for it to be delivered to the customer.

 

7. How products/services are developed, marketed, and sold

What’s the company proposition of value? What do you sell? How do you sell? These are all essential questions that should be answered.

 

8. Customer retention and attraction strategies

After a sale is completed, what does the company do to encourage a repeat consumption?

 

9. Key suppliers and customers

Knowing who they are will enable you to prevent faux pas with key clients or suppliers. These are people that keep your company running smoothly, don’t jeopardize it.

 

10. What gives your company a competitive advantage?

A key question! You know the products and the services that are being sold, but what is their competitive advantage amidst your competitors? Are you selling what other people are selling? I certainly hope your answer to that was not ‘yes’.

 

Sources: PaulSohn

hr things should know

5 things every HR professional should know

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ONE. Set aside “1 career hour” a week. 

It’s important to manage your career, so don’t let a busy schedule keep your from activities like:

– Keeping your resume up to date

– Keeping your professional social media content up to date

– Participate in professional activities like workshops, summits, conferences, etc.

– Network with people that may someday offer or refer you to your next job

– Returning headhunter calls you’ve gotten to provide them with a referral to keep that relationship going.

 

TWO: It’s ok to steal (from something that is proven to work)

Why waste your time reinventing the wheel? Observe and apply all those practices that are working

Steal from other departments. Swipe from other divisions. Take from other firms. BE sure you give them credit then add your unique twist. If it’s proven and it works, why not? Bury your ego. Creating new stuff from scratch always take more time than you think and is highly overrated. (PaulSohn)

 

THREE: The 3 most important key in managing your poor performing employees:

– Clear expectations

– Documentation

– Feedback

A poor employee might just be getting poor direction. Make sure you present expectations clearly, keep track of his performance and provide them with feedback.

 

FOUR: Look into your turnover numbers

It’s not about how many you’re losing, it’s who your losing. Quality over quantity. Losing your top performing people is substantially more hurtful than losing people in any other group.

 

FIVE: Think Big  

 David Ogilvy, the well-known advertising wizard who founded the Ogilvy & Mather advertising agency, never spent a day in HR, but had an orientation practice that all HR leaders would appreciate. He established a wonderful tradition of welcoming new leaders in his organization with a gift of five wooden dolls, each smaller than the other, one inside the other. When the recipient finally gets to the fifth little doll, the smallest doll, and opens it, he finds the message:

“If each of us hires people who are smaller than we are, we shall become a company of dwarfs, but if each of us hires people who are bigger than we are, we shall become a company of giants.”

 

Sources: PaulSohn

man checking phone

How after work emails are ruining your health

Trevor 3 comments

Although emails have facilitated communications by not requiring all parties to be present in the same office or time zone, they do have a flip side: you are always reachable whether or not you’re at work.

52% of Americans check their email before and after work, even when they take a sick day.

Nearly 50% of Australians check their email when not at work, and for those that turn on their phone in the morning, 70% of them check their emails first.

Northern Illinois University (NIU) school of psychology study coined this concept as ‘telepressure’ and the research explores the results of ‘never switching off’. What they found was that people who engaged in telepressure were at greater risk of burnout, absenteeism and poor sleep quality.

“It’s like your to-do list is piling up, so you’re cognitively ruminating over these things in the evening and re-exposing yourself to workplace stressors,” lead author Larissa Barber explained. “When people don’t have this recovery time, it switches them into an exhaustion state, so they go to work the next day not being engaged,”

What’s interesting about Barber’s results is that telepressure is a workplace problem, not a worker problem. There seems to be weak correlations between the type of worker and the effects of telepressure. It doesn’t matter if you’re a type-A overachievers or a laid back type, telepressure still affects them.

Do you telepressure?

“We all get kind of used to that immediate gratification of getting fast responses and having those communications that are complete,” Barber says. “We all like it when other people are telepressured, because it helps us complete our tasks faster.”

person writing emails

Managing telepressure

Barber suggests thinking about where the telepressure is coming from and strongly considering having a conversation with your supervisor about email expectations; and if you’re the boss, be a good role model.

Another suggestion is laying out clear messages and expectations in your emails. If you are emailing back and forth about a casual get together, the pressure to quickly answer is present because it would be rude, not to. But, if you are explicit in your email by including things like “No need to respond to this message” or “I look forward to hearing from you between 8:30-11:30am tomorrow” you take the pressure off email.

An earlier version of this article credited the research to the University of Illinois instead of Northern Illinois University. 

Sources: Time, The Sydney Morning Herald, APA Center for Organizational Excellence,

coding

5 websites to learn to code- for free!

Trevor 3 comments

Nowadays we all know that technology helps us to be more productive in almost all aspects of our lives. You can create automated reports for your boss in minutes instead of wasting the whole weekend gathering together all the information you need- which involves calling back and forth your team trying to understand where the numbers come from. You can also use as many apps as you wish on your phone to help you organize your best friend’s wedding *the wedding of the year!*.  Or at college you can simply take a shot of the whiteboard to have all the info you’ll need for the exam, instead of wasting all your energy writing it down in paper- like if you were in the 20th century…

We love technology and some of us can’t even fathom spending a single day without it. But when it comes to the core of the matter- coding, which is the wizard that creates all the magic that we see on our screens- most people get uneasy. We prefer our IT-team- or our teenagers- to handle it. After watching a TED talk from Mitch Resnick, a computer scientist that directs the Lifelong Kindergarten group at MIT Media Lab and helps kids of all ages experiment with design and coding, I got really inspired to learn more about coding.

If you want/need to get inspired, watch the video here.

He said: “Coding isn’t just for computer whizzes- it’s for everyone… If you learn to code, then you code to learn. These ideas are useful to everybody.”, and I definitely believe it. A lot of problems that I’ve had can be easily solved by customizing or developing a program, but I don’t know how to code.  So, since talk is cheap, I googled it and found some awesome websites to learn how to code for free! I hope you find them useful and join me in this journey of zeros, ones, strings and variables.

  1. At Codecademy, you can learn how to write simple commands in JavaScript, HTML and CSS, Python and Ruby. Great to warm up engines by getting to know four of the most commonly used programing languages.
  2. Stanford University’s Udacity is one of many sites that make college courses—including Introduction to Computer Science—available online for free.
  3. Coursera is another great site that offers college courses for free. The course The Data Scientist’s Toolbox from Johns Hopkins University will give you an overview of the data and tools that data analysts scientists work with, including R programming.
  4. Code School offers online courses in a wide range of programming languages, design and web tools.
  5. Treehouse provides online video courses and exercises to help you learn technology skills.

Love Coding

 

If you are more of a practical person, who wants to implement something innovative in your business ASAP, you might want to take a look at  Dash. Here you will learn how to make an awesome website by using HTML, CSS and Javascript through fun projects on a simple interface.

Sources:

TEDBlog

 

job application

Google HR: 5 Resume Mistakes to Avoid

Trevor 7 comments

Laszlo Bock, Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google, recently published an article in linkedin.

He mentions that Google sometimes gets more than 50,000 resumes in a single week. That’s a lot of resumes.

“Some are brilliant, most are just ok, many are disasters. The toughest part is that for 15 years, I’ve continued to see the same mistakes made again and again by candidates, any one of which can eliminate them from consideration for a job. What’s most depressing is that I can tell from the resumes that many of these are good, even great, people. But in a fiercely competitive labor market, hiring managers don’t need to compromise on quality. All it takes is one small mistake and a manager will reject an otherwise interesting candidate.”

Don’t have your resume fall under the ‘ok’ or ‘disaster’ piles, strive to turn it into a brilliant resume by avoiding these five mistakes.

Mistake One: Typos As obvious as it seems, a CarerrBuilder survey from 2013 found that 58% of resumes have typos.

“Typos are deadly because employers interpret them as a lack of detail-orientation, as a failure to care about quality. “

Bock suggests reading the resume from the bottom up in order to read each line in isolation. Another option is to have someone else proofread your resume closely to ensure zero mistakes.

Mistake Two: Length. A good rule of thumb is one page of resume for every 10 years of work experience. Focus on getting an interview first through an impressive resume. You can focus on convincing the hiring manager when you actually get the interview.

“A crisp, focused resume demonstrates an ability to synthesize, prioritize, and convey the most important information about you. Think about it this way: the *sole* purpose of a resume is to get you an interview.”

Mistake Three: Formatting. Ensure that your resume can be opened across platforms satisfactorily, as the formatting usually shifts a bit. To prevent any issues, saving your file in a PDF will guarantee that the recipient will see the document as you intended.

“Unless you’re applying for a job such as a designer or artist, your focus should be on making your resume clean and legible. At least ten point font. At least half-inch margins. White paper, black ink. Consistent spacing between lines, columns aligned, your name and contact information on every page.”

Mistake Four: Confidential information. When you reveal confidential information, you are telling your potential employer that you might also reveal their trade secrets to competitors. Make sure you are ethical about honoring your confidentiality agreement.

I once received a resume from an applicant working at a top-three consulting firm. This firm had a strict confidentiality policy: client names were never to be shared. On the resume, the candidate wrote: “Consulted to a major software company in Redmond, Washington.” Rejected!

Mistake Five: Lies. This is quite obvious, especially in the age of the Internet. A quick search will reveal more than you think. You might want to check out “Is your social media killing your job opportunities.”

Putting a lie on your resume is never, ever, ever, worth it. Everyone, up to and including CEOs, gets fired for this. (Google “CEO fired for lying on resume” and see.) People lie about their degrees (three credits shy of a college degree is not a degree), [their GPA’s], and where they went to school (sorry, but employers don’t view a degree granted online for “life experience” as the same as UCLA or Seton Hall).

person signing

5 routines that are ruining your productivity

Trevor 5 comments

We follow a routine everyday. The moment we wake up our routine brain kicks-in and we start tackling our morning tasks flawlessly and without much thought. These easy motion of actions follow into the workspace with just as much ease. This is where you need to be careful and assess your daily routine tasks. Are all the things you do on a daily basis efficient? Are you doing certain things that have become unproductive? It’s time to assess, and here’s 5 things that you should consider:

1. Make a Realistic To-Do List.  Although it’s tempting to add things to a to-do list, sometimes we keep tacking on more and more items that it becomes an impossible to-do list. It’s important to keep your list real and accomplishable because our brains tend to get fixated on incomplete tasks. Why stress yourself out? Make a list that is doable.

“Roy Baumeister and EJ Masicampo at Florida State University were interested in an old phenomenon called the Zeigarnik Effect, which is what psychologists call our mind’s tendency to get fixated on unfinished tasks and forget those we’ve completed. You can see the effect in action in a restaurant or bar – you can easily remember a drinks order, but then instantly forget it as soon as you’ve put the drinks down.” (killscreendaily)

2. Stop Answering Repetitive Questions. If you find yourself answering the same questions over and over again, regardless if they are from your clients or employees, you are wasting precious time. See this as an opportunity to improve the communications from your printed and digital media. If people have the same question over and over again, you are not efficiently providing your clients and employees with the accurate information. Try adding a FAQ’s section to your website for clients, and consider creating an internal wiki for employees.

“FAQ is the abbreviation for Frequently Asked Questions. FAQs are organized “collections” of valuable information that usually comes from questions (and their corresponding answers) for the most common issues raised by users, on various topics. Companies make up such information compilations in order to fulfill their customers’ need for answers. They are also a means to ease the burden of the customer support group by providing answers in written form to the most commonly asked questions.” (Avangate)

3. Stop eating lunch at your desk. Although you might think that you are being highly productive by eating at the desk, the reality of the matter is that your brain needs downtime too. A break will allow you to think and make clearer decisions.

“Taking a lunch break away from the desk lets people separate themselves from the source of that (energy) drain,” Cunningham says. “And that offers the opportunity to build back some of those resources in the middle of the day–rather than just at the end when work is over.

“Resource replenishment is specific to the person. You might need 10 minutes to recharge, your colleague might need an hour. The task for us, then, is totinker with our lunches in the way we tinker with an idea: If we experiment with the way we lunch, we can arrive at the meal that best feeds us”. (Chris Cunningham is the organizational psychologist for University of Tennessee at Chattanooga)

4. Stop making piles. Much like lists, piles create unnecessary clutter. When you pile things, you are organizing things per your own system, unbeknownst to everyone else. Stick to a systematic filing system that will allow others to help, and eliminate clutter so that you can boost your efficiency.

“Getting organized may have more to do with psychology than piles of possessions, according to professional organizers and the people who hire them. From low self-esteem and an inability to make decisions, psychology shapes a person’s relationship to his or her space and stuff. So the key to more organized lives may lie within the gray matter of the mind.

On a daily basis, organizers like Leeds suggest clients make simple, positive habit changes to establish a foundation for an organized, healthy, effective life.” (Regina Leeds, author of “One Year to an Organized Life”)

5. Stop signing every check. Designate a specific day and time for certain tasks, such as signing checks. Productivity works best when there are no interruptions. Instead of allowing a steady, unpredictable flow of interruptions, schedule these tasks for specific blocks of time to limit interruptions. Also check out why Jason Fried says that “work doesn’t happen at work“.

“Interruption is incredibly arrogant. When you interrupt somebody, you’re telling them that whatever they are doing is less important than the question you have to ask them.” — Jason Fried

business collegues

Sources:

Entrepreneur

 

 

 

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