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The Women Who Mothered Me – Part II

Mother love

After my friend, Norma, read my tribute to my many ‘mothers’, including hers, she added her stories. It was interesting to see the impact each of these women had on us individually, and how much we still appreciate them.

Norma’s Story:

Although I cannot claim to have had the same relationship with your family members as you did, I too have fond personal memories of each lady mentioned.

Miss Edna: [My Mother]: I only had to mention once that I loved ackee and saltfish [cod] and before I knew it, you and I were treated to the most delicious meal. It has been many, many years since then, but I remember that meal well, especially since I had never known until that day that coco [a type of yam] could’ve tasted so delicious.

Sister Madge: How can I forget the many times when I showed up at your home at dinner time, how she made a meal prepared for six turn into seven. Or, how could I forget how cheery and welcoming she always was with me and pretty much the whole of our little town. [Most people in the town called her Sister Madge].

Miss Ira: I knew Ms. Ira mostly through church and remember her no-nonsense attitude which helped to keep us kids in line. She was the faithful servant of God who made sure that the Gospel Hall Church was always sparkling clean. I also remember her for the times my mother would send me to her to get a few sour oranges from her tree. [Sour orange trees weren’t that common in our town].

Miss Elsie: She literally saved me one Sunday morning from blacking out on the street. On the Sunday in question, I had made a trip to Jackson Town from Kingston to surprise Mama. When I arrived at the house, she was not there, neither was anyone else.

I decided to return home, but by the time I got to the bus stop, I began to feel dizzy and started to stumble and felt sure I was going to die. I had travelled very far and had not eaten anything that day. I stumbled until I found and knocked on Miss Elsie’s front door. She grasped the situation quickly and offered me peppermint tea, which worked like magic. I was profoundly grateful. Miss Elsie talked with me as I sipped the tea and told that me I was welcomed to stay until I felt well enough to leave. I have always been truly grateful for the kindness she showed me that day.

Sonia: Before Mama got her home phone, I only had to call your sister’s home phone and Sonia was always willing to deliver any message I had for Mama. After a while Sonia was also one of the only familiar faces of my generation that made it seem like home whenever I went to Jackson Town. Whenever Sonia knew that I was home, she would stop by to have a chat with me on the veranda or to have a quick word as she made her way to church.

Mama: My own mother, Miss Madge, was like the pied piper of young people and she drew them in with her stories, jokes and youthful attitude. Mama loved to be surrounded by her children’s friends and they kept seeking her out even when the children (we the friends) were not at home. My mother would often write to tell me of a visit from one of my friends and how happy the visit made her feel.

All these wonderful ladies were a part of what made Jackson Town home and I will always remember them with love.

Additionally, I now find some comfort in visiting the grave sites of these wonderful people and others whenever I go home. I go to the First Hill Church, the Anglican Church, and the Gospel Hall church yards and realize each time how much they are missed.

To The Women Who Mothered Me – Part I

Mother's Day Blog Post

My big brother in Nassau called moments ago to wish me a Happy Mother’s Day. We reminisced about our mother, who left us in 2011. He spoke about the little things we took for granted from those who passed away. The long chats he used to have with Mama; how in the midst of a late night conversation Sister Madge would fall asleep only to wake up at the tail end of the conversation. We also spoke about our niece Sonia, and how we relied on her to get things done on our behalf. He ended by saying, “I miss those little things.” Yes, we do!

And so, I am taking this time to reflect on some of the women who mothered me. Some things might not make sense to you, dear reader, but I hope you will enjoy reading the post. The image is a collage of the 175-year-old church in which I grew up; the last orchid my Sister Madge planted before she passed in 2012, and my favourite snacks that only my Aunt Elsie could make. They each have a connection to the women mentioned below and the significant role they played in my life. Although they are no longer around, I honour them today.

Mama – Chief Encourager: The best mother anyone could have asked for, no kidding! She was supportive, encouraging, loved God, loved people, adopted others as her own. She was fearless. She took her first plane ride in her late 70’s, when my big sister didn’t even want a passport. She fearlessly rode the elevators to the 85th floor of the Empire State Building in New York, when I was scared. She accompanied me and my family to several Toronto Blue Jays games, and in her 90’s, attended a Colorado Rockies game with us in Denver. She enjoyed watching the planes take off and land at Pearson International from Derry Road. I miss those Sunday evenings with her. As dementia took its toll, she asked me one day,“Whose daughter are you again?” I put my head in her lap and cried. Yes, her lap was my favourite place as it was so comforting.

Sister Madge – Teacher and Preacher: She was my big sister, but most people in our town called her Sister Madge as well. A young adult by the time I was born, she was like a second mother to the other five siblings. She knew the birds and the bees story wouldn’t work with me, so she bought me a copy of “On Becoming a Woman”. How embarrassing, I remember feeling. Unlike our mother, she had no interest in travelling, but believed God made her to be a teacher, and she wasn’t venturing beyond that. After her teaching years, she became a lay pastor. I remember for just being my big Sister Madge!

Sonia – Chief Generosity Officer: My niece, who thought she was a sister (and we grew up as such). She was two years my junior, and Sister Madge’s only child. She was generous to a fault and we took her generosity for granted. She would be up late at nights creating crochet pieces, yet up before dawn to make breakfast for us whenever we went home to Jamaica. Her passing took the wind out of my sail, shook my faith and, for a whole year, had me questioning the value of prayer. Yet, it was her quiet strength and unselfish nature that gradually restored my Christian faith.

Aunt Elsie – Chief Cook: My first official teacher from age three. She once punished me for laughing at an old lady (Miss Beck), even though my other classmates were also laughing. I could’ve been about 5 years old at that time. However, I remember her most for making the best ginger beer and snacks. By way of explanation, the Grater Cake (also known as Pink-on-Top) is made up of grated coconut mixed with sugar. The Gizzada, made up of grated coconut and sugar and stuffed inside a mini pie crust. Why is this important? I remember her more for those snacks and the ginger beer than the punishment meted out to me so many years ago.

Mama Ira – Chief Spelling Bee Officer: She was my grand aunt who bought me my first Spelling Bee book. I went on to become the Girls’ Spelling Bee Champion of my school and represented the school at the parish (similar to Province or State) level. I still have the Certificate of Particpation in that competition.

Miss Madge – Chief Humourist: Not to be mistaken for my Sister Madge, her children and I grew up together. In fact, her daughter, Norma, remains my best friend from elementary school. She reminds me frequently of the many sentiments her Mom would include in her letters about me. However, I remember her Mom’s great sense of humour. In her presence, there was never a dull moment, and even though she began losing her sight in later years, she never lost her sense of humour.

Like I stated at the outset, some things might not make sense. What’s important is to know that these women made an impact on me, and I am grateful for having had them in my life. If you have still have your mothers, or a surrogate mother, let her know you appreciate her while she is still with you.

 

 

 

 

3 Things An Interviewer Wants to Know

Bright Idea! Job Search Tip

What Interviewers want to know

When you are invited to an interview, make sure you know what the interviewer really wants to know.

  • What evidence do you have to show them that you will be able to do the job for which they are hiring?
  • Are you going to fit in with the company culture, or will you disrupt the team synergy?
  • Do you have a list of convincing success stories that demonstrate your money-making or money-saving capabilities? The bottom-line matters!

If you are unable to answer those three questions, you are not yet ready for the interview. Conduct a brainstorming session with yourself and write down stories that will help you address those questions.

Join the conversation and add your bright ideas!

 

Why You Can’t Pick My Brain for Free

Can't Pick My Brain_daisywright.comThis blog post is directed primarily to solo entrepreneurs and service providers like me. Too often we are asked for free advice by individuals who have no intention of hiring us, and many times we are left feeling guilty if we don’t acquiesce.

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Related tweet from business diva, Marie Forleo: “If they want to pick your brain, ask them to pick a time and method of payment.” @marieforleo

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A few months ago I was returning from a career conference in Florida when my seat companion on the plane struck up a conversation with me. He told me quite excitedly about the new franchise deal he had just sealed. Realizing I was ‘a career expert’ according to him, he asked if he could ‘pick my brain’ and review his bio which he had written himself.  By the time I was finished editing it, it became a full rewrite.

A few weeks later he called to ask if I could give him a few pointers on his business resume. I told him I could, but it would cost him. He told me it was just a review and it wouldn’t take me that long.

Well, while seething under my skin, I asked him politely what his response would have been had I showed up at his deli franchise and asked for a free sandwich. He apologized and said he would call back.

Mr. Franchise Owner didn’t give much thought to ‘picking my brain’ for free for the second time. Consider this email I received last week:

“Hello Daisy,

[Joe Brown] gave me your email address, because I asked him for some tips.

I’m going to have a couple of high level interviews the following week, with two VP´s, can you give some tips??

Thanks in advance!!”

What’s wrong with this picture? Lots! Who is he? What profession or industry is he in? What interview challenges does he have? What position is he interviewing for?

I responded with one of my enquiry emails, asking some of the questions above and, of course, explaining how my coaching works. I have not heard from him since.

The above are just two instances, but I get these requests all the time, and in my client newsletter I discussed two such situations. Unfortunately, individuals like these don’t have any intentions of hiring me. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy helping people. That’s why I have been writing blog content and newsletters for many years, providing a wide array of job and career advice. That’s why, from time to time, I host free career-related webinars or teleseminars. In fact, I continue to offer pro bono services on a personal level, but that’s my choice.

Earlier on, I would have been overcome by guilt if I didn’t offer free advice to all who ask. But, and this is a big BUT…I think some people forget that I actually operate a real business, not a hobby. Successful businesses invest in their employees, making sure they have the resources they need, that they are well-trained, and allowing them to attend workshops and conferences. They want to make sure they have the skills they need to keep the business going. As a solo entrepreneur, I am no different. I do the same things…and they all cost money. That’s why I instituted my Introductory Power Hour Coaching service, which is a win-win all the away around.

Michael Hyatt, the former Chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, wrote a blog post recently on what happened to him when he decided to charge for his blog content which he had been giving away for free for five years. Once he started charging for it, he began to receive some push backs, with some people even questioning his integrity and sincerity. While I am not Michael Hyatt, my time and services are just as important. Here are five nuggets I picked up from his post. (Point #6 is mine):

  1. People don’t respect what they get for free. (In many cases).
  2. Until people make an investment, they are not invested in the outcome.
  3. When you start charging for your services, you go from being an amateur to being a pro.
  4. In short, when you charge, you respect yourself and your own work more. It creates value in your own mind.
  5. Charging for your services is a necessity if you are going to support your family. If you don’t charge, you won’t be doing what you do for long.
  6. If you don’t value your time, neither will others.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I do some brain picking myself, but I never assumed it is going to be free. If it is free, I always ask how can I return the favour. However, when someone is going to brazenly take me for granted, then they have passed my threshold of tolerance.

What about you? Have you faced such situations? How do you handle such requests?

A Twitter colleague of mine, Adrienne Graham, summed it up best in her Forbes.com article No, You Can’t Pick My Brain. It Costs too Much. She also has book of the same name.

Related Resources:

Why You Should Do It for the Money (and Stop Feeling Guilty About It)

Three Ways to Say No When People Want to Pick Your Brain

Going Beyond the Resume (P3): Launch a Social Media Campaign

Social Media Computer Key Showing Online CommunityThis is the final of our three-part series on Going Beyond the Resume. It is going to take you out of your comfort zone and on a limb that will scare the daylights out of you, but you cannot conduct a successful job search without it.

I know you are wondering why you should launch such a campaign. Well, the traditional way of conducting a job search is not working. For too long you have been engaged in ‘push marketing’ where you are sending resumes to every possible company and contact. But, your resume is being held up in the resume black hole and not getting to the decision maker. It’s time to engage in ‘pull marketing’ where you become a target for potential employers. Here are some reasons to embrace this concept. A personal social media job search campaign will:

(1)    differentiate you from your competition – all those vying for the same position you are after.

(2)    give you opportunities to engage with your target employers, connect with colleagues working in your industry, and expand your network.

(3)    allow you to leverage your brand using LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and other platforms where recruiters will discover you and learn about you.

If you have a LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or Google+ account, you already have the tools to begin. Participate in discussions on these forums where your target employers are. It is pointless to join social media groups without becoming an active participant. That’s like attending a meeting but not contributing to the discussion. Ask and answer questions, Give or request opinions on your areas of interest, create your own discussion topics or write articles that will generate conversations.

Don’t hesitate to comment on a company’s blog. Remember the story of the young man from Oregon who tried for two years to get a job at Microsoft. It wasn’t until he started to contribute to conversations on the company’s blog that they took notice and hired him 10 days after he was discovered.  A well-defined social media job search strategy will help boost your reputation and have employers seeking you out than the other way around. It also helps you stand out from your competition who, in all likelihood, is spending all their time on push marketing.

Here is a simple way to start your campaign:

  1. Find a blog post, a tweet or an article from one of the employers you would like to work for.
  2. Read it thoroughly. Decide if you would like to ask a question or give your opinion about it. If someone has already made comments, engage in the dialogue to showcase your expertise.
  3. Don’t let it end there. Take the conversation to your preferred social media platform. Offer it as an update on LinkedIn where people in your network could ‘Like’ it, or offer their own comments. Take the discussion to one of your LinkedIn groups to garner additional exposure.

In a Fast Company Article, the writer of this tells a story of how a 16-year old high school student emailed her out of the blue, and asked to join her as a guest on her TV show. He did not send a resume, but instead included links to his website, Twitter account, Facebook page, and three relevant YouTube clips. (This kid launched his own social media campaign!). This initiative earned him an invitation to be a guest on the show. Read the kid’s story in the second paragraph of this link: Social Media Campaign

Let’s Remember…

In_Flanders_Field Today’s Monday Morning Rx is dedicated to the brave men and women who have served and continue to serve our countries, as well as the families who celebrate the victories and bear the pain. We honour and appreciate you…

If you are like me you don’t like wars of any kind. That said, in an effort to bring peace around the world, however fleeting it might seem, many people have sacrificed their lives, (and continue to do so), families have lost loved ones, and friends have lost friends.

As the heroes of WWI & II, pass on, we have a new generation with different challenges. Regardless of which side you are on, at least for today, let’s remember…

Last year’s post – Lest We Forget

Who is Hindering Your Career Growth?

GrowthThis is your Monday Morning Rx. It is something I saved in my archives from 2008. I have been unable to find the author, but in re-printing it here in its abridged format, I am paying tribute to that Unknown Author:

One day all the employees reached the office and they saw a big sign on the door on which it was written:

“Yesterday the person who has been hindering your growth in this company passed away. Please go straight to the gym to pay your last respects.”

In the beginning, they were all sad for the passing of one of their colleagues, but after a while they became curious to find out who was the person who was so powerful to hinder the growth of his/her colleagues and the company. The nearer they got to the coffin, the more their curiosity peaked. Everyone thought: “Who is this person who was hindering my progress? Well, at least this person is out of the way!”

One by one the employees looked inside the coffin and they suddenly became speechless. They stood nearby, shocked and in silence, as if someone had touched the deepest part of their soul. There was a mirror inside the coffin, and everyone who looked inside it could see a reflection of himself or herself.

There was also a sign next to the mirror that said:

“There is only one person who is capable of setting limits to your growth: it is YOU. Your life does not change when your boss changes, when your friends change, when your parents change, when your partner changes, when your company changes. Your life changes when YOU change, when you go beyond your limiting beliefs.

Pause for a minute. Look in the mirror. Could this be you? Have you been looking outward and blaming someone for your lack of progress in your job, career or your life? Have you been the one hindering your own growth? If so, it’s time to stop playing the blame game and take ownership of your growth. And, even if someone is deliberately trying to hinder your growth, think of ways to circumvent that. Harness all the power that YOU have and begin to make a difference in your job, your career or your life.

Motivational speaker, Les Brown said: “The only thing that can possibly keep you from going after your dream is the person standing in your shoes, wearing your clothes, and thinking your negative thoughts.

What’s the one thing you could do today that would put you on a path of growth?

To our success,

daisyname

 

Why the F-Word Could Be Good for Your Job Search

faith  word in wood typeThis is your Monday Morning Rx!

…and, yes, it is possible that the F-Word could be good for your job search. However, it is not the F-Word you were thinking about. This F-Word is called FAITH!

Before you believe I am going off on some religious tangent, let me explain that one doesn’t have to be religious to have faith. Faith is about one’s belief system.

Do you believe in YOU? Do you have faith in your capabilities? Have you been so knocked down by your current job situation that you have lost faith in YOU? It’s time to realign your thinking. Here are three facts about Faith:

  • Faith is progressive. It keeps you moving forward. When you are about to give up on your job search it reminds you to keep going.
  • Faith doesn’t linger long at the pity party being sorry for itself. According to Jentezen Franklin, “Faith never gets into a bad situation and says, “I’m just going to sit here and die. It’s over. Faith never stands in the desert, having a pity party with everything drying up around it.” Faith brushes itself off and tries one more time.
  • Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase. (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.). Sometimes you just have to trust the process; trust that you are doing and saying the right thing, even when you can’t see it.

Here’s your challenge for this week. Forget the other F-Word, and hold on to your Faith. Begin, one more time, to have faith in yourself and your capabilities. Tell yourself that there is a job out there with your name on it, and you are going to do whatever it takes to find that job. That’s called FAITH!

Happy job hunting!

 

 

Why Job Seekers Should Get on Board the Social Media Train

SocialNetworkingIf you are a job seeker who has been avoiding the social media recruiting train, it’s time to get on board. That’s because more and more recruiters are riding that train and will continue to do so in future. According to a recent survey from Jobvite, 94% of the 1,600 recruiters they interviewed either use or plan to use social media in their recruitment efforts. If that’s the case, wouldn’t be a good idea for job seekers to get on board and be found?

Key Findings from the Survey 

  • 94% of recruiters use or plan to use social media in their recruitment efforts.
  • 78% of recruiters have made  a hire through social media. Of this number, 92% hired through LinkedIn.
  • 42% of recruiters have reconsidered a candidate positively or negatively, based on what they saw after viewing their profile.
  • Social profiles give  recruiters more  confidence in a  candidate’s  professional  and cultural fit.
  • Social recruiting generates strong ROI,  both in dollars and candidate quality.

LinkedIn Dominates 

While these recruiters are using multiple channels to find top candidates, LinkedIn remains the dominant channel according to the report:

  • 96% use LinkedIn to search for candidates
  • 94% use it to contact candidates
  • 93% use it to keep tabs on candidates
  • 92% use it to vet candidates, and
  • 91% use it to post jobs.

Facebook and Twitter round off the top three channels of choice for recruiters at 65% and 55%, respectively.

What Recruiters Look for on Social Profiles

Recruiters not only look for professional experience on a candidate’s social profile, but also for length of tenure, hard skills, industry-related conversations (via blog posts for e.g.), and cultural fit. Sixty-five percent of the recruiters view volunteering and donations to charity as a plus for candidates. The report also shows that when a candidate has a strong social profile, it gives recruiters more confidence about their professionalism and potential as a good cultural fit.

Social Recruiting Generates Strong ROI 

Some recruiters have found that companies that have implemented a social recruiting strategy, have seen a positive impact on the companies’ ROI. For example, they have seen a 33% jump in the time it takes to hire a candidate, a 49% increase in the quantity and quality of candidates, and the quantity and quality of employee referrals have jumped 43%.

These recruiters have said what many people already know: that the best-quality candidates come through referrals from employees’ networks. As a result, 68% of the companies interviewed offer referral compensation to gain a competitive advantage.

Based on the survey, it is even more important for job seekers to become more strategic and develop and nurture relationships with people within the companies they are targetting. Are you ready to ride the social media recruiting train?

Grab a copy of the report here: 2013 JobVite Social Recruiting Survey

Are Thank You Letters Really Annoying?

Thank You Letter

Are thank you letters really annoying? It didn’t occur to me that they could be until very recently. A client mentioned a few days ago that a corporate recruiter with a financial institution told her that some people find thank you letters annoying. Suddenly, I was reminded that some recruiters detest cover letters and will not read them. But thank you letters?

One common school of thought has been to send a thank you letter very soon after an interview. Many recruiters, human resource professionals, and hiring managers see a thank you letter as a welcome change since most job seekers do not usually send one. In fact, most have said that sometimes such a letter, card or note, ends up being the deciding factor between two equally qualified candidates.

But, that corporate recruiter could be on to something. What if some recruiters interpret the act of sending thank you letters as schmoozing? What if they do not have the time to read yet another piece of correspondence? What if such a letter won’t impact their decision? Those may be plausible, but here are some other reasons for sending a thank you letter:

  • It demonstrates common courtesy and appreciation, even if the interview didn’t go well.
  • It leaves a positive impression, and keeps the candidate on the interviewer’s radar.
  • It reiterates interest in the position (if that’s the case), and enables the candidate to recap elements of the interview that might not have been addressed effectively.
  • It could serve as a request to withdraw from further consideration if the candidate discovers that the company would not be a good fit. (That happens too!)
  • It’s an opportunity to stay engaged and build or strengthen relationships.
  • It gives the candidate a chance to stand out from their competitor. Very few people send thank you letters.

While some recruiters might not like to receive thank you letters, there are enough reasons to send one even if it’s not read.  As a matter of fact, some suggest a handwritten letter sent by snail mail is a better idea. A letter or card with someone’s name on it is difficult to be ignored.

Communications Specialist, Alexandra Franzen, (@alex_franzen) says she “wants to live in a world where emails are short, love letters are brave and every ‘thank you’ note is scribbled by hand.” Interesting!

What are your thoughts on thank you letters? Should they be sent? Share your comments below so others will benefit.