Have you ever bought a raffle ticket or attended an event and on your ticket it was printed, “Must be Present to Win”?  Sometimes I have felt like it was a ploy because I was so ready to leave, but I didn’t want to miss my chance.  Other times I was so engaged in the event I wanted to stay regardless of the raffle potential. Being engaged made the difference.

Engagement is such a critical piece of the satisfaction quotient when it comes to enjoying a career.  You really do have to be present to win.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and numerous other sources, employment engagement numbers vary between 30-40%.  That means more than half of the people in the work force are not engaged in their work….they may be physically present, but they are not “Present to Win”

Athletes are notorious believers in similar beliefs: “Nothing left in the tank” or “Leave it all on the field”.  But the concept applies to more than sports.  Just like soft skills transfer across so many career options, success can happen anywhere, but you MUST BE PRESENT TO WIN. 

Being present is NOT demonstrated by, being late, frequent interruptions using social media not associated with the task at hand, conversations with peer colleagues about negative work conditions or other issues that do not further your positive movement forward.

Being present IS demonstrated by on-time behavior, limited personal interruptions, focused time on task, deadlines met and positive work quality. 

So, are you Present to Win?  Do your actions support your goals for a positive outcome?  What is your purpose and are you building toward it in an effective manner?  Think about it…every single day is a bit of a lottery and we have one ticket, one chance, to make it a win at the end of the day. 

Are you Present to Win?


Christmas, Hanukkah, birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, there are so many opportunities for giving and receiving gifts.  But we also carry gifts with us all the time.  You might think of them as talent and readily see them in other people.  The reality is, everyone has talents or gifts but not everyone has discovered them.  In fact, it’s not unusual to believe that we have only one talent.  Again, the reality is we have multiple talents. 

For superstars, it’s not hard for us to identify their singing, athletic, or cooking stardom.  Listen to a great speaker and their talent is immediately on display.  Become engrossed in a talented actor’s character portrayal and their gifts are revealed.  Even the confidence we get from a visit to our doctor is in part due to our assessment of their talents, and certainly when we run our hand over a beautiful crafted piece of wood we can feel the result of an individual’s talent. 

Sometimes talents or gifts are the art of problem solving, leading groups, speaking in public, working with one’s hands, mediating opposing sides, the list is endless.  So how do people discover their gifts?  Why do some people struggle to find theirs?  The truth is, it’s kind of like snowflakes, we’re all different and we discover those gifts differently and therein lies part of the beauty of our diversity.  But when you are struggling to find your path and your gifts remain a puzzle it is hard to embrace that diversity.

The Highlands Ability Battery can be a game changer.  As an assessment, its purpose is to identify and shine light on an individual’s abilities and provide understanding as to how those connect and ultimately tap into the natural gifts.  It also provides a network of understanding how a path chosen today may evolve into another path 10 years from now based on work force changes, natural abilities and a changing individual.  After all, who we are at 22 is not who we are at 52.  Our skills evolve, interests change, and opportunities present themselves based on where we are, who we know and how we’ve grown. 

Struggling to find your purpose, your gifts, your path?  Want to know more?  You can visit the Highlands Company website here or reach out to me at my website here to learn more.  After all, knowledge is power. 

It’s a beautiful time of year to celebrate your gifts!

Protect Your Assets

Everybody needs to protect their Assets.  Whether you are a student, an athlete, or a career professional, Assets are your future monetarily, intellectually and physically.  I’m a career specialist, not a financial planner. So this is about all things Assets, not just the numbers.

College Students and Athletes – Your scholarship is an Asset and needs to be protected via grades and care of your body. Internships as part of your degree program are currently the greatest avenue to being hired post-graduation making them very valuable Assets, so those opportunities need to be cultivated and protected through building relationships as well as job performance.  Finally, an on-time graduation is an Asset.  Do the math: If changing a major results in about 1 semester added, and if on average a state school in-state tuition is about $20,000 per year, that’s $10,000 more for the added semester.  Did you know the average college student changes majors 3-5 times!  That’s approximately $30,000 to $50,000 extra spent on a 4 year degree resulting in reduced earning potential due to time lost to the competition and your savings depleted or increased student loan debt.

Career Professionals – Long term plans for retirement need to be implemented early to become part of an on-going Asset strategy.  In the shorter term, there are lifestyle purchases that require purposeful behaviors for things like vehicles, homes, and unexpected expenses.  Daily habits both feed and protect our Assets.  Everything from a coffee at Starbucks or Dunkin to meals out verses meals prepared in can have a serious impact on your Assets.  Do you know what your Assets are or what you are currently worth?   Do you know what you could be worth?  What are your goals?

In my years as a professional I have met few people who understand the impact of daily habits or reps regarding protecting and building assets quite like Hillary Seiler of Financial Footwork.  I also rarely promote products or services.   But in my experiences working with individuals regarding their career futures I know that people rarely view their scholarships, internships, ideas, or daily behaviors as protecting their Assets Hillary gets it!  Click here to check out her website.  Think about your Assets.  What action are you ready to take?

YOU are your greatest Asset!  Asset protection becomes even more significant when unusual circumstances, like COVID 19 or a world financial crisis, result in job loss, geographic location realignment, company closures.  One thing is for certain, everyone needs to prepare for the unexpected.  Yes, even college students.  That doesn’t mean live in fear, but it does mean be purposeful in constructing sound Asset protection and sound habits to support that plan.  What action are you ready to take?

Stressed Out or Burned Out?

I learned long ago that we humans are very connected people.  Connected to each other, but also connected to interests and values that shift throughout our lives.  When our work life gets into conflict with our current values system we get a disconnect and ultimately become dissatisfied with whatever it is we are doing.  Enter national job force disengagement numbers of 65-70%.  That’s a scary number for businesses, productivity and if you are experiencing BURNOUT or STRESS as an individual.

Burnout and Stress affect job performance but they also affect our personal lives.  It can be like hitting a wall.  Have you felt ineffective at work, maybe overly tired, or perhaps at time cynical?  Maybe you are in initial stages of Burnout.  Or perhaps you have felt your performance is diminished, changes in body rhythms, emotionally edgy.  These could be signs of Stress.

Life truly is a balance and everyone’s point of balance is different.  Burnout and Stress can cause our sense of balance to be thrown off and we’re left with questions.  Should I change jobs?  Should I go back to school? Should I…..the list can get long when we get into the spiral.

Sometimes finding the balance requires a complete job reset, but sometimes it is a matter of tweaking the other parts of our lives that include interests and values.  Sometimes we use friends and family as our sounding boards, but sometimes we just need a coach.

I believe we should all be inspired by possibilities, discover our talents and abilities, and ultimately understand and be driven by our purpose.  Burnout and Stress may be stepping stones to finding these.  Want some help?

Increase Your Value to the Organization

Whether you are gainfully employed or out of work and deep in the throngs of job search, it’s always a good time to assess your Value to the company.  The onset of COVID19 forced people to assess their standings within a company and how their work would be carried out as they moved forward.  For some, it simply forced them out.  But understanding your Value to an organization and to yourself is vital to success.  Understanding how to increase it is equally as important.

On-line education has been with us for over 2 decades, but the recent demand for on-line learning has forced new delivery models into place and a whole new perspective on the work world going forward.  There are now thousands of free virtual learning venues offered through colleges and universities across the country.  Perhaps your own alma mater! Great ways to increase your Value.

While degree programs may be the most recognized form of increasing one’s Value, it’s not the only game in town.   Many institutions offer “certified “or “licensed” training programs that are far shorter and less expensive.  Companies like Microsoft and Apple offer programs for certification that can lead to excellent jobs. 

Learning a new technique, language or software are all examples of increasing your Value or potential Value to an organization. It also adds Value to self worth and confidence. Bonus!

I frequently talk about the importance of time management, but managing your intellectual property is equally as important in increasing your Value to self and an organization.  So while COVID19 may have imposed some very unusual circumstances on all of us, it is a great opportunity to increase your Value.  What course of action will you take?

Values and Values Disconnect

One of the most overlooked elements of job satisfaction is the correlation of our personal values to the  interaction of our job.   But values shift throughout our lives based on moments in time, who is most important in our lives in those moments, our interests, and a host of other ideals.  Those values can be critical for feeling a level of satisfaction or disconnect.   Who we work for, work with, and the work culture feed our values or deprive us and can initiate feelings of disconnect.

Several years back my family dynamic changed.  Loved my job, but suddenly I was missing key moments in my daughter’s life and my job satisfaction plummeted.  I made a decision that I had to find a new position because I wasn’t going to continue down that path.  She was more important.  I made an appointment with my boss, shared my dilemma of enjoying my job but not being willing to sacrifice those once in a lifetime moments.  I believed I needed to resign.  In a turn of events, my boss shared how much I was valued and that I didn’t need to make a decision to leave.   My boss helped me to understand a different perspective of leadership for both of us.   It enabled me to manage my own values more effectively and pay attention to the leadership or organizational values going forward.

Assessing values require that we evaluate what we really want, what is most important to us and to look at all of the angles before we jump ships, take on new roles, or give up.  Too often emotions drive us to react, but we take action blindly without assessing what is at the core.  What is at the core of your values?  Undecided what direction you are going?  Contact me.

Are You a Designated or Silent Leader?

Remember the Zamboni driving goalie?  He saved the day by rising to the occasion and became a silent leader. He wasn’t the designated goalie that would lead the team to victory.  But he stepped up to the challenge and with each save he brought each member of his team and the fans along with him on an amazing experience.

Silent leaders step up from the ranks.  They bring others along through voice and actions, they listen to what the team is saying, they keep their eyes and ears engaged with learning and tap into that knowledge when the need is evident.  Along the way they continually build trust and appreciation with their teammates.

Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, addresses the power of Level 5 Leadership.  Tapping into humility and will.  The power of Silent Leadership capitalizes on opportunity and maximizing that humility and will.  The Zamboni driver upped his own game and others followed.  His ego stayed in check and the high of his will drove him forward.

Designated leaders carry the position identifier or title, coach, owner, CEO, president, manager, captain, you get the idea.  Silent leaders emerge from within the group and often are the catalyst in critical times.  Our interest and desire impact our decision to take on one or the other role, but our humility and will can be the game changers.

We have all been a leader at some point.  If you ever played Follow the Leader as a kid you’ve been a leader.  Maybe you lead a group in school,  served as captain of a team, perhaps you lead a department at work or even own your own company and carry the title CEO.  All of these carry this common denominator, everyone else was following.  Some leaders are designated while others are silent.  So, what leadership characteristics are natural to you?  What skill set do you need to build?

Are you wanting to take the next steps in your career?  Want to up your game?  Let’s figure it out…..let’s connect!

Be the Catalyst

Does the word Evaluation cause you to get anxious, nauseous, maybe filled with cautious anticipation? Is it usually someone else evaluating your performance? What do you gain?
The reality is, evaluations cannot be just annual events that leave you feeling like you finally just earned a great bonus or completely at a loss for all the hours you invested the last year with no gains.  Gains can be in your hands as easily as in someone else’s, but you have to take control. Be the catalyst! You have to ensure you have a plan that is filled with SMART goals that will provide your next opportunity. Be in control of your future!
Everyone Needs to Self Evaluate:
So whether you are an NFL player being evaluated every day you are on the field, a teacher in any district across the country being evaluated annually or quarterly, or even an engineer with a manufacturing company and an annual performance review tied to your bonus, you are in control. You choose how to enhance whatever it is they are looking for by continually evaluating yourself and applying what you learn.
Create Targets of Improvement:
A singular review of your performance will not be enough to guide you into the next steps. You will have to be the catalyst. Monitor your performance on a regular basis.  Stretch for that next position by gathering additional responsibilities, new experiences, on-going learning. When you expand your learning, either through new challenges, courses, or self-enhancing growth tools, you put a new and improved you at the center of the evaluation process.
How do you measure up next to the individual in your same position? Where are you compared to the position you want? What are you willing to do to get there?
Take the time to evaluate your own performance. Then, be the Catalyst.  What’s your next step?  Need help?  Click Here.

What Will They Remember

I’m usually writing about careers, education, workforce, but on my run yesterday I was reflecting on several conversations with clients and parents as well as family members. Coronavirus has pushed everyone’s buttons. And in a time when so many are out of work or in limbo, a common stress I heard were conversations surrounding the feelings of falling short as the educator in the family in lieu of regular school for their kids. Tears had been shed over maintaining “school hours”, who had or hadn’t logged on or violated someone’s assigned time, and the worst…assignments that were confusing or misunderstood leading to frustration and incomplete lessons.  Has it happened at your house?

The word “CAN’T” permeated lessons, balancing work and family at home and for some the end of the rope loomed way to close. My past life as a principal came rushing back. What would I have done? It hit me….treat it like travel. Yes, being on time, having lessons complete, checking all the boxes for the grade book is important.  But, when a family would ask if they could be excused for an unusual family travel experience, my answer was always emphatically “YES”!  Nothing educates like travel. Learning new geography, currency, customs. They are all genuine life learning experiences that make connections in our brains unlike learning in a book or even catching it on an electronic device.

COVID 19 has put us all in unusual family/work experiences, and we can choose to make our memories of this around the word “CAN’T” or we can frame it around the words “WE DID”. So how bad would it be if a tearful lesson in math got put away until later and a cooking experience commenced. Or how about a distance challenge calculating steps through the house if one was to suddenly become blind…. the possibilities are endless. The point is to use the imagination, take the pressure off of each other. I’m not advocating throwing in the towel on curriculum, but I absolutely advocate that in a time when everyone is navigating this virus as best they can, we need to feel empowered to make decisions that move everyone forward. Learning goes well beyond the walls of a classroom. It goes beyond the walls of our perceived imagination.

So, what will you DO to ensure that when your children look back and talk about their memories during the quarantine of COVID 19, they remember what “WE DID” and not what they “couldn’t”.

Scary Times II

In October 2011 I posted a Blog titled Scary Times.  It was a play on Halloween and the issues facing seniors in high school as they navigated the world of changes ahead…college, work, sports.  Issues that were relevant. Perhaps scary, but also exciting.  Fast forward to today, Scary Times II.

Scary Times II is certainly not aligned with Halloween this time, and it is not targeting seniors in high school.  It targets everyone.  Those in high school as a sophomore or older, college students, and those in the work world already.  COVID-19 has made our world a very different place.  As a result, it has caused all of us to rethink how we interact with each other,  how we address learning, and how we continue in the world of work.  Yes, it is scary.

But, Scary Times can encourage us to spend time reflecting, to engage, educate and empower ourselves to move beyond where we were and into something more.  Who    are    YOU?  Are you an Extrovert?  Do you need diversity in your work, interactions with others, and a common goal?  Are you an Introvert? Need more time to yourself for reflection and recharging?  Are you diagnostic, analytic, experiential or consultative in your Problem Solving style?  How does that fit in your world of work?  If you are not sure, maybe it’s time to find out the answers to these and lots more questions that can guide you in your next steps.

The world of work is changing more rapidly that anyone expected.  Will you be ready?  Now is the time to take a Highlands Ability Battery and find out your Best Fit opportunities.