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Water Cooler

Information and insight about your career and the workplace at large
January 2005

News and Views

Want to move from mentoring yourself to mentoring others? Check out these websites on mentoring, favorites of Philadelphia Inquirier columnist Reid Kanaley. On the list: Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Mentor Gap, and more. (Registration may be required.)

You can nominate an entrepreneur or a business owner for a "Best Boss" award in the Winning Workplaces/Fortune Small Business competition honoring innovative leaders of small to mid-size businesses. Deadline: January 31. Details

Determined to find your dream job this year? The market's getting friendlier, say recent "CEO confidence" surveys. PricewaterhouseCoopers found that 75% of the nation's 364 fastest-growing companies plan to add workers within the next year. Note: these new positions require workers with skills, education, and entrepreneurial zeal. More


Now available: an index listing the 62 leading-edge briefs that appeared in WaterCooler in 2004. Briefs on conquering fear of bragging, tips for networking (and networking mistakes), reinventing your career, Fast Company's salary calculator, 15-minute summaries of business books, blogs in business, defining management excellence, and more. Get your free copy by emailing Just let me know whether you'd like MS Word or PDF format.

Avoid "Death by PowerPoint" and keep your audience awake and interested in your presentations. Details

Turn your most painful management duty into a powerful motivational tool, by checking out Sharon Armstrong's book Stress-Free Performance Appraisals. Armstrong couples a thoughtful overview of the performance appraisal process with practical, realistic, and enlightened strategies that protect the interests of all three parties involved: the evaluator, the employee, and the company. Hint: even if, and perhaps especially if, you are not a manager, check out this book. You'll learn a lot, including when it's appropriate to forget the appraisal process altogether. Look inside this book

NEW: WaterCooler Professional—The Miniseries

In 2005, "Making It Work for You" evolves to "WC Professional," a miniseries of action steps to being your own mentor. Follow this 12-month plan and by January of 2006, you'll have taken a big step towards being your own best advocate in the workplace.

January: Declare 2005 the year of being your own mentor.

Envision what you'd like to be different about you and your career at the end of 2005. Mentally set three goals—remember to quantify each one—to make that vision a reality. Now, make them come alive:

First, find a piece of paper or cardboard (8.5 x 11 or larger) and some magazines or newspapers.

Next, find pictures, words, images in the newspaper or magazine that represent, in visual form, the goals you'd like to achieve.

Then paste each image on the paper, and write its related goal next to or underneath it. Example: Under a picture of a trophy or star, you may write the goal "Construct a kudos file and list my accomplishments weekly (including any complimentary letters or emails I receive), so that I can use it for my performance review in June."

Post the paper in a prominent place: on your desktop under a clear blotter, or on your bulletin board, or on the wall next to where you hang your coat.

Finally, on your calendar or PDA, list the steps you must take to accomplish each goal, and schedule each step. For the goal listed above, you would note that every Friday you will add to your kudos file.

Good luck, and feel free to share what you're up to in an email— send to

PS: I have done this activity, and I can guarantee that it works!

WaterCooler (WC) Personal: A Word about Goals

The best advice anyone ever gave me about goals was to write them down. It seems the simple act of writing helps you internalize these intentions, and you are more likely to do the work that will lead to achieving them.

I'd add two pieces of advice based on my own experience. First, quantify the goals and give them due dates. So if your goal is to finally create a portfolio of your best work, for example, revise the goal to "Create a portfolio of 5 to 10 pieces of my best work by the end of the year."

Second, put the goals in a place where you're likely to see them every day. I guarantee that seeing them will spur you to believing in them and achieving them.

And may I add a third piece of advice, just in from Mary Foley's Bodaciously! newsletter? Make it fun.

That's it—now on to achieving your goals, otherwise known as dreams with deadlines. And Happy New Year!

PS: To achieve multiple goals with fewer steps, consult Appendix 1C in Mentor Me, or see Breathing Space by Jeff Davidson.

Update on New Subscriptions and the Heifer International Challenge

Ten new readers joined the WaterCooler list between December 6 and January 6, so as promised, I am donating $20 to Heifer International. Thanks for encouraging this effort, and check out Heifer International (HI) if you're looking for a good way to make a difference through contributing to sustainable microenterprise in needy communities.

This $20 donation will purchase a flock of chicks, "an elegant solution to improving a family's crops and their diet," says the organization. HI notes that at six months, chicks can lay up to 200 eggs a year—reliable protein for kids who otherwise eat mostly starches. Extra eggs can be sold to pay for school, clothes, and medicine. Chicks also benefit farming: they provide fertilizer as well as bug and weed control.

Coming Up

Workshops and Book Signings

40Plus of Greater Washington, February 7, 9:45 am. Contact: Kathy Shuman, 301.424.1763;

Women in Technology Advocacy Group, February, time and date TBD. Contact: Julie Thompson, 703.449.0893;