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News and Views
Eliminating the small stuff—the tolerations, or petty
annoyances that keep you from being your "best self"—
can almost instantly improve the quality of your
claim Scott Blanchard and Madeleine Homan,
authors of Leverage Your Best, Ditch the Rest: The
Coaching Secrets Top Executives Depend On
(William Morrow/HarperCollinsPublishers, 2004).
Tolerations—like the stack of business cards that
need to be entered into your contact manager (and are
instead sitting in your inbox)—drain your energy.
Setting aside a specific time to deal with these energy
drains, or delegating them to someone else, keeps you
focused on more important things and instantly boosts
The demand for mentor relationships is
growing, and companies are seeing the value of
pairing mentors and proteges as an important factor in
whether or not employees decide to stay with the
company or seek a different position. Employees say
the quality of the match is key and that mentors can
be found both inside and outside the company. But how
do you find one?
Job seekers typically make five mistakes when
(1) quickly accepting
the first offer; (2) negotiating by phone; (3) playing
hardball; (4) asking if the offer is negotiable; (5)
accepting an offer strictly on the merits of salary and
benefits. Career consultant Steve Stromp offers some
advice for sizing up the job offer and for putting it in
perspective so that you don't make a choice you later
Does certification guarantee competence?
and training consultant Susan Schwartz says
no—certification is accreditation by test-taking,
independent of any training curriculum. "Certification
has its place," Schwartz writes in an article published
by Suite101.com, but it's also important to screen
candidates on "soft" skills like the following:
interpersonal communication, understanding of business
goals, flexibility, expertise within the job area, self-
motivated learning style, and knowledge of the
designated computing environment. Without multi-dimensional screening, you risk failing to build a strong
and effective team.
Is your communication crystal clear and laser
or do you tend to write sentences
contain phrases like "values-driven paradigm shift"
or "repurposeable, value-added knowledge capital"? A
plain-speaking editor could help—but when you
don't have one,
Bullfighter, from Deliotte, might do the trick.
Bullfighter works like the spelling and grammar checker
in Microsoft Word, but focuses on making your prose
easier to understand and less jargon-y. You can get a
Hear Keith Yamashita, whom Fast Company
called "the most influential consultant you've never
Excellence in Government West Conference,
8 - 10, 2004. Yamashita wrote the book
Unstuck, reviewed in the October 2004 issue of WaterCooler.
The conference, which focuses on leading change in
the public sector, is a shot-in-the-arm for federal
managers. In addition to sessions on personal
development, best practices and innovations, and
managing transition and change, the conference will
feature a series of field studies to the
Navy SEALs Training Center, San Ysidro Border, the
San Diego Zoo, and more for a closer look at leadership
and innovative management in action.
Making It Work for You
Readers, this is your space—for tips on how
you've solved a problem on the job, "gotten over"
not tooting your own horn, or anything else related to being
your own best advocate in the workplace. Special Offer: Get a complimentary copy of Mentor Me when your
story is selected for publication in WaterCooler . Send your story
to email@example.com and watch for your byline in
a future issue.
This month's story is from a woman who took a
chance—on the advice and encouragement of
another, and most importantly, on her own ability to
She Did It—and I
The Blizzard of '96 changed my life.
My kids' school closed for the week, but by
Wednesday, I had to return to work. My husband and I
traded off going into our offices for part of each day,
dreading the school closing announcements on the
early morning news.
On Thursday, I had to call Irene, a woman in our
babysitting co-op whom I did not know well. I expected
to commiserate about the havoc the storm was
wreaking on our work schedules.
"Well, actually," she said calmly, "I work from home, so
I've been fine."
She was a graphic designer, she told me, and had been
self-employed for a few years. When I told her that I
wanted to go out on my own someday as a writer and
editor, she was immediately encouraging. And she
walked her talk, suggesting that we get together so
that she could share how she started out.
A week or so later, when the snow had turned to slush,
I took the morning off from work to meet Irene for
coffee. At this point, eight years later (!), I don't
remember what she specifically told me as much as her
calm confidence that, of course, I could set up my own
business. By the end of the morning, my mind was
spinning with ideas and with logical steps about how to
That's how I began the planning that culminated, about
four months later, in setting up Full Circle
Communications, my own publications company. I may
well have done it without Irene—eventually. But
conversation gave me the confidence to actively
pursue this dream.
And networking paid off for Irene, too, although that
was not her intent when she helped me. I hired her to
design my marketing materials.
—Paula Tarnapol Whitacre, Full
Circle Communications, Alexandria, VA,
NEW: WaterCooler (WC) Personal
Have You Thanked Someone Lately?
Recently I read an article about relationships in a
women's health and fitness magazine. One of the
experts quoted in the article said that in any happy
relationship, the proportion of compliments to criticism
is always at least 4 to 1.
I suspect that in work (and in
personal) relationships the proportion of "thank you's"
to "then would you please do..." should also be at least
4 to 1.
Gratitude often gets forgotten in the rush of getting
to work on time, in our sometimes overwhelming and
growing list of "to-do's." November, in which we
celebrate THANKS-giving, is a good reminder to
appreciate the little—and the big—graces
that come our way.
Instead of sending holiday cards in December, I make it
a point to send gratitude postcards in November. I
sometimes include a small gift, like a pair of movie
tickets. It takes time, but the delight and surprise that
this unexpected "thank you" brings to the recipient
makes it worthwhile.
Some people keep a gratitude journal to remind them of
the gifts they take for granted—gifts like a
sunny day, a playground for their children, a driver
letting them ahead in merging traffic, the
co-worker who comes into work and just by doing her
job, helps the company be successful. This is a great
But it's also a great practice to speak the gratitude out
loud to the one who made you feel grateful.
Whom can you thank today?
Gift Idea for the Holiday Season
Help someone say yes to a dream and mentor
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simply by gifting them with Mentor Me.
An easy read, the book can help new or transitioning
♥ gain confidence in their ability to succeed
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♥ make performance reviews less
♥ navigate the four most common career
♥ recognize when they need expertise
own experience, and learn where and when to find that
Tools is extending a special 25%-off package deal
includes free shipping) for readers of WaterCooler
buy the Mentor Me book
and the Mentor Me
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two gifts in one—the book for your friend, and
the binder for yourself (if you want to practice the "one
for you, one for me" gift-giving tradition!).
The Advancement Kit, an attractively
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launch your own "mentor me" action plan.
separately, you'd pay $30.50 plus shipping and
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shipping/handling costs for
To view product descriptions, click here.
To order and receive your 25% discount, call Holly Hospel
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Workshops and Book Signings
Computer Learning Centers Partnership,
with Women in
TBA. Contact: Glynda Mayo Hall, 703 324-5237; Glynda.Hall