Saturday was Small Business Saturday and as an owner of a small business, I can say it is so important to the local economy to invest in small businesses. That being said, I offer a service and not a product so my customer base is often changing and goes up and down. I reach a lot of people with my content – on any given day between 150-300 unique visitors find my site – and for a small business on Staten Island, this is huge (in my opinion).
According to those stats, those visitors stick around for a while and check out multiple pages when visiting my site. I find that humbling and very exciting. As a professor, I always know I had a lot to share – it is why I have often been told I was the favorite teacher ever because I brought content and lessons to the classroom that other professors could not (or would not).
This mix of real world and textbook lessons that could help my students take their next step –even before I had called my business that name. I was always focusing them on after graduation. What did they expect? What would they be surprised to find? And based on my experiences and stories, I could convey a lot of that especially to the women students but also to the males as a big sister to two brothers, I know a little about being a male job applicant, too.
For me and my business, I do not want 300 clients a month because that would be too much for me as one person to handle – especially one person who still teachers K-12, is an adjunct and (last but definitely not least) a mom of two children. I like being a small business. I like building personal one on one relationships with my clients. I love having a partnership with one of the largest colleges on Staten Island, Wagner College Office for Lifelong Learning, to build my brand and to bring my message to more and more people than I could touch on my own and for different price points, too. With offerings from a $99 seminar to a $1200 soup to nuts course on building a business at Wagner College, I can use my unique skills of teaching and creating content to help people achieve their dreams.
I can leverage my content, knowledge and ability to teach across many different ways. This blog is a big way I share my content and my know-how and it is something that helps me make my business (although small) a big player in the field of content creation and knowledge sharing and I appreciate each and every one of you who are reading this, have read my blog and/or shared my content.
What do you think about creating and sharing content? What do you think about being a small business? Happy Hunting!
I think everyone knows what Black Friday is but I have gotten a few questions regarding what it means so I figured it would be an easy day after Thanksgiving blog post when I have eaten so much turkey I still feel tired after sleeping two hours later than normal (7am vs 5am)…
Black Friday was always historically known as such because it was the day many retailers went into the black. Meaning that up until this day, they were operating in the red (or having more expenses than income). Being in the black means you have more sales than expenses. (Just explaining it simply, here.)
There are grumblings that Black Friday will become irrelevant sometime soon but given my Facebook feed and the amount of people lined up via news broadcasts outside of stores last night before they opened on Thanksgiving, no less, I do not think this Black Friday phenomena will be ending anytime soon.
I do not go shopping on Black Friday. I never did. But, when I owned a small retail store on Staten Island in 2005-2008, I did open on Black Friday and was always astounded at the amount of customers I would see on that day (and that amount would never replicate again at any day of the year). And everyone who walked in my store, left with something they purchased. That was also something that was not replicated on any other day of the year.
So Black Friday is something that is a powerful force in our economy. It spurs spending but maybe the type of spending that cannot be replicated on any other day or time. Maybe it does mean we are a mercenary culture dictated by things and purchases instead of warmth and home given how many store employees had to leave / miss Thanksgiving dinner to be at work (though according to reports and friends who work in retail, for double time pay). I do not know. I do know that spending spurs economic growth and that having a store open for Black Friday can make the whole year for that store.
I have always done the bulk of my shopping on Cyber Monday but to be honest, I am usually done with my holiday shopping before this because I am super early on everything (note in point; my holiday cards are already out – which you saw if you follow me on Instagram).
As a web based business owner, now, I do hope Black Friday and the upcoming holidays spur people to make the investment in themselves and their futures either through one on one consulting work from me on resumes, LinkedIn profiles, cover letters or application essays. I also hope people register for my upcoming seminars and courses at Wagner College Office for Lifelong Learning. But I think for a business like mine, New Year’s and its resolutions would be more of my busiest time in getting new clients. Hey, if a business in Brooklyn can be highlighted on news’ sites for a woman offering to rent herself out as a “mom” for $30/hour, I am sure many people need a career guru (who also happens to be a mom – lol) for my low rates given how many hours of work I put in to helping people achieve their next step dreams…
What do you think about Black Friday? Were you out shopping today? Have a great day of leftovers!! Happy Hunting!
Today is thanksgiving and I am so thankful for everything, especially
With the decade + of time I have spent on this company in one way or another, I am thankful I finally had the courage to be out there as a person who creates content, shares my lessons and teaches many. Based on my webstats, many people have been reading my blog. Based on my social media sharing, many have read and shared my tweets and I am connected with wonderful like-minded people via social media and via my chat function and more.
I want to say thank you to each and every one of you who read my words, who shares my content and of course hires me to help you take your next step. Wishing you and yours a wonderful, happy, healthy and very yummy tasting holiday on this Thanksgiving! And in honor of the biggest "shopping" day of the year tomorrow and Small Business Saturday the next day and Cyber Monday, I will include the links to my Order Now page. I would love to help you get to your next step.
What are you thankful for this holiday season? Have a wonderful, well fed, happy and healthy Thanksgiving with your family and friends. Happy Hunting - Lisa
When you think about it, time flies so quickly. As we get closer to Thanksgiving and the upcoming holidays, before we know it, it will be New Year’s and closing out 2015 and saying hello to 2016. For most of us, we want all good things in the new year and that can include finding a new next step for our careers.
As the year comes to an end (faster every year, I think), what can we do to prepare for our next steps?
Some of my quick ideas for those who are employed are, as follows:
For those who are unemployed, your 2015 close out should include:
You can do some or all of this on your own – you can also look into career services like my company to help you be prepared for your next step. My seminars in March about How to Take Your Next Step are a great gift for a friend or family member (or even for yourself) as we get out of the holiday season, be ready for taking your next step with help from the best.
When you work, there is a level between culture and reality which encompasses why things happen the way they do. Such as why you were not asked to lead a project. Or why you were passed over for a promotion. I call this phenomenon office politics.
What is office politics? It is the unknown – the reason given for “why?” It is the mix of where culture meets the people who react and live within the culture. This is part of why it is so important to understand the culture of the company that you a) work at b) are interviewing at or c) newly hired to work at too. The way I see it, there is the culture which is communicated through both written words (such as the employee manual which dictates clothing and other rules) and the execution of those rules along with the communication that comes downstream from management to the people. That makes up the culture and leads to the politics.
[Disclaimer: most of my corporate experience was at large multinational corporations (MNC) but I did do some time at smaller firms and have been an entrepreneur as well as an employee of college offices, which each run as their own stand alone functioning business but most of my work experience is from large MNCs.]
If you work at a large corporation the corporate office will have a strategy a plan a mission and that gets parsed down and communicated through the levels and layers until it reaches your particular department. It is not unlike a large scale game of telephone. There are communication issues and other ways we translate the news and rules from management. How these things that were communicated are executed on the office level are also vetted through the person in “charge” on that level and thus changed again.
You will find out about this level of interaction only when you work at a company full time. You might be able to find out about office politics when you are interviewing and networking with the company but it really is something you cannot truly immerse yourself in until you work full time at the place. Good ideas for adjusting to office politics are:
I thought I would provide an insider's look on how I am marketing and preparing my curricula for a college readiness boot camp seminar. I am uniquely positioned for this because I have the background of teaching at the college level for the last 12+ years and I have been helping people prepare for college via my small business of essay and college resumes.
Some of the content I am pulling together to speak from will include how to prepare for college for the Freshman and Sophomore aged-student – the ones who can begin studying and making big changes to their grades before graduation. It talks about:
For the older high schoolers, I will focus on
I wonder if it would have impressed upon me the difference between a lot of student loans and no student loans – as I have said in previous posts, in college, I got all A’s and even my MBA was all A’s (just one B+ from the course I took in London – let’s just say traversing the Scottish countryside from the lowlands to the highlands in a rental car with my best friends was way more important than finishing that term paper…) but if I had applied myself in high school to at least a slightly more degree than I did, I could have received scholarships and more. I always try to focus this on my students now and a big part of why I am working towards my certification in Math Grades 7-12 in New York State is so that I can help other students on the cusp recognize their potential and try harder to do great in high school to prepare them for college.
What do you think about these seminar planning points? Do you wish you had had something like this when younger?
One of my clients contacted me today to tell me they achieved their next step that I helped them work towards with a new resume and cover letter for a change in industry. It made me so happy to hear about the client's success - it felt like my success, too.
It made me think about how long I have been doing this business in one way or another - even without running it like a "business". I think like most entrepreneurs, I have been a reluctant entrepreneur. For the last 15+ years, I have been helping people take their next steps and now I can say I am fully committed to seeing this business through to whatever it may become - as my blog posts and Website continues to see increased traffic and lots of unique visitors on a daily basis, I am humbled that something I write or share is helpful. As so many people visit my storefront, I am excited to meet them as new clients and to see what "magic" I can work with them to get to their next steps, too.
Over these last 15+ years, I have helped people change industries. I have helped people re-enter the workforce after taking time off to raise children. I have helped people come back to the workforce after being downsized, laid off, fired and outsourced. There is so much I have done to help people take their next step and still so much more I can do.
As a prof and an educator I can teach people how to do this for themselves and I think I do that with this blog and my posts about advice and more. Of course, I also do this with my upcoming seminars at Wagner College through the Office for Lifelong Learning.
I can help you or your family member or your friend by being hired to do the resume, cover letter, application essay or LinkedIn profile. A recent study said college students' should have their LinkedIn profile professional and ready to go before graduation. I can change their career path by having them attend one of my upcoming seminars at Wagner College.
When I am hired, I provide both my my top notch services and my free value adds to all clients and their successes become my successes. I am so happy when a client finds their next step and that is why I continue to do this as a business and execute with my brand management of me - my name, my face and my words.
I have been doing this for 15 years but did not always treat it as a business. In making this monumental step to call this a real business and to brand it with me - my face, my name, my words and to manage client payments and expectations - is a great big scary step. It has been so worth it to be thanked when one of my clients gets their perfect next step and having been a part of that journey however small helps validate me and my business plan and how I motivate myself moving forward. So who wants to take their journey with me? Happy Hunting!
How to manage corporate change is never easy. Implementing change anywhere is hard to do but try to implement change in an organization and be prepared for the adventure of a lifetime.
Most people in organizations will resist change and many will fight it openly. Any which way, change is hard to do and I spent most of my career championing change and implementing it.
While I was pursuing my DPS degree at Pace University, I wrote a case study about implementing a big change at a large multi-national firm -that of a Project Management Office. I think about going back to finish my doctorate all of the time - but I have yet to figure out how to logistically do so... As I work on building my own business and my partnership with Wagner College Office of Lifelong Learning, getting certified to be a Math 7-9 teacher in NYS, being an Adjunct and running my household I realize there is only so many hours in a day.
I thought it would be nice to share this case study I wrote about managing corporate change at a large multi-national firm for your reading pleasure or to help you fall asleep when you have insomnia... Whatever works. Happy Hunting!
The culture of any organization is not always very evident at first glance. It is akin to what happens behind closed doors of any family. Is there a mean person on the floor who acts belligerently (just like a family member or two we all might have) – is there a habit of non-communication regarding big changes or other events happening in the organization?
Anytime you interview somewhere, you are getting the equivalent of a Facebook view into the organization and the people. You are only seeing the “good” but every place has good and bad – the idea is to find a place where the bad is not truly bad but just the norm. For instance, any organization struggles as the needs of the company is to make money and there are maybe hundreds or thousands of employees – across the board, there will be some people who are left feeling upset and/or angry about certain management decisions that impact them. But are there systematic issues with the culture? Is the boss in charge a mean person who enjoys making employees cry? Is there a co-worker who is a little off and maybe tries on your shoes if you walk away from your cubicle (yes, that really happened – but not to me). It is important to take a strong look to see beyond what is presented to you on interviews to really see what an organization is like from the inside.
The best way to do this is to ask questions – not just any questions, but the right questions. It is also important to listen to what is being said and also to what is not being said. Can you use your abilities of listening and questioning to get a good idea of the culture before you agree to join the company?
It is also important to get a sense of the culture of the firm through networking partners –you might not know someone who works there but someone you know might and if you have been a good networking partner, you might get introductions and information from the people who currently work there. I am not saying that people will be honest and tell you the full truth but you can get insights about how things work and the real story just be listening to what is said and of course what is not said.
Recently, there has been some news reports about Rent the Runway and how everyone who worked there now suffers from PTSD due to the "mean girls" atmosphere. Sometimes, where there is smoke there is fire. It is important to read the news about the company you are interested in joining and reading between the lines of said news. Do not let things scare you off but as I have said before in other posts, always go with your gut. Sometimes, the gut or intuition recognizes a potentially bad cultural fit or something else brewing in the environment.
When you are on an interview, you want to appear to be comfortable and confident but not too comfortable. You do not want to slip into your regular “speaking” – so if you curse a lot in your real life, you want to be extra cautious that crude language does not slip through during your interview. Once, I had a speaker come to some of my classes at a local college and he was great – and he also sounded like an extra from Goodfella’s – but he crafted that persona and used it to help him make sales in his competitive industry.
He told the class the story about how he had been up against Harvard educated people who had done polo and stuff as a sport and he was just always out of his element until he began to embrace the differences and say to potential clients, “I am the real deal – this is who I am and I can help you do XYZ the best” and even with his Brooklyn-ese accent, it became part of his charm.
I think for all of us in the tri-state area, our language and how we speak is something that will always mark us as different and you see it in the world of NYC in any industry, the higher you get in a company, the less you hear of the NY accent. So if you want your career to continue to grow beyond the entry level world, you need to consider how you pronounce your words and what words you use.
For some people, the accent can be what sets us apart and/or can make us appear genuine in a world of upper crust society but for most of us you want to always present yourself as more than you came from as being refined and poised. It is hard to do that when you are saying, “Whaddya mean?” or something to that effect.
I said in a recent VLOG post that I used to sound exactly like Mona Lisa Vito from My Cousin Vinny and it was actually something that brought a lot of joy to many people whom I worked with while in College – in fact, we used to lock all the doors in the Admissions/Registrar’s offices, close the windows and let me entertain the ladies by doing the monologue from the movie - I have spent many afternoons saying, “And my biological clock is ticking like THIS…” even before I knew I had a biological clock.
For me, the accent was killed by living overseas and learning Italian. Learning that language changed the tenor and tone of my voice – unfortunately, it did nothing for my singing as I am still tone deaf as anything but it changed all else. I now speak slower – something that started because I was often translating from English in my mind to Italian out my mouth. But even now, it helped me to slow down and speak more slowly. The only time my accent is noticeable is when I have a cold because then I cannot hear myself and it slips back.
For other people, you can consider learning a few words in another language (maybe some of your family members speak other languages and you can learn from them) or you can just be especially vigilant by taping your voice speaking and then playing it back and listening to it – and then re-taping yourself trying to hide or mimic the accent.
So as you prepare for your next step, think about how you sound and what you say. Present yourself as being poised, professional and ready for your next step by avoiding sounding too “street” and being as ready as you can to step into any role – beyond entry level.
What do you think about these tips? I will be covering this and more in the Spring at Wagner College - find out more below. What do you do to prepare your speaking voice for an interview? Happy Hunting!
For an interview happening over technology via skype and/or web conferencing, you really need to practice with your web camera or skype app to see how you present yourself via this method of communication. My quick rules for body language during these types of interviews are below:
What do you think of my tips and ideas on how to create that personal connection? What do you think of these types of interviews? Happy Hunting!
Interviewing and body language can be tricky for most of us today. We are all so used to being hunched over at our desks or communicating via text to our BAE’s or our BFFs that we just cannot function when put in front of another human being that we have to interact with and talk to in person. My quick hints and rules on how to be interview ready with your body language for in person interviews are included here. I will be doing another update about media training and body language across technology.
Body language in person is one of the biggest indicators of interest, compatibility and more. The way you carry your body can indicate how you feel more than anything else and without you even realizing it. Some people (most people) have a “tell” that those who know you really well can tell if you are lying or uncomfortable. In social settings, like an interview, you do not know each other well enough to quite know the “tells” but there are some things that are achingly obvious and that you can camouflage your tells to stop your body from ratting you out. If you are bored, you might look away a lot or look at your watch. If you are nervous, you might rock back and forth or play with your hair (me, definitely me – I twirl my hair when I am nervous or when I am thinking or just any time - I used to work hard to not do this in social situations but now I have it under control – I think - watch my vlogs to be sure).
This is where it helps to do some videotaping of yourself with the help of a friend or family member. Do some practice interviewing and see what your “tells” are and then consciously work against doing them. Here are some quick tips from the Prof:
What do you think of these tips and hints? Happy Hunting!
As an entrepreneur, you always have to be willing to try. Just to try. Executing on new ideas and launching new programs take time and tinkering, too. It can be a challenge to share the news of a venture with the right people - as I progress in this launch of the business, I am learning more about SEO and Google Analytics and more - all of which I am rolling into the courses I am leading at Wagner College Office for Lifelong Learning on Entrepreneurship: Building Your Own Business.
I made a new video announcing the seminars for the Spring for you to watch and hopefully share about how being an entrepreneur takes trial and error and more to execute on new ideas and more. Something I talk about a lot on my videos and social media is how I teach. I am focused on presenting the best and most actionable information available to those who need help on how to take their next step either in their career or in building their own businesses. I provide career plans as a value-add to my clients and have the ability to provide that one on one service even in a group setting at my seminars. Are you interested in learning more about meeting with me in person? Check out the link below to register for my upcoming seminars for the Spring.
What do you think about being an entrepreneur and launching new programs? How do you execute on new offerings as an entrepreneur? How do you get the word out to your potential new customers? How do you share the news with current customers? If you watched my video, let me know what you think about how I flubbed the "If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it" line... Let me know in the comments, via chat or via email. Happy Hunting!
Starting over can always be scary and challenging but if done right, can be so worth it. Many people go to work every day and consider it a chore for some people it can be torture but there are some who have the ability to be happy at work. What does it mean? How can you balance your personal life and your professional life so that you can be successful at work and be happy.
For most people, the ability to walk away from a paying job into the unknown is just not possible. I recently read an article suggesting that everyone should have a “walk away” fund to leave a bad position. However, that walk away fund needs to be pretty large for most people who have responsibilities like mortgages, children’s school bills or even just medical insurance needs. The new rule of thumb is something like 1-2 years’ salary in savings to act as a cushion – it used to be more like 6 months of salary but with the economy and job market the way it has been since the financial services “collapse” 2007-2009 , 1-2 years’ is the safer bet.
That being said, as a country, the USA is full of horrible savers. It is just one of the many economic statistics I have gleaned from teaching Economics and Finance courses for various local colleges since 2003. Our savings rate is next to nothing. There are exceptions to the rule, of course, and if you are one of them – that is great. Some people are just natural savers; it is not the rule though. I often talk, in my classes, about the differences between life here and in, for instance, Italy. Here, we can have 2-4 cars per household (minimum is 2; maximum can be 4 if there are teenagers in the house with driver’s licenses) we have TV in every room and our houses are on average large. Versus living in Italy – all live in apartments, maybe one TV in the house and at most one car (but multiple motorinos – scooters).
In regards to our economy, I have been posting on Instagram an almost photographic journey of how I run my business and what things in the press and economy interest me and I recently put up two pics that show a little bit about how economics is shared with the public. One was a pic of the NY Times recent report on the government’s jobs report for October showing how job creation has improved so much for this month and indicating that the Fed will definitely raise the interest rate by early 2016. The other pic was from NY Post columnist John Crudele saying the jobs report is just magical made up numbers based on how many “phantom jobs” could be created by “new businesses” in October but will probably be dropped back down in November when said jobs did not materialize. It is an interesting read on the economy by two different sources.
Mr Crudele has been providing his cynicism on financial reports put out by the government for at least the last 10+ years (as long as I have been reading his reports). I actually once had his son in one of my classes and that is the first and last time I have taught the child of a “celebrity” – that I know of – but it was one of the most exciting for me because every time I mentioned an article by Mr Crudele (which was often), I was like – “hey, that’s your DAD!” . I am still kicking myself for not having said student invite his dad to speak to the class – hey, Mr Crudele, if you are reading this, I will be teaching Finance at College of Staten Island in the Spring, maybe you can fit us into your schedule for an in class discussion on finance?
Anyway, so job numbers and current unemployment rate of 5% recently publicized might be false numbers, false sense of security – so how does this apply to you starting over? It means you have to be brave and ready for your next step. You need to do all that you can to minimize your wait time between positions. Ideally, you will remain at your current job until you find your next step but sometimes, that is impossible to do. Your resume needs to be as close to perfect as possible, you should be considering how to use LinkedIn and leveraging your networks on helping you to find your next step – but remember not to make it a one-way street, reach out to any networking partners with something for them and a request for yourself (learn more in my category How to Network blog posts).
What do you think about my economics lesson and my quick advice on starting over? Have you ever started over? What did you do to prepare? Check out my upcoming seminars on how to take your next step for more information on how to prepare. Happy hunting!
I was able to create some more video content and wanted to share how I use the QR code for my business cards to link directly to my Order Your Next Step page.
As a Project Manager, I switched from the business side to the technology side and I talk about that in this video (aka going over to the "dark" side) and I share how those experiences in technology and more shape my entrepreneurial pursuits and help me build my business in a unique way... Find out more when you watch the video below and happy hunting!
Lisa Vento Nielsen