June 7, 2011 at 7:33 am | Posted in Life and Living | 2 Comments
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On my most recent business trip I traveled down to Baltimore to attend a high school graduation.  This June is actually the 10th anniversary of my graduation from high school and attending this event definitely took me back.

I remember exactly how I felt as a student at graduation.  I remember what I wore and why I wore it.  I remember who I sat next to and the people who received the most accolades.  I remember feeling like something big was happening, something that I wasn’t going to understand, a path in which I would have to follow my instincts in order to make it through.  There were so many questions.  What’s going to happen to all that I know, my circle of friends, my daily routine?  At that moment you don’t realize that there are some people that you have seen every day for the past 12 years who you will never see again, and some who you won’t see for years, and when you do see them again, it will never be the same.  There is no proper good bye, nor is one necessarily needed.

I remember a sense of comfort and support sitting next to one of my best friends as we listened to all the adults telling us how are lives were going to change.  We had sat next to each other at at all school activities where we were arranged alphabetically and he remains one of my closest friends today.  But I’m not close with many people from my high school anymore.  Things change.  You meet new people. You come into your own.  People you weren’t friends with in high school come into their own as well. You may get along better with people you were never friends with in high school if you met them today.

High school was a moment in time.  So much happens from the time you enter to the time you leave, but it is nothing compared to what will happen when you walk out that door and look back ten years later.  I get goosebumps as I watch these students, full of promise and I wonder if they will be happy and successful, even those who didn’t win scholarships.  Will the predictions of where you will be in ten years come true?  Will where you will be make sense to the person you always thought you were?

For me, graduation was full of mixed emotions. Sadness, for the social life that I loved, excitement for being out on my own, and curiosity for who I was to become.  And now looking back at that time, I’m proud of how far I’ve come. I look to these kids to keep the promise of the future alive in all that they do.

When Learning Becomes Professional Development

May 3, 2011 at 7:33 am | Posted in Career Moves | 5 Comments
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Growing up, you may not think twice about why you go to school.  It’s a social norm that you are born into and follow as society has laid it out for you.  Those of us from good backgrounds with good systems in place will finish high school and go on to college for higher education, and then enter into careers.  But the learning doesn’t stop there.  It morphs into something called professional development.

You may or not may get credit for professional development, but it is designed to make you better at your job, the idea being that the world is always changing and there are always new ways of doing things (and new things to do).  There is always room for improvement.

Professional development, just like internships in high school or college, help you stay one step ahead of the game.  The fresher your skills and the larger your skill set,the more you can compete in the workforce. Professional development is often something you have to seek out yourself as it is not always required by employers.  And sometimes professional development may have little or nothing to do with your current career and more about something you are interested in.  It can take the form of going back to school, or taking just a few classes, or attending a conference. You can always take online classes if you don’t have time to attend a traditional school but need to further enhance your skills and knowledge.

In a few short weeks, I will be using vacation time to attend my first blogger’s conference.  Yes, I am voluntarily taking time off to learn more about blogging and meet other bloggers.  And I can’t wait!  Here’s the really fun part — it’s in Miami!  So while I will be spending a huge chunk of type learning about blogging, I will be able to find time to enjoy the heat and nightlife Miami is known for.

I won’t get any credit for attending this conference, but I know I’ll learn a lot, and hopefully, inspired to write!

Check out the conference web site!

Can’t Take the Heat? Get out of the Board Room

February 10, 2011 at 7:34 am | Posted in Career Moves | 8 Comments
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photo via

As I may have mentioned in passing, I work for an organization focused on preparing high school students for college and career success. So every so often I actually get to see what we preach in action.  This week, I was invited to attend and judge presentations students were making in order to recruit other students to attend events.  As a communications pro, I’ve done many a presentation and of course have studied the art of presenting through sources including Andy Goodman’s Why Good Presentations Happen to Bad Causes. Public speaking is certainly an important skill for anyone to learn and the fact that these kids have real business people to provide feedback certainly gives them the edge.

So some of the presentations were pretty good, and some could use improvement.  But what really surprised me was the students’ capacity to take criticism.  There was one girl in particular who had something to say about everyone’s work.  She said it tastefully for the most part, but many people would still have taken it as a personal offense.  Not these kids. These kids were handled it with poise and grace.

In my career, I have had my work torn apart time and time again.  I used to have my emails edited before I contacted clients.  I’ve had articles come out completely unrecognizable on the other side of the editing process.  In college, when I got my work critiqued, it got to the point where I would give up on pieces where there seemed to be no end to the editing process.  I have learned in my career how to take criticism.  I know many who haven’t.

The problem with not being able to take criticism is that you will never get better.  You think that you know everything and that’s it.  You can’t learn from others and thus, you can’t really teach anyone anything.  You become a non-expert and can even become obsolete.

I have worked with all different types of people – inspiring people that you want to learn from, tough bosses, people who don’t really get what you do, slow learners, fast learners.  But it is the people who whine that get me the most.  I just don’t get it.  You never see whiners become CEOs, even if they whine their way into getting a promotion.  It just doesn’t happen.

Let me be clear in saying that there have been times in my professional career where I have gotten emotional over criticism.  It happened once recently and it was because I felt as though my toes were being stepped on and it was out of the blue so I wasn’t prepared.  But I don’t get upset when someone critiques my work (unless I know they have no idea what they are talking about).

The important thing to remember is that they are critiquing your work and not you.  Just because you completed an assignment that wasn’t up to par with the standards set forth doesn’t mean I don’t want to go to happy hour with you.  We’re adults. Let’s deal with this like adults.  If a bunch of high school kids can, can’t we?

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