Thursday, September 1, 2011

Leaders are Readers! So what are you?

You have heard me say it before and you will hear me say it again. Leaders are Readers! It is only those that choose to educate themselves beyond the minimum requirements that will excel in their lives beyond their potential. In July of this 2011, we heard from Borders Group Inc., the second largest U.S. bookstore chain, that they would close their doors forever and liquidate after failing to find a buyer for the chain. Some say that bookstores are just a thing of the past and Amazon, tablets, and E-readers are the way of the future. However, there are many more that say people in America have just stopped reading in the digital age. Instead of reading they are watching 24 hour television, or arguing opinions on Facebook, or tweeting about what they had for lunch. To support this hypothesis, check out these statistics compiled by the Jenkins Group

• 42 % of college graduates never read another book after college.
• 80 % of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year.
• 70 % of U.S. adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years.
• 57 % of new books are not read to completion.

If 80% of Americans didn’t even read a book last year then what does that say for the development of leaders in our country. Now to look at that from a different perspective:

• The average millionaire reads 1 to 2 non-fiction books per month.
• The average Fortune 500 CEO reads 4-5 non-fiction books per month.
• The average CEO of a Fortune 500 company will earn an average of 536 times the salary of the average employee of the company he/she runs.

If this is true, then there is a direct correlation between reading and leadership and wealth building. Of course there is value in keeping up to date on current events or getting a snippet of information in a brief article or blog. However, a book gives the reader an opportunity to delve much deeper into a subject which has been thoroughly researched. Also, reading a book often allows the reader to exercise their muscles in reading comprehension and understanding complex details and broadening their attention span. These are valuable skills in developing ones mental faculties, and can often inspire ideas that escape the general public who choose not to read.

Of course many people find it difficult to complete a book. So, here are some tips to help.

• Take time to read for 30 minutes each day.
• If you find yourself falling asleep while reading, place the book/e-reader on a high dresser or other cabinet that requires you to stand while reading. It is much harder to fall asleep while standing.
• Find a time each day where you can really focus on reading, some people use the quiet of the early morning, others look for a quiet place at lunch, etc.
• The average American watches 3-4 hours of television each day, so just take some of that time to read and turn the TV off
• If you spend 15+ minutes in your car each day, this is a perfect opportunity to listen to an audio book. It is a little harder to take notes, but still valuable in the learning process. This is also a great method for those that are auditory learners. You can find many on Amazon and Itunes.

I think Charlie “Tremendous” Jones put it best when he said “You will be the same person in 5 years except for the people you have met and the books you have read”. So, my question to you is: If you plan to be a leader, how many books will you read this month?

As a way to make this blog interactive, reply with your favorite non-fiction book to share with us all.

At your service,

Keith Edmondson
Professional Development Chair

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Painting the Masterpiece Called Your Life

Many times we all tend to sit back and reflect on the past. Usually when things are getting crazy in our lives or we are in a place of uncertainty. We look at the good, the bad and the ugly. Make sure you don’t spend too much time looking in the rearview mirror, because you just might lose sight of where you were headed. The past is behind us there is nothing we can do to change any of it. What is done is done. There is no rewind; no redoes - release yourself. Forgive yourself for the mistakes you made and realize its ok not to be perfect. Though we might not be able to change the past, we sure have the ability to shape our future. We can mold it into anything we want to. We just have to move forward despite our fears. We must move past them so that we can have what we all truly deserve. Happiness, love, companionship, success … God wants this for everyone of us and more. He never made any of us to fail; all he wants is us to succeed. But too many times we chose to give into the fear, or decide to not choose happiness. You have the ability to do anything you want. You just have to believe in your self. It all starts with you. So start being happy, get comfortable in your own skin. Look in the mirror and if there is something that you don’t like then change it; get a new haircut or drop a few pounds. Do what you have to do to look in that mirror and feel proud but remember it’s all a choice. The most important thing is make sure you fix the inside; that space between your ears and that thing that pumps inside your chest. Make sure your work on the real you because that is what matters. Beauty is truly only skin deep, happiness runs to the core and the inside is what really counts.

So now for a few quotes and thoughts to help you down the road:

First some classics:

“For every adversity there is an equal or greater benefit” if we chose to see it. – Napoleon Hill

"Work like you don't need money,
Love like you've never been hurt,
And dance like no one's watching."

“A failure means you’ve put forth some effort. That’s good. Failure gives you an opportunity to learn a better way to do it. That’s positive. A failure teaches you something and adds to your experience. That’s very helpful. Failure is an event, never a person; an attitude, not an outcome; a temporary inconvenience; a stepping stone. Our response to it determines just how helpful it can be.” – Zig Ziglar

"Change inevitably means letting go of familiar places and people in order to move on to the next stage of LIFE."

Now from yours truly:

The fear of intimacy doesn’t out weigh the pleasure of being close and sharing God’s greatest gift, LOVE!

We cannot control another persons actions, the only thing that we can control is our reaction to those actions.

One of my favorite quotes comes from Alfred D. Souza ...

"For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin.
But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life."

This perspective has helped me to see that there is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.

So, treasure every moment that you have. And treasure it more because you shared it with someone special, special enough to spend your time ... and time is the greatest gift we can be given or give; remember that time waits for no one.

So stop waiting until you finish school ... until you go back to school ... until you lose ten pounds ... until you gain ten pounds ... until you have kids ... until your kids leave the house ... until you start work ... until you retire ... until you get married ... until you get divorced ... until Friday night ... until Sunday morning ... until you get a new car or home ... until your car or home is paid off ... until spring, until summer ... until fall ... until winter ... until you are off welfare ... until the first or fifteenth ... until your song comes on ... until you've had a drink ... until you've sobered up ... until you die ... until you are born again to decide that there is no better time than right now to be happy.

Happiness is a journey, not a destination!

Every day when we wake up, God gives us a blank canvas to draw on. We can paint our lives any way we choose to. Why not paint a MASTERPIECE! Don't forget to just love life!

God Bless,

Dr. Chris Walker

Outreach Chair

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Social Networking for the Socially Awkward

You’re by yourself in a crowd of people. Everyone is a stranger. You look around for a familiar face so that you can feel some comfort and ease, but you don’t see anyone you know. Your hands begin to sweat. Your nerves are on the brink of collapse. You begin whispering to yourself "Why am I even here?" over and over again. It feels like all eyes are on you, and you have no idea what to do next. You start rambling and acting strange. All you can think is "What do I do?".

If this situation sounds familiar, you may suffer from "SoAwk". SoAwk, aka Social Awkwardness, is a devastating disease spreading throughout our entire culture. The influx of online social networking sites and texting has aided in the spread of SoAwk, because of the general ease of not having to speak to people face-to-face. Instead, forcing people to hide behind the almighty keyboard and communicate through cryptic acronyms such as "LOL" and "BTW" and "BRB". If your daily doses of networking and communication mainly consist of posting on someone's "wall", BEWARE! - for you may soon contract SoAwk (if you haven't already).

But fear not, there is a cure! Together, we can beat this disease with a little something I'd like to call "Social Networking" (not to be confused with Online Social Networking). Social Networking is when like-minded people gather to meet other like-minded people. In this particular case (since we are professionals), let's focus on Social Networking for your business. It is just one of the paths you can take to completely curing SoAwk. But it doesn't come easy and without side effects. One must prepare themselves mentally for Social Networking. You can't just dive head-first into it. It takes time, practice, and most of all: Courage (....oh, and a car. Or a scooter of some sort.)

So how do you acquire Social Networking, you ask? Well, first you have to find a Social Networking event. Preferably one with people (if you're just not ready for people, you can start with animals at a petting zoo or something. Baby steps...) Once you find the perfect networking event, you have to actually go to it. Contrary to popular belief, thinking about going to it is not the same as actually attending it.

Once you arrive at your networking event (in your car or scooter), you pretty much have 4 options: 1) Stand by yourself in a corner and wait for someone to approach you. 2) Start a conversation with a stranger. 3) Leave the event. 4) And, of course, the newly-popular: Pretend to text someone on your phone. If you're here to cure SoAwk, then your choice should be apparent: You have to start a conversation with a stranger (and by saying "Start a conversation", I don't mean running to grab their business card and then texting them from across the room).

Once you're able to conquer this first big step, everything else will begin to fall in place. And to help get you off on the right foot and on the path to beating SoAwk, I'm going to provide a quick list of some Do's and Don'ts. Keep in mind that these are just suggestions, and if not taken - certainly won't dissuade you from achieving your goal. But it may help get you there quicker if you follow it. I myself, am still trying to completely recover from a bad outbreak of SoAwk when I was younger, and certainly do not consider myself an expert - But I have learned a few things in my struggles.

1) DO take the initiative and be the one to introduce yourself. A simple "Hi, my name is ____________" is the best way to start a conversation. Remember: Everyone at a Social Networking event is there to network. They're just as hesitant as you are to walk up to a complete stranger. But in general, most people are decent, nice human beings. These are people who want to represent their companies well. No one's going to punch you in the face or tell you to leave them alone.

2) DO act confident. Think of Social Networking as one great big job interview. You're the interviewer, and everyone else is the interviewee. Take control and ask relevant questions to really get the conversation flowing.

3) DO be self aware. Confidence is one thing. Being annoying is another. If someone looks like they are trying to break the conversation with you, let them. Don’t be a lemming following around one person the entire time.

4) DON'T bring up politics or religion if this is your first time meeting someone. Trust me. You don't know this person, and there's no quicker route to completely offending someone. "Don't you just love/hate the president/Catholics?"

5) DO listen. Listening is even more important than talking, so don't dominate the conversation. If you start listening and all you hear is your own voice, you're doing it wrong.

6) DO respect personal space. Standing too close to a person can make them uncomfortable. If the person you're talking to keeps slowly stepping back, don’t keep taking a step forward. They are trying to get away from you. Take the hint.

7) DON'T play that game of "Who's handshake is firmer". It’s not an arm wrestling competition. You may be a strong guy, but unless you’re Superman - I’m pretty sure you have some control over that kung-fu grip of yours. Don’t crush the other person’s hand. A firm solid handshake is all it takes.

8) DON'T be embarrassed to go up to a group of people and join their conversation. Be respectful and wait for a good entry point into the conversation. Listen first, then reply. Hopefully this will be a good lead-in to an introduction: “By the way, we haven’t met before – my name is __________”.

9) DON'T be afraid to cut a conversation short if someone is dominating all of your time. Ask permission to take their card and call them later for a one-on-one meeting if that's your goal.

10) DON'T hit on the person you're talking to! This is a Social Networking event, not

11) DO consider your breath. Seriously. Nothing disrupts a conversation more than bad breath. Even if you have the most interesting thing in the world to say, most people probably won’t be listening if your breath is distracting them. Two great solutions for this: Brush your teeth, and bring breath mints.

12) DON'T eat and talk. There’s nothing worse than spitting food onto the person you’re trying to make a good impression with (or worse: letting them see you talk with your mouth full). Eat before or after you have a conversation. Not during.

13) DON'T be a Debbie Downer. If everything you have to say is negative, you're better off not talking. And on the flip side, don't be a Lucy LovesALot. If you find every single thing to be the most amazing thing you've ever heard, that gets a little creepy.

14) DON'T be afraid to say "Pardon me?" if you didn't hear what the other person said. Nodding your head and smiling is a trick most of us have caught on to. Especially when we ask you an open-ended question and all you do is nod and smile.

15) DO search for common ground. People will tend to reveal a lot about themselves if you ask the right questions. Such as: "So how long have you been SoAwk free? I'm going on 6 months now..."

So there you have it. Just a few suggestions on how to cure/prevent SoAwk. Don't let this epidemic take control. You have the power to make it go away. A small donation of just $100/day can feed me for over a week...

Wait ... sorry ... that's a different cause. I get sidetracked...

Anyway, I hope I was able to help at least one person out there and that this wasn't just the pointless ramblings of that weird creepy guy Alex.

Take care everyone, and remember to always use protection against SoAwk. See you at the next event!


Alex Shi, Social Chair

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Failing Your Way to the Top

“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

The greatest triumphs of an individual’s life do not come from following a narrow path and reaching a goal. The true triumphs, the stories that are remembered, come from those who face adversity, fall down, get up, fail again and press onward. They are the stories of the Rudy’s, the Lincoln’s the FDRs, and the Amelia Earhart’s; they are the stories of the individuals who have goals but overcome multiple setbacks- whether they are economical, physical or social.

Each week I am approached by someone who is looking for advice to develop them in the workplace. Working in staffing has taught me so many skills in the last year: how to interview, how to write a resume, how to communicate with everyone from a data entry candidate to a hiring manager…. the list is endless. My answer to those advice seekers is not anything that I have learned directly related to my job; my answer is a life lesson.

If you want to succeed, truly rise above the norm, you must learn to fail, fail again and continue to get back up. You must learn to try new things, share out-of-the-box ideas and take chances no matter how much it may scare you to potentially be wrong.

I’m not saying that you need to go occupational skydiving. The workplace translation is this: maintain an inquisitive attitude, don’t be afraid to be innovative, speak up when you see an issue, and take the initiative to start new projects or learn a new skill that would benefit the company.

The greatest triumphs of your career will not be realized by simply completing your daily tasks to the set standards; the greatest triumphs of your career will be a result of innovative thinking and initiative that drive results above and beyond the standards. If you present an idea that does not work out, or are wrong, at least you are demonstrating an interest. Admit it when you are wrong, learn from your mistakes and continue to improve. Without failures and mistakes to learn from you will never grow. Without innovative ideas your company will never grow. Most employers want to see growth; it is the name of the game.

Next time you speak to your Senior Manager, Vice-President or CEO ask them how they made it to the top. Chances are they didn’t hide behind their cube and wait for their turn in a corner office; chances are they failed their way to the top.


Katie Atkinson, Treasurer

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

You Have to Brand Yourself

I could talk about a couple of things such as, how to fake nearly flawless skin, where to get the best bargains, and event planning. However, I thought that I could share the importance of branding yourself. I have tried a couple of strategies that have worked for me. Short of putting on red lipstick and dying your hair green, there are better ways of getting the attention you want in your professional career!

Identify yourself. Who are you? What’s your logo – your signature? For me personally, it’s my pearls. You would never see me with out them on – except for the gym. Okay, I’ve been known to wear them to the gym but only because I forgot to take them off! Nevertheless, this is the one item that people will remember me. In the professional world, you are going to meet and network with lots of people. One thing that will set you apart from the sea of people is your logo. Is it scarves, a lapel pin, cuff links, bowties, hairstyle, a certain color or stripes? What sets you apart from everyone else? Take a moment to think about what you want your logo to be. What ever you pick – be consistent.

  • Where to brand yourself? Chamber of Commerce events, fundraisers, gala’s, interest groups, young professional group, do-gooder causes, Toastmasters, Rotary, Elks, Kiwanis, Facebook, MySpace, webpage, YouTube and much, much more!

If your logo doesn’t work – start over! That’s the beauty of reinvention.


Carolann Webster, Marketing Chair

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Why I Ditched New Year’s Resolutions

At the end of every year, most people scramble to jot down a list of things they want to complete in the New Year. While many are creating a fresh list of ‘resolutions’, many simply transfer what they did not accomplish in the previous year and in my view, the latter is more common than not. Frankly, gyms depend on it. They know very well that all the calories packed on during the holidays sets the stage for a successful marketing campaign for “A New Year, A New You”.

The following shows how many of these resolutions are maintained as time goes on:
- past the first week: 75%
- past 2 weeks: 71%
- after one month: 64%
- after 6 months: 46%


I ditched resolutions. Several different sources report that many resolutions fade away as the year progresses. I would consider myself a goal-oriented person and begin to think about the reality that most resolutions simply don’t survive the New Year-entirely. Around 2007, I began establishing my goals for the year and along with them, a theme to set the tone for the year.

Previous Themes:

2007: Growth, 2008: Rebuilding, 2009: Faith, 2010: Consistency

My theme for 2011 is Expansion and my mission statement is as follows: Seek to expand personally, spiritually, financially and professionally. Establish myself as a person who is a community builder with integrity and advocates sustainability.

Think of it this way, if your goal is to lose 50 pounds and you weigh 150 pounds, instead of resolving to lose 50 pounds, establish a theme for a healthy lifestyle. I’m of the opinion, establishing a theme triggers something on a subconscious level and guides all of your goals. Once you have resolved your resolution, then what?

I’m so optimistic about 2011 and believe it will be a turning point in our world’s history. Ideally, my theme could fit nicely into the worldview as well. Everyone wants to see the economy expand and be robust; small businesses want to rehire furloughed workers and expand product lines. The list could go on. Insanity is defined as doing the exact same thing expecting a different result. If you’ve been on the resolution roller coaster, I challenge you to try setting a theme for your year.

Happy New Year, let’s expand together!


Yahya E. B. Henry, Social Media Chair

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Blog Rules

The rules for this blog are simple. Keep the discussions civil. We will use our discretion in monitoring the posts as we see fit.

Use this as a forum to discuss important topics, news and events. Use this blog if you have a position you need to fill with a qualified young professional. Use this resource if you want to network with your peers. The uses are limitless. We hope you will enjoy!