Saturday, December 27, 2008
Friday, December 26, 2008
At church recently we did a study that prompted me to take action on some things I'd been contemplating.
Seth Godin wrote about this recently:
Think about this for a moment. If a trusted friend could arrange a meeting between you and anyone of your choosing, who would you choose?
Not for entertainment or curiosity or bragging rights, but to help your business. Who could help? Someone who could actually aid your marketing or development...
Years ago, I want to the AOL partner's conference. I'm no runner (unless someone is chasing me) yet I signed up for the early morning run because I knew Steve Case, CEO of AOL, would be running. I ran with him for twenty minutes, almost killed myself. Didn't help. (But I'm glad I met him).
If you're an author, can Jeff Bezos at Amazon help you more than a motivated promotions manager far down the ladder? It's unlikely.
People in charge can rarely help you, because they are rarely (truly) in charge. Billionaires can't help you, either, because they have their defense force fields on full strength during meetings like this. In fact, the person who can help you the most is almost always someone who doesn't appear that powerful on the surface.
Remember, it's not just that they can help you. It's that they want to help you. Famous people qualify in neither category.
So, who is it? Hint, it's not the Wizard of Oz or the Pope or Barack Obama. It's someone not famous, someone who actually makes things happen and someone who actually cares. Think hard... Got it?
Great. Go meet them.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Hope you had a Merry and Blessed one. Tonight's video features a live performance from one of the first albums I had, (Silk Degrees).
However, today, as we celebrate Christmas, there are many who are looking for a job. That's why I am posting this today from the Art of Manliness Blog. And feel free to pass this on to others:
Posted: 18 Dec 2008 11:55 PM CST
We are reminded daily that the economic outlook isn’t good; for those of us looking for work, it’s hard to imagine a worse scenario. Not only are there less jobs out there, the number and quality of people applying for them continues to rise. Interviews have gone from competitive to ultra-competitive.
This article deals with how to dress for a job interview. What you wear to an interview is important because it is a factor you can control, unlike other factors such as who will interview you or what questions will be asked. Not dressing appropriately is one of the most common ways job seekers shoot themselves in the foot; it immediately signals to the interviewer that you did not properly prepare and damages your chances for the position. In today’s ultracompetitive job market, why would you let something so simple get in your way?
Although focused on interviews that require a suit and tie, many of the tips and techniques translate into any situation in which you want to present yourself as a prime candidate for employment. These tips can stand alone if you are applying for an entry level position where only a button up shirt and nice slacks are required.
The Interview Suit
The good news is that the classical men’s suit style has remained the same for a hundred years. The bad news is that there are a lot of fashion suits out there that will become dated faster than you can purchase them. You need to ignore temporary fashion, and find what looks best on you. Remember three things when choosing a suit: Fit, Style, and Fabric.
Your Suit’s Fit
The majority of American men wear suits too large for them. The problem is a result of trying to fit into a garment made to fit as many men as possible. It is always a good investment to have anything bought off the rack adjusted by a competent tailor, but first you need to find one that comes close to fitting. When inspecting your suit’s fit, first ensure the chest and shoulders fit you snugly – you should have full freedom of movement with your arms and a few inches of room in the chest but not so tight as to form an “X” when buttoned. The jacket should be long enough to just cover your backside and not extend past your hand’s knuckles when your arms are held straight down. Ensure your sleeves show ½ inch of shirt cuff and that the jacket lapels lay flat on your chest. Finally there should be no bunching of fabric in the back near your neck ,and your jacket collar should show approximately ¾ of an inch of your shirt’s collar.
Your Suit’s Style
When it comes to interview suit style, go with a classic cut that is common in your country. In the United States, this is a single breasted, notched lapel, two or three button jacket with a single or double back vent and regular flap pockets. Ensure you have at least as many cuff buttons as you have front jacket buttons (four buttons on the sleeve is normal) and make sure you have a left breast pocket (on some trendy suits these are missing). Avoid patch pockets, peak lapels, and slanted side pockets (in the US) as all of these change the formality of the jacket and are best left to non-interview attire. Also pay close attention to the lapels; a trend right now is thin lapels, which if worn by a large man will make him look ridiculous. As for trousers, either flat or pleated slacks are fine, although pleated fronts are more formal and generally more comfortable. Cuffed bottoms look best on tall men while shorter men are advised to wear their trousers uncuffed; either is perfectly acceptable for an interview.
Your Suit’s Fabric
When selecting your suits fabric take into consideration its weave and color. Try to go with natural fibers, preferably worsted wool. If you choose a blend, ensure the synthetic fiber make-up is 40% or less. Although a blend may keep the price down, it will normally not last as long and may be less breathable. As to color choice, the safest selections are solids in navy blue, charcoal, and black. Although you can wear patterns such as pin stripes or colors such as brown or taupe, understand you will stand out.
The Dress Shirt
Again, focus on fit, style, and fabric. The dress shirt’s fit should be loose enough to allow a full range of movement but not so loose as to have excess fabric bunching up under the jacket. Your shirt should be long enough so that when you bend over, it does not un-tuck. You also want to be able to place two fingers in-between your neck and a buttoned collar – any more and it just looks too loose. Your cuffs should extend to the top of your hands, with approximately ½ inch of shirt cuff showing from under your jacket sleeve when your arms hang straight down. The cuff should not be too loose; you should have to unbutton it to remove it.
As for style, the collar type chosen should be based off of your facial structure. Men with long, thin faces look best in spread collars, while round faced men should look to even out their appearance with a point collar. Avoid button down collars in an interview, as they are the least formal. Normal barrel cuffs with one or two buttons are fine for interviews; avoid cufflinks unless you have the resume to back them up.
Your shirt’s fabric should be simple and non-flashy - white and blue solids are a staple and easy to find; those that desire more can transform these colors with a unique weave such as herringbone or oxford. Avoid colors such as lavender and pink and patterns such as checks, as they make an outfit less formal; stripes should only be worn if the wearer understands how to match patterns.
Interview ties should be conservative and made from silk. Solid or simple patterns in red, blue, or gold are all acceptable; however, a skilled dresser can often incorporate almost any non-attention grabbing color and pattern. Striped ties are a fine choice and come in a wide range of colors, but ensure the tie you choose is not sporting a regimental pattern. In the UK, memberships to military clubs and other groups are symbolized by certain ties. Wearing another man’s “Colors” can cause a confrontation and embarrassment. And unless it’s an interview over a meal, there is no reason to use a tie clip or pin (where it serves to hold a man’s tie in place). The key thing to remember is to keep it professional - avoid bright colors or designs that will draw undue attention.
Your shoes are the foundation of your outfit; do not skimp on this detail – they are as important as your suit. With that being said, anything well polished, dark, and not screaming “look at me!” will probably work in the US for an interview; in Europe they are generally more in tune to these details, so be careful. A plain or capped black oxford is always a safe choice; classic in nature, a quality pair will serve you well for years. Whichever shoes you choose, try to make sure they have round toes and closed lacing. By closed lacing, I mean that the two sides of the upper that are pulled together by the lacing are sewn under the front part of the shoe. A small detail, but it gives the foot a sleeker look and will ensure your shoe is the right choice for a suit. You should not wear slip-ons such as dress boots, loafers, or monkstraps, and avoid anything eccentric.
Your socks should match your slacks or shoes and be dark in color. The goal here is to not draw attention to your legs. This isn’t the time to sport the no sock/short sock look or try that new pair of flashy hosiery. If the socks are seen, they should appear to flow seamlessly between the shoes and trouser cuff. No White Socks!
Jewelry and the Interview
A wedding ring is always acceptable in an interview; anything else is fair game and left up to the interviewer’s personal views. I advise against wearing class rings or anything else on the fingers. As for watches, think less is more - keep it simple, understated, and please turn off the alarm. Although jewelry such as nose rings, eye piercings, and earrings have become more accepted in our society, these things are still considered out of the ordinary for many; you cannot wear something like this and not expect it to affect a person’s impression of you. Be yourself, but be aware of the consequences.
Get a haircut a week before the interview and ensure they trim around your neck and ears – consider grooming these two areas again the day before. Pay attention to the details - your nails should be clean and cut, your face appropriately shaven, and your hair should have been washed within the last 24 hours. It’s not a date, so avoid cologne and be careful with the aftershave; sometimes interviews are held in small rooms and you do not want to overpower your interviewer’s olfactory system.
You do not need to have your clothing dry cleaned, but everything you wear must be look and smell clean (no smoking around your interview clothing). Shirts should be ironed, shoes polished, and have a suit steamed to remove wrinkles. Have all of this done well in advance of the interview – saving this for the last minute is asking for trouble.
Your interview attire will not get you a job – but failing to manage it can hurt your chances for a position. Your aim in dressing well is to present yourself in the best possible light throughout your interview. Wear clothing that fits, is made of quality material, and is appropriate for the interview. By doing these simple things you ensure the interviewer focuses on your skills and what you have to offer; not your appearance.
Written by Antonio Centeno
President, A Tailored Suit
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Wednesday, December 24, 2008
We had a loss of power last weekend due to an ice storm. Our home was powerless for 48 hours, then we had 8 family members stay with us for 3 days while they were waiting for power to be restored.
Tonight we will have our Christmas gathering with other family and the snowflake contest!
Take a look at this for some inspiration today:
Posted: 19 Dec 2008 09:09 AM PSTSo there I was, curly white hair obscuring my eyes, curly white beard tinkling my nose, jingle-bell-bedecked hat jingle-jangling. It was my turn to be Santa Claus at the kids’ school. I had on the red suit, the big black belt, the whole works. Thinking back, I can’t help but say it was a little unreal.
Being Santa can be awfully daunting but there are a few good lessons to be learned once you step into those big black boots. They are lessons that we all knew at one point but for some reason, most have forgotten them. Perhaps it's because an iPhone didn't tell us so!
- Make the Memory
Maybe this is the year to build a snow fort in the front yard or try ice skating in the park. Some families make a special ornament each Christmas and mark it with the year. Try something new whether it’s a gift or an experience so you can keep the years from becoming a blur. This will always be the year that I first dressed up like Santa.
- It’s about the kids
Sure, you want that new BlackBerry (and maybe an Amazon Kindle or a nice watch), but when it comes down to it, Christmas is a kids’ holiday. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t enjoy yourself when you are a grown-up, it’s just that the joy of the holiday comes from a kid tearing into those presents when it’s barely light outside on Christmas morning. It’s not a time to be selfish.
- Respect tradition
Whatever your religious feelings at Christmas time, Santa Claus gives you a chance to share family traditions. Always open presents on Christmas Eve or leave plate of cookies out for the big guy? Whatever they are, Christmas traditions are another way a family learns to stick together no matter what problems or clouds surround.
- Appreciate the little things
As Santa, I got to pass out little gifts to the kids – jingle bells on a ribbon they could wear around their necks. They couldn’t be more thrilled. One of the best things about the holidays are that they bring out good behavior in most folks, so even small gestures mean a lot when they are thoughtful. So how about spreading around the thank yous and the favors – let the other guy into the parking space or thank someone for opening the door for you. And even little gifts can be great. Give out candies or cards.
- Don’t be a cynic
If you are gagging on the last point, thinking about the pushing and shoving at the store or the meaningless merchandising of Christmas, take a moment. You can’t be a cynical Santa when kids are asking you if you are friends with Frosty the Snowman. Fight the temptation to hate it all. Focus on the good and, when in doubt, watch “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”
- When in doubt, ho, ho, ho
If you really think about it, these days are pretty ridiculous. Guy in a red suit. Trees inside the house. Egg nog?! On your way home from work, just look at the lights, turn up the radio on one of those silly songs (“Wonderful Christmastime” by McCartney is a good choice) and just laugh.
|Written on 12/19/2008 by Mike Koehler. Mike is a multimedia journalist in Oklahoma City working full-time to save the newspaper business while helping his wife raise three kids under age 8. In his spare time he sleeps. E-mail Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org.||Photo Credit: |
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Posted: 02 Dec 2008 07:25 AM PSTIf you struggle to meet people and make new friends because you're extremely shy and cannot seem to overcome your fear of cold approaching perfect strangers, you're not alone.
Some folks can walk into a room full of strangers and yet within an hour, you'd think that they've known these people forever. While they may be blessed with a healthy dose of self-confidence and extroversion, it does not mean that you cannot find yourself in the same situation.
The trick is to reverse the tables and have perfect strangers approach you instead of you approaching them. Here are six ways to meet people and make friends without subjecting yourself to making the first move.
- Team sports
The "team" in team sports means that players have to interact to play the given game. Even if you're extremely shy, fellow players will introduce themselves to you and eventually they will be interested in other aspects of your life. The more talented at the sport you are, the faster you will be able to make new friends because people tend to be attracted to champions.
- Cultural events
It seems that in today's world, everyone is originally from somewhere else. That's especially true in North America where our ancestors came from various parts of the world. Let's suppose that your great-great-great grandfather was Irish. You'd consult a calendar of cultural events and head over to the next Irish meet-up. The minute you'd walk in, friendly people with the same background who would warm up to you quickly surround you.
Familiarity breeds friendships. Whether you buy your daily coffee fix from the same coffee shop, whether you have lunch at the same food court or whether you patronize the same bar, you will eventually become a familiar face and the staff will come to know you on a first name basis. They will eventually know enough about you to introduce you to like-minded people who will be more than happy to make your acquaintance.
Every single family has an eccentric member or one that's "cool", super-connected or always the life of any party. It's a smart idea to be rather close to that sibling as association will introduce you to so many people that you may eventually feel overwhelmed.
Not only will you do a lot of good and feel good for lending your helping hand, you will also meet good people without even trying. It does not matter where you live; there's always an organization or cause that needs your kind time. Everyone has an issue they're passionate about and you are likely to meet like-minded people there with who you may forge long-lasting friendships.
- Be awesome
Being one of the best at what you do best is a sure way to attract people and make friends in the process. I have an introverted friend who's also extremely shy and yet he meets people left, right and center without resorting to one single cold approach. He is a local mini celebrity in his own right. His claim to fame? His barbecuing prowess is the talk of town and this amazing talent often lands him in the pages of the local newspapers and as a recognizable person, people approach him and he's made a few good friends as the years have gone by.
Getting people to strike a first conversation with you is without a doubt the easy part. Keep them interested is where the real challenge lies. That's for another post but as long as you're friendly, you will make new acquaintances or friends in no time. How many potential friends are you meeting this weekend?
|Written on 12/02/2008 by John Boston. You can catch him at Super Fly: The Extremely Shy Guy's Guide to Meeting Single Beautiful Women.||Photo Credit: Logan Antill|
Monday, December 22, 2008
Posted: 18 Dec 2008 02:05 PM PSTMany of us are tightening our purse strings this year, out of necessity rather than choice. The American Research group has reported that “Shoppers around the country say they are planning to spend an average of $431 for gifts this holiday season, down from $859 last year.” If you’re trying to get out of debt or start the saving habit, don’t wait until January: you can have a great Christmas on a budget, without scrimping on enjoyment.
Even if you have kids, there are plenty of ways to reduce the amount that you spend on presents and on all the other trappings of Christmas. Here are a few ideas:
Are there some relatives and friends who you barely know, yet feel obliged to exchange gifts with? Why not declare a “gift amnesty” this year, and just swap goodwill instead? If that takes too much of the cheer away, suggest a spending limit and challenge people to get creative within that!
Amongst a large group of friends or colleagues, “Secret Santa” can work well. One volunteer takes everyone’s names, randomly tells each person someone to buy a gift for, and then the group meets to exchange gifts, which should be wrapped and labeled with just the recipient’s name. Everyone should get one present – but no-one (except the organiser and the giver) knows who gave it to them. Set a spending limit ($5 or $10) and have fun guessing who gave what!
It can be tricky to set spending limits when you have children who clamour for the latest expensive electronic toy. With older kids, you could just say that there’s a spending limit, and if they want something more expensive, it will need to be a joint gift from several relatives. (If they have a birthday near Christmas time, you could suggest making it a joint birthday-and-Christmas present.) For younger kids, try suggesting cheaper games and toys that they might enjoy, and encourage them to write these on their Christmas list.
Being organized well ahead of time will help cut the cost of gifts: check different online stores for the cheapest deal, rather than dashing around the high street in the manic days just before Christmas (although we're getting close!).
Although gifts might be the most expensive part of Christmas, decorations can also take a big toll. Figure out what’s non-negotiable (perhaps a tree) and cut back on everything else. Many decorations can be made for pennies by getting crafty – this is also a fantastic way to get your kids to focus on something other than just receiving presents.
Some easy paper decorations to make include:
- Paper lanterns (you can find instructions here)
- Paper chains – cut strips of paper, make into interlocking loops
- Snowflakes and paper doilies
- Strings of paper dolls, holding hands
Food and Alcohol
It’s easy to get carried away when grocery shopping over Christmas, especially if you’ll be regularly playing host to groups of people. Don’t feel obliged to fork out for expensive party delicacies like prawns, olives, smoked salmon and fancy ready-made canapés.
Base meals around cheap staples like rice, pasta and veggies; try some crowd-pleasing choices rather than fancier options: fajitas, lasagna and curries are all great options. (Though you’re unlikely to get away with this on Christmas day itself!) Alternatively, arrange a pot luck and ask guests to all bring a dish – or plan a three course meal but get someone else to bring the starter and dessert.
When it comes to alcohol, don’t pay for bottles of fancy wine that won’t be appreciated, and don’t worry about matching wines to different courses. Just get some middle-of-the-range red and white wines, and your guests will be perfectly happy. Mulled wine or punch can work out very cost-effective, too, as a cheap bottle of red wine will work perfectly in this.
Alternatively, ask your guests to “bring a bottle” to the dinner or party that you’re hosting (many may show up with one anyway) – this is an easy way to ensure that everyone has something which they like to drink.
When the kids are off school over Christmas, or when you have hordes of relatives and guests to take care of, you can end up spending a fortune on movies, meals out, theme parks… Try to have a few days of cheap (ideally free!) entertainment instead.
These are just a few activities that kids and adults can enjoy together:
- Home movie night – rent a couple of DVDs (or borrow from a friend), make popcorn, and snuggle up under duvets. Much cheaper than cinema tickets, and you can even pause the movie midway to get more snacks…
- Putting on a play or puppet show for parents/relatives – a giant cardboard box can be a great “stage” for puppets, and costumes can be improvised by borrowing other people’s clothing (with permission…)
- Board games – dig out some old family favourites, and have a games evening with your kids. Let them introduce some “house rules” to keep everyone on their toes.
- Outdoors adventure – wrap up warm and go “exploring”. Drive off into the countryside, or visit part of your home town that you’ve never been to before.
|Written on 12/05/2008 by Ali Hale. Ali runs Alpha Student, a blog packed with academic, financial and practical tips to help students get the most out of their time at university.||Photo Credit: Randy Son Of Robert|
Sunday, December 21, 2008
My wife has 3 brothers and 3 sisters. Danny, the oldest and Patty the youngest live in the "Region". That's short for Northwest Indiana.
Sister Jane lives in Illinois. Brother Mike and Sister Maryann live in Fort Wayne and Brother Tim is in Indianapolis.
As we wonder when the power company will come down our street and turn things back on, I took some time this morning to head to the Firefly and check email and hang some place warm with friends.
Maybe be the time this posting appears around 6pm Sunday, we'll have power back on at our home.
Tonight, instead of posting the video, I am posting the link. Tim Luncsford is the creative genius behind this short clip. The original print won a contest recently in Indianapolis. After you watch the clip, check out some of his other work too. Here's the clip, make sure you have the sound cranked up too! http://www.stratacafe.com/image.asp?imageID=26858&artistimages=1&killnext=0
Posted: 02 Dec 2008 09:06 AM PSTYour credit score is probably the single most important number in your financial life. Sadly, it's become one of the only ways businesses can judge the creditworthiness of a person. Use of your credit report has infiltrated areas we never thought it would - from job applications to insurance premiums.
I recently learned the impact credit score has on interest rates after finding out a single point could cost you thousands of dollars in interest payments on a mortgage.
That being said, there are several simple and legal steps you can take to improve your score:
- Get It For Free
The first step in improving your credit score is to constantly monitor your credit history by getting your report for free from AnnualCreditReport.com. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires that the three nationwide consumer reporting companies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) provide a copy of your credit report every twelve months. You can learn more about the FCRA's mandate at the FTC.gov website set up for this.
- Correcting Errors
Once you get a copy of your credit history, look it over and dispute anything that's wrong. You could have an account listed that isn't yours or one that's listed as delinquent when it's not. The statistics on the number of errors in credit reports is astounding (79% may have errors)and chances are something in your report is wrong and adversely affecting your score.
- Stop Applying for New Credit
10% of your score is based on your requests for new credit. 15% of your score is based on the length of your credit history. When you apply for new credit, both of those figures are negatively affected. Just think of it this way, if you were going to lend someone money, would you lend it someone who has been looking for credit recently or someone who hasn't? Lenders aren't that much different.
- Pay Down Debt
30% of your score is based on the how much of your available credit is being utilized; the lower the better. If you have $10,000 of available credit and you're using $8,000, your score would be lower than if you were only using $1,000 or $2,000. Again, think back to if you were a lender. If someone was using 80% of their credit, wouldn't that set off some warning bells? They could be very creditworthy, payment history (which accounts for 35%) can attest to that, but a higher utilization figure means higher risk. By paying down debt, you're lowering that figure.
- Request Credit Limit Increases
These days, the number of credit issuers willing to do anything but decrease your credit line is dwindling. If you ask, some credit card companies are willing to offer a credit limit increase without a credit inquiry. These are the types of increases you should try to obtain as inquiries will occasionally decrease your score by a couple points. By requesting, and being granted, an increase, you lower that utilization metric used for 30% of your score.
- Dispute Old Negatives
Finally, if you have some old negatives that you think the lender won't, or is unwilling, to confirm if disputed - dispute them. Some smaller agencies or businesses may not care enough, or may be in such disarray, that they can't confirm the bureaus investigation into the old negative. If there is no confirmation or paperwork officially stating that you owe them money, they cannot keep the claim active on your credit report.
|Written on 12/02/2008 by Jim. Jim maintains a great personal finance blog named Blueprint for Financial Prosperity where he discusses everything from insurance and investing to credit cards and retirement.||Photo Credit: orphanjones|