12/27/2008

A New Day


I wrote a blog a few weeks back about a twenty dollar bill I received in the mail. This came from my birth mother, Margie Ketterman of Michigan this year as a belated birthday gift. The story has touched the heart strings of many as it seemed to touch a chord in those that read it of relationships that, perhaps, needed mending. Or perhaps validation? Or maybe just another simple sign of I love you.

My brother’s favorite saying for years was “Life is about choices we make, we must accept responsibility for those choices.” My mother made a choice to not be involved in my life the day she left my father. She did attempt to stay in contact but it was sporadic for years. At times, non existent. She had her own issues to deal with and somehow I got left standing out in the cold with the feeling that my birth mother did not care about me. I have felt for years she did not deserve to have a relationship with me either. She made a choice to step out and leave me and not support me in any fashion. Therefore, why should I put any energy into a relationship with her? She is not what most would consider ‘mother material.”

As I have aged and endured the long treatment of cancer, my attitude has changed. It is important to dissect our past and learn from it. It is still vital we accept responsibility for the decisions we make with our life but there is also a time to let go of our past and live for today. My decision to send the twenty dollar bill blog to my mother was to say “I have forgiven you and still embrace you in my heart in love. I recognize you love me as much as you can and I do not fault you for not being the mother I wanted.” This was healing to us both.

This Christmas morning, we spoke for the first time in literally years on the phone. The dialogue began like two strangers and quickly, the time and the distance evaporated. We became who we are, mother and daughter, full of wonder about the other, full of sadness for what we missed out on and grateful for the moment. Isn’t that was Christmas is really about, the moment. The moment Jesus was born, our world changed forever. The “I love you and always have” my mother and I shared this Christmas will forever change us both.

May you create many moments like this in your life in 2009!

12/18/2008

Women to Women: 10 Traits of Best Female Friends




10 – A good friend is loyal. She stands by your side when others walk away.

9- A good friend has a wonderful sense of humor, she can take it as well as she can give it. She knows not to take herself too seriously ..or you!

8-She is trustworthy. When you say “Don’t tell anyone” you just know, even if you didn’t say it, she wouldn’t. She guards your words like her own.

7-A good friend pumps you up, gives you encouragement to be all that you can be. She also knows how to take a compliment when you give her one. She knows the importance of this also; taking positive reinforcement is important and lets the giver feel blessed you took it!

6-She knows how to shop. Good female friends shop together, this is a given. Like men bond on the golf course, women bond at the mall, at a good clothing store like nothing else!

5-She puts time into the relationship, not taking it for granted. Even with the hustle and bustle of life, she makes you one of her priorities in life so you stay connected. You mutually share your lives.

4-A good friend is like a good marriage partner, they grow with you. The experiences that shape you shape her as well.

3-A good friend is honest. When you ask her opinion, she freely gives it. She handles her honesty with respect but values the relationship too much to just tell you what you want to hear.

2-A good friend practices good communication skills. She listens, attentively, responds accordingly and shares the gamut of the conversation. She does not need to constantly be the center of the conversation or the talker.

1- A good friend knows how to love another woman, like a sister loves a sister, unconditionally and accepts you, the good, the bad and the ugly. She knows that God is seen thru those around us and feels her friendship with you is another side of the face of God.

Blessed are those of us with a good female friend or two in our lives. Truly God is somersaulting in heaven with delight in our joy!

12/14/2008

The Love of a Good ------ Dog!



All over the country, shouts of “Hello, I am home” sends four footed doggies, tails wagging and behinds swiveling left to right, running to their owners. This is the highlight of their day!

In this day and age of hustle and bustle, it is hard to find a friend, the kind that listens with intensity, and does not interrupt. Dogs seem to be the exception. Many dogs tilt their head to ensure the sound waves are redirected so they don’t miss a beat of what their owners are saying. You can say your deepest darkest secrets and know they will not be revealed. You will not be judged, and at the end of your recanting your dastardly deeds, your pet will proudly lick your face for bearing all. It is a validation of the courage you have shown your four legged friend! Dogs make the best listeners. If nobody listens to you, you either need to evaluate the content and delivery of your message, or get a dog.

Buddies are an affirmation of your worth. As my one friend tells me, our dog loves to drink (small amounts!) of beer. When my husband needs a break from the rest of the world and the family drama, he can be found out in the backyard ,grilling out, beer in hand and just chilling with the family dog! These are moments that show how the simplicity of life are truly memorable. As I listened to her recant these memories, her face was full of love and laughter. I saw a twinkle in her eye as if she was picturing it from the distance. Her dog is her husband’s drinking buddy and it keeps him safe, home and content!

My old high school chum has had dysfunction in her life for many years. All that emotional scarring has long healed. She is now fulfilled, living with the man she should have married the first time, and busy as ever between work, sharing her life with her husband and their two children. Did I mention, both are four legged? Yep, the dogs are the center of attention frequently and bring so much joy to their happy union.

I reconnected a few months ago with a dear friend recently divorced. She has gone thru two divorces in a relatively short time. The one stable element in her life is her dog, a beautiful golden retriever that is as loyal today as when her and her first husband brought her home to their apartment. She told me that, through it all, not only was the love of her family a strength provider during tough times but her dog let her know that she will always be there. This dog is so loyal and caring. If she cries, the dog licks away her tears and reminds her she is blessed.

My pet, a beloved Labrador retriever found a lump in my breast which turned out to be breast cancer in the fall of 2007. He rammed his head into my chest, when I bent over to pet him; on the right side so hard it bruised my skin on the outside. This bruising forced me to feel and examine my breast closer to see if the tissue was damaged. When I did that, I noticed a large size mass. This turned out to be cancer. When the malignant tumor was removed, my surgeon told me the tumor matched up identically to the shape of the bruising and the placement of it on the outside of my chest where Charley had plowed into me. To this day, the surgeon credits my dog for saving my life. I had aggressive cancer and with out Charley’s sensing something was wrong there, I might not have life left to spend time reflecting. Note: Charley cannot be used in place of mammograms.

I met a man a few months ago. He lived alone, was quite poor and never left his house. His wife passed away a few years back and his life has never been the same as they shared a profound deep love and over thirty years of marital bliss. When I met him, he was as happy as a lark. Why? Because the one thing him and his wife shared was the love a small mutt and that mutt, to this day, sits on the center of the old man’s lap every day faithfully. As the old man watches his favorite TV programs him and his deceased wife use to share, the dog is diligent in being near his master. The dog relieves this man’s loneliness and reminds him that a piece of his wife will always be with him. And, the dog shares in this man’s sense of loss. That can be so healing, to have someone who can relate to your emotional loss. Hence, he is a happy man, full of smiles and joys to interact with those that care to come into his home. His dog is happy also as they have each other!

When you see a stray dog, call the Animal Control. These are God’s creatures too and they do not deserve to suffer an untimely painful death by starvation or being hit by a car to lie dying on the roadside. Someone might need them in their life. Dogs can be a blessing. Give them a chance. They may be the best friend you ever make!

12/10/2008

A Single Twenty Dollar Bill


A lot of years went by with no dialogue between the two. Many years had passed since they had seen each other, hugged each other or even made eye contact. Their relationship, whatever it was, however you defined it, was a thing of the past.

These two, mother and daughter, shared very little memories. There was a faint glimpse of laughter at a hotel during a weekend visit to town, a memory of a home shared where the two had resided in many moons ago and a connection via the usual exchanged cards, birthday and Christmas. Mother’s Days have came and went with a simple card mailed that said “Thinking of you with love.” There was even a phone call here and there made, with a gasp of surprise on either end to know they were, all these years later, connected, the bond somehow not totally broken.

Choices were made by the mother that led her life in a new direction, one that did not include her daughter. Choices were made by the daughter that excluded having the mother a part of her life, a part of her joys and her sorrows. She found others to confide in, to offer solace and to share memories of life with. These two lived, as if on separate continents but yet knew, in side, the bond of mother and daughter is never really broken. The years had been unkind to them both in many of the same ways and in different ways. But they both knew, in spite of it, their prayers were always inclusive of the other.

This mother grew up poor in money and rich in laughter. The daughter grew up much richer in money and short on laughter. Both had abusive husband experiences, hurt feelings from children disappointments, and health issues. Both shared vulnerability towards life and a sensitivity that lead to hurt feelings and wondering why life had dealt such a hard hand to them.

Then there was a twenty that is a twenty dollar bill in the mail. It was carefully tucked and folded inside of a birthday card that read ‘To daughter with love.” And this birthday, indeed, was special; it was one year out from a cancer diagnosis. This birthday left this daughter feeling grateful she was alive.

Cards had poured in the entire year from a mom besot with sadness that her daughter was going thru such a tough battle and she was powerless to do anything but say I love you in cards and letters to her daughter and remind her that she continued to pray for her healing from this battle. No phone calls were exchanged between the two, just an occasional update thru others to say ‘Your mom had more heart problems’ and a ‘Your daughter is quite sick from chemo.’

But that all changed, that day the twenty dollar bill came. It was a huge sacrifice from the mother to send that kind of money to her daughter, the one she had not seen in well over 37 years. She lived in a one bedroom apartment and struggled to make ends meet. In the midst of all this, she took and gathered up enough money to send her daughter that money with a note that said how very proud she was her daughter had fought the battle and won. It spoke in very few words of the love she felt brimming over for her daughter. Her daughter knew that day unlike every before; she was blessed indeed with a mother that loved her beyond words. She knew the twenty dollar bill would never ever be forgotten. It had arrived late because the mother had to wait to get paid to come up with the money. She told her daughter she wanted this birthday to be the most special one in her life. It was, because of this mother. It represented a token of her mother’s love. It proved without a shadow of a doubt that no number of years could take away the bond this mother and this daughter shared.

11/30/2008

A Day of Bliss


So many dreams are brought to a wedding day. Some realistic, some not. All fiancés come to this day, the wedding day, with the hope of a love ever lasting, one that can weather any storm. Odds are against this succeeding in today’s world. The presence of God in their lives and placement in their relationship front and center improves greatly their odds of success.

When the wedding day is over, the candles are all blown out. It is a dark reception hall that was once bright with gaiety. The remains of a once glorious wedding cake is either thrown out or put in the freezer at home, in the hopes of the couple being together in one year to eat it in celebration of an anniversary. When the year passes, that cake never tastes as good at it did that very first day. The love that was brought to the ceremony will hopefully not be like the cake, dried out and a cheap representation of what took place.

The marital vows, no matter what denomination the church is, seem to be the same at ceremonies all over this country. All thought goes into picking flowers, choosing dresses, designing table decorations and all the other trimmings. Very little contemplation goes into what is said. Odd how the words stated that join husband and wife, in front of God, family and friends should be the most overlooked aspect, Should this not be the single most important piece of a wedding? Why is not then?

May reading this blog inspire you, and the others you know and love, to look at their own marriage with the attention given to planning a wedding. May the way you look at your spouse on the day you made eye contact walking down the aisle bear some resemblance to how you view each other at the end of a hard day. May the sweet smell of the flowers in the bouquets echo the warmth and intensity of your love as you bid each other good night at the close of a day. Find the words of encouragement and support that most of us long to find in a life time mate. May you awaken in the morning with the excitement and blessed feeling you had that very first day you were joined with your mate and heard the words “I do!”

11/26/2008

Pray for Little Things


When I think of 'thanks for giving' I think of the wondrous gift God has given us of eternal salvation. He even sent his son so that we might learn how to live our lives.

When I think of a loving spouse, I think of my husband, who is always there for me to build me up when others knock me down and just share in my joy when life is going great.

When I think of unconditional love, I think of the first time I set eyes and held my first child, Michael. He looked up at with eyes full of wonder and it was the first time I truly felt needed by anyone. I also think of my daughter, born in 1981 right after the start of a New Year, screaming bloody murder in the delivery room and me holding her wondering if she would ever quiet down long enough so I could see her eyes.

When I think of friends, I think of many of you, folks that accept me for me and have developed a reciprocity quality to our relationship. Thank you for keeping it real. Life is too short to live any other way.

When I think of our armed soldiers, I think of our founding fathers fight for freedom and how lucky we are to live in the home of the brave! I think of the soliders that have died and pray God will let their families know that we Americans mourn their passing also and are grateful that they took a stand for our country.

When I think of Thanksgiving, I think of the first one, where Pilgrims and Indians shared a feast at a table, putting aside their differences. I am reminded of the joy of diversity.

When I think, I frequently find it leads to prayer; a prayer of thanksgiving.

11/14/2008

Fly High

United we stand as a country. It seems fitting to me that United Way’s tag line is LIVE UNITED. We are all interdependent so need each other. This organization really seems to understand that concept and act on it.

In my short time at United Way, I have learned that there are organizations, large and small, for practically every conceivable need you can think of. However, the one thing they all have in common is the almighty dollar being in short supply. They all need funds and volunteers. United Way works on both of these for its partner agencies.

To see the difference a small hand out makes in someone’s life is a blessing. I see this now quite often thru the work of United Way. What is even more revealing is that it was even needed. So many of the folks that we help live in neighborhoods like the rest of us and just are overlooked by others in a position to help them. Older folks need maintenance on their homes, their yard raked, etc. Take the time to notice this.

With Thanksgiving upon us, I appeal to you to ask yourself does someone need your help. Often times, it takes nothing more than a smile to make someone’s day special. We should get away from our ‘self imposed exile’ with others needs. Too much of society is self absorbed, centered only on themselves and not the common good. Imagine what our country would be like if our founding fathers were like that? Would we be called the United States? Would we have won our freedom?

Thanksgiving reminds me of a time when Indians came together with pilgrims from another land to share in a feast. Unity at the table was prevalent and not the differences that very first Thanksgiving of years long ago. May you find it in your heart to open up and extend yourself to someone who is different this year, someone with unmet needs. You can be the one that makes the difference. Remember, it truly is the small gestures in life that lift others up and make them feel alive! In being part of that process, you may find yourself flying high.

11/04/2008

Stand Tall


And as far as the eye could see, people were lined up to cross the bridge in downtown Nashville, Tennessee one crispy day in October 2008. The crowd was full of young women, children, fathers, brothers, older women, disabled individuals in wheel chairs, and even babies in strollers. Everyone walked with a purpose to their step; to make a statement they want a cure for breast cancer.

This year was a record breaking number, 15,000 walkers! Cheerleaders were lining the streets as the masses walked towards LP Field to begin the historic American Cancer Society’s Making Strides against Breast Cancer annual walk. Even the young high school cheerleaders seemed to understand the importance of this walk as they yelled encouraging words to everyone passing by. Their voices were loud and clear. They were yelling as if we were a team fighting for a victory. We were.

Each step of this walk represented the battle a woman or man must face when diagnosed with breast cancer. As I crossed the bridge, being a breast cancer survivor myself, I could not help but be reminded of the bridges I had to cross to get to the other side of recovery, to be called ‘a survivor.’ I was blessed to be here, walking, when so many others had fallen from this disease and were no longer with us. They were not given the chance to walk.

On this day, all around me, periodically, through the 5 mile walk, I would hear some grumbling about sore feet and sore backs. Many were asking repeatedly “How much further till we reach the end?” It reminded me of the countless times I had asked my husband during treatment, “How much longer before this is over?” With each grumbling, I would laugh to myself enjoying the air, the noise and the sounds of live around me. I knew the pain of sore feet was nothing compared to a broken spirit when dealing with the side effects of chemotherapy. I knew those that had passed from this horrible disease were watching, from the best seat in heaven that day, urging all of us on. They knew this walk was a divine one with a purpose.

I recognized many survivors on this walk. I did not know them all personally, but I could sense who they were. They held their head high, their stance proud and their lips could hardly conceal a smile. They were proud; they were happy. These women were the ones that wondered if they would ever be okay enough to make this walk. They were like me; fighters who had fought the tough battle of breast cancer. They were now using their energy to fight for others.

The money raised this year in Nashville from this event was well over $600,000. The team I was a part of, Make Some Noise, contributed over $5,000 to that total. We knew the mission of the walk was not complete without funds raised to help support further research. We need a cure and to do that, we need the money to find it.

Please take a step towards making that happen. Find a way to help support research for a cure for breast cancer. This is not a pink issue, an issue that only affects women. It affects us all. Take a step with me.

Stand tall, be proud and care.

10/26/2008

Bring Color to Breast Cancer Patients



As a cancer survivor, I can look back at my experiences and see small things in the year of treatment that made a huge difference in me. That change impacted others around me, positively, as well. My goal is to one day, bearing this in mind, to run my own non-profit organization devoted to this aim. I would enjoy helping breast cancer patients have some small comforts that help aid them in feeling good about themselves.

I became known to my oncology center as The Scarves Lady. After purchasing two different wigs, I found the one thing in common they both had, they were horribly uncomfortable. When a wig is placed on a bald head, it is very itchy and does not stay in place well. Plus, when I looked in the mirror I felt like a kid playing dress up. It did not look like me or my hair. Each hair was perfectly in place which is not me!

So I decided I was going to wear scarves, go for comfort. Thus I became the cancer patient that had countless colorful scarves. I loved the color they brought to my world! As my face was losing its color, I added color to my bald head to offset the ill look I saw on my face. Family and friends were always excited to see what combination I came up with next. I tried to mix and match scarves to both coordinate perfectly with my outfits and also to offset my clothing to give a fashion statement.

This attitude helped me feel back in control of my life, of my appearance. I needed that as; I was going through that period where patients feel a loss of control and unattractive. I needed to do something to put me back in the driver’s seat. The scarves did it and attracted positive attention from others, even fellow chemo patients in the treatment room!

Thus my dream company would be to have funding and run an organization that would do this, give color to breast cancer women. I would love to be able to provide scarves I would have sewn from fabrics that I would pick out. It would be a small cozy place where women and their support system could sit, have a quiet cup of tea and be helped choosing which colors or patterns would look best on them.

This would be a place where women would not have the glare of others in a department store noticing their bald head when they pull off a scarf or wig and try on another. They would not be rushed either. If they came in, felt nauseated and needed a cup of ginger tea and to just sit for a few moments and relax, it would be accommodating. They could experiment with colors they do not normally wear and just enjoy the moment and take some control back into their lives in a safe supportive place. I might even entertain having a make up expert on hand to teach them how to apply make up. I also would like to be able to allow those that could not afford the purchase to get items for free, at least 2 or 3 from funding. It is a small ticket item that can potentially make a huge difference in someone’s attitude. The make up expert could help bring live back to their face and remind them cancer is but one small part of who they are and not the defining feature!

To do this, I need a philanthropist or corporate sponsors. A winning lotto ticket would do as well! This is my passion, helping other women that are going to follow this path. Cancer should not be the definer of who these women are, they all deserve someplace to go to be reminded their outer beauty can match their inner beauty. It would be something family members can bring their loved ones too or buy them a few to give them back the feeling of control of their live, of choices. Which scarf to wear was, at times in my treatment, the only choice I was able to make on my own and it was empowering. I want to impart that to others. I believe giving this empowerment back to these women would help them build strength to fight for a new day!

If you read this and are so inclined to do so, please pass this on to someone who can help me make this dream a reality. The numbers of breast cancer diagnoses are staggering so the number of women that could benefit from this is limitless. Perhaps, if one organization was started locally here, it could be a building block for many others. We are world of color; help me bring it to the breast cancer women that lose their spirit when they lose their hair.

10/21/2008

Look At Me Now!

I interviewed with a wonderful organization called The United Way of Williamson County in Franklin, Tennessee a few weeks ago. I was then offered the position of Marketing and Communications Specialist. This role reports to a wonderfully good natured woman named Cheryl Stewart, Marketing Manager. She would have to be good humored to work with me! And I gladly accepted.

My role is part-time but this allows me to get involved in understanding all the causes that this organization supports. Thus, I have been in the throws of the learning curve! I had no idea there were so many useful programs today that help all walks of life with the difficulties many face in today’s world. I am inspired more than ever that I can influence positive change. This role may be behind the scenes but allows me the opportunity to grow with the organization, learn the various programs the United Way funds and supports too. This is truly an honor to be allowed to impact, in any way, the efforts of this organization to make resources available to all and help create change.

Their motto says it all, Live United. We all must do that, personally and professionally. Recognition is the first step: we are all interdependent and must do our part to help our neighbors. We all share this land, share in the American dream. With a little bit of effort on our part, we can help others realizes their greater destiny. This organization thrives on accomplishing this end!

Please keep open minds the next time you hear of The United Way coming to your company or organization. They truly are full of caring folks in the office out to make a difference. Please know, behind the desk, trying to come up with the right words to motivate you to care is me, with the aid of my new chief Cheryl at the helm! With the awareness of needs in our community, the right words to stimulate your caring nature and your donations, United Way makes these dreams come true!

10/09/2008

Heroes In Heels



Once a year a wonderful program sponsored by the Cool Springs YMCA in Tennessee puts on a fashion show to benefit their program. The program is called The ABC’s of Cancer. This program is for cancer survivors and meets monthly to teach new information regarding cancer survivorship. The classes reinforce living a healthy lifestyle. Topics are picked based on interest of the group and applicable subject matter. These women are decreasing the odds of their cancer returning by taking charge of their health proactively. It is about a healthy lifestyle, mind, body and spirit.

The ABC Program is funded on donations. Thus, annually, they have a fashion show whereby cancer survivors get to be the models. This is the only fundraiser of the year for this program. Other organizations, companies or individuals donate all other monies to keep this program up and running.

This event, appropriately named, Heroes in Heels, is a day whereby women come together that have been poked and prodded in the past by the medical community to get pampered. Outfits are picked out that flatter their assets and show the latest in fashion trends. Prior to their walk down the runway, they are treated to a face make over to learn how to enhance their inner beauty.

The benefit of this night is not lost on those that attend. Each run way model is introduced and after hearing about their apparel and accessories, the audience is told how many years they have lived cancer free. Each model is applauded, before leaving the stage, with a smile befitting a woman that has conquered the odds and won!

This year’s night was held and sponsored by Belks in the Cool Springs Galleria. They pulled out all the stops, ending the evening with a tribute to the heroes lined up on stage for one final bow. Each model was given one pink rose and serenaded by a solo artist on stage. He sang an inspirational song to the women, as they stood together on stage. All 20 stars raised their rose to the sky as he sung the last chorus, in unison and without any prompting to salute life and survival of the spirit.

10/02/2008

Surgery Pro


You know you are surgery pro when you know the answers to all the questions before you are asked! This is a sure sign that you are no longer a novice at surgery protocol.

After having yesterday, an outpatient surgery, it was so apparent to me and all present that I am indeed a pro at this. I can literally continuing talking, with no break, when being pricked for starting an IV line. Infact, I frequently can point out the better veins to shoot for, making the nurse’s job so much easier. I have learned the trick to be successfully pricked, remain calm, do not tense up and do not ever let the nurse know you are anxious about it. It only serves to unnerve them and you want them calm.

The hospital gowns never change. Vera Wang is not waiting in the wings with the newest look for patient attire! Hence, each time, no matter where I have gone, the most commonality is the gown you are forced to wear. It is the most hideous looking gown, never fits you well and often times, does not feel comfortable against the skin. With as much as you pay to be at a hospital or surgery center, why can’t some of those profits go into a more contemporary gown?

Another sign of my expertise is my ability to know how to control the bed buttons and the TV controller! I am told many patients have to ask for instructions. I think they even have a manual you can read, something possibly called Controlling your hospital bed and TV remotely for Dummies.”

This is one of the few places in life that you go in looking so much better than you do when you walk back out. After a procedure or a hospital stay, you walk out like a zombie, deprived of needed sleep, hungry for real food they do not serve and dying for something besides ice chips or a Coke. I have made my husband literally stop at a drive in McDonalds just so I can have something not good for me. My body craves the indulgence of fast food!

The instructions you leave with are a standard for just about every procedure. It is ironic that they feel they need to point out the obvious on these instructions. Call us if you have a temperature, excessive bleeding or uncontrollable pain. Who in their right mind would not call when any of these things occur?

Sometimes I think it would be funny to call about the less obvious and ask something like “Is it ok for me to go an amusement park in less then 24 hours after my procedure and get some real thrills by riding roller coasters repeatedly? “ Yeah, I think I might do that sometime just to change the monotony of the procedure! For, at the end of the day, life is about taking chances.

9/29/2008

Cure The Girls


We can find a cure for breast cancer. We must. With over 40,000 deaths last year, we must stand up and say this is unacceptable.

40,000 families have a void in their life. Their loved one is gone. We are all irreplaceable to those that love us. We would leave a void too if we passed away. So, please care about this issue and these families. Do not wait till your loved one is a statistic to care.

Thursday night a statement was made by a kind group of business owners that stood up to say they care. Their event, “Let’s Hear it for the Girls’ was held in Mt. Juliet. It benefited breast cancer. With only 6 weeks to plan the evening and only 6 individuals coordinating this, hundred of dollars were raised. This event shows how a whole lot of determination nets results. How many lives may be saved by the dollars they raised? How many participants and attendees have a heightened awareness of breast cancer? Many left with a much better understanding of how this disease is a prevalent part of our culture, our country, and it must be stopped.

This topic is not a political debate. There is not a right or wrong side to this issue. It just is our reality. 1 out of 3 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their lives. What kind of toll does this place on our economy and on our most vital organization, the American family? We must be diligent in our efforts to raise money and awareness of breast cancer. The 40,000 deaths should motivate us all to band together and support finding a cure. Show your support whenever you get the chance!

9/28/2008

Why Hire Me?


This is the value added proposition you are presenting to a potential employer. This is the question that they are asking themselves every time they communicate with you. You would be well advised to have done your homework. That is, be certain to do the research on the company, perhaps even the industry, you are interested in pursing long before you step foot through their doors.

It is so important to remember that the way you approach getting employment with a potential employer is the first reflection of the type of employee you are. Are you prepared? Are you thorough? If you are, you will know what value you can bring. Only then can you begin to address the possibility of increasing the profitability of their company or the enhancing the performance of their operations.

Too many times, job candidates decide to simply ‘wing it.’ That is, job seekers stay generic in their responses to questions during the interview process, so much so that the answers given can be used time and time again. Good experienced human resource specialists can tell if the answer is a pre- programmed response. They can also get a sense if there was any time vested in reviewing their company just by the nature of the candidate’s questions and responses. The front-end preparation will pay dividends, by increasing the odds in your favor!

In addition, you may find this company is not the right fit for you. Do yourself a favor then, do not try to fit a round peg into a square hole. If you are not right, say so. It will only end up being a lesson in frustration for you and for them. Frustration leads to job dissatisfaction. Inevitably, the end product of this is you resigning. Thus, another job-hop on your resume that could have been avoided.

Unfortunately, too many of us look back on our careers and see all the warning signs we ignored on some of the positions we have held. The red flags were going off and perhaps, our sense of pride did not allow us to fess up and admit we were not the perfect fit. As we moved forward, a great deal of time and energy, and the employer’s money, went into trying to right a wrong. It becomes a mission to prove your gut reaction was inaccurate. All this could have been avoided by moving forward to another career opportunity that did feel like the right one for you. And in doing so, you will have done this employer a service.

Take the time, up front, to ask yourself the ‘why hire me’ question as if you are the employer. Do the legwork by learning as much as you can about the position and the company. Only then, can you truly listen to your instincts and say with certainty, when asked the question, “Because I am the best candidate for this job!”

9/26/2008

A Light Shining Bright



I remember the day I was diagnosed with breast cancer like it was yesterday. Time stood still. It was that kind of silence where you wonder if the world has suspended spinning. When told by my doctor, I did not ask to have it repeated. I did not want to hear that word again stated associated with me, my name, my body. Any time was too soon to hear it again!

But the next day, there it was again, stated in relation to me. I started hearing it over and over again, like some kind of conspiracy to desensitize me to the word. I associated it with death and dying and wanted no part of that. I was always upbeat and positive. Very quickly, I tried to change my understanding of the word and what it meant to me. I wanted many more tomorrows so I began to envision cancer as merely a journey, a mountain to hurdle. I started calling it, affectionately the “C” word.

One of the best ways I found to change my automatic response to the diagnosis was to begin work on my dream list. I would contemplate, just as seriously as I would listen to the doctors update me on my treatment, my desires that were, to date, unfulfilled. I added to the list and kept it by my bed stand so that on days, when I could not make it out of bed, I could still look at it, reflect and yes, joyfully add to it.

The first few months of treatment, the list had on it such trivial items we take for granted as read a magazine article, or answer the phone and talk to someone about something besides the “C” word. Even a trip to the mailbox made my list of dreams unfulfilled. And slowly but surely, I began to proudly cross items off that list. One by one they were removed and replaced by others more challenging. Now the dream feat was a trip to the mailbox, a visit to the grocery store and even reading a book. I remember walking into a drug store to pick up a prescription. The man behind the counter said my name as if I was a celebrity. He knew my husband by appearance, but had never met me. He was so excited to meet me. The pharmacist said he thought he had heard my name every week for months. I think he was right; we gave them way too much business! The wonders of chemotherapy can only be experienced with additional medications to help curb the side effects!

This growth I experienced was partially due to focusing on reaching attainable goals. Too often, we strive for the impossible and thereby, set ourselves up for disappointment. I did not know how this would all end, my story of cancer treatment, but it gave me inspiration for the next day as I conquered more and more items on the list. It kept me positive, being true to who I am so that the cancer was not destroying the heart of me, my spirit. Eventually, I strung quite a few next days together to tell a story, this story, of accomplishment, of recovery.

I am a survivor that has traveled a long hard journey. May you start your list now and learn from a survivor, there is no time like the present. Do not wait till you are faced with a disease and feeling vulnerable. My new light, that of a survivor, is shining bright. It is called hope. May it shine on you!

9/25/2008

Talk About a First Impression



“There is a salesperson on Line #1, Doctor. Would you like me to take a message?”

This verbiage is repeated daily at dentist offices all over this country. For this particular dentist, it is especially challenging. Eight years of college and a PhD do not net anything less than a very fast pace! Even three years in the military, and responsible as the primary dental surgeon for an Air Force base does not prepare a dentist for this. A high volume of sales calls is the norm. Even when a call comes from a vendor wanting to market his practice, there is no time for him or his staff to field the calls.

Welcome to the wonderful world of dentistry. In four years of graduate school there was not one class on marketing a business. He was taught the fine art of dentistry but not how to get patients to his chair. That knowledge has to come from the ‘hard knocks’ school of experience.

Dr. Mike Glasmeier is not alone. Most young dentists struggle with this very issue; how to market their practice and get the volume of patients they read about in dental school. This is Dr. Glasmeier’s first year in business in the civilian world. His three years in the military, he had a ready-made client base! The disadvantage of those years practicing is an inability to build up a client base from the outside world. Now he is starting from the ground up.

When Dr. Glasmeier decided to buy a practice in Antioch, Tennessee he was sure word of his superior bedside manner with patients and his special credentials – IV sedation certification – would get out in the community. The ability to put patients under local anesthesia is beneficial for people who find the dentist chair one of the most stressful chairs they sit in. This preparation and foresight would help future patients who fear going through lengthier procedures, giving them a safe alternative.

Fast-forward to today. A year has gone by since First Impressions Family Dentistry has opened. This doctor has learned about marketing from his successes and from his failures. He knows now is the most critical time for him to market his practice and build up his clientele but therein exists the irony. He has very little time and capital to invest. Hence, he does his best with intuition born out of the desire to succeed. He knows his little daughter Ava wants a solid future, too and he wants to provide it!

What truly makes this dentist different is something the military awarded him for; superior customer service. He was rated, in all branches of the military personnel, as the second best dentist in service skills! Dr. Glasmeier is able to connect with all patients (young and old) and make them feel they are in good hands. His bedside manner is the best. He is gentle and confidant. As one patient recently stated, “He is the best dentist that I have ever been to in my life. He really does have a knack for making you feel comfortable and relaxed.” He does not have a salesman mentality as do many dentists, but he cares. That mentality comes through when you are being treated by him. He is in the field solely to provide a service that we all need but don’t want.

Marketing to a niche market is indeed more challenging when there is little time, money or experience. This doctor has found, as he puts it, the number one mistake is “Signing contracts with no guarantee of return on investment.” There is no book to show him the right or the wrong way to decide on these types of investments – remember he went to school to master dentistry, not business marketing concepts. His marketing dollars may generate about a 25% return on the dollar, if he is lucky.

For dentistry, it does not matter how great the skill sets are, how educated the doctor is or the certifications. He has to be marketed. All small businesses are in this predicament, but most have not spent eight years of college to get there. The best way to conservatively grow a business is through “word of mouth referrals,” as he puts it. But let me pose this question, how often does that happen when you work in a profession that no one enjoys talking about, dentistry? Let’s grit our teeth and then open up and spread the good word for someone like Dr. Mike. Besides, who wants to smile with bad looking teeth!

Written with permission of Dr. Mike Glasmeier
http://nashvillefirstimpressions.com/Home_Page.html

9/24/2008

God's Protection - A Closed Door?


Today I had an appointment with an executive search firm. I knew of this agency through a dear friend who heard the CEO publicly speak. She immediately called me on the telephone speaking high praises for his rhetoric and his quest to follow God’s path in every aspect of his life. Her enthusiasm was contagious. “ I listened to him speak and just felt inside you two were destined to meet each other.” After a year of battling cancer, my life is surrounded by truth, joy and thanksgiving. A man that built a business paradigm on Christian values intrigues me and seemed a perfect place for me to be.

The communication with the CEO and I began with an email exchange. Unlike eharmoney.com, I feel this type of communication can only begin to scratch the service of the ‘getting to know each other process. This contact reviewed my resume and told me he did not have any existing clients looking for someone with my background. In spite of this, he offered to meet with me in his offices. I was delighted!

The day arrived and I was excited. I had already decided, after viewing his website at great length, this would be a wonderful place to work. I liked the fact that his business was built on true relationships and not a shotgun approach to filling employer’s needs for employees. This man’s work experience and prayerful review of his life had led him to this place in his life, his own Christian company. He understood and combined both missions, being successful professionally and a disciple of Christ.

As I sat in the lobby, I noticed the surroundings of his offices. Everything was calm, soothing but yet deliberate in its choice. It was high quality, but down to earth. I knew instinctively this man was capable of having balance. The offices look that way the minute you walk inside the doors.

At first glance, this CEO is not an overpowering intimidating man. He appears soft spoken, thoughtful when he speaks and an avid listener. Those outstanding listening skills had to be an asset for his large clients to know for certain; they have their business challenges in the right hands. Once he began speaking, quickly it becomes clear he listens intently to God for direction with his life.

My direction, which was more or less, his question to me, is not as clear-cut. I know what I do well, what I enjoy doing and what I would like to do. I said a silent prayer that the right words would come from my lips. My hope was that this man would look at me, listen with an open heart and mind and say, “Where have you been? We have been waiting for you to come in so we could get our business to the next level!” When I opened my mouth, I elaborated some on what I can do and why I was excited to be meeting with him.

The CEO then took the lead, explaining his business design. He went to great lengths to show and demonstrate one of his client’s needs being met, including the complete visual proposal. I understood completely why clients pay him a retainer. It was, by far, the most thorough job I have ever seen of not wasting a clients’ time and finding the cream of the crop in the industry for an executive position. He has a complete approach that leaves little room for error. It is no surprise that most of his business is repeat business and referral work.

Unfortunately, when he then turned the focus back to me and asked me what he could do for me, something in the way he asked it made my heart drop. I felt that sense of dread come over me; I had not sold myself to him. I had not delivered the goods. I had hoped my enthusiasm for his company, the appreciation of his design, and my honesty at where I was at in my life would make him see, perhaps God wanted me sitting right there in front of him. Just maybe God wanted him to create an opportunity for me to join his mission. What he felt was different, I am sure because what came out were these important words of advice, “Rejection is God’s protection.”

It was a gamble to go there and speak to him of sorts. I wanted to try to convince him that his company could be marketed in more ways than just relationship building. Though I am a strong proponent and successful myself at that skill set, I do feel there are other things business owners can and should do to improve visibility and add brand identity.

This was a good man I met today, an awesome choice for anyone looking for the best executive team for his or her company. I admire him greatly! I also think his idea of tithing about 10% of his business is a great idea all companies should implement for the good of mankind. I could not help but wonder, while I was sitting there and he said it, was I part of the 10% tithe?

Our meeting ended with him giving me some prized reading materials. I was touched by his generosity to give me reading materials that touched his soul. He also gave me some ideas to contemplate about my career search. His enlightenment was wonderful, e.g. only 10% of jobs are filled off job boards.

At the end of the day, he is right, though, one can only do what one can do and have faith we are walking God’s plan. We can pray that one day, the right door will open. I did what he said, I reached out and knocked on a door. But, what was on the other side was the message relayed to me, “Rejection is God’s protection’ but I really did not think I needed that protection this time. Sometimes I guess I am wrong.

9/22/2008

Home Run Hitter



First impressions matter. First impressions last. You can spend a great deal of time trying to disprove them but usually, in the end, this is an unsuccessful venture.

Given this knowledge, it is of supreme importance, you make an initial impression interviewing, an effective positive one. The representation should be an honest one of who you are and what you can you could bring to the forefront to their organization. Too often, candidates try to be what they are not, the ideal candidate for a job not suited for them.

When a candidate interviews, the goal should be not be to present himself or herself exactly as they think the employer would like to them to be, some drummed up impression of the perfect employee. This is misleading. If an employment offer is made, with this premise being considered accurate, an employment may not last. In fact, usually it does not. The company may not be a match for the new employees skill sets and personality. This will not surface because the interview was done until false pretenses, an acting job.

Someone that was an excellent fit, in the interview process, may have been overlooked because of this deceptive interviewing technique. Eventually the true nature of an employee will prevail and it is best to make, from the very beginning, a fair representation of who you are. Put your best foot forward but make it an honest one.

It is important to put your best game face on too, when you interview. Just as a baseball player goes to bat, trying to take all that he has learned, and apply it to attempt to make a hit so he can be on the playing field, so must you. Your impression needs to be a compilation of all your experiences and skill sets presented in a positive light that is flattering to you. A home run hit should be the goal. That is, a showing of your best assets that you have to offer.

If you do this every time, you can walk away a winner, no matter where the ball falls on the field.

9/20/2008

Rejected, Dejected

Job prospecting is the one of the only times you run to your mailbox, anxiously hoping you do not get a piece of mail in it! That would be, the dreaded rejection letter. The anonymously written letter that makes you feels that you are not good enough. They all state the same sort of line, “We found another candidate who better fits our criteria” or “We feel you are not a good match to our qualifications.” Either way, you are not moving forward in your quest to start your career with them!


Every time I hear the words ‘rejection letter’ the same memory comes to mind. My younger sister attended Miami University in Ohio. Once when I visited, she took me to this bar known for honoring these “rejection letters” in a special way. Anyone that brought the dreaded letter in to the bar, and had identification to validate that they were in fact, the rejectee, was treated to a free drink of their choice. And, to make you feel even more special, your personalized letter was plastered on their walls along with all the others that had came before you and would come after you! Yes, there was a sea of these letters lining their walls. I can remember sitting there, reading them and laughing at how blasé they all read. The content and verbiage was the same in so many of the correspondences. You could not help but get the feeling it was the same person at each of these different companies writing the letter

The only thing worse than getting one of these letters is no response at all. Then you are left wondering if you prized document submission went into a black hole, never to be seen again. This is truly frustrating. Even more so when this happens and it was one of those positions you wanted so desperately that you spent extra time tweaking your resume and cover letter to state exactly why you are a perfect fit! You thought, at the time, you looked like an outstanding candidate, looking over your paperwork but the silence tells you someone else saw it completely different!

This is par for the course, this rejection and the moments of feeling dejected, for anyone seeking a career change. Just as with looking for a prince, given you have to kiss 10 frogs first, you must be willing to accept the rejection, repeatedly, to find the right position at the right time for you and for them, the employer.

It is important to keep your morale and attitude positive. Perhaps consider developing your own personal mantra to say for times like this. Verbal pep talks are important. Remember you will spend the majority of your waking hours at your career choice so being positive about the search is critical. You reap what you sow. Your internal dialogue is the best source to lift you up by your bootstraps, hit the job boards again searching and apply, apply, apply!

9/18/2008

Lunch Date With Destiny


The first time I was invited to a luncheon with a group of women who were cancer survivors was in April 2008. I was reluctant to say yes as I feared it would indeed be a dismal conversation. It seemed awkward to say no, though, since a survivor of Breast Cancer had asked me. The only time in the past I had spoken with fellow survivors was when I met them in the chemotherapy room. But I said yes and went.
To date, I have not missed a single lunch outing with this group. It was my destiny to attend these.

This group epitomizes diversity. They represent the educated to uneducated, poor to wealthy, young moms to old grandmothers, professionals to stay at home moms, but all with one thing in common. The commonality that bonds this group is a past diagnosis of cancer that has forever changed their lives. All these differences fade into oblivion when the group meets, in the blink of an eye. We are one and the same, compassionate women that care about each other and about live. Cancer is a reality check we all passed with flying colors!

Our vanity is not called into question when we meet. It is not uncommon to comment on someone’s hair to ask whom their stylist is only to find out their new style is a wig. That always brings up laughter from us! Losing hair is just part of the process of getting back to healthy.

We reveille in each other’s successes whether it is Linda who had a wonderful time swimming with the dolphins in Hawaii last month or another Linda who is just grateful for another day alive. Her prayer is that each day puts her one step closer to a cure for her abnormal type of cancer. She is part of a test study and we are thankful she is willing to participate because her involvement may one day save us or another loved one we know. Patty has just recovered from surgery and Becky is extremely pleased her children are back for another round of school! Yes, we simply delight in each other and the small steps. We understand the small steps add up to walking the journey of life.

Gone from this group are the normal tedious issues that abound women’s groups elsewhere. We leave egos at the door, refuse to cat fight and have no jealousy towards each other’s accomplishments, only pride in being together and hearing of successes. We grief for those that have passed on from cancer but we also know they are present in spirit.

The cancer diagnosis has humbled us. We recognize we are vulnerable and feel blessed to be labeled 'survivor'. We have an understanding of life that comes from confronting death, our own mortality. We have deepened our faith commitment and learned to delight in the small steps that makes up life.

To put it bluntly, we get it, the big picture. That is, life is precious. Life can be fleeting. Enjoy every moment of it!

9/16/2008

Intution, Our Best Friend

In my quest for the perfect career opportunity, I have been offered many jobs. I started keeping count but when I got to 10, I quit. In the past, I would have jumped on them immediately without a backward glance. I truly do believe we make our own opportunities in life. So I would have moved forward with a good offer even if it did not feel quite right, reassuring myself, I could turn the job into something I could love.

Time has taught me well to rethink this pattern. Too often we do not trust our own instincts. I have learned that about 80% of the mistakes we make in our life easily could be eliminated if we simply trusted ourselves.

Having survived cancer, I have the faith in my Higher Power and myself that a plan has been set for me. I pray, work hard and have a positive attitude while searching. I believe the plan for my professional career will materialize into something so wonderful that I will be humbled. Too often in the past, I have moved too quickly into a job that, from the initial stages, did not feel right. When my intuition was confirmed, I found myself looking in the mirror trying to see if I saw the word “Why’ tattooed on my forehead.

Intuition is priceless. It can be God steering us in the right direction. Too often, we let our egos grab the wheel right out of His hands and say, “Let me drive.” The signs are there, we just never pay attention to the red flags going up as warning signals. This time of my life I am going to watch, wait and listen.

Those of you that are now following this site and have offered me career opportunities and/or know of others I have received, please know I am touched by your willingness to consider me worthy to work for you. I am grateful for the consideration always!

I do have a non-compete from my previous employer and have the integrity to honor it. Plus. I believed in what I sold and really have no desire to compete against them for a client base. Webb/Mason does an outstanding job on many fronts and I remain proud to have been employed by them. They are known for hiring some of the best sales folks and personnel in the industry. I think my employment with them speaks volumes about the caliber of individual I am. My exposure to so many new diverse situations during my employ at Webb/Mason made it possible for me to leave confident, marketable and yet grateful.

I wanted time to think about where I want and need to be with my career. My motivation is to find the right career position, and not settle for just taking an employment offer that may or may not be a good fit for me and my personal goals. Taking a job offer is a lot like a marriage. It is a vested relationship. Too much job-hopping reminds me of divorce. Make the right commitment to the right person in the first place and then the hard work that follows is so worth it!

9/15/2008

Connecting with Connectors

Networking is one of the most important things you can do for your professional growth. As young children, we form clubs in our neighborhoods. We eagerly participate in organizations like the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. By high school years, it is almost as if we are in a contest to see who can stay the busiest and be involved the most. We join these groups to make friends and be accepted among our peers. On many college students’ agenda is, not only is receiving a secondary education, but also, equally high in priority, is joining a fraternity or sorority. This pattern illustrates our norm for wanting to network, in the early days of our life, long before that first major career job.

As a career woman, I noticed many years ago the impact effective networking has on us in our business savvy development. It can help us establish credentials as a person of influence and build our list of references. In these days, where job security is obsolete, having contacts for pursuing career moves is essential. Without knowing an insider, your resume can easily be overlooked. We need to continually expand our base of contacts.

In addition, the diversity of individuals in our lives keeps us more interesting and informed. Tunnel vision is similar to ignorance. We need varying ways of seeing our world, exposure to opposing viewpoints and an education in other industries outside our career path. These contacts truly enrich us with that opportunity.

There are many different communication styles. Having worked in sales and marketing, I can attest to the importance of identifying these different types. Equally important is the ability to effectively communicate to varying styles. You can have a great message but if you can’t communicate, it is non productive. Ineffective communicators do not close sales, do not motivate others to donate to worthy causes and do not change perceptions. Actively working at being well connected can improve your adaptability to relating to others. This is a major asset professionally.

Just attending a networking event is not enough. Like most things in life, you get out what you put in. Results are based on performance. Thus, if you join a networking club and do nothing but sit on the sidelines, you cannot begrudge the organization for not putting you in contact with others. They can merely provide the forum; the rest is up to you. Get involved, be a participant at some level. These organizations benefit our communities.

A networking group can be the starting foundation for some of the best friendships and lasting business relationships you will make. Some of my closest friends, and best allies in the business world, are individuals I met at a networking meeting. Take the time to do more than throw a business card in someone’s hand, shake a hand first! Ask a few questions to show interest. And, be selective. Do not join every club in town and then be spread so thin you gain a reputation for never knowing your limits. Quality relationships are much more beneficial than quantity. Your choices in networking groups make a statement about you. Make sure it is the statement you want expressed!

9/13/2008

Make Some Noise - Mt. Juliet Rocks



The American Cancer Society holds an annual event called Making Strides for Breast Cancer. This event not only raises funds for finding better drugs for this disease but also a cure and increases awareness. This is something, with the prevalence of breast cancer diagnosis in this country, everyone should rally around.
Rather than be a silent survivor sitting idly by, I decided to take action and get involved. I want to do all I can to prevent others from having to endure the treatment path I have experienced this past year. Thus, I formed a team called Make Some Noise. This event is a perfect venue to make some noise and draw media attention to breast cancer in this country.
A few weeks later, after forming my team, the American Cancer contacted me. They asked me to be a speaker at their annual local kick off breakfast held locally in Nashville, TN at the Wildhorse Saloon. I embraced the opportunity to speak for other women who have walked this path of recovery. It was a chance to tell others to not wait till diagnosed to get involved, do it now.
My speech's theme was Ava wants a cure, a beautiful young little bright eyed girl born in Nashville on Dec. 1, 2007 in the midst of my treatment. Ava is my granddaughter and every time I see her face and trusting eyes looking up at me, I cannot bear the thought of her, or any female I know, having to endure chemo therapy! I felt my speech hit its mark and several others that spoke after me, including the corporate sponsors, were truly inspirational. It made me proud to be involved in such a worthy cause.
A few weeks later, when I checked our team's site, I noticed our progress, or rather lack of it. Try as we might, we were having trouble getting folks to contribute financially and/or walk with us. We began a concerted effort to send out email blasts and speak it up at any networking opportunities we could. One day the co caption of our team, Sherry Marlow, mentioned her concern over hitting our goals to some folks at chamber meeting. Then the tide turned.
The very next day, Sherry was called and told several members of the Chamber wanted to host a fund raising event for our team. All the profit made by those participating would go directly to the Making Strides Campaign in the name of our team, Make Some Noise! They were right in their assumption, without a corporate sponsor, we could not make our goal. Thus began the meetings over this event and the quest to make this an outstanding event that will now be celebrated annually. This wonderful small group of individual business owners in Mt. Juliet has embraced this mission of increasing awareness of this issue and donations to fund breast cancer efforts.
What began as a phone call has now turned into a fun filled evening being held Sept. 25th at Scott Thomas Imagery complete with live music, donated door prizes, and goody bags for all attendees, A representative of both the American Cancer Society and the Tennessee Breast Cancer Coalition will be present as well to have materials on hand for anyone wishing to ask questions or pick up free literature. Vendors that will have materials there are donating their proceeds that night for all sales to our team. We have several companies and establishments in the area contributing food and drink too for all attendees. We started off, just some individuals with a plan but no company willing to back our efforts. I know see clearly what we have and this has become, an opportunity to show one person or group truly can make an impact.
I live in Spring Hill, Tennessee and must say it is over an hour away from this small but progressively growing community of Mt. Juliet, TN. I am touched by their generosity to stand behind our team's efforts to make a dent in this cause.

Please, when traveling in or through Tennessee in the near future, be sure to stop off I 40 Exit. #226 and see this town where southern hospitality is truly extended to all!

9/12/2008

Head Hunter Marketing?

I have been told Head Hunters are a great tool to use when trying to market yourself for a new employment opportunity. They basically are your personal sales team. The commodity on sale is you, the potential employee.

So, with a positive attitude in check, I set out to investigate and find one that would be a good match for my career goals. Hence, I picked one that is in the category, Executive Search. This area made me feel certain it would be a classy organization. When I viewed their website, I was met with images of potential candidates that had landed positions, professional looking business head shots. All the content on the site made me confidant I had made the right choice.

The dialogue began with email exchanges between the administration contact and myself. I had asked if, after viewing my resume attachment, they could contact me if I was a potential candidate for them. The response came in the next day, via email and was brief but stated that I was indeed a good prospect. The manager of this office location wanted to interview me and solicit for opportunities in my behalf. A date was suggested to meet but I responded to her that I was already committed on that date. I gave this contact several alternative times and dates.

The next time I heard from this woman was literally weeks later. So much time had passed that her email actually began with an apology for the passage of time. It also freely admitted that I had been forgotten. She wanted to appease her boss and set up a new appointment for us to meet. I gave her optional days of the following week that I could meet and time slots as well. I got back an email confirmation that began, “It was a pleasure to talk with you this afternoon on the telephone” followed by an appointment confirmation that I would be seen on this particular day of the week at 1 p.m. I did indeed think it was odd she was referencing a conversation that had never taken place. We had never spoken!

When I arrived at my scheduled appointment time, the front desk personnel looked quite unsettled as to why I was there. I told him that I had an appointment at 1:00 p.m. I noticed immediately the large oversized clock in the center of the wall stated 12:00 p.m. He told me I must have missed my appointment time, it must have been an hour earlier. The gentleman I was to speak with was already in discussion with someone else. I then asked if the clock was not working, thinking perhaps they were confused as to the time it was. He simply stated that it works but is on the wrong time. This comment made no sense and my red flag immediately went up!

By this time, the slight noise in the otherwise quiet office led to a woman quickly appearing asking why I was there. Again I repeated my earlier statement and was met with an apologetic look and a patronizing tone of “You missed your slotted appointment time. ” Then, as if I was invisible, the two individuals conversed about how unfortunate it was that I had missed my appointment time. I interceded by pulling out the printed email with my confirmation on it and stated, while pointing at her email, that clearly states 1 p.m. and that is the current time.

She quickly ushered me in to her office and said she would just have to reschedule me due to this misunderstanding. I think she was careful that the man in the other office, with his door open, did not hear what was transpiring. At this point, I felt that he probably should have been made aware of it though.

Her office was as beautiful as the outer office, definitely decorated upscale with the utmost class. She whispered to me than that there were several good shops around the area if I could perhaps hang around them for about 2 hours and thus, return for the interview. I felt over dressed in my business suit to be out window shopping and felt this was becoming a complete waste of my time. I reclined her offer and told her point blank this needs to be rescheduled. An appointment was made for the following week and shortly thereafter, she popped up her head, all smiles saying “Hey, guess what, we had you down for next week for your appointment. You must have read the date I sent you wrong.” I then referred again to her printed email that she did not want to view up close and personal and told her that her confirmation did not include a date. The email had clearly been sent last week and had a time stamp on it. One would think that an interview was the very following week unless stated otherwise. She did not respond to this other than wishing me well and telling me she would see me next week.

I doubt that, that she will see me next week, or the week after, or even the one after that! My reputation is not going to be handed over to an agency that lacks the professionalism to admit when they made a mistake. I don’t trust the follow up to be there when their own large-scale clock is ticking on the wrong time. I wonder how many corporations or organizations are sold on the fact they deliver quality candidates here? No I don’t think I will trust an agency that does not keep track of appointment times to sell my ability to be punctual and thorough. I can market myself better than that. Thank you very much for the confidence boost in my skill sets!

9/11/2008

Big Picture

If I get one more call about a sales position I might just scream so loud I can be heard all through the city! I have lost count of all the times someone contacts me and says, “Please come work for us in sales!”

I do enjoy sales and have benefited financially from my success. But, I want to build on the other areas I have worked and excelled in also. In actuality, we are all in sales. Part of life and human interaction is selling ourselves to those around us. In the business world, every employee is a representation of a company, thus in sales. My career encompasses so much more than just completing the sales cycle. It is time to venture.

Resumes can be so misleading. Mine seems to be assessed solely based on past job titles. That alone is not representative of what I have done and will do for an organization. A resume is just a snap shot. It does not show the factors that are priceless to employers, e.g. integrity, work ethic, punctual attendance, creative thinker, and outstanding performer on all fronts. But yet, a resume is the measuring stick and device that either opens a door for opportunity or lands you in the “Do not interview” stack.

My resume highlights only some of my accomplishments. The true success has come from my ability to work outside of the box and strive for personal excellence. The reason clients diligently consulted with me was because of how I approached my job and performed it. Simply said, service sells. I follow up with everyone, from the smallest client to the one that buys a million dollars annually. Project management skills are vital for this to occur. Being proactive when overseeing projects is critical in having success too. Allow for the unexpected, perhaps plan for it!

The small stuff in life counts, professionally and personally. I pay attention to details. This helps offset errors. Lack of errors improves profitability. Improving the bottom line is invaluable and organizations appreciate someone that is concerned about the P & L statements. My clients are loyal to me and are, to this day, my friends. Too many sales folks are only looking at one figure, their commission statements.

Another skill set invaluable is relationship management. Asking good questions and actively listening is important to get to know someone and build a bond. I strive to understand industries from the inside out, from not only the perspective of the employee but also management. It shows depth of knowledge and reflects a vested interest.

This relational skill set has allowed me to propose marketing initiatives for improvements in organizations. Clients know I can help a company grow and increase brand identity. My goal is to make an indelible mark and oust their competition.


Some marketing campaigns possess a major flaw; tunnel vision. It is easy to become so complacent that the focus is on the internal vision of the company. It is so important to be objective and not downplay the importance of the intended audience’s perception. This step can’t be overlooked when creating any marketing or public relation blitz.

Marketing is sales; it is selling the company at large. This is where my passion is, helping create and project the big picture! If this critical business step is done well, it can literally remove hurdles from the sales team, knocking down doors that were not open before. Thus, I am on my personal quest to knock down a door for me to run through. I know I can find an organization that wants someone on board to help develop a ‘big picture’ that will forever change the perception of whom they are and what they represent to consumers and society at large. That is my passion and God willing, I will find it.

9/10/2008

Take a good look at me now!

I am on, what is commonly referred to as 'the job hunt.' I am searching for an exciting opportunity where I can use my skill sets and creativity in my career. And I am shocked at how difficult a job this is, looking for an inspiring opportunity. My heart goes out to the thousands of other folks out there traveling this same journey. Please know that you are not alone!

Most of us want a job that will help us achieve our dreams but to accomplish that, we need a paycheck. Without an acceptable income, though, it is hard to make dreams come true! Try it sometime and let me know how successful you are. It is not as if you hitch hike to Hawaii easilym given that it is surrounded by water! Going to the Hawaiin Islands would be another dream of mine, a place where beautiful beaches are easy on the eyes and flowers are worn around the neck as the norm.

Let me introduce you to me, I am Miss Queen of Networking. My contacts can tell you stories of how I have helped them make productive business connections and how I have helped open doors for folks seeking to make career changes. I have religiously delivered results. The irony here is that I have been more successful at connecting others to where they want to be than I have with myself. However, never before I have truly set my sights on connecting myself with the perfect job. Not before now...

Recently, I met Genma Holmes, a wonderful successful business woman. Genma was intrigued by my goal, that is, to find the career opportunity that allows me to reach my full potential. I exhibit a great deal of passion in all that I do and believe we can accomplish our goals if we take the steps. Genma suggested a new important step, "Veronica, you need a blog page. You need to expound on this search." Genma got it much quicker than I. Having just recently recovered from breast cancer, this is more than a career search for me...this is a journey towards what I am destined to do with the rest of my life. God has graced me with so much more time; I have came through this battle healthy on the other side.

After cancer, a survivor is overcome with the feeling of "Ok, where do I go now, now that all the doctors appointments and chemo sessions are over?" This is an important question for not only cancer survivors but anyone contemplating transitioning their career. Jobs give us a sense of value. Our careers help validate our existence.

Please travel along with me as I share some of my experiences with searching for the perfect opportunity. This journey will be a learning and growing experience for us all. I hope you enjoy the ride. Take a good look at me now!