Archive | October, 2008

Finding Hope In A Failed Economy

31 Oct

With the upcoming elections and the recent fall of the stockmarket, there has been a lot of talk about the state of the economy lately. Yes, the economy is really bad and a good portion of Americans are struggling just to put dinner on the table, and send their children to school. A large percentage of hard-working Americans have been laid off, and companies have put hiring on hold until the economy improves and clients invest in them again. However, as my Mother always said, “If you can’t change something, change your attitude towards it.” So I started thinking about the positive (yes I know) that may come out of this. 

For one, the economy can only get better (unless of course we make the wrong decision for the next president and have four more years of the same government negligence). In this sense, we at least have something to look forward to and know the situation is temporary. Secondly, the dismal job market, may force us to take longer to think about what we really want to do in our next position. I know personally, I’ve started putting my energy into applying for graduate schools, and performing well at my current one, instead of hastily finding a new position. Also, the uncertainty of the job market has forced me to be more careful with my investments, and start saving money to prepare for a worst- case scenario. I’ve avoided using my credit card, and if I need to use it, I pay it off immediately to avoid interest and additional charges. If I need to put the shirt on my credit card, I shouldn’t be buying it in the first place. This is something I will take with me no matter what state the economy is in. 

Sometimes we can get so used to a routine- wake up, go to work, go to the gym, go to sleep etc, that we don’t question our lifestyle and happiness. We don’t realize how fortunate we are to have a job in the first place, or how much the family and friends around us really care.  A friend of mine, who recently lost her job, said that maybe it was a good thing that they let her go, because it has forced her to find an even better job that she will be really happy with, and advance in her career. The outpouring of support from friends and coworkers has also allowed her to see how much people care and respect her work. 

It’s always at the lowest points, where we come together and realize what we have taken for granted, and who is really there for us. Maybe instead of using the economy as an excuse for why things are bad, we can use it as an excuse for why things will get better. Think of it like a 4am wake up call- you don’t like it, it ruins your rest, and makes you really grumpy. But in the end, it gives you more time and makes you more productive.

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10 Rules for Email Etiquette

30 Oct

 

Photo Courtesy of Simon Davidson
Photo Courtesy of Simon Davidson

I was going to make this entire post a rant about how much the caps lock button bothers me, but instead I decided to write about email etiquette in general, or as I read elsewhere, “Netiquette.” Email has become so commonplace that we have grown lazy when we write it, throwing all grammar rules, spelling and and formality to the wind. How much does it make you cringe when you read an email that has tons of exclamation points, misspellings and misplaced apostrophes? (I myself am guilty). Here’s what I think are the top ten rules of Email writing that should always be followed:
1.DO NOT USE THE CAPS LOCK: I’m not entirely sure why this terrible button was placed on our keyboards in the first place. Okay, maybe it makes it easier to type a title, but how often do you really do that? I think all keyboard companies should get on the bandwagon that One Laptop Per Child keyboards are on, and get rid of this button entirely. Some people use the caps lock key to emphasize words, however to most, the use of caps implies yelling and is very offensive. And two points extra offensive if you capitalize an acronym. Honestly, try to read an email from your boss that says I need this ASAP or FYI and not feel like your head is going to explode with rage. 
2. Careful using Acronyms: Never assume that the reader knows what you are talking about when you say “lol” or “BTW” or “NP.” Not everyone is a Generation Y avid texter. Spelling out the entire word will not only avoid confusion but make you seem more professional. Even universal ones such as ASAP can be confusing- to some this means 10 minutes, and to others this means a day (as we’ve all learned the hard way).  Always be specific PLZ.
3. Be specific in the subject: Your boss wants you to print a report that was forwarded to you from a colleague ‘ASAP” but you can’t find it anywhere in your email. Ten hour later, you find it under the subject, “Is it time for lunch yet?” This may have been funny at the time, but when you search for the email later, it will be very hard to find. Always be as specific as possible in your subject lines, titling it with exactly what is in the body of the email, for easy retrieval. 
4. Spell-check: For those of us that didn’t win the spelling bee in elementary school, word processing systems and most email servers have created spell checkers to do the job for us. No matter how fast you need to send the email, always spell check. A simple spelling slip up can change the email message completely and make you/your company look sloppy and careless. 
5. Easy on the Emoticons: Because the recipient can’t see your smiling face when you send the email, it may be tempting to put one in there with a little colon and parenthesis. However, these are often seen as informal and childish, so leave them out unless you are emailing your best friend or close coworker.
6. Double Check before you send: No one likes to be the joke of the Christmas party- the person who accidentally hit “reply to all” and sent out a rant to the entire company that was meant for one person. After you spell check, double check that you are sending to the appropriate person. And if you are applying to a thread, make sure that any new recipients have seen the previous emails within it. Lets say you email your coworker, ” Can you send me the excel sheet? My boss is driving me crazy for it!” Who then replies to you and cc’s your boss with the excel sheet. They may have not realized it, but your boss now knows that you think he’s crazy!  Also, make sure you have the appropriate email address. If you have 50 Ashley’s in your address book, it can be easy to send it to the wrong one, so make sure to double check. 
7. Resist sending office forwards. If you don’t send to 10 people in the next ten minutes like it says, and have a bad sex life for the next twenty years, it’s probably because of the mullet you’re still rocking, or insisting your Great Dane sleeps on the bed every night. The chain letter holds no power except to annoy people and clutter your inbox.
8. Use appropriate punctuation: Proper punctuation helps the reader understand the content of your message. If you are like me, and forget everything you learned in grammar school, take a crash course from the book, “The Elements of Style.”  I personally believe exclamation points should be left out of work emails entirely. Unless you are writing to Oprah or Bono, you should not be starting an email with “Hi…!” Even if a client has sent your deposit early, a simple comma after the “Thank you” should suffice. 
9. Write back promptly: Nothing is worse than getting a reply to an email you sent 3 weeks ago. Not only does it show you don’t care, but it is confusing to the original sender who has since forgotten why they emailed you in the first place. 
10. Be careful what you write: Unfortunately, emails don’t allow Indian givers- you can’t send an email and then take it back. Sending an email to your coworker about your boss, other coworker, or company may be used against you down the road. Most companies have access to your email and can check your email history if you are up for review. Even if you are sending a personal email, be careful what you write. Once you hit send it, it’s too late to take it back. 

The Women’s Conference: Be Who You Are

29 Oct

I was lucky enough to attend the California Women’s Conference this past week in Long Beach. There were a variety of inspiring people there from Bono to Madeline Albright, many generations and types of people spoke. In a time like now when our economy is sinking before our eyes it is great to be able to listen to others success stories and learn that although they are on top of the world now, they too had to struggle to get where they are today. They have survived through economical hardships similar to the current one American is experiencing and survived and came out on top.

The first night was an event called night at the village where Rachael Ray and Valerie Bertinelli spoke and talked about their journey to get where they are today. Something I found interesting that Rachel said was, if you love what you are doing for work but have always wanted to pursue something else or try to develop an idea you have then go for it! What is the worst that will happen you fail and fall back on something you love. This is probably not the way we normally think about things, but it makes sense. If you don’t take the risk of pursuing that one thing that is always in the back of your mind you never know what you could create.

The main message of the conference was “Be Who You Are” it may seem like a silly request but it is always a challenge to dig deep find out who you really are, and feel completely confident in your skin. Maria Shriver is 52 years old and was saying that she is FINALLY starting to figure things out. Let this be a lesson to us at a much younger time in our life to take it all in and experiment, and stop trying to mold into something we just aren’t. Great accomplishments and achievements take time and experience.

The conference overall was very fulfilling and really made me re-evaluate my hopes and dreams. It was very encouraging witnessing all the successful people who took a chance on their ideas and turned them into thriving businesses. Women today compared to 50 years ago have so much more presence in the workplace and in the world in general and seeing 14,000 eager and powerful women in the same place just makes you feel excited for what the future holds.

To watch live webcasts of the speaker sessions and more stories from the conference go here

How Long Should You Stay at a Job?

27 Oct

How long should you stay at your job for? I’ve been thinking about this question a lot lately. I’ve heard it all from, “Life’s too short to stay at a job if you’re not happy” to “Stay at least three to five years.” I know it looks bad if you change positions too often. If I was hiring someone for a position, and saw a resume filled with 6 month job positions, I’d be worried they’d do the same to me. But, if you took a position you aren’t happy with, should you be forced to stay to improve your resume?

After doing a lot of thinking on this, I realized the solution: Take longer to choose a job, and you won’t find yourself in this situation. True, there really is no way of knowing exactly what a position will be like until you take it. However, instead of rushing into a job once it’s offered, take awhile to really think about the job description, read the employee manual, ask people who have worked there, and think about how it will help fulfill your life goals. Looking back at the positions I had for less than 6 months, I don’t blame myself for leaving too soon, I blame myself for jumping into the positions too soon. In fact, I think I stayed at most of them a lot longer than I should have.

 Before you sign on the line, make sure your vision of what your job responsibilities will be, is in line with what the person hiring you envisions. Be specific, and if two months down the line you find yourself doing things that are not even close to what you were promised, let your boss know. Nicely bring up the fact that you, when choosing the position, were told you’d be doing something different. They may have forgotten that you were promised these responsibilities and appreciate you being honest with them. If they deny what they originally agreed upon, and make it clear these will never be your job responsibilities, it’s probably time to move on. 

Ask yourself, “Is this a Job I can see myself doing for awhile and being happy with?” If not, then, “Is the job at least giving me the necessary experience and knowledge for the position I’d like to eventually have?” If it isn’t, then grab your monogrammed mug, bamboo desk plant and find another job that will make you happy. I don’t believe in quitting, but I think quitting can also mean staying at a job you aren’t satisfied with, because you don’t think you deserve better.

11 days and counting…DO YOUR PART!

24 Oct

Generation WE: The Movement

24 Oct

Think about the power of numbers and the fact that you and I, are the new largest generation and the most connected. We have been given more opportunities than any generation before us. We have the power and potential to let our voice be heard and ban together to save our world and better prepare it for the generations to come. What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind? Just by voicing our opinions and better educating ourselves with the political agendas at hand we can indeed start to steer society in a new direction and create a clear path for those to come.

This site is creating a movement that will be a place where people can unite and learn and be heard. There is a book entitled “Generation WE” which is available to download here:

Here is an excerpt from the book:

“This book is for our future. The most powerful force that can make our future better than our past is the youth binding together on the outcome, resolve and political will to achieve it no matter how they may differ on details of implementation. I’m not a member of Generation We, and I don’t inspire to lead it. My hope in writing this book is that it will inspire a handful of great leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., or Mahatma Gandhi to emerge and lead their peers. I do know solutions are out there, waiting to be mobilized by the creative, enterpreneurial spirit of our people. And I have fiath that with open, informed debate, Americans can use the system we inherited from the Founders to make the wisest long-term choices and get our country back on the track toward peace, prosperity and freedom. This I believe, is our American birthright. And if my book has a single message, it is simply this: Now is the time to reclaim it.” 

Eric H. Greenberg
July 4, 2008

Check out the book if you can. Remember to ask yourself each day what am I leaving behind as my part to change the course of the world? What have I done to ensure our beautiful planet can continue to thrive and nourish the generations to come?

National Make a Difference Day, October 25 2008

24 Oct

Tomorrow, October 25 2008, is USA Weekend’s National make a Difference Day. Check out their site for ideas on how to organize an event, or find a list of events in your area. It can be anything- from a large community cleanup to walking your neighbors dog. Newman’s own, gives out 10,000 dollars to 10 charities that participate. Get out there and help!

As Dr. Seuss said in the Lorax, ” Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot. Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

Help the world by shopping! Your Brand Your Cause Our World.

24 Oct

Sounds silly right? Well now you can help a non profit just by shopping online for your favorite products and brands. I was recently at a conference where I found out about the Nonprofit Shopping Mall, where you can go online find what you need from stores like Target, Nordstrom and even Home Depot and shop as you normally would then go through the list of non profits and choose which one you would like a percentage of your purchase to.

If you are asking yourself how does this work? It is simple, you go online shop and the retailers listed on the site determine what percentage of each online sale may be earmarked to benefit your organization. This is such a smart and easy idea, why would you buy something when you can go through this site and buy the same thing while donating to a cause that you care about. If you like this idea make sure you sign up on their “tell your friends page“.

When companies like this have made it so easy to live your normal life and still be able to give back why would you not?

A Wise Book Indeed

23 Oct

I always thought the word “obsessed” was overused. Well, I can confidently say this time that I am obsessed with Andrew Zuckerman’s book Wisdom . As in- it’s “preoccupying the state of my mind excessively” (thank you Webster). Andrew Zuckerman, one of the greatest photographers and filmmakers of all time, interviewed, photographed and filmed 50 of the greatest actors, writers, designers and business leaders all over the age of 65 for the Wisdom Project. I absolutely love the concept which was, “Inspired by the idea that one of the greatest gifts one generation can pass to another is the wisdom it has gained from experience.” 

This really got me thinking: Have we as Generation Y, failed to take advantage of the wisdom and experience that older generations have to share? Are we so eager to advance in our careers and make our own voice heard that we don’t listen to anyone else’s? 

Check out the film and book on his site here, and share your thoughts.

How to Look Like A million Bucks at Work Without Spending it. (For guys and gals)

22 Oct

I’m a firm believer in Sarah Jessica Parker’s Manifesto for her affordable clothing line, Bitten:

“It is every woman’s [and Man’s] inalienable right to have a pulled-together stylish, confident wardrobe with money left over to live.”

There is nothing worse than the feeling you get after you happily receive your first pay check only to find out you need to spend all of it on a new wardrobe for work appropriate clothes. We asked around for the best places to get fashionable work clothes for men and women without breaking the bank. Here’s what we found:

Kohls– They have some great deals, my favorite being Elle’s contemporary collection (yes as in Elle magazine!) and Vera Wang’s well-designed simply collection. For men, they have Ralph Lauren’s ever so classy Chaps line, as well as other nice brands with dress shirts and pants for as little as 25 dollars.  

H&M: This is the best store for finding fashionable work clothes for men and women. My roommate went here the other day to get clothes for a work conference and came out with a new wardrobe for less than 200 dollars. Where else can you get a cute, fashionable woman’s sweater for 12.50? And their men’s line is classy and fashionable without looking too feminine.

Forever21: This one’s not for guys, although they have come up with a pretty cool Heritage collection for casual wear. Although I’ve been to the three story store by my house over twenty times, it never ceases to amaze me when I first walk in the store and stare at the racks of wonderful, inexpensive clothes that surround me. But yes Virginia, there is a clause- you have to take the time to look through the racks of clothing to find the winners, and may have to brave an our or so line for the dressing room and checkout line. But for nice jackets, dresses and skirts to wear to work at a great price- its worth it.

Target: I was really suprised the other day when I walked into Target with my friend, and found she had never shopped there for clothes before. Apparently everyone has not gotten the memo of the improvements Target has made to its clothing department, with designers like Isaac Mizrahi, and Go International’s Jonathan Saunders. Also impressive is their men’s line which has polished blazers and suit jackets, sweaters, dress shirts and pants. (Hint* check out their “Wear to work” section online and never leave without checking the amazing shoe department)

Nordstrom Rack: Great place for finding designer shoes and work clothes up to half off. Check out their site for in-store events and locations. (And be sure to find out when their shipment comes in so you can get the good stuff before it’s taken.)

Banana Republic Sale: At 5’2 it can be pretty hard to find clothes that fit, especially blazers and nice pants that don’t have to be taken in. This is why I love the petite section at Banana Republic. The clothes can be pretty expensive on a tight budget, but they have the best sale section with cute tops and dresses for up to 50 percent off. Their guys line has a great sale section too with nice dress pants and suits for as little as 30 dollars.

Other Favs? Check out the sales sections of Express, The Limited and Macy’s.