5 Movies to Watch This Year

I am not a film critic. I am one who appreciates a well-told story on film. The actors are almost always secondary to a good story for me. And, I rarely read the book before seeing the film. I don’t compare the printed word to the visual storytelling. I prefer to experience each separately.

It was a long, cold winter. We watched more movies than usual.

These five films have left the strongest impact on me, so far, in 2019.

Some were block busters. Others, not. Yet each is worth viewing.

I will not ruin it for you by revealing the plot or storyline. Instead, click on the links below for a preview of each film.

The Hate U Give

I’ve lived in Atlanta, Georgia, Washington, D.C. and Charleston, South Carolina before re-locating back to the Midwest.

The storyline, actions, and consequences here are believable and relatable to me.

Even if you’ve never lived in such a culture, the message in this movie is strong. It’s a movie I will remember. “What one puts out in the world, one gets back.”

Acronym: T.H.U.G.-The Hate U Give.

What They Had

We discovered this movie on Amazon Prime.

Anyone with aging parents will relate to the familial struggles and angst in this story. It centers on memory loss and deep love. One can get distracted by the drama in the children’s lives. Focus on the parents.

Bohemian Rhapsody

Queen was the first concert I ever attended. It was September 16, 1980 at the Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. https://www.setlist.fm/setlist/queen/1980/hilton-coliseum-ames-ia-4bdc9ffe.html

I was slightly overwhelmed and equally impressed by the crowd, the music, the theatrical performances and the stage lighting that night.

Flicking of a Bic lighter to show approval was new to me.

Of course, I’d heard the music before but never seen it performed live.

Even if you’ve never had the pleasure of attending a Queen concert, this movie is worth watching.

Though you may not agree with Freddy Mercury’s lifestyle, one cannot diminish his immense talent and impact on the music industry.

The movie received the 2019 Golden Globe Best Motion Picture award.

The Wife

Women of a certain age will completely understand this movie.

I’ve been paid quite well for many years to ghost write for political and corporate leaders. I get this movie. “Keep your mouth shut while others recite your words.”

Revealing more will ruin the plot for you.

Glenn Close, the lead actress, won multiple awards for her role in the film.

Beautiful Boy

If addiction has ever been in your life or in the life of someone you love, this movie will make a lasting impression on you. It highlights repeated recovery, relapse and survival. Income and status do not shield anyone from addiction.

Steve Carell, most widely known for comedic work, does an outstanding job in this dramatic role.

One can watch this movie on Amazon Prime.

What Film’s Been Most Impactful for You?

The 1988 Comedy-Drama, “Beaches,” starring Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey is one I’ll always remember. Theirs was a real and loyal friendship despite class differences, betrayal and illness. It set an example for me, at an early age, on how to initiate and build life-long friendships.

We even used a featured soundtrack from this movie, “Wind Beneath My Wings” as a spotlight dance at our 1992 wedding.

WINNER: BILL L. MT. PLEASANT, SC: Win Free Movie Pass

List the 1 movie that’s made the biggest impact on your life.

CLOSED: One random winner will be drawn.

©Copyright. May 2019. Linda Leier Thomason
All Rights Reserved. This means seek permission prior to using any images or copy on this site. All are copyright protected and images are available for sale.

Linda Leier Thomason writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business.
Read more about her background and qualifications by clicking on the “Meet Linda” tab above.

Contact her using the form above.

How to Record & Understand a Year of Gratitude

I kept talking about practicing gratitude-being grateful. Seeing the silver lining. Slowing down. Counting my blessings. Cherishing the moment. Being content with what I have. Embracing what shows up in my life.

Then, I did.

In 2018 I committed to recording one thing I was grateful for each of the 365 days. Some days I struggled with limiting my recording to only one. Other days, I stretched to recall one. Regardless, each day received a gratitude note.

A month of gratitude slips.

It became routine: a habit. Then, a life-changer.

I dug out a book given to me a decade ago. I read and re-read it. It’s highlighted and dogeared. It’s a recipe for practicing gratitude.

Definition

Gratitude here is described as “the realization that we have everything we need, at least in this moment. It is stunningly simple. It helps us to return to our natural state of joyfulness where we notice what’s right instead of what’s wrong.”

If you’re reaching for ways to develop & keep an attitude of gratitude, read

Recommended Reading

Read on to find out how you can get a copy.

DATA COLLECTION

365 GOLDEN SLIPS

I cut 365 slips of golden paper and placed them into zip-lock bags by month. These sat in a basket next to my desk as a constant reminder not only to complete each slip daily but also to more fully recognize and appreciate events, behaviors, people, interactions, etc.

I became committed to appreciating this quote from the book: “Gratitude is like a flashlight. If you go out in your yard at night and turn on a flashlight, you suddenly can see what’s there. It was always there, but you couldn’t see it in the dark.”

What to Record

I didn’t limit myself to what could be recorded. The only rules were that just one item could be noted daily and that it could not be a recording of activity or an event and read like a journal. It had to be something unique about the day (or my approach or reaction to the day) that stood out and that I really appreciated and was grateful for.

Each day I made a recording, noted the date, folded the slip and put it in the container next to my desk.

Around March I began to realize how easy it is to forget things that happen on a daily basis that bring vast amounts of joy and enrichment to my life. Larger life events can often overshadow. For instance, 2018 brought some pretty seismic changes to our family life:

  • My husband, Ken, voluntarily switched careers.
  • Our son, Alex, married.
  • I doubled my client workload.
  • Illness and death of extended family and close friends.

Rather than focus on these major happenings, I recorded notes like, “admiration of Ken’s brain and intellect” and “cooling oceanside breeze on Alex’s wedding day.”

MONTH END REVIEW & RECALL

At the beginning of each month Ken and I would sit down and read aloud each slip from the prior month. We took turns randomly selecting slips until all were read and recalled. Some slips required explanation. Many brought delight as we remembered what was noted on the golden slip.[BONUS: Having someone to read and share a month’s worth of slips together is a real treat. But don’t let this stop you from recording on your own gratitude slips daily.]

DATA ANALYSIS

I used a research method-content analysis- to code all 365 golden gratitude slips. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/content%20analysis.

It is both qualitative (subjective, based on observation) and quantitative (objective, numbers).

Without getting too technical, I

  • Read each slip
  • Placed similar slips into the same group
  • Named each group like Marriage, Friendship, Immediate Family, Wellness, Etc.
  • Counted the number of slips in each group
  • Created sub-categories for large groups
  • Placed each category into 1 of 3 larger categories
  • Charted the slips by category

FINDINGS

Marriage

The largest number of gratitude slips (49) related to our 26 year marriage or my husband’s presence in my life. A sample includes, “pride in Ken’s hard work ethic and subsequent results,” “strength, faith and integrity through adversity and change,” and “honoring traditions like Ken’s standing the first Saturday of each May as “My Old Kentucky Home” is sung at the Derby.” [He’s a Kentucky native.]

Friends

We’ve lived in eight states. Making, appreciating and retaining friends across the globe are highly valued (30). “Social skills to make friends and develop life-long friendships.” “Friendships from work settings despite employer changes.” “Invitations to outings with new friends.”

Wedding Day Breakfast, Charleston, SC, July 3, 2018

Mother/Son

Alex, 24, is our only child. Time spent with him was mentioned 24 times. It is the greatest gift he gives me. On Mother’s Day I noted, “grateful for the title of mother.” “Honest/frank conversations,” and “Drive and dedication at his job” were also noted.

Immediate Family

Our immediate family grew to four in 2018 with Alex’s marriage. Again, time spent together was mentioned most. I’m was grateful for their wedding day and marriage. We’re all grateful for their home offer being accepted and the ease of their move-in.

Extended Family

Siblings, nieces, cousins, parents and in-laws were mentioned 18 times. Highlights: “Inclusiveness and traditions of Loon Lake, MN cousins, like their pre-meal prayer, ‘We love our bread. We love our butter. But most of all we love each other.’ “Adult women who become friends” and “uninterrupted travel time with brother from NE to MN.”

Other

Forty-four (44) golden slips simply could not be forced into another category and got placed in “OTHER.” Samples include, “safety of winter roadways, “service experts like window washers, snow removers, HVAC technicians, etc.”, “Nebraska volleyball players’ grit coming back to win from two sets down,” and “beauty and majesty of fireworks displays.”

Wellness

Access to medical care with kind, caring professionals was frequently mentioned (35). I have a progressive scoliosis. Access to warm water and massage therapy were often cited. “Motivation and commitment to pool exercise for maintenance of health and mobility,” “ability to rest and recover,” and “understanding need for self-care.”

Travel

I am curious and have gypsy-like traits. Thus, I thrive on travel (13) and immersing myself in new surroundings and cultures. I am most grateful for the means to travel.

Nature

Many of my/our travels include exploration of nature and the outdoors (11). Sample notations included: “Sunrises.” “Sitting on dock listening to sounds of loons on lake” and “full moon lighting our travel on I-80.”

Loon Lake, Minnesota

Personal Traits

Personal skills or traits appeared on 29 golden slips. These skills included traits like tolerance, compassion, sense of humor, emotional strength, ability to let go, forgiveness, life long learner, celebratory, etc.

Business Skill

Business aptitude or skills were noted 19 times. Problem-solving, analytical, group facilitation and connection, persistence, creative and artistic, communication (courageous, multi-generational, etc.) and organizational and planning are samples of the greater list.

Alone Time

Alone time only appeared four times during the year. History explains that. I hail from a family of 11. I enjoy being surrounded by people and activity.

CONCLUSIONS

  • There is always something to be grateful for. Recognizing this and pausing to understand gratitude were teachable moments.
  • I was grateful prior to this 365 day exercise. Committing gratitude to paper daily did, however, amplify the many blessings in my life.
  • My gratitude notes mirror my personal priorities. Almost half of the notes (46%) landed in “Marriage + Family.” Over a third (36%) fell in “External” and Eighteen percent (18%) were personal.
  • I was surprised by the number of personal and business traits (combined 48) mentioned on the gratitude slips. Clearly, I understand that my approach to both situations and people stems from the skills I possess and use. Experience (age) does lead to wisdom and insight.
  • Traveling fills my soul whether domestic or off-shore. Yet, it only had 13 mentions during the year. Perhaps, I’ve taken this blessing a bit for granted.
  • I have solidified my belief that most people are good and have good intentions. Forgiveness seems to come easier.
  • An attitude of gratitude is a daily work in progress. Admittedly, while raising a family, working and maintaining a life, it’s not easy to focus on self-improvement.
  • If I had a do-over, I’d have done this exercise earlier in my life. It’s never too late to start.

FUTURE

  • Keep understanding that to experience gratitude, I have to first be aware I’ve been given something (not necessarily a material thing).
  • Start each day being abundantly joyful.
  • Consciously count my blessings on a daily basis.
  • Realize there are trying times and discover the gift in those moments.
  • Be present and aware, especially during mundane, ordinary tasks.
  • Focus on needs not wants.
  • Notice and appreciate each person’s talents.
  • Live simply and minimally.
  • Keep expectations in check.
  • Give thanks every day, including at meal time.
  • Re-read “Attitudes of Gratitude” as needed to get re-focused.

Sandra from Sioux Falls, SD won the book! Congrats!

If you’d like a free copy of “Attitudes of Gratitude,” complete the form below and list the #1 thing you are most grateful for at the moment. List 1 item only.

CLOSED: A random winner will be chosen by May 1, 2019.

©Copyright. April 2019. Linda Leier Thomason
All Rights Reserved. This means seek permission prior to using any images or copy on this site. All are copyright protected and images are available for sale.


Linda Leier Thomason writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business.
She specializes in undercover studies of communities wishing to attract visitors for economic impact. Read more about her background and qualifications by clicking on the “Meet Linda” tab above.
Want an advertorial written on your business?
Would you like to have your community promoted?

Need her to ghost write website copy, a report or speech for you?
Contact her by completing this form.

7 Insider Tips for Millennial Home Buying

Millennial Home Buying Tips to Save Time & Money

Are you getting tired of paying rent? Do you think you’re wasting money? Do you want to build equity in your own home?

If you answered “yes” to these questions, you are like most Americans. You want to own your own home.

But, are you financially ready for that next big step?

Read through these 7 tips to buying your first home.

1. Assess the Timing

Did you just land your first post-college job? Are you planning to stay with this employer? Will you be relocated? Do you plan on getting married anytime soon? Is there money saved  for a down payment? Are student loans taking a big chunk of your paycheck? If so, start a “home” fund and start saving for your dream. You need to do an honest assessment of the timing to buy a home to ensure it’s a good fit in your life at the moment. Chat with a local lender who will be able to best assess your current financial situation.

2. Check Your Credit Score and Cash Flow

Don’t waste your or an agent’s time if you haven’t first checked your credit score and know your debt-to-earnings ratio. (Avoid taking on new debt while in the process of buying a home.) Click here for more information on getting your FICO score. The better your credit score, most likely, the better your mortgage rate. (Always pay your bills on time and pay down your credit cards.)

When your credit score is worthy and you have the cash flow and a sizable deposit saved, talk to a lender and get pre-approved for a mortgage loan.

Before contacting a lender, organize your paperwork. The lender will likely have a checklist of required paperwork including, tax statements, W-2s, bank statements, a list of debt, including any student loans, credit cards, etc.

Most sellers won’t even allow prospective buyers into their homes without first knowing the buyer is pre-approved for a mortgage loan.

Keep in mind it’s not just the down payment money you will need but also cash for real estate taxes, a home inspection and an appraisal, closing costs (If the seller doesn’t pay all of them.) possibly mortgage insurance, utilities, furnishings, maintenance, home owner’s association monthly fees, etc.

Always keep a 3-6-month cash reserve fund in case an unexpected emergency arises, like loss of a job or an injury that keeps you from working and earning an income.

3. Research 1st Time Home Buyer Lender Programs

The general rule has been that one should have 20 percent of the home’s value as a down payment when buying a home. But, that applies only if you don’t want to pay PMI-private mortgage insurance. Lenders require PMI to cover the loan if you default on it. If you are required to get PMI, shop around for the best rates just like you would for home or auto insurance.

Consult with your real estate agent and look for programs assisting first time home buyers.

Check with your lender about special lending programs. For instance, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans let you put just 3.5% down. Click FHA for more information on FHA loans.

VA offers home buying loans to veterans and active military members. Click VA for more information.

4. Get the Right Help

The expression, “Don’t put the cart before the horse,” definitely applies in home buying. Before looking at neighborhoods and homes online, there are a number of necessary pre-steps. After ensuring the timing is right to buy a home, find a real estate agent who specializes in the type of home you are seeking and neighborhood in which you’d ideally like to live. If you’re a buyer, you don’t pay a real estate fee.

Remember agents at open houses work for the seller. Agents at new home construction sites work for the builder. Get an agent that works for you-the buyer.

Your agent’s expertise will likely save you not only money but also a lot of stress and heartache in the buying process. A great agent will guide you every step of the process, including helping you secure a lending agent just right for you.

5. Decide Where You Want to Live

Be realistic. Don’t frustrate yourself by looking at homes and neighborhoods outside of your budget. Attend open houses. Evaluate what appeals to you regarding style (older home or contemporary home with modern amenities), size (square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms), location (family friendly, retirees, urban), neighborhood traffic patterns (Is it a cut-through street? Is it on a cul-de-sac?) etc. Does the home need to be move-in-ready, or are you willing to buy a fixer-upper? Research re-sale values in the areas you’re highly considering.

Attempt to prioritize the general area of town and type of home you are seeking before working with an agent. If you can’t, have a list of what matters most to you: closeness to work, certain schools for your children, number of bedrooms, room for a growing family, recreation opportunities for children, etc. so that your agent can guide you to the best location and help you find an ideal home in that neighborhood. Keep in mind that your lifestyle preferences may change in the next few years, especially if you add children to your family.

6. Know the Rules

Many neighborhoods now have Home Owner Associations (HOAs). Request a written copy of the rules before buying. Can you abide by the rules and restrictions? Can you afford the monthly fees? Ask to see the Association’s finances. Is it well run? Will they be able to continue the services offered without taking a rate increase?

7. Be Decisive

If you’ve done your homework and aligned yourself with a great agent, making an offer on your dream home will be easy. Don’t delay your decision making, or you’re likely to lose the home to another buyer.

Ready to buy or sell? Connect with Megan.
Megan Owens, Realtor
Owens Real Estate Group
“Delivering extraordinary care for extraordinary clients.”
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Ambassador Real Estate
Phone | 402-689- 4984 Email | MeganOwensRE@gmail.com

Linda Leier Thomason is a former CEO who writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Find out more about Linda by clicking the “Meet Linda” tab above. Interested in working together? Complete this form below.

©Copyright. March 2018. Linda Leier Thomason.
All Rights Reserved.

How to Prevent & Thaw Frozen Pipes

Keep an Eye on Pipes Throughout the Winter

Poor insulation, thermostats set too low and a quick drop in temperature, especially below 20 degrees or less, require you to pay attention to the plumbing pipes in your home.
Not doing so can lead to frozen and then broken pipes, and possibly a flooded home.
Here’s a guide on how to prevent frozen pipes and steps to take if the plumbing pipes in your home do freeze.

Remember, if you have a broken pipe, call a reliable, licensed plumber as soon as possible.

Taking Preventive Steps Can Reduce or Eliminate the Risk of Frozen Pipes

• Insulate hot and cold pipes in the basement, attic and/ or garage with snap on insulation or pipe sleeves. Ensure a tight fit, without gaps. Or, wrap UL approved heating tape (found in hardware stores) around pipes. Read instructions carefully to avoid setting a fire.
• Ensure proper insulation in any areas lacking heating like garages, attics or exterior walls. You might need to add more insulation to get a higher temperature in the area where a pipe consistently freezes.
• Keep an eye on pipes on an outside wall. Trickle or drip both hot and cold faucets, especially in the kitchen or bathrooms on outside walls. [Single lever faucets should be set to the center so both the cold and hot water drips.] Trickling water keeps water moving through pipes and relieves built-up pressure in pipes.
• Circulate warm air around pipes by opening cabinet doors, especially under kitchen and bathroom sinks located on exterior walls. Remove any harmful cleaners or chemicals that children or pets could get into.
• Maintain a consistent home temperature day and night.
• Never set the temperature lower than 55 degrees, if you are gone for long periods of time.
• Keep the furnace fan running continuously to circulate air.
• Open interior doors in the house so air can flow freely throughout the space.
• Make sure  the garage door closed.
• Set the washing machine on warm and start the fill cycle every so often for water to run through the pipes, if there isn’t a faucet in the laundry room to drip and it’s on an outside wall.
• Turn off the outdoor sprinkler system and blow air through the lines to drain water. If you don’t know how to do this, hire a professional company to turn your sprinkler system on and off.
• Drain your swimming pool supply lines, according to manufacturer’s instructions. Never put anti-freeze in these lines, unless directed.
• Cover outside faucets with insulating foam covers.
• Disconnect and drain garden hoses.
• Close and weather strip all exterior basement windows and doors.
• Fix broken windows or poorly fitting doors that allow a lot of heat loss.
• Caulk any holes or cracks that exist near pipes on both interior and exterior walls. This keeps cold air out and warm air in.

If the Pipes Do Freeze

If you suspect your pipes are frozen because only a trickle comes out of a faucet, or perhaps nothing comes out, be careful when the pipe thaws because it may flood your home.
Call 911 if a pipe has already burst and your home is flooding.
If a pipe has broken, turn off the water at the main shutoff valve, which is usually at the water meter or where the main line enters the house.
Do not use electrical appliances around standing water. You will get electrocuted.
Never use a blow torch, charcoal stove, a propane heater or high-wattage light bulbs to try to unfreeze pipes. These are likely to damage pipes or even start a fire. Open flames may also expose you to carbon monoxide.

Instead:

• Open the faucet that the frozen pipe runs to before thawing. This allows the water to flow through the pipe and relieves any built-up pressure in the pipe.
• Apply heat to the frozen pipes that haven’t burst with an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hairdryer or portable space heater-keep this away from any flammable materials. You may also try wrapping the pipe with towels soaked in hot water. Always start heating from as close to the faucet as possible and work your way to the colder end of the pipe.
• Keep applying heat until the full water pressure is back.
• Call a licensed plumber if you can’t find the leak or unthaw the pipes.
• When pipes have thawed, check for leaks.

Are you ready to buy or sell a home?

Contact:
Megan Owens, Realtor
Owens Real Estate Group
“Delivering extraordinary care for extraordinary clients.”
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Ambassador Real Estate
Phone | 402-689- 4984 Email | Megan.Owens@bhhsamb.com

Linda Leier Thomason is a former CEO who writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Find out more about Linda by clicking the “Meet Linda” tab above. Interested in working together? Complete this form below.

©Copyright. January 2018. Linda Leier Thomason.
All Rights Reserved.

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Do You Have the Manners to Soar?

How Up-to-Date Are Your Manners and Understanding of Etiquette?Are you an Etiquette Pro or an Amateur?

Need a refresher?

Seasoned professional or new graduate. It doesn’t matter. If you lack manners and understanding of basic etiquette in the workplace and elsewhere, your career will be stunted. No one wants a slob or buffoon on their payroll or in their presence.

Remember, every time you’re in public, you represent either your workplace or your family.

Having manners means you are a respectful person and considerate of others. Use of etiquette can convey respect of other cultures, traditions, or religions.

Social interactions are important to being successful in life, so teaching youth and refreshing ourselves on etiquette and manners are invaluable. You can’t practice or teach what you don’t know.

These aren’t dated and old-fashioned.

These are timeless rules of etiquette and signs of good manners.

The lists are not meant to be all-encompassing or all-inclusive.

Contact me below for additional questions about etiquette by category.

BASIC MANNERS

  • • Ladies first. Always. Open the door for a woman and allow her to enter before you. Restaurant managers-teach your wait staff to take a woman’s order first.
    • Men-open a woman’s car door. This is not sexist or old-fashioned. It’s respect.
    • Always hold the door open for someone with their hands full, the elderly and the handicapped.
  • Men walk on roadside of sidewalk; women on inside.
    • Offer your seat to an older, pregnant or impaired rider on public transportation, always.
    • Don’t block views of people shorter than you are. If you’re tall, stand back.
    • Avoid interrupting people while speaking.
    • Move your grocery cart to the edge of an aisle, not the center.
    • Park in one space and never in a handicapped spot, unless you are.

DINNER TABLE MANNERS

Napkins: Place the napkin in your lap upon seating. Unfold it on your lap not above or on the table.

Eating: Never start eating until the host has been seated and starts eating. Always eat with your mouth closed. Avoid chomping and making out loud noises. Don’t talk with food in your mouth.
Wine Glasses: Refrigerated wine (like white wine) and champagne glasses are held by the stem so your hand does not warm the liquid. Red wine glasses may be held by the bowl.
Count Your Drinks: Limit your alcohol intake to 2 or less drinks, especially at business dinners.
Forks: Work from the outside in. The short fork is the salad fork. Start there. With each new course work your way in toward the plate. When you are done, place the utensils side by side at an angle on your plate-fork tines facing up, knife blade facing the center of the plate. This signals the wait staff you are finished. [Technically, the utensils are to be placed at 4:20 on a dinner plate-pretend your dinner plate is a clock.]
Soup: Don’t put crackers in your soup anywhere but at home. If it’s too hot, stir, don’t blow on it. Spoon away from you towards the center of the soup bowl.
Toasts: Do not drink to yourself if you’re the one being toasted. Do not stand, unless you are already standing.
Salt and Pepper: Do not sprinkle seasoning on your food, unless you’ve already tasted it. If someone asks for the salt, pass both the salt and pepper.
Passing: At family style service where bowls are on the table, always pass the service bowls to the RIGHT.
Restaurant Service: Waiters serve food from the left and beverages from the right. If a waiter offers you food from a platter, use the fork from the left (where it is at your place setting) and the spoon from the right.
Cutting Food: Only cut one or two bite-sized pieces at a time, not the whole piece of meat.
Unwanted Food: The method you used to put food in your mouth (fingers or utensil) is what you use to remove the food. A pit or bone is removed with fingers.
Restroom: Don’t just get up and leave the table. Say, “excuse me; I’ll be right back.”
Phones: Never lay your phone on the table. Turn the ringer off. Don’t check scores, Facebook, or anything during dinner. It’s rude.
Hands: Keep them out of your hair. When not using your utensils, keep them in your lap. When holding one utensil, keep the other hand in your lap.
Place of Honor: It’s always to the right of the host.
Leftovers: Never ask to take leftovers home from a formal dinner party or business dinner.
End of Meal: The host will place her napkin to the left of her plate. That is when you do the same. This signals the end of the meal.

BUSINESS/WORK

Introductions: At a business function, introduce yourself with your first and last name. Speak to the person you wish to honor first. Introduce yourself when there is a break in the conversation. In a business setting, always introduce people by saying their title and full name first, and then follow with a brief interesting or relevant piece of information about the people you are introducing. Always say, “Ms.” if you don’t know a woman’s marital status. [See “Introduction Primer” below.]
Attire: Dressing well is a form of good manners. Wear clean, non-wrinkly attire with polished shoes. If you wear nail polish, make sure it’s not chipped. Look put together, at all times.
Face-to-Face: Knock on the door or cubicle and wait until the person turns around before you start speaking. Don’t speak to her back.
Phones & Meetings: Put them away. No texting during meetings. And, please refrain from checking scores, news updates, etc. when you’ve been invited to participate and listen.
Break Room: Respect the shared space. Clean up after yourself. Throw away your food containers. Wipe up spills. If someone else leaves dishes or trash, set a great example and clean it up.
Your Voice: Talk at a moderate volume, especially in work spaces with cubicles.
Phone at Desk: Set it to vibrate or low. Don’t use an offensive ring tone.
Music: Keep the radio low or use headphones.
Smells: Don’t take off your shoes at work. Don’t bathe in perfume and cologne. Avoid eating a smelly lunch at your desk.
Timely: Show respect for your co-workers. Show up on time. Use the restroom and get your coffee before the meeting is to start.

RSVP

RSVP is an acronym of the French phrase, “Respondez s’il vous plait,” or “Respond, if you please.” It is used on invitations because the host needs to know the number of guests to prepare for. How much food and liquor to buy? How many place settings are needed?
Sure, it can be difficult to commit to an event so far in the future but do your host a favor and give them a courteous reply by the date requested on the invitation.
And, if you say you are coming, attend. Hosts pay for your presence. Be there.

THANK YOU NOTES

The thank-you note is essential in both everyday life as well as in business correspondence. Writing and sending one shows not only appreciation but indicates part of your personality to others.
Job Interview: After a job interview, send a hand-written thank you note. Proofread it first.
Post Party: A hand-written thank you note after a party and/or formal dinner is always appreciated.
Newlyweds: Contrary to popular belief, brides and grooms don’t have a year to send out thank-you notes. There is no reason to not get them done within a few months after the wedding. Gift givers have every right to be upset if one is not received in a timely manner or never received.
Gifts: Just as you never attend a party or wedding without a gift, always remember to mail a hand-written thank you note for a gift received.

SOCIAL MEDIA & TECHNOLOGY

Don’t Post Ugly: Resist publishing a photo of a friend or family member if they aren’t looking their best. Would you want them to post you looking less than great? No.
No Light or Sound: Turn the light and sound off on your phone during a movie, play and/or concert. You don’t want to be the annoying patron.
Restaurants: In a restaurant, phones should be silenced. If you receive an important call, you should excuse yourself and go outside to take the call.
Drunken Posts: Social media and alcohol should be avoided together at all costs.
Dinner. Be present. Keep your phone silenced during dinner, especially with friends and individuals of a certain age/generation. It’s a sign of respect.
Check Out: Never order or pay for something while you are on the phone.
In Line: Don’t chat away while in line for something. No one wants to hear your personal conversations.

Hygiene

The fact that one even needs to mention manners regarding hygiene is a bit disturbing. Parents-teach your children how to present themselves in public. Adults, haven’t you been taught better?

Nails. Clipping your finger or toenails is never appropriate in public. Not on your porch. Not on the bus. Not while in line. Not in the movie theatre. Nowhere but the privacy of your bathroom.
Teeth: Flossing should be done at home, or at least in a bathroom. It is not fun for people around you to watch you get stuff out of your teeth. Brush in private too. If you must use a public bathroom, please clean the sink.
Tweezing: Another private bathroom function. Remove hair in private not while driving or while in lines.
Hair: Avoid brushing or combing your hair in pubic, especially in restaurants where it flies around.

HOUSEGUEST

Someone is nice enough to offer you a place to stay during your get-away. Be someone who gets invited back.
• Arrive with a gift-a bottle of wine, a candle, a book, kitchen tools, something to show your appreciation. Even if the host suggests you don’t need to do this. Do it anyway. It’s the right thing to do.
• Buy or bring some groceries. Your host is not responsible for all of your meals. Never ask to change the menu for a meal the host is preparing. If you have dietary restrictions, let those be known before your arrival. Bring food items that only you would eat.
• Ask permission to use items in the house.
• Prepare a meal or pay for a meal out.

• Keep your space and the bathroom clean. Put the toilet seat down.
• Conserve linens and towels-even if you use a different towel every day at home don’t expect your host to provide one daily. Bring your own if that’s your practice.
• Ask about house rules-use of TV, electronics, dishwasher, smoking, etc.
• Lend a hand-walk the dog, do the dishes, etc.
• Strip the bed and collect linens as you prepare to leave-ask host first.
• Send a thank you note when you arrive home.

THE CHECK WHEN EATING OUT

Nothing causes more heartburn than knowing who is “getting the check” after a dinner out. Clarify it before accepting an invitation. Generally, if you say “let’s go out” that usually means the bill will be split. But, if you invite someone somewhere it means that you’ll be responsible for the bill.
Birthday: If you or a group is going out for someone’s birthday dinner, you all pay for the birthday person. If you can’t afford to chip in, don’t go. The person choosing the restaurant should be mindful of varying income levels of the group and choose a moderately priced restaurant.
Tips: If you put part of your charge on a card and pay cash for the other, you TIP on the total not just the part on your card. Also, carry one-dollar bills to tip the bartender and coat check attendant.

Cost: Never announce the cost of the dinner, if you’re picking up the check.
Split the Check: Only make this suggestion if all parties ordered similar priced meals. It’s unfair otherwise.

Introduction Primer

When performing introductions, here are two steps to proper business introductions:
Step 1: The first person’s name you say is always the most important person.
Step 2: Thereafter, everyone else’s name is introduced to that most important person.
ALWAYS say the most important person’s name first. In business, rank and status are the primary determinants to who takes precedence over whom. A client always outranks the CEO or President. Gender and age are typically not factors.

  • NEVER use the word “meet” when introducing people. Rather, for an informal introduction, use the words “this is” as the bridge between saying the most important person’s name first and then introducing the second person. “Jane Smith this is John Doe, our new staff member. Jane Smith is our CEO.”

Other reminders

  • Keep the forms of the address equal. If you use Ms. Smith, you must use Mr. Doe. You should not say, “Jane Smith this is Mr. Doe..”
  • In regular situations, it is best to use both a person’s first and last name when making introductions. To use only a first name is not introducing the total person.
  • Do say something about the people you are introducing so they will have something to discuss after introductions. Then you may excuse yourself to meet and greet others.
  • When introducing  dignitaries and other notable people, such as elected officials, you may want to use the word “present” instead of the words “this is” or “introduce.”

Help a colleague, friend, new college graduate, young professional and family member out, SHARE this post.

Have a rule of etiquette you think must be added to the list? Let me know on the form below.

Linda Leier Thomason is a former CEO who writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Find out more about Linda by clicking the “Meet Linda” tab above. Interested in working together? Complete this form below.

©Copyright. January 2018. Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved

15 Safety Tips for Buyers & Sellers

Ready to Sell Your Home? Keep Safety in Mind

What other time in your life do you invite random strangers into your home? Probably never. However, when your home is listed for sale, strangers indeed view your home online and in person. At the first listing appointment with your real estate agent, go over this list of security items to keep your home burglar proof and to keep your items safe while your home is on the market.

Buyer Screening Process

Understand your listing agent’s buyer screening process. At a minimum, it should include a phone screening prior to showing the home. Discuss whether or not you want buyers to be pre-qualified before a showing and understand what safety precautions will be in effect at open houses and showings. Will an electronic lock box be used to track all home entries? Are photo IDs required for entrance? Is video surveillance being used? If so, ask your listing agent to include these in all advertisements.

15 Security Items to Pay Attention to When Selling

  1. Prescription Drugs

Remove them or lock them up prior to open houses and showings. Also, remove expired drugs from your cabinets and night stands.

  1. Valuables

A real estate agent is not responsible for your valuables. A selling agent cannot be present at all showings. Therefore, it’s important that you canvas your house prior to any video or photographs being taken to post online. Remember, thieves can look at your home from the comfort of their home. If your images include valuables, it may make your home a target. Consider removing artwork, gaming systems, jewelry, cellphones, guns, etc. Secure all credit cards and always keep mail locked and away so no one can get access to your personal information.

  1. Personal Identifiers + Family Portraits

A listing agent suggests removal of family pictures not just for staging but also for safety. You don’t know who will be coming through your home. What if a pedophile or predator attends an open house and photographs of your children are on the wall? Take down all family pictures. Be safe and protect your privacy. Hide all family calendars and anything with your children’s names or schools, including school banners and photographs.

  1. Electronics

Stow away your laptops and conceal all easy-to-steal electronics like iPad’s and cellular phones. Keep all video games hidden away.

  1. Windows + Lights

Keep windows locked and open the blinds or draperies, especially during open houses. Check all of them after showings and open houses. Are they still locked? Make sure your home has adequate indoor and outdoor lighting before listing it for sale. Leave all of the lights on during a showing for everyone’s safety: the agents and potential buyers.

  1. Spare Keys

Keep them out of sight. This goes for house, car, safety box, etc. All keys. Keep them hidden.

  1. Kids

Try to find out if kids are attending a showing. If so, pay extra attention to your home’s safety. Is the entryway clean and clear? Any tripping hazards? Make sure a responsible adult will be watching them throughout the showing so they do not get into personal items. Speak to your real estate agent and ensure she will be vocal about kids not straying during a showing or at an open house.

  1. Knives + Guns

Always remove kitchen knives from countertops and drawers. If there are any guns in the home, remove them prior to listing the home for sale.

  1. Pets

Always remove pets prior to a showing or open house. You will be liable if someone is injured by your pet while viewing your property. If someone has a pet allergy, it makes your home less desirable to them.

  1. Extra Security

Once the home is listed for sale, it’s available to the public. Consider adding motion-sensor detectors to the home. Make sure doors have deadbolts. Sliding glass doors should have bars and extra locks. And, for added peace of mind, consult your real estate agent about a wireless security system.

  1. Unaccompanied Buyers

Never allow someone into your home without a licensed real estate agent who has set an appointment with your listing agent. If they come to your door, refer them to your agent. Never let them inside the home. Also, be aware of online real estate scams where, unfortunately, someone can list your home for rent. If this happens, immediately call your local police department.

  1. Roamers

Never allow a potential buyer to roam unaccompanied through your home. You want to be trusting and hospitable, but you cannot be foolish. Do not let your guard down and never be alone when showing your home. Watch their behavior. Are they lingering too long? Be aware.

Most people coming through your home will be legitimate buyers. Still, take the necessary precautions to ensure your safety and your home’s safety during the sales process. Always enlist the services of a licensed real estate agent who knows how to protect you, your home and your possessions.

You’re Buying

As a buyer, your safety is also foremost on a real estate agent’s mind when looking for your new home. It’s important to:

 

  1. Know the neighborhood you are considering purchasing in.

You will be advised to drive through the neighborhood at different times of the day to see if what it looks like and what is happening there meets with your standards and expectations. Check crime reports and sexual offender registries.

  1. Vacant and/or Distressed Homes

Prior to stepping inside, look around. Are there broken windows? Do outside walls or the roof have holes? What does the yard look like? Is it littered? Are there signs of squatters? Once inside, be on the lookout for loose floorboards, rotting decks, loose railings, stray animals, rodents or other hazards.

  1. Contamination

Be aware of the home’s history. Were there drugs like methamphetamines manufactured in the home? These drugs can seep into the surfaces without being visible and cause health related issues later. If you get a burning sensation in your eyes or throat when entering a home, that is not a good sign. Mold can result from moisture in homes where marijuana was grown. Look around carefully for signs of contamination.

Linda Leier Thomason is a former CEO who writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Find out more about Linda by clicking the “Meet Linda” tab above. Interested in working together? Complete this form below.

©Copyright. April 2017. Linda Leier Thomason
All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

Insider Tips from Dads on Father’s Day

Father’s Day is a celebration honoring fathers and celebrating fatherhood, paternal bonds, and the influence of fathers in society. Click here to read about the history of Father’s Day.

Fathers are an important influence on a child life, no matter the age. Time is the greatest gift a father can give his child. Here’s the story of four outstanding fathers who share the joys of being a father every day, but especially on Father’s Day.

Darwyn & Jacob

“My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard. Mother would come out and say, “You’re tearing up the grass.” “We’re not raising grass,” Dad would reply. “We’re raising boys.”
– Harmon Killebrew
Darwyn leads his seven-year-old son Jacob by example in both his work and personal life, just as his father Leon did. He cares about role modeling a strong work ethic. “I want Jacob to know he can do many things if he’s determined, tries his hardest and pushes through adversity.”

Darwyn is self-employed and struggles with balancing work with the demands of a young family. “From my own dad, I learned that hard work does pay off in building a solid business for years to come. But, sometimes hard choices and sacrifices are required.”

Darwyn understands his son needs him to be there for him. So, he arranges his schedule to take him to athletic practices, play with him after work and go on hikes together. Jacob knows he matters to his dad; Darwyn follows through on his promises by showing up and telling him he loves him.

The two of them bond over sports and watching action movies. And, Jacob is always up for trying new things and giving them 100 percent. He’s taken up golf and baseball, often making his dad chase a long one down the street. He helps Darwyn fix things around the house “so we don’t have to buy new things every time something breaks.”

Jacob learns from his dad by watching him and spending time with him. He’s seeing how to treat others with respect, to own up to his mistakes and fix it for the next time and to be nice to his teammates on the baseball field, understanding everyone is there to learn the game.

The greatest lesson Jacob is learning from his dad, “Everything will fall into place if you know and serve the Lord.”

 Jim & Trenten

“The father who does not teach his son his duties is equally guilty with the son who neglects them.”
– Confucius
Jim values time with his 12-year-old son, Trenten. “I hope he now recognizes the amount of time we spent together and the priority he is in my life.” The two share hunting, travel and dogs in common. The specific interest gives them time together to enjoy it while also talking about school, sports and life. Jim especially likes traveling with Trenten. “It’s amazing what I can learn traveling 8-10 hours in a vehicle with him.”

Jim learned a lot from his grandpa who spent time fishing and talking about farming and school with him. “He passed away in 1986, but there are many times I wish Trenten was able to meet him.”

Trenten, who comes across as shy, is described as funny and smart by his dad. Jim’s now speaking to him about growing into a man. Trenten’s learning not to make promises he cannot keep. He’s been taught his word is the only thing in life no one can take away from him. Trenten has seen that by working hard things will fall into place. He knows the world does not owe him anything and that he is capable of doing anything he wants, if he sets his mind to it.

Jim, a banker, teaches Trenten about money. “I like to present him with options so he understands real costs. Everything is about choices. For instance, if he buys something, what is he not able to do since he spent his money.”

At this age, Jim urges Trenten to have fun and find something in life he’s passionate about. “He will spend the rest of his life working and worrying. I also encourage him to make friends with everyone. One never knows when someone you meet might be in a place to help you out one day.”

 Michael & Noah

“A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.”
— Billy Graham, Christian Evangelist

Michael and seven-year-old Noah have rituals, like the donut shop. Every Saturday morning, they head out to eat donuts while talking and laughing. Usually they leave with some for the girls back home-mother and younger sister.

They have other notable rituals. Their daily drive to school starts with a prayer followed by a game of guessing what types of trucks will be in the gym parking lot as they drive by. They celebrate their appreciation of superheroes like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Transformers with Friday night pizza and movie nights, mom and sister included.

Their shared enjoyment of music has them singing and dancing along to Christian Hip-Hop songs. They play catch football and shoot hoops and enjoy watching NFL games. Noah has attended a Nebraska Cornhuskers football game, his dad’s favorite team, but has started rooting for the Iowa Hawkeyes, to get under Michael’s skin.

Michael knows it’s during these shared activities and rituals that he will get honest feedback on what Noah is going through. Michael loves talking to his son. “Noah’s laugh and sense of humor are infectious.”

Michael wants Noah to know he works hard to be a great role model to him. Like his father, Bill, demonstrated, Michael wants to show Noah how to be a good husband by showing affection for his wife and doing nice things for her. “I let Noah be part of this process too. He has good insight and it’s a great teaching moment.”

Michael’s greatest wish for Noah is to know who he is and to love others as Christ loves us. He’s also teaching him:

  • We control how we react to situations.
  • There are consequences for choices made (good and bad).
  • It’s okay to fail, do your best.
  • Protect and lead your family.
  • God is the ultimate Superhero.

 Ken & Alex

“When a father gives to his son, both laugh; when a son gives to his father, both cry.”
– Jewish Proverb

Ken’s son, Alex, at age 22, is a young adult. Much of the way Ken parented was role modeled for him by his father, Lee, who was “an extremely kind and respectful man with a very strong work ethic. He was a leader who taught me how to overcome adversity and take responsibility for supporting my family.”

Ken strives hard to role model ‘integrity’ for Alex. “I want him to do things with honesty, the right way and live by the Golden Rule.” He wants nothing more for Alex than for him to be happy and to live a fulfilled life-on his terms.

“I want him to make the most of his life doing what he desires and knowing that he can, and more likely will, make adjustments along the way.” Ken also knows that if Alex chooses to be a husband and father, he will need to compromise and serve others to experience a fulfilled life.

Ken’s done his best to prepare Alex for adulthood by teaching him to:

  • Be accountable for his actions. Take responsibility and own it.
  • Be a good role model for others.
  • Be appreciative and thankful for the blessings he has in life. Much of what one attains in life comes through the help of others. Do not take people for granted and express your genuine gratitude. Be willing to give freely of oneself without an expectation of something in return.
  • Have fun. Life should be enjoyed. It is up to you to discover your own passion and create your own happiness.

Through the years, Ken and Alex have created a bond and enjoyed life through sports, household and yard projects and business ventures. They share an obsession with Louisville Cardinals team sports and watching sporting events on television and at games.

The two have painted many home interiors together and enhanced yards through landscaping. They have created and implemented business plans, some successfully, others not.  They’ve jointly discovered their passions, had fun and felt a sense of accomplishment.

Ken feels he’s raised a genuinely good and caring son who has a “great head on his shoulders and makes wise decisions.” He’s proud that Alex has “stayed out of trouble” and shown he knows the difference between right and wrong. “I feel confident Alex has an extremely bright future ahead of him, both personally and professionally. It has been fulfilling and rewarding to be Alex’s father. He has brought more joy into my life than I could have hoped for. He is an incredible son whom I love so much.”

  A Dad is

Respected because he gives his children leadership.
Appreciated because he gives his children care.
Valued because he gives his children time.
Loved because he gives his children the 1 thing they treasure most-himself.

Happy Father’s Day to fathers everywhere.

Linda Leier Thomason is a former CEO who writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Find out more about Linda by clicking the “Meet Linda” tab above. Interested in working together? Complete this form below.

 

©Copyright. June 2017. Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Insider Tips for College Graduates on the Job Hunt

You’ve achieved a major life milestone. You earned a college degree and are ready to join the workforce. Congratulations!

As you begin searching for your first career position, keep these insider tips in mind.

Make a Schedule & Show up Daily

Looking for a job is much like having a job. It requires commitment, dedication and perseverance. Create a schedule and stick to it. Get up each day knowing what you need to accomplish and prepare a list of things-to-do for the next day. Part of those tasks should include networking, prospecting, completing applications, going on interviews and creating and updating a spreadsheet to keep track of all activity by employer.

Try not to get discouraged. Finding a job is hard work. Finding a job that fits into your ideal career path is even harder. Put in the work for the best results.

Do a Personal Inventory

You’ve likely taken a career-ready course in college. There you identified your strengths and weaknesses. Maybe you listed industries or companies you’d be interested in as a career. Sit back for a few moments (not days) and do another personal assessment. Think about a career, not just getting a job. Reflect.

Why?

Are you pursuing a certain job because it’s your passion? Or, did your parents guide you into this career field? Is money your primary motivator? Should it be? Are you only looking in a particular industry because you completed an internship there? What job functions excite you enough to hop out of bed each morning looking forward to work? You must know yourself, your interests and your skill set well before you can realistically sell yourself to an employer. Don’t use the excuse that you’re too young or inexperienced to do this inventory or you will be hopping from job to job rather than settling into a focused career.

Understand Your Brand & Review Your Public Image

Understand you’re marketing yourself to prospective employers as a brand. What kind of impression are you making online? Quickly check. Do a Google search on yourself. What will an employer see? What photos of you are on Facebook and Instagram? Do you have endless juvenile sounding or drunken rants on Twitter? Do you participate in high risk activities that a recruiter or company will see as a liability?

You’ve graduated. Now it’s time to clean up your social media sites. Remove all party, beach and prom photos. Put a professionally dressed image of yourself on your LinkedIn profile. Don’t shut down your sites. Employers want to see that you have personality and creativity and know how to use these marketing tools. Just keep them clean and professional. Read everything. Make sure you don’t have grammar and spelling errors and that all content and dates are consistent.

Brag about It

Today every employer will log on to see if your public profile is a good fit or match for their organizational culture. Keep or put things on these social media sites that don’t necessarily fit on a resume. Did you win a huge award or invent something remarkable? Post a photo and description. You know they will be looking. Let them see how great you are and what an ideal fit you’d be with their company.

Network Online

More people network today online than in person. Add connections to your LinkedIn profile. Search out professionals who have a job you’d like to have. Connect. Ask them about their job and seek their guidance on how to be successful in that job and industry. Maybe they will invite you to visit with them at their office or on the telephone. Depending on how well you relate, this LinkedIn connection could become a career mentor.

At a certain point, it might be appropriate to ask for introductions to hiring managers within the company. Usually referrals from employees within a company are given greater weight than unknown candidates. Find someone to advocate for you within the company you want to work with. LinkedIn is a great way to achieve this.

Customize Your Resume

Most college students graduate having written a resume. If not, there are plenty of online sources for help. Take yours and review it and update it with these tips:

  • You have 6 seconds to make an impression on the first person reading your resume.
  • Think like the boss. What part of your work or internship history would (s)he be most interested in or care about? Feature these.
  • A boss cares about meeting company goals and objectives, first and foremost. Focusing on what you can do for the organization will make you stand out.
  • Get to the point quickly with a summary of your tops skills and achievements. Highlight what you’ve done that matters most to the employer and how you’ve been recognized for that skill or achievement.
  • Read each job description carefully and make a list of keywords. These are words you see repeatedly in the posting under “qualifications” and “requirements.” Make sure you meet all of the job requirements. If so, include these keywords in all documents (cover letter, email, resume, online application, etc.) submitted to the company.
  • Customize your resume to the position. This requires extra time but shows you know what an employer is seeking from a qualified candidate. Remember, you have 6 seconds to make an impression.

Write an Impressive Cover Letter or Email

Most companies require you submit a cover letter and resume through their website. Fewer ask you to send an email and resume. Either way, make a great first impression with a cover letter. Keep it to one page. Do not repeat what is already on your resume. Instead, highlight the skills and talent you will bring to the company on the first day. Make these stand out by using 3 or 4 bullet points on the page. Always check your spelling, grammar and punctuation. Research and find a name to address your communications to. It shows initiative and greater interest.

Create and Practice an Elevator Pitch

An elevator pitch is a 30 second commercial about you. Remember, you are a brand. Sell yourself like you see a product being sold on TV. Write your pitch out. Rehearse it enough so you can recite it in a conversational manner. Avoid being cutesy or folksy.

Stick to the facts. Focus on skills that set you apart. List what value you’d immediately add to the company. Add a line about why a company should hire you. Like your resume, this pitch needs to be tweaked by organization. Anytime a friend, family member or referral source asks, “What are you looking for?” or “Tell me about yourself,” you should be able to readily give your rehearsed pitch. Be clear, concise and focused.

Practice Answering Interview Questions

You can find endless lists of interview questions online. The following 10 questions have been trending recently. Practice succinctly answering each question aloud. Ask a trusted friend, parent or mentor to give you feedback. Recent college graduates should use group project, internship and part-time work experiences to answer questions.

Many interviewers use the STAR method when asking behavioral based questions. They want you to first describe the situation and task(s). Then identify the actions and give the results when you answer their questions. If this concept is new to you, practice it. Knowing how to answer questions in this manner is expected of new graduates.

  1. Name one function you’d like to do every day at work for the remainder of your working days.
  2. Describe a time you failed, what you learned from it and how you made life or work changes from that failure.
  3. Explain Twitter to your grandparent in 140 characters or less.
  4. Describe the story of your career to date.
  5. What 3 metrics do you use to measure your own success?
  6. What 5 things do you expect from an employer?
  7. On the first day of work, what value will you immediately bring to this organization?
  8. If you had to do college over, what 1 thing would you change?
  9. Give an example of how you react when a team member isn’t doing his or her fair share of the project work.
  10. Describe your proudest moment in life to date.

Nail the Interview

Each interview method and process may be different. Some companies have a human resources staffer call and ask screening questions before inviting you to meet in person. Some prefer video conferencing as an initial screening. Others will invite you in to meet with the team you will be working with.

Treat all interviews with respect. Dress professionally for video calls. Don’t sound like you are sleeping when on a telephone screening call. Smile when on the phone and walk around, if it helps project more energy. You must make a favorable first impression to be invited for an in-person interview.

Always get the name and title of the person or people you are speaking to. It may seem dated, but it’s still appropriate to send a thank you note after each interview. Express your appreciation of their time and interest and remind them again why you are the best candidate for the job.

You may follow up with the employer after the interview, but do not send endless emails or make dozens of phone calls. Employers hire based on qualifications and interviews. Being a pest will turn off an employer.

Be sure to:

  • Research the organization and the people you will be meeting with.
  • Prepare questions you’d like answered. For example, is there a leadership training program? Do you pay for advanced education? Will I have to travel? How often? What do you like best (and least) about working here?
  • If it’s an out-of-town interview, ask about travel reimbursement before going. If they don’t offer reimbursement, find out how serious of a candidate you are before agreeing to travel.
  • Eat a nutritious meal before the interview. You don’t know how long the interview may last.
  • Try to get appointment scheduler to explain the process to you. Many companies now ask candidates to take personality and aptitude skill tests. Some interviews are progressive, meaning if you pass one test you proceed to the next part of the process. This can take hours, or even a full day. Be prepared before you go.
  • Dress appropriately. If in doubt, overdress. Never show up with pet hair on your clothing or a smoke odor.
  • Take your time answering questions. Pause. Ask for clarification. Speak clearly and loudly. Don’t become so long-winded the interviewer becomes bored. Think about the question and how your work history, skills and experiences can best benefit the organization.
  • Show interest. Ask questions throughout the interview. Remember, interviews are a two-way street. They are assessing your fit and readiness and you are determining if you’d like to work there.
  • Show some personality. It’s okay to laugh and to get to know the people you are meeting with. Afterall, you want to spend at least 8 hours a day with them.
  • End each interview knowing what the next steps in the process are and when they will be making a hiring decision.

Address the Elephant in the Room

The loudest complaint of recent graduates is employers want someone with experience. You must address this head on. In your personal inventory make a list of reasons you are prepared for the work place. Prove it by submitting a strong resume and cover letter. Deliver a polished elevator pitch and show up fully prepared for your interviews.

Extrapolate specific college group project experiences that relate to the work environment. Be able to describe the specific situation, action or task and the end result. Then relate this experience to the employer’s environment, keeping in mind they care more about what you can do for them and how you will advance their company.

Don’t be afraid to sell your soft skills like writing, communication and organizational skills. Highlight your technical skills like Microsoft Office Suite, statistical analysis, etc. and identify if you are advanced or efficient in each. Prove how you are a great team player and give examples of your learning style and business acumen.

Ask college professors, volunteer organization advisors and work supervisors to post a reference for you on your LinkedIn page. Be sure they highlight your work readiness and professional skills.

Keeping it Real

If you have no prior work or internship experience and only a college degree, you are at a definite disadvantage. Your resume will rank low. You won’t have key words to use or real life experiences to share. Always be truthful on your resume and in interviews because employers will verify your information before hiring you.

If this is your situation, do not infinitely prolong the job search. While searching, secure a job of some sort and prepare yourself for your ideal job.  Use the workplace as your laboratory of learning. Keep notes of examples you can use when talking with future employers. Ask for greater responsibility and prove you are workplace ready for your next job.

Share with recent college graduates seeking their 1st career position.

Linda Leier Thomason is a former CEO who has hired and developed  teams of professionals, including interns. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government and small business. She is the mother of a  December 2016 business college graduate who just landed his first career position.

Have a question about finding a job, writing a resume or drafting an elevator pitch? Need coaching?

Contact me.

©Copyright. April 2017. Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Ways to Test if a Neighborhood is Right for You

Quality of Neighborhood as Important as the House

You can remodel a kitchen or replace the family room flooring. Fixing a neighborhood is much more challenging. When searching for your ideal new home, pay close attention to neighborhood features that matter to you and your family.

Your real estate agent will ask you to be clear about what makes a difference in your daily life. For example, do you want a short commute to work? Do you need to be on a public transportation route? Does the grocery store or child care center need to be close? Do you want mature trees lining the street?

Answers to these questions are important. They direct where you search for your ideal home.  After narrowing down the list of ideal homes, drive through the neighborhoods. What’s happening there during the day and at night? Does the tone of the neighborhood change after dark or in the summer?

Do you sense that you’d enjoy the neighborhood as much as you love the home?

5 Ways to Test if a Neighborhood is Right Fit:

1. Convenience

Is convenience important in your daily life? If so, look around the neighborhood you’re thinking of moving to.

  • How far is the home from your place of work?
  • What are peak commute times like? Are the roads congested and noisy?
  • Would you be able to come home for lunch, or to let the dog out?
  • Is the grocery store fairly close? How about other retail shopping centers?
  • Where is the library, gas station and convenience store?
  • Are there restaurants you like nearby?
  • Is there a Farmer’s Market within a comfortable distance?
  • Where’s the Post Office?
  • Can you get to a dentist or doctor appointment quickly?
  • Where is the nearest Interstate?

 2. Social

Does it matter to you that you’re near family and friends? If you’re new to the community, do you rely on neighbors for socialization? When you drive through, are they outdoors interacting? Are children playing together? Also, consider:

  • Is the Home Owner’s Association (HOA) active? Do they plan social outings so you can meet other families and neighbors?
  • Depending on your age, are there activities for retirees within a comfortable driving distance?
  • Where is the nearest fitness center or swimming pool?
  • Is there anywhere close for art classes?

 3. Community Services

What community services do you rely on most? Research the availability and locations of:

  • Schools
  • Hospitals
  • Entertainment venues
  • Places of worship
  • Parks
  • Bike and walking trails
  • Police stations
  • Fire stations
  • Ambulance services
  • Child care
  • Cable television
  • Trash and recycling pick up

 4. Safety

It can be sort of deflating to discuss safety and crime rates while searching for a dream home. But, it’s a reality that needs to be examined. Consider these items:

  • Street lighting
  • Posted speed limit signs
  • Availability of sidewalks so people and vehicles don’t share the roadway
  • Neighbors home during the day
  • The Sex Offender Registry
  • Crime Reports Check for what crimes have been reported in your area
  • Posted Neighborhood Watch signs
  • Are local businesses boarded up or do they have bars on windows?
  • Air and water quality
  • Flooding potential
  • Steep hills-icy roads

 5. Appearance

Do you prefer living in a neighborhood where all the homes are constructed by the same builder and/or all painted natural muted colors? Or, do you like variety? Do you prefer new construction or a neighborhood with older homes? Do cars parked on the street bother you? Do you mind seeing a school playground or neighborhood park from your kitchen window? Also, think about:

  • How well homes and lawns are kept up?
  • Are HOA covenants enforced consistently?
  • Are the streets well maintained, or are there potholes?
  • What type and quality of trees are in the neighborhood?
  • Where are vehicles parked?
  • Is the neighborhood park clean or is it covered with pet waste and litter?

Linda Leier Thomason is a former CEO who writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Find out more about Linda by clicking the “Meet Linda” tab above. Interested in working together? Complete this form below.

 

Are you ready to find your dream home in a fantastic neighborhood? Contact Megan.

Megan Owens, Realtor

“Delivering extraordinary care for extraordinary clients.”

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Ambassador Real Estate

Phone | 402-689-4984     Email | Megan.Owens@bhhsamb.com

©Copyright. March 2017. Linda Leier Thomason. All Rights Reserved.

 

2 Day Trips & Kosher Sex Make a Great Weekend

You won!

Sex or 2 day trips-it doesn’t matter why you opened this story. Your life is enhanced by both. You won already.

Instead of roaming out of the state or region consider a Staycation-a period of time where you stay home and participate and support communities and events within driving distance of your home. Or, at least, take 2 day leisure drives to discover hidden gems surrounding your community.

Here are 2 day trips my husband Ken and I made recently from our Northwest Omaha, Nebraska home. Click on the links for more information to plan your 2 day trips.

Day Trip #1  of  2 Day Trips

Olde Towne Elkhorn, Nebraska 

Located about 14 miles Northwest of Omaha in Western Douglas County, Olde Town Elkhorn provides both vintage charm and a contemporary spirit to visitors.

On a near 70 degree February morning, we walked  at Elkhorn’s Ta-Ha-Zouka Park. This multi-purpose park has trails, a skate park, tennis courts, soccer, baseball and football fields as well as a well-used playground area.

Then we drove a short distance to the  historic square, literally visiting each shop. We enjoyed a cup of coffee and cookie while chatting with Little Scandinavia shop owner, Leona Anderson. Her shop brims with unique and fun Scandinavian items, including Dale of Norway sweaters and uncommon food items.

Fine artist, Jane Kathol, at Main Street Studios and Gallery is an outstanding ambassador for not only the Main Street Studios and Gallery but also Elkhorn. We enjoyed learning about the history of the building that houses the Gallery, the work of the artists within it and about upcoming events, including the “Ladies’ Day Out” event from 10-5 on Saturday, March 25, 2017. Who knew there was so much artistic talent on display in Elkhorn, Nebraska? Do yourself a favor and visit Olde Towne Elkhorn.

We were lucky enough to meet Megan Thomas when stepping into Two Birds Bakery before their noon closing time. They are only open to the public on Saturdays. Stop in and get a fresh cup of coffee and a homemade treat.

Other Places We Visited in Olde Towne Elkhorn, NE

Garden Gallery

Andrea’s Designs

Kimba’s Touch Pottery

Fala’s Treasures & Coffee House

Other businesses we saw included:

Bellissimo Salon & Spa

This & That & Other Stuff

Whistle Stop Country Store -opening again March 4, 2017

Restaurants in Olde Towne Elkhorn, NE

We tried Boyd and Charlies BBQ and sat in a window seat overlooking the meat smoking outdoors. We look forward to going back to try the others, including:

Bella Vita an Italian Bistro

Shevy’s Sports & Steaks

Maximo’s Cantina

Fala’s Treasures and Coffeehouse

Kosher Sex

We found Rabbi Shmuley’s Kosher Sex movie on Amazon Prime Video purely by accident that Saturday evening.  I’ve always admired and appreciated Rabbi Shmuley’s Jewish wisdom, though I’m Catholic. I’ve been a fan of his relationship common sense and bluntness since seeing him decades ago on an Oprah show. This movie ends with his discussing SANER sex-Sensuality, Attraction, Nakedness, Eroticism and Romance. It’s worth watching regardless of your religious beliefs or marital status. We’ve been married nearly 25 years and each felt we gained something and that it was time well spent. If you don’t have Amazon Prime, you can see Rabbi Shmuley here:

Day Trip #2: Southwest Iowa

Plan ahead for Sunday drives. Some businesses may be closed.

We took out the Atlas and literally chose 3 towns at random to visit. Glenwood, Malvern and Mineola, Iowa.

I visited Chamber of Commerce websites for each location and had a list of restaurants and recreation areas that seemed interesting. What surprised me most was the number of boutiques and galleries in these small communities.

Glenwood, Iowa

Over 5000 people live in this Loess Hills town that we easily accessed off I-29.

Tom & Tiff’s Family Restaurant in Glenwood, Iowa has been in business over 20 years and, according to online reviews, is known for their onion rings and broasted chicken. We had both, and agree! Every seat in this place (One street off the main highway through town) was occupied the entire time we were there. The pies also looked wonderful, but we had no room left. The service was efficient and polite, reminiscent of small towns where owners appreciate and value one’s business and hard earned dollar.

On our next visit we hope to visit Mitzi Mo’s Boutique, Second Helpings Boutique and the Vine Street Cellars.

The 45 acre Glenwood Lake Park is a sunny day treat. In addition to the beautiful waterfront grounds it has a 750-seat amphitheater and a museum. Stop in. Walk. Swing. Get some fresh air.

Malvern, Iowa

This town of 1100+ people is 38 miles southeast of Omaha, Nebraska and is on the Wabash Trace Nature Trail.

We were drawn to the art and cultural feel of the community. Stained glass windows in churches and a mural on the side of a car wash intrigued us. We proceeded down an alley and found painted bicycles doubling as planters and found a jewel in Marge Boska. Marge is the Proprietor of Fine Arts on 5th Gallery and Studio. She was preparing for an art class but took time to share the history and restoration story of her building. She invited us to look at the art displayed by numerous talented artists, including one from Russia.

We peeked in the window of Classic Cafe & Catering, knowing we will return. We’ve heard they make great Bloody Mary’s. We were invited into Moreau’s Backerei & Pizzeria by Fred who was preparing for a private party (They’re closed on Sunday.) The German pizza smelled absolutely fantastic! Eventually we will get a slice.

We also window peeked into Rural Roots Boutique. Great window display!

Mineola, Iowa

Mineola is an unincorporated village in Mills County, Iowa with a population of under 200. We took a quick drive around the area and noted the large number of vehicles in front of Tobey Jacks‘ Mineola Steak House-another return destination.

We saw multiple bicyclists and joined them on the Wabash Trail. The scenery on bicycle or foot is amazing and can only improve when green.

 

On our drive back we drove through the campus of the Iowa School for the Deaf before hopping back on I-29 North to our West Omaha home.

No matter where you live there is much to see and do in your surrounding area. Plan a Staycation. Plan a 2-day Saturday and/or Sunday drive. Support small businesses and local artists.

Share your journey with me so I can share it with others, and visit too.

Need help promoting your art, small business, town or community? Contact me. I write website and promotional copy and take photographs to support it. Let’s work together!