Simply Thankful…

We have come to the season of thanksgiving and I sit hear pondering what I’m grateful for and being the curious one that I am, I wonder what others say they are grateful for.  Everyday as I grow older, time and energy seems to slip right on by  me, however, one thing I never want to have slip from me is my thankfulness for what I do have, what I have experienced, and dare I say where I am headed to…grateful in advance I would call that.  So what better time than now to take a look at my top 20-list of “thankful for” ….

1.  The very breathe of life
2. The necessities of life
3. My health and strength
4. My family and friends
5. My church family
6. My entrepreneurial spirit
7. The ideas that God gives me
8. My ups and my downs
9. My education
10. My professional experiences
11.  Authentic connections and collaborations
12. My freedom
13. My recognitions big and small
14. The opportunities to help and encourage
15. Possibilities
16. Dreams and vision
17. The platforms available to reach the world
18. The beauty that’s surrounds us all
19. My skills, talents, gifts, and knowledge
20. My sanity

There you have it, my top 20 which of course isn’t everything I’m thankful for but I had to stop somewhere. Now it’s your turn.  Share at least one thing that you are thankful for; I would love to read it

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New Season Brings Changes

Here we are already in the middle of September with its cooler temperatures, giving us the hint that one of my all time favorite times of the year is upon us, FALL.  The air is crisp and the coolness puts a spring in my step.  A new season is always a sign of changes.   What changes have you made or are making in your life or business lately that puts you closer to where you want to be?

Let me be the first to answer that question.  For me, I have encountered and gone through a season of twist and turns in the past 18 months; from moving back to my hometown after 12 years, to becoming a first time care taker of an aging parent, to embarking upon my second entrepreneur venture. I consider it the season of my “reinvention.”

I’ve always said that the only constant in life is change, and it happens whether we want it to or not. Some people choose to embrace change and find ways to turn the unexpected into an opportunity for growth. While others become fearfully paralyzed by the very idea of change  and move into reactive mode. How we handle the inevitable changes in our life is key to living a life without fear. The right attitude can make all the difference in the world between allowing unexpected life changes to keep us from achieving our goals or facing those changes and growing because of them.

Take a deep breath and give yourself time to adjust to the changes.  Don’t let others telling you to get over it or get on with life, deter you from the right adjustment for yourself. Then write down your choices and determine which choice is best for you and then take one step at a time to make it come to life.

I decided to google the idea of how best to adapt to change and how change can become a success.  This is a collection of suggestions I found.

How Change Becomes Success
Unexpected changes can make us feel as if we have lost our foundation and or are swimming against a rip tide. But change can give birth to our greatest life successes if we open ourselves up to the possibility.

What are the secrets that turn life changes into life successes?

1. Remain true to yourself. Never compromise your beliefs even if it seems like the only way out at the time.

2. Listen to your spiritual source. You have asked for help, be receptive when the answer comes.

3. Think outside of yourself. How will your choices affect your friends, family, community and the earth on which we live? You are part of a much larger world and if you make decisions that benefit all, you will benefit yourself.

4. Dream your dreams. Your dreams cannot become reality if you don’t allow yourself to dream.

5. Be patient. Turning change into success may not happen overnight. Knowing that your spiritual source, mind and body are all working together toward one goal will help you stay focused and, in the end, become successful.

6. Help others. While we may be going through change and adversity ourselves, it is through helping others that we truly grow and succeed.

Everyone measures success differently in society. Most time we will measure it by how many cars we drive, how much money we have in the bank, or how big and fancy our house is  or the neighborhood we live in.  The fact is that having money (as we’ve all heard before I’m sure) does not necessarily equal happiness. True happiness, I personally believe really does come from within and how well we choose to meet life’s changes, and overcome the stumbling blocks, while remaining our authentic self.

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It’s The Little Things That Matter with Employees

As an employer you may think sometimes that sweeping, radical changes is the answer to improving your employees’ performance, however, as it has been said in many cases it’s the little things that can make the most impact in changing the work environment and performance.  Here are three quick things you can do now to help move you in the right direction:

Lead by example.  If you are in management or a leadership role, I’m sure you have heard this before and sometimes it’s easier said than done.  But it’s important to show employees that you respect the company that pays you for your time and work efforts. For example, arrive before or at the same time your staff comes in.  When you make the choice to consistently show up on time and ready to work, it sends the message to employees that you are equal in that you respect and follow company policies and rules also.

Let employees know how they fit into the “big picture.” Make a conscious decision to explain to the various employees and how his or her daily responsibilities and actions impact your company’s overall success. Your staff will more motivated to do a good job and succeed, when they have a better understanding of how what they do and their ability do it well  fit into the puzzle.

Let them know you care. You’ve heard the age ole saying, no one cares what you know, until they know how much you care. Take the time out to say thank  you for a job well done. If you know of a staff member whose experiencing a rough time, send a note simply expressing your concerns.  Call and check-in on an employee whose been out sick.  Just demonstrating you care through these small acts can make a bigger difference than you may have every thought.

So the next time you are reviewing how to improve performance in your workplace, think in more simple terms.

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Beware Employers…Slackers Can Be Reformed

Ok, the bad news first?  A lengthy recession has had a two-pronged negative effect on job performance.  On one hand, some companies have been very slow and so their employees have grown complacent because of a reduction in activity and accomplishing less; while on the other hand, some companies have trimmed their staff right down to the bone, and overworked employees are quite simply, burned out and have no more to give.  As a result, worker apathy is translating into sub-par performance.

Now the good news?  Employers can begin to turn those things around – and no money has to be spent to do it.  Use the following best practices to engage, retain and motivate your employees, and in the long run maximize job performance:

Share your vision with your team/employees.  When you take the time to share your vision of where you intend to lead the company, you provide each employee with a sense of purpose, clarity, meaning and security — which all play a part in maximizing productivity.  A shared vision, energizes the team to collaborate and strengthens each employee’s ability to work with a “winner’s mindset,” during difficult times.

Set clear performance objectives and expectations.  It’s difficult for an employee to meet performance standards that they don’t even know exist. You can make it easy for them by providing clear direction and setting benchmarks by which they can see their own progress.  Tell employees what is expected of them and they will be more motivated to start in right away to reach the desired result.

Motivate through cross-training.  It is critical that employees are exposed to more than just their own day in- day out job duties.  You build a stronger workforce by incorporating diversity in what your employees are exposed to and learn.  It also tends to increase some internal pride and confidence, enhances employee engagement and creates higher levels of productivity and more efficiency.

Keep the lines of communication open.  Some employees are afraid to talk to management who give off a “don’t touch me” kind of aura.  Guard against this kind of management style, it has the potential to backfire on you.  Instead adopt a culture that consistently exercises an “open door” policy:

  • Spend a few minutes each morning with your employees, and ask them about their previous workday or current projects their working on or what’s on the table to tackle for the day.
  • Share some of your plans for each working day, and work together to set expectations for what should be accomplished
  • Frequently remind employees that you want them to come to you with their questions, ideas and concerns
  • Over time, a culture with consistently open and honest communication fosters synergy, creatively, and ultimately higher productivity

Find out what makes your employees tick.  Obviously not every employees is going to be motivated by the same things. Since you manage unique individuals, take the time to understand what motivates each of them, and what type of communication and feedback will make the best impact.  Most importantly, find out why your employees work for you, and what they are working toward, by asking them what motivates them.  Use their responses to guide your efforts by tying rewards or incentives to what drives your staff.

So there you have, a summary of some great performance motivators I recently came across in a business newsletter (Innovations) that I thought were definitely worth sharing with employers out there who are having to really think about the current environment they are operating in.

Find out what makes employees tick.

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Filed under Small Business

It’s A Thin Line…Employee vs IC

As more and more small businesses and entrepreneurs begin to emerge and affect the economic landscape, it opens up the doors for those same business owners to begin delegating some of their “hats” to others in the form of help outside themselves; better known as an employee or more popular, the independent contractor, an IC as it’s commonly known.

You are excited that your business is growing, revenues are increasing and profits are manifesting; and now you want to make sure you keep that momentum going, finally realizing you can’t do it all by yourself.  Yet, blowing your budget unnecessarily is not on your list of things to do.  So you forge ahead identifying what you want to give up control over and outsource to the right person or people that will maintain the integrity of  the brand you’re building.

So you sit down and crutch the numbers to see if a regular employee will get done what you need, or can you get the same quality work from an IC?  To help you with that question, one of the first and most prevalent resource to pinpoint the best answer for you is the good ole IRS.  Who best to give you an insight on just how thin the line is.

Here is how the IRS defines it:

Workers are not necessarily employees, at least in a legal and tax sense. If you hire people to perform functions for your company, the IRS could consider them as either employees or independent contractors.

The difference is critical – to you and to the IRS. In general terms, employers do not have to pay payroll taxes and Social Security, provide benefits, pay unemployment or disability insurance, etc. for independent contractors. If you require short-term or infrequent specialized skills, independent contractors can be the perfect solution… but run afoul of IRS regulations and the penalties can be significant (as you’ll see.)

How do we determine if an individual is an employee or Independent Contractor? The IRS focuses on three basic tests:

  • Behavior
  • Financial
  • Relationship

Let’s look at each.


As the employer, do you have direct control and the authority to control the ways and means the worker carries out work functions? If so, the worker is most likely an employee rather than an independent contractor.

The key is the level of instruction you as the “employer” gives to the worker. The more defined and complete those instructions, the more likely the worker should be classified as an employee.

Think of it this way: if you hire an independent contractor, typically you explain the project and leave the details of how to carry out completing the project to the worker. Do you provide training to the worker? Employees are typically trained; independent contractors follow their own methods.

Keep in mind that even if you provide no instructions, if you have the right to control how the work is performed, the worker may still be an employee. The critical point is whether you as an employer retain the right – even if you choose not to exercise that right – to control the ways and means a worker carries out essential job functions.


As an employer, do you have direct control over business aspects of the worker’s duties? Do you control how the worker is paid? Do you reimburse for expenses? Do you provide tools, supplies, and other commodities? If so, the worker is typically classified as an employee.

Other factors:

  • Does the worker incur fixed costs whether or not work is currently performed? If so, the worker is an independent contractor.
  • Has the worker made significant investment in the facilities or tools used to perform the work required? If yes, then the worker is classified as an independent contractor. (That may not be the case in certain industries, however; for example, automobile mechanics and construction workers are often required to furnish their own tools but are still classified as employees.)
  • Does the worker provide services to other businesses? If so, the worker is almost always classified as an independent contractor, especially if they advertise those services and maintain a separate business location.
  • Is the worker paid regular, ongoing wages? Employees are typically guaranteed a regular wage amount for established work periods. Independent contractors are typically paid by the job or by the hour on a contract basis.
  • Can the worker make a profit or suffer a loss on the work performed? If so, the worker is an independent contractor. Employees are simply paid; they do not enjoy profits or suffer losses.


What is the legal relationship between you and the worker? Do you have a written contract in place describing your business relationship? Do you provide employee benefits like insurance, pension plans, vacation pay and sick pay? If so, your relationship classifies the worker as an employee.

Another key test is permanency: If the worker expects the relationship to only last for a specific project or defined time period, the worker is typically classified as an independent contractor. Keep in mind permanency can be overridden by other factors; you may decide to engage an independent contractor in ongoing work that lasts for years – but if the worker meets other tests to qualify for independent contractor status, the duration of the relationship will not create an employer/employee relationship. For example, if you hire a service person to maintain equipment at your facility, and that person performs that work for five years, as long as the Financial and Behavioral tests signify the worker is an independent contractor, the length of the business relationship is irrelevant.

Keep in mind the IRS uses the above tests to determine if a worker is an independent contractor or employee, even if other agreements are in place. For example, if you have the worker sign an agreement stating he or she is an independent contractor and not an employee, it may not be sufficient to legally establish independent contractor status. The IRS looks at the facts, not a written agreement, to determine the actual work relationship.

So what happens if you classify a worker incorrectly?

The Impact of Misclassification

Whether or not you deliberately misclassified a worker, the consequences are the same. Not only can you face penalties, you may be liable for damages like paying judgments for wages owed, back taxes, past medical expenses (if the worker was injured on the job), and other benefits not provided.

If you find yourself treating your IC more like an employer after reading the above, it would be a great idea to reassess and restructure yourself accordingly.


Filed under Small Business

It’s Not All About The Suit

Your job search has been in full bloom; you’ve identified some key jobs that fit your skill set and the resumes have gone out. Now you wait anxiously for a call or maybe even make some calls yourself in an effort to secure the interview you want.  Then the day comes, just as you had hoped, when the recruiter calls you and sets up an interview.  Now it’s time to figure out a few things to prepare yourself; maybe you even make a checklist for yourself that looks a little like this:

  1. Practice answering common and a more difficult questions
  2. Get directions to where you are going
  3. Make sure you have enough error free resumes to take with you
  4. Decide what you will wear…ah, now there lies the rub

Traditional job interview etiquette will usually dictate that you wear a suit, a dark one at that; however, that’s not always the way to go.  At least not in my opinion or experience. And now in this economy, who can afford a decent suit especially if you have been unemployed for any length of time.

Don’t get me wrong, your attire should always portray a level of professionalism, but it can also be geared toward the job and culture in which you could potentially be working in.  For example, a web designer going for a job at Google, will probably dress according to the environment, which as I’ve seen it is more relaxed, creatively smart, and fun.  Here, I can easily see a crisp polo shirt with a pair of dark slacks and loafers presenting a professional, but not stuffy look.  Or maybe you’re going after a truck driver job; where a pair of khakis, a button down and a pair of nice boots would be more than acceptable.

I’ve always been one to say, if you truly have no idea of the atmosphere you’re walking into, you can never go wrong with a suit — just don’t be confined to it or believe that it will disqualify you for a position you are well suited for, no pun intended, simply because you are not dressed in one.

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7 Strategies To Help You Keep Your Job Longer

In looking at the employment landscape, statistics will surely say that jobs are hard to come by and in many cases, hard to hold on to.  Besides the unpredictability of the economy, employers’ moves are hard to keep your finger on to.  So, I was simply thinking the other day that the millions of individuals who do have a job and are holding on to them have maintained them, I would imagine, not just by pure luck as some would say but by a combination of efforts on the employer’s part and their part to.  And with that said, I wrote down 7 strategies from my own experience and observations that I hope will help and or inspire others to not only maintain their job, but flourish and find some satisfaction in doing them.

1.  Show up and be present:  With all the distractions of life, i.e, family, children, older parents, school, and more; we all can get on overload and lose focus on the job at hand when trying to get through a work day.  It’s important to find your own personal outlet, whether that be yoga or meditation for example, that will help you get focused and prioritize those things that keep you on task

2. Get clear on your employers expectations:  It’s always important to go into a new job or new job responsibilities with a clear cut understanding of what your employer expects of you.  This can be accomplished through scheduling a one on one meeting with your immediate manager.  Let him or her know that how you see your job lines ups with what they want to see accomplished.

3. Don’t be afraid to show initiative:  Once expectations have been defined and goals set are understood, begin to think how you can exceed both.  Think above what the basics are for accomplishing your job tasks, projects and responsibilities.  Keep an ear open to what’s being said around you and a keen eye on what’s been done so far that may not have completely addressed an issue or problem.  Additionally, volunteering for projects that have been targeted to resolve those very problems, is another way to demonstrate initiative.

4. Keep out of “water-cooler” conversations:  Hanging out at the water cooler will only create or stir up troubles you were not looking for or want to attract to yourself.  Remember you are at work to do a job which you are being paid to do.  Keeping focused will get you much further in getting things done and recognized.

5. Meet deadlines and do you job well:  An employer will always (or at least they should) appreciate an employee who meets a deadline and demonstrates a genuine attitude of doing a job well.  It’s also a good idea to keep your own personal records of all your efforts and accomplishments, because at some point you want to have reference of it, especially during performance appraisal time.

6. Search out a mentor:  A mentor can be someone who is open to give you insight on how to best navigate the waters in your corporate culture; and also an individual you can bounce your thoughts off of to get the right perspective of the path you hope to follow.

7. Learn to listen more:  As the saying goes, we have two ears and one mouth, so it can be to your benefit to listen twice as much as you speak. It’s also important to be very mindful to who and what you are listening to.  Do a gut check to see if it lines up with what you know,  understand, and want to learn that will help you flourish where you are.

Of course these are not all inclusive strategies or ways to keep your job longer, but just my thoughts on how you might begin to have longevity in whatever job you are in or are pursuing.

Please feel free to add your own thoughts and opinions to the subject matter.


Filed under Career Planning