Excuse for My Absence – Reading for Profit

20 Jan

It’s been quite some time since I’ve posted. Let me explain why:

1. The holidays were super busy

2. A hectic work schedule

3. Lack of content

4. A new focus

There. I’ve been honest. Let me tell you what I’ve been up to and why you should listen.

I’ve been working on my previous website www.wendylarson.com because I have some speaking events and I’d like to refer any interested parties to my website. I’ve wanted to revamp so I could impress a new audience. I still want to make my site better, but I lost true focus of my mission: to help women succeed in finding their career.

In the grand scheme of things, I am interested in long-term planning. The work I’ve done online has catered to the short-term. The short-term is necessary to address, but if I don’t improve I’ll never get anywhere. So, I’ve decided to take responsibility for my development and create an action plan. I’m a woman with a new focus and a road map of what I need to do to get there!

One thing that I’m doing is reading, reading, reading. I want to know more about my career–what I’m good at–what I can pass on to others. I’ll admit, I really don’t like to read. My mind wanders and I feel like I don’t absorb the information. I’m in the training profession and one of the tricks that instructional designers use is to chunk information when writing the materials. Brilliant. Why don’t I apply the same principles to my reading chore? So I did. I made a daily checklist and always put “read one chapter” on the checklist. I’ll be darned–it works. I pound out those books faster than I thought.

My recommendation is this: before you begin to pour your heart and soul online, make sure you’re armed with information and advice from experts in the field. The internet has a plethora of information and books are always an amazing resource. When I start a new book I promise to pass along what I’m reading, so we can be fabulous and learn together.


Are You Master of Your Domain?

31 Dec

I used to love the television sitcom Seinfeld. Those quirky characters always made me laugh, no matter how inane their antics were. One of my favorite episodes is when the group decides to make a bet on who can last the longest as Master of Their Domain. In the 1990s Master of Your Domain had a sexual connotation, but a few decades later the term has completely changed context. In the cyber world, a domain is one of the most critical components used to get our message out to the world. In retrospect, being Masters of Our Domains is still relevant.

Your internet domain name is like your address online. You’ve probably heard the term “home page.” Without thinking about it we make the correlation between a physical domain and the cyber domain–both imply ownership of some sort of land or realm. Keeping this in mind, does our domain name really affect our personal branding? The answer is yes.

If you choose to put content on the internet, particularly with the intent to find a job, your domain name is critical. Remember, your domain name is what potential employers have to type in their web browsers to access your content. You want your domain to be relevant, professional and clean. One of the best ways to do this is to use your name as your domain. For example, my original domain name is www.wendylarson.com. In essence, I bought my name online. This does several things for me:

1. It makes it more personal, because the world can put a name with a face.

2. It shows I’m cyber fabulous.

3. Nobody else can use my name.

4. It fits my personal brand. I can print spiffy business cards with my cool domain, named after me. Heck, I can even get a matching domain email address.

So how do you get your domain name? There are many services who will help you register your domain. You must do a search to see if your domain is already in use, because you can’t have two people live at the same address. You can try places such as godaddy.com or even WordPress offers a service. You will most likely have to pay a fee, so you should shop around for the best deal. Make sure it’s a trust worthy source who won’t up charge you for registering. If someone is already using your domain, instead of .com try searching for your name ending with .net or .org (for example www.johnsmith.net). Of course you can do variations of your name, but make sure you can keep it somewhat consistent with the rest of your branding.

So have fun domain hunting! Maybe some of my readers might also suggest how to become Master of Your Domain. The possibilities are endless!

23 Dec

Depending on your line of work, I belive that learning how to code is beneficial to your career. Community colleges offer online, inexpensive classes that can introduce you to the concepts.

The Pinstriped Suit


I was recently talking about some startup ideas with a friend of mine. After much discussion, we decided that we needed to enlist the help of a seasoned programmer. As neither of us had the required skill set to execute our idea, we would have to work with somebody who had the hard skills to develop our business.

This got me thinking about how essential it is to learn how to code given that I am an entrepreneur and want to create a startup.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has even made it one of his personal goals to learn how to code.

Most people I’ve talked to tell me that the best way to start is to read lot’s of blogs and figure out what I need to learn. Others tell me that it’s easier to bring my business experience to the table and find somebody with a coding background to…

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Mental Health for the Holidays Please!

23 Dec

CA ChristmasLast Christmas I was awaiting news from my job interview. I wanted that job, and I wanted it badly. The Friday before Christmas, the recruiter called me, but I missed the call. In her voicemail she informed me that she was going on PTO for a few days, leaving me in agony over the Christmas holiday. I was determined not start 2012 on a low note, but keeping my sanity was tougher than I thought. Something didn’t feel right. I was uneasy and my mood wasn’t as cheerful as normal. Thankfully the new year brought good news. I accepted the position and love what I do.

This Christmas, especially over the last two weeks, I’ve felt pretty bummed out. I can’t figure out why. Maybe it’s because I’m tapped out. Perhaps it’s because I’m tired from taking on too much holiday cheer. No more cookies, no more parties–bah humbug. Last year’s feelings, although less intense, seemed to return this year. I had to ask myself, why?

People who know me understand that I’m a huge supporter of mental health, particularly around the holidays. Been there, done that. So why couldn’t  I get out of my funk? I found out the answer today. I just needed to get out, breathe the air, and enjoy Christmas cost-free. No malls. No traffic. No presents. No cookies. No Christmas tree. Just a chance to enjoy a sense of normal.

Every Saturday morning I meet with a walking group. We visit trails and walk around 5 miles. I hate getting up early on a Saturday, but I find that it’s just what I need. Today our destination was Balboa Island. As I drove Laguna Canyon road to PCH, my eyes saw the wonderful beach front. The morning was crisp, and a small fog bank was hovering over the ocean. I turned right on PCH, and drove the coastline through Laguna, Corona Del Mar, all the way to Newport. Along the way I started to think that life wasn’t so bad with all this beauty around. What is there to be unhappy with? Nothing. There was absolutely nothing. My mood began to lift, and as the sun peaked through the fog bank I found that I was actually enjoying Christmas.

Today was gorgeous. One look at the harbor brought on an immediate smile. My friends and I crossed the bridge, boarded the ferry and walked the peninsula. We saw some otters enjoying the sun while marveling at the beautifully decorated houses. It truly felt like a California Christmas. All I needed was something to remind me of what Christmas is supposed to be–good family, good friends and an appreciation of how lucky I am to have a wonderful life. Today ended up being the best mental health day I’ve taken in a while, and I’m glad for it.

My point is, ladies you are fabulous. Even if your spirits are down at Christmas because you can’t find a job or you don’t have enough money to buy presents, things will get better. Don’t let your light burn out. Don’t let your spirit waiver. Don’t lose hope. Take your mental health break. Work towards finding a solution, and make 2013 your year.

It’s Not Me, It’s You!

17 Dec

My boss and I were on a business trip and after a long day of client presentations we went out to dinner. The restaurant wasn’t busy—we were practically the only ones in the joint. My boss could talk to anyone, so he started to make small talk with our waitress. She was sweet, probably in her early 20s and unhappy in her waitress job. My boss was only casually interested, but searching for someone to converse with besides me must’ve seemed attractive to him. He started a conversation and she was more than eager to chat. It’s amazing how much personal information strangers impart to anyone with a sympathetic ear.

Our waitress told us that she graduated college over a year ago and absolutely could not find a job anywhere. She walked us through her process step by step. Each night she trolled the online job boards, submitted her resume and kept a tracking spreadsheet of all the requisitions she applied to. I asked her to give me a ball park percentage of return inquiries. She estimated about 40% of employers responded to her resume. 40% is a good number—better than what most people get. I was surprised she was having trouble finding something with such a high response rate.

She continued to tell us just how unhappy she was. She couldn’t figure out what she was doing wrong and why so many employers didn’t offer her a job after the interview. The bells were immediately going off in my head because to me the answer was simple: it was her. Our waitress looked great on paper but must crash and burn during every interview. It was either her, or the competition was stiff. In either case she had to step up her game if she wanted to get out of her waitressing gig.

I asked this girl what she thought of her results. Why was she unsuccessful? What could it possibly be? She shook her head in uncertainty. I candidly replied, “oh honey, it’s not them. It’s you.” She took a step back and I was thinking in the back of my mind that somehow my food was going to have a nice pool of spit mixed in. I was wrong. She was open to my suggestion.

I told her that she should take a look at her interviewing skills. How was she dressing? What type of impression did she make? Was she tripping over her words? Did her qualifications match her resume? I was stunned that she never considered these questions, but there are many job seekers out there wondering the same thing. Quite simply, there was something that she could improve upon to increase her chances of getting a second interview and ultimately hired.

If this sounds like your situation, there are a couple of things you can do:

  1. Ask a friend to conduct a mock interview with you. Do some role-playing and try to pinpoint where you begin to lose credibility or become uncomfortable.
  2. Anticipate the questions an interviewer might ask and have prepared answers. Successful interviews are built off of planning. You don’t have control over what an interviewer will ask, but put some thought into your answers.
  3. Think about the strengths that you would like to express during your interview and find a way to incorporate them during your discussion. Depending on how well you craft your answers, you may be able to control the direction of the interview.
  4. Be consistent. Memorize your resume. Make sure that what you wrote on your resume and job application match the strengths you intend to bring to an interview. Keep notes on your interview. Write down the questions that were asked and the responses you gave. For example, if your employer asks you to use three words to describe yourself, write down those words post interview so you can repeat them back if you’re asked again.
  5. Wear your interview clothes and practice in front of the mirror. Trying on your outfit prior to show time might tell you whether or not something is too itchy, too tight or loose, or whether or not you need to hide your sweaty armpits. And for goodness sake, remove the tailor’s stitch from the back of your suit coat and skirt slit. Tacky, tacky, tacky.

Sometimes the hardest part of a career search is acknowledging that we, as the job candidate, must make changes when something isn’t working. Take the time to identify key areas that might be holding you back from getting to the next step in the interview process. Don’t get bent out of shape if someone offers you feedback. Open ears undoubtedly lead to success.

The Secret to Successful Interviews

10 Dec

Wendy TrophyThere’s tons of information floating in cyberspace about interview tips and tricks. Here’s a hint: your interview shouldn’t include tricks. You’re not working as a waitress on a job interview, so forget the tips. Fabulous women are comfortable in their own skin and know how to honestly represent themselves. Your interviewer can immediately sniff out a disingenuous person anyway. No tricks or tips ladies.

So what is the secret to a successful interview?

The best thing a fabulous woman can do for herself is to learn how to speak in public. Why? Because it increases your confidence and credibility. Candidates that have control of their nerves, can organize their thoughts and know how to master their vocal tone possess a finesse that radiates throughout a room during an interview. You must, you must, you must, learn how to speak in front of others. Remember, your interview can be with one person or it can be with many, so why not prepare for any scenario?

Since many people consider public speaking tantamount to sleeping in a bed full of scorpions, it’s no surprise that people shy away from making the effort to learn. When you stop to consider the payoff for investing your time, you might be motivated to give it a try. Besides, it’s really not that bad. Here are some ideas to help you get started:

1. Join a speech club or group. Surf the web to find a group that might help you hone your skills. Toastmasters, the Speaker’s Bureau and meetup.com might give you the push you need to conquer your fear. Clubs are a great way to find mentors who can give you advice on how to improve. If you join a club or group, stick with it for at least 8 sessions. Unless you completely hate the club, give it a chance. You need to see your improvement and it isn’t always a quick fix.

2. Take a speech class at the local community college. Community colleges offer evening classes for us working gals, so it’s a great option if you have a few hours to spare each week.

3. Listen to others speak. I’m very active in my clubs, but I learn the most when I’m listening to other speakers. Lectures, museum symposiums, political debates, church sermons and facilitator workshops are great ways to observe and take notes. Think about what you liked or didn’t like about the speaker. Narrow down a few techniques you can use and practice them.

4. Take an acting class. Even though I love the stage, I’m a terrible actress. Just because you’re in an acting class doesn’t mean you have to take the stage. Acting classes help you come out of your shell, improve your diction and polish your memorization skills. Acting can be unpredictable so it may also help you cope with impromptu speaking or learn how to deal with unexpected situations.

5. Film yourself. Prepare a 2-3 minute speech and deliver it in front of a camera. Watch the footage and see where you can improve. We all know that you’re fabulous, but sometimes seeing yourself on the big screen can help you pinpoint annoying gestures or areas in your speech that might need refinement.

Regardless of the option you choose to explore, remember that even a shy person can learn to public speak. It takes time, effort and courage to get up there and do it. If you give it a chance, keep an open mind, and practice your craft, you’re going to nail the interview.

What Cyber Monday Means to You

28 Nov

This year my mom and I had every intention of participating in the Black Friday mayhem. We don’t typically go out on Black Friday to shop, but we have a keen interest in watching people make jerks of themselves in the public arena. I remember working retail around the holidays. I think I lost all faith in humanity. There’s nothing more unappealing than waiting in a three day long line at Walmart only to get peeved by the inconsiderate jerks who bum rush the door as it opens. Parking at the mall is just as insane. We all know that it’s “every woman for herself” mentaility. We all do it. Parking spaces are a precious commodity. Somehow my car always seems to come away with a battle scar from some stupid person who doesn’t know how to park. I remember Christmases by the scrapes on my cute little blue Beetle. I’m just waiting for the day that I can proudly say, “this one is from Christmas 2012. Isn’t she a beauty?” With so much frustration centered around Black Friday, we have to question ourselves why we do it.

The word has gotten out that Black Friday is more trouble than it’s worth so retailers have come up with a solution: Cyber Monday. Cyber Monday is the virtual Black Friday, where online retailers offer Black Friday deals to internet shoppers. Some retailers have extended Cyber Monday to Cyber week. Aren’t they kind? Despite my love for shopping, I have never participated in Cyber Monday–until this year.

Enter the ugly sweater pictured above. Yes, this year I am attending my first ugly sweater party. For those of you who don’t know what an ugly sweater party is, please take the time to deduce from the name “ugly sweater.” I went to tons of thrift stores and I swear that there’s an ugly Christmas sweater shortage. I finally opted to order online, which happened to be Cyber Monday. Thanks to Cyber Monday I saved 10% off of my total order, but sadly free shipping was not included. Hooray for Cyber Monday.

Why should you care about Cyber Monday? What does it have to do with your job search? Let’s break down the Cyber Monday concept and see why it’s important:

1. Cyber Monday reminds us that we are a web-based culture. If we can’t find what we want while window shopping, we can always go online and find exactly what we’re looking for. The same principle applies to job-seekers.

2. The power of the internet is infinite. The exchange of information over the internet is instantaneous. You can capture a large audience with a few clicks of a button gaining national and international exposure.

3. Times are changing. Brick and mortar stores have to go online to stay strong, or even survive. You should too.

Are you connecting the dots? My point is that the internet is invaluable when it comes to casting your net out to potential employers. There is no limit to how far you can reach. If you want to extend your presence on an international scale, you can!

Go through your spam folder and find the Cyber Monday deals. Take a look at them. Pay attention to how they advertise their products. What do you like or not like about them? Are the ads effective? Relate it to your situation. Would you advertise your personal brand, your website, your resume using the marketing ploys used by retailers? My guess is probably not, but the lessons you learn from these advertisements will be directly incorporated in your marketing. You’ll know what NOT to do.

Happy cyber shopping ladies! I’ll let you know how the ugly sweater party goes!