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Career

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010708CAREER.jpgCheese, Lincoln’s, green backs — it’s what makes the world go round. We all need money to live, and most of us want more of it. With rising prices on everything from milk to gas, your paycheck just doesn’t seem to go as far these days. Then again, you might just deserve a little more loot for all the hard work you have done lately.

Whatever your situation may be, there comes a time when we have to ask a question harder than a marriage proposal—“May I have a raise?” Before you start to clam up and bail out, find out how to prepare yourself for the big moment and make your request.

Do Your Homework

The first thing to do when thinking of asking for a raise is to do some research. Think of it like you’re buying a new car. You want to prepare yourself for bartering and know when, or if, a deal can be made. Before you pitch your idea, warm up for the game first.

There are two extremely vital things you should do before you even think about walking into your supervisor’s office:
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The first thing you should do is find out your company’s policy on raises. An array of businesses is going to company wide percentage raises. With a cost of living raise, a company might increase everyone’s salaries annually by a calculated percentage, and then perhaps throw on another percentage for “merit”. Others only give raises upon promotions, while others follow annual reviews. Know your company’s pay structure, as well as its policy on raise eligibility.

Find out more about the market for your job here in Cincinnati. Monster.com has a great salary wizard tool where you can compare pay ranges, benefits and more for the local market. You can find other salary calculators online, or check out the U.S. Census Bureau for oodles of information. Read the local papers, network at area functions, or even attend job fairs. If you are serious about getting the raise you want, it is important to get the facts.

Prove It
An employer is very cautious with where and to what their money goes. When asking for a raise, you should be able to prove to your supervisor that you are worthy of receiving more of the company’s money.

Try taking an inventory of yourself. Write down all of your tasks (noting any that you picked up), accomplishments, as well as your attendance. Don’t forget any errors you have made or mistakes that cost the company money. This is challenging to be critical of yourself, but being prepared for any rebuttals from the boss will keep you focused and your eyes on the prize.

If you are requesting the raise because you have streamlined processes, saved the company money, or have completed multiple tasks that benefit the business, bring that information to the table. If you have decreased costs or increased sales, document and present the figures. Sell yourself as if you were interviewing all over again—show them you are worthy of earning more and have the proof in front of you.

Five Easy Things to Remember

  1. Know what you want or need before discussing the matter with the appropriate person. Have a dollar amount you would like in mind, as well an amount you need should bargaining take place.
  2. Observe your behavior and make necessary changes well before your request. Supervisors often remember the last 30 days and use the most recent happenings as grounds for their decision.
  3. Ask at an appropriate time. Avoid making requests during the holidays, month/year end, or at 4:30 on a Friday afternoon (or first thing Monday morning for that matter). Tricky, perhaps, but try catching your boss when they are fresh and in a pleasant mood.
  4. DO NOT threaten to quit! In rare circumstances does this ever work and is incredibly unprofessional. It’s the grown-up version of a temper tantrum. Saying such a phrase can be taken seriously, and you might end up walking out without your raise or your job.
  5. Don’t be discouraged if your request is denied. Raises might not be in the current budget, or perhaps there other plans you don’t know about. Patiently ask what you can do for a different outcome later, and then follow through on suggested tasks.


PHOTO CREDITS:
Photo: Neysa Ruhl Photography
Location: Fischer Homes Granite Spring Model Home
Models: (left) JoAnna Straughn-Moxley, LMT, Symmetry Nutritional Consultant and (right) Katherine Janszen
Makeup Artistry: Jocelyn Sparks, Zoë Custom Cosmetics

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You’re typing an inter-office e-mail at an impressive word per minute when you suddenly pause. You’re stuck; your hands hovering over the keys, unsure whether the sentence you’re creating requires the use of “its” or “it’s.”

Ladies, if that scenario sounds familiar, a simple grammar refresher is the answer for you. Cincy Chic has information on five tips that, once incorporated into your writing use, will make your company communication shine.

Avoiding Sexual Bias

You may see this and say "I don’t have sexual bias in my writing." Unfortunately, this was the sort of thing taught by grammarians for years. When writing about an unknown someone or something, old grammar books advised writers to revert to “he” and “him,” as a result shutting out half of the human population. As a way to correct this, modern writers usually choose to use “they” and “them,” which in turn causes their grammar to be incorrect. Here are some examples:

The employee went to their lunch. (Wrong)

“Employee” is a singular noun, so it requires a singular pronoun (which replaces a noun), such as “he” or “her.” “Their,” though solving the problem of bias, creates another problem. One way to avoid this altogether is by changing the beginning of the sentence:

The employees went to their lunch. (Correct)

“Employees” is now a plural noun which requires the plural pronoun “their.” Sometimes our sentence construction doesn’t allow for a change to a plural pronoun, so instead use “his or her.”

A person wishing to inspire his or her boss should be on time to work.
(Correct)

Usually, the best choice for making your writing unbiased is the plural pronoun option because “his or her” sometimes breaks up the flow of the sentence.
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Its and It’s/They’re and Their/Your and You’re

Misusing common words is an easy mistake to make, especially when you’re working on a deadline. Preserve your professionalism by learning exactly what they mean:

Its versus It’s

The easiest way to differentiate between the two is to read it’s for what it really is: a contraction of “it is.” If you’re not sure which its/it’s should be used, read “it is” in the sentence. If it makes sense, your choice should be “it’s.” If not, you know the other option:

It’s (It is) not hard to learn grammar when you know the basics. (Correct)

The company changed it’s (it is) mind. (Wrong)

They’re versus Their

Again, the best way to choose the correct they’re/their is to read the contraction as the two words it shortens: in this case, “they’re” is a contraction of “they” and “are.” Like “it’s,” if you’re not sure when to use it in a sentence, read “they’re” as “they are.”

They’re (they are) attending a grammar seminar. (Correct)

The employees are going to they’re (they are) cubicles. (Wrong)

In the second sentence, the possessive pronoun “their” was the correct word, not only because as “they are” the sentence didn’t make sense, but also because the cubicles belong to the employees, so a possessive word was needed in that situation.

Your versus You’re

During my time as an editor and writer this was one of the most common mistakes I encountered. But you can apply the same rule to this pairing as I have advised with its/it’s and they’re/their. You’re, if you haven’t guessed, is a contraction of “you are,” while “your” is a word indicating possession. Let’s see it in a sentence:

You’re (you are) going to a see a positive change in you’re (you are) writing soon.

This sentence has one correct usage and one wrong. Which is it? The first example in the sentence is the correct one, while the second calls for our possessive pronoun “your” rather than “you’re.”

Groups and Teams and Companies, Oh My!

Another mistake I have seen many times in the course of my studies and work as an editor is the misuse of collective nouns. Before you think ‘huh?’ let me explain: a collective noun is the proper name for nouns such as team, group, company, organization, etc. that denote a “collection” of people working together as “one.” Therefore, when using a collective noun such as team in a sentence, it requires a singular verb or pronoun because it is a singular subject.

The team is running circles around its competition. (Correct)

The group are collecting their dues tomorrow. (Wrong)

In the second sentence, “are” and “their” are incorrect, because the singular collective noun “group” needs “is” and “its” to be grammatically correct.

Avoid Passive Voice

A simple way to produce more effective communication is by avoiding passive voice, which refers to a passive construction of the words themselves. What a writer should aim for is a sentence in active voice, in which the elements are arranged as subject/verb/object. It’s easier to understand in examples:

The architect (subject) constructed (verb) a building. (object)

In this active voice sentence, the subject is doing something to something else. Here is the same sentence written passively:

The building (object) was constructed (verb) by the architect.(subject)

Though to a layman this may not seem like a big difference, the difference will be seen in the response it garners in your listener or reader. Action, as we know, gets results.

Spellcheck, then Proofread!

Once you’ve finished composing your office opus, the final step before clicking “print” or “send” is spell checking and proofreading your work. Misspelled or misused words give bosses the wrong impression, so before asking for a promotion, make sure “promotion” is spelled correctly. Also, spell check programs do NOT catch everything. You may mean to say “I read the book,” but you typed “I red the book,” and your spell checker will skip right over it. That’s where proofreading comes in. Once you’ve finished writing, step back for five or ten minutes; take a coffee break or eat lunch. Then, once you’ve given yourself space from your written communication, reread the document checking for spelling and grammatical mistakes. Here’s to a grammarful New Year!

PHOTO CREDITS:
Photo: iStock Photos

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You have been looking forward to Christmas all year, but after all the gifts have been opened and the Christmas cookies have been eaten, take the time before the end of the year to save some money on taxes and make sure your tax time is easy and stress free.

Personal Information
Review and gather all your personal information. Have you moved during the year? Did you get married? Have you made any other changes in your life? Did you have a baby? Adopt a child? These are examples of life changes that affect your taxes. Make sure you have made note of any changes whether you prepare your own return or work with Certified Public Accountant or Enrolled Agent.

Tax Documents
Make sure you are organized. Make a list of the tax documents you will be receiving in January. Having a list will help you determine whether you have received all the documents due you. The documents include W2s for all employers you and/or your spouse have worked for this year. In addition it will include 1099INT for interest accumulated for any CDs or savings accounts at your banks. Consider any new savings accounts opened during the year. Even if you have closed an account during the year, you should receive documentation for the interest you accumulated for the time the account was active. In addition, make sure you have received a 1099 DIV for dividends received of individual stock or mutual fund investments. Filing your taxes without including one might cause you to incur penalties for not including income. Another 1099 you might receive is a 1099B for proceeds from the sale of investments such as stock or bonds or a 51099 G for refunds from state or city governments. You might also receive a Schedule K-1 if you are self employed and your company is organized as a partnership LLC or your company is taxed as a Subchapter S corporation.

Medical Costs
Gather your medical prescription purchase receipts, doctor visit records, medical and blood test costs and a record of doctor and dentist visits. Don’t forget to include your mileage for traveling to and from doctor visits. If you itemize, you can take a certain percentage of these medical fees on your Schedule A if they exceed 2½ percent of your adjusted gross income.

Energy Savings
Did you purchase a hybrid vehicle in 2007? Did you buy an energy savings furnace, air conditioner or windows? A percentage of the cost could be used as a tax credit on your tax return. A tax credit can be more valuable than a deduction because it actually reduces the amount of income taxes due.

Charitable contributions
If you haven’t made any contributions yet this year, December 31st is your last chance. Consider getting generous at a non-profit New Year's Eve event. If you itemize (Schedule A), charitable contributions can help reduce the taxes you pay. Make sure you get detailed receipts for your donations and any non-cash contributions such as clothing or used appliances in good condition. Mileage driven for charitable services such as volunteering for Boy Scouts or the local hospital can also be included as well as appraisal fees for donation of expensive donation of assets.

Retirement Contributions/Stocks
Make sure you have contributed the maximum amounts to your 401K, IRA or other retirement investment account. You are allowed to contribute up to $15,500 annually to your 401(k). You can contribute up $4,000 this year to your own IRA and if you are not covered by an employer retirement plan, you can deduct the amount of the contributions on your tax return up to the amount of your earned income.

Time the Receipt of Income
If you have a year-end bonus and you know your income will be lower next year, try to have the bonus paid to you next year instead of this year. Also, if you plan to sell any of your stock portfolio research what gains you might receive and determine whether postponing the sale until next year will minimize your taxes. Also consider selling some stocks that would generate losses and reduce your taxes due, or offset the gains of your other stock sales.

Flexible Spending Accounts
If your employer offers a Flex Spending Account, make sure you have used all your funds. This type of account allows an employee to use pre-tax dollars on medical costs such as co-pays, dental work and eyeglasses. However, these accounts don’t roll over, so make sure you have used it all before you lose it.

Moving Expenses
If you moved more than 50 miles from your old residence, because of a new job you may be able to deduct these expenses as an adjustment to gross income.

Mortgage Interest
One of the best tax savings deductions available is the mortgage interest deduction. Pay your January 2008 mortgage interest in December and you can take an extra month’s interest as a deduction.

PHOTO CREDITS:
Photo: iStock Photo

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Technology breaks down barriers. Its endless series of 1s and 0s is blind to distance, race, national origin and gender. But that's not always the case in the actual "career world" of technology, especially regarding gender comparisons. Even in I.T., women still lag behind their male colleagues when it comes to compensation. In the ongoing InformationWeek National I.T. Salary Survey, the median salary for male I.T. managers is $72,000, compared with $67,000 for female managers. The gap is slightly larger for I.T. staff: $55,000 median base pay for men vs. $49,000 for women.

But there are signs that the gap may be narrowing, at least among managers. Female I.T. managers earned a 7 percent pay raise this year compared with 6.8 percent for males-but men in staff roles received a median 7.1 percent pay boost vs. 6.7 percent for women.

Technology is a field that is constantly growing and changing. According to the recently-released labor projections of the next 10 years by The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BSL), computing-related occupations are predicted to grow the quickest among all “professional and related occupations.” The BSL projections predict the growth of computer and mathematical science occupations to be about 24 percent over the next decade, adding 822,000 new jobs to the field.

Now that’s a rosy prospect. If you have a knack for computers and know what the acronym HTML stands for, a job outlook such as this one should be enough to make you sit up and take notice.

But if that wasn’t enough to light a fire under your proverbial bottoms, the National Center for Women & Information Technology conducted a study in 2005, finding that though women make up 56 percent of professional jobs in the United States, only 27 percent of jobs in computer and mathematical careers are held by women. The study also found that women are especially underrepresented among computer science faculty, where only 18 percent of new tenure-track faculty members were women during the 2004-05 academic year. As for full-time computer science professors, 10 percent were women.

 

According to its Web site, the NCWIT “hopes to draw attention to the disparity for women in all ranks of information technology, and in doing so to prompt change in the attitudes and conditions that discourage women and girls from pursuing careers in I.T.” Visit www.ncwit.org for more information. And from the looks of recent efforts of huge companies, such as Google, there is now a strong effort to promote their female I.T. employees.

Ladies, as we can see from the above information, the technology job market water is fine and there’s plenty of room for women to take the plunge and make their mark in the technological industry. Don’t let society hype daunt you if you love math and can run circles around your peers when it comes to all things computing. Just like anything else about fabulous you, if you’ve got it, flaunt it!

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There are few things that reflect more on a person’s character than the manner in which they speak. You may already be sweating in your stilettos wondering if your verbal skills are up to par. But unlike a flashy and current wardrobe, perfectly coordinated accessories or carefully chosen makeup, an impressive vocabulary costs you nothing to acquire or maintain. The next time you’re at a loss for …words… try one of these 10 treasures, and give your lexicon the verbal calisthenics it needs.

1. Excursion (ex-ker-shin)
Anyone can take a coffee break, but try impressing your friends with the excursion you took to the new coffee shop downtown. This word for “trip taken for pleasure” gives you the edge even when you’re relaxing with a hot cup o' joe.

2. Chic (sheek)
There is no publication as intimately aware of how many people mispronounce chic as Cincy Chic! So here’s our chance to let you know. It rhymes with seek, not sick. Knowing is half the battle.

3. Vicarious (vi-care-ee-us)
That trashy novella the woman in your office is read? She’s vicariously “experiencing,” ahem, intrigue in the dungeons with Monsiuer Passion. Go ahead. Let her know what she’s doing.

4. Boisterous (boy-ster-us)
There are a lot of words you can use to describe the “loud, obnoxious” woman in the cubicle next to you. But let’s stick with boisterous. At least that’s a word your boss can put down on record without having to write you up, too.

5. Cogent (co-jent)

If your vocabulary was more cogent, you might be able to convince your boss to put a spa in the break room. Keep learning those words, and perhaps you’ll become so “powerfully persuasive.”

6. Engender (en-gen-der)

Your higher-ups speaking at board meetings like they would at a bar won’t engender (“to cause to exist”) much faith in their ability to lead, so throw down with your new vocabulary and show them what’s what.

7. Enervate (en-ner-vate)

This word means the opposite of “energize.” Try telling your coworkers that having to do their duties does this to you. Perhaps they’ll be confused and rather than go look the word up, they’ll do the work they should be doing instead.

8. Lucid (loo-sid)

Maybe if the instructions to that new desk were a little more lucid, you wouldn’t have returned it and settled for typing on the kitchen table for the past few weeks. Send the manufacturers a nasty letter explaining what lucid means, “extremely or transparently clear,” and maybe they’ll get the hint.

9. Linchpin (linch-pin)

This word means the “central part creating stability,” and when you find a time where you need that statement, you’ll save yourself a lot of time, and chance raising an eyebrow or two.

10. Benign (bih-nine)

Improving your vocabulary may transform you from being a benign individual to a danger to those who had hoped to leave you in the dust come promotion time (Nope, it’s not just a type of cancer, benign really means “harmless”).

Give these 10 words a try, and if you like the taste, pull that dictionary from under the table and try to endure the wobble while you feed your mind.

PHOTO CREDITS:
Photo: Neysa Ruhl Photography
Location: Fischer Homes Granite Spring Model Home
Model: Lyric of Lyric Originals

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To many, a pet is like a child or a best friend. They can cheer you up, comfort you in lonely times and reach a spot in your heart that makes you melt. Their wagging tail and goofy smile is a sense of relief when you walk in from a hard day at work.

Do you find yourself saying, “I’ve missed you,” or “I wish I didn’t have to leave you all by yourself”? Wouldn’t it be nice to spend the whole day with them? Well, the day might soon come when you can do just that. Bringing your pet to work is becoming the new craze, and it might soon be coming to an employer near you.

In-Box or Litter-Box?” Here’s the Scoop!

Bringing your pet to the office has recently been seen more in small businesses and “creative arts” type companies such as graphics, design or in technical trades. Much like the “Casual Friday” or incentive contests, the idea of toting Toto to work is to boost productivity and moral.

In fact, millions of Americans believe pets on the job lower absenteeism and encourage workers to get along, according to the survey by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association (APPMA). And now, nearly one in five U.S. companies allow pets at work.

Bringing your furry (or scaly) friend to work is catching on, even if it is just for one day. For instance, Pet Sitters International (PSI)'s, Take Your Dog To Work Day, celebrates all the enjoyment people get from their dogs, as well as encourages adoptions. According to PSI, about 10,000 companies participated in the special day this year, double the number that did in 2006.

Of course there are those who aren’t too keen on the idea. Some are allergic to pet dander, while others have fears of certain animals. Concerns also range from stinking up the office to the pets just getting in the way. Some cities also have ordinances about bringing animals to the workplace. Either side has arguing power, so don’t be disappointed if your company puts the kibosh on the idea.

What's a Dog to Do?

If your employer already has thought or is thinking about allowing pets in the office, there are some basic guidelines you should follow:

  • Bring only well behaved, quiet and people-friendly animals.
  • Pets need to be leashed or closed in (baby gates usually do the trick).
  • Keep your companion well-groomed and flea free. Talk to your vet or pet supply store for the best ways to keep your friend in tip-top shape.
  • Do not rely on an assistant or co-worker to take care of your animal. Asking them to keep an eye out while you get up for a minute is fine, but avoid making it a habit.
  • “Child proof” your office — tie up loose wires, put poisonous plants out of gnawing reach and keep choking hazards at bay (rubberbands, paper clips, etc).
  • Make frequent potty breaks and clean up the mess your pet leaves when finished. Nobody likes stepping in animal doo-doo.
  • Make the area your pet will be in comfortable. Bring in a pillow/sleep pad, toys, bones/treats, etc. Remember that just because they aren’t home alone, they still need something to occupy themselves.


If you aren’t able to bring your pet to work, there are a couple other options for you:

  • Consider doggy daycare if you don’t like the idea of leaving your pooch at home alone.
  • Ask if you can bring in a small fish tank. They are popular in many offices, low maintenance and the sound of water is sure to sooth away any mid-day stress.
  • Some dog breeders have extra kennels for “baby-sitting.” Check out what’s around your work — you can even go visit your pet on your lunch hour.
  • Bring in a picture of your pet so you can see them whenever you need a pick-me-up. If your pet is at home, call and talk to them on the answering machine. To avoid the “she's coo-coo” look, it might be a good idea to call on a break or lunch… from your car.


Now, if only we can figure something out for farm animals…

PHOTO CREDITS:
Photo: Neysa Ruhl Photography
Location: Fischer Homes Lifestyle Design Center
Models: Marion Corbin-Mayer of Creative Catalysts

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Be a good Secret Santa!

Shouldn’t the guy in the big red suit be the one to make “big shot” Bob’s holiday brighter? Not if you drew Bob’s name in the inter-office Secret Santa program!

Look on the bright side: with the Secret Santa program, you cut down on expenses by not having to buy for all 10 of your coworkers, and you cut down on time spent holiday shopping in hectic malls!

But wait! Before you run off to shop for Bob, remember you want to stay within the budget everyone in the office agreed upon and you don’t want to embarrass or shock Bob. When Bob opens his gift and sees your name on the package as his Secret Santa, you want him to be pleasantly surprised.

Take a little time to learn more about Bob. Watch where he goes to get lunch, and buy him a gift certificate to the restaurant he frequents most often. Listen to which band he's always rocking out to in his cubicle, and pre-order him that band's forthcoming album. Does he spend every weekend working on homes for Habitat for Humanity? Get a certificate to let him know you donated to his favorite charity. Is he always quoting random movies? Get him the "Scene It" game that will put all that useless knowledge to the test. Taking a few minutes to learn more about your giftee will help you select a perfect gift.

If Bob is hard to get to know, ask his close co-worker buddies about him. If they don't give you any leads, you may have to get something practical, such as a gift card for gas, car washes or groceries. But at least you know it's something he's sure to use!

You could brighten more than Bob’s holiday. When Bob is late because his car broke down or his day is just not going well, give him a lift. Put some candy, a lottery ticket or his favorite drink on his desk when he steps away.

A good Secret Santa is there to brighten your day and enhance your holiday experience whether it’s at the office or with family and friends.

Get help with your Secret Santa program online. Click here to learn how to organize a Secret Santa program for work or check out the free online Secret Santa gift exchange event planner at www.secretsanta.com.

Enjoy your Santa gig! You only have to do it once a year, you may make a friend and you don’t have to wear a red suit.

 

PHOTO CREDITS

Models: (facing) Rosina Luca, stylist and marketing manager at Avalon Salon and Aesthetic Day Spa in Hyde Park, and Cincy Chic's Management Intern Regan Coomer.

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As if men weren’t difficult enough to deal with in our personal lives, we have to figure them out in the office, too. Of course, we can’t fight like we do with our guys, or pout our lips when we want something, but there are ways to get through the workday with the impossible men we work with. Pam Sackenheim, a Cincinnati-based professor of Human Relations, tells Cincy Chic how to weather the testosterone cloud looming over you.

Professional, Friendship or More?

Having friends at your place of employment can make the work day pass more quickly, but what about that one guy? He might be the co-worker in the office next to you, your break buddy or a term better known from King of Queens, your "work husband." How exactly can you decipher when he just wants to help you out or is looking to ask you out? Sackenheim offers some simple advice: "Professional relationships stay at work. Talk is about business, there is no relationship outside the workplace. Friendship on the other hand carries over outside the office. Talk is less serious and covers a wide variety of subjects."

So you know when things are strictly professional and how to keep it that way, but what about when you want to have a friendship and nothing more? Sometimes it can be hard to form a friendship without leading the guy to think you want him. Sackenheim says to avoid talk about home and personal problems at all costs and to keep the talk light. She suggests talking about subjects that are "neutral territory," such as sports, favorite restaurants or hangouts.

Keep Out!

There is nothing more frustrating than going into 2008 and being treated like its 1950. It’s wild to think that men still act and feel as though they are superior to women; but once again, that testosterone comes into play.

Sackenheim feels that the top three barriers or conflicts that women face with men in their workplace are:

 

  • Most men do not like women to be "better" than they are. It's a natural competition
  • Men like to be in control and have subordinates come to them for solutions
  • It is difficult for men to let women into the "good ol' boy's club"


Another frustrating thing is when guys have athletic teams or betting pools that don’t include women — never mind the fact that women are slowly becoming half the fan base of many sports leagues. (We all love our Carson and Chad, don’t we?)


When the men in your office start planning their teams and placing their bets, Sackenheim suggests organizing a woman’s team or your own pool. "The men may see that there is some competition on the ‘other side’." "Remember," says Sackenheim, "men like to compete and they like to win." My suggestion: If you aren’t competitive and are just looking for something fun, try something more tame. Organize a book club or scrap booking session and leave the competition for the board room.

*It's Not Easy Being Beautiful

Being a woman certainly has its advantages. We got off of the Titanic first, we get to tee off a hole of golf about 25 yards ahead of the men’s mark and we live longer. However, while climbing up the ladder of success, some men use the fact you are a woman to step on you on their way to the top.

Men are competitive and want to win, and women are easy targets. Like women, men talk, too. Sackenheim agrees that women are seen as inferior by men, and that we are judged on our female characteristic rather than what we know or our abilities. "In talking, comments are made at the expense of women such as their dress, femininity, demeanor and physical attributions." Her tip for women on this: watch your performance appraisals for inappropriate comments which may limit movement in the company.

Five Tips on Setting Boundaries

Sackenheim suggests these tips on keeping relationships clear with the guys you work with:

 

  • Stay away from discussing home and personal problems; This invites them into your personal life.
  • Watch what subjects are discussed
  • Watch gestures, movements, and eye contact (aka "the come on look")
  • Don’t tease
  • Set the limits of your friendship


Sometimes guys just don’t get the hint, or they blantently cross the line. Sackenheim says its time to report or go to Human Resources for:

 

  • Repeated remarks about dress, physical assets, etc.
  • Inappropriate sexist remarks
  • Discrepancies in pay related to gender
  • Stalking
  • Harassment
  • Inappropriate remarks made on performance appraisals
  • Inappropriate e-mails
  • Anything which makes you uncomfortable, but make sure you have solid proof


PHOTO CREDITS:
Photo: Neysa Ruhl Photography
Location: Fischer Homes Lifestyle Design Center
Models: Missy Scalia, Matt Reinhardt

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Whether you are new or a seasoned expert, you’ve likely experienced confidence-shaking moments in your career. Perhaps you put your foot in your mouth in front of the boss or maybe you’re unsure of how to initiate conversation while networking. Extroverts and introverts alike can benefit from these tips to have more confidence in professional situations.

Know Your Stuff

Some people are great at thinking on their feet and creating coherent statements from whatever thoughts flow through their minds. Most of us, however, hate being put on the spot. Our pulses race as we stutter our way through a response that may, or may not, actually answer the question asked of us.

Preparedness, on the other hand, helps us feel confident. Organize your presentation, practice what you’re going to say in a tough meeting or anticipate objections to your proposal and think of ways to overcome them. Research the competition or alternatives that a coworker or potential client may quote. If you know the facts and have answers ready in your mind, you’re far more likely to keep your nerves in check.

Take Action Against Your Fears

You’ll never overcome a fear unless you give yourself the opportunity to experience a positive result from a scary situation. As much as you want to avoid something that makes you nervous, doing so only perpetuates a potentially career-crippling fear.

For instance, if you hate public speaking, volunteer to take on a small role in that realm. Offer to introduce the main speaker at a company seminar, perhaps. Such intros are expected to be short, and the audience’s focus will be on the upcoming talk … not on you. You can experience the applause in response to your words without the stress of having to deliver an intricate speech.

No One is Perfect

In professional situations, it’s easy to feel intimidated by others who we consider to be more experienced, more educated or just plain better at their jobs. Remember: even those who seem the most polished have weaknesses that make them uncomfortable. Just like you, they aren’t perfect.

It may feel petty at first, but take some time to carefully observe the people around whom you feel inferior. Eventually, you will notice that they occasionally forget a name, arrive late for a meeting or make a mistake. These situations will help instill the belief that you are just as worthwhile as the individuals you’ve idolized. At the same time, study the things these people do to be successful. Adopt some of the mannerisms that make them seem professional, such as making steady eye contact and actively listening to others.

 

Find a Few Moments of Solitude

When you find yourself in a situation that requires a confidence boost, slip off to a quiet space for a few moments to gather your wits. Take some deep breaths and remind yourself of previous successes. Affirm that you CAN rise to the challenge you now face because you’ve achieved similar feats in the past. Concentrate on thoughts that convert your nervous energy into a sense of optimistic possibility.

 

Find a Mentor

If your company doesn’t offer a structured mentorship program, consider finding a mentor on your own. If you develop a close relationship with a coworker, ask her specific questions about how she handles difficult professional situations. Not only will you come to realize that everyone has work-related fears, but you will also learn valuable tools for solving some of your frustrations.

Developing confidence in social situations takes time, and you can learn a lot by watching the performances (and pitfalls) of others. While you are in the process of gaining a true sense of your professional worth, try this trick. Smile with poise, look people in the eye and find opportunities to share even a small bit of your knowledge during a meeting or conversation. Learn to wear a mask of confidence, and people will believe that you are confident. With practice, you may be surprised at how quickly that self-assuredness will become genuine.

Photo: Neysa Ruhl Photography
Location: Fischer Homes Granite Spring Model Home
Model: Chevonne Chenault

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Small businesses are a growing market. They fill needs in the economy that large businesses cannot. For instance, who knew that your dog needed a plaid rain slicker? Well, an innovative small business owner, that’s who!


Small businesses are solutions to problems. Unlike the infomercial, which solves problems we didn’t really know we had to begin with, or that we will probably never ever have, (Didn’t you know you would need to slice through tin cans, or glue jewels to your jeans?) the small business takes the opportunity before it, and creates a company around it. So how do you let people know about your company? How do you get people into your store? Those are important questions, but the main question you need to ask yourself is “Are you working IN your business, or ON your business?” Here are some ideas and contacts that we hope can give your small business large popularity.

The primary driver of getting today’s small business noticed is the World Wide Web. Electronic communication — especially e-mail and instant messenger, are vital to getting the word out. If you don’t have a MySpace page, you might want to ask your computer-savvy offspring to help you out. There is a “networking” option for your MySpace page. Use it, and start making connections. Adapt your communication style to that of your potential clients. One size does NOT fit all in this society, so learn to communicate in all mediums, but especially online.

And while you are online, take a look at www.sba.gov. This is the Web site of the Small Business Association. There’s everything on the site from weekly seminar registration to information about how to do business with the government.

Then go to www.scorechapter34.org. This is the Cincinnati Chapter of “a nonprofit association dedicated to entrepreneur education and the formation, growth and success of small business nationwide.” This association is a partner with the SBA, and will be your partner as well. When you contact SCORE, you will be assigned a personal business counselor who will be there to give you unlimited, one-on-one business advice. And best part? It’s free.

Now let’s talk about who is working for you. Who is the face of your company? That might be an aspect you want to look at again. Small business means small staff, so the right people are key. They will help sell your company and give it credibility. Listen to how they answer the phone, or even how they greet the mailman. Have you read “Good to Great” by Jim Collins yet? Read it. That will help you out tremendously in this corner.

And finally, no business article would be complete without some talk of marketing. What are your ads saying, and where are you saying them? Be creative. Think outside the box. Get attention. It used to be that the side of a bus was an important place to be. But now, your ad can be the whole bus. Or it can be reading material on the back of the bathroom stall door. Not that it needs the publicity, but a very famous Swedish furniture company received a lot of talk when it placed a billboard high above a busy interstate that read, “Come check out our stool samples.” Risky, but it worked. Try being innovative. How about hosting an event? Partner with another business that holds the same demographic that you do, work together and combine client lists. Rent a space, bring vendors in to join you and have a mixer. For instance, if you are an interior designer, why not work with a real estate agent, as well as a furniture store and see what happens? Offer a service no one else can. Or at least, that no one else has thought of yet.

Yes the BeDazzler is fun, and “Mr. Microphone” was kickin’ cool at the time, but they were fads. You want your small business to live a life longer than your Chia Pet. So go get to work ON your business, and in the words of Madonna, “Express yourself.”

Go get ‘em girls!!

PHOTO CREDITS
Photo: Neysa Ruhl Photography
Model: Karen Tracy, Arbonne Intn’l Representative
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