Thursday, June 26, 2008

When Asking Questions in the Workplace Is the Right Thing to Do

Asking appropriate questions in the workplace is something that comes naturally to some people and to many others it is difficult to do. If you are in the second group, one reason may be that you’re worried you may look stupid. That fear can be overwhelming – and can actually get you into hot water if you don’t ask a question when you should.

Let’s say you’re an intern at a company and you are asked to assemble a huge written report with lots of numbered exhibits. You’re not sure whether the numbered exhibits should be inserted into the report where they are referenced, or whether all the numbered exhibits should be placed at the end of the report.

You MISTAKENLY assume that which way to do this is so obvious that you’ll look stupid if you ask. So you don’t ask. And you put the numbered exhibits interspersed throughout the report. Then you bring your report to your boss – who is annoyed because you’ll have to take the time now to remove all those numbered exhibits and put them at the end of the report.

Yes, the boss didn’t tell you. But she may have forgotten that interns don’t know standard company policy. Which is why you should have asked. Instead of being annoyed at being asked, your boss might have replied: “Thanks for asking. I’d forgotten you don’t yet know our company policy. What we do is ………”

I’ve talked before in this blog about NOT opening your mouth at work when it’s not appropriate to do so. Now I’m saying that you MUST open your mouth at work to ask questions when you are unsure what to do.

Of course, ask in a polite way. And don’t interrupt your boss in the middle of a conversation with someone else in order to ask your question. Stand patiently to one side while waiting. If your boss is a good manager, she’ll take the hint and ask if you have a question.

Oh, yes, and do NOT say “no problem” after your boss tells you which way to do the report. Instead say thank you – a little thanks goes a long way.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Fixed Mind: Saying No to Yourself Before You Ever Start

I’m a huge fan of the book MINDSET: THE NEW PSYCHOLOGY OF SUCCESS by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D.

According to Dweck, a person with a growth mindset eagerly tackles new experiences even if that person knows he/she may not at first be successful. A growth-mindset person understands that what’s important is the learning that takes place in trying new experiences. It’s not a question of how smart or how stupid someone is. It’s a matter of willingness to learn new things even at the risk of failing.

In my own life I extend this concept to business. Although I know a great deal about marketing, I can learn new ideas from almost anyone. Therefore, I’m always open to suggestions and recommendations. And if at first a suggestion doesn’t seem to fit my personal brand or my project, I’ll consider how that suggestion could be changed in some way to fit my personal brand or project.

In my treadmill-for-two exercising at the local gym, my business partner and I frequently take ideas and push them and pull them into different shapes before finding the shape that best fits our needs. This is classic brainstorming.

And it is important for teens, young people, and people much farther along in their careers to have a growth-mindset in order to be open to suggestions from others. Obviously, each suggestion has to be evaluated on its own merits. Yet there’s often a kernel of a good idea even in an idea that seems way out there. That’s where the classic brainstorming with friends, family, teachers or mentors comes in – so you can uncover that kernel and then nurture it in new directions

I encountered a particular version of a fixed mindset a few months ago. That time I totally missed the signals that the person wanted her writing validated rather than being open to suggestions in improving her writing – the ostensible reason for which she contacted me.

Moral of this post? Two points: First, a growth-mindset is a wonderful life asset. If you don’t have it, read Carol Dweck’s book in order to start opening your mind. Two, when dealing with people who have asked a specific question of you, make sure that they really want an answer rather than simply validation of their own opinion. You will be saved aggravation if you learn to spot early on the people who simply want validation.

And, of course, if that person is your boss, the question of validating someone else’s opinion takes on a wholly different meaning. We’ll leave that subject for another post.

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Facebook Photo Part II – Choosing a Profile Photo

Have you ever been frustrated on Facebook when you want to see what a male teen looks like – and his profile picture is of three teen guys? Which one is he? Or a female teen trio that gives you no clue as to which one of these three teens is the profile page bio about?

In my June 6th post I talked about NOT using an idiotic photo as your profile picture because Facebook is becoming more and more a business site. (See

On the flip side, a head shot just of you (so your face is big enough to be seen and so we know this is you) should be used for the profile picture. Then pictures of you with friends can be included in your photo section.

And which head shot you choose should be given consideration. I personally feel that, for a teen male -- even one in college, a formal head shot in a suit is too stiff for a Facebook profile picture. My opinion is that the picture should be a good head shot with a nice shirt (no tie). And for a teen female, a nice top that is NOT too low is a good choice.

If the head shot appears so dark on Facebook that no one can see your features, use a different photo. A photo of a face that can’t be clearly seen isn’t any better than no photo at all.

With even cell phones taking pictures these days, you should be able to snap enough shots to find one good profile picture for your Facebook page. Remember that your Facebook page can be your business/career card to the world.

Extra tip: Of course as you grow older you’ll change your photo. Yet, at any one time on the internet, it’s preferable to use the same profile photo across all social media platforms of which you are a member in order to promote the good will generated by the recognition factor.

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Summer 2008 Gloomy Job Market = Opportunity for Teens to Follow Their Passion

The economic situation this summer offers a terrific opportunity for teens to follow their passion. First, the situation:

In Harvey Mackay’s June 19th email column, he reported an economic statement about summer teen employment from The New York Times:

“The job market of 2008 is shaping up as the weakest in more than half a century for teenagers looking for summer work. Little more than one-third of the 16- to 19-year-olds in the United States are likely to be employed this summer, the smallest share since the government began tracking teenage work in 1948."

Second, the opportunities:

  • Teens whose parents wanted them to get a full-time paying job as a “rite of passage” – for example, at Starbucks or Wal-Mart – can point to the economic situation as a reason to use this summer instead to further their passion.

  • Teens who wanted an unpaid internship this summer and haven’t found one yet have more “ammunition” to convince an employer that an unpaid intern can help fill the gap in a company where budget cuts have eliminated job positions.

Now it’s up to the teens to make lemonade out of lemons. And that means brainstorming to think of “outside the box” ways to pursue passions. For example, for a teen who is considering a career as a veterinarian: Why not see if a local vet needs a free extra pair of hands? This is a terrific way to learn whether you can really put up with all those animals all day long. Better to find this out before you apply to veterinarian school.

Or a teen who is interested in architecture can ask to tag along for the summer with an architect working on a major building project. Up close and personal is the best way to find out what headaches an architect deals with – clients, builders, garbage removal, etc. – and what negotiating skills are needed to navigate this maze of frequently conflicting objectives.

Or let’s consider artistic fields. You want to be a painter and your parents are convinced in such a path you’ll starve. See if you can spend the summer being the unpaid assistant to a currently successful painter. During the time you spend with the painter, you should have ample opportunity to talk about the obstacles the painter faced before becoming successful.

And consider volunteering for an organization that does good works. Even though this may not be in a possible career field, you can learn a great deal by watching the dynamics of an organization. Even when you’re making the coffee, keep your eyes and ears open to learn as much as possible.

Make the summer of 2008 the summer you followed your passion. Hopefully you will learn a great deal about pursuing a current passion as a possible career path. And, if nothing else, you should have good material for writing application essays for college or grad school.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Parental Responsibility for Teens Over Age 18?

Today on the website a parent posted a very well-written blog ( asking about parental responsibilities for a teen under and over age 18. Here’s a small part of that post:

Does age 18 make my daughter an adult or just a legal one? Do I parent her as an adult or a dependent child? Do I require of her to dress with modesty because she is still in our home, or do I let her dress as she wills because she is an adult?

And here’s the comment I left on her post – addressing only a part of what she wrote:

I have a different take than many parents. I believe that high school does NOT prepare a teen for the adult world. There are so many, many things that are NOT taught. And these can range from things such as the difference between a savings account and a Certificate of Deposit to major subjects such as what happens to your credit standing if you don't pay your rent on time. I think it is the parent's responsibility (regardless of whether the child is past age 16 or 18) to continue providing real-world advice.

What I think is most lacking in young people's preparation for life is someone who works alongside of the teen to prepare him/her for adult life in the working world. For example, teens do NOT understand without help that dressing incorrectly can hurt their image – even when applying to a job such as a barista at Starbucks.

What I think you need is to find a mentor for your daughter who is not you so there are no mother-daughter issues to get in the way. This can be an actual person or an online person. As an example, I met with a high school junior two years ago and I was very upset that a kid who had so much going for him did not seem to "get" what he needed to do. A month ago – two years later – he emailed me out of the blue to tell me how he has been following my advice.

(See my blog entry

I strongly urge you to find someone who can work with your daughter. (Not necessarily for pay.) This could be a career counselor at her community college or a former teacher who your daughter liked. It is so important though difficult for teens to understand that what they do now can affect the rest of their lives. And as parents we want to help make those lives as happy and productive as possible.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Internet Brave New World: “Final” Frontier for Business/Careers

Twitter, Twhirl, Flock, Plurk No, I’m not talking in Klingon. I’m naming a few of the new social media applications available on the web. And if you’re young – say a business major in college – you want to learn about these applications sooner than later. Why? Because this new frontier will be your world.

A great place to start learning is to go to and listen to the two free webinars sponsored by featuring social media consultant Erica O’Grady. I listened to these two programs live and learned a tremendous amount of info. (I typed notes while listening.)

The next free webinar with Erica O’Grady is June 30. Get online a few minutes before so you can sign up for a free ustream membership. That way, when you type in your comments during the webinar your username will show up instead of something such as ustream 2789.

Of course, you can visit the new social media sites directly. Yet with Twitter, for example, I needed to learn more about it before I could even begin to get the benefits from sending tweets. (Actually, I usually send updates through on my Facebook account, which updates Twitter and several other of my social media sites.)

A great place to watch short free videos that explain such things as RSS feeds and social bookmarking sites is And if the free info you find on such sites doesn’t do it for you, check out the special reports section of Publicity Hound Joan Stewart has short inexpensive reports that make things really clear. I particularly like her special report on Twitter.

As opposed to me – who is trying to become a princess (queen would be expecting too much) of internet marketing in a very short period of time – if you’re young you can take time to learn about all the new online possibilities for business and career success.

Oh, yes, if you join Twitter (free), follow me at And you can even send me a direct message by putting @ZimblerMiller in the What are you doing box on the home page.

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

5 Ways to Avoid Embarrassment on the Web

Some of you who have been following my posts will think that I harp endlessly on this subject of avoiding embarrassment on the web. You may be right. But here’s the thing:

When a federal judge of the Ninth Circuit – reported in the June 13th Wall Street Journal to be “considered a brilliant jurist” – is forced to acknowledge that “he posted sexually explicit images to a personal website,” it can’t hurt to say this another time:


According to the Journal, the judge “thought the material was private, though he acknowledged sharing some with friends.” What part of “brilliant” was this stupidity?

Here are the 5+ ways to avoid embarrassment on the web:

• Facebook: Never post anything here that could damage your reputation.

• MySpace: Never post anything here that could damage your reputation.

• Twitter: Never post anything here that could damage your reputation.

• Bebo: Never post anything here that could damage your reputation.

• YouTube: Never post anything here that could damage your reputation.

• +: Never post anything ANYWHERE that could damage your reputation.

Now are we all on the same page?

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Confidence in Yourself: Everyone Has Something to Offer

My previous post gave the link to Chris Brogan’s June 11th blog post about having confidence at meetings and conferences to go up to people you don’t know and introduce yourself. I also suggested reading the comments to this post.

And the comments from this post have been numerous and, mostly, insightful. Yet there’s one sentence in a comment that has been bothering me since I read it:

“… I tend to be very reserved as I question what I have to offer to the people that I am meeting.”

I’ve pondered this all day. Why must this person – let’s call him Tom – have to have something to offer the people he’s meeting? His having come to the conference to hear these people speak is enough of offering “something.” Speakers wouldn’t be speakers if they had no audiences. Speakers need audience members. Therefore, our Tom has already provided something valuable to the speakers.

And if Tom doesn’t mean the speakers he’s meeting, but instead he means the “important” people in the audience, the same thing holds. Speakers wouldn’t have a big audience if the only people they spoke to were “important” people. Speakers need to have “regular people” interested in the speakers’ presentations in order to have a satisfactory turn-out.

Okay, we’ve established that Tom is already offering something to the people he meets – he’s helping form an appreciative audience. And in addition, he’s offering himself.

Here’s the most significant thing to remember: Every person knows things that other people don’t know.

Now, Tom may not know he has unique information, and that unique information may not come up in a brief introduction, but that information is there ready to be mined by the right person. And who is the right person? Someone who is open to learning from anyone, may that anyone be ever so humble.

Let’s face it. Saying you have nothing to offer is hiding behind a façade. You have something to offer every single person you meet at a conference or meeting – be it as simple as where the men’s room is to what’s the next big internet site that will become “hot.”

Go forward and introduce yourself. The person open to learning from you may be the very next person whose hand you shake.

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Chris Brogan Gives Good Advice on Introducing Yourself to New People

Walking up to someone you haven’t met before at a conference or reception (as opposed to walking up to someone you know slightly – see my June 7th blog) and introducing yourself can be very intimidating. Yet, if you’ve come to a conference or reception to meet people, that’s the name of the game.

Chris Brogan’s June 11th blog post on this subject is quite interesting (don’t let the post title throw you):

Read his post and perhaps the numerous comments to it. There’s a lot of good advice for how to introduce yourself with confidence.

Here’s the comment I left on this post:

“It’s very helpful to switch from focusing on yourself to focusing on the other person. Instead of wanting to get in information about yourself, I think it’s better to establish rapport by getting the other person to talk about himself/herself. This happens by asking an appropriate (not rude) open-ended question that can’t be answered by a simple yes or no.

“If you get the other person talking about himself/herself, eventually you will be able to talk about yourself. And if you get interrupted before that time, you can always send a follow-up email saying how much you enjoyed speaking with the person — and then slip in something appropriate about yourself.”

Leave a comment on Chris’ post or here on what you think of the suggestions.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Videoconference Meetings – Remember to Also Dress from the Waist Down

I got a chuckle out of the June 10th Wall Street Journal article titled “Next on the Agenda: Kisses From Honey Bunny” by Dana Mattioli with the subtitle “Virtual Meetings Raise Risk of Embarrassing Faux Pas; A Suit on Top, Jeans Below.”

The article describes a meeting conducted via videoconferencing where a man “was dressed in business attire while he was sitting down, but once he stood up at the end of the conference, the camera revealed that he was wearing jeans.” The article goes on to say that the person on the other end of the camera thus questioned the man’s judgment.

Okay, I know you’re saying: Hey, the guy didn’t plan to stand up. Cut him some slack.

Of course he didn’t plan to stand up. But we all do things on automatic pilot. He was a man videoconferencing with a woman. He may have been taught to stand when a woman leaves the room. So perhaps he automatically stood at the end of the meeting.

The moral of the story: When meeting through a videoconference, dress as if the meeting were actually in the other person’s office. This will save you from any embarrassing “exposures” if you forget that you’re on candid camera.

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Sunday, June 8, 2008

Do Shoes Make the Woman or Man?

A photo caption in an article about the television show THE CLOSER in the June 9-15 TV GUIDE caught my eye:

“The New Shoes: Get used to seeing Brenda’s fancy new designer pumps. ‘She’s going to wear them with everything – even when the outfit calls for something utterly different,’ (Kyra) Sedgwick says. ‘They’re Chanel, and she spent a lot of money on them.’”

What made me think about the question of shoes (besides this photo caption) was that a rising college sophomore I know starts his first “real” internship/job tomorrow. And I assume he’ll have to trade his usual teen shoes for something more “professional.”

Will he remember to do this? Because sometimes the feet get overlooked when dressing for a professional position.

Of course you know NOT to wear flip flops to a professional position. And it’s probably clear that males shouldn’t wear sandals. It’s not so clear for females about wearing sandals – it depends both on the sandals and the outfit being worn with them. For females for the first day at a new position, I would recommend wearing closed-toe shoes until you get a feel for what is correct office wear.

As to the height of women’s heels – “fashion within reason.” This means that buying really HIGH heels for work is NOT within reason. You have to be able to move quickly if someone needs you, and those HIGH heels won’t let you do that. Plus you don’t want your new employers to worry about a workplace injury on your first day. Can you really go down that short flight of steps without tripping and falling and …?

The moral of this post: When you’re picking out your first-day outfit for your internship/professional position, you need to consider every item from your head to your toes.

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Saturday, June 7, 2008

Social Settings: Asking Questions Can Break the Ice

A friend told me that her daughter, just finishing 10th grade in high school, didn’t go up to an acquaintance standing alone at a youth group function because her daughter didn’t know what to say to the other teen. The daughter (incorrectly) believed that she would have to talk about school or movies or clothes – topics with which the daughter is uncomfortable.

In reality, teens who are “shy” about talking to other teens are under a misconception as to what to say to start a conversation. It took my being a journalist in college to learn that asking questions about someone else is a terrific way to start a conversation.

Imagine the teen standing by herself – we’ll call her Nan. And imagine my friend’s daughter – we’ll call her Alice – standing with her two best friends. Then imagine Alice going over to Nan:

Alice: I’m glad to see you at this event tonight. Are you thinking about becoming more involved in the organization next year?

Nan: I’m not sure. I just wanted to come tonight to see what the group is planning.

Alice: Are you interested in school literacy projects? Because I’m chair of that committee next year and I could really use some help.

Nan: What kind of help do you need?

Alice: Why don’t you come sit with me and my friends and I’ll tell you more?

By this point the ice should be broken, and Nan should be able to go sit with Alice and her friends and take part in the conversation.

The moral of this story is this: When you don’t know what to say to another person, asking questions of that other person can start a conversation. Of course, the questions shouldn’t be rude. Instead they should be questions that invite a pleasant conversation.

Try this technique of asking questions the next time you’re at an event and spot someone standing alone. You may be amazed at the appreciative response you get.

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Friday, June 6, 2008

Facebook Warning: Beware of the Profile Photo You Use

I really shouldn’t have to write this post because of how strongly I’ve warned about watching what you put up on social media networks. Yet when I went to “friend” a rising college sophomore, I discovered that he had an idiotic profile picture on his Facebook account. (An unseen person’s hand is squishing his mouth into a weird shape.)

I quickly sent him a message – I did NOT embarrass him by writing on his Facebook wall – that he must change the photo immediately. I explained that Facebook is becoming a business relationship site in addition to a social relationship site, and he cannot afford to alienate future business contacts with his juvenile mug shot. (Note that I’m talking about his profile picture. If he wants a goofy picture in his photos elsewhere on his Facebook page, that might be okay depending on the picture.)

And only yesterday morning in a consult with Mary Pat Kavanagh of did I learn how very much a business relationship site Facebook can be. I’m not going to try to impart here even a tiny bit of her extensive knowledge. Instead I’ll just say that I didn’t appreciate how important it is on Facebook to create personal relationships first that can then lead to business relationships.

Later I had a conversation with a professional who doesn’t have an email account. She argued that online social media networking will create young people who can’t socialize with real people. In reply I talked about how social media expert Erica O’Grady ( believes that successful social media networking demands real-world relationships.

O’Grady’s premise is that you must go out and meet the people in person that you have met online – whether that be at a conference or a speaking engagement in your hometown or a community service project. It did take me a little while to wrap my head around this concept. Then I saw how right she is.

Now O’Grady also talks about being the purple cow in the room – for example, how she dyed her hair the color pink before going to a conference of techies in order to motivate people to start a conversation with her. While I understand this concept, I still think that your Facebook profile picture has to be a good picture of you and not an idiotic picture. Because, truthfully, who would even recognize you at a conference if your profile picture is of you with your mouth screwed up all funny?

Anyone disagree with me? Think that it’s okay to have an idiotic picture on Facebook even if down the road you plan to use Facebook connections for business purposes? Leave a comment below. I’d love to discuss this.

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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Social Media Networks and Confidence in Who You Are

I’ve been reading a great deal about social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter. And every article I read leads to another social media network and another and another. Not to mention discovering lots of new people and new blogs.

Monday on the teleseminar by social media expert Erica O’Grady –, social media expert Chris Brogan was mentioned. I have to admit I had never heard of him.

I later went to his blog and read the post titled “The Real Power of Personal Branding” – I was very impressed, as were many of the people leaving comments about the post.

One thing Brogan wrote about was the need for confidence. He said: “Confidence (not arrogance) is the secret sauce to everything you do with regards to personal branding.”

And I thought about confidence in connection with the topics that I blog about: college applications, applying for internships and jobs, career strategies. In every one of these scenarios, you’re putting out your personal brand for others to consider. And if you don’t have confidence in your personal brand, who will?

On the other hand, it is important to distinguish between confidence and boasting. Confidence is the ability to say “I’m the best for this job because ….” and then tick off very specific traits that make you the best. (Of course, per my earlier post “Interview Tips: Backing Up Resume Statements with a ‘Compelling’ Story,” you need to be prepared with stories to back up the traits you tick off.) Confidence is NOT boasting how terrific you are without any actual examples of this.

In talking about college applications, a college’s admission goal is usually not for every college applicant to be well-rounded. A college’s admission goal is usually to have a well-rounded class. This means accepting a freshmen class of students with passions in a wide range of areas. And students with passions must have confidence about those passions – they must be willing to publicly say “this is what I love and this is who I am.”

And that passion can become your personal brand in “adult life.” A personal brand built with confidence on something you love can be an extremely powerful personal brand.

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Twitter Cautionary Advice Especially for Teens and Everyone Else

Yesterday a post in the email newsletter of Joan Stewart – – resonated with me because I had had a similar thought a day earlier when responding to an evite.

Sending tweets on can be great fun and good for creating business relationships. But, as Joan Stewart pointed out, this can also be a dangerous activity if you reveal too much personal information.

What would be an example of this? How about the revealing that the entire family will be away from home for a whole week starting “right now”? Sure, your address isn’t included in your tweet. But you have to figure that, thanks to the internet, everything can be learned.

A person with bad intentions could probably put together enough info from your tweets, your Twitter profile, your other online accounts, etc. to figure out your home address. And you just announced your house is going to sit empty for an entire week!

The ease of dashing off tweets may interfere with the realization that, as if with everything else you post on the internet, caution is the motto. It’s probably okay to say you’re attending an internet marketing conference in Miami. It’s probably not okay to add that your entire family is coming with you.

We all have to remember that anyone – and I mean ANYONE – can have access to our information on the internet. Just like we’ve talked about not posting anything online that could backfire in an employment or college application situation, let’s remember not to post anything that could backfire on the personal safety of our families and ourselves.

Moral of today’s blog post: Remember internet safety rules when twittering – and slow down your fingers to stop and think before giving away too much personal info.

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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Interview Tips: Backing Up Resume Statements with a Compelling “Story”

On May 26th I blogged about ideas from Carole Martin – “The Interview Coach” ( – after listening to the first part of her two-part teleseminar on good interview techniques.

Now I’m listening to the second part of the teleseminar, and I was particularly struck by this advice: Never put anything on your resume or say in an interview that you can’t back up. Sounds simple, right? Turns out it isn’t.

Martin gave the example that people often say on their resumes that they are hard-working. Yet, when asked in an interview to give an example of being hard-working, these interviewees have nothing to say.

She says that you must be able to “prove” everything you say on your resume. In other words, be prepared to give an example of when you were hard-working – a “story” that reflects this trait.

And I loved Martin’s formula for what makes a good interview “story.” Here’s her formula:

  • beginning – 20% (problem, situation)
  • middle – 60% action (what you did)
  • end – 20% (results)

The reason I truly loved this is because the same formula could be used for telling a good “story” on a college application essay. Many college application essay writers spend way too much time on the beginning, very little time on the middle (the meat of the essay), and snip off the ending of their essay.

(Recently, during a coaching session, I explained to the father of a high school junior that college application essays were NOT the same as what high school English teachers drum into their students – five-paragraph essays with the first paragraph stating the proposition that the next three paragraphs will support and then a concluding paragraph.)

Always be careful what you put on your resume (or college application) or say in an interview. Ahead of the interview prepare the “stories” that you will tell to back up your statements. Then you’ll have a good chance of saving yourself from freezing when asked for an example of, say, how hard-working you are.

Post in the comments below an example of a “story” that you used to support a statement on your resume or college application.

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Monday, June 2, 2008

More Twitter Info – Thanks to Penny Sansevieri

Since writing the previous post about Twitter, I’ve been experimenting with some Twitter ideas provided by Penny Sansevieri in the May 29th issue of her newsletter. Penny’s website is

I signed up for Penny’s newsletter a couple of months ago after reading her terrific book RED HOT INTERNET PUBLICITY. The newsletter is actually targeted at book authors who want to use the internet for book promotion (that’s me!). Yet almost everything Penny writes about in her newsletter could be used for other types of internet promotion.

Back to Twitter: Penny’s newsletter had tons of information on Twitter, and I want to share three of her suggestions that I just tried out:

If you go to the Twitter search site, you can type in words connected to topics of interest and see who sends tweets on that subject. For example, if you type in “red hot publicity,” some of the tweets that will appear are from BookGal -- that’s Penny. (Of course I was jealous of the tweet that announced she saw William Shatner at BookExpoAmerica; I was at BookExpo and didn’t catch sight of him.)

The summize application enables you to choose to follow people who send tweets about things that interest you. But Penny’s point for book authors is that people can find you based on words you use in your tweets. So you should think carefully about those 140 character tweets you post.

Next I tried out, at which you plug in search terms to see how often the terms are being used. I got 2600 for “internet marketing,” but I have no idea over what time frame that number represents. And checking the questions and comments section of tweetvolume, numerous other people have asked that question about time frame with apparently no answer yet.

Then in a list of many other applications for Twitter, Penny also included You plug in your twitter name (mine is ZimblerMiller) and you get a list of suggested people to follow based on the tweets you’ve sent. (Big Brother is watching!)

These new social media networking sites appear to be morphing at an incredible pace. How will we ever keep up with the information flow? And, hey, as a book author, I hope people will take breaks from the internet to still enjoy a good book.

Of course, people reading a book can send tweet updates of the book’s plot. Oh, dear, I hope no one gives away a book’s twists. Some information should be marked “confidential – not for tweets.”

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Sunday, June 1, 2008

“Tweeting” Your Image – the Twitter Phenomenon

Just when you’ve got MySpace and Facebook figured out – carefully balancing “fun” with maintaining a professional image – comes Twitter, a micro-blogging platform that offers you the ability to send messages (tweets) of 140 characters -- not 140 words.

The idea is that you post a message on Twitter to let everyone who is “following” you know what you are doing. In other words, people choose to “follow” you and then get a news feed of your tweets.

In the last week I’ve gotten email newsletters from several internet marketers explaining how to use Twitter for business purposes. Trying to follow this advice, I’ve sent tweets about attending the two-day internet marketing seminar of John Kremer ( as well as attending BookExpoAmerica. Last night I sent a tweet about reading the book “Problogger” by Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett recommended by the BlogSquad (

It’s important to consider how this new social phenomenon (it’s free – anyone can sign up at could help or hinder your professional image. If you sign up for this social network, ANYONE else who is on the network can “follow” you unless you check “Protect my updates.” (This lets only people whom you approve follow your updates.)

I’ve just put a Twitter link on both of my blogs. (I chose to have only one tweet appear rather than the five tweets that is the default setting.) And I actually don’t update through Twitter. I update through, which at this writing is still in beta.

And actually I don’t go to the Ping site to update. I go to my Facebook page, where I have the Ping application. There I can dash off a quick update that Ping sends to the sites I’ve indicated: Bebo, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, and Twitter. And, now apparently, Twitter then sends the update to my two blogs.

Okay, are you as confused as I am? And you want to know what’s the point of this post? One, you should know what Twitter and tweets are if someone asks you about this new phenomenon. Two, you should remember to follow all the “protect your brand” recommendations that I’ve given for other social media networks.

And because it is so easy to dash off a tweet, you may have to be especially careful to resist shooting off a risqué comment. Instead, if you decide to join Twitter, consider how you can positively impact your brand.

You know what? I’m going to send a tweet through Ping on my Facebook account that I’ve just blogged about Twitter.

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