7 Professional Development Lessons from Twilight

With the Aug. 4 release of Midnight Sun — Stephenie Meyer’s latest installment in the Twilight series — we’re ready to revisit the enchanted world of Bella and Edward. Vampires, werewolves, and rain-soaked redwoods are the perfect escape from daily life during COVID-19. But this fantasy series also offers real-world lessons for career development. Go ahead and enjoy the supernatural world of Forks, Washington, then come back here for these 7 professional development lessons from Twilight. 


8 Study Tips to Pass the Microsoft Certification Exam

Think that using Microsoft applications from sunup to sundown means passing your certification exam is a sure thing? Even if you work on Microsoft platforms on a daily, professional basis, it would be almost impossible for you to know every function, every task the test will cover. That’s why it’s important to take test-prep seriously and use these 8 study tips to pass the Microsoft certification exam.


Leaders Earn the Respect of Their Teams

Respect. Aretha Franklin famously asked for it in song. Rodney Dangerfield went to hilarious lengths to claim he got none. Actually, respect is a big deal. If you’re a manager in any workplace, respect from your team signifies its trust in you. As one of my aforementioned role models, U.S Army Major Richard Winters, wrote in his memoirs, “The key to a successful leader is to earn respect—not because of rank or position, but because you are a leader of character.” Here are some of my thoughts on earning your team’s respect through leadership.


Professional Development Lessons from 'Hamilton'

Do you find yourself bursting into song about your ambitions? Are you passionately smashin’ every expectation? Are you ready to rise up and achieve your professional goals? We thought so. Now that Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical Hamilton is available to stream on Disney+, we’re all feeling inspired by America’s coolest founding father. Cue up your favorite songs from the Broadway hit, and get ready for these 8 professional development lessons from Hamilton. 


Qualities of a Good Project Manager

You wear so many hats in your organization, you’re starting to look like an Alice in Wonderland character. Now, a new one has been placed on your head: project manager. You may feel the urge to go mad and start hosting nonsensical tea parties. Stay calm. We’ll help you take the reins on this important task and steer it to success. With a little practice, you can harness the top four qualities of a good project manager.


How to Negotiate a Higher Salary

PayScale is a software and data company that “helps employers manage employee compensation and employees understand their worth in the job market,” and it has this to say about negotiating for a higher salary: For people with a master’s degree or better, not making the push for better pay means leaving up to $1.5 million in earnings on the table over the course of a lifetime. Not a bad payoff for having the difficult conversations. Fairness, self-worth, and overall economic benefits such as juicing the gross domestic product are other reasons why you should have the tough talks, but for now we’ll stick with the how, as in how to negotiate a higher salary.


6 Tips for Interviewing and Hiring Remotely

 Your company has gone completely virtual, and who knows if they’ll revert to the old normal even when the pandemic ends. If you’re hiring, you can adapt your recruiting process and adjust your HR priorities with these 6 tips for interviewing and hiring remotely.


How Time Management Drives Process Improvement

You want your team to be as productive as possible, and that means reducing waste. What do we waste a lot of? Time. Most organizations lose time to everything from inefficient meetings to outdated processes. But if you know how to wisely allocate your team’s time, you’ll be better prepared to meet deadlines, increase productivity, and attract top employees. Let’s take a closer look at how time management drives business process improvement.


How to Build and Improve Your Resilience

MacArthur Fellowship (“Genius Grant”) recipient Angela Lee Duckworth was a management consultant with McKinsey & Co. who quit at age 27 to teach seventh-grade math, earned a doctorate in psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, and began teaching there, focusing on grit and self-control, “which predict success both academically and professionally.” In math teacher terms, Duckworth + business/teaching acumen + Ph.D. = grit theory. In short, grit (aka perseverance) trumps IQ. You can’t dramatically elevate IQ, but you can boost your grit quotient. It all adds up to this: You can learn how to build and improve your resilience and succeed in your career.


Teamwork: Contribute Together, Win Together

As a country, we continue to navigate the effects of the pandemic and, in more-recent events, listen to voices calling for civil justice. Both are topics of immense, historic importance and deserving of our attention. I would also remind my audience that this month marked the 76th anniversary of D-Day, when the Allies landed on the beaches of Normandy, France to undertake one of the most pivotal military campaigns of World War II. That massive operation required teamwork—thousands of personnel carrying out roles to help save the world.


How to Learn and Memorize Faster

Conventional wisdom says it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master any skill. Such deliberate care in learning new things is admirable, but you’re scheduled to sit for the SAT nine Saturdays from now and, come on, you also have a life. If you need to shorten the learning curve for your weaker test subjects, simply adapt clever techniques from memory champions and adopt their brain-boosting habits so you can learn and memorize faster.


Understanding Personality Types: Communicating Effectively in the Workplace

“We all bring our lives to the workplace,” said Kathy Barnes, the associate director and operations manager of USF’s Office of Corporate Training and Professional Education. Understanding employees as individuals – each with unique personalities, strengths, and life experiences – is an essential leadership skill. Let’s take a closer look at how leaders can take steps toward understanding personality types and communicating effectively in the workplace. 


Can You Take the SAT and ACT Online at Home?

The coronavirus pandemic changed the way we get an education. COVID-19 shifted virtually all students online. Brick-and-mortar school schedules became guesswork, and standardized testing got iffy. High school students trying to finish the college application process without the benefit of SAT and/or ACT scores began grappling with what-ifs. What if, for instance, the pandemic closes your test site? Could you take the SAT and ACT online at home? There are two short answers: No on the SAT. Maybe on the ACT.


How to Become a Freelance Project Manager

If you’re a project manager, or planning to become one, chances are your future employment will include independent contract work. According to a study published in January 2020 by Business Talent Group, project management is the top gig-worker skill employers are seeking. Here’s why now is a great time to move into independent contract work and get in on the outsourcing boom to become a freelance project manager


Cyber Security Basics for Remote Workers

You already know that your new work-from-home life demands a new skill set: Managing Zoom meetings, staying productive even when the cat crawls onto your lap, and hiding your office snacks from your toddler. But did you know that cybersecurity skills are key to WFH success? Now that you are working remotely, your company’s data is vulnerable in new ways, and it’s crucial that you know how to protect it. Luckily, you don’t have to be tech gods like Lisbeth Salander or Mr. Robot to know how to defend against cyber threats. By changing a few simple habits, you can master these cybersecurity basics for remote workers. 


Top 4 Reasons Test Prep Courses Are Worth the Investment

Are your top college picks standardized test-optional? Did you take the necessary standardized test(s) and score within your picks’ target range? Are you disciplined, self-motivated, and test savvy enough to go it alone? If you answered yes to one or more of those scenarios, forget the formal test prep. If not, give it some serious thought, and consider our top four reasons test prep courses are worth the investment.


Essential Books to Improve Leadership Skills this Summer

The most successful people in the world have one thing in common: They read. Warren Buffett, Elon Musk, Oprah Winfrey, and Barack Obama are all voracious readers, and it’s a good time for you to become one too. The long days of summer offer big blocks of reading time (poolside, perhaps?) and bookstores, libraries, and digital platforms are brimming with titles to inspire and empower you. If you’re ready to jumpstart your reading habit and your career, check out these essential books to improve your leadership skills this summer.


How to Ensure LGBT Plus Diversity in Your Workplace

If you want to be a true ally to LGBTQ+ colleagues, we can help you go beyond rainbow Zoom backgrounds, Pride parade attendance, and sparkly Taylor Swift anthems. Supporting team members of all gender identities and sexual orientations means taking active steps towards a more diverse and inclusive work environment. From strategic recruitment efforts to workplace training, here are a few simple ways to ensure LGBTQ+ diversity in your workplace.


Connecting With Your People Outside of Work Roles

Not long after our office began working exclusively from home 11 weeks ago, we initiated a weekly “coffee” video chat for the purpose of connecting socially with one another. The only hard-and-fast rule of the meeting is no one is allowed to talk shop. For example, we’ve described our first cars, named favorite vacation spots, and exchanged Netflix suggestions. It’s also been an opportunity to share our experiences, both positive and negative, of spending so much time cloistered in our homes.


Cybersecurity Tips Essential for Remote Workers During the Pandemic

Jack Nilles’ Twitter account identifies him as “a former ‘rocket scientist’ spacecraft designer turned applied futurist, father of telecommuting and author….” The book that helped earn him the “father of telecommuting” title is “Telecommunications-Transportation Tradeoff: Options for Tomorrow,” published in 1976. Nilles long has held that one of the primary hurdles to working remotely is security. With COVID-19 exponentially increasing telecommuting, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know this is a good time to explore cybersecurity tips essential for remote workers during the pandemic.


Project Management Jobs and Career Opportunities

Are you considering a career in project management, but think you’re limited to roles in tech, engineering, or construction? While those three industries have been the foundational fields for project managers, you’ll find your career options are wide open now, with challenging roles for generalists and specialists in creative, governmental, and science-based industries. You never know where you might find project management jobs and career opportunities, so let’s job-hunt!


6 Ways to Improve Employee Wellness for Productivity

As a leader in your organization, you’re faced with a tough challenge. How can you maintain productivity (and profitability) when workers are chronically stressed due to COVID-19? The answer is simple: Take care of your employees’ emotional and mental well-being. Read on to learn six ways to improve employee wellness for productivity during the coronavirus crisis. 


5 Meditation Techniques to Stay Mindful on Exam Day

Exam day success will depend on what you bring to the moment and your ability to be fully in that moment, or mindful, when the proctor says begin. “Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us,” says Mindful.org. So, here’s the plan, arrive on test day with the knowledge and tools you need to ace the exam. Need more? Here’s something for that toolkit, something that will help now and during the test: 5 meditation techniques to stay mindful on exam day.


5 Reasons Why You Should Offer Health Insurance for Employees

If this article had a moral, it would be that giving your employees health insurance coverage is the right thing to do and, ultimately, beneficial for all concerned parties. It’s kind of like A Christmas Carol in that Ebenezer Scrooge opening his heart was a good thing for him that ultimately saved Tiny Tim. There’s no moral here, though, just 5 reasons you should offer health insurance for employees.


10 Tips to Help You Study for the LSAT

You’ve always dreamed of going to law school, so preparing for the LSAT is incredibly important to your future. Unlike college finals or other standardized tests, the LSAT is not a knowledge examination; it is a skills-based test. The only way to prepare for it is with dedicated practice over a long period of time. It sounds daunting, but you can make test prep a whole lot easier on yourself with 10 tips to help you study for the LSAT.


Leadership During Crisis

Growing up in Tarpon Springs, Florida, I would hear stories about the sponge boat crews working the depths of the Gulf of Mexico. Out on the water—sometimes for weeks at a time—the best crews were able to navigate daunting challenges: equipment failures, illness, and stormy weather, to name but a few. Skilled leadership was necessary. “A good captain is not made from calm seas,” one veteran sponger liked to say. And with the “rough seas” we’re having as of late, that old sailing adage has been on my mind.


9 Tips for Optimizing Your Social Profiles for Employment

Job hunters, we know it’s tough out there. Unemployment has soared to record levels, which is scary enough. On top of that, your typical means of networking (in-person events, career fairs) are no longer an option. Social distancing is crucial to prevent the spread of COVID-19. But it’s awfully hard to impress recruiters when you’re confined to your house. Or is it? 


5 Apps to Help You Study for Test Day

Your preparation for standardized tests will be interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. No question about it. The lockdown has removed the possibility of enrolling in high-quality on-campus test prep courses and potentially will delay your scheduled test date. But you have an excellent emergency workaround: You can maintain social distancing while achieving your best score on any of the admission exams for undergraduate and graduate school when you use one (or more) of these 5 apps to help you study for test day.


You Lost Your Job. Now What?

The sudden loss of a job is a body blow, but life and financial obligations don’t stop because you’re unemployed. How do you respond while still reeling from the impact? Simple. Be indomitable. The Online Etymology Dictionary says “indomitable” means “unyielding, persistent, resolute.” Per this blog and per your finances and employment, the “what” – “You lost your job. Now what?” – is to be unyielding, persistent, and resolute in bringing clarity to your circumstances and maximizing the return on your job-hunting skills, strategy, and tactics.


Is Agile Project Management the Business Solution You Need?

What’s in a word? “Agile,” for instance? Lexico.com, an online dictionary/language tool, says “agile” means the ability “to move quickly and easily” and/or “to think and understand quickly.” In business, “Agile” is a proper noun that’s an approach to project management; or, per Lexico.com, “relating to or denoting a method of project management … characterized by the division of tasks into short phases of work and frequent reassessment and adaptation of plans.” Suffice it to say that Agile is a process or philosophy defined by agility. If you’re thinking about going Agile, the foundational question is whether Agile project management is the business solution you need.


9 Tips to Help Employees Working From Home (Without Distraction)

Working remotely? Even if you’re new to telecommuting or only did it occasionally before the coronavirus locked down your work life, you’ve probably already discovered how fascinating your laundry, the cat, Reddit, and that small thread dangling from your bedroom curtains can be when you’re supposed to be working. Follow our nine tips to help employees working from home (without distraction) and get your focus back!


Why Process Improvement Depends on Creative Thinking

If your organization has made great strides in its improvement program, but you’re still not delivering that string of innovations you expected, maybe your approach to Lean Six Sigma is missing a secret element – creativity. For even a black-and-white problem there could be a kaleidoscope of possible solutions. That’s why process improvement depends on creative thinking. Let’s look at how unleashing your imagination within the well-defined methods of quality improvement can help you achieve high-return breakthroughs.  


Our Wellness Challenge: 30 Ways to Reduce Stress This Month

It’s been a rough month. You may be transitioning to remote work due to concerns about COVID-19. You may be juggling deadlines and home-from-school kids. You’re definitely scrolling through scary headlines. You are (hopefully) practicing social distancing, which means you can’t go to your favorite gym or local coffee shop to destress after a long day of work. How do you keep calm? We’re here to help. Dive into our wellness challenge: 30 ways to reduce stress this month.


Three Process Improvement Techniques to Boost Work Efficiency

When American business titan Jack Welch died March 1, 2020, it signaled a milestone moment to reevaluate the innovations that earned Welch Fortune magazine’s “Manager of the Century” title. Perhaps his most enduring legacy will be his early adoption of Lean Six Sigma Principles. If you’re ready to learn more about titan-worthy streamlining methods that you can apply to your own enterprise, explore three process improvement techniques to boost work efficiency and produce real results where you work.


Movement, Mindfulness, and Motivation: How to Increase Employee Productivity

Building a more engaged, high-results staff could require a shift in traditional ideas about where, when, and how the workday should unfold. To help your team achieve improved outcomes and have less stress doing it, focus on three almost effortless improvements to the modern workplace: Movement, mindfulness, and motivation are how you can increase employee productivity and enhance your team’s everyday experience at work.


Letter From the Director: Thoughts on the Covid-19 Outbreak

The current Covid-19 pandemic has forcefully come to the forefront of the nation’s psyche in relatively little time, rapidly—and radically—altering the rhythm of our lives. In less than two weeks, our work, school, and social schedules have been turned upside-down. Terms that were unheard of such as “social distancing” and “shelter in place” are now on everyone’s lips. Many of us are now living with the reality of remote work and school. My office’s function has now moved entirely to an online format. Everyone is making significant adjustments.  


Test Prep Tips That Won’t Fail You

A Google search for the subject “dream about not being prepared for a test” auto-filled the search field with the whole term once this was typed: “Dream about no….” So yes, the I’m-not-prepared dream is a thing. It’s enough of a thing, in fact, to generate lots of newspaper and magazine articles every year. To avoid the nightmare of not being prepared for that important exam, be it a calculus test or the SAT, check out these test prep tips that won’t fail you.


10 Tips for More Productive Meetings

How many corporate meetings does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Cue Dilbert, and realize it’s not funny that there are countless potential endings for that joke, most of them riffing on wasted time. We meet to focus skills, talents, and minds on things that bring success. In short, meetings are the heart of corporate communication, so a business that can’t hold productive meetings is akin to a standup comic who can’t write jokes. OK. No more punchlines today, just 10 tips for more productive meetings.


How to Fight Employee Turnover by Showing Appreciation

It’s great when the bottom line and golden rule line up. For example, keeping good employees happy is cost-effective, and churn is costly. In fact, the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) estimates that on average, losing a salaried employee costs a company the equivalent of up to nine months of that worker’s salary. One do-unto-others tactic that is golden for your bottom line is fighting employee turnover by showing appreciation.


Are Cool Places to Work (with Wine, Yoga & Table Tennis) Changing Corporate Culture?

When your team meeting takes place around the foosball table or your office features a meditation studio for midday re-centering, there can be no question that the workplace is transforming into a more creative, active, human-focused environment. But what’s the business advantage of converting your office into an anti-office, part-time pool hall, part-time tasting room? Are cool places to work (with wine, yoga, and table tennis) really changing corporate culture? The answer might surprise you.


6 Leadership Lessons from Children’s Literature

Think back to your favorite childhood book. Maybe you cavorted with wild things. Maybe you befriended a bear of very little brain. Or maybe you listened to the wise words of the Lorax. The characters in your beloved picture books helped shape who you are today. But if you’re like most of us, those stories are now gathering dust in your parents’ basement. It’s time to change that.


Can You Become a Paralegal with No Job Experience?

ZipRecruiter, an online employment forum/marketplace for potential hirees and hirers, says one road to a job as a paralegal features these mileposts: Do an American Bar Association-sanctioned paralegal certification program. Get guidance from someone in the legal field. Join a networking group(s) to build contacts. Find an entry-level position at a law firm, be it legal secretary or file clerk. And apply for an opening there or elsewhere once you’ve proved yourself. So, can you become a paralegal with no job experience as a paralegal? The short answer is yes and no. Keep reading for the long answer.


Take Control of Your Career

Part One: Learning When to Pivot

Playing organized basketball as a young boy, I discovered the importance of pivoting. When defensive pressure forces the player dribbling the ball to stop the advance up the court, that player can ‘pivot’ by keeping one foot stationary while the other can move. This allows the ball-handler an opportunity to reposition, to determine whether a pass to a teammate or taking a shot is the best option. Sometimes, a well-executed pivot can be the catalyst for a great, but unexpected, play.


Office Design Tips for the Ideal Work Environment

Can a coat of paint in the break room inspire breakthroughs for sales? Can a row of sleek new desks motivate marketing to a metrics-smashing rash of creativity? Research suggests yes. Smart workplace design can do wonders for innovation, productivity, and employee morale. If you’re ready to learn how sprucing up your office can transform your whole team’s output and outlook, follow the experts’ office design tips for the ideal work environment.


How Developing Your Emotional Intelligence Supports Career Advancement

Your emotional quotient, or EQ, is unquestionably influenced by genetics and your personality, but it is in no way limited by them. Your EQ is a learnable, measurable set of skills you can improve for the benefit of your well-being and relationships. Practicing EQ-building skills is how developing your emotional intelligence can support your career advancement, too, by boosting your self-awareness, self-management, and people skills for a happier, more productive work life.


Top 5 Tips for PMP® Exam Prep

When you’re in Rome and need directions, ask a Roman. If you’re taking the Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam and want directions on how to prepare to earn the prestigious and lucrative designation, look to the Project Management Institute (PMI) for a simple and productive road map. That’s why PMI, the not-for-profit organization that developed the certification exam, is the source for our top 5 tips for PMP exam prep.


New ACT Test Changes Can Boost Students' Scores

High school students preparing for standardized college admission tests, we have exciting news: The ACT is making important updates to its exam that can save you time, money, and anxiety. Best news of all: The new ACT test changes can boost students’ scores. If you’re ready to make the most of the new ACT to achieve your best exam results, read on!


Housekeeping Secrets for a Cleaner Hotel and Repeat Guests

Something guaranteed to give hoteliers a heebie and several jeebies is seeing their brand featured in a horror story under a headline such as “Confessions of a Hotel Housekeeper.” First there’s the pride factor. No one wants to be tied to a brand name that cues bedbug stories, tales of stomach-churning filth, or customer service failures; then there’s the bottom line. Study after study finds cleanliness concerns at the top of the list of guest-identified issues that can sour them on a hotel brand. With that in mind, we’ve turned to insiders in our search for housekeeping secrets for a cleaner hotel and repeat guests.


Resolve to Learn, Grow, and Improve

What’s your take on New Year’s resolutions? Do you find them a) helpful, b) useless, or c) a harmless annual ritual? Wherever you fall on the question, millions of people determine that some life aspect requires improvement and the time for action will take place when the calendar flips to January. You’re familiar with some of the popular ones: to exercise regularly, pay off debt, get organized, and to make more time for family and friends. New year, new you—right? 


How to Find Job Openings with Social Media

If you’re job searching, we’ve got good news: Employers are waging a war for talent, which means the odds are in your favor. A savvy social media strategy can help you land that dream position. From reading our other posts, you already know how to use your online presence to leverage your career and network with professionals. Now we’ll show you how to find job openings with social media. 


The Best Apps and Resources for Business Professionals

Does technology slice through your workplace like a double-edged sword? On the one side, it makes your job so much easier. On the other side, keeping up with the latest apps, gadgets, software, and networking options cuts into your schedule so relentlessly, it’s almost a second full-time job. To gain the benefits of tech without being overwhelmed by the innovations flooding the marketplace, we’ve curated a list of the best apps and resources for business professionals. These tried-and-true recommendations for your android or iPhone will sharpen your everyday operations, from payroll to office party invitations, no matter where business takes you. Ready to get scrolling? 


How to Motivate Employees with Positive Reinforcement

So, your product is in high demand, your business model is an impressive production and delivery system for said product, your business processes and the workforce they guide are the envy of your competitors, and it’s all managed by people whose leadership record and potential are stellar. How do you build on that? Simple. With an eye toward keeping the arc of success curving up, you oversee smart investments of time and resources in your most valuable intangible asset, people. One proven approach to getting tangible results from investing in your people: Learn how to motivate employees with positive reinforcement.


6 Tips for Process Improvement: Applying Lean Six Sigma at Work

Lean Six Sigma is among the most popular management strategies used by businesses worldwide, improving performance by blending the methodologies of LEAN and Six Sigma. If you’re not sure, though, how this synergized approach can help your organization reduce complexity and eliminate waste, explore our 6 tips for process improvement and begin applying game-changing Lean Six Sigma principles at your workplace to optimize value, quality, and efficiency.


2 Ways to Tell It's Time for a Career Change

There are myriad reasons for career adjustments, and we’ll go deeper on that in a bit. Job satisfaction is so important that we’re going to cut to the chase. Actually, we’re starting with the capture, so to speak. At your workday’s end, there are 2 ways to tell it’s time for a career change: You are unhappy at work, and it has nothing to do with where you work or those you work for or with.


GRE Test Prep During Winter Break

It’s beginning to look a lot like GRE test-prep season. With a long, luxurious holiday break of two weeks or more coming on quickly, you finally have time to get serious about studying for the Graduate Record Examination – your entrance exam for graduate school. In just a few hours a day, you can really get the GRE ball rolling: identifying your weak spots, familiarizing yourself with the question types, and registering for a quality test-prep course. So, if you’re thinking about taking on GRE test prep during winter break, take our useful advice first, and then get set to ace that exam.


A Game-Changing Tip for Dealing with Difficult Customers

Somewhere between “buyer beware” and “the customer is never wrong” is the sweet spot of customer service where you concede that the people you serve are never wrong but gently allow that they are not always right. Whether you are serving a hotel guest or working with a team to serve a particularly particular business client, mutual satisfaction is the goal, with one caveat: Your customer’s happiness is the source of your satisfaction, and your satisfaction is defined by your company’s success, which depends on your customer’s happiness. Yes, it’s quite circular. You protect your company’s interests by making your clients’ legitimate demands paramount, which is much, much easier said than done. To that end, we share a game-changing tip for dealing with difficult customers.


Benefits of Becoming a Paralegal

You may already know that the paralegal profession offers you the opportunity for a challenging and well-respected career, but there are additional advantages to the field you may not have considered. If you’re contemplating a career change or you’re seeking a promotion within the legal field, now is a good time to weigh the many personal and professional benefits of becoming a paralegal.


5 Proven Employee Motivation Strategies

A motivated employee is more engaged, and an engaged employee is more productive. Gallup calculations on the U.S. workplace indicate 34 percent of workers are engaged (a survey high), 13 percent are “actively disengaged” (a new low – in a good way), and that engagement is a key driver of positive business outcomes. Ready to engage? Explore our 5 proven employee motivation strategies.


2019 Retrospective: Learning to Be Grateful

With Thanksgiving approaching, I’d like to share how grateful I am for the 2019 journey of USF Corporate Training and Professional Education. If you’ve previously read this blog, you know I sometimes draw from the well of sports for inspiration. (Spoiler alert: I’m about to do it again!) What follows is how our office borrowed a storied basketball team’s 36-year-old rallying cry to help us press on when faced with extraordinary circumstances.


Evaluating (and Diminishing) Risks in HR

All organizations, no matter how different they seem, have one thing in common: risk. And if you’re a human resources professional, risk management is part of your job. Whether you work at Dunder Mifflin Paper Co. or Jurassic Park, you’ve got to tackle potential pitfalls – before Michael Scott opens his mouth or the T. rex eats the customers. Where do you start? Keep reading to learn how to evaluate and diminish HR risks for your organization.


How to Deliver 5-Star Customer Service: Tips for Hospitality Leaders

Consultant, public speaker, and author Micah Solomon has a lot of tips for hospitality leaders on how to deliver 5-star customer service, more than enough to fill a book titled The Heart of Hospitality. The most important tips in that book focus on people (your team and your customers) and process (how you inspire your team and impress your customers). At day’s end, though, it’s all about the wow.


6 Tips for Delegating Effectively in Project Management

When you’re a project manager, your first task is to give up the notion that you can take on and take credit for every project that crosses your desk. Your goal is to gain authority and efficiency, perhaps counterintuitively, by becoming less caught up in the day-to-day. In short, you must become a master of delegation. If letting go feels like giving in, think through these 6 essential tips for delegating effectively in project management and you’ll be on your way to helping your team take the reins and get more projects across the finish line.


10 Social Media Marketing Tips for Hospitality Professionals

People in the hospitality profession trying to boost business through social media but without an understanding of how to use those tools might as well be carpenters trying to drive nails with the handles of their hammers. There’s a lot to learn about digital platforms and how to use them, so let’s begin with 10 social media marketing tips for hospitality professionals.


5 Reasons Strong Legal Writing Is Important for Paralegals

Almost all legal work depends upon the written word, so paralegals must know how to draft flawless and persuasive submissions to the court, emails to clients, internal memorandums, wills, resolutions, contracts, and other legal filings. Your writing tasks will be varied, but each document will be critical to the success of your cases and to your firm's communications. If you’re considering a career as a paralegal, you should know the top 5 reasons strong legal writing is important for paralegals.


Creating a Culture of Excellence (Part 2)

Last month I began an installment of the Essentials of Modern Leadership series by speaking about the importance of culture in the workplace. It was predicated upon how lasting success comes through leadership’s pursuit of excellence by adherence to guiding principles and the critical element of buy-in from the team. I’ll now elaborate further with three concluding strategies that, as I’ve found from experience, play key roles in creating a culture of excellence.     


5 Leadership Lessons from Harry Potter

You need some advice. Go ahead – say the password, “Sherbet lemon.” See how the stone gargoyle hops aside, revealing that spiral staircase? You’ll find the headmaster’s office at the top. Inside, it’s warm and comforting: Fawkes the phoenix is perched in his corner, the Sorting Hat is right where it should be, and the most powerful wizard in the world is behind his claw-footed desk. This is where Dumbledore lives. And you don’t need to be a Hogwarts student to benefit from his wisdom.


Core Principles of Business Process Improvement

The core principles of business process improvement (BPI) are not numbered, etched in stone, and universally accepted as the top 20 or 10 or five BPI commandments. There are, though, countless lists of rules or guidelines deemed most important. Using a sampling of those lists and a Venn diagram concept, we found six core principles of business process improvement.


What Does a Leader Look Like? Identifying Real Leadership Qualities

If you’re reading this post about leadership qualities, you already possess one of the key traits of a leader, which is introspection. Your curiosity about the topic indicates a self-awareness to reflect on your personality, choices, and motivations, and compare them to the ideal. But that’s just one essential characteristic. What are the others? What does a leader look like? Identifying real leadership qualities is more complex than compiling a simple Top 10 list; it’s a subtle but balanced interweaving of hard and soft power traits, meshed with technical skills flexible enough to meet the demands of the marketplace of the future.


10 Key Hospitality Management Leadership Qualities

For leaders in businesses whose lifeblood is immediate consumer satisfaction, success hinges on accurately assessing customer needs and motivations. Nowhere is that more evident than in the hospitality industry, where the essence of success is understanding and satisfying a diverse array of people whose ideas of satisfaction range from stereotypical to peculiar. It follows that interpersonal skills dominate our list of 10 key hospitality management leadership qualities.


How to Communicate Better: A Guide for HR Professionals

Speaking at a conference, SHRM-Senior Certified Professional Jennifer Currence defined what she called the three components of communication: self-awareness, listening, and speaking. Her thoughts and a synopsis of a SHRM toolkit/treatise titled “Managing Organizational Communication” are the essence of our guide for HR professionals on how to communicate better.


Why Diversity Matters and How You Can Create a More Inclusive Workplace

Diversity is important enough to Americans to get its own day on the calendar (Oct. 4 in 2019). Businesses, however, should celebrate diversity every day. Why? Because diversity defines us and because it matters to bottom lines. So, with a nod to Oct. 4, let’s explore why diversity matters to bottom lines and how creating a more inclusive workplace serves those bottom lines.


Creating a Culture of Excellence (Part 1)

My family and friends know me to be an avid student of military history. Over the years, I’ve read countless works on the world’s major battles—from periods of antiquity through the modern era. Mind you, my interest in the subject isn’t to romanticize war. Rather, it’s spurred by a desire to better understand the prevailing conditions leading to a conflict and the geopolitical ramifications of its aftermath. A collateral benefit of my reading is I’ve learned the stories of exceptional figures that emerged from that realm.    


How to Choose the Right Business Process Improvement Methodology

Improving your competitive advantage is always your top business priority. One of the most effective ways to accomplish this is to focus on the quality of your organization’s processes. But with so many competing claims about process improvement methodologies, you may be unclear about which one will have the most impact. Let’s evaluate which approach will work best for you by narrowing down how to choose the right business process improvement methodology for your goals.


9 Leadership Lessons from Game of Thrones

The world of Game of Thrones is a lot like the workplace, except with more dragons. Just like our Westerosi heroes, you want to advance in your career — maybe not all the way to the Iron Throne, but far enough that you get one of those World’s Best Boss mugs. Which is basically the same thing, except you can enjoy drinking coffee out of your mug while whoever sits on the Iron Throne has to deal with a thousand swords poking into their back. Seriously, you think your office chair is bad?


What You Can Expect as a Paralegal

You’d like to advance your career, and you think becoming a paralegal might be the way to do it. It’s a fast-growing field that offers challenging legal work for go-getters and problem-solvers like you — and the certification process is much faster than for a law degree. Got questions? Read on to know what you can expect as a paralegal.


Top 5 Reasons You Should Earn a SHRM Certification

Training for and achieving a professional certification from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is an invaluable tool as you build or expand your human resources career. SHRM certification is a distinction that indicates to your employer you have achieved a high level of HR knowledge and skills, as well as an understanding of the strategic importance of HR to your organization’s success. When your résumé features those SHRM letters, followed by CP and/or SCP, you’re sending the message that you’re serious about your HR career. Earning a SHRM credential does require time and focus. If you’re not sure about making the commitment right now, consider our ranking of the lucrative, career-changing, and personally empowering top 5 reasons you should earn a SHRM certification. 


How Your SAT and ACT Scores Affect College Admissions

Unless you are applying for admission to a community college, a flexible or test-optional school, an art school, or a trade or technical school, SAT and ACT scores probably will affect your chances of being admitted to college. Calculating how your SAT and ACT scores affect college admissions depends on the college in the equation.


5 Reasons to Become a Project Manager

Your first informal role as a project manager can often happen organically on the job, when your boss notices your technical and organizational skills and asks you to run a project. Maybe you’ve been successful coordinating a one-off assignment to manage a product launch or a sales conference. Perhaps you merely have a hunch you’d be good at it given half a chance. Or it’s possible you have become your team’s de facto handler to guide complicated plans to completion — all great starting points for a project manager. But if you have not yet seriously evaluated the career benefits of formalizing your role through training and certification, this is a very good time to consider the top 5 reasons to become a project manager.


Keeping Good Employees Takes Thought and Effort

Think of the excitement you felt when you made that perfect hire. There was the outstanding résumé, the impressive interview. You felt, almost immediately, that this individual is a perfect fit for the position, and you were right. The first few years proved the decision was a good one. Now there’s another important matter to be addressed: You want this employee for the long haul. As a hiring manager or a business owner, don’t just assume they’ll stay. Keeping good employees takes thought and effort.


The Best Negotiators Don’t Trade Integrity for a Good Deal

Throughout life, there are countless scenarios where good negotiating skills are useful. Maybe it’s time to renew a valued customer’s contract with your corporation. Perhaps you’d like to speak to the boss about that well-deserved raise. Or maybe the cable company has hiked its fee and you’ll be giving them a call to see whether you have any recourse. It really doesn’t matter who you are or what you do for a living, there will be times that call for negotiation. Embrace the challenge and try for a win, but never forget that the best negotiators don’t trade integrity for a good deal.


Job Security in an Automated Age

One of my all-time favorite television commercials is the Monster “When I Grow Up” spot that debuted during Super Bowl XXXIII. The ad was effective because it depicted the very opposite of what we aspire to during our formative years. Children in the ad speak as jaded adults with less-than-optimistic expectations for their work futures. Toward its end, the ad poignantly asks, “What did you want to be?” It offers hope, though, in its final frame: “There’s a better job out there.” The ad ran in 1999, but it’s even more relevant now because of the growing challenges of job security in an automated age.


Building the Perfect Team

Part 5 in a Series on Essentials of Modern Leadership

The previous installment in this series on the essentials of modern leadership, “Playing the Cards You’re Dealt,” is based on a manager’s ability to keenly assess inherited personnel and procedures while moving toward maximum productivity. Let’s now envision a situation where you’re assembling a staff from scratch. You “hold all the cards” and can recruit employees who will best fulfill your workplace objectives. How do you go about building the perfect team?


Playing the Cards You’re Dealt

Part 4 in a Series on Essentials of Modern Leadership

I’m not the world’s most avid card player, but I enjoy a few games every now and then. Because of the limitless variability, card games give my noggin a good workout, and I like that. Though luck plays a role, winning consistently requires an aptitude for assessing randomly distributed sets of cards and strategizing accordingly. Do it right, and even when the cards you receive aren’t ideal, a win is possible. It’s up to you, though, to determine the best possible actions when playing the cards you’re dealt.


Trust Is the Foundation of Leadership

Part 3 in a Series on Essentials of Modern Leadership

The late motivational speaker Stephen Covey once said, “When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective.” For those of us in positions of leadership, gaining the trust of our people is a fundamental component of a healthy workplace environment. When managers establish this type of confidence, emotional security and job satisfaction can increase exponentially. Trust is the foundation of effective leadership, and it isn’t developed overnight. It comes through conscious behavior consistently exhibited.


Knowing Your People Enables Leadership

Part 2 in a Series on Essentials of Modern Leadership

Shortly after his New York Giants defeated the heavily favored Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXV, NFL coaching legend Bill Parcells was asked, “How did you do that?” Indeed, not many people had given the Giants a chance. “I have to be a master motivator,” he responded. “I treat everyone fairly; I don’t treat them the same.” Parcells understood that a team is made up of individuals of differing personalities and talents and that a one-size-fits-all management style isn’t the way to build a championship team. The coach’s secret: Knowing your people is the heart of leadership.


Self-Awareness Drives Good Leadership

Part 1 in a Series on Essentials of Modern Leadership

Benjamin Franklin, one of the more extraordinarily versatile and prolific figures of our great country, wrote this for the 1750 publication of his Poor Richard’s Almanack: “There are three Things extreamly hard: Steel, a Diamond, and to know one’s self.”