Who are you? Self-awareness

Make Things Happen

“Self-awareness is the golden key to making life changing decisions and sticking to them”.

(Dr. Prem Jagyasi)

Dictionary.com defines self-awareness as conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires.

Sounds simple enough but I like to explore self-awareness more when I conduct teambuilding exercises. Self-awareness is needed within the work environment and impacts how well the team functions.  We all bring different things into the work environment daily and need to understand how and what these things are.  I routinely ask the following question when I start the teambuilding process:

Who are you?

Take 2 minutes and ask yourself the question Who are you? multiple times.  Record each of your responses.  My examples to this exercise are:

  • Who are you?  Black man
  • Who are you?  Blogger
  • Who are you?  Leader
  • Who are you?  Running tourist
  • Who are you?  Son
  • Who are you?  Uncle
  • Who are you?  Mentor
  • Who are you?  Friend

Now it is your turn—answer the question and record your responses—I will wait! 😊

How many responses did you list to the question?

The answers may surprise people you work with and maybe yourself.  There is not a right or wrong way to supply responses to the question.  The major point is everything you listed enters the work environment with you daily.

This is an important point as we build teams and help staff members get to know others on the team.  I have used this teambuilding exercise multiple times to enhance the work environment and help with team growth. 

The point of this process is to allow team members to fully understand what they bring to work. It also shows a new level of self-awareness and how we interact with others.  This exercise enhances team awareness and shows everyone they have more in common than they thought.

True leaders can use this data to ensure they treat staff members as individuals and not let their self-awareness impact how they treat others. 

Example:  I do not have kids–this should not impact how I deal with a parent who needs to leave work early because of a sick child.  Some people in leadership positions make decisions based on their worldview only.  This is a horrible way to lead a team.

Authentic leaders understand how they are viewed and the impact this has on the team.  Self-aware leaders create more self-aware leaders. 

So, I ask again—who are you?  How does this level of self-awareness impact your daily interactions?

“What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself”.

(Abraham Maslow)

The grateful 5 (5 things I’m grateful for)

Grateful

“A grateful heart is a magnet for miracles”

(Pinterest)

Dictionary.com defines grateful as feeling or showing an appreciation of kindness; thankful.

Pretty simple concept and one to dig into a bit more.  I do a lot of reading and came across a blog article titled the Top 5 Things I am Grateful For.  The article and title are straight forward so I decided to try my writing chops to explore this from my perspective.

Family

Spend any amount of time with me and I will tell you about my family.  My family on my mom’s side consists of 5 uncles and 4 aunts.  The last time we counted I had 32 first cousins and 69 second cousins.  I know that last number has gone up, but we have not counted them in a long time.

This large extended family unit allowed me to grow up in an environment where most of my early friends were family members.   We did not add nonfamily friends until we started school because there were enough of us around to field our own teams in most sports.

I am grateful for having so many family members who go out of their way to look out for each other.  Seems like a simple thing but we spent most Thanksgivings with this large unit and enjoyed our time together.  COVID-19 put a halt on our large family get togethers last year but hopefully we can find a way to get the crew together this year—safely!

Friends

My Walk into the Future journey has allowed me to make some truly great friends.  Please note, I do not let a lot of people into my inner circle, so my friends are special people to me.  I have friends who are not cousins and I have known them my entire life.  We stay connected and get back together whenever possible and continue to grow our friendship.

I have friends I met while in the Air Force and we have become our own family unit.  I look forward to getting together and catching up whenever possible.  COVID-19 has put a halt to our running tourist trips, but I am sure we will get back on track in the future.  New Orleans is calling!

I met my best friend in the gym one morning as she bullied me to help her with the weights she was lifting—true story! 😊  Seriously, a simple gym conversation launched a great friendship, and we chat and catch up on life as much as possible.  See you on Park Avenue!

My tree branches are all friends I look forward to catching up with.  Could be a simple email, text, or phone call but love hearing how well my folks are doing in this world.  I enjoy seeing them exploring life via Instagram stories and pictures they share.  I live through them daily and enjoy seeing the growth of my tree. WE ARE!  Go Bucks! Go Noles! Go Gators!

Running

I found running later in life but cannot imagine a world without me putting in my miles.  The concept of running a half marathon was foreign to me in 2013 but now I run 6 to 8 half marathons yearly (pre-COVID).  I had no intention to run another half marathon after my first attempt because it took me three full weeks to recover.  Of course, I had no idea how to train, hydrate or recover properly—lessons learned the hard way! LOL.

My stated goal for 2022 is to explore my first full marathon.  I am hoping COVID does not come back like 2020 and eliminates all future running events.  I am always looking for motivation when I run so training for a full marathon should keep me putting in the miles for years to come.  Trying to convince several friends to come race with me. Let’s go Laurens! 😊

“Running helps me maintain my ‘never killed anyone’ streak”.

(Pinterest)

Health

Happy to report I can eat and drink whatever I want.  My running and weight training programs help with this, but I am blessed with good health.  Running has not caused undue aches or pains and helps me maintain a healthy weight without counting calories.  My weight training provides strong muscle structure to keep me moving forward.  My annual physicals produce good numbers, and the doctor does not have to get onto me to eliminate anything from my diet.  Grateful to continue to age well! 😊

My Blog

Started the Walk into the Future blog without a clear understanding how it would impact me.  I thought I would just write a few things down and see if anyone wanted to read my words.  Turns out the blog has become an extension of me and gives me a platform to share thoughts, ideas, and adventures.  My writing process has slowed down as my work obligations expand but I am still able to keep 4 to 5 weeks of blog articles in my production library.  I would like to get back up to 8 to 10 weeks of articles in reserve in case I need to revise or update them before publishing.  Not sure how long I will continue to publish the blog but still have a ton of material to explore so hope you stay with me on this journey! 😊

Bonus:  My readers

Grateful for everyone who takes the time to read my blog.  Your positive affirmations always put a smile on my face and inspire me to work to produce better content weekly.  Thank you for following the Walk into the Future blog!  Well done!

What are YOU grateful for?  I welcome your thoughts!

“The struggles ends when the gratitude begins”.

(Neale Donald Walsh)

Walking with a positive work environment (Repost)

(Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

“Positive work environments outperform negative work environments”.

(Daniel Goleman)

Positive people make positive things happen is one of my favorite sayings to inspire people in my world.  I created this as a mantra when I enter a work environment to help my team understand the mindset, we need to get positive results.

I was introduced to Positive Psychology during my course work and it remains with me daily.  One premise of Positive Psychology is people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives.  This could be on a personal or professional level.  I like leveraging Positive Psychology within the work environment to show direct reports how our mindset influences work outcomes.

I mentioned in an earlier post, my daily response to how I am doing is to say fantastic.  This is not a way to hide my true thoughts or feelings but a way to energize myself.  I found by saying I am doing fantastic provides a new level of energy for myself and it can inspire others around me to join in on the fun.  The word fantastic is not used very often in daily life so it makes people take notice and encourages them to get on The Energy Bus.

Now imagine if you had a leader who was always negative and never had anything nice to say.  How would this person impact the work environment?  I am sure this negative mindset would translate to everyone in the work environment and would not be a pleasant place to work. 

Leaders must be cognizant how their energy (positive or negative) impacts the work environment.  This knowledge will go a long way to build a positive work environment culture to ensure positive things get done daily.  Sounds simple, huh?

It takes a while for this positive process to take hold within a new work environment.  The speed of this process can be enhanced when everyone is ready to engage.  One negative teammate can slow or aggravate the process, but this can be mitigated by the rest of the team pulling in the same direction.  A new initiative for me is to follow Rule #6 from The Energy Bus—I have a sign posted that reads No Energy Vampires Allowed in my office in a prominent location.  I will point to the sign when the tone of a conversation starts to become negative.  I welcome different views and opinions but look to negate negative tone, language, or interactions.  It takes time to eliminate the negative, but the goal is to move forward in a positive manner.  I struggle sometimes because I want everything to head in a positive direction but also know things take time. 

A positive work environment is a place where everyone can thrive, grow, and provide input.  We spend a large amount of our lives in the work environment and I strive to create a space where we can work hard, laugh, and enjoy the process.  Leaders who understand work does not have to be stressful create a space where productivity can be displayed daily.  I have worked in places where people dreaded coming to work and I made a vow to never duplicate these types of environments when I reached the big seat.  Well, I have been in the big seat for a while now and smile whenever one of my tree branches reach out and say they want to work with me again.

I am sure not everyone feels this way, but I have enough of these folks to form my own wolf pack.  😊 Still learning and growing but will continue to promote positive work environments because they are productive and fun.  Imagine that, fun in the workplace!  Guess Google, Microsoft and Apple understand what people want in the work environment.  I do not have ping pong tables, yet, but play a lot of reggae in my office.  Irie!

What do you see as the benefits of a positive work environment?  How do you contribute to ensure your work environment remains positive?

 “Positive anything is better than negative nothing”.

(Elbert Hubbard)

Winter Park, Florida (Park Avenue Adventures)

“To travel is to live”.

(Hans Christian Andersen)

Happy to report the Walk into the Future adventures continue.  I am excited to get back to regular excursions again with more and more people being vaccinated.  COVID-19 put a halt to most outings, but I am getting comfortable being out and about again.

Decided to explore a familiar area recently and ventured back over to Winter Park, Florida to spend a day on Park AvenuePark Avenue has an eclectic feel and provides multiple places to shop, dine and entertain yourself without having to get in and out of your car.

My day started with a trip to my favorite run shop, Track Shack.  I make a point to visit Track Shack whenever I’m in the area because the staff makes me feel at home.  They also update their running gear selections, and I am always looking for new training ideas and gear.  I wear Track Shack gear during my races and wanted to see if they had new color schemes to add to my wardrobe.  I did not buy new gear on this trip but picked up some CBD gel caps. 

I added CBD to my training program last year to help with soreness and inflammation from running.  My run friends recommended CBD and I finally decided to add to my program to keep me running.  CBD has allowed me to continue to train hard and not miss sessions due to soreness—it also helps me relax and sleep better.  Give it a try!

Made my way over to Park Avenue after leaving Track Shack.  The Winter Park Farmer’s Market is a huge Saturday attraction, and I made a stop to see what the vendors had for sell.  The kettle corn vendor was the most popular vendor of the day—it is amazing to see folks buy the huge bags of kettle corn.  I like kettle corn but could not make myself buy the supersized bags the vendor had. 

There was a vendor at the Winter Park Farmer’s Market selling jerky—this is not a revelation but was surprised with the selection available.  Most people know about beef, turkey, and alligator jerky.  The surprise for me was this vendor had kangaroo jerky.  I had no idea people ate kangaroo and did not expect it as a jerky selection.  I am not a huge jerky fan but wondered all day why anyone would eat kangaroo jerky—may have to try it next time I am at the Winter Park Farmer’s Market.

Took the short walk over to Park Avenue to explore the shops and dining options available.  Track Shack hosts multiple races in this area so I am familiar with Park Avenue—the races start and end in the heart of the entertainment district here.

Found a corner breakfast spot that I had never visited before.  The Croissant Gourmet Bakery has a great menu and provides the perfect spot to dine, and people watch at the same time.  This spot is right off Park Avenue but gets a lot of foot traffic.  Most people came in for baked goods, but several stayed for breakfast and the coffee.  The Croissant Gourmet Bakery layout reminds me of a New York style bakery—the staff was friendly and got people in and out.  I had a traditional breakfast (two eggs, potatoes, bacon, toast with coffee).  They had a fantastic raspberry jam I would recommend if you visit the Croissant Gourmet Bakery—well worth the trip.  I plan to visit this spot again when I am back in Winter Park.

One of my reasons to visit Park Avenue was to venture into the Wine Room again.  The Wine Room provides a unique experience where you can purchase a wine card and then explore wines from around the world.  Insert your wine card and then decide if you want a sip, half glass or full glass.  This is a great way to try multiple wines and not commit too much money if you decide you are not a fan.  I strategically visited the Croissant Gourmet Bakery first to ensure I ate something prior to exploring wine options. 😊

I am a novice wine drinker, so the Wine Room allows folks like me to try different wines without committing too much to the process.  I favor the sweeter wines but experiment with others by purchasing by the sip.  This process helps me determine if I like the wine and not waste time or money if I do not.  I tried multiple wines that caught my interest, and most were very good. 

I made my way back to the sweet Italian wine section and found one I really enjoyed.  Decided to go all in and purchased a full glass to enjoy.  The Wine Room is a great place to enjoy wine and get some people watching in.  There were several folks there who really knew wine and it was interesting listening to them describe the wines to each other. 

Will leverage their knowledge on my next visit to the Wine Room and explore additional wines—one sip at a time.

The most talked about wine during my visit was the Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon.  It was very good, and I will try it again when I am back in the Wine Room: 

https://www.abcfws.com/caymus-cabernet-sauvignon/234305

Left the Wine Room and got some window-shopping in.  There were a lot of people out for the afternoon, and everyone had smiles.  This was a fantastic way to spend the day and I enjoyed every minute of my time on Park Avenue.  Look forward to additional adventures on Park Avenue—this may turn into a monthly getaway for me. 😊

Where have you wanted to visit?  Give Park Avenue a try if you are in the Orlando area—highly recommended.

Irie!

https://orlandodatenightguide.com/2016/09/guide-perfect-afternoon-park-avenue-winter-park/

Authentic Leadership continues to grow

Chess

(Image by Devanath from Pixabay

“Authentic leadership is revealed in the alignment of what you think, what you say, and what you do”.

(Michael Holland)

Authentic Leadership continues to be a driving force in my daily interactions.  Amazing how I stumbled across this leadership style during my dissertation process back in 2013 but it is something I genuinely believe makes a difference in the work environment.

I am also amazed by the number of folks who only know about this leadership style after talking with me or sitting in one of my presentations.  Looks like I need to do a better job of spreading the benefits of Authentic Leadership. 😊

I was asked back in January if I would be willing to be the guest speaker for the local Association of Florida Colleges (AFC) monthly professional development program.  Inspiration Man was quick to say yes, and the topic they requested was Authentic Leadership.  I had to dust off my files but thought this was an excellent opportunity to share Authentic Leadership with colleagues at my new school.

This was one of the first time I was able to stand in front of a group of people since early 2020 due to COVID-19.  I was excited to be in front of live folks again in my efforts to move the crowd. 

I started the presentation with a brief introduction to Authentic Leadership and the benefits it brings to the work environment. 

Authentic Leadership is rooted in positive psychology and allows leaders to improve their self-awareness and regulated behaviors.  The importance of self-awareness becomes more evident daily as I interact with others. 

All Authentic Leadership variables are important but none of the others come into play if a leader is not self-aware.  This was a major feature of my presentation to my AFC colleagues.  There were several head nods when I made this point and a couple folks asked if they could expand on how self-awareness helps them daily.

The four variables were shared:  self-awareness, relational transparency, internalized moral perspective and balanced processing.  The variables were highlighted together as a quick overview and then I did a complete breakdown to show how each enhances the work environment.

  • Self-awareness—the leader displays a full understanding of strengths, weaknesses and how others view their leadership
  • Relational Transparency—the leader presents their authentic self to build trust. This includes consistent words, thoughts, and actions.
  • Internalized moral perspective—the leader integrates personal morals with self-perspective.  Self-awareness enhances the leader’s ability to understand how their morals influence decision making.
  • Balanced processing—the leader can view multiple sides of an issue (positive and negative) before deciding on the issue.  This variable encourages direct reports to provide input because the leader wants their feedback.  This improves job satisfaction for direct reports.

I spent extra time on balanced processing because I want to train new leaders to understand how important this is in the work environment.  Staff will speak up with new ideas IF they believe input is wanted and will be acted on (as applicable).  Leaders who want input from staff need to let them know they are willing to listen but there are times when something truly cannot be done.  Nothing wrong with this because it enhances relational transparency in the work environment. 

The AFC members had a lot of questions about Authentic Leadership and how they can improve their self-awareness.  I am happy with the dialogue we started during the AFC event and look forward to sharing Authentic Leadership with other organizations soon.  Got a couple requests to bring my presentation into departmental meetings and I will say YES when the invites come in.  😊

How has your Authentic Leadership knowledge grown?

“The power for authentic leadership is found not in external arrangements, but in the human heart”.

(Parker J. Palmer)

https://www.forbes.com/sites/kevinkruse/2013/05/12/what-is-authentic-leadership/?sh=6f7ed67fdef7

Heavy is the head that wears the crown!

crown

(Image by Radfotosonn from Pixabay

“Woe unto you when all men shall speak well of you! For so did their fathers to the false prophets”.

(Luke 6:26)

My Walk into the Future in 2020 was an interesting journey!

I am sure everyone who just read that last sentence can highlight how 2020 was a unique year to remember—good or bad.  We all had to adjust in 2020 due to COVID-19 and these adjustments impacted our daily lives.

One area I needed to adjust was how I lead an organization with COVID-19 work protocols–working from home, virtual meetings and having staff with preexisting conditions.  None of these things were on our radar when 2020 started but quickly became necessary talking points in early March 2020 for most of us.

My gravitation to the Luke 6:26 verse came about because even when I am doing great work, I continue to look for an angle to motivate myself to do more.  I am not a person to rest on my laurels but look for ways to motivate myself and team to do more.  Luke 6:26 stands out to me today because I am happy to report not all men speak well of me on my current Walk into the Future.

I do not make that claim lightly but have found a level of motivation, enjoyment, and humor in this fact.  Turns out the people who do not speak well of me are the people who are slackers in their daily work endeavors.  It is obvious I take a lot of pride in getting positive things done, correctly and on-time.  I have discovered people who do not take pride in their work, who are satisfied with the status quo or who are plain lazy are not fans of people like me. 

I enter new organizations with the mission to make a difference daily—amazingly simple concept but one I do not take lightly.  I have discovered in my new work environment there WERE several people who were not held accountable for their daily actions.  You cannot make a difference daily without being accountable, so these people hear from me they are not meeting my expectations. 

Please note, these folks work or worked in multiple departments, so it was not isolated to just one area. 

“Whoever corrects a mocker invites insult; whoever rebukes the wicked incur abuse.”

(Proverbs 9:7)

A funny thing happened when I identified we all need to be accountable in the work environment.  Some did not speak well of me!  Not saying that to be nonchalant or play it down but I heard someone say they could not thrive in a work environment with expectations.  True statement!

I wish I were making this up, but it is true.  Imagine being in a work environment and a staff member has an issue with being accountable to the team and overall mission.  I have been on this professional journey for 30+ years now and find this a terribly sad state of mind for anyone. 

Turns out the previous leadership did not value accountability as much as they should have.  It is amazing how much energy is needed within an organization to correct these type thoughts and actions.  There have been times new leadership has been questioned but The Energy Bus continues to move forward.  Great things are happening and staff who did not have a voice are now able to fully contribute.  The new energy is contagious!

I hope there are other folks who do not speak well of me!  My work speaks for itself.  I was promoted to Administrative Director of Advising and Career Services on July 1, 2021.  Must be doing something right, huh? 😊

We will continue to Walk into the Future and do great things!  Irie!

Believe Shakespeare perfectly sums up this episode below!

“Heavy is the head that wears the crown”.

(Shakespeare)

Waxing Poetic!

Jetty

Really?

Black Lives Matter you say

Is that real or just a cliché?

Cannot believe we have to scream this everyday

Just to be heard, seen, and protected

From the brutal society trying to stamp us out

The daily body counts continue to rise

With no end in sight, we fall

Does not matter if it is a southern thing

Northern thing or western thing

Black lives continue to be extinguished

With no end in sight

So, I ask again, do Black Lives Matter?

When will you step up to make this true?

Simply saying it with no action makes it a hollow cliché

Something woke to say?

Time for action, some type of display

Marching is fine but there cannot be additional delay

Let us put more meaning to Black Lives Matter

Do it today!

Cross Seminole Trail run

Seminole Cross Trail

“Running:  my sport is your sport’s punishment”.

(Funny running quotes)

Took me a little time to fully understand what being a runner truly means.  I started getting serious about running when I moved to Oviedo, Florida from Bonaire, Georgia. 

I ran in Georgia because I was still in the Air Force and needed to maintain my cardio fitness to ensure I completed our annual fitness test.  I was always in shape but focused on football, basketball and weightlifting while in the Air Force.  I signed up for an occasional 5k but never really trained for them—just showed up and ran.  I also had NO idea how important the correct shoes can be in this sport.

Now, back to the quote above.  I played football, basketball, and baseball back in the high school days.  I transitioned to flag football, basketball, softball and weightlifting during my time in the Air Force.  Coaches in both worlds routinely assigned RUNNING as a motivational tactic or punishment depending on how they felt.  A missed assignment in football was punished by running a lap or two around the track.  A missed free throw in basketball was punished by unlimited ‘down and backs’ on the basketball court.  An error in baseball or softball got a lap around the field to regain your focus.  So, as you can see, the quote above rings true in more ways than one. 😊

Fast forward to today and punishment from my younger days is something I routinely leave my house to accomplish, for fun! The therapeutic benefits have been amazing also.

Running has taken on a large part of my Walk into the Future, and I do not see it diminishing anytime soon.  I got into running later in life, so I am blessed to not have run related injuries that limit my ability to get my miles in.  I also know the importance of nutrition and stretching so make sure I take care of my body before, during and after my runs.

Another fun fact about my running program is I bring my running gear whenever I travel in case I can sneak a run in. Sometimes I never get a chance to break out my gear but want to be ready.

My work with the Central Florida Employment Council (CFEC) back in May brought me back to the Orlando area and the large trail systems available there.  My event with CFEC was on a Friday afternoon so I decided to hang out in Oviedo after the event so I could get up on Saturday morning and run the Seminole Cross Trail while in the area.  Yes, you read that right—Inspiration Man made a point to get a run in while in town making a difference. 

I love the Seminole Cross Trail because it has visible mile markers and most of the trail is shaded.  I made sure I got out early because I wanted to beat the Central Florida heat and still have time to enjoy time in Oviedo.

There was a lot of activity on the trail with bikers, walkers and runners sharing the trail.  I made a point to wave and say hello to everyone I saw on the trail.  My Fort Pierce runs do not provide many opportunities to see many folks during my runs, so it was great seeing others out enjoying the morning on the trail. 

A first for me was seeing someone riding a unicycle on the trail.  Guess I only thought people rode unicycles as part of a circus act but this guy rode by me at a good pace.  I was impressed with the ability to balance and ride a unicycle while avoiding people on a busy trail.  Started to wonder if I could ride one of those things.  Running provides time to think about stuff. 😊

I was able to complete a quick 6 mile run on the trail before it got too hot—not bad considering I was there for an event.

I look forward to leveraging the Seminole Cross Trail more as I ramp up my half marathon training.  I plan to get back into racing later in the year and need to start getting long runs in again. 

My run gear bag remains packed, and I am ready to keep logging miles.  Each run brings me closer to 1,000 training miles for the year.

How many miles have you logged this year?  Let’s get busy!

“Running helps me maintain my ‘never killed anyone’ streak”.

(Pinterest)

Mastering College to Career—the mentor returns

Inspire

(Image by Bryan Stewart from Pixabay)

“A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself”.

(Oprah Winfrey)

My Walk into the Future allows me to explore activities that I enjoy.  This concept provides me unlimited access to find new ways to make a difference in the world.

I understand most of my blog articles center on my adventures, travel and things that cross my mind (social justice, current events, etc.)  I continue to seek opportunities where I am making a difference and then decide how to highlight those efforts on the Walk into the Future blog.  Please note, I do not take notes when I am engaged in an activity—I try to sit down after the fact and then document my thoughts to share with my readers.

I received an email from Daniel Botero who is one of my tree branches.  Daniel’s name should be familiar with readers since he hosts the Mastering College to Career podcast, and I have been a featured guest 4 times so far.  Daniel has added an interactive mentoring component to his program and invites national guests to speak with his mentees. 

Mastering College to Career has grown quite a bit since I last sat down with Daniel in March 2020.  He continues to add value to college students across the country by helping them understand how to make themselves attractive to recruiters. 

The program helps colleges students LEARN how to build their online presence, resume, and mock interview skills.  Surprisingly, COVID-19 allowed Daniel to extend his program since he uses Zoom meetings to check-in with his students.

The email Daniel sent me was a request to join him via Zoom to speak with his students.  He did not provide a specific topic but wanted this to be a free form conversation so his students could ask me questions. My roles within Career Services at multiple schools was a targeted aspect of the conversation.  Daniel wanted me to share my knowledge on the correct way for colleges students to network with employers to ensure they are visible and viable in the recruiting process. 

I made sure to express being visible and viable is the key to transitioning from a college student to the world of employment.  This was a bit of a revelation for some of the students because they assume a degree means the transition will be easy.  This is a common thought of students everywhere I have been, but it is not true.  There are a lot of talented graduates at every college and university, the key to going to work is being visible and viable to recruiters.  Sounds simple but students without these key components are not on the radar of recruiters.  Daniel’s students were amazed by this statement and quickly wanted to know how they can gain an advantage.

I shared a quick story of a student I worked with at UCF.  This student had a GPA that was not high.  This student was not a U.S. citizen, so this eliminated them from certain organizations that refused to sponsor students for the hiring process.  This student was a native Spanish speaker so English was the second language.  These are three huge strikes within the on-campus recruiting process and the student in this example was not feeling good about the chances of gaining employment after graduation.  I met with this student, and he explained the things he PERCEIVED to hold him back from getting a job after graduation.  I developed the visible and viable concept while working with this student.

I told him he needed to identify organizations he wanted to work for and identify when they were on-campus.  He was advised to ensure that each time one of these organizations was on-campus, he would meet with them and expressed his interest working for them.  He was schooled on how to ensure the recruiters saw him as someone with potential and not worry about a low GPA.  Fast forward a bit and several organizations saw him as visible and viable and offered him interviews.  Not only interviews but this same student received 6 job offers prior to graduation—not bad for someone who supposedly had the deck stacked against him.

Can you guess the name of this student?  If you guess Daniel Botero, you would be right.  The person who learned how to be visible and viable is teaching his students the same skills he learned sitting in my office a decade ago—small world! 😊

The reaction of the students on the Zoom session was a renewed energy.  They needed to hear others have struggled with this process and overcame similar doubts.  Sharing my knowledge with the students provided a reminder they control their destiny—no one can stop a determined person.

I received about 20 LinkedIn requests from students in this session to connect for future advice on their journey.  I gladly accepted the requests and actively help these students anyway I can.  I found a higher level of satisfaction by volunteering my time to help these students. 

Inspiration Man continues to seek ways to make a difference in the world!

How do you reach back to help others?  Irie!

“We all need someone who inspires us to do better than we know how”.

(Anonymous)

Inspiration Man strikes again—Central Florida Economic Council

CFEC1

“Surround yourself with people who are only going to lift you higher”.

(UK Wired)

Dictionary.com defines inspiration as a divine influence directly or immediately exerted upon the mind or soul.

I have multiple Walk into the Future blog posts discussing superpowers and why they are important in our daily walk.  Here is one of my favorites where I introduce my readers to Inspiration Man. 😊

My move to Fort Pierce has allowed me to make a difference but it is more of an organizational difference so far.  We have adjusted work product and flow in my first 14 months.  It almost feels like a complete overhaul of the organization based on how we revamped our services, products, and delivery methods.  I did not expect this level of adjustment when I arrived, but we have made steady progress on modernizing our services and delivery.

The concept of Inspiration Man came up to highlight how I make an impact in the daily lives of others.  Inspiration Man has been doormat, but this all changed when I received an email from a colleague in Orlando who works with the Central Florida Economic Council (CFEC) and Christian HELP. 

Both organizations work to help people in Central Florida get back on their feet—job search, housing, food, etc.  My friend is the Division Director for these organizations and asked me to speak at their May 2021 Job Fair.  I did something similar 10 years ago and she remembered my positive impact on job seekers and wanted me to share my knowledge again.  She does not know about my alter ego, Inspiration Man but she was about to unleash the superhero on the Orlando area. 😊

I quickly accepted the opportunity to move the crowd and share information with job seekers.  The topic given:  Job Searching in 2021—How to Adapt. 

This was not a topic I had in my speaking library, but the challenge was to find a way to cover this information and engage with the audience.  They provided an article with a ton of useful information, so this was the foundation of the presentation.

I never miss an opportunity to help, and this process was exciting; research, building and then presenting information to people who needed to hear from me.

I made my way to Winter Garden on the day of the event.  Decided to drive over and then change at the venue prior to show time.  My friend greeted me at the door, and we took a little time to catch up on life.  She remembered the book I published in 2010 and thought I had another one ready to present to the group.  FYI—I have been working on producing an eBook on Authentic Leadership, but it is not ready for public consumption.  It should be coming later in 2021—get ready!

Inspiration Man made a quick dash into the dressing room to change into my superhero outfit for the day.  Trying to be funny with that—it was a grey suit with a power blue tie.

Headed off to do a quick microphone check and make a quick adjustment to my slide deck.  The event was held at Mosaic Church in Winter Garden, Florida and they have a fantastic audiovisual team.  Sound checks allow me to gauge the acoustic of the venue to understand how loud I need to speak into the microphone.  All systems go!

https://thisismosaic.org/

I took the stage after the host took care of some announcements and introduced me as the featured speaker of the day.  It is always weird to me when I hear someone introducing me at an event—I want to look around to see who they are talking about, and it is ME. 

I like to start my presentations by building rapport with the audience.  One member spoke with me before the presentation and shared she was having a hard time finding employment.  She mentioned a few things she tried but was having troubles.  This quick conversation allowed me to bring a real-world situation into my presentation and highlight I was there to help.  I speak with slides, but this does not drive how I present.  Slides to me provide a foundation but I am not limited to the words on my slide show.

I am a huge fan of Jocko and introduced this video to set the tone for the day: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IdTMDpizis8

Diving into the presentation I covered:

  • Trends
  • Search parameters
  • Personal messages
  • Competition
  • Presentation (Elevator pitch)

Each topic came directly from the article they provided, and I leveraged this data to highlight how the current trends favored the job seekers.  We jumped into new job search parameters and ways to gain and keep an employer’s attention.  The personal messages centered on building a WHY statement.  Of course, I shared my WHY with the group to show how it can impact a positive mindset. 

The competition on the job search is really internal—preparing well enhances the client’s ability to connect with employers.  The presentation centered on creating an elevator pitch to helps a client standout in a positive manner.

The audience responded well to each topic and had a lot of questions for me during my hour with them on stage.  This was the most fun I have had in a long time.  Working with motivated people who want to learn and get better brings out the best in me.  I was intent on moving the crowd during this event and happy to report mission accomplished.

Several folks waited to speak with me after and tell me their unique stories.  I listened and shared my contact information so they can reach out to me when ready.  I am happy to help them continue to grow.

Hoping to get additional invitation to help with CFEC/Christian HELP events again soon.  May be time for Inspiration Man to make another appearance! 😊

“Do not let yesterday take up too much of today”.

(Will Rogers)