The Flapper and the Music Man



McMichael Band from 1930s

The story of a young, entrepreneurial couple in the 1930s who collaborated to teach music to the townspeople and their children.

“Who’s the gorgeous woman with the brown hair and finger wave?” Bill murmured to a new friend at a singles party in the 1930s. “I’m not sure. I’ve seen her here a few times. Great style, don’t you think?”

Early Years 

Florence borrowed a dress to wear to the party as her meager earnings prevented costly, stylish clothes. At age 26 her attire was classy, not spinster-like. Her pearl white, satin dress shimmered like glistening snow, accessorized with a little brown hat and clunky, brown tie shoes. She worries about finding a good man. Maybe her finger wave hairdo and friendly demeanor would attract attention.

The remnants of the Depression lingered in Central Ohio. After Bill attended college in Columbus, preparing to teach music, he settled 30 miles from his alma mater. With limited growth opportunities in Coitsville (his hometown), near Youngstown, he risked moving to Newark to investigate employment. Newark, a city of 30,500 offered better opportunities. He stayed the rest of his life.

Unemployment reached the catastrophic statistic of 25% about the time of his arrival. Finding work proved perplexing as few jobs existed in public schools. This young, inexperienced musician decided to teach private lessons. After a year of floundering, he found space for a music studio, in a big house on Hudson Avenue, along tree-lined curbs beside fancy, old homes. With plenty of space for private lessons, Bill’s friendly reputation for teaching the guitar, banjo, bass and mandolin traveled fast. His popularity around the town increased when showing off his students’ skills at club meetings and in churches.

Florence flounced by Bill with pearl earrings dancing from her earlobes at the party. As she moved towards him for a lingering, flirty handshake, she said to him, “Hi, I’m Florence. Are you enjoying the party?” His heart beat faster and faster! Her cologne lingered in the air, suggesting he should learn more about this lady.  Tall, gaunt and gracious, his attraction to Florence seemed mutual.

Florence needed a job. Bill needed someone to schedule appointments for the students and manage the accounting. He paid her a small salary and gave her mandolin lessons rather than extra money. He taught her, in her words, “Everything I know.” They married in 1934.

Growing the Business

Her musical talent blossomed, adding the piano, accordion, and guitar to her skills. Bill taught her the basics of music, which led to her teaching career. She increased his earnings by suggesting he should sell stringed instruments. Word of mouth traveled fast with moms bringing their children to learn from “the new guy in town.”

Flo & bass

Florence with her Bass

She played string bass with his 90-piece banjo band they took to contests throughout the United States, often winning top prizes. When their stringed orchestra played at the World’s Fair in Chicago, they won many awards and recognition. Imagine transporting 90 students, parents, friends and instruments cross country! He became the biggest customer in the U.S. of Gibson products during that decade. Florence suggested marketing ideas while finding locations for the student performances.

World War II

World War II raged within the first ten years of their marriage. Bill departed for the Army shortly after their daughter was born, leaving in early 1944 for the Army. How would she cope? Her tears flowed as she cringed, realizing how little she understood. How could she manage the store and teach while nurturing her baby?

Flo & baby Ruth

Note our hats.

“Whatever will I do?” she wailed. Bill’s response surprised her, “You’ll survive. I trust you.” She hired a nanny to care for the baby who helped with cooking and cleaning. She hired a sales clerk at their store, punching fear in the face. Roomers in the upstairs bedrooms added a little cash to her income while Bill continued his musical career in the service. Bill directed an Army band and played the bugle at Fort Lee, Virginia, never leaving the U.S. Failure was not an option.

Florence morphed into the predecessor of Super Woman, during his tour of duty. Her strong stamina, quick wit, and gift of gap, appealed to customers. She grasped profit and loss, bankers, and bills. Bill recognized Florence’s survival skills. When he returned after the war, she had stashed money in the bank and owned a thriving business.

The Business Roller Coaster

In the 1950s, the couple added phonographs, pianos, sheet music, records and radios. They added television, bringing more business growth. Florence worked in the store and taught music lessons. His first shop on Church Street grew. When they needed more space, they moved to South Third Street around the corner from the popular town square. They moved to another home with their young daughter. She brought her first grade class to see their new television at her house. In fact, their daughter thought all families owned a piano and implored her guests to buy a TV from her dad.

Debt for the pianos and organs caused major angst for Florence. “The bank owns us, Bill! Our names will appear in the newspaper when they come to take everything. We’ll end up in the poor house!” Bill rarely worried, leaving the troubles to her. Although the rise and fall of economic realities consumed their conversations like hail on their windows in a wind-storm, the risk of consigned pianos, organs and other products proved worthwhile.

Bill and Florence showed resilience throughout their marriage. In 1969 at age 61 Bill died of a sudden heart attack. Florence maintained the store until 1972 when she liquidated it. They both loved work. Florence taught private lessons for more than 50 years.  She worked until age 76 or 77 and died in the early 1990s.

Reality and Risk

Bill and Florence faced their struggles through reliance on each other, realistic goals and risk-taking. Although love did not necessarily solve their issues, they counted their blessings, in sync most of the time, despite their differences. Their love balanced each other’s idiosyncrasies while their self-employment enriched the community.

If you visit the natives of Newark over age 50, they probably took lessons from Florence or Bill. Their daughter remains grateful they refrained from naming her Melody, as in her words, “I didn’t want to be a walking advertisement for the music store.”

Today we see a resurgence of the entrepreneurial spirit in small towns. Entrepreneurs face the same challenges as long ago. Tenacity, respect, business savvy, and creative marketing play the same roles, which helped the Flapper and the Music Man.

Happy Mothers’ and Fathers’ Day with a special salute to my own parents.




10 Common Traits of Uncommon People

Guest column:

Craig Hysell shares his thoughts about uncommon people. He owns a unique training facility for body and minds in Hilton Head, South Carolina.

Family Pyramid

Craig Hysell and his Family


4 Common Traits of Mediocre People:

  1. They have no idea what they want to do with their life
  2. They have no idea how to do what they want to do with their life
  3. They have an idea but are afraid to try
  4. They have an idea, they “tried” it and “it didn’t work” so they quit

Mediocrity is easy. It’s comfortable. The pursuit of commonality and the avoidance of adversity, criticism and the unknown are the surest possible way to die without expressing your full potential. Or worse, to die feeling like a failure. Is that you?

10 Common Traits of Uncommon People:

  • Uncommon people believe they have a purpose, know their “Why” and live their dream.Think about that. Do you know why you’re here, do you have enough stamina to live your most passionate calling and do you know what conviction(s) you will fall back on when things get hard? To establish these answers, you must accumulate life experiences and then sit down in the quiet and think. There is no timetable on this accumulation and introspection. It could take years or decades. It is constant.
  • Uncommon people are not absent of fear, they just do not let fear make their life become absent.Fear exists for all of us. But fear is crap. It is not real. It exists only in our minds. When you face your fears daily, you conquer fear. You realize that fear is indeed nonsense. It is the main control mechanism for commonality. You must not let fear, any and all fear, hold you back from pursuing your purpose.
  • Uncommon people practice self-mastery. Uncommon people work relentlessly at mastering their mind, body, emotion and spirit (the four pillars that make up your life). They harness these things through daily study and practice. They understand that without a strong mind, all else will fail. They are patient. They enjoy The Process. They are positive. They structure the development and awareness of these four pillars- their emotional content- into a daily practice. They reflect upon these four pillars daily.
  • Uncommon people are self-reliant. This does not mean that uncommon people do not ask for help: on the contrary, being part of a team is vital to growing and sharing larger success. To be self-reliant is to trust that your critical eye, your logic, your reason and your wisdom are tools enough to help you continue to grow. This is not absolutism. Absolutism is folly. This is the ability to understand what is worthless to you and what is not, no matter what the crowd may think, and pursue this relentlessly.
  • Uncommon people have an unwavering discipline. You cannot learn anything worthwhile if you are not devoted to it fully. Uncommon people are disciplined with work, with rest and with play. They make time for all of it and they are fully present at each exploration. This is a lifetime pursuit.
  • Uncommon people are obsessed with the cultivation of their purpose. Uncommon people do not complain about trivial things. They are focused on where they want to go, paying attention to each deliberate step along the way. Silly things like the accumulation of stuff and then complaining when the stuff isn’t just right or gossiping about others is not part of an uncommon person’s life.
  • Uncommon people are extremely durable. Uncommon people remain undeterred by setbacks, failure or defeat. They recognize these things as learning tools and nothing more. They do not falter or waver for long. They do not wallow in self-loathing. They possess supreme confidence in their ability to continue forward. No matter what. They are fully accountable for everything that happens in their life. With accountability comes control and with control comes the ability to change.
  • Uncommon people inspire change.Uncommon people inspire others to follow suit. They show what is possible and make it possible not only for others to come with them, but for others to improve upon what they have provided.
  • Uncommon people act. Uncommon people understand that you are what you are. Best to link your actions with your dreams and your purpose. Best to ask of yourself often, “Is this the best I can do?” Otherwise: a thought without action is simply a wish.
  • Uncommon people do not care what others think. Find your voice. As soon as you begin to talk, others want to talk over you, critique you, tell you how you should do things, twist your voice or use your message against you. Uncommon people persevere through this. They learn to ignore what others might think and realize that you cannot be all things to all people. Uncommon people speak their mind and follow their heart. Their honesty is clear, concise and principled, attracting others who are like-minded. And things begin to expand, slowly at first and then… BOOM!

You must have fun with the practice of becoming uncommon. It’s serious business to be sure, but BE something you love and enjoy,

You must practice “un-commonality” daily. You must be patient. You must shut out negativity and seek the mentorship and guidance of others who have been there before you. You must look long and hard at yourself and those around you. Is this who you want to be? You must be accountable for everything, and I mean everything, in your life. It’s all up to you. Any thought to the contrary is commonality in devious forms.

Hilton Head

Craig Hysell – owner of Conviction Training Facility

Listen. Observe. Act. Adapt. Evolve. Repeat.

“Un-commonality” should be a lifetime pursuit. There is no timetable save this: realize that you are going to die one day and you have no idea when that day will come. There is no time to waste. Meet your death with the satisfaction that you gave this life all you had to give. That will be enough to die well, perhaps even unafraid.

Thank you, Craig Hysell, for allowing me reprint a condensed and slightly revised article about uncommon people. Craig’s Conviction Training Facility in Hilton Head, South Carolina. Be sure to visit his website and his uncommon blog.



Finding a Fit after Fifty

Sometimes finding your “fit” takes time.


Linda Whitworth-Reed in the Pulpit

When Linda planned to abandon her career of short-term jobs to go to seminary, she was 52 years old. She had supported her husband through seminary a decade previously. They relocated many times for his two different careers. “Now it’s my turn,” she said. “David has not received his next calling. We may need to live apart awhile. I am well aware of the challenges.”

Linda’s dad was a Presbyterian minister. He lived with them after her mother died. When David quit an excellent technical sales job to become a minister, she and her dad applauded loudly. They understood the pitfalls and pleasures of life as a minister.

“Linda,” I wailed. “You’re over 50. Are you sure you want to graduate when you are 56 years old?”

“Well,” she responded, “I’ll still be 56 or 57 anyhow.  The timing is right and I’m sure the call is real.”  The love of learning flows through Linda’s veins. Returning to graduate school would invigorate this energetic lady.

Linda’s work history is one we call “patchwork.” She’s been a French and Spanish teacher, a publisher, an Information Technology Instructor, an exercise expert and held many other jobs. Would this be another two or three-year stint? Teaching and speaking demonstrates a recurring theme in her career.

I questioned how she knew this rung in her career ladder would be a better fit.  Linda is super-intelligent, introspective and gregarious. Before her dad passed, Linda and David took her father to visit people from his past. Within a two-week period three of his friends, who had watched her grow up, inquired about “her church.” They assumed she had followed the same career as her dad and husband. That was the sign she needed. With David in transition the present looked promising for her to begin her studies. The rocky road to seminary took five years to solidify. She registered at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Austin. Fortunately, David became an interim pastor in Waco, 98 miles from the seminary.

With age discrimination rampant, I worried about my friend. I didn’t need to fret. Her quick smile, unconventional wisdom, and perky personality endeared her to the other students.  Linda expected to fly through all her classes, but Hebrew and Greek gave her heartburn. Although fluent in Spanish and French, she struggled.  Discussions on theology, evolution, and creationism stirred her intellect.  Text books rarely put her to sleep. Volunteer work with the homeless while in Austin opened her eyes wider to poverty. Additional study in family dynamics increased her strength in what she would face in her ministry. Driving back and forth with their two dogs to visit her husband caused horrendous challenges with time management and their schedules.


Linda sings

Linda Singing a Happy Song

When she graduated, David and Linda moved to a town in South Texas, a town of over 80% Hispanic. Since Linda is fluent in Spanish, she loved the ability to converse in Spanish daily. David and Linda were called co-pastors. The situation for any new pastor is challenging and this was no exception. She loved the town, the people, and the green parrot in a nearby tree. Relationship building began in earnest.

David went to serve another church as an interim pastor. She became the Senior Minister, giving her a chance for new responsibilities. Her next call took the couple to Little Rock.

My comment:

If you are thinking of becoming a minister, she cautions, you must love and learn how to cope with diverse personalities from a Christian perspective and much faith. Linda has found her niche. The job is difficult, the hardest one she’s ever had, but she loves it.  She found her niche at 57. Risky, but worth the effort and hard work.

Currently Linda has been a minster for nine years. David is “honorably retired” and finds part-time ministry and musical gigs wherever they live. He does wood-working while she writes the sermons. Now they live in Iola, Kansas.

As we worked together on this article, she stressed, “In working with myself and others in order to give myself grace, I must realize we do the best we can with what we have.”

Are you doing the best you can with what you have? From exercise guru to minister, we find peace with what we have, no matter the age or circumstances.



Gifts for Moving Forward

The Road Is Rarely Straight.

The Road Is Rarely Straight.

The other day a bright, young lady, a neighbor, age 19, told me her life plan. She explained in detail she will become a physician, marry, and birth two children. Her intentions are admirable and possible but surprises often interfere with our plans.

When I asked one of my grand-daughters if she is looking forward to the next step in her education she answered with a strong “No, I don’t want to grow up.” Is it fear or is she having too much fun? Fun and fear are intertwined frequently.

Career Change

My first book, “MORE than a Paycheck: Inspiration and Tools for Career Change,” shared twenty stories about people who changed careers or jobs. As a recruiter and outplacement consultant I saw people often trapped in unhappy job situations. When people are laid off they go through a grief process, which can last too long in the anger or sadness. “MORE than a Paycheck” gives people role models for career transitions. The stories resonate with encouragement for the readers to put their fears into a large paper bag and dump the bag in the trash. Some kicked and screamed when their jobs evaporated, never to return. They had to take action or lose their homes and sometimes families.

If you know someone who could profit from “MORE than a Paycheck,” you can order the paperback book on my website at a discounted rate. Order the book or e-book online on Amazon or other e-book site for about the same price. It makes a nice gift for people changing jobs or for a graduation present.

Gift of the Suitcase

I am excited to announce my upcoming book, “Gift of the Suitcase,” which shares the inevitable changes in life such as relocating, facing a divorce or experiencing other critical situations.

My new book launches within the next eight to ten weeks. Since I don’t have an exact date from the publisher yet, I cannot take pre-orders for “Gift of the Suitcase.”

This book begins with a gift from my parents for college graduation. I received a large suitcase and a plane ticket to France for a summer job before I began teaching French. The story encapsulates the unexpected changes in my career and personal life. I wrote it as a gift for people who face similar issues. They make plans and the plans fall apart. We learn from these experiences or stay mired in muck.

Watch for details about my journey of unexpected changes. International travel is part of the story to grasp that loosing baggage may not be a loss. My website will be changing soon to share more information. The road through life is rarely a straight.



Ten Sentences Showing Systemic Problems

“Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.”

Albert Einstein

hot stove

Don’t touch it. It’s hot!

  1. That’s the way we have always done it. (innovation)
  2. Don’t expect a raise this year. (human capital)
  3. The school nurse called… (human issues)
  4. The customer called and wants the project finished tomorrow. (customer service)
  5. We want you to relocate to …. (global expansion)
  6. Did you hear the one about the? (legal risks/harassment)
  7. I received calls from 14 customers yesterday: the new software version doesn’t work. (product reliability)
  8. We need to update all our computers. (economic risk)
  9. I can’t get you online until tomorrow. (operational systems)
  10. You did what? (complexity, trustworthiness)

Communication, in my humble opinion, is the major problem in corporations.  Sometimes I wonder how any corporation makes a profit. Companies from Fortune 100 to start-sups suffer from dysfunctional guidelines and rules. I recall a large communications company which required a minimum of six “real” signatures before an offer of employment could be sent. I had to drive from one building to another to hogtie a few executives to achieve a quick offer, when I recruited for this company. Management delayed offers when the individual I needed to hire had five other offers to contemplate. What a waste of labor costs!

Peter Senge, a management consultant, said in corporate terminology, “When we fail to grasp systems problems, we are left with ‘push on’ rather than eliminating underlying causes.” My mother said it better: “If the stove is hot, don’t touch it.” I like “The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization” by Mr. Senge. His premises are logical and down to earth, emphasizing that individuals must work to change the crazy absurdities in companies. Individuals, not systems, are the managers of change.

Dean Lindsay preaches we must “be progress.” True, but we must be astute. Progress fails when we overstep boundaries, especially with egomaniacs. We don’t want to risk losing our paychecks. But, taking steps toward systemic changes can boost careers and improve the work climate. If the systems fail to change, the company may fail. Baby steps facilitate small improvements, which add to long term success.

Next time we hear one of the evil sentences from the list, let’s see how we can make a difference, not only for ourselves but also for the systemic problems of corporate America. Our mothers will be proud of us!

An Ear for Listening

Shut out for lack of listening.

Shut out for lack of listening.

Communication creates chaos unless you have an ear for listening.

Voices rise higher and higher while discussing an impending merger. The manager’s face contorts in rage. A new employee cowards in the corner. Jill, the only female engineer in the room, seems stunned by the rude behavior which escalates during each meeting. Progress stands still.


We hear words, but do we comprehend?  Listening creates more opportunity for success than talking.  Long ago you heard that two ears and one mouth mean you need to listen more than talk, especially when criticism and conflict intertwine. Angry people hear less compared to the calm individual. Trying to calm an angry person with sarcasm  exacerbates the problem. Neither person hears much.  Management by shouting is irritating, irrational and disheartening for most employees.  Equal frustration results when employees fail to voice opinions for progress.

Roger keeps his head down when the Director addresses the design review. He hopes no one notices, yet the Director depends on Roger for his quiet confidence. The entire group listens when he opens his mouth. His soft, persuasive, humble demeanor requires “active listening.” His voice, body language and the words facilitate the process and understanding of issues. You want to listen when he speaks.

Jane talks without listening.  When Roger speaks, she responds without hearing the content. While he speaks she designs her response, making her comments irrelevant. Her need to be the center of attention disgusts the group today.

Body Language

Listening is more than hearing. When you smile, what does it say?  Is it smirky? Is it a tolerant smile? Is it a sad, depressed expression? A smile is not always a happy smile.  Be cautious with your body language.

Foul language needs to be eradicated from corporate culture as others listen more to those words than the content. Plus, your colleagues may be offended.

Hear the words.  Listen for content. Watch for body language.


Managing a group requires recognizing different styles, which complicates communication. When one person tries to monopolize the conversation, employees sleep, fiddle with phones and affect results. Wherever the conversation takes place, in a crowded hallway or with your five year old, all participants need to be heard.  Bill may take longer to expound. Jill may provide little detail. According to a an excellent website,, listening is 10% words, 40% tone of voice and 50% body language. We need to be patient with all types.

Three Ingredients

Listen, listen, listen to your next conversation. Words offer wisdom but listening requires 1) body language, 2)tone, 3)personality. Heed the reminders and use your ears for more than hearing.  They help you hear, but you must work diligently to listen! You need good ears to hear the words clearly, a good mind to listen intently and ability to watch the body language closely.

And if you cannot hear well, get a hearing test. I heard an audiologist say that people usually take ten years of decline before taking action to hear better. Hearing aids work well, but still requires you listen for content!

Eye Your Comfort Zone for Success

“Decisiveness is a characteristic of high-performing men and women. Almost any decision is better than no decision at all.” Brian Tracy

eye for change

Focus, focus, focus!

“Susan” looks forlorn, lower than a tadpole waiting to become a frog. Her rosy cheeks are stained from fallen tears.  Why? As she sits behind her computer, fretting and twisting her hair, she cannot find openings which fit her background. She lost her job several months ago. What is wrong with this picture? Perhaps a serious case of “zone-itis” or staying in the same spot, trying the same methods over and over. Is she a perfectionist?  Is she looking for the perfect job?

Do you relate to Susan?  Do you find making decisions difficult? Are you overwhelmed with too many options, not knowing which will work best?  Perfectionists and Procrastinators find job search particularly harrowing.  Hospitalization is not necessary.  Leaving a comfort zone is not recognized as a pathological problem, but immobilization can squeeze the breath out of you.

Essential Tips

Henrick Edberg’s article shares “Brian Tracy’s 11 Essential Tips to Living a Successful Life.” Let’s concentrate on decisions.

Tip 10: “Make a decision. Any decision. Just do something.”

Whether looking for another job or eliminating stress from your life, quit whining.  Pick a maximum of three options and focus.


Susan likes to write, speak to groups, facilitate groups, counsel and teach others. Although successful using all the skills in different jobs, she jumps from industry to industry.

She’s unfocused again. She loves going to school, but she’s in her early 60s. Discrimination looms in the background with age, despite adding new skills.  Can she afford another entry level job? Her persuasive personality convinces employers to hire her. Once she hones her focus, life will become easier.

Helpful Suggestions

She needs to make a long list of places she might work and decide which are most realistic. She spends hours helping friends and neighbors with their problems, rather than working on her issue. Susan should read “When Helping You is Hurting Me,” an old book with solid suggestions to face the problem.

If you struggle with myopia, a lack of discernment or unwillingness to look at situations with different eyes, you must move towards the middle for decision-making.

Take a break. Spend alone time thinking quietly.  Do something different today.  Don’t let the discomfort scare you. Staying in a comfort zone stymies creativity and progress. Take a break to return with new ideas. Don’t sweat the healthy discomfort.

Simple Actions for Clarity

Try a new recipe. How about endive or escarole in your salad?

Take your computer to another room.

Attend a new volunteer activity.

Have coffee with someone you want to know better.

Sign up for a month of classes through

Attend a free webinar.

Get a wild, new hair-do

See a funny movie

Stop worrying! Focus, focus, focus and open your eyes for clarity.  Feel the discomfort.  Progress often (maybe always) feels uncomfortable.


What Does Your Photo Say?

camera, paperweight, stone

What does this picture say?

What does your photo say? On LinkedIn or Facebook, what does your picture project to others? Do you have a professional or casual photo? What do you want your photo to say about you?

Your photo can kill the reader’s interest quicker than a large Texas jackrabbit being chased by a hunting dog. If you are pictured on a motorcycle on LinkedIn, is it a hobby, a sales pitch or what?

Posting a Photo

I hate to have my photo taken, almost as much as I hate to exercise. When I f joined LinkedIn, I resisted putting my photo online. Why would I want my picture online? The world appreciates youth, beauty, babies and animals. I am none of those. A colleague in outplacement where we taught people how to find jobs reprimanded me. “When you meet a new person, like a candidate or employer, the person may have researched you and won’t recognize you. You need to post a picture.” He’s right. Our photos may be viewed for many reasons. And it’s illegal (sometimes) and rude to ask someone’s age. Providing a picture shows professionalism and personality.

Facebook and Websites

If you have your own website, your picture makes an imprint on your viewer. Recently, I heard a speaker unequivocally say we should share information about our families on our websites. Getting our large family together is difficult. With almost ten grand-children (one more is expected in September), getting everyone to smile at the same time…impossible! I’m willing to post information about my family on my personal Facebook rather than my website. The guy on the motorcycle may love to ride but maybe it would be better on Facebook than LinkedIn. My conclusion about family photos: it depends on focus.

Facebook offers a page for businesses, as well as personal posts. I post my articles and other business items to insure business friends and contacts see my most recent motivation for moving forward.

Business to Business

At one point when I first posted on LinkedIn, I used a picture of my dog on my LinkedIn page, rather than my photo. Eeuuu! Terrible! LinkedIn is Business-to-Business social networking. What a blunder!

Let’s keep LinkedIn for business. Is your picture an out-of-focus selfie? What does that project for people looking at you? Are you proud of the picture? Is your work rather out of focus with lack of detail? Remember your picture represents you!


Family pictures on LinkedIn-Would you take your spouse or significant other to work with you? Would you need to call for permission to go out for a beer? Would you be on the phone with family issues?

Drinking pictures-If most of your Facebook pictures show you drinking, your viewers may conclude you might have a problem.

Confidence-Looking down, too serious, scruffy attire and appearance may indicate a lack of confidence.

You don’t need to be in a suit and tie to look cool and confident. I’m updating my website and need some new, more casual shots. Taking my own advice may not be easy!

Rejection Hurts

“Thank you for your interest. You have an impressive background; however, we have candidates in the queue who more closely match the requirements. I’ve kept your resume for possible future openings. Best of luck with your career.”

Fargo takes a nap!

Feeling rejected: NOT!

They made a huge mistake! I was perfect for the job. How could they reject me?

Things We Can’t Change

We cannot change the color of our skin, our age, or our ethnicity. If a hiring manager wants to hire his next door neighbor who lacks the required skills, we cannot control the decision. We must keep moving forward.

Our skills may be perfect for the job description, but the team needs a younger person, to replace “old Arnie” who wants to retire to Santa Fe next month. The hiring manager is aware the new grad has a learning curve while our 20 years of experience could be useful on the first day. But s/he wants a new grad.

While writing this article, my 13 pound guard dog began to bark. I’ve written about Fargo in the past. He takes rejection in stride. He barks incessantly when someone walks past the windows.  He wants to protect his territory and family, just as we do. When we are rejected, we often become angry or dejected. Although I scold him, he may look ashamed momentarily, but he’ll do it again and again. He spends relatively no energy moping. But people are not dogs.

We may wail far too long when we are rejected. We may rant and rave, feeling angry, sad, or both. The sooner we realize we are in charge of the next steps, the sooner we succeed on the journey.

Things We Can Change

Listen to feedback, if available.

If we know someone in the company who can vouch for our integrity and work ethics, we’ll have a better chance of getting hired. We cannot change number of years of experience, but we can look for someone to be a mentor within the company.

We could offer to work for a target company on a contract basis. Many companies are turning to contract positions to check skills and work ethics before offering any full time employment.

The word “fit” makes me wince as it seems overused but accurate. Applying for a job flipping hamburgers won’t work, if we are looking for an executive or leadership role. If we are willing to take a “lesser” job, we’ll need to explain why and how we fit.

Handling Rejection

We can lose faith in ourselves with the discrimination we face. Through self-talk and the support of family and friends, we can continue to move forward. If someone says, “You don’t have the skills,” when you think you do, keep marching to find another project or job opening that you can fit.

Sometimes we must be realistic. If you realize you aren’t “good enough,” you must find ways to become better. Take a class, a webinar, or attend a conference. We are fortunate the job market is robust at the moment, but we need to prepare for what comes next and not blame others for their decisions.

No, we can’t change the color of our skin or our age, but through introspection, we can package ourselves with more passion and energy than ever. We don’t have to continue barking at strangers. How long do you want to feel ashamed? Get over the rejection and keep going!




What Surprises Await You?


Surprise! Your plans exploded!

As I finished writing this article last week, with the working title of Plan, Execute: Surprise, my husband, worked diligently to fix a printer across the hall. He asked me to print something…anything. I complied without knowing what I printed. My next step was to copy and paste the article into WordPress for my website. Apparently I deleted the article and my hard work disappeared. Gone! Kaput! Deleted forever! What a surprise!

The joke was on me. I’d need to write the article again. O, woe is me! The irony of my situation did not escape me. Since I’m speaking to a job group in early February, I quickly posted the upcoming event. Planned, executed  the speaker announcement to overcome the disaster. Yet another surprise arrived. I found the hard copy on the floor by the printer. I decided to share the story with you this week, as it certainly demonstrates surprises can generate joy or sadness.

We need to make the most of situations, don’t you think? The re-write is undoubtedly better than the first iteration. What a nice surprise!

Plan, Execute: Surprise

Periodically we stop to begin a new project or re-organize to achieve our goals and accomplishments. Many companies talk about “execution plans.” Often the surprises in the process force us to execute (make it happen) or kill (stop) it. What surprises happened to you in the past year, personally and professionally?


We make resolutions but often seem to lose sight of our desire, succumbing to old routines. Companies say they are innovative, but when you suggest a new method, we may hear, “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?”

The good news is planning helps, really helps! We assign goals and tasks to achieve the business and professional goals, whether employed or self-employed, but emotional factors play an integral role for success.

Execute (maybe Kill)

“Jane” wants things her way. She’s the new engineer on the team with many years of experience but the depth of her understanding of company culture is negligible. When she proposed a new time for the weekly meetings, “Allan” objected. She stood her ground.  Meeting on Friday afternoons, when everyone wants to leave early, keeps people from providing details about the delays and difficulties emerging on current projects. Those in a hurry, try to remain quiet, looking at their watches every 20 seconds, as the analytic co-workers drone about details.

Allan, on the other hand, argues no one accomplishes anything on Friday afternoons, which means to him time could be used better by discussing the problems and pitfalls they face.

Someone in the back of the room whispers to Jane at the break, “Don’t you know who he is? He was one of the first employees hired 20 years ago. He’s a team leader with clout.” Throwing the decision to the Manager or Director supervising these two competing employees can be unpleasant for all concerned. Are Allan and Jane competing? Yes! They are like children in a game of Crazy 8’s. Who will win?

No one answer exists and alternatives need discussion. Office politics can kill or motivate working together.


Management dislikes confrontation, especially in team meetings. What happens next? Is Jane becoming a trouble-maker? Is Allan known to be negative about everything, yet technically brilliant? What about the company’s financial stability? What is the company culture? Are employees encouraged to improve process or stogy and slow to change? Both individuals need to find a middle ground for a solution or the surprise may be a nail in the career coffin for one of them, if the confrontation creeps into dividing the group. The nail may have a different connotation. Jane may “nail it” or win. The others may respect her for helping with a head-start for the week-end. Allan may not like the change but he’ll fall into line: he’s a company guy!