Attention, high-achieving women: Stop being ‘good students’ at work!

hand-raisedPhoto compliments of St. George School for Girls.

Since I am personally making the transition from full-time student to full-time employee this summer, many of my friends have been sending me links and tips on how to succeed in the work force.

Below are five tips of just this sort. Many of you may have already figured this out, but just in case, here is some great advice from the wet site on making the transition a bit more easily.

  1. Influence authority. In school, each class brought a new authority figure — the teacher — who had unique rules, requirements and preferences. As students, we get really good at figuring out what each authority figure wants and to provide it. Yet to have brilliant careers, we must learn to not only please the authority figures — but to challenge and influence too. Today, when you hold a different view than the authority figure in your midst, see how you can influence him or her by diplomatically sharing your point of view.
  2. Improvise. In school, we learn how to prepare: how to study for the test, to do the reading the night before, to be ready with the answer when the teacher asks for it in class. This can lead us to feel confident only when we’ve had a lot of time to prepare. Yet brilliant careers require that we think on our feet again and again. Get as good at improvisation as you are at preparation. Today, embrace an opportunity to improvise at work.
  3. Get uncomfortable. In school, you probably got comfortable with the routine of studying, test-taking, paper writing, without having to take too many risks along the way to succeed. In our careers, we have to get comfortable with risk-taking, with feeling afraid and moving forward anyway, with leaving our comfort zones. Today, take one action that stretches you out of your comfort zone and that will help you realize your professional dreams.
  4. Self-promote. In school, if you did good work, you usually got a good grade, but in our careers, we’ve got to do good work and make sure people know about it. This can be an uncomfortable stretch for women, because we don’t want to come off as arrogant or as taking credit away from others. Today, find one opportunity to graciously let others know about one of your recent successes.
  5. Look inward. School taught you how to absorb external information (from a book or a teacher’s lesson) and then regurgitate that information back out. As you move to more senior levels in your career, you’ll need to turn your focus inward and learn to trust what you already know. Today, notice when you default to looking outward for the answers, and turn inward to see where your thoughts lead you instead.

Have you learned or do you have valuable insight on this topic? Please share it in the comments below!

A Successful Path to Failure


Are you looking for a job? I’m graduating from Vanguard this semester, and like many of my friends am trying to navigate the upcoming sea of employment. Recently I found some interesting advice, and it’s funny whether you’re job hunting or not.  Unlike the other ten million “How to Get a Job” articles on the internet,  FORBES outlines an 8-step plan guaranteed to keep you jobless. Don’t be your own worst enemy. Read on to see if you are creating any of these employment faux pas.

How Not To Get A New Job In 2013: An 8-Step Plan by Susan Strayer LaMotte

  1. “Lack self-awareness and confidence. If you don’t know and believe in your strengths, no one else will. If you come across as hesitant or unsure about your qualifications, you invite others to question your qualifications. Ignore your strengths, feedback from previous work experiences and doubt yourself — that will really help your chances.
  2. Don’t tell anyone. The fewer people that know about your job search, the better.  Keep it totally quiet and under wraps. Don’t get any feedback on your resume or strategy from friends or former colleagues.  It’s also good to ignore any networking connections those friends might have.
  3. Cold-apply to as many jobs as possible. Hide behind your computer and look for jobs at companies where you don’t know anyone. Find any job that sounds relatively interesting and apply. Don’t follow up, either. Sit back and wait for the calls to start pouring in. And when they don’t, keep applying.  Volume is always better.
  4. Let your resume speak for itself. Any savvy recruiter or hiring manager should be able to translate your resume to fit the job. Let them do it! Don’t customize your resume for the job. Don’t look for contacts in the organization that can help make your case for you. And definitely don’t do any informational or exploratory interviews to learn what matters most to a hiring manager or organization before you apply.
  5. Be inflexible. Narrow down the type of job you’re targeting as much as possible. Don’t consider a different level if you’re trying to break into a new industry. Certainly stay in one city and don’t consider moving, or consider educational, volunteer or internship opportunities that might help you break into a new area or bolster your credentials.
  6. Ignore recruiters. HR stinks, right? So definitely ignore recruiters and don’t pay any attention to the role they play in the hiring process. Target hiring managers or executives and pester them as much as possible. It also helps to be rude to recruiters since they can’t help your candidacy in any way.
  7. Don’t ask for any help. No one can help you in your job search but yourself.  If the word gets out that you’re job searching, turn down all offers of help. Don’t follow-up when someone offers a connection or suggests you might be a good fit at their organization.  Don’t reach out to respected contacts or colleagues for help or feedback. And don’t even consider emailing people you admire in your field or industry.  They’ll never respond so why bother?
  8. Say “I got this.” Practice doesn’t make perfect. If you can talk, you can interview. If you can write, you have a resume. Don’t plan, prepare or rehearse. Don’t seek out advice from recruiters and job search experts. You, most definitely, “got this.”

How is your job hunt going?

I Had a Dream


The famous words of Martin Luther King, Jr. are, of course, “I have a dream.” He had a dream meaning a vision - a dream meaning hope for a better future.  In my own words, “I had a dream.” I had a dream in the most literal sense. I wish I could say I have a big picture vision to share. What I have to share instead is a little bit of perspective I was reminded of from a simple dream.

I woke up this morning straining to recall a dream I sensed contained a thread of reality. I was dreaming that Vanguard was hosting a symposium about student veterans. It wasn’t until I was seated in the audience and my name was called as I was being introduced to present when I finally realized I was the main speaker.

I had nothing prepared but a few mental notes I had made from a conference I attended a week prior. Needless to say, I was panicked and quickly put some thoughts together. Amazingly, I had quite a bit to say. In fact, I surprised myself with what I knew.

I would have concluded my presentation without a hitch if it wasn’t for all the intentional interruptions of a few people I did not know.  Who were these people and why is one of them throwing random objects onto the stage?

Another person had comments to contribute and the presentation suddenly became a conversation.  I didn’t get the sense that they were acting maliciously. It was more like they wanted to be heard. The conversation opened up the presentation to become more of a discussion with the entire audience.

The audience asked good questions and they had good information to share as well. It was a mutually beneficial forum. I benefited from hearing from the audience just as much as they benefited from learning from me. Learning sometimes benefits us the most when there is established rapport.

  • Listening to each other builds trust.
  • It tells us that the other person cares about what is being discussed and how it affects one another.  
  • It builds a bridge that connects us to each other, allowing a way to work towards a common goal.
  • The ebb and flow of an interpersonal relationship gives us the opportunity to give and receive.

The dream was simple. It reminded me that sometimes when I least expect it, I will be put in a situation I don’t think I can handle. The reality:  I most likely can. It reminded me that as much as I want something to look a certain way, the way it turned out (less than perfect) was even better. It reminded me that even though life’s distractions often times get in the way, those distractions can sometimes point us in the right direction. Finally, it reminded me that above anything else, relationship is what matters.

Stanley McChrystal, a four-star general, is credited for a remarkable number of achievements while leading forces after the 9/11 attacks. In the following video, he discusses how relationships are what held the force together under his leadership. He led through learning and trusting service men and women under him as he quickly realized relationships were more important than ever. Please watch…you’ll be glad you did.

 Have you gained any insight recently from your dreams?



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What do the South African philosophy “Ubuntu,” Julius Ceasar’s dying last breath, and my daily routine have in common?


My daily routine looks similar to the rest of America – arrive to work, answer emails, respond to calls, make memos, draft reports, meet with a client or student, and before you know it the day is over.  Maybe find time to talk to a co-worker or walk across the street for a fast bite to eat, but true connection with people and purpose can feel lost.

I continually revisit the idea of connection…our loss of it, our quest for it, and our inherent need for it.

The concept of Ubuntu translates as “I am what I am because of who we all are.”  Our entire selves, our actions, thoughts, beliefs…our existence is intrinsically linked to everything else around us.  Philosophers often reference Julius Caesar’s dying last breath when they pontificate about the connectivity of past, present, and future.  They use this idea to say that we share the same air as Caesar once did and in some way the air continues to circulate.  It may sound a bit abstract, but the point is that our humanity is very much linked to everything around us.  At the core, connectivity, reminds us that we are not able to exist by ourselves nor should we!  No one should move throughout the world separated.

Ironically in an age where we are constantly “connected” via email, Facebook, Twitter, cell-phones, iPads…etc. we can easily feel isolated.  The next time you finish a day thinking that you haven’t accomplished much, you haven’t made an impact, or you haven’t “connected” remember that our mere existence is tied to the beauty around us.  I believe connectivity, charges us with the important mission to care for ourselves, others, and the world at-large.

So tomorrow when you are getting ready to commence your daily routine remember that we are all connected.  Use connectivity to compel you to work harder, love stronger, and be everything we were created to be!



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Sitting in Traffic: Turn the Curse into a Blessing!

Contributed by Nancy Harris

Stuck in traffic again?   Strangely enough I enjoy my long commute.   Each day, I drive from my home in Riverside to Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, which is about 38 miles each way.  Being a mom of three, a full-time employee, and a student attending the School for Professional Studies program it’s difficult to find time for myself.    

For me, commuting in heavy traffic  is a blessing because it is my time to unwind, talk with God, and be productive making phone calls (with my hands free Bluetooth of course).  We spend quite a few hours each week in the car so use the time to your advantage!  Learn more about the world by listening to the news, studying a new language, or listening to audio books. Or, simply relax and listen to your favorite music artists.   

Living in Southern California there is traffic no matter where you live or what time your commute is, so try to be productive and use your time wisely. If you think about it, the time you spend in your car may be the only few moments you have to yourself for the rest of the day…so enjoy!   

What is your favorite thing to do while sitting in traffic? 

Blogging – What Does My Audience Want?

AdminAssistTips StatsFor a little over a year, I’ve had a blog about Microsoft Office tips.  I’m the resident go-to person at the office for help on MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and I seemed to be giving the same directions over and over.  I wanted to have written instructions, sort of a FAQ page for the office.  I created Administrative AssistTips on Google’s Blogger.

The statistics page holds my fascination.  I can see who read what, where the readers live, which browsers they use, and how they found my site.  Of course, Google wants me to use these stats to start drawing in advertisers.  The more referrals and advertisers, the more “Google Juice” my blog has.  The more “Google Juice” it has, the better for Google.

Red Play ButtonFor me, the most important statistic is which keywords my readers use in their searches.  I’ve learned there is an art to searching and actually finding the results I want.  I need to be detailed and concise.  For example, when I insert a YouTube video in a PowerPoint presentation, it doesn’t start until I click the big red play arrow, even if PowerPoint is set to “Automatically Start” the video.  I knew there must be a way to start it without the click.  It took me at least ten minutes of googling to find the answer.  I believe the search words that finally resulted in the answer were:  “PowerPoint YouTube start no click.”  I liked the information, but I thought it could be presented in easier terms, so I created a blog with easier search words, a shorter explanation, and a link to the more complicated page:  PowerPoint and YouTube – Automatically Starting the Video.

After creating a blog, I pick special keywords to assign to that blog; those are the words I would use to search for the information.  It usually helps that I often blog about a technique I just learned about through other blogs; I try to remember the words I googled to find the answer.  For this example, I added the keywords (or labels or tags) that I spent over ten minutes searching on without good results:  automatically begin video, autoplay, autostart, embed video, html, PowerPoint 2010, and YouTube.  My hope is that the next googler will find my assistance from my tips quickly without the ten minute search.

So please look at my tips to help you be more productive with MS Office.  In “more productive” I mean finishing annoying computer tasks like work and homework faster, and finding more time for Facebook.  Do you need a tip or shortcut for an MS Office project you are working on?

Check it Out!

The author then, and now.

Contributed by Terri Quinones

Check this out!  Can you tell the picture on the left is me as a little girl?  Actually, this picture would not have been possible had it not been for a nurse.  A nurse that listened to what I believe was the voice of God and utilized her God given developed talents to save my life.  

My name is Terri and I am currently the Vanguard University School for Professional Studies Student Services Coordinator for the RN to BSN program, and one of the things I admire about nurses is that they check things out.  If you were hospitalized, wouldn’t you want a nurse with a caring spirit to check on you regularly?

The other day, my mom reminded me that just before I was born, she and I were in a car accident.  She delivered me and I was sent to the nursery with all the other babies (that was in the old days as now the babies stay with the moms).  My nurse felt compelled to lift my blanket to check on me (something she later said was unusual).  My bassinet was filled with blood.  Something went wrong with the umbilical cord during the accident and had this nurse not made this discovery, I would have bled to death.

Its funny how things come full circle; growing up I wanted to help people either by becoming a nurse or a teacher but I ended up having an extensive career in the business world that utilized my organizational abilities.  In fact, one of my deep desires was to cut through a jungle of obstacles and finish my bachelor’s degree and that’s exactly what I did in 2006.  I graduated with a BA in Business with an emphasis in Organizational Management at Vanguard in the School for Professional Studies. 

Part of that degree motivation was that I had my sight on the job that I’m in now.  The students that I service are RNs on track to complete their BSN.  I enjoy helping students reach their educational goals.  The BSN helps nurses to continue and deepen their knowledge from their associate degree and utilize that knowledge to better educate their patients, sharpen their critical thinking skills, and explore other opportunities for continued growth and development within their profession. 

Vanguard makes it possible to both work and complete your degree.  For the RN, Vanguard is worth checking out.    

Are you an RN interested in earning your Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree?

Confessions of a Recovering Procrastinator

Contributed by Janae McCabe

Procrastinators always come in two forms: those who eagerly claim the title and those who are in denial. For both camps, the Spanish proverb rings true: “Tomorrow is always the busiest day of the week.” We often put things off for a future date, but is that really a bad thing?

Merriam-Webster defines procrastination as “to put off intentionally the doing of something that should be done.” Whether you are in denial or a self-proclaimed procrastinator, let me share with you a few truths that I, a diagnosed procrastinator, recently found on the subject.

Facing the Truth
The other day I was talking to a co-worker about how I am a procrastinator and she was so shocked she told me I was wrong! “You’re not a procrastinator; you are always busy!” she said. And that is true; I’m always working on something, but is it the most important thing, the thing that should be done?

An article entitled Overcoming Procrastination provided some good indicators of procrastination that convicted me as soon as I read them:

  • Filling your day with low priority tasks from your To Do List.
  • Reading e-mails several times without starting work on them or deciding what you’re going to do with them.
  • Sitting down to start a high-priority task, and almost immediately going off to make a cup of coffee.
  • Leaving an item on your To Do list for a long time, even though you know it’s important.
  • Regularly saying “Yes” to unimportant tasks that others ask you to do, and filling your time with these instead of getting on with the important tasks already on your list.
  • Waiting for the “right mood” or the “right time” to tackle the important task at hand.

If this list rings true for you, many experts agree there are a few different reasons for your procrastination: fear of failure, perfectionism, or laziness and unpleasantness. My research confirmed I am a procrastinator of the worst kind (in my opinion anyway): I am lazy or I fear the task will be unpleasant. I put off what doesn’t feel comfortable or enjoyable for something else on my list. To clarify, putting something off for another day is not always indicative of procrastination. There are many valid reasons to hold off on a project or task. However, if you are choosing to put off something that should be done, you are procrastinating.

Procrastination not only leaves you with feelings of unproductivity, failure, and a continual cloud of guilt overhead, but in reality it is sinful. Whether you choose to rely on yourself instead of the Lord or are selfish, procrastination of things that should be done is not honoring to the Lord. This realization hit me when preparing to write this blog, and I admit I was both shocked and remorseful.

The Things that Should be Done
I am a procrastinator because I am selfish. I would rather complete a task that is more enjoyable than focus on one that should be done. But 2 Cor. 5:15 is clear that “[Jesus] died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” Paul also tells us in Col 3:23 “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men”. If we are not to live for ourselves and to work for the Lord, we must make shift in our perspectives and priorities.

Steve Cable, in Procrastination: Conquering the Time Killer – A Christian Cure, gives a few strategies on focusing on the things that should be done in your life from a biblical perspective:

  1. Probing Your Problem: What is the root of your procrastination? Whether it is fear of failure, perfectionism, or laziness, identifying the root problem will allow you to battle against procrastination most effectively.
  2. Praying for Perspective: Pray for God’s perspective on the root problem you identified above. Ask him to provide you with his perspective on your procrastination. Pray for clarity on God’s values and priorities, and how that relates to your to-do list. This is an important step to allow God to change your heart and motives.
  3. Proper Priorities: How would God re-order your to-do list? How can you best utilize the time you’ve been given with the tasks you have in front of you? 
  4. Proactive Partnering: Find accountability to encourage to you complete your responsibilities so that you are glorifying God and completing what should be done.

Procrastination can appear to be at worst an embarrassing habit; however a more honest look reveals our sinful nature and tendency to please ourselves instead of the Lord. Prayerfully re-evaluating our priorities and tasks will allow us the opportunity to do all things for the glory of God, especially in the way you put others and their needs before yourself.

I want to strive to glorify the Lord in all I do, even in the smallest task on my to-do list. I have chosen to become a recovering procrastinator. The first thing I did was write this blog.

If you are in need of declaring yourself a “recovering procrastinator”, choose one of the four steps above to get started. After carefully evaluating your heart, what task will you do first to glorify God and stop procrastinating?





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The Quiet Concentration of an Introvert

Contributed by ANNETTE METTEN

Psychology & Online Student Services Coordinator
School for Professional Studies

After ten years at Vanguard, Jamie Brownlee (Director of The School for Professional Studies) will be transitioning to a new university at the end of the week.  During her decade at Vanguard, Jamie has made many lasting contributions to the university as a whole and to the individuals who work here. In my opinion, one of Jamie’s greatest strengths as a leader is her appreciation for, and desire to learn about, personality types within teams.

After working with Jamie for the past two and a half years, by far the greatest impact she will leave me with is her appreciation and support for introverts in the workplace.  Jamie’s recognition and value of introversion is not the norm in our extroverted culture—many managers and directors prize the high energy and vocal ideas that extroverts can bring to a team.  While Jamie absolutely appreciates these strengths, she is also acutely aware of the benefit of having introverts on a team and what they can uniquely bring to the table.  This encouragement, acceptance, and appreciation has allowed me, as an introvert, to view introversion in a more positive light and thereby grow to meet even higher expectations.

Jamie’s appreciation of introverts in the workplace is shared by New York Times bestselling author Susan Cain. Cain spent nearly ten years researching the power and value of introverts in the workplace, school, and home. She cites that nearly one-third to one-half of individuals are introverts.  This is a significant percentage of the population–indicating that if you are not an introvert yourself, you are likely surrounded by several people who are.  Cain’s research highlights the extraordinary talents and abilities that introverts bring to the workplace such as their creativity, productivity and leadership.  Cain’s TEDtalk is an excellent resource to learn more about these unique and powerful traits.  She does a superb job of emphasizing the strengths and distinctive talents of introverts, while not devaluing the assets that extroverts also possess.  Instead, she seeks to recognize the contributions of both introverts and extroverts in the workplace–noting that introverts, due to their very nature, are often overlooked.
One reviewer of Cain’s research on introversion said that it “has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how introverts see themselves.”  Encouraging individuals to learn more about their distinctive personalities and how to develop these traits into successful strengths in the workplace is a huge asset of any leader.  Jamie has absolutely encouraged this appreciation and development of individual personalities during her time as my director, and I am very grateful for that. 
How has a leader encouraged the growth of your unique personality in the workplace?

God, the Ultimate Puppet Master

Tim Tebow’s favorite bible verse is John3:16, which was etched in eye black on his face when he led his college football team, the Florida Gators, to the BCS Championship title in 2009.

In light of this past weekend’s Super Bowl game and the end of the 2012-2013 NFL season I thought it was a great time to reflect on God’s work that took place during a playoff game in the 2011-2012 NFL season.

Tim Tebow, back-up quarterback for the New York Jets (former Denver Broncos quarterback), spoke at Impact Church in Scottsdale, Arizona on Super Bowl Sunday this past weekend. In addition to sharing his testimony with the members of Impact Church, he also told a remarkable story about the unlikely coincidences that the Bible verse John 3:16 had during the playoff overtime victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers last year.

After the Broncos victory, a man came up to Tebow and asked if he realized what had happened. Tebow replied with what he thought was the obvious: they won and were moving on in the playoffs! The man went on to tell him about all of the similarities that took place between Tebow’s statistics and John 3:16:

He threw for a total of 316 yards,
averaged 31.6 yards per completion,
his yards per rush were 3.16,
the time of possession was 31.06 minutes, and
the peak ratings were 31.6.


Tebow was shocked and ecstatic. He said, “What was so cool about it was I can’t take any credit. I had no idea….I wasn’t even a part of it. God was using it and I was just like a little puppet.”

The next day John 3:16 was the number one thing searched on Google and the #1 thing posted on Twitter and Facebook. It is truly amazing how God works in each of our lives and how he uses our talents and devotion to spread His goodness.

The Lord uses His followers as puppets in different ways, sometimes guiding us to an unexpected career change, or softening our hearts.

For example, a couple of weeks ago the Lord kept directing me to 2 Corinthians 5:10. At this time my thoughts, attitude, and feelings about a particular situation were hardened. When I let Him take control I was convicted and put my anger aside to respond in a way that would be right in His eyes. We can’t change people or their perceptions, but we can make the decision to do what is right.  It is so difficult to do when conflicts arise with those that you are close, but at the end of the day I can say that I have complete peace.

The most extraordinary puppet shows ever performed are when God uses His Christian followers as puppets to carry out the truth of His word.

How has God used you as his puppet?


For more insight on Tim Tebow’s testimony follow the links below.
Tebow Talks Bible Verses Ministering Tebowing
Tebow Professes His Faith Carefully