Be a Sponsored Coaching Candidate with Hired for Holidays

Pardon the #Reverb10 interruption, but I have exciting news to announce. I have joined the Hired for the Holidays team as a sponsor! I am honored to work with the hosts of some of my favorite career related Twitter chats, including Heather Huhman, Mark Babbitt, Chanelle Schneider, and Rich DeMatteo. As a sponsor, I will give 8 weeks of free 45-minute career coaching sessions via phone or Skype to someone who is actively in the job search at the beginning of 2011. I want you be that candidate!

To apply, please fill out the application form. It’s embedded below, but you can also access it on its own page. If you are selected, you must commit to the terms of the Hired for Holiday Initiative, including blogging and providing social media updates about your experience.  Here are the other requirements:

1.   A professional quality head shot (JPG, GIF or PNG)

2.   Be “coachable”; the advice you’ll receive from your mentor will be practical, honest  and – most important – will help you find employment

3.   Be the “CEO” of your job search; the mentor’s role is to help you – your role is to find work!

4.   Agree to the “Pay it Forward” nature of Hired for the Holidays – this time next year, you agree to sponsor a candidate yourself, and help them find work

For information on all the requirements and great services you’ll receive, please visit http://hiredfortheholidays.com/how-do-i-become-a-candidate/. You do not have to apply separately through their website to get me as a sponsor.

I am open to all types of candidates for this initiative, but would especially love to work with a college student, recent graduate, or young professional interested in public service, entrepreneurship, or a non-traditional industry.

Happy holidays and new year!

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

11 Things to Leave Behind: Reverb10

I am excited to post today’s list for# Reverb10 of “11 Things That Tracy Brisson Doesn’t Need in 2011.” I thought it would be hard to come up with 11 and struggled after number three. But once I hit number five, I couldn’t stop. I think the 11 I ultimately picked were the ones that matter the most.

#Reverb10 Prompt 

December 11 – 11 Things. What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life? (Author: Sam Davidson)

1. Bad Eating Habits

I drink too much caffeine and alcohol when I should be drinking water. Stress has led to overeating. I also consume too much sugar. A few years ago, I was caffeine and sugar-free and felt great. At the recommendation of a doctor, I added caffeine back when I was having a problem with a nerve in my eye that gets easily tired, but don’t need to drink as much as I do now.  I will start and end the day with water.

2. Extra Weight

Working from home and spending all hours tied to my computer writing coaching materials, my website, blog posts or participating in online marketing activities has had an impact on my body. I have scheduled in the classes I want to take at the gym, but am always in the middle of cleaning out my inbox or writing some fabulous piece of content so I decide to stay at home. I have no excuses, because my true friends know that I have a Wii and love to use it, especially We Cheer. For anyone who hasn’t played We Cheer with me, here’s a YouTube video of a crazy guy in a scary mask playing it. I promise it’s fun and great exercise even without the mask.

3. Over-reliance on Self-Sufficiency

Self-sufficiency is great, but sometimes I take the solo, fierce, woman thing to an extreme. I can’t be successful on my own- I need personal and professional partners. I will ask for help, even when it’s hard, and I’ll continue to give help to those who ask me.

4. Anxiety

I made a point to list “anxiety” and not “fear.” For me, anxiety is a generalized unidentified feeling that the other shoe is going to drop, but not something specific that is going to happen. Dealing with fear is easy once you name it. For example, I fear failing in my business and being unable to pay my rent. That is a fear I can deal with by organizing my work to address it. But I’ve been dealing with anxiety ever since I was the victim of identity theft and my bank account was wiped out in October. Even though I got my money back, and intellectually I know that there are laws to protect me from this stuff, I often face an uncomfortable and generalized feeling that things are out of my control. I’d like to let this go as of January 1.

5. Procrastination

Despite all the work I have done to overcome procrastination (knowing why, scheduling my day, blocking social media websites, etc), nothing seems to totally work. I want to leave this behind so I can claim the life I want. Hopefully my new time management coach can help me with this.

6. Grudges

There are people who I believe did me wrong in 2010 (and 2009, 2008, and 2007), or who are not on my side, or have even been outwardly disrespectful to me. Once these people get on my brain, it’s difficult to not obsess over the negativity that comes with them. I release my grudges- you’re never going to get it or me no matter how hard I try, so it’s not worth my time in the new year.

7. Obligations

I belong to certain groups that I have outgrown, but yet continue to work with and feel guilty when I don’t work with them enough. It’s time to let that sense of what I “should” do go away and focus on commitments that serve me AND others, not just others.

8. Permissiveness

I do have commitments that I believe in and there are too many times when I give myself permission to slack off. “You’ve worked so hard all these years! You need a break. It’s okay if you get to that later. You’ve spent the whole day at the computer so you deserve that extra glass of wine tonight while you catch up on your DVR and those 60 unwatched episodes of Chelsea Lately.” No. I need to work both harder and smarter because I value myself. I need to eliminate this bad habit and stop giving up on the daily work through these rationalizations.

9. Doubt

I release the doubt that I have the potential to stand in the same space as other coaches and authors, such as the wonderful people who have written the Reverb10 prompts. I release the doubt that I can earn the money I deserve while making a difference.

10. Impatience

I hate how much time it takes to get things done in starting my business or moving on with my life. It seems that some things that I decide to move on can take up to six months to implement. Blog posts take three times longer than I expected. There are certain pages of my website that aren’t yet done and the list goes on. I go in circles with my frustrations around my inability to get things done exactly when I want them. I must understand that building a business is a process and requires time and patience.

11. Debt

I started 2010 with zero debt except for a few pesky student loans. Now, I have both personal and business debt. While it wouldn’t be my preference to have this debt, I have no regrets because I understand that dreams often require sacrifices.  Most importantly, I believe that if I release items 1-10, I’ll get rid of my debt because I’ll be earning what I’m worth.

Are any of my 11 things also things you want to leave behind?

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

Wonder and Ordinary Joy: #Reverb10

These were two prompts in the #Reverb10 campaign I was going to let go, but as I was finishing the other prompts, they became things I wanted to talk about so here are some quick thoughts!

#Reverb10 Prompts

December 4 – Wonder. How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year? (Author: Jeffrey Davis) 

December 27 – Ordinary Joy. Our most profound joy is often experienced during ordinary moments. What was one of your most joyful ordinary moments this year? (Author: Brené Brown)

Big Wonders

I most often discovered wonder in 2010 by finding myself in situations that made me question my entire being. It sounds scary, but it was also welcoming because I suddenly felt like my eyes were open when they’d long been closed. Here are two times that stand out to me.

1. Spending time with my best childhood friend Laura’s kids this October. I’ve been tentative around other people’s kids in the last few years because they made me self-conscious. I’ve been unsure about my desire to have kids and I feel pressure at my age to know. Plus, I am afraid of breaking them.

Not only did I not break James and Lily, but I fell in love. Next time you see me, ask me to act like a proud aunt and show you a picture of them in their NYC J and L train subway t-shirts. Spending time with her kids made me realize that I really do want to be a mom, and not just a mom of a new business. It’s a wonder because I am not sure what happens next, but I’m eager and happy to explore it.

2. Discovering Buddhist meditation in the last few months has also been a wonder for me. For the first time in my life, I’ve really discovered a way to change my thoughts. This possibility is a wonder for me and I am ready to learn and practice more in 2011 and see where it fits with the other spiritual parts of my life.

Ordinary Joy

My ordinary joys are moments so small, but so peaceful that they made me pause so I could remember them and feel them again.

1. Living close enough to Cobble Hill Park to go there on any summer or spring weekend and sit with my laptop while enjoying Ted & Honey’s #1 Breakfast sandwich, a Red Eye, and their wireless internet that extends to the park. It’s like my personal outside office.

(Photo of Cobble Hill Park courtesy of j_bary, flickr)

2. Grinding my own beans every morning to make coffee in my French Press. I bought a coffee grinder with the earnings from my first sale. I love the ritual and smell every morning of grinding fresh beans and making my coffee before I start writing and checking emails.

3. Walking on the beach for an hour on a weekend at the shared beach house on Fire Island just collecting shells and thinking about nothing else but how they’re all unique and how they feel in my hand. I keep them in a jar in my apartment so I always feel close to the Atlantic, a place that seems to give me incredible energy.

Big and unwieldy, small and simple. All important to my life.

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

Make: Use Your Artistic Side #Reverb10

With the holiday week upon us, I am spending the week using my blog to reflect and manifest as part of the #Reverb10 initiative. When possible, I’m trying to reflect my posts back to careers, but assessing your current state and setting goals for the future is really about more than just the mechanics of how you spend your day from 9 to 5. I am a firm believer that we have one life, not a “professional life” and a “personal life.” The more we try to separate them, the further we get away from figuring out what we want for an integrated, peaceful and productive existence that we actively design. Your most personal reflections will impact your career.

This post is about increasing professional creativity through using personal time and effort to “make” things.

#Reverb10 Prompt 

December 6 – Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it? (Author: Gretchen Rubin)

Searching for My Right Brain

One of my 2010 resolutions was to participate in an artistic activity because I felt out of touch with that side of me. On creativity quizzes, I always score as “whole-brained”- an equal split between being right-brained (creativity) and left-brained (logic). Reflecting on my childhood, this assessment does not surprise me at all. I’ve never been good at drawing, painting, or music, but always loved writing. Growing up, I spent hours creating stories in notebooks and thought I would be the next S.E. Hinton. My sophomore year of high school, I submitted a story to the now defunct ‘TEEN magazine called “Hanging Out With Patrick” about a girl who realized that she was in love with her neighbor. They bought it and eventually published a heavily edited version in December 1992 under the title “More than Friends?” and with all the Portuguese surnames of the characters changed to Smith and Jones. That same year, I won an award from a club at Brown University for creative writing. I remember feeling this unexpected relief after both events, almost like closure. During spring 1993, a few months before I took off for college, I spent a day hidden in my bedroom and wrote a personal sequel to Hanging Out With Patrick/More Than Friends that did not end well for the characters. I picked up creative writing a few times over the years, usually having a great idea but never acting on it. It was as if I made a career change even before I started a career.

Around the same time, I took my SATs and scored very high on the math section, higher than the verbal. Teachers had told me my entire life that I was bad at math so I thought it was a fluke and took them again. Surprisingly it wasn’t a fluke. When I got to college, I enrolled in calculus over a foreign language and then became attracted to the linear and game-like word of policy studies and economics where I found success. Over the years, I stayed in that comfort zone, trying to incorporate creativity and big-picture thinking when I could. I loved writing the website copy at my old job, but I also wondered if I was really good at writing anyway.

Using My Left Brain to Make Things for Success

One of the fears I had about launching my new business was that while the big picture may come easy to me, I would struggle with daily creativity. Much of what I wanted to accomplish was through actively writing- blog posts, eCourses, and eBooks- not just coming up with ideas I wanted to write. I made a very left brained decision to actively place myself in a situation where I was forced to make or create something, hoping it would stimulate the creative parts of me and awaken that child in me that used to have such a great imagination.

In November, my good friend Niki and I took a class through Paint Along NYC. Paint Along NYC is a BYOB (always welcome) painting class where everyone paints a selected print with guidance from the instructor on how to use the colors and tools to make beauty on your canvas. At first, I was afraid it would feel like middle school art class to me and I would be a big failure at creating something presentable. But over some Pinot Noir, and excellent conversation, I created a painting with bright colors and flowers that was mine. I eventually hung my work in my new re-organized bedroom (see upcoming post on healing). The experience prompted me to add other creative projects to my 2011 calendar, including painting The Opportunities Project logo on a makeshift door to my home office. I’ve bought the stencil, canvas and paint and am now just waiting for the perfect January weekend.

I highly recommend Paint Along NYC to anyone looking to explore his or her creative side and I hope to go back and paint something new in spring 2011.  Through December 31, they are having a sale where if you buy three gift certificates for classes, you get one class free. It sounds like a perfect day for four friends with a bottle of wine to “make” something that is theirs and indulge their creativity.

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

You Are Your Best Investment by Mindy Berla: #Reverb10

I invited my friend and colleague Mindy Berla to guest post for me a few months ago and am happy to feature her post today. Mindy is a Bay Area-based personal trainer who blogs at Digitally Fit. I asked her to write about the connection between taking care of your body and professional growth as she works with clients who struggle and succeed with both. The strategies used to flourish are usually the same.

I am aligning her posts with three of the Reverb10 themes. The first one, Body Integration, is something I can’t write about from a genuine place so I needed another expert to talk about it. The other prompts, Try and Beyond Avoidance, reflect my personal commitments to my body for 2011 as I learn how to take better care of myself. My core business so far has been about the mind- writing, thinking, and changing it- and it’s been difficult to feel integrated with my body. But I am committed to change. I am inspired by Mindy’s post- and tough love- and hope that you are, too!

#Reverb10 Prompts

December 12 – Body Integration. This year, when did you feel the most integrated with your body? Did you have a moment where there wasn’t mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present? (Author: Patrick Reynolds)

December 18 – Try. What do you want to try next year? Is there something you wanted to try in 2010? What happened when you did / didn’t go for it? (Author: Kaileen Elise)

December 20 – Beyond Avoidance. What should you have done this year but didn’t because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? (Bonus: Will you do it?) (Author: Jake Nickell)

You Are Your Best Investment: How Personal Training Can Get You To Your ‘A’ Game by Mindy Berla

In each of us there exists unexplored dimensions of our strengths.  Broadening one’s notions of him or herself is what ultimately manifests growth and change. The changes that can occur from new ways of perceiving ourselves result in new confidence, motivation and newfound ways of creative thinking.  If we are able to envision becoming the very best version of ourselves, both physically and mentally, then there is no limit to what we can achieve in life.

A personal trainer can help a client find more direction, and thus new achievements.  Throughout a personal training program the client is learning more about him or herself.  As the client discovers new muscles in the body, more space through flexibility and an unknown capacity for strength, he or she begins to feel more of a positive, “Can Do” attitude.  This attitude ends up spreading out to every part of one’s life.

The act of finding new ways to believe in ourselves is priceless and in business, confidence is everything. However, confidence and respect are earned. If we don’t believe that we are capable, durable, reliable and steadfast, then how can others see it? We must believe that we are the asset to the company, the university, the team.  Seeing new strengths within ourselves helps us to realize our full potential and then act on it.  Laziness and ambition do not make for a healthy concoction.

The healthiest relationship that you can reliably invest in is yourself.  You are your best investment and you are the source of your own fulfillment.  All too often in American culture we seek outside stimulants and material objects as a means to happiness. The happiness and peace of mind exists within us.  It is up to us to find our awesomeness.  As we choose to value our health by monetarily investing in it, we are thus making it a priority.  This dedication and determination to better ourselves does not then go unnoticed to those around us.

My clients constantly speak of how others perceive their new spark of energy, determination and will.  Many clients have been promoted at their jobs while other clients use the training as a source of grounding and encouragement during their application process for a medical, masters, business or law degree.  Other clients use personal training as a means of diffusing pressure from a highly stressful job.

Sometimes life throws a fast curve ball.  Being fit means that you know how to react and to resolve the situation.  Because you are accustomed to dealing with strenuous workouts, you know that you will be able to get through a rough time in your life. The stronger we perceive ourselves, the more unstoppable we become.  Everyone should be able to push up our own body weight. If not, how can we lift ourselves up after a fall?

The phrase, “In This Economy” has become an excuse for many unprepared for a struggle.  The courageous, strong and successful person is the one that picks him or herself up after a fall, is creative enough to see a new opportunity and then goes for it. If we don’t have high standards for ourselves, then how will we excel? To get to the top, we must do the work that is necessary to get there.

Personal training is about learning the focus and diligence it takes to feel like a pro and getting you to your “A” game.  It is also about enriching your quality of life. Everyone deserves to wake up with energy, to be capable of climbing a mountain and to enact our own personal manifestos.  Every person contains greatness waiting to happen.  Personal training drives us to see that our effort is everything, that investing in oneself is a priority and that achieving excellence should always be within our reach.

Mindy Berla is a Personal Trainer based in the San Francisco Bay Area with a holistic approach to fitness.  Mindy specializes in weight loss, endurance and core training through nutrition, strength training and Pilates.

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

Believing in Yourself: Wisdom and Letting Go for #Reverb10

I spent most of #snowmageddon writing my posts for the Reverb10 campaign. I’ve done one post so far, but as a recap, Reverb10 is an online initiative to get people to reflect upon what happened in 2010 as part of their effort to manifest the best in 2011. I am all aboard the Reverb10 train personally, and as a career coach, I think everyone else should participate in it, too! As a coach, one of the best gifts I can give is to bring people toward greater self-awareness. Self-awareness can show you how others may perceive you in your career, but more importantly, show you what you really want in life and how to get it. Taking personal time to reflect and write about your experiences and goals is a great way to jumpstart the process.

Because I am late to the game, I am grouping many of the prompts into themes that make sense to me. I am also posting multiple times a day to publish as many as possible before the new year. Today’s first post is about my decision to start my company, and the realization that was a decision to also let something go. Since my company is relatively new, I still run into people in the city who have no idea that I am now a career coach. Usually they ask me “When did you decide you wanted to be a career coach?” or “Why did you leave your job at the New York City Department of Education?” Most people see them as the same question, but one is about adding and the other is about subtracting. Sometimes you need to do both to move forwards. My greatest lesson learned is that these decisions reflected conscious choices and I had abdicated my power to make choices for a very long time. This post also addresses one more reason behind Why I Do What I Do, another blog post series.

#Reverb10 Prompts
December 10 – Wisdom. What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out? (Author: Susannah Conway)

December 5 – Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?(Author: Alice Bradley)

December 17 – Lesson Learned. What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward? (Author: Tara Weaver)

The Wisdom in Knowing You Want More

My wisest decision in 2010 was a two-part one: (1) to recognize that I had a dream and the talent to become a successful coach, and (2) to act on my belief and start my practice.

The first part took place in very late 2009 when multiple people in my life asked me for my advice on their job search. When I worked with friends and colleagues to review their resumes and help with interviews, I saw my strengths in a new light and recognized how much I enjoyed working with job-seekers. I am not a huge “the universe is speaking to you” person, but I don’t think it’s random that people were coming to me in a moment where I was wondering what I wanted to accomplish in the next year, especially a milestone year since I’d be turning 35. I also had a lifelong dream to be an entrepreneur that I had put on hold countless times. Going back for my PhD in 2006 was part of my plan to become an independent consultant, but I came to realize that I didn’t need my PhD to own a mission-driven business, especially with ten years of experience in recruitment.

In January 2010, I started talking to coaches and attending business classes and knew that I could do it. In March, I started telling people in my life about my plans and asking opinions from people I trusted. By the end of the month, I told my boss on a Friday evening, feeling liberated… but walking out in tears.

Leaving A Role Behind

In the excitement of launching my new vision, I didn’t quite realize that leaving my role as “The Director of Teacher Recruitment” for the New York City public schools would be a separate hard and painful process. I was leaving something that I had poured all of my emotional labor into for almost a decade and the title had become as much a part of my identity as the color of my eyes. Even though time has passed, there is still a part of me that is in mourning for the team that worked with me, and the good things that came from being a member of an established institution and tribe. But ultimately, the role was not serving me anymore. It was not giving me intellectual and personal freedom, room to grow, or space to honor my own feelings about what it takes to improve our nation’s education problems, K-16. By ignoring those feelings, I was giving away control over my life and I had to let it go to grow, even if it meant leaving behind some good things.

As I fight the day-to-day battles of getting things off the ground, I forget the amount of courage and power both of these decisions took. It was easy to stay where I was rewarded with an excellent paycheck and benefits. But I desired to be an entrepreneur and coach and no one was going to start my business for me. The lesson learned is that if we want something enough, we must recognize our power to do it with conscious and deliberate action, and an understanding that success requires risk and at least a moderate tolerance for failure. No matter what happens, that I pursued it is its own accomplishment.

Are you ready to make a conscious choice today to make a difficult decision and/or let something go?

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

Entering the World of Reverb 2010: My Word is Learn

Last week I joined a campaign of over 3,000 bloggers who are participating in Reverb10, “an online initiative for people to reflect on 2010 and manifest what’s next.” I read about it on Gretchen Rubin’s blog for The Happiness Project (great book, go buy it!) and kept seeing the ever present #reverb10 hashtag on Twitter so I made my way over to the website to find out more about it.

The inspiring people behind Reverb10 have set up 31 reflection prompts for December with that day’s prompt emailed to you daily. You don’t have to do them in order and since I started late, I have been trying to figure out which ones to tackle first or at all. I thought this would generally be easy for me because I have so many “hopey coachy changey” (sorry Sarah, I think it’s a compliment) things up my sleeve, but it has been much harder than I thought. The writers at Reverb10 do not play. Each topic has sub prompts and they require more thought and reflection than almost any self-improvement activity I’ve participated in this year! So I’ve decided to start at the beginning and keep it simple.

December 1 – One Word. Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you? (Author: Gwen Bell)

And so my word is Learn. Some of you who know me personally may be surprised that it is not a more active word like “change” or “implement” because of the things I have done this year, but the last 12 months has truly been about learning, especially after a 2009 where I grappled with loss and being stuck in a place I didn’t like, literally and metaphysically. Learning was the next step in my journey and in 2010, Learning happened in countless ways. Learning what I actually wanted to accomplish in life. Learning how to start again. Learning that I am stronger than I thought. Learning how to deal with disappointments and failure. Learning how to do all the things I’ve posted on big chart paper on the walls of my home office. Learning how much my friends care about my happiness. Learning that I can make new friends.

In 2011, I would like my word to be Living. Not that I don’t think Learning is key, but I am ready for the next step and that to me is Living. I want to be Living the things I have on the paper on my wall, including the other one with all the personal things I want (but am not feeling up to blasting online!). I want to be Living the intentions of my business all the time. I want to be Living strong, peacefully, and fully.

What do you think? What are your words?

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

Five Days of Career Coach Christmas: HOBY Resume Review Drive

And we move on to our next promotion in the Five Days of Career Coach Christmas Week!

Since May, I have been doing a resume review drive for my favorite charity, the Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership Foundation (HOBY). I participated in the program when I was in high school and it was very influential on my development as a young adult. I have been supporting the New York Metro Chapter informally for the last two years and now that I am no longer a full-time employee of the education department (conflict of interest rules), I hope to take a bigger role and have a bigger impact in 2011.

For your tax deductible donation to the New York Metro Chapter of HOBY, I will review your resume with critical feedback and suggestions. I have done dozens of resumes all year and am closing the drive on December 31, 2010. Please read my page with detailed instructions on how to submit your resume and your donation directly to HOBY.  This is a great way to meet your last charity goals of 2010 and get help at the same time.

For more information on the other promotions featured this week, visit our Promotions page!

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

Five Days of Career Coach Christmas: Vajradhara Meditation Center Auction

It’s 22 degrees outside my Brooklyn apartment window. Brrr. Christmas is definitely coming.

On the third day of our Career Coach Christmas promotion week, let’s talk about our participation in a charity auction. Through December 16th, my career coaching package is part of the Vajradhara Meditation Center online benefit auction. It’s one of many items that were donated by local Brooklyn businesses with 100% of the proceeds going to the center. While I encourage you to bid on my coaching package, there are lots of other great services and products in the auction. In fact, even though I am one of the people who donated, I am considering making a last-ditch bid on one of the rings. I won’t tell you which one because I want less competition!

I discovered the Vajradhara Meditation Center this August. In my 2010 journey to find my calling, the subject of meditation constantly came up in conversations with everyone. If I was truly going to quit my job and become an entrepreneur, how was I going to quiet my mind to handle the stress? Also, meditation has been proven to help with creativity and productivity– things I desperately wanted. I tried meditation on my own and failed miserably. Every time I sat quiet, my mind would race, thinking of all the things that I needed to do to get my business to the next level. I did find that I was able to get into a meditative state when I (1) did guided meditation, and (2) when I was with other people. Once I came to those findings, I hopped onto Google to find other Brooklynites who I could meditate with and that’s how I found this wonderful center.

Recently, I did a four-hour workshop at the Vajradhara Meditation Center and it was amazing. I really knew very little about Buddhism, though this center’s programs are really for people of all faiths. It was very interesting to learn about the four truths. The workshop was amazing- both the meditations and the teachings- and I have used what I learned at least three times in the week and a half since I attended. One time does not make me a master and I am beginning to have some struggles with stress and the meditation process again so after the holidays, I plan to visit their center more frequently.

Even if you’re not into meditation, the Center also does great programs for their community and kids so bid on something anyway! And lastly, if you are a non-profit looking for donated services for your fundraiser, please contact us. This is our third this year and I get great joy when I get to help a good cause.

In case you missed our other promotions this week, Day One was our Barnes & Noble discounts and Day Two was our Pay What You Can Coaching Days. You can also view all the promotions on our Promotions page.

Time for warm gingerbread tea!

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

3 Steps to a Great Elevator Pitch: Hi, My Name is Tracy!

Elevator pitches have come up several times in the last two weeks, including in Twitter chats, an email exchange with a potential client, and in my career management workshop for Teach for America corps members. For the uninitiated, an elevator pitch is the 15 to 30 second pitch you would give to someone you met on a short elevator ride. The pitch covers how and why this person can help you, whether it’s for your career, business, or something else.

In reality, it’s unlikely that you’ll have such a short time to talk with someone when you’re at a networking event, the most common place an elevator pitch is used. It’s more important that when you’re meeting someone for the first time, you’re prepared to start strong and then continue an engaging conversation about what you have to offer.

Here are my three tips on how to make your elevator pitch as strong as it possible for networking events.

1. Know the answers to these six elevator pitch prompts.

Great elevator pitches finish these statements in a compelling way.

1. I am a… (professional role)
2. I currently…. (seek employment, seek clients, happily employed)
3. I specialize in (how I solve problems)…
4. I am the best (what are my results)…
5. I do it because…
6. I want you to and I will in return…

Review the prompts above and write one-sentence answers to each one, getting very specific and short (think of them like tweets).  Pay attention to prompts 3 through 5 because they are what will always make you unique. In particular, think about why you do what you do- this is the most personal of all the prompts. We’ve talked about the importance of knowing why you do things a few times on this blog.

In case it still seems abstract, here are some ways that I would answer these prompts as Founder and CEO of The Opportunities Project.

3. Specialize: I specialize in helping young professionals build their soft skills and use social media to accelerate their job search.

4. Results: I’ve helped my clients clarify their goals, get jobs quickly and confidently, and learn new skills they will use throughout their careers.

5. Why: I started my company after working in K-12 education reform for 13 years and seeing that my work was meaningless because our higher education system is broken. Most young people graduate from college unprepared for careers and adulthood and I wanted to do something about it. (Yes, I know this is over 140 characters, but it’s important!)

2. Try out combinations of the prompts that work for you and the events you attend.

Even if you kept your answers to 140 characters or less for each prompt, that’s a long introduction. You want to put together short combinations of the prompts for elevator pitches that can be used in different situations. You can then incorporate the other prompts in your ongoing conversation as they become relevant.

For example, if I was attending a business networking event with small business owners from various industries who “know the drill,” I’d get right to the point and start with a Prompt 1, 2, 6 combo.

– “Hi! My name is Tracy Brisson. I am the Founder and CEO of The Opportunities Project, and I provide career coaching and recruitment consulting services, focusing on young professionals. I am always looking for new clients and interesting projects. If you know anyone who needs help getting closer to achieving their career goals, I appreciate referrals. Tell me about your company and what you’re looking for from this event?”

However, if I was attending an event with people who were interested in social change and educational inequities, I’d do a Prompt 1, 3, 5 punch.

-“Hi! My name is Tracy Brisson. I am the Founder and CEO of The Opportunities Project, and I provide career coaching and recruitment consulting. I specialize in helping young professionals build their soft skills and use social media to accelerate their job search. I left my job in recruitment and K-12 education because I felt my work was meaningless when I realized large numbers of our students were graduating from college without the skills they need to participate in today’s economy.”

As powerful as the second pitch may read, it would likely not go over well at every event. Some people may feel like I was preaching to them to about education when they just want to create a relationship because we both own a local business. If they are not regularly tuned into education issues, they may spend so much time thinking about my “why” that they don’t think about my “what.” As a business owner seeking new clients and relationships, that would be a loss for me. However, as the conversation went on, someone may ask what I did before I startedmy own business and I could include my “why” in that context, still making me memorable. I could also include stories that reflect my results.

What combinations might work for you?

3. Practice, practice, practice.

How you say your elevator pitch will matter as much or even more than what you say. Practice your combinations until you feel confident and comfortable introducing yourself with them. You will find out what words and inflections come natural to you. If you don’t have to think about the specific words, you will sound more enthusiastic and be able to listen and be present with the people you are connecting to at the event. This will increase the odds that you’ll make new, productive relationship, which is your goal.

Questions? Feedback? Leave them in the comments. Happy networking!

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog