May 9 Announcements, Music Monday

Busy, busy week! We have a lot going on and these events deserve their own postings. I hate using the blog space solely for marketing purposes, but I want to make sure that everything gets its focus.

The Opportunities Project’s Upcoming Events

Using Your Competitive Advantage to Find a Teaching Job, presented by SchoolSpring on Tuesday, May 10, 1PM

Webinar, Free

I’m excited to partner with SchooSpring for this free event. I’ll be coaching new teachers on how to make themselves stand out from the crowd when searching for a job. We’ll discuss how to boost your resume, use effective interview strategies, and network your way to a job.

Balance: The Social Networking Job Search- Build, Engage, Find, presented by YouTern on Wednesday, May 11, 8PM

Webinar, Free

Every day, job and internship candidates – your competition – are being hired for great jobs and internships via social media.

Are you using tools like Twitter, Linkedin, and blogging to build your career – and get noticed?

I’ll help you become a success story by teaching you to:

  • Spend your job search time wisely
  • Master the balance of building your candidacy
  • Engage new communities and influencers
  • Find the right opportunities for you

Group Coaching Starts May 16th

Our Spring Group Coaching Program begins on Monday, May 16! Group coaching is an affordable option for many young professionals. You’ll receive my guidance and expertise through the coaching and consulting process, and develop a new community among your other group members.

Two programs will run every Monday afternoon at 4PM and 7PM until June 27th (we’ll meet on Tuesday during the week of Memorial Day). Each program is limited to 8 participants so register now.  Flexible payment plans are available, also.

Other Updates

Hope Reichbach Podcast Now on ITunes

We promised to update you when we were able to upload Hope Reichbach’s interview with us to ITunes. You can now download it directly from the ITunes Store. We hope the interview will give much comfort to her friends and family.

The Art and Science of Making Things Happen Recap

Brett Kunsch and I conducted our Four Hour Goals: The Art and Science of Making Things Happen workshop this weekend. Next step is to convert it to an eCourse which we’ll likely debut in the second half of June at a the second edition of our Making The Change You Want Networking Series.

Life After College Party

Support my colleague Jenny Blake at the  Life After College Book Launch Party on Thursday, May 12 at 7PM.

I’ll be there, a well as many of my fellow NYC based coaches. The party, sponsored by NYC Creative Interns, will have lots of networking, music, and an open bar.

Music Monday

I was thinking Manic Monday based on everything that’s going in, but this is so much more fun. Girl bands rule… 4eva.

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog


Announcing the Spring 2011 Scholarship Winners

We are SO pleased to announce the winners of the 2011 Spring Scholarship Program!

I received over 250 tweets about the program, 1,000 page views, and 31 eligible applicants (and another 70ish who started the application, but did not finish- not sure what was up with those people!). I was grateful that so many people wanted our help and think what we do is valuable. I cannot stress enough that there were many applicants who submitted amazing applications- it was a very difficult decision for me and the team.

I had wanted to announce the winners by video, but I had my fill of adventures with video this week (see our Facebook page), but as I said in my original pitch… enough about me, let’s talk about the scholarships! Here are the three winners who I am SO excited to start working with this week.*

Jessie Morgenstern, NYC- A fashion professional potentially considering a new profession



Zach Laplante, Massachusetts- An aspiring politician looking to change the world



Abby Cajudo, University of California, Berkeley- A graduating senior with a strong science background who is considering all career options

Wish them luck as we start our five session journey together.

*Unfortunately, we didn’t have any eligible applicants for the Woman Veteran’s Scholarship so I am giving two Young Professional Scholarships instead. My marketing plan for that scholarship tanked, but I am committed to that cause and will take it up again during the fall. If you have ideas, please share in the comments or by contacting us.

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Tracy and Brett Talk Goals

Woo hoo- you have questions about our event Four Hour Goals: The Art and Science of Making Things Happen this Saturday, May 7 in midtown New York City. Brett and I have answers for you. Check out our video to find out what’s in it for you, what happens if you don’t set goals, and why we’re uniquely qualified to teach you how to do this!

We’ll see you at the workshop, right?

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Making your Goals Happen: Living between Now and the Future

Entrepreneurship is an adventure. One month, you’re wondering why you’re stuck in place and can’t move forward, and the next month, you’re exactly where you had intended to be. How that can happen? The change happens when you start using effective goal planning and strategies.

Before opening my business, I was successful in my career, at least in part, because I was an effective goal setter and someone who worked within a vision. Three years before I became the Director of Teacher Recruitment for the New York City Public Schools, my vision reflected that I wanted to be in that role or a similar one, including that six figure salary. And because it was my vision, I set short-term and process goals so that I’d be positioned for it when it happened. If it hadn’t happened, I would have adjusted to focus on something similar or reset my timetable.

Eventually my vision included entrepreneurship. In this role, my issue has been what I call “the noise.” There are SO many things that you want to do, and you’re not quite sure that what you want is realistic. Also, your work is tied to your economic survival in a new way, so the emotional stakes are high. But if you get enveloped in that noise, you’ll just sit in that stuck place. I admit that I let myself do that about two months ago. I got stuck.. and let myself stick… and stick. I finally woke up one morning and realized that I knew what to do. I took the advice I give to clients as a coach, and used my lessons from my success making things happen as a professional for the last 10+ years.

Achieve Your Goals Workshop

One of the thing that trips up effective goal-setting is that disconnect between the future and present. You’re aiming to change something down the line, but you don’t know what to act on now.* At our workshop, Four Hour Goals: The Art and Science of Making Things Happen, this Saturday, May 7, Brett Kunsch and I will be talking about managing your daily focus and overcoming the obstacles that will appear. In the meantime, here are three questions to ask yourself about your own goal setting.

1. The Future: Are you thinking big enough? One of the things I work on consistently with my clients is having them set goals that push them. For example, we really want to find a relationship with “the one,” but we continue to date people who are never going to be a contender for that title, and in many cases, lie to ourselves to justify our “progress.” Some of that is because we have issues with self-worth, but often it’s because we have deprived ourselves for so long we think we should focus on small improvements to our situation. Success does not come from settling! There is a difference between milestones (2 dates a month with appropriate contenders) vs. audacious goals. You should have both, but don’t confuse the two. Think big.

2. The Future: Have you quantified your results? People retreat when they’re asked to quantify their goals. Some say it’s because we don’t like to hold ourselves accountable, but my experience is that it’s because people can’t see through the noise and are anxious about doing this wrong. If that’s the case, just throw out numbers you think are on the high-end of realistic. You can adjust the timetable on them once you start figuring out your milestones. Many coaches talk about the importance of visualizing and feeling your goals. This is important for visual and kinesthetic learners, but it’s not enough. You have to specifically put a stake in the ground if you want to make it happen. Just remember you can dig up the stake and put it somewhere else.

3. Now: Are you living daily with the right priorities? Once you have your vision, are the things you do every day in line with what you want? For example If you want to run a marathon in the next year, are your daily physical activities and eating habits reflecting that? If not, what tools and systems can you implement to make that happen? Personally, I look at my To Do list every day and ask if the items align to my goals, which are financial, lifestyle based, and continuing my path toward being recognized as a national education and careers expert. If my list is long and I am not sure what should have my focus, I actually put a dollar sign ($) or smiley sign ( :) ) next to each item and make decisions. If tasks don’t align to my vision, I find ways to get them off or move them down the To Do list. Sometimes, my decisions disappoint people, but I remember my audacious goals with the big numbers and reflect on the fact that I am the only person that will get me where I want to be.

What are your tips for effective goal setting?

We hope to see you at the event on Saturday in midtown NYC!

(*David Allen talks about this in his horizontal planning model, which some people treat as an after thought in Getting Things Done, but I think that it’s the most important thing he teaches. If you haven’t read the book, we’ll introduce the concept at our workshop.)

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog


Being Spunky and Bold: Hope Reichbach

I was saddened to learn about the unexpected passing of our neighbor and friend Hope Reichbach, Communications Director for City Councilman Steve Levin. I found out about an hour after the story was published in The Brooklyn Paper via email from an online friend and website visitor who asked if she was the young woman I interviewed on my podcast. It is.

Hope I met Hope in July 2010 through my colleague Eve who was helping market The Opportunities Project when it was just an idea. Hope had begun her campaign for District Leader and she offered to be interviewed for my first podcast. It was a mutual admiration society. Hope was everything that was good about GenY- young, spunky, idealistic, about the social good, driven and after results. She loved the idea of The Opportunities Project and our mission to coach young people on professional success because she knew her peers needed it and wanted to help.

In September 2010, Eve, Hope and I got together and recorded a 45 minute interview in Hope’s apartment, surrounded by stacks of campaign materials. Her interview was everything I could hope for in my first run. She was direct and open about how important her family was to her success and how young people needed to think differently if they were going to achieve their dreams. You can listen to the podcast here.

Hope and I only hung out a few times after the interview, but as a Brooklynite, I felt like I saw her everywhere doing everything she could to make this borough a better place. There is not much you can say when someone so young passes. As a coach, I almost feel obligated to say something about how we should take lessons from how Hope went for it no matter what, and what are you doing today, yada, yada, yada. But instead, I think I’ll just be sad and feel the loss. I saw a blog tweeted last night that said it better, anyway.

“She was a very nice person, Hope Reichbach. I’m so sorry for her family and friend’s loss. And ours too because this girl was going somewhere. And she would have taken Brooklyn with her.”

Our thoughts and tears are with her family and friends today.


PS: I never published the podcast on ITunes, nor recorded another episode because podcasting never found its place in my schedule (though I have talked about bringing it back with my team a few times). I received an email via my website from a friend of Hope’s who asked if I could make it downloadable because he’d like to have her voice on his IPod. A colleague is helping me do that and when we can get it up, I’ll put an update on this blog post with the link if you’d like to download it.

UPDATE: Hope’s interview was uploaded to approved by ITunes. You can download it directly from the ITunes Store. We hope it offers comfort to her friends and family.

P.P.S. The Park Slope Patch will have information about Hope’s memorial service on Sunday, May 1.

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog


Three Reasons Not to Ask For Feedback When You Don’t Get The Job

Every few weeks, I see a Job Hunt Chat question that asks whether it’s appropriate for job seekers to ask for interview feedback from a company when they find out they didn’t get the job. Every time this question appears, I effusively answer “Absolutely not!” It’s hard to explain my reasoning in 140 characters, so here are three specific reasons why I advise job seekers against asking for feedback beyond the general thought that your eyes should be on the journey ahead, not the trip behind you.


One: It does not help you develop the type of relationship you want to have with the company.

While reflection and constant learning are qualities companies want in new team members, it’s a fine line between wanting to grow and coming off insecure and most job seekers don’t walk that line very well. If you don’t get the job you applied for, you still want to be considered for future positions and the best strategy is to come off as eager and confident in your abilities in a well-written thank you. Even if you didn’t do so hot in the interview, the person may be impressed and call you in a few months for a new opening based on your strong re-positioning of your candidacy.

Some might say that you should ask for feedback because “it can’t hurt,” but it can. When someone puts you in an uncomfortable position, such as asking you to give negative feedback to someone you barely know, you often subconsciously sour on him/her. Don’t give the company this opportunity to feel awkward about you.

Two: The feedback you’ll get is likely worthless and won’t help you become a more successful professional.

First, most companies have strict legal requirements on what they can say to candidates so no one will ever be 100% honest with you. Feedback on your communication skills may be seen as welcome advice to one candidate, but received as slander by another one, even if s/he requested it. Second, the hiring process is complex, highly contextual and only a small part is based on your interview. The decision involves everyone else in the applicant pool- including internal candidates and referrals from important people- and what the company needs now AND in a few years. The context will always be out of the job seeker’s control and successful applicants understand this. All you can do is your personal best.

If you made it through an interview and you were not selected, it’s for one of two reasons- the company picked someone else for the position for a contextual reason, or you didn’t communicate well enough in the interview about your candidacy. You likely already suspect if it’s the second reason. You can work with a professional or well-qualified peer or mentor on interview skills through mock interviews and story-telling exercises without asking for feedback from the company. You’ll get higher-quality information and it’s a better use of time.

Three: It’s not the right mindset for job seekers.

Anyone who makes hiring decisions for a company has two roles they must fulfill- (1) serve as a gatekeeper so only the best are hired, and (2) make sure that people feel good about the company brand no matter what the outcome is. Unsuccessful job seekers often don’t understand that it’s not the job of human resources professionals and recruiters to be altruistic to the unemployed. In fact, their job is to weigh the interests of their hiring managers OVER yours. A great recruiter will never let you see this because they also realize you’ll judge them and their company if you sense it, but it’s 100% true.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve become tired of job seekers who have been unemployed for close to a year or longer, but have done nothing but go after drips of free advice and clutter their Twitter feed with articles about how unfair the job search process is. They know who they are and they’ll be stuck there until they change their mindset to one of growth. It sounds harsh, but sometimes the role of the coach is to give tough love. If you want to be successful, read up and study successful people and how they pursue their goals. They invest in themselves by working with teachers and coaches to learn new skills, and/or by finding mentors who can give emotional support and professional insight, not the HR person who likes throw out soundbites in a Twitter chat or gives you advice that is not in your self-interest.

Let me close by sharing a feedback story from my recruiting days. A few years ago, we had a candidate apply with a truly weird resume that listed his qualifications in alphabet format. A is for why I am Awesome… B is for all the reasons I am Breathtaking… all the way to Z for Zany. I am not sure about awesome, but he was definitely zany.

Needless to say, we eliminated him from the applicant pool quickly. This candidate had the contact information for one our recruiters and emailed her to ask why he hadn’t been selected for an interview. She told him that she couldn’t give him individual feedback because our legal department prohibited it, but he persisted in harassing her. After the fifth email, I told her to tell him that “most candidates” do not advance to the interview stage because of resume issues so he may want get a professional opinion before applying to his next job.

His completely misspelled 3,000 word reply came in the middle of the night and he informed my recruiter she was the reason he was 32 years-old and still living at home and he had no point in living. We decided to call him the next morning because of the threat and he was shocked to hear it was us when he answered the phone. We had no idea his mother had also picked up the phone and was listening, and she started screaming obscenities at him when she heard what he had emailed to us. He made another veiled threat about taking his life to her and at that point, we hung up, Googled emergency services for that town and they sent a response team to the address on his resume. We never heard again from that candidate and hope it was from embarrassment and not another reason.

Granted, this is an extreme story. But please, as a career coach, I implore you not to ask for feedback from the company if you don’t get selected. There is too much potential for people to think of you in a negative light if you don’t do it 100% right and for meaningless advice to screw with your head. Let HR do their job well, view you from a place of power, and go seek better advice from people who unequivocally have your back.

Liked this advice?

A revised and updated version of this post is included as one of 12 chapters in Tracy Brisson’s book Create Your Own Opportunities, available in PDF and for your Kindle and nook eReaders for just $3.99!


AERA 11 Recap: Is Your Educational Organization Agile?

Two weeks ago, I participated in a panel at the 2011 American Educational Research Association (AERA) conference in New Orleans. This was my fourth AERA event and my first as a panelist. AERA is generally a conference I’ve attended because I’ve *had to* go as a doctoral student at New York University. I enjoyed it more this year than I have in the past, but AERA is still not where my personal and professional tribes hang out. I’m okay with that understanding, but it’s still good to step outside your comfort zone to expand your learning opportunities when possible.

My panel discussed research on the direction of teacher preparation. As a panelist, I discussed my role as a gatekeeper and a consumer of teacher applicants based on my work as the Director of Teacher Recruitment at the New York City Department of Education. Basically, my perspective is that different types of certification programs can fight among themselves over theories on how to prepare teachers. All that matters is that new teachers can demonstrate they are ready for the classroom when they meet a recruiter or principal and then deliver on that promise. With a decreasing need for teachers right now, it’s important that colleges don’t lose sight of this.

Here is information on my fellow panelists’ work and my presentation on SlideShare.

Pathways Toward the Future: The Promise of Innovative Teacher Education and Preservice Preparation Programs.

Division K – Teaching and Teacher Education

Chair: Angus Shiva Mungal, New York University – Steinhardt


-“Pathways Toward the Future: The Promise of Innovative Teacher Education and Preservice Preparation Programs.” Angus Shiva Mungal, New York University – Steinhardt

-“Reimagining Teacher Preparation: Apprenticing Effective Math and Science Teachers in an Urban Teacher Residency”-  Emily J. Klein, Montclair State University; Monica Taylor, Montclair State University; Cynthia S. Onore, Montclair State University

-“School Districts and Empirical Evidence: The Reflection on and Improvement of Teacher Recruitment, Selection, and Hiring Practices.” Tracy L. Brisson, New York University

-“Establishing a Unique University and School Support Organization Collaborative Urban Teacher Residency Program.” Ron Woo, Hunter College- CUNY

Discussants: James W. Fraser, New York University

While my colleagues were presenting, I took some notes on themes that I found interesting.

– In creating and implementing their teacher residency programs, Ron and Emily have been able to accomplish a tremendous amount through collaboration, but recruitment is still a problem. This interests me as a recruitment professional. Is there something special that must be sold about the benefits of residency programs compared to traditional and alternative certification tracks?

– As part of his dissertation, Angus is interviewing faculty at traditional education schools about their thoughts, feelings, and experiences with alternative certification programs. He is finding some seriously good stuff (didn’t you know that seriously good stuff is an official academic term?). One thing that surprised me is the level of unresolved conflict that these professors feel. They generally think that alternative certification programs have great qualities… and they think alternative certification candidates make great teachers… but they still don’t want these programs around. It makes sense on some levels.

– As the discussant, Dr. Fraser asked me for my thoughts on how we could work better together- employers and preparers. My answer was that it’s about agility. The world is rapidly changing everywhere and schools are no exception. As public schools’ needs change quickly, we need institutions to change just as fast and give us the high quality teachers we need. If the largest percentage of students your college accepted after 2009 are studying to be certified as elementary teachers, you have a problem with your business model. In fact, your programs may be the first casualties once the higher education bubble bursts.

Outside of education implications, there are some career lessons from AERA, too. One, I learned that the panel was conceived when Angus and Emily randomly sat next to each other on a plane in 2010 and discussed how they were both doing research on teacher education. When was the last time you networked with someone when you were traveling, standing in line or something else mundane? Do it next time because things happen!

TweetupSecond, because I knew that I would have trouble meeting people at a large event where I felt like a fish out of water, I engaged on Twitter for the two weeks leading up the conference using the official hashtag #AERA2011. About three of us organized a Tweetup of about ten people at the Sheraton (see pic). On one side, it’s a little bothersome that less than 1% of the conference would be using Twitter. However, it made it intimate and we had real discussions. But here is the real kicker. I have stalked a certain professor at AERA for four years. He wrote a paper that I have marked up, highlighted, and annotated to death because I think it is genius. I’ve never been able to get close enough to talk to him because he’s always surrounded by people. Wouldn’t you know that he was one of the ten people who came to the Tweetup?!? I was able to speak to him for 20 interrupted minutes about my new dissertation concept and get amazing feedback! You’ve heard it from me before and you’ll hear it again. Never. Underestimate. The. Power. Of. Social. Media.


Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog


April 25 Music Monday and Announcements

It’s been a few weeks, but we’re back with Music Monday and our latest announcements. I’m *almost* caught up from our travels earlier this month and am excited for a productive May helping young professionals take advantage of the growing job market in New York City and across the country.

Attend The Four Hour Goals Workshop on May 7th

Ready to make a change, including setting concrete goals and achieving them? On Saturday, May 7, 2011, I’ll be conducting Four Hour Goals:  The Art and Science of Reaching Your Goals with Brett Kunsch of Millennial Coach at the Center for Arts Education (across from Penn Station). At this workshop, we’ll teach you tools for setting long-term vision and short-term goals and how to align them to what you do every day and meet success. We guarantee that you walk out with a clear head, excitement, inspiration and confidence that you know how to get started with making things happen for yourself.

When clicking on the Eventbrite, you’ll see that we have a number of ticket options available to meet your needs. This event will help professionals across the spectrum, not just those starting out in their career.

Also, congratulations to the prize winners from our Make The Change You Want Networking event last week. Two lucky attendees- Cathie and Kesha- each won a free hour of coaching with Brett and I, respectively, and another lucky winner- Roseanne- won a book from our bookstore. We hope to have another event later in the spring.

Download our Free Guide: Get Inspired through Social Media

If you haven’t swung by our new home page (it’s why our blog was dark last week) you may have not noticed that we now have a free guide that we’re giving away called Get Inspired through Social Media. It’s a free three-page guide of exercises that you can do on your own with LinkedIn to generate new ideas on next steps you can take with your career. People forget that LinkedIn is more than a social resume, but a database of professionals and information intended to help you make good decisions about your career.

We’ll do more promotion on this, but as a blog reader, check it out and get it before everyone else! This guide will also be featured as part of The Product Factory, run by Michael Port and Mitch Meyerson, sometime this week.

Tax Day Email Only Sale!

Wondering what to do with your tax refund? I am having a two-week sale on some of my coaching products. The details are only available to people subscribed to my newsletter list. When you register for our free guide, you’ll be added to our list.

New Press Appearances

My interview with the Professional Services Journal on using Twitter chats to recruit young talent was published last week. If you’re not in the Twitter chats, why aren’t you? Also, I was added as the latest expert to My Colleges and Careers, which is exciting!

Scholarship Winners

We selection panel reviewed all the eligible applicants and Justin and I did a next round of reviews and we’re ready to announce the winners this week. Stay tuned!

Music Monday

What are you listening to this week that will get your productivity moving? I have a blog post coming up this week that touches on maintaining your power in the job search so here’s a little James Brown and Soul Power to prep you!

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog


You Don’t Need to Be Batman to Join Forces with a Robin: Guest Post from Brett Kunsch

I am happy to feature a guest post from my colleague, Brett Kunsch of Millennial Coach. Don’t forget about our Make the Change You Want networking event on Tuesday, April 19th.

One of the most famous partnerships in pop culture is the Dynamic Duo, Batman and Robin. The two caped crusaders crucially helped each other with their one big goal: keep the crime way down in Gotham City. We resonate with Batman and Robin because we like a good team with a worthy cause. And we like them because they have a fierce level of commitment to their partnership. Your goal may not be as ambitious, nor as risky to your life. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find a partner to help you out with your mission, and them with theirs. But how do you find a partner in the real world? Forming a “dynamic duo” probably sounds far-fetched, if not cheesy. And to a lot of us, trusting part of our goal’s outcome with a partner seems downright scary. Yet the research shows, many of us experience greater success when we hold each other accountable to making things happen. There’s no exact science to soliciting partnerships, but the one thing you absolutely must do is interact with people and have your goals be known. To take it further, find people who’d be within your goal’s category.

Here are some potential categories:

  • Jobseekers/Career-changers
  • Marathoners/Triathletes
  • Bloggers
  • Language learners
  • Promoters/fundraisers of causes
  • Business builders
  • Superheroes (the non-violent variety)

I know getting out there isn’t everyone’s favorite cup of tea, but if you’ve been having a tough time holding yourself accountable to reaching your target goal, finding a partner might be your secret sauce to make it happen.



Brett Kunsch is the founder of Millennial Coach. To read more about him and his blog posts on partnerships, see Accountability Partner and I Got a Guy.


Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog