The power of a name

the power of a name

One of the many lessons I learned early on from my father was the importance of learning and pronouncing people’s names correctly. My dad, who was also my FFA advisor, made sure to teach the lesson every year as we prepared for our annual FFA chapter banquet. See, during our banquet, we awarded every student in the program at least once and the awards were presented by fellow members of the chapter. For many students, this was the first time they’d ever been recognized for anything. And, for most, their parents would be in the audience.

It was a moment to be proud of.

Now, think how hard it would be to have your name mispronounced in front of a crowd of people as you’re getting an award (maybe your first one ever). Tough, right?

Now, I won’t say that names weren’t ever mispronounced. After all, we were high schoolers and because of how our program was structured – students from seven different schools came to my dad’s agriscience class for half of their day; some in the morning, some in the afternoon – there was always the possibility that the student giving an award had never met the person receiving the award. It wasn’t a perfect system.

But the lesson was taught to each student, year in and year out, that we should all do our best to learn everyone’s name and how to pronounce it. The parents in the room worked hard to pick that name. As we’re honoring their child, they should be proud to hear that child’s name announced – and announced correctly.

I’m currently reading the famous book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie, and I recently finished the chapter on this same idea. As he says “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” To remember someone’s name is to show them respect; it demonstrates that you care and understand the important part they play in the world.

Here’s some tips we can all use to better remember and pronounce names. Do you have any others to add to the list?

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A reminder of perspective

I’ll admit that I’ve been feeling a little down about work lately. I’m chalking it up to a minor “quarter life crisis” – which I know I’m not alone in experiencing – and putting an unnecessary amount of pressure on myself to figure out what I want to do for the rest of my life.

Do I want to stay in advertising?

Do I want to move to the non-profit sector?

Should I freelance?

Are there other interests outside of agriculture that I should tap into?

Should I be looking at things closer to home, friends and family?

I know that none of these are questions that need to be answered right now, and that I should just stop and take a breath. But it’s just so hard sometimes, when you feel like there’s just so much to figure out! Thankfully, I got to have an experience at work last week that gave me a little bit of perspective.

Right now our agency is working on a little self reflection, trying to discover where we want to be in the future and what steps we need to take to get there. As a part of the process, I got to be part of a focus group. The group was made up of people mostly in my age group, from all different disciplines and departments. We were asked about our thoughts on agency culture, where new business might come from and the creative process. One of the best perspective gaining questions that got asked, though, was the first one we got started with:

Why do you like working here? What makes you get up in the morning every day?

What I loved is that, across 10 or so people around the table, there were common themes that resonated with all of us and prove that yes – despite my constant panic about whether I should shift course – this really is a great place to work.

We don’t take ourselves too seriously.

Minneapolis is a big advertising/PR town, with shops that are doing globally recognized work. We do great work in our office, too, but you won’t see us jet-setting to Cannes or only doing work for high profile, “flashy” companies. We know our clients and their business and that’s why they hire us. We work hard to bring them new insights and ideas and, at the end of the day, we relax over a drink and some happy hour snacks. We love what we do, but we don’t have to stick our nose up at everyone else to do it. We’d rather challenge you to a game of Crud instead.

We value the fact that employees have lives outside of work.

While we expect that the work gets done well, on time and on budget, our senior management (and clients) also understand that people have interests and families outside of our walls. Unlike other “run ’em ragged” shops, people on our team will raise an eyebrow if you’re still in the office after 6:00 or if you say you’re skipping a kid’s baseball game because you’re trying to get work done. Work is only one part of our lives – it doesn’t do well to make it the only focus.

We put a lot of faith in young talent.

This is one that’s especially good for me to be reminded of every so often, especially when I get caught up in all the things I don’t feel very confident in. At my agency, our leadership has faith in young talent. There are 20-somethings (like yours truly) who get tons of responsibility over strategy development and project execution for lead brands of our biggest clients. When we prove that we can handle the challenge and can be trusted to make smart choices, we’re given the opportunity to lead. That’s huge.

So next time I get stuck in a “What in the heck am I going to do with myself for the rest of my career?!!?” place, I’m going to look back on this list and remember – I’m in a pretty good place to figure it out.

6 Ideas for New Hire Onboarding

With the arrival of summer interns and a slew of new hires thanks to expanding business, my company is re-evaluating our onboarding procedure (which is really to say, we’re creating one).

Now, I for one think that your first week at a new job is one of the hardest. Not only do you not know anyone, but you’re also learning a bunch of new processes and — despite being eager to jump in — don’t know enough about the business to just start taking things and running with them.

Knowing those challenges, we’ve brainstormed some ideas that I think would be great additions to any new employee program. I don’t know that we’ll put them all into action but maybe there’s one or a few that you think would work in your office!

Introduce the company mission or vision
For Millennials especially, we want to know what our employer is trying to achieve or the mark they want to leave on the world — and how we can contribute to that. Start introducing the company mission to new employees from the start and help them discover how they can live it every day.

Make a buddy system
Where in the building can you get a Diet Coke? Who do I go to when I need to order office supplies? What does Bob Smith do again? These are just a few of the questions that a new employee may be wondering but not know who to ask. Sure, there’s always your manager, but why not have a buddy? We thought it’d be great if new hires — especially those straight out of school — had a “buddy” that was at their same position, maybe also somewhat new to the company, to answer the questions that seem silly until you get to know more people.

Provide an organization chart
If your company is anything like mine, there are lots of people with titles that may mean little to nothing to you if you’re new to the industry. Having an easy to understand org chart helps new employees learn names and what people do (make sure to include pictures!).

Create “Our Company 101”
Despite the fact that you just interviewed with your employer, know the basics and it seems like a great place to work, there may still be holes in your knowledge of what they actually do. For us, that missing information might be who our largest clients are, how we make money and what our short and long term goals are. Consider creating some sort of introductory document or presentation that helps new employees get more comfortable with the inner workings of the business.

Training materials, practice assignments and/or tutorials
One of the hardest part of starting a new job IMO is staying busy until you know the business well enough to generate your own work. For new employees, consider having a set of training modules/tutorials that teach skills they’ll need or practice assignments that mimic what they’ll be doing. For us, examples might be an online tutorial on basic HTML or writing a creative brief based on a fictional scenario. For your business it might be something else, but make sure the tasks are relevant to their position and help get them up to speed on what you’ll expect from them in the future.

Lunch and happy hours
I’m a firm believer in the power of lunches and happy hours to get to know people. Make sure you’re inviting new employees to lunch and happy hours with people at all levels of the company to build those connections in a more casual setting.

I know there are lots of other ways to welcome new people to your organization, and these are just the tip of the iceberg. Make sure to share what your company does or other ideas in the comments!

3 Things I Miss About College Now That I’m an Adult

My sister graduated from Michigan State this year and it made me yearn for my college days!

My sister graduated from Michigan State this year and it made me yearn for my college days!

As thousands of college students across the country become college alumni over the next month or so, I’ve been spending time reflecting on my college days. It’s been especially pertinent this year as my sister joined the ranks of Michigan State graduates (Go Green!) a few weeks ago and I got to go back to campus.

One of the things that always strikes me when I think back to college are all the things I miss. Sure there was the sleeping in and social time, but there were also a lot of other things you might not typically think of that I wish could continue today. Even though I love my job and a regular paycheck, you have to admit that these things were pretty great.

Setting your own schedule
In college, I would go to work for 2-3 hours in the morning, get lunch, go to class, do some homework, and then go to a club in the evening. Then the next day, it’d be a totally different routine. I got everything done, but did it on my time when it was most convenient — no 9-5 repetition.

Getting to have a variety of experiences
My senior year of school, I was working three jobs, freelance writing and participating in multiple clubs. There’s nothing quite like that in the real world (unless you’re a freelancer) where you can get such a diversity of professional experiences and networking opportunities.

Creating your own stress
Due to the number of things I participated in and the class load I took, I always felt that I was busy and under pressure from somewhere. It wasn’t until I moved into a full-time job that I realized how wonderful it is to have stress put on you by no one but yourself. If something was too much, I didn’t have to do it. In the working world, though, there’s pressure from so many more outside forces — coworkers, supervisors, clients, looming deadlines — that you can’t just walk away from if you feel like you need a breather.

Now, that’s not to say that moving into a career isn’t awesome (I’ll write about that later), but a word of advice to students everywhere: take advantage of every moment and don’t wish it away too quickly — there will never be another time in your life quite like college.

Let’s Hear It for the Girls: Meet Brandi Buzzard Frobose!

For as big as the world is, it’s always funny to me when you realize that it’s actually really small at the same time. I definitely had one of those “small world” moments when I met this week’s “Let’s Hear It for the Girls” guest. Brandi and I met through #agchat (a Twitter conversation for people involved in agriculture) but we have only met in real life a couple of times. Despite that, within a short time of knowing her, I learned that I already knew her boyfriend (now husband) from my internship with the National Swine Registry. Yup – small world.

Over the past few years, I’ve gotten to learn more about Brandi and one thing no one can deny is that this girl lives her passions day in and day out. I hope you enjoy learning more!

Background

Current location:
Manhattan, KS

It doesn’t take long to figure out that Brandi Buzzard Frobose is passionate about a lot of things (including rooting for K-State!). She definitely puts her passion for the cattle industry to work in her role with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

Originally from:
Colony, KS

Education (college/major):
B.S. – Dual major: Animal Sciences and Industry/Agricultural Economics – Kansas State University
M.S. – Animal Science; Behavior, Well-Being and Health – Kansas State University

Job title and company:
Manager, Issues Communication – National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA)

Brief description of NCBA:
We represent the American beef producer and work diligently to promote and maintain  consumer confidence in beef.

Where were you before NCBA?
Kansas State University/Beef Cattle Institute

How did you become interested in working in the cattle industry?
As long as I can remember I’ve been interested in animal science. During my first year of graduate school, my passion for talking to people about animal science elevated to new levels and that started my journey to where I am today.

Around the Office

Office culture in a few words:
Extremely laid-back; but my office mates, Rooster and Cricket, keep me company and  drive me crazy all at the same time.

A day at work looks like:
A normal day contains one or more of the following: checking major news outlets for hot button issues, coordinating appropriate responses to issues with our team, writing  content for any one of a number of projects, researching issues or events, editing and a  smidge of social media.

Favorite part of your job:
I am privileged to represent America’s beef producers AND I get to do something  different every day!

Biggest challenge you face at your job:
Being a remote employee makes it difficult to pull away from the computer. At the end of  the day, I sometimes forget to unplug and ‘go home.’

Apps (or other tech) you can’t live without:
Actually, I could pretty easily live without social media and the internet! I could absolutely not live without my iPod, though (although I did own a Discman back in the day).

Style

Your personal style in a few words:
Purple. Laid back.

Office dress code:
I work from home so I can either be found in jeans and a K-State t-shirt or running shorts and, you guessed it, a K-State t-shirt.

Go-to work outfit:
When I am going to be in the Denver or D.C. office or if I’m going on a work trip, I’m  almost always wearing a bright blazer, khakis and square toed boots.

On-the-go kit:
Right now my purse contains my wallet, check book, three tubes of Chap Stick, bobby  pins, a coozie, a lint roller, pens, a notepad and my sunnies.

Next splurge item you’re planning for:
A saddle for my barrel horse

Lifestyle

Morning routine:
Brush teeth, grab a banana and make the long commute to my office down the hall.

Favorite spot for brunch:
Early Edition – Manhattan, KS

On Saturday, you can be found:
Outside!

Favorite spot for a 10-minute break:
Outside, throwing a ball for the mongrels of the house

Hobbies:
Rodeoing, vehemently cheering for my K-State Wildcats, visiting friends and family,  planning my next globetrotting escapade

When you have a day off, how do you spend it?
Since I work from home, when I take a day off I use it to get out of the house – ride my  horses, go golfing, visit family or friends or go with my husband to a stock show.

At age 10, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A vet – young people who want to be in animal science really only know of one or two jobs in that field and veterinarian is the leading option.

Dream job:
I cannot wait to buy cows and start ranching. If I could stay home, raise cattle and rodeo  that would be perfect.

One thing everyone should do when visiting your city:
Go to a K-State sporting event – we really are a family out here on the plains. The  camaraderie and team spirit is contagious!

Cause you’re passionate about:
Breast cancer – it’s nasty and doesn’t care who it affects. It needs to be fought with more force than what it uses to attack.

Encouraging Other Women

Inspiration:
I draw inspiration from some of my favorite Bible verses: Joshua 1:9, Romans 5:3-5, 2 Timothy 4:7 and Hebrews 12:1.

Best advice you’ve ever received:
“You have to make things happen, you can’t wait for things to pop up on your doorstep”
– my dad

My mentor(s):
Jackie McClaskey, Kansas Secretary of Agriculture
Daren Williams, Sr. Executive Director of Communications – National Cattlemen’s Beef  Association

In 10 years…
My husband and I will have some cattle and farm ground; maybe even a few kids.

Career wisdom for young professional women:
Be kind – work hard – be humble – never, ever, ever give up

Let’s Hear It for the Girls: Meet Robyn Smith!

This week’s “Let’s Hear It for the Girls” post is all about one of my oldest and best friends. Robyn and I grew up in the same town, but didn’t really know each other until we started carpooling to gymnastics practice an hour away from where we lived four days a week. It’s crazy to think where our friendship started on those long car rides to where she is now as a successful physical therapist (I guess now I should start calling her Dr. Robyn!).

Meet one of my best friends, Robyn Smith, who is now a physical therapist near in Grand Haven, MI.

Meet one of my best friends, Robyn Smith, who is a physical therapist near in Grand Haven, MI.

Background

Current location:
Grand Haven, MI

Originally from:
Brown City, MI

Education (college/major):
Hope College, BA in Exercise Science
Grand Valley State University, Doctorate of Physical Therapy

Job title and company:
Physical Therapist, Mercy Health

Brief description of Mercy Health:
Mercy Health is a non-profit hospital that serves the Muskegon and lake shore community.

How did you become interested in physical therapy?
It’s hard to pin-point an occasion or moment that led me on my career path, but I give a lot of credit to my early years in gymnastics and developing an interest in human movement and helping people. I loved learning anatomy and understanding how our bodies functioned to do the incredible tasks we challenge them to do. Slowly it became clear to me a career in physical therapy would be both challenging and rewarding.

Around the Office

Office culture in a few words:
Relaxed, independent, and supportive.

A day at work looks like:
Every day I have the opportunity to work one-on-one with individuals for about 45 minutes each. My day can vary from evaluating them to determine the cause of their impairment or pain to helping them manage their diagnosis. I work with diagnoses varying from back and neck pain to knee surgeries to shoulder injuries. Plus, there’s always the daily pile of paperwork documenting everything I do.

Favorite part of your job:
I love that I get to help people live their life to the fullest and pain-free. It’s rewarding to know that I can make a difference in how someone is able to function.

Biggest challenge you face at your job:
Every day I am faced with individuals I struggle to help and many who continue to live in pain or aren’t responding well to physical therapy. It can be frustrating and disappointing at times.

Apps (or other tech) you can’t live without:
FaceTime, my alarm clock, and the Weather.com app. I also can’t leave home without my watch!

Style

Your personal style in a few words:
Classic? I love to dress up and feel comfortable and confident in what I’m wearing.

Office dress code:
Business casual is the standard at the clinic, but tennis shoes and athletic gear is considered appropriate (gotta be able to move well and demonstrate exercises).

Go-to work outfit:
Black dress pants paired with a cute and comfortable top or cardigan.

On-the-go kit:
Lip gloss, dental floss, cell phone, and wallet.

Lifestyle

Morning routine:
After crawling out of bed I hit start on my coffee pot (prepared the night before), shower, hair/make-up/get dressed (I should start laying out clothes the night before), followed by eating breakfast before grabbing lunch and heading out the door for a short commute to work.

Favorite spot for brunch:
I’ve only lived in Grand Haven for a few months now, but I have to say my favorite is a popular place called “Morningstar Cafe”.

On Saturday, you can be found:
Preferably lounging around my apartment catching up on things or heading out of town to visit family and friends for a weekend.

Favorite spot for a 10-minute break:
At work I don’t spend much time at my desk, so when I have a short break it’s a great place to sit and relax and socialize with co-workers.

Hobbies:
I’m still getting used to this question; it’s so weird to have free-time for hobbies once again! I am trying to get into running/working out more, reading, drinking wine, and cooking dinner.

When you have a day off, how do you spend it?
Days off are usually spent with friends or family.

One thing everyone should do when visiting your city:
Go to the beach and walk the pier!

Cause you’re passionate about:
Breast cancer research. It’s a cause that hits close to home.

Dream job:
I can truly say my current job is my dream job.  I love where I am at and what I do. I know there is room to grow and things will change, but for now I am right where I want to be.

Next splurge item you’re planning for:
Hmm, not exactly sure but I have a few ideas floating around. I just bought a new Jeep!

Encouraging Other Women

Inspiration:
I am inspired by those around me and those I am able to help each day. I am fortunate to be in a rewarding profession where I can help people each day. Seeing the great things some many people do and have overcome truly inspires me to be better.

Best advice you’ve ever received:
Do what makes you happy.

My mentor(s):
Professionally, my current boss Dean Millar, as well as numerous other clinical instructors and professors who have guided and molded me. Personally, I look up to many wonderful friends and family who I can always rely on for great advice and support.

Career wisdom for young professional women:
Don’t give up, even if the journey seems long – if it makes you happy, it’s worth it in the end.

Lessons from a quarterback: Focusing on mistakes gets you nowhere

Michigan State Football Team

My Michigan State Spartans have been struggling this year, but that doesn’t mean they don’t get back up and try again. We could all use that lesson every now and again. Photo credit: NCAAF–Fan IQ Blog

It’s hard to believe that we’re more than a quarter of the way through college football season already. When my Michigan State Spartans run on to the field and the fight song plays, I can’t help but get excited – even if it is just from my living room several states away.

But, here’s the thing – the Spartans have been struggling this season. It was almost laughable to watch the game of musical chairs happening at the quarterback position for the first few games and watching the defense score points almost as well as the offense. It’s “growing pains” like these that are hard to watch as a fan sometimes.

One of the things that does impress me, though, is that no matter what play gets screwed up or ball gets dropped or catch gets missed, the team can’t spend time dwelling on the mistake. They have no choice but to brush it off, learn from it and try to do better next time.

How many times do we need to take this lesson from our favorite football (or basketball or rugby or Quidditch) team and apply it to our personal or professional lives? As a perfectionist, I know I’m guilty of taking my mistakes or even “That didn’t go as well as it should have” moments way too personally. I waste time thinking “How could I have screwed that up? or “Why did I think ahead enough to prevent that?” and place the blame solely on my shoulders.

Instead, wouldn’t it be more productive if we thought “Now that we’re here, what can I do to fix this?” or “What can I learn from this to make it a better experience next time?” or “Is this really as bad as I’m making it out to be or does it only feel messed up because I know how it should have gone?” (a big one for many brides, I think). What if we thought less about punishing ourselves and more about personal growth? In my experience, you’re often the only one expecting perfection, so give yourself a break and learn from every “game”.

Because, remember, just because you took a sack doesn’t mean the next play won’t be a hail Mary straight to the end zone. Touchdown.