The World At Large

Are you making your own weather? 0

A fire crew works on a back-fire to prevent the wildfire from crossing Ferretti Rd. on Thursday August 22, 2013, as the Rim Fire has grown to over 36,000 acres in Groveland, Calif. Photo: Michael Macor, San Francisco Chronicle

A fire crew works on a back-fire to prevent the wildfire from crossing Ferretti Rd. on Thursday August 22, 2013, as the Rim Fire has grown to over 36,000 acres in Groveland, Calif. Photo: Michael Macor, San Francisco Chronicle

After speaking with a client this morning, I was reading a news article about the Yosemite wildfire. The TV interviewer was asking about the latest conditions. Lee Bentley of the US Forest Service said “This fire is making its own weather.”

This struck a nerve for me. In speaking with my client, she was concerned that her total employment history wasn’t long enough to justify the position she was applying for. Yet, as I reviewed her resume, she had progressed exactly the way others had done who held that position. The fact that she had done it sooner was a stumbling block for her, not an achievement. She was “making her own weather.”

As a Certified Employment Interview Professional, my job is to help my clients to believe in themselves and their value to a future (or current) employer. The first job is always to get the client to make “positive weather.” If they don’t believe in their value, it’s hard to get someone else to take a chance.

Luckily, we control how we think about things and can change our attitude. I’m sure the US Forest Service wishes they could do that.

Students should plan, so they never waste a summer 0

Joel Quass worked for VIMS on the Chesapeake BaySchool can be a stressful. Even the most motivated and inspired students face academic deadlines, family commitments, roommate distractions,  and other stressors. The thought of spending even part of the summer working just adds  additional pressure. Students view summer as spring break on steroids.

For me, summers were all about making money to pay for school. That was my plan. Summers involved long hours doing construction, pumping gas and being the Assistant Manager of a movie theatre.

But what if, with a plan,  you could use that time to forge a relationship with a multi-national corporation? Or work with marine biologists planting sea grass on sand dunes? Summer jobs in your field of interest stand out on a résumé and develop valuable contacts for future positions.

My best summer during college involved 18′ Thunderbird motor boats with giant Mercury outboard engines. My job was to chase the incoming tides up rivers that fed the Chesapeake Bay. Starting at the mouth of  the river at slack water, I would take a water sample. After logging the time and temperature, I would race upriver a specific time and collect another sample. All summer long I said to myself, “I can’t believe they are paying me to do this.”

As a  Political Science major, I never thought about leveraging that summer job into a career. That wasn’t my plan. Yet it happened in spite of myself.

I made some strong contacts at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and more importantly, at the marina where we fueled the boats. One of the Senior VP’s of the retail chain Best Products kept his boat there, and we had many of the same interests. Networking with Mr. Riley landed me an interview and a management position with Best Products after graduation.

My summer job helped me land a full-time management position after graduation by sheer luck. Imagine what a student could do during the summer if they had a plan.

This manager always said “whatever you need” 0

Good Management is Not, LLC I just received an urgent phone call. The voice at the other end of the line told me that one of my managers had suffered a massive heart attack and passed away overnight. I was stunned.

Having just spoken with him yesterday, I was trying to remember the last words we shared. I hope they were positive. They were probably work related.

We did have discussions about things other than work. He enjoyed talking with his fellow employees about their latest adventures. He was always genuinely  thankful to have the position. His family had been in the printing business, and when they sold it, he came to work with me.

His favorite saying, when asked to do something, was “whatever you need”.  I’m going to miss that.

After I post this, I think I will give each of my children a call and tell them that I love them.

Sandy was here. What a week! 3

In my lifetime, I have ridden out many storms including Camille in 1969 and  Agnes in 1972. Living in Virginia, I remember pictures of farm animals floating down the James River. More recently, my Mother’s house had four feet of water in it when Hurricane Isabel came ashore in 2003 near the Hampton Roads. But none of those experiences prepared me for the devastation I have seen here in New Jersey since Monday afternoon, October 29th,2012 at 4:15 PM.

For 22 years, I have driven over the Mantoloking bridge to go surf fishing. For 22 years, I have sailed under this bridge. For 22 years, I assumed I would always be able to do this. And then Sandy struck.

Having friends in the Fire and Police Departments, I have heard first hand of their personal experiences rescuing people and pulling out the bodies of those who did not evacuate. Many of my employee’s have been without power for 6 days. In communities near the ocean, it could be another week or more before power is restored. Several of my employee’s lost everything, while others have evacuated to friends and relatives further inland.

The positive in all of this is the level of teamwork and community that has developed. Yes, there is looting and price gouging, but this is offset by the random acts of kindness. Almost everyone I have spoken with since Monday night when Sandy came ashore right down the street has a “how can I help” attitude. Many of those I have spoken with who are helping others are without power themselves, but they still feel fortunate and are out helping those who lost everything.

So I may not be able to travel over or under the bridge for quite a while. But there is plenty to do putting things back together and many new friends to do it with.

Parents? Back to School List? Here Are Four Things College Freshman Need Most 1

So you’ve bought the clothes, the sheets (custom length so you can’t buy them off the rack), the college required laptop and the meal plan. You’ve packed change for laundry, filled out the dorm surprise package card from the university and made your hotel reservations for the big trip out to drop your freshman off. All set, right?

Here are four additional things you should put on your student’s “back to school” list:

  1. Remind them to follow the rules. If a class starts at 10am, the professor expects them to be there at 10am. It is now their responsibility, not yours, to get up in time to get to class.
  2. Remind them to break the rules. Buckminster Fuller had a quote about how one sometimes must create a new paradigm if the old one doesn’t work. Then there’s “Girls who behave rarely make history”.
  3. Take notes, write things down. College will be different from high school. Let me say that again, college will be different from high school. If the expectations are not clear ahead of time, it could be Thanksgiving before your student knows there’s a building on campus full of books; insiders call it “the Library”. Mid-terms for freshman can be a real wake-up call.
  4. Expect to learn – College is a huge emotional undertaking. Not having clear expectations about the outcome cheats the student of opportunities to make connections that are meaningful. As early as elementary school, when my kids went out the door to school I’d remind them to “get their money’s worth” and to “make sure they teach you something”.

As you send your kids off, please add these reminders to the list. If your student really applies all four, she or he will get so much more out of their college experience. And in four years, you can proudly display your Parent of a University Graduate Coffee Mug.

Have You Thanked A Teacher Today? 4

I have a new Twitter follower named Marilyn. I clicked on the link to view her website and found this. The sign is tucked in the top right corner of her blog. I think it speaks volumes to the spirit and dedication of those who are shaping our future leaders.

Your job as an educator is many times thankless. I wanted to personally say thank you on behalf of parents everywhere for teaching our children.

You can see the sign and read more about her program’s at Advanced Educational Consultants, LLC. You can follow Marilyn at

Memorial Day Thoughts 4

I went to a funeral yesterday for a friend I’ve known for almost 20 years. I first met him when his son and mine were on the same soccer team. Later,  he listed a rental property for me when he was in real estate. Most recently, his wife  worked for the same company I do. In many small ways, I shared his life.

Monday is Memorial day. I count among my friends many Veterans, including my father who was a first Lieutenant in the US Army. During this holiday weekend, I plan to thank every person in uniform I see, to share a small moment of their life.

As we remember the dead, let us also honor the living, sharing the small things with others.

Sometimes a picture says it all 1

My daughter Cynthia graduated from Drew University this past Saturday. Under the heading of the world at large, I started to write my impressions of the day.  After three days of musings, with Cynthia’s picture as inspiration, I realized that her picture captures everything I could say in a single smile.

So I share the moment with you as her proud father.