Year in Review

The past 12 months have flown right on by!  My term as the President of MPI Northeastern New York is quickly coming to a close (only 9 days left, but who’s counting?).   And being that I haven’t written a single thing here for almost a year as well, I thought I should at least wrap it up and say something!

I recently gave my Year in Review speech at our annual awards celebration, and I think it’s worth sharing an excerpt with the masses!  I am so very proud of the MPI NENY Members, it’s volunteers and it’s board of directors.  I’ve had the pleasure of working with some great leaders and volunteers this year.  Although, we’ve faced many challenges, in the end we definitely came out on top. It’s something worth sharing, because even the smallest of chapters can be mighty!

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As a Chapter leader, volunteer and member, YOU control the direction we [the MPI NENY Chapter] take YOUR education and professional development. A recent survey of MPI Members showed that 90% of members agree that MPI aids in their professional development.

One of the best things about being a member of MPI is that YOUR membership belongs to YOU and you alone. And this means, that no matter where you go – YOUR membership goes with you.  Membership in MPI connects you to a regional, national and international community unlike any other.

I encourage you to explore the MPIWeb.org site, attend an international event (like the World Education Congress), share ideas with those outside our Chapter, or join an online discussion group (think LinkedIn or Twitter).

This evening is not only about celebrating our volunteers & members, but a time to reflect on the past 12 months.  So what has the past year been like? We have definitely had our share of challenges.

  • A new rebate system was established by MPI Headquarters that affects how much of your membership dues comes back to the chapter.
  • The MPI Foundation put a hold on approving grants and grants that had been approved were not fully funded this year.
  • An unexpected membership dues increase for suppliers during an economic downturn – to which we have not fully seen the effects.

But how has this affected you?  Even with all the operational noise coming down from headquarters, you may not have noticed!

Why? Because the MPI NENY board of directors is here to ensure that your membership experience is seamless and consistent. That you are not personally affected by all the nuances trickling down from headquarters.  What’s important to you, is that this chapter is providing you with the educational content and connections you need as a member.

No matter what challenges we as a board have seen or may see come down the pike, what really matters is what we continually do for YOU.

We have much to be proud of as well!  There are many successes to celebrate. Each year we are asked by headquarters to set and track certain goals. We are currently on the path to meet, if not exceed, each of these goals this year.

When it comes to membership – we may be small, but we are mighty!  At 129 strong, our numbers may not have increased, but we have not seen a decrease in membership numbers either. Our membership continues to be actively engaged; with 36% of our members volunteering in some capacity!

If that wasn’t enough to impress you – here’s something else to be proud of! In March you were asked to complete an International Membership Satisfaction Survey. We now have the results of that survey.

Our overall Chapter satisfaction score placed us Number 2 both regionally (out of 47 chapters) & globally (out of 71 chapters).  We scored an 8.93 out of 10 for overall satisfaction.  To put that in perspective – the average chapter satisfaction score for all of the US Chapters was 7.8; a 7.6 in Canada; and a 6.6 in Europe.  Our Chapter received an educational content satisfaction score of 9 out of 10; ranking us Number 1 both regionally and globally.

Clearly, our mission to help our members be their best by building human connections to knowledge, ideas, relationships, and marketplace opportunities is happening on a daily basis – it’s happening right now! And it is because of all of you!

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It has been an absolute pleasure being President of such a great organization and I look forward to my year as Outgoing President!  Best wishes to all and best of luck to our 2012-2013 Board of Directors!

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Celebrating Our Members

Last night was the MPI Northeastern New York awards celebration. The MPI NENY Awards Celebration is the culmination of the chapter’s year and was definitely an evening filled with celebration, as we recognized the talents, skills, accomplishments, and dedication of our members and industry colleagues.

As part of last night’s ceremony, I had to give a speech.  Truth be told, and despite what others might tell you, I did not spend a whole year writing this! I spent at least 2 months, and then changed it two days before the event.  And then added more stuff two hours before the event.  I was so nervous the night before and the day of, I really thought my stomach would revolt. It didn’t help matters that I was speaking last.  But a glass (or two o)f wine later, and I’m good to go. We had a special guest, MPI Chairman Eric Rozenberg (@Yoda18), who flew in from Belgium.  It was our very first international guest speaker.  And if you haven’t heard, he’s on his farewell tour.

As odd as this might be, I wanted to share my speech with the world.  And share a very special video from MPI President & CEO Bruce MacMillan (@BMACMPI) who generously recorded a special message for us about WEC11.

A few words from the new President…

I would like to thank everyone once again for coming out tonight.  The June awards celebration is truly a special time for our Chapter and our members as we recognize their accomplishments.  Congratulations again to all our award winners this evening.  Your volunteer efforts are truly appreciated and I look forward to working with you this year.

Thank you to Eric Rozenberg for coming all the way from Belgium to speak at our event tonight; making our Chapter the last stop on his farewell tour as MPI Chairman. It was an honor to have you here.

Here I am at the beginning, the beginning of my term as President.  I’ll admit this is scary; public speaking hasn’t been my forte.  But Jack Roddy gave me some words of wisdom…I should pray for inspiration or at the very least I should just picture everyone naked and I’ll do just fine.

As I transition into the role of President, I would be remiss not to thank Doug McPhee.  During my time as President-Elect, Doug has truly been an inspiration to me.  He has helped me to listen first, consider all sides, and then make a decision.  He has encouraged and supported me; he is and will remain my mentor.  Thank you again Doug for all that you have done for our board, for our Chapter and for me.  But just so you know, and as Jack can attest, you aren’t off the hook yet.  I’ll have many projects for you going forward!

We all know the saying less is more.  And we also know, good communication is a key aspect to our industry, but do you have the feeling that email is taking over the world?  Or at the very least, it’s replacing the phone call? I’m guilty of emailing my own co-worker while we are in the office at the same time.

In an effort to save your sanity (and mine), one of our goals as a chapter moving forward is to cut back on our emails to you.  The last thing we want is for you to delete an important email or for your server to mark us as spam!  The monthly newsletter will soon turn into a bi-monthly one, with more focus on articles, members, newsworthy items.  We will create a weekly email blast; similar to ones you may receive from International, which will provide links to upcoming events, important info you need now, etc.; condensing our event invites and reminders into one weekly email blast.

We encourage you to utilize our website more.  We will be posting the information you need, the events you want to attend, the people you need to contact, etc. online  Every link you click on will bring you to our website for more details – and for every question you have, as Cindy tells me… It’s on the website.

You may not have heard yet about my love for social media.  Yup, I’m the nerd in the front of the class, waiving her hand frantically to answer the question.  Social Media isn’t just for nerds!  I want everyone in this room to consider for a moment their own social media presence.

Social media IS your friend. No really, it is.  Yes, privacy settings exist, you can block people, you can lock down your profile – but then I wonder, why did you set up an account to begin with?

As a strong proponent of social media, I encourage all of you to follow us on Facebook, to stalk us on Twitter and to speak your mind in our LinkedIn Group (MPI NENY). I don’t expect everyone to be a part of every social networking group available, but business is being done within the social media arena, and you may want to consider being a part of a few (or at least one) – as they aren’t going away any time soon! Some of the best info and networking opportunities I’ve found, I’ve found on Twitter.

I just read this morning that: 56% of those who follow a brand on Twitter indicated they are “more likely” to make a purchase of that brand’s products compared to a 47% lift for those who “Like” a brand on Facebook.  AND Twitter is viewed as the medium in which consumers can directly communicate with the stewards of the brands they are most interested in. (But I digress…)

Keep in mind when deciding which networking communities to join…. “It’s not information overload, it’s filter failure!” We are very busy people, so it’s okay to be picky!

Our Chapter is all about Education – consider our chapter slogan, MPI NENY is the bridge to innovative knowledge and connections!  We’ve listened to you, we’ve taken what you’ve said into consideration, and our 2011-2012 educational plan is a strong one.  Thanks to the hard work and dedication of the education committee, led by VP of Education, Deb Goedeke, you will be pleased and surprised with what we have in store for you.  Remember to complete the membership surveys as they come in, as feedback is what drives YOUR education direction.

With your education in mind, I would like to turn to now to the World Education Congress and the MPI Foundation.

Many of you may know about this little conference in Orlando, FL that’s coming up in July.  If you don’t know, you probably should!  This will be my third year attending WEC, and believe me it provides some of the best professional development and education around.

Another great MPI element is the MPI Foundation.  For 25 years, the Foundation has been investing in the people and programs that shape meetings and business events into a $100 billion industry.  With generous donations from MPI Members, the Foundation is able to provide access to grants and scholarships.

The Foundation is there for all of you in this very room.  Recently, one of our very own members was awarded a scholarship to attend WEC.

Life is funny sometimes, and this member would have missed the opportunity if she hadn’t checked her junk mail.  After perusing the “junk mail” she came across an email from MPI whose subject was “Need Financial Aid for WEC?”  The deadline to apply was less than a week away!  Perhaps we should all be checking quarantine more regularly!

She completed the application over the weekend, faxed it in on Monday morning and by 2 PM that day, she was notified that she had been granted the $2,800 scholarship that includes housing, airfare and conference registration. She will also take the CMP exam at the conference.  How fantastic is that? What a great benefit as a member to have access to a scholarship like this.

Join me in congratulating the WEC scholarship winner – Trina Avalos!

To close things up, what’s the deal with WEC?  You might be thinking why should I attend this year?  What’s in it for me?

Let’s hear it directly from MPI International President & CEO, Bruce MacMillan who has recorded a special video just for us!

Acknowledgment

A man desires praise that he may be reassured, that he may be quit of his doubting of himself; he is indifferent to applause when he is confident of success.
Alec Waugh

It’s that time of year when we go out of our way to show others how much we appreciate what they’ve done for us.

I’ve said it before, and it’s worth repeating.  A little thanks and praise can go a long way, no matter what stage of life you’re in, be it child or adult. Never be afraid to recognize the accomplishments of your co-workers and employees!  Do not let another person’s rise make you insecure or resentful.  All too often we forget to thank others.

In my opinion, one of the WORST things you can do as an employer (and even as a co-worker) is NOT praise an employee for their accomplishments and contributions.  Employees who are involved in activities outside the office that develop their own personal and professional relationships are some of the best kinds of employees. If supported internally, they can even be some of the most loyal. They are continuously striving to do better, to enhance their education in order to learn new skill sets to keep them one step ahead of the game.  A benefit to any company!

CHRISTINΔ's photostream

Remember, employees don’t always do those things just so they can leave their jobs; most often it’s so that they will STAY at their jobs – and be viewed as an asset.  What better asset to have than an employee who is ahead of the curve, keeping the company up to speed?  Unfortunately, without support (and I don’t mean a pat on the back for every little thing) you will eventually lose good, loyal employees to someone much more supportive.

As an event professional, I am thankful that my employer supports my volunteer activities.  As a member of MPI and a leadership volunteer on the MPI NENY board, I am able to remain apprised of changes in the events industry, in contact with new and potential suppliers, and keep my education and professional development on track.   In my volunteer world, I continue to serve on the MPI NENY Board of Directors as President-Elect.  I am so honored to work with so many volunteers! I know how hard they all work, both as volunteers and for their own paying jobs every day!  MPI NENY has some great volunteers, who give up so much of their free time to the benefit of the Chapter.  It goes to show how much being a part of MPI NENY means to the people involved.  We love our profession.

Consider the following from “A Touch of Business” (http://www.atouchofbusiness.com/tips/biz/0130-employee-recognition.html)

  • Employee recognition boosts morale and employee performance.
  • Employee recognition should not be considered a reward as much as “employee courtesy and consideration.”
  • Have an open-door policy where employees feel comfortable sharing thoughts and opinions.
  • Create a “family-like” atmosphere and recognize all employees for your appreciation of their hard work.
  • Employee recognition is most effective when giving pats on the back during the day to each employee.
  • Employee recognition adds pride in your business. After all, it is the employees who make your business run. Be the first one to say, “I’ve got the best employees on earth” and watch employee performance improve.

So let’s acknowledge our hard working employees, celebrate dedicated volunteers, and thank loyal clients.  They should be recognized not just at the end of the year but throughout.

Happy Holidays!

Where’s My Sledge Hammer?

I read the following blog yesterday, and it really bothered me.  Not the author, but the content.  It drives me crazy that this “glass ceiling” still exists and that we just can’t take a sledge hammer to it once and for all.

Still Behind

By Jessie States

Women don’t receive assistance in reaching their future career goals because they are typically in lower-status positions, according to a new study by the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Indiana University South Bend.

“We have laws that prohibit discrimination and enforce equal pay, but that only touches the surface,” department chairwoman Gail McGuire said. “We need to look at informal professional structures, not formal ones. These are the real sources of inequality.”

McGuire studied one of the largest financial services organizations and evaluated its informal network support. The firm is a major employer of women, but they tend to be located in lower-status positions. The men, a minority in the organization, occupy higher-ranking positions.

“Since men have higher status positions, they are hoarding and monopolizing critical resources,” McGuire said. Women received more social support, especially from their female colleagues, than men, but, McGuire warns, this has less of a career pay-off for women in the long-term.

So men are “hoarding and monopolizing” all the resources, making it more difficult for women to have access to funding for education and professional development. What a world we live in.  Yes, it’s great that we have a social support group, but what good is a social support group for your career? Take control of your own career – you can’t rely on anyone else to do it for you.  Invest in yourself! (Thanks for the tip Dawn Rasmussen!) My self-investment? MPI, WEC and local Chapter educational programs.  I want to make sure that I keep up with the changes in the meetings/events industry – you never know what unexpected changes could come your way!

Yes, I see that I’ve lumped all “men” into one little group, and of course I realize that this is not par for the course for everyone.  But clearly the sting is still felt since we’re still studying the effects of men versus women in the professional world.  I work in the political arena, its typically a man’s world – I see the unfairness everyday.

Next, I Googled “Glass Ceiling” only to find this scary study on Wikipedia.

David R. Hekman and colleagues (2009) found that customers prefer white male employees, which is why such workers may continue to earn 25 percent more than equally-well performing women and minorities.[13] Hekman et al. (2009) found that customers who viewed videos featuring a black male, a white female, or a white male actor playing the role of an employee helping a customer were 19% more satisfied with the white male employee’s performance and also were more satisfied with the store’s cleanliness and appearance. This despite that all three actors performed identically, read the same script, and were in the exact same location with identical camera angles and lighting. Moreover, 45 percent of the customers were women and 41 percent were non-white, indicating that even women and minority customers prefer white men.

There is this glass ceiling, but according to that study, women themselves still prefer white men, so what the heck are we supposed to do about that?  How are women supposed to break through if we continue to see ourselves less than?  Or view men as doing a better job?

Did you know about these other related terms? (Thank you Wikipedia!)

  • Brass Ceiling – In the traditionally male-dominated fields of law enforcement and military service, some people use the term “brass ceiling” to describe the difficulty women have when they try to rise up in the ranks.[32] “The brass” denotes the decision-makers at the top of an organization, especially in the military; it is an example of synecdoche.
  • Stained-Glass Ceiling is a sociological phenomenon in religious communities similar to the concept of the “glass ceiling.” The concept revolves around the apparent difficulty for women who seek to gain a role within church leadership.
  • Bamboo Ceiling – The exclusion of Asian-descendants from executive and managerial roles on the basis of subjective factors such as “lack of leadership potential” or “inferior communication ability” where the East Asian-descendants candidate has superior objective credentials such as education in high-prestige universities (in comparison to their white counterparts with only lower-prestige university credentials).[33] For example, research shows that there are a decent number of partners at leading prestigious law firms in the United States who did not attend top notch law schools. However, you will seldom find an East Asian American partner of a leading law firm who did not attend a “Top 16 Law School” (according to the US News ranking).
  • Concrete Ceiling – This is a term used to describe the type of barrier minority woman encounter. Caucasian women may face the glass ceiling in the workforce, but be able to break through it from time to time; however, minority women’s glass ceiling tends to be more solid and unyielding. This ‘concrete ceiling’ is due to minority women facing both issues of sexism and racism which intensifies their obstructions in advancing within the labor market.[34]
  • Expatriate Glass Ceiling – After breaking through the first level of the glass ceiling, many women are beginning to face an additional barrier. This is a term used to describe this second level of obstruction which prevents women in managerial positions from receiving foreign management assignments, projects, and experiences that is becoming increasingly more important for promotion into the upper-level managerial positions as documented by Insch, McIntyre, and Napier.[35]
  • Glass Closet – The exclusion of openly gay men and women from certain jobs, especially in the media.
  • Glass elevator (or glass escalator) – Some believe there is a rapid promotion of men over women, especially into management, in female-dominated fields such as nursing.[citation needed]They say men in these fields are promoted with ease – they actually have to struggle not to advance due to facing invisible pressures and expectations to move up from where they currently are. This is based on traditional gender roles and stereotypes that men are expected to be in the chief roles, while women are to be in the subordinate positions. Therefore, in the fields where men are less common, they receive differential treatment that favors them to exert their authority and control in the workplace. Others believe that men in female-dominated professions are discriminated against and treated worse than women, the way women are treated in other professions.[36]
  • Glass cliff – A situation wherein someone has been promoted into a risky, difficult job where the chances of failure are higher.
  • Celluloid ceiling, referring to the small number of women in top positions in Hollywood, as documented by Lauzen (2002) and others.
  • Glass Labyrinth – referring to something related to a maze and can find the way out of and get through; otherwise thought of as finding a path through power in an organization.
  • Sticky Floor – refers to women who are trapped in low-wage, low mobility jobs in state and local government.[37]
  • Sticky Ladder – A term used to describe women’s struggle to reach the top of the corporate ladder. This term describes the theory that women are not incapable of reaching the top; they just get “stuck” on the middle rungs of the ladder.
  • Glass Floor – Many men have college degrees and would like to advance further in our culture, but due to a lack of opportunities and an increasingly woman-friendly workplace, including men in positions of power who would rather hire attractive young women and women in positions of power who would rather work with women, remain stuck in low-pay jobs with little chance of advancement, including blue-collar jobs that do not require higher education and “temp work,” which requires the work hours and stress of regular office employment, but with less pay and no benefits.[citation needed]
  • Glass Wall – Refers to the phenomenon of high rates of women advancing to executive positions but only in certain industries.[38]

The effect has also inspired a musical, bearing the same name. “Glass Ceiling” (2006), written by Bret VandenBos and Alex Krall, examined and parodied the idiosyncrasies of both males and females in the corporate workplace.[39]

My thoughts…

You want something, go get it. Make the effort to invest in yourself. Don’t let someone else stand in your way of fulfilling your dreams.  If someone stands in your way, and you allow them to do so, you’ll wind up regretting it.  If you are happy with your life and your career, it will show.  Respect yourself enough to know that those holding you back may not be your real friends – surround yourself with people who understand and support your dreams.  And you’ll find the path to your goal much smoother!

Seize the Tiger – Career Management

Taking the Tiger by the Tail – Seizing Control of Your Career Destiny

Dawn Rasmussen, CMP
President, Pathfinder Writing and Career Services

Dawn Rasmussen

I began Pathfinder Writing and Career Services after working over five years as the state school to career director for a workforce training program in 49 high schools in Oregon. During this time, I coached literally thousands of people on how to write résumés and provided job interviewing training to help new workers prepare for their careers. Additionally, I worked with employers on student placements in their businesses.

Since then, I have been a frequent guest speaker, and have led the introduction course for the hospitality academy for homeless and at-risk youth at New Avenues for Youth, where I also taught students the importance of having an effective résumé.

Throughout my own career, I have always maintained that mentoring and volunteering is an important part of giving back to the community, and have received several top industry awards, including the Meeting Professionals International (Oregon Chapter) Mentor of the Year Award, President’s Award and the Oregon Governor’s Tourism Achievement Award. I currently am volunteering my expertise to the Portland Job Finder support group and also teaching a free class on résumé writing through the WorkSource Oregon (Oregon Employment Department) to help teach people the power and impact that résumés can have on a person’s career.

Learner Outcomes

  • Build a forward-thinking resume – a strategic, keyword rich document that is a career blueprint.
  • Understand your value proposition and how to go about finding the types of companies that appreciate your career assets
  • Learn to build a ‘spiderweb’ of network contacts.

Why did I attend this session?

Now who wouldn’t want to attend a session with this title? Seize control of your career destiny! Once this session got started, it really could have gone on for hours.  People have so many questions about the layout and design of their resumes.  The downside of this session was that it was scheduled to run from 8:30 AM to 9:45 AM (that’s what it said on the Z-card), but it was cut 15 minutes short by Dawn.  Perhaps she didn’t know she had 15 more minutes?  There wasn’t enough time for Q&A either. Several audience members piped up and asked questions during Dawn’s presentation, but she kept saying “Okay we need to move on now” (or something to that effect).  The presentation was too rushed, it was difficult to even take notes.  I was hoping materials might be available online, but I haven’t been able to find them.  Thank goodness I’m a fast typer!  Here’s what I took away from this session.

What is Career Management?

  • Career Management doesn’t mean you’re leaving your job, but rather getting the best knowledge and skills to be the best at what you do right now.
  • Career Management is being open to possibility at all times (a dynamic, fluid experience and mindset)
  • Career Management enables you to meet change head on so that you can respond nimbly to new opportunities or future job transitions
  • Career Management prepares you to move laterally or within the job or if you’re laid off

Today’s job market is no longer a passive experience; you are your own advocate.  If you don’t take control of your career you will get left behind. – Dawn Rasmussen

This become very apparent in a separate session I attended, Success: Moments that Matter with Hattie Hill.  That session was a panel discussion, but what really struck me was how one of the panelists took control of her career.  At the moment I cannot remember her name, terrible I know.  Her story began that her husband had started a new job in Washington, DC, they were moving, and she had to begin a job search.  She reached out to her contacts (80% of jobs are found through someone you know – Dawn Rasmussen). After she had exhausted her search via her contacts in the industry, she knew she had to do something drastic.  She wrote her own job description. There was a former client she had worked with, she knew they had a need, and she created a job specifically for that need and presented it to the company.  The company hired her, and two years later still say it was the best thing they have ever done. Wow.

If you don’t take control of your career, you’ll get left behind. – Dawn Rasmussen

What do employers want?  How do you prepare?

  • Be cutting edge: Employers cut those who are not highly skilled and knowledgeable
  • Step up and invest in yourself:  Employers are cutting back on company paid professional development – your career development, promotion and reputation depend on YOU
  • It’s not job security – it’s employability: What are you doing to keep yourself employable?
  • Be ready for the worst: Don’t wait until you HAVE to do something.
  • Know your value! Do you know what you offer to your current/prospective employer? Be in the moment of where you are in your career and the value that you offer.

What about my resume?

There were so many takeaways on how to design your resume.  Below are some of the pointers Dawn shared with the group.

Resume Pointers

  • Have a professional email address
  • Ditch the objective statement (employers don’t care what you want) – have a job title headline instead (create your brand)
  • Resumes are not obituaries they are a career map. Theme your resume with correlating key words.
  • Keywords – Don’t use skills or qualifications, instead careers expertise
  • Work History – Theme it (chronological/functional format), show career progression, actions and results.
  • Education: In an era of age discrimination, don’t put graduation year.
  • Professional Development should be listed under Education; be specific and give details to session titles, year it took place, and sponsorship organizations (i.e. WEC)
  • Affiliations & Involvement – How are you demonstrating your leadership by volunteering or bolstering your credibility by professional association?
  • Update your resume every six months
  • Keep track of your accomplishments, professional development and leadership roles

Do I need a Cover Letter?

Absolutely! Dawn told the group, no matter what, you should always include a cover letter, regardless of whether or not you think it will be read.  If you are emailing your resume, you can either attach a cover letter and mention the attachment in your email or provide the cover letter as the body of the email.  Remember, even if you provide the cover letter in the body of the email, be sure to attach a formal copy of it with your email (along with your resume).

References

According to Dawn, never supply a potential employer with a list of references unless they specifically ask for them.  If they ask for references, it’s usually because they want to hire you! Don’t forget to stay in contact with your references! You need to cultivate a network of top tier references and maintain a relationship with them.  A reference should never be surprised to hear from your potential employer checking up on you – coach them on what to say, so they can be your cheerleader!

Final Thoughts on Career Strategies

  • Keep yourself well read (keep on top of things)
  • Educate yourself, keep learning
  • Volunteer
  • Retain industry memberships
  • Point yourself toward your next step
  • Get on LinkedIn to build your network
  • Make lasting connections – don’t be a one hit wonder or user (build a relationship)
  • Build familiarity and cultivate internal advocacy for you
  • Roll your skills into the next opportunity (leverage skills set for next job)

And remember!

Your career is yours alone – you are your best advocate! You are the driving force behind getting what you want from your profession.  Don’t be afraid to try something new, be brave!   

Be positive – it will change your perception and others perception of you. Operate from a place of abundance – give back and you will be remembered as being generous. – Dawn Rasmussen