Do You Trick or Treat?

TrickOrTreatThat favorite annual holiday – Halloween – is upon us. It got me thinking about how in our everyday lives we are capable of either tricking or treating others. Which do you do?


Do you trick people into thinking you are someone who you are not? Do you deliberately put on airs and misrepresent yourself to others? It’s time to take a long, hard look at yourself, and understand why you do this. Reveal your true authentic self for others to see.

Do you trick yourself into believing that you are not worthy? When you suffer from The Imposter Syndrome, you trick yourself into thinking that you are not as good as you really are and you are afraid that others will find out you’re not as good as they think you are. It’s time for a reality check and focus on feeling good about yourself and feeling worthy.

Do you trick others by compromising quality or taking short cuts? When you give 100% of yourself and do quality work, you demonstrate your integrity and gain credibility in the process.

Do you serve up tricks by being light hearted and funny? See? Not all tricks are bad. There are good tricks as well. When you can laugh at yourself and help others to laugh too, people will appreciate your sense of humor.


Do you treat all people equally, with dignity and respect? This simple act makes a big difference in how others see you. The dignity and respect you show to them will come back to you ten-fold.

Do you treat other people like they are more important than you? When you let others shine and support them in their dreams and aspirations, you are putting their needs before yours. It positions you as someone who cares.

How often do you treat others? I mean really treat them? Whether it’s giving a server a slightly bigger tip, giving a gift to someone just because you felt like it, or picking up the tab every once in a while for no reason, you are letting your benevolence shine.

As you participate in the festivities of Halloween this year, think about the “tricks” or “treats” that you are doling out. How can you treat others like they have value?

The Value of Volunteering

helping-hand-435x290Many companies today have created a culture of caring through community volunteerism. Whether raising funds for important research to cure a disease, teaching children how to read or building a home for a family in need, your involvement enhances the company’s visibility as a community leader. Your volunteer efforts  benefit you in two ways: You gain valuable experience in leadership, communication and stewardship and your hard work positions you well within the company as a team player and engaged employee.

In my case, everything I learned about leadership I learned through volunteer activities. I learned how to:

  • Understand group dynamics by working on committees
  • Supervise others
  • Delegate work
  • Work well with people from diverse backgrounds
  • Advance in the organization and accept responsibilities along the way
  • Negotiate
  • Think critically and creativity
  • Reach the top of the organization (as board president)
  • Inspire and motivate others
  • Share a vision with others
  • Develop a strategic plan for the future
  • Take responsibility for my work
  • Read and understand financial information
  • Plan and execute large projects

I learned all of these skills as a volunteer. Now, you may ask, “Didn’t you learn anything on the job?” Yes, of course, I did. Yet when it came to leadership skills, I learned them more rapidly through my volunteer commitments. An organization that relies on its volunteers isn’t going to fire its volunteers, so there is nothing stopping you from being your best and brightest. As a volunteer, the sky is the limit!

My experience of managing events as a volunteer committee chairperson came in handy when I had to manage large-scale events in my career. As a volunteer, you can learn and make mistakes. When it comes time for you to use those skills in your job, you will sail through any assignment. Because I experienced being a leader first as a volunteer, it was more valuable to me than reading leadership books. When working with volunteers, understand that they are already self-motivated when they volunteer (they know they are not getting paid for their time or ideas). To keep them motivated, make sure that their talents and skills are being used, not under-used, and recognized. Place them in positions where they can thrive.

What do you want to learn? What cause can you get involved in? The choice is yours. You can use your talents and skills to be in service to a community that needs you.

What volunteer opportunities in the community are being offered by your company that would give you greater responsibility and teach you new skills?

What other volunteer assignments could you introduce your company to, which would elevate your company’s visibility in the community?

Advocates Offer Support

Hand-Balance-1-285x300In your life, there are individuals who know you, care about you and want you to succeed. These admirers are your  advocates, people who speak on your behalf, not because you ask them to but because they believe in you and want you to succeed. They are the ones who tell other people how gifted or talented you are, how you would be perfect for a job or position or would be a great addition to a board of directors. Many of my advocates are responsible for my career success. Because of them, I was recommended for – and landed – several jobs and board positions.

Years ago, I received a call from a professional woman who was also my mentor. She had been at dinner the evening before with a man who was looking for a marketing director and company spokesperson. When he asked if she knew anyone who was qualified for the job, she immediately said, “I know the perfect person.” The next day the man who would later become my boss called me, and I ended up working six years for that company. I didn’t ask my mentor to help me find a job. She recommended me because she believed in me and wanted to see me succeed. You see, my mentor had seen me in action, and was familiar with my work style and the quality of my work.

A young woman who I have watched grow in her career for more than 20 years shared her story with me. When I first met her, she was just 18 and had accepted a position with a nonprofit organization as an administrative assistant. She was working her way through college. She had a positive attitude and engaging personality and loved working with people. Several years later, she left that position to work in the Human Resources Department of a large corporation. She had found her career passion.

Early on, she shared with her boss a future goal: To become head of the department. He told her what she would have to do, and said that it would require obtaining experience at one of their out of state plants before moving up within corporate headquarters. When such a position became available, she was the first person he approached. She accepted the position and happily worked her way up through the corporate ranks. It didn’t happen by accident, of course. This boss of hers was her advocate. He believed in her and wanted her to succeed. When the position became available, he knew the “perfect person.”

As you move through your life and career, identify who your greatest advocates are. Keep in contact with them so when greater opportunities become available, they will think of you. Let your intentions become known. You just might receive a call, text or email from your advocate who thought you were that perfect person.

What are you doing to keep in contact with your greatest advocates on a regular basis? How are you letting your intentions become known?

A Life Well Lived…and Celebrated

MatkaValleyLegacyLast week, my 93-year-old mother was included among 24 outstanding seniors and 5 senior advocates honored for exemplary community contributions and lifetime achievements in my hometown area. As each honoree’s name was called, a brief biographical description captured the essence of that person’s interests and passions in both life and career. Every individual being honored was a dedicated volunteer and activist. As I listened with great intensity, I was reminded that we can either choose to remain passive or become actively engaged in the direction and purpose of our life.
The comment made by a retired veteran and amputee who happened to be one of the top five award recipients stuck with me. In a strong New York borough accent, he said, “You just gotta do whatcha gotta do.” This is what his comment means to me:

Do what you want to do. There is a big difference between wanting something and needing something. When you do what you want to do, you are unstoppable. Nothing and no one can stand in the way of your success and achievements.

Believe that you can do it. It didn’t matter whether someone volunteered with children, landscaped a local park or helped to feed the hungry, they all believed that they could contribute their talents and skills to the cause.

Put your best effort into everything you do. None of the honorees struck me as the highly competitive type, who just wanted to rack up points for popularity. Giving their best was ingrained in their DNA. They gave only their best to everything they did, whether at home, at work, or in their community.

Serve others and serve yourself well. There is no greater joy in life than contributing to another person’s well-being and success. Teaching English to a new immigrant or serving meals at the local shelter, no matter what you do, when you do it for others, it makes you feel good about yourself and what you are able to give.

Inspire others. Your actions will do more to inspire others than you could ever imagine. When I left the luncheon, my heart was full, and I was inspired to do more and give more of myself to others.

Fast forward a few decades. Imagine that you are a senior in your 60s, 70s, 80s or even 90s, being honored for your lifetime achievements. What will they say about you? Return to today: What can you give of your talents and skills to others between now and then?

Data Lost and Found

big-dataIn August, I said farewell to my beloved data…the more than 1,900 photos along with a handful of video and audio recordings I had captured since purchasing my iPhone four years ago. In a flash, they vanished from my phone. It was not easy to say goodbye to these visual and auditory recordings of my life for the past four years. I found myself expressing a full range of emotions: First, confusion and perplexity (How could this happen in the Digital Age?), then anger and frustration (Who can I punch?) then, surprisingly, graceful acceptance (There is nothing more to do, so get over it and move on).

Here’s how it happened. I had asked my husband, Mark, to load some music onto my cell phone so I could enjoy it when I travel. When he connected my phone (older technology) with his computer (newer technology), my phone locked. He and our IT guy tried every way to retrieve my data. Finally, they delivered the bad news: “We’re going to have to restore your phone, which means all of your data will be lost. There’s nothing more we can do. Your data wasn’t backed up. You’re just going to have to accept it.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. How was this possible? Surely something could be done, right? Still, I remained hopeful throughout the whole ordeal. “Maybe my data is hidden in the phone somewhere.” “Maybe it got locked in some secret area.” I kept hoping and praying that it would show up somewhere. I remained hopeful.

Then something amazing happened. I realized that those photos meant something to me and weren’t necessarily of interest or importance to anyone other than me. They were part of my lived experience. I still had the memory of the places I had visited, the friends and family I had seen. They were still there in my mind’s eye. I could call them up anytime I wanted to. Out of this realization came acceptance. I finally said to myself, “Well, I learned my lesson. Always back up my photos.”

This experience took me back to one I had in my early 20s. I had borrowed my Dad’s Ford Mustang as my car was being fixed. When a friend and I returned from being out all day, we pulled into the parking lot of my apartment building and realized my Dad’s car was gone. It had been stolen. When I called my parents, in tears, to share the bad news, my Dad said, “It’s just a car. We’re glad that you’re okay and nothing happened to you.” From that moment on, I looked at material possessions very differently.

After experiencing the loss of the data on my phone, my husband suggested I replace my old iPhone with a newer iPhone. I was skeptical at first. In the back of my mind, I became curious: I wonder what will happen to my photos. Will they stay locked in my phone forever?

Mark handed me my new iPhone with a smile. “Check this out,” he said. I immediately saw the vast number of photos in my photo gallery – more than 1,900 – and quickly began scanning the remnants of my life for the past four years. “How did you find these?” My husband said, “You’re welcome.” He was able to transfer all of my photos to my new phone. As it turned out, they had not been lost, simply misplaced.

Sometimes we have to have that breakthrough moment – of acceptance – before we can move forward in our lives. What do you need to accept in your life so you can move on? Little did I know that once I accepted the loss of my data, it would reappear. And yes, of course, those photos are now backed up!