What is your story really about?

whats_your_storyGuest blogger Esther Choy is the President and Founder of Leadership Story Lab. Esther will be presenting the Lunch & Learn session “Leadership Storytelling: Leading and Connecting” on April 17th.   Please visit Campus Connect to register for the event.

 

When it comes to watching commercials, my defense goes up 1000%.  How can I not?  These days, everyone is trying to sell something to everyone – everywhere.  But this time I watch a very different commercial, and I cry every time.

Take a look before you read on…

The concept behind this ad is brilliant for so many reasons.  The most outstanding and thoughtful part is what it’s missing.  As a seat belt commercial, it has no car.  As an ad whose theme centers around road safety, there is no road.  Finally, as a campaign to warn people of the dire consequences of not wearing seat belts, it has no blood or gruesome bodily injuries.  Any one of these features would have been a fair and expected element in the ad.  Dropping all of them actually hasn’t reduced message.  If anything, it accentuates the point.

What is the point, then?

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Three Scary Words: Customer Service When You’re Stumped

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Does customer service often leave you feeling stumped?  Visit Campus Connect to register for WLP-OD’s Customer Service the DePaul Way training for staff and managers!

 

A few years ago, I traveled to Calgary to visit a friend.  This was my first visit to our friendly neighbor to the north, and all in all, I found it to be largely as reputed: A cleaner, politer, significantly colder version of America.  Unlikely as it sounds, it turned out to be “politer” that would be my undoing as a tourist.

My friend lives in a tucked-away neighborhood in a small suburb of the city, and she had warned me ahead of time that I shouldn’t assume that any random cab driver would be able to find it.  Accordingly, at the airport taxi stand, I approached my cabbie and carefully gave him the address.  “Do you know where that is?” I asked him.

“Yes,” he assured me.

“And you’re sure of how to get there?”

“Oh, yes.  Absolutely.”

I first began to experience misgivings about twenty minutes into the drive, when he pulled out a crazily-folded, old-school road map and spread it out across the dashboard (my general sense of trepidation was not soothed by the fact that we were clipping along on the interstate at the time).

“Are you sure you know where this address is?”

He jumped, as though he’d forgotten I was still in the car.  “Yes.”

“If you know where it is, then why do you need the map?”

He looked at me helplessly.  “I… I’ll figure it out.”

He ended up on my cell phone with my friend’s husband, racking up a healthy international-rate bill as he received turn-by-turn directions.  I sat in the back, counting out the exact fare (no tip, for obvious reasons) from my newly exchanged Canadian money stash and fuming.  Why on earth, I wondered, had he not taken the opportunity to admit he didn’t know the route before stranding me in the middle of nowhere in a foreign country?

My friend theorized that the aforementioned Canadian politeness was his downfall – apparently, among some segments of the population there, saying “no” to any request (no matter how impossible) is considered unforgivably rude.  But I’m more inclined to attribute it to something less cultural and more universally human: The fear of looking stupid.  None of us enjoy ‘fessing up to the fact that we don’t know something that we feel we should, and this is especially true at work.

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How to Keep That New Year’s Resolution

New Year's ResolutionWe all make them. New Year’s resolutions. But be honest: how many of us actually keep them?

What’s the secret to keeping a New Year’s resolution? Does it have to do with the person – do some of us just have more willpower than others – or does it have to do with the resolution itself?

ForbesWoman outlined six things you can do to keep that New Year’s resolution – six things that line up very well with the SMART goal advising we put out there as a part of our Performance Management & Appraisal trainings.

Here, without further ado, are those six things:

1. Get Specific

A common mistake people make is setting big, nebulous goals like, “I’ll be healthier.” Instead, make your resolution specific, with a tangible, achievable outcome. Rather than saying, “I want to save money,” determine how much, exactly, you want to save. What are you saving it for and what will you do once you hit your goal?

Then, visualize what good will come when your goals and desires are met. What does it feel like? What does it look like? It also helps to have something simple, tangible and positive to repeat to yourself over and over again. “I will be able to run a 5K because I’m healthy and strong,” is not only positive reinforcement, but it’s a quantifiable goal that you can check in on and make your reality.

2. Write It Down

Write down your goals and outline the small, manageable steps you’ll need to take in order to achieve them. If you set a big goal – say, learning a language – without a step-by-step plan, it can be overwhelming and trigger frustration or negative thoughts that get in the way of your success. By planning and accomplishing one small thing at a time, you’ll stay on track, focused and positive.

3. Make Time

Be sure to set aside ample time for yourself to achieve your goals. If you really want to write that book chapter, you might set aside three regular four-hour blocks during the week and plan one day every month to track your progress. If you want to exercise more, plot out time in your weekly schedule for runs and time at the gym.

4. Move Past Doubt

Keep tabs on how often you “unset” your goals with your thoughts. Pay attention to self-sabotaging mind chatter, like: “I’m not good enough” or “I can’t do it.” Every thought you have is an intention. It’s normal to feel fear, doubt or worry – but to make progress, it’s important to move past those negative feelings.

If you find negative thoughts surfacing, don’t criticize yourself, but stay in control. If your thoughts don’t support you or your goals, let them go – they’re not doing you any good. Replace them with your positive mantra, instead.

5. Get a Partner

Having a group, partner, friend or professional to encourage you can be a great way to keep you going. Try finding a friend who has a similar resolution and check in with each other every week to talk about your progress and challenges. Or ask a family member or significant other to keep you accountable – just make sure they’re supportive and positive.

You can also seek professional help, whether that’s a personal trainer to help you meet your fitness goals or a counselor who can help you tackle larger, looming issues such as low self-confidence or a lack of direction. If you are dealing with issues of self-doubt, these can seriously get in the way of you meeting your other goals – so do yourself a favor and address such issues head on.

6. Be Still

You’re more likely to slip on your goals when you’re stressed or overwhelmed, so spend time every day to getting out of your thoughts and reconnecting with yourself. Try a breathing exercise, meditation, yoga or just going for a walk. The more practice you have being still and calm, the more present you’ll be for each step of achieving your goals.

And that’s it. Easier said than done, but every successful journey begins with that first step.

Me, I’ve been trying to teach myself shorthand for, I don’t know, the past five years? But if I’m serious about meeting that goal – and telling you about it is step one to doing that – then I can see I’m going to have to take those six things seriously.

Watch out world. This time next year, I’m going to be writing a hundred times faster (if half as legibly!).

What are some of your New Year’s resolutions? And what do you do to keep them? Give us a shout. We’d love to hear from you.

De-stress This Holiday Season

Holiday StressSo you’re about to get pulled into the vortex of the holiday cattle masher yet again and you’re wondering what you can do to keep it from taking over your life and undercutting your happiness for the next two weeks.

If you’re anything like me, there’s nothing like A Charlie Brown Christmas to get you in the mood. But for spirits that are a little harder to lift … there’s the Mayo Clinic.

Without further ado, here are 10 things the Mayo Clinic recommends and you can do to stay healthy, happy and sane this holiday season:

1. Be realistic. The holidays don’t have to be perfect or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones. For example, if your adult children can’t come to your house, find new ways to celebrate together, such as sharing pictures, emails or videos.

2. Stick to a budget. Before you go gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. Don’t try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts. Try these alternatives: Donate to a charity in someone’s name, give homemade gifts or start a family gift exchange.

3. Plan ahead. Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities. Plan your menus and then make your shopping list. That’ll help prevent last-minute scrambling to buy forgotten ingredients. And make sure to line up help for party prep and cleanup.

4. Don’t abandon healthy habits. Don’t let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt. Have a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don’t go overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks. Continue to get plenty of sleep and physical activity.

5. Take a breather. Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Take a walk at night and stargaze. Listen to soothing music. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm.

6. Acknowledge your feelings. If someone close to you has recently died or you can’t be with loved ones, realize that it’s normal to feel sadness and grief. It’s OK to take time to cry or express your feelings. You can’t force yourself to be happy just because it’s the holiday season.

7. Reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events. They can offer support and companionship. Volunteering your time to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships.

8. Set aside differences. Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don’t live up to all of your expectations. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion. And be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry. Chances are they’re feeling the effects of holiday stress and depression, too.

9. Learn to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can’t participate in every project or activity. If it’s not possible to say no when your boss asks you to work overtime, try to remove something else from your agenda to make up for the lost time.

10. Seek professional help if you need it. Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional.

All of that, of course, is far easier said than done. But if you’re stuck for ways to get out of ye olde holiday rut, then why not give it a shot? Like my old Aunt Edna used to say, “It couldn’t hurt!”

What do you do to survive – and enjoy – the holidays? Drop us a line. We’d love to hear from you.

Work Harder and Smarter

Guest blogger Chris Nasti, Assistant Director of Fitness and Wellness with DePaul’s Campus Recreation, shares some of the less well-known benefits of exercise. Want to hear more about fitness and wellness? Join Chris, as well as Registered Dietitian Andrea Rudser-Rusin, at the Office Fitness & Nutrition Lunch & Learn on Tuesday, November 13. Visit Campus Connect to register!

For years, we have been told the many physical benefits of exercise. Exercise improves your heart health, protects against many forms of cancer, increases your strength and endurance, helps manage body composition… the list goes on and on. What we have heard less about is that exercise also provides a plethora of benefits for your mental and emotional well-being.

As we juggle the many commitments of work, family, and social life, it can be easy to dismiss exercise as a luxury we do not have time for. However, exercise has repeatedly been shown to have positive short- and long-term benefits on our cognition and memory. Participants have been shown to score higher on memory and math tests during and immediately after exercise. And the benefits can last hours! Adding a workout before work or during your lunch break can provide that extra spark to improve your work or academic performance.

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Facebook Fire Safety Tips: Keeping A Cool Head in Heated Debates

Guest Blogger Dave Awl is an author, speaker, and social media consultant. Want more of Dave’s words of wisdom about how to make the most of your social network? Visit Campus Connect to register for the inaugural Lunch & Learn Lecture of the 2012-2013 academic year. Dave will be speaking on Advanced Facebookology: Putting Your Social Network to Work for You on Thursday, September 20 from 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM.

For those of us who use social media professionally, one of our biggest ongoing challenges is making sure that we keep our online image professional — that the face we display on Facebook is a friendly, professional face. After all, no matter how strict you are with your privacy settings, chances are good that if you’ve been on Facebook for a while you’re connected to colleagues from work, and maybe even your boss or important clients.

And the flip side of that is, if you’ve chosen to hide your Facebook profile or Twitter account from work colleagues, you may be missing out on important professional networking opportunities, since so many important business opportunities spring up in social environments. (This was true long before social media came along, as anyone who’s ever watched a business deal take place on a golf course can attest. Heck, according to the New Yorker, even Presidents Obama and Clinton used a golf outing to strengthen their professional relationship.)

Speaking of presidents … well, that brings me to my main point. As we head into the election season, there are going to be lots of political conversations springing up on Facebook and Twitter — just as they do around the water cooler, at dinner parties, and in all kinds of other social settings during this phase of the political cycle.

Those discussions sometimes get heated, and the closer we get to election day, the hotter the rhetorical temperature is likely to get.

And this is where the slope gets slippery. On the one hand, you have every right to participate in those conversations — and in fact, depending on what you do, the ability to discuss topical issues intelligently may be an important part of your professional identity. But on the other hand, you don’t want to run the risk of losing your cool in front of your colleagues or clients, or you could wind up diminishing yourself in their eyes. (After all, not many companies conduct extensive searches to fill the position of Office Crankypants.)

I won’t necessarily say that I’ve been guilty of slipping on this particular banana peel myself in years gone by. (But then again, I don’t have to, because certain friends of mine would be more than willing to mention it if you ask them.)

So learn from my mistakes. Here are some tips to avoid letting Facebook flame wars make an ash out of you:

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Work, Study, Thrive: Certificate of Supervision in Student Employee Management

Help your student employees (and your office) get the most out of their work experience at DePaul by completing this newly expanded training program.

At the end of this month, the Office of Student Employment (OSE) is kicking off their training sessions for the coming year. These sessions come on the heels of a very busy past year for the office. In addition to providing assistance to DePaul faculty and staff members who employ over 4300 student employees in over 6900 positions, they also successfully launched the Certificate of Supervision in Student Employee Management program with Workplace Learning, Performance, and Organizational Development.

127 student employee managers participated in one or more sessions on 5 different topics, and 3 completed the certificate program. Faced with a marked increase in participation, from 195 total attendees in 2011 to 358 total attendees in 2012, OSE shows no signs of slowing down.

“Due to the success of the program, we have had to add more sessions throughout the year,” comments Assistant Director Sarah Carbone. She continues, “Based on the feedback we received, we have even had to extend some of our sessions in order to accommodate additional content.”

When asked what OSE has on deck for the coming year, Sarah responds, “We are offering 22 sessions; the subject matter will remain mostly the same. The topics will include hiring, managing, interviewing, conducting performance reviews, giving and receiving feedback, and using the Campus Job Board.”

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“What a benefit to be in a community…

We’re finally winding down from co-sponsoring the very first DePaul Learning Showcase in June.  Along with 16 departmental collaborators from across the university, we produced an event to showcase the training, development and learning technologies available to DePaul employees.  Over 100 DePaul employees took part in the afternoon and left satisfied, energized and enthusiastic about future events such as this one.  Attendees told us that the opportunity to network, ability to speak to presenters, and “one-stop-shop” atmosphere were the key rewards of the event.  76% of respondents are likely to attend training featured at the Showcase!

The planning, conversation and day of event activities were particularly rewarding for me, as I was able to meet and greet guests, hand out Certificates, wander from booth to booth, and observe DePaul employees in action. I felt proud to be part of a community of individuals committed to learning about resources and learning from each other.

The event reminded me of my favorite Vincent quote, “What a benefit to be in a community where each single person participates in the good done by all its members.”  Check out some of the good being done in this short video, produced by MPT and WLP that highlights the day, that appears on our Facebook page!

Yours in collaboration,
Mary McGuinness, Director WLP-OD

Today’s Learning Showcase will feature from the Office of the Mission and Values: The Name Above the Door

 

The Name Above the Door: the meaning of mission at DePaul

Georgianna Torres Reyes and Scott Kelley from the Office of Mission and Values will present a number of events, activities, and resources that enhance participant understanding of mission at the DePaul Learning Showcase on Wednesday, June 13, 2012 from 4-6 pm in the DePaul Central Concourse.

Some at DePaul may not be very familiar with the “name above the door” that provides a sense of shared history and a common sense of mission that, in turn, often shapes the strategic direction of the university and various departments within it. As DePaul continues to hire the most qualified professionals in their respective fields, there is a constant need to introduce, orient, educate, and develop leadership capacity with regard to the meaning of the mission.

 

In response to the ongoing demand to enhance understanding of “the name above the door,” the Office of Mission and Values offers a number of opportunities for faculty and staff to engage the mission in various ways. One of the most popular opportunities for mission engagement is the Vincentian Heritage Tour , where participants literally walk in the footsteps of Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marillac – in Paris. For those in administration with leadership responsibilities, there is an intensive cohort called the Vincentian Mission Institute, offered in collaboration with two other Vincentian universities, St. John’s and Niagara. In addition to these intensive experiences, there are a number of other opportunities to learn more about the meaning of mission: through “salon” based discussions sponsored by the Catholic Intellectual Tradition series , through a Vincentian lecture series , and through a significant collection of digital resources available at the All Things Vincentian online portal. For those who have an idea for an exciting new pilot project or proposal that would enhance mission at DePaul in some way, there is also seed funding through the Vincentian Endowment Fund .

If you can’t remember all of these opportunities, don’t worry. Just remember to visit us at mission.depaul.edu as your one stop shop for all things mission at DePaul. You can even sign up for our periodic email updates if you want to stay connected.

Click here to register for The DePaul Learning Showcase!

 

Today’s DePaul Learning Showcase will feature: University Libraries!

University Libraries First Fridays Committee will be presenting today at the DePaul Learning Showcase in the DePaul Center Concourse from 4-6 pm! Stop by to see how this committee is helping to bring professional development opportunity to library staff members!

The Library First Fridays Steering Committee (a subdivision of the Staff Development Committee) was created in 2006. Its objective is to provide professional development opportunities, networking opportunities, and event management opportunities for library staff members.

The Library First Fridays Steering Committee typically holds 1-2 events per quarter. First Fridays meetings start with an open forum for discussion and then a training session. Brown Bag Lunches are typically roundtable sessions discussing information related to DePaul or the library science field.

This academic year, the Library First Fridays Steering Committee has organized events on being a fearless leader, mastering supervisory skills, learning basic yoga, and discussing conferences recently attended. On average, attendance at these events has averaged over 40% of the library full-time staff.

Library staff members seem to have benefitted from attending First Fridays events. Some staff members have enjoyed the opportunity to interact with colleagues from different departments. Other staff members have commented that First Fridays events have covered a wide array of topics and have helped them in their day-to-day work.

Click here to register for The DePaul Learning Showcase!