Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday Gifts from the Heart

Today is Black Friday and reportedly thousands of shoppers stood in line for hours outside of many retailers. Already, there are reports of injured men and women caught in the Black Friday mayhem at Wal-Mart stores in South Carolina, North Carolina and California. It is estimated that 152 million people will shop over the Black Friday weekend. And a 2010 survey reports that $42 billion was spent during last year's Black Friday shopping spree.

With numbers like these, one would think that America’s financial crises have subsided. Sadly, that is not the case. Foreclosures for 2011 are expected to top the 2010 foreclosure rate. And although the unemployment rate has dropped slightly, there are still 13.9 workers unemployed.

With Black Friday being the most popular shopping day of the year, it is safe to say that millions of people love to shop. We shop in stores, Internet and from our mobile devices. This is the time to shop for gifts to give to our loved ones and friends. But, you don't have spend hundreds of dollars to show someone you care.

In addition to shopping for loved ones, I’d like to offer a few low cost ideas on how to give the gift of YOU:

1. Donate to your favorite charity
2. Adopt a senior citizen (Senior citizen homes, Assisted Living Facilities, Adult Day Care Centers)
3. Volunteer at a soup kitchen
4. Join a church or house of worship
5. Gift the gift of Crafting (Scrapbooking, Beaded Jewelry, Knitting0
6. Offer a service pro-bono (Free consultation, Free Workshop, Mentor a professional)
7. Mentor a child
8. Get a pen-pal (Grab a pen and paper and start a letter writing campaign to children living in hospitals)
9. Support a small business
10. Social media for social good (Use your social networks to promote a cause or charity)

I'm not suggesting that this will make the financial crises go away - I wish it were that simple. There are thousands of men, women and children that can benefit from your time, your expertise and your willingness to share. Give the gift of you!

Can you think of additional innovative ways to give this year? Feel free to share them here.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Most Teens Kind on Social Networks, But Cruelty is Still a Problem

Most American teens say their online peers are mostly kind to one another. However; according to a new study "Teens, Kindness and Cruelty on Social Networks," 88% of these teens say they have witnessed people being mean and cruel to another person on social networks. And, the study reports 15% of these teens have been the target of mean and cruel behavior on these same sites.

Social Media has become a way of life for American teens. Of the 95% of teens online, 80% of these same online teens are a on social networks. There was a time when bullying and cruel behavior amongst teens was limited to the schoolyard. However, now cyber-bullying is on the rise and unless teens bring the cruel behavior to the attention of a trusted adult, we are oblivious to this negative behavior. Although 15% of teens that have been the target of mean cruel behavior online may seem relatively small in number, it is still a cause for concern.

Overall, the majority of American teens report a positive online experience, according to the report. At least 78% say they had at least one positive outcome from their interactions on social network sites.

What Can Parents Do to Ensure Positive Experience on Social Networks?

• Talk openly with your kids about Internet safety
• Invest in a parenting safety software for home computers
• Monitor your kids Internet activity
• Model appropriate Internet behavior
• Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask your child if they are being victimized online
• Set boundaries. Do not allow your children to have Internet access in the late evening hours.

We want children to get the most of out of their Internet experience. There are benefits associated with social networking. Help your child identify ways to use social networks to their advantage. Social networks and other Internet resources should not only be used for peer interaction, but also to educate and get pertinent information about education, extra-curricular activities, career and more.

Benefits of using Social Networks

• Use social networks to bring awareness to Humanitarian efforts
• Conduct research for academic pursuit such as college and high school
• Connect with educators and potential employees
• Encourage their peers

If your child is the target of cruel behavior, or you would like more information regarding cyber-bullying, visit the National Crime Prevention Council website at

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Start Making Connections While in College

College students often wait until their senior year of college to start thinking about their career. There are some students who even wait until after graduation to ask the question, “now what?” The time to start thinking about your job search is not towards the end of your college experience, but at the beginning.

Registration should not be a chore. I myself am guilty of going through the motions when I selected courses during the early stages of my undergrad experience. I’d look through the available classes and compare it to what was required of me to reach my goal. Selecting classes is a process that should not be taken lightly. Students should benefit from college not only academically, but professionally as well.

The training ground for networking begins at the college level. One of the first things job seekers are told when looking for a job is to research the company in which you’re seeking employment. Job seekers not only want to research the company, but know the professional background of the executives, community involvement, etc. I suggest that students apply this same method of intrigue when applying for college. However, don’t stop there – once you’ve chosen and been accepted into the college of your choice, do some research about the academic department where you will spend the next four years studying. You will be trained and taught by an elite group of men and women that will impact your learning, so why not study them. Chances are high that many of the professors and even the department chair have done some level of research on you – your grades, academic achievements, community service and more. Students should in turn, learn about their future professors and mentors.

What to Do?
Go to the school website, check out the professors in your area of study and read their bios. When the school releases the names of the professors who will be teaching your respective courses, send them an email to introduce yourself, connect with them on social networks or schedule an informational meeting. In other words, perfect your “elevator pitch.” In the same way job seekers do their best to articulate their strengths to employers; students should take this same approach with their professors. If you’re a journalism major, offer to write for the school newspaper, meet with the Department Chair to ask if you can start a blog for the department. If a blog already exists, then ask if you can incorporate a video blog. Check out what is being offered to students and alumni – if you have an idea or know of a way to add value to the school, bring it to the attention of the right person and offer to do it. Taking on this initiative can possibly turn into a job offer after graduation. If not, you can at least add the experience to your resume.

Why Is It Important to Connect with Professors?
It is these same professors that have “industry” connections and will write your recommendation letters. They know about internships and they serve as great mentors. One thing to keep in mind – relationship building is everything. YOU are your brand and you want to do your best to brand yourself and bring awareness to your strengths and ability to network. Do your best to become more than just a name on the roster. Be personable, polite and your ability to make friends with others. It is vital to show your strengths and your passion for academics.

How to Connect
* Connect with Professors and Department Chairs on Social Networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
* Start a discussion
* Ask questions about their field of expertise.
* Blog about your experience (hopefully a positive one) in a specific class and link it from your social network. Copy the professor
* Take advantage of the office hours provided by the professor. Schedule a meeting to discuss your academic and professional goals.

Remember, college isn’t just about academics; it’s a time for personal and professional development. When on an interview, it is the interviewees’ responsibility to convince the employer why they’re a good fit for the company. We have to let them see the benefit of having us on their team. This same concept applies in a college environment. Get yourself noticed by those who can positively impact your future.