Category Archives: Tips

How to Organize and Match Mentors and their Mentees

A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could. ~ Unknown

 Employee to Human Resources: I want to get ahead on my job and I don’t know how or where to start. What can I do to make myself more visible?

Job security is at an all-time low these days. Layoffs are rumored; hiring and salary freezes abound; bonuses and annual raises are delayed. For those who are sticking it out and their morale is getting low, what can they do to elevate their visibility; increase their skills set and/or increase their promotability?

As an advisor, I always encourage continuing education. In these times, some firms have cut back on this benefit of reimbursement for education, but many have not. Check with Human Resources and find out what their current benefits entail. Some firms pay 100% reimbursement for a passing grade, including books, tuition, and fees. There’s no better deal than this; it’s equivalent to getting a super raise. Plus, you will add higher learning and certified skill sets to your existing position. Many companies offer courses pertinent to your position, ie, computer courses for a computer analyst; legal courses for paralegals, etc. If you look into it, you may find that many companies are agreeable to allow courses not related to your job position to promote diversification of an employee’s skill. I can’t champion it enough – continuing education is a great benefit bestowed on employees by companies – don’t let it pass you by.

The other thing I always encourage is networking. Networking is the process of gathering information and discovery through interactions with other people. You can network at company-given seminars, in-house training programs, local community-sponsored organizations that pertain to your discipline, ie, NALA ( (National Association of Legal Assistants). Every discipline at work has a professional organization that they support to keep abreast of changing laws and updating relevant information – your supervisor can enlighten you as to which ones they use. You can network at professional organizations in the community not associated with your workplace (Woman Business Leaders of Oshkosh) (Professional Businessmen Association) or you can join an Alumni Association associated with your college. There are many such organizations out there and joining one will add prestige to your resume. And keep you on top of current issues in your field and especially network other professionals like yourself for sharing of business ideas and work-related opportunities for advancement.

A big plus to an employee’s advancement is to engage a mentor. As I mentioned in my article on mentoring I designed, implemented and managed my department’s mentoring program. The first thing we did was have the interested employees fill out a questionnaire on what skills they would like to learn, what disciplines they wanted to learn them and how would that help them in their present position. We sent a similar questionnaire to management asking them if they were interested in mentoring, sharing their business experience and how much time could they offer. When we got the questionnaires back, we set up a spreadsheet and matched the employee’s desired skills and other departments of interest to the offering management team mentors. On paper, we set up a match. As we all know, personalities play a large part in relationships and it is important that the mentor and mentee mesh. We then set up a wine and cheese get-together after working hours and invited the mentors and mentees. They mingled and discussed the program as well as getting to know the players. There are always ‘situations’ at work where some groups do not get along as well as they do with other groups. Some department heads don’t see eye to eye. This is human nature. You wouldn’t want to match up a mentee who’s boss did not get along with the mentor. Somehow these things put a wrench in things and thank goodness, they are few in number but they do sometimes exist.

After the get-together, we sent the names of a possible mentee to a mentor and in most cases, it was a go. Then we set the ground rules for both of them. To prevent assumed expectations on both ends, we made a list of guidelines. These guidelines included:

1) Mentor and mentee drawing up an agreement consisting of shared roles and responsibilities; determining length of mentoring term (6 months to one year) and meeting times according to their work schedules. (Mentoring was done during work hours with approval of supervisors).

2) Evaluating the relationship at various points (at least mid-point and ending) within the agreed-upon time period.

3) Working out any minor concerns about the relationship; assuring to keep confidences and setting goals and making plans on how to accomplish goals.

4) Mentors using their knowledge, experience and background accomplishments as examples to help mentee identify and build on their own strengths.

5) Mentees showing initiative in planning their career, perhaps by writing a personal statement about goals and accomplishments.

6) Both parties utilizing listening skills in discussions.

7) Providing feedback from both mentor and mentee on their accomplishments, and how each derived organizational growth from their role.

Many companies encourage mentoring as a human resource development strategy. It could lead to a promotion or lateral move to another discipline to acquire additional specialized skills/information as a step to a promotion.

If you are considering being a mentee, it is an outstanding vehicle to learn the ins and outs of the higher level of management. You can also learn business acumen in how different specialized departments like Purchasing, Security, Tax work closely with other departments. This gives you an overall flow of how an organization is run and will aid you not only in your own department, but in future ones.

For the mentor, it is a chance to channel his or her experience onto a protégé, who could in the future become a longtime ally or associate; it hones your leadership skills; it gives something back to the company in transferring business-specific knowledge and perhaps fulfilling company needs; it gives the mentor the opportunity to overview his/her own present skills, goals and accomplishments in a new-eyes light. He or she may even discover areas where they, too, may improve.

For both, it will enhance their listening and business skills. If the mentor invites the mentee to attend one of his meetings, both will ‘see’ the meeting through their business eyes and their mentoring relationship eyes. This can result in valuable insights to both.

There are so many positives to mentoring that I can’t think of many negative ones. It rarely, but could be a problem in the mentor’s or mentee’s personal behaviors, ie, conflicting meetings that interfere with the mentoring schedule; forgetting or being late for their meetings, being preoccupied with other matters while they are meeting, allowing interruptions or distractions, etc. The majority of relationships through our program were equally courteous, prompt, and best of all, enjoyed.

If you have mentoring program, by all means, join it. It has countless advantages and one day, you too, may be asked to be a mentor. It’s a high compliment. If you don’t have a formal program, be proactive, schedule a meeting with and ask a manager or director if they would consider being your mentor. You would have to do the ground work and draw up the agreement and schedules, but you can get different programs in the library or online. Good luck and prosperous sharing

©Marie Coppola  August 2014

Mentoring – both Personal and Organizational


 Can you remember a time when someone gave you support, or important counsel, sound advice or positive reinforcement on something you were doing?

Encouragement is an important support and guidance motivation given by a more knowledgeable person (such as a mentor) in helping a less experienced or knowledgeable person (mentee) to develop in some capacity.

Many times, parents are mentors. They have the experience and know-how in “How the World Turns”. They may have gone to college, experienced love relationships, had children, bought houses, paid taxes, and countless other things. Hopefully, they are good mentors who encourage, support and guide their children in their everyday challenges. Sometimes, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, or good family members are mentors. They are the ones to go to when one needs to know what can be done about a special issue; they either give good advice or advise options on how to work at it. We are indeed blessed if we have mentors in our lives.

What if we don’t have a mentor? There are occasions when ‘two heads are better than one’ and additional input is needed. How does one acquire a mentor? Are there different avenues or vehicles for finding one? Yes, there are.

There are personal mentors and organizational mentors.

The personal mentor: Sometime during your lifetime, someone may take a special interest in how you are accomplishing a task. It may be in a teacher or principal in school. It could be a leader or coach in an activity in an athletic or after-school activity. Or a girl or boy scout leader in a social club. Or perhaps a pastor or spiritual leader in a church affiliation. A mentor is usually someone older and more accomplished in the task you are endeavoring. He/she will give you feedback on how you are accomplishing; give you advice or hints/solutions on how to continue; or reinforce how you are progressing. This is a one-on-one relationship which lasts over the time of the task’s duration.

You might even seek someone out and ask them to be your mentor on a task. It doesn’t hurt to ask. Most people like to help and may feel honored that you chose them. If the person is agreeable, you could set up a schedule to go over the progress of what you are doing and the mentor can advise plusses and minuses. Depending on the personalities, this person could become a life-long mentor who can aid you in further tasks. Sometimes it evolves into a mentoring over a variety of life’s issues. Such an arrangement can benefit both the mentor and the mentee. And form a very special, honored relationship.

A mentor can be rewarded by watching the mentee ‘grow’ in his mastery of overcoming or attaining the reason for the guidance. The mentee can be rewarded by achieving the self esteem and confidence of mastering what he overcomes or attains. I have to note that a mentor does not want to live the life for the mentee and should set the tone to make sure that the mentee does not become dependent on the mentor’s good will. A mentor should not have to listen to lamenting and negative inputs. The mentor is there to support and guide, not encourage ‘wallow and whine’.

The organizational mentor:  Wikipedia defines mentor as:

“Mentoring is a process for the informal transmission of knowledge, social capital, and the psychosocial support perceived by the recipient as relevant to work, career, or professional development; mentoring entails informal communication, usually face-to-face and during a sustained period of time, between a person who is perceived to have greater relevant knowledge, wisdom, or experience (the mentor) and a person who is perceived to have less (the protégé)” (Bozeman, Feeney, 2007).

It is actually an agreement between a less experienced worker (mentee) and a business guru (mentor) in the company. Both understand that the purpose is for the mentor, through his or her own job experiences, to supply support and guidance to the mentee to aid in his/her career development. This is accomplished through human resource procedures which include matching temperaments, sharing written expectations, schedule guidelines, written goals and performance feedback.

Since they are ‘gurus’ in the company, mentors may be department heads or V-Ps and are giving up a slice of time from their busy schedules. They have worked hard to acquire business acumen and their schedules should be respected and not abused. One must never forget or not show for a mentor/mentee meeting. If there is a conflict, his/her office should be notified timely. Nor should a mentee use the mentor’s time to complain about the company or their personal gripes. This is a business meeting and although personal info sharing may arise, it is a meeting to combine goals and ambitions into work performance and advancement.

Most mentors who agree to programs like this show a desire and a willingness to give up time to help others, maintain a positive outlook, and are able to be realistic. Some business gurus may have mentoring as an objective on their own goals from their bosses if they need ‘soft skills’ in communicating with employees. They may need to hone up on listening skills and will thus have a strong interest in their own growth and self-development as well as their mentee. Business gurus usually have success orientation. That’s why they are where they are.

During my career development activities, I designed, implemented and maintained a mentoring program. I worked mainly with a department that encompassed state of the art technically skilled employees. These employees, in order to acquire additional integral business skills, development and promotion possibilities, had a distinct need to explore inter-related business disciplines.

For those who had interest, mentoring exchanges were established with them and department heads such as Finance, Security, Legal, Logistics, Purchasing, E-Commerce, or wherever their interests were. It was very successful for those who were determined and focused. Some of them, with their sought-after technical skills were offered positions in the departments of their choice who had a need for the technical end of the specialized business. They are all inter-related at some point. And it helped the company reduce lay-offs by transferring valuable but excess tech persons to another discipline. A discipline that they were not only interested in, but had the background and experience of already knowing the company procedures. A win-win. This project was one of the most satisfying of all my projects to view first-hand, the many positive aspects and results of these relationships.

In another article on mentoring, I will outline the agreement arrangements between mentors and mentees and what each expects or should expect from the other.

© Marie Coppola  August 2014

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace ~ And How you Handle it


From a U.S. perspective, sexual harassment in the workplace still exists, and it is under better control due to stricter rules and regulations put in place by companies and businesses to protect employees against this invasive behavior. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) describes sexual harassment as a form of gender discrimination that is in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

In 1998, the U.S. Supreme Court made employers more liable for sexual harassment of their employees. As a result, most companies offer sexual harassment prevention training programs and 97% have a written sexual harassment policy. The number of grievances filed with the EEOC has gradually decreased over the last decade. Approximately 15,000 sexual harassment cases are brought to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) each year. According to them, the number of sexual harassment complaints filed by men has more than tripled in recent years. Currently, approximately 11% of claims involve men filing against female supervisors. In the mid 2000’s, grievances dropped to under 12,000. It has been estimated that only 5 to 15% of harassed women formally report problems of harassment to their employers or employment agencies such as the EEOC.

Counselors in the workplace are often the first person an employee seeks out when someone is acting inappropriately to him or her. In a recent survey, only 29% of women who said they tried to ignore overt sexual suggestions responded that it ‘made it better’. Over 61% of the women said that what made it better and was most effective, was to tell the offender firmly and directly — to “STOP IT”.

There are many offenses of sexual harassment; sexual harassment is not about sex and what bothers one person won’t necessarily bother someone else. Some think that any unwanted touch, sexual comments, or sexual attention is considered sexual harassment. Communicating and telling someone that these acts are offensive to you, may stop the action right then and there. Some people ‘test the waters’ and see how far they can go with individuals in the office.

Also, the above conduct is not sexual harassment if it is welcome or permitted. If you flirt back and indulge in exchanging off-color jokes, it is not sexual harassment if you decide a joke went ‘over the line’ and offended you. You’ve already given out liberal boundaries. It is important to communicate (either verbally, in writing, or by your own actions) to the harasser that the conduct makes you uncomfortable and that you want it to stop.

Sexual harassing behavior may be common, but it is not “normal” Here are some examples:

1] Verbal or written: Comments about yours or others’ clothing, or your personal behavior, or a person’s body; sexual or sex-based jokes; requesting sexual favors or repeatedly asking a person out; sexual innuendoes; telling rumors about a person’s personal or sexual life; threatening a person.

2] Physical: Assault; impeding or blocking movement; inappropriate touching of a person or a person’s clothing; kissing, hugging, patting, stroking.

3] Nonverbal: Looking up and down a person’s body; derogatory gestures or facial expressions of a sexual nature; or following a person.

4] Visual: Posters, drawings, pictures, screensavers or emails of a sexual nature; most companies have standards of what you can put on your walls.

If the offensive actions above are directed to you, then the following is suggested:

1] Demand that the specific behavior stop. Be direct, firm and say “NO”.

2] Don’t make excuses why you don’t want the behavior; this implies that you would would welcome it otherwise. Don’t protect the harasser or pretend nothing has happened; it has.

3] Stand by your principles and state them. Harassers are good at making excuses and wanting to talk about it. Refuse to discuss the issue with them or be manipulated into thinking you are the wrong one.

4] The focus is on the harasser’s behavior – not yours.

5] Be strong; make eye contact and stand tall. Don’t smile – this is serious; not a social visit. If the harasser tries to make physical contact with you, grasp his or her arm away and say, “NO”. “DO NOT TOUCH ME”.

6] Tell others about the ordeal(s). If you are silent, it not only protects the harasser, but may instill him or her to be bolder.

The conduct of the harasser must either be severe or it must be pervasive to be sexual harassment. A single incident is probably not sexual harassment unless it is severe. If you feel it is, document any harassments and keep a log of when and what happened; include dates and if there were any witnesses. Save your emails on a CD and bring it home. Also bring home any notes, mail or emails that are related even if they are anonymous.

Try to have a buddy available as a deterrent or as a witness when this person tries to approach you. Document any actions involving your harassment if the harasser is in a supervisory position and subsequently gives you a poor evaluation or demotions, and keep copies of them. Likewise, keep similar positive evaluations or performance appraisals before the alleged incidents that will show changed behavior of the perpetrator’s part.

Go ahead with formal complaints with Human Resources and EEO, if it continues. Try to have as much documented proof and/or witnesses who can verify what has happened or seek others who may have had the same problem with the harasser. Consult with a legal entity if you suspect violence or stalking. Remember to stay calm. You did nothing wrong. Staying calm is important to your cause so as not to create a hostile environment in the workplace that it becomes a problem for the department and you become the problem, too. The harasser is hoping you do that to keep the spotlight off of them. The odds are on your side to have this situation remedied.

True Case: A long-time married employee kept asking another married employee for constant coffee breaks, lunch, dinner, etc. She always turned him down. She came to Human Resources when she asked him not to keep coming to her office and he still did, still asking. He started to put his arm around her and she asked him not to. She filed a complaint. She noticed one weekend that he was driving around her neighborhood although he lived a far distance away from her. She filed a complaint with EEO and he was terminated; he lost his benefits as he was under retirement age and subsequently was divorced.

If you are being sexually harassed, do something today. You won’t lose your job. Don’t think it will go away, or worry if it is a supervisor or high level manager, that you will lose your job. You won’t. But they might.

references: Sexual Harassment Support ; and www.SexualHarassmentLawFirms.com

Marie Coppola Revised July 2014

What is a notary public and what are the qualifications and responsibilities?


The notary public is said to the oldest branch of the legal profession that exists in the world.

The office of the notary goes back to the Roman Empire and early history of the Catholic Church. The Romans developed the office and from that the Church devised it’s own system to handle civil matters after the fall of the Roman Empire.

The word notary is derived from Latin ‘nota’ — a system of shorthand developed by M. Tullius Tiro (103-3 B.C.) This method was used for agreements, conveyances and other instruments and they were described as ‘notarius’. Notarii were semi-officials whose numbers grew as the empire grew into a guild or company that had limited supervision, regulations and fees.

Notarii were also officers of the Catholic Church and Pope Clement IV appointed seven in Rome to describe the acts of martyrs who might suffer there. Later it was declared that the papal notaries could act in any country.

Notaries were known in England during the Middle Ages but since the law did not require deeds or other instruments in common use to be prepared, they were not needed by medieval law and therefore, not recognized. During the 17th century, common law became the supreme body of of law in England and the office of notary public became less important.

The settlers who left England to find a new life in the new world, brought with them the common law of England including the notary public. They were described as “…a notary public. who confirms and attests the truth of any deed or writing, in order to render the same more credible and authentic in any country whatever. And he principally made use of in courts of judicature and business relating to merchants. For a notary public is a certain kind of witness, and therefore, ought to give evidence touching such things as fall under his corporeal senses, and not of such matters as fall under the judgement of the understanding.”**

The early colonial charters started enacting laws affecting the office of the notary public. They designated an officer who was authorized to appoint notaries, defined their duties, settled their fees, and provided territorial limits of their jurisdiction and other matters.

So what do you do to become a Notary Public? It varies depending on which state you live in, and in other countries. Some countries require educational requirements or additional information. Since I was a notary in New Jersey, I will list that state’s requiremernts and rules to give you a flavor of qualifications, rules and responsibilities. Other states’ requirements and rules can be found on the web or at your town hall offices.

Example of one state:   Qualifications to be a Notary Public in the State of New Jersey:

must be 18 years or older.

must be a resident of New Jersey or a resident of an adjoining state who maintains, or is regularly employed in, an office in this State.

must not have been convicted of a crime under the laws of any state or the United States, for an offense involving dishonesty, or a crime of the first or second degree.

A notary public is appointed (commissioned) by the State Treasurer for a five-year period, and is sworn into office by the clerk of the county in which he/she resides. (usually a $25.00 fee). Appointments can be renewed for subsequent five-year periods.

Services that a duly commissioned and qualified (sworn) Notary Public performs in any county in N.J.:

Administer oaths and affirmations;  take acknowledgments; execute jurats for affidavits and other verifications; take proofs of deeds

…………….

The majority of notaries perform acknowledgements – witnessing the signature of a person or persons. To execute legally, these steps are necessary:   1) That the signer of a document appear before the notary, (you cannot acknowledge the signature of someone who is not present – not even a husband or a wife – you may be signing their house away without their knowledge!)   2) That the notary positively identify the signer, (as stated above, notaries cannot accept a previously signed/dated copy without witnessing the signature) and 3) That the signer both acknowledge the signature as his/hers, and that the signature is made willingly.

Identification documents are not required if: 1) the signer is personally known to the Notary, or 2) a credible witness, known to both the signer and notary, swears to the identity of the signer.

If the signer is not personally known, the notary ensures the signer appears before him/her and presents at least one form of identification that provides a physical description of the signer– ie., driver’s license.

Responsibilities of the Notary:

The notary reviews the document presented for completeness. This is not a formal legal review, such as would be performed by an accountant or an attorney. Rather, it is a review to ensure that there are no blanks in the document. Should blanks be discovered, the signer must either fill them in or strike them out by drawing a line or “X” through them. It is a quick view; the notary need not know the contents of the instrument; he/she merely is witnessing that the identified singer actually signed it.

Ensure that the signer understands the title of the document and is signing freely and willingly. By obtaining positive ID and asking brief questions as to the title and basic substance of the document, the notary can make these determinations.

Sign, date, and stamp an acknowledgment certificate The notary’s ink stamp should include the date on which the notary’s commission expires. The stamp should be placed next to, but not over, the notary’s signature. (If the notary does not have an ink stamp, his/her name and commission expiration date must be printed or typed on the certificate as indicated.)

Make a journal entry. *This is key and very important. The jornal entry provides evidence and an audit trail thereby protecting both the notary and the general public. Required information includes: 1. date and time of notary act, 2. type of act (i.e., acknowledgment), 3. title of document, 4. date document was signed, 5. signature; printed name and address of each signer, and if applicable, each witness, and 6. form of ID — e.g. identification document, personal knowledge, or credible witness.

Note: Journals should be bound to prevent tampering. Journals may be obtained from stationers or professional associations.

Charge only the statutory fee ($2.50). Actually, most notaries supply services free of charge, especially in corporate or banking settings. I have seen notary fees for $15.00 or $25.00 in some business establishments.

Actions Notaries are prohibited from doing:

Never pre-date an action. The notary may never date an action (acknowledgement, jurat, etc.,) prior to the execution (signature) date appearing on the document involved.

Never lend a journal, stamp, or other personalized notary equipment to another individual.

Never prepare a legal document or give advice on legal matters, or matters pertaining to land titles. This includes the preparation of pleadings, affidavits, briefs and any other submissions to the court.

Never, in the capacity as a notary public, appear as a representative of another person in a legal proceeding.

Never, in the capacity as a notary public, act for others in the collection of delinquent bills or claims.

————————-

**Reference: Manual for Notaries Public of New Jersey/American Society of Notaries; NEW JERSEY NOTARY PUBLIC MANUAL

Marie Coppola © July 2014

 

WHY DID THE HOLOCAUST HAPPEN?

 

If you have never visited the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., you have not seen first-hand how prejudice and discrimination can escalate into something horrific and evil.

Once you are inside, it is a somber mood, as the crowds make their way through the authentic film footage, artifacts, photographs and documents that mirror what life was like in pre-war Europe, the Nazi move toward the “Final Solution” and life after the Holocaust. This is not for the faint hearted. You can spend two to three hours in this self-guided exhibition and it is recommended for visitors 11 years of age and older.

There are different estimates of deaths during the Holocaust because not only did the national borders during the Holocaust change, but many of the victims simply were never recorded. In the eastern European regions, millions of Poles — Jews and Catholics alike — were murdered by the Secret Service and police personnel in the field or in killing centers such as Auschwitz-Birkenau and Treblinka. In the ideology of the Nazis, the Poles were considered an inferior “race.”

It is estimated that number of Jewish fatalities during the Holocaust is usually given as between 5.1 and 6 million victims.

It is estimated that between 5 and 5.5 million Polish civilians, including 3 million Polish Jews, died or were killed under Nazi occupation. Poland lost one-fifth of its population: three million of the dead were Polish Christians, predominantly Catholic, and the rest were Polish Jews.

Many people were killed trying to hide or help people escape concentration camps and executions.

Why? What was the Holocaust and why did it happen: The Holocaust is the state-sponsored systematic persecution and annihilation of European Jewry by Nazi Germany and its collaborators between 1933 and 1945. Jews were the primary victims — six million were murdered; Roma and Sinti (Gypsies), people with mental and physical disabilities, and Poles were also targeted for destruction or decimation for racial, ethnic, or national reasons. Millions more, including homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Soviet prisoners of war, and political dissidents, also suffered grievous oppression and death under Nazi Germany. Ref: http://www.ushmm.org/research/library/faq/details.php?lang=en&topic=01#01

Does this boggle your mind as it does mine? All these people executed because of who they were and what they believed in? So how does peace start with You, and You, and You and You?

You can see above what happens when a people decide that they are going to annihilate people that don’t think, live, believe or act like they do. They were people, with families, with normal lives going about the business of making a living and loving and caring for their family. And because of discrimination, profiling, intolerance and persecution, innocent people like you and me were executed.  It can happen with a government that tries to think, guide and change you into how they want you to be for their end.

I don’t know the intricacies of what and how these seeds of discontent against others first materialized into what they did. Perhaps because people who were different from those in charge behaved differently, believed differently and acted differently.  Or perhaps the end product was the emergence of a possible super race and any abnormalities had to be exterminated.   We can’t ever let his happen again.   Is not our world leaning this way again?

Is not today’s world filled with people who are all very different; they behave differently, believe differently and act differently from how we do? Aren’t our all our countries a matrix of different countries, languages, religions, customs, lifestyles, and even countenances different from one another?

It would be easy to point out the differences, make fun of the language or customs and shun their religion and lifestyles. It could be just as easy to accept and respect people for who they are and learn from their diversity of ideas and values.

We are all different from different worlds and walks of life, but there is one sameness we all have. We are all created by God and made in His likeness. There is no discrimination in His eyes; He loves each and every one of us the same. We are all equal, all races, all creeds, all people, men and women.

Peace can start with you by treating everyone as your equal. There are no class, caste, or standards of living in God’s eyes.

There are websites with Q&A relating to the Holocaust http://www.ushmm.org/research/library/faq/details.php?lang=en&topic=03#02

Marie Coppola  Revised February 2017© 

10 Tips for That First Day on the New Job


 

You finally landed that job you were praying you would get, and Monday is here and it’s your first day. Here are some tips to help you ‘settle in’ those new digs with confidence and a positive attitude, along with some caution.

1) Try to arrive at work at least 10 or 15 minutes before the normal working hours. This not only gives you time to settle in, turn your computer on, or listen to voice mail messages. It also gives you a relaxed frame of mind for friendly good mornings instead of rushing in at the last minute or a few minutes late and get a reputation for ‘always being late’. Employees who arrive before the workday begins are usually the ones who get good reviews and/or promotions. Likewise advice on leaving at the end of the day. Plan on staying 15 minutes or so after work if possible; never leave early – somone always loves to make an issue about that and the reputation will stick; the people who usually get ahead in a workplace arrive a little earlier and leave a little later.

2) Start the new job with a To Do List. This List itemizes tasks that may have been sent to you via email, voicemail or verbally. Jot it down so it is not forgotten and when you have a few minutes, prioritize the List by importance. If you don’t get to it all that day, start the next day’s List with the undone items so they can have first attention. Keep a file folder with the checked-off ‘Done’ items, date they were completed, with any information that may needed in the future for follow-up. Not only do ‘To Do’ Lists give you a reputation for getting things done, they also give you a feeling of accomplishment as you go over the list and view the things you did that day. On a hectic and busy day, those accomplishments will help neutralize the feeling that you ‘got nothing done today’.

3) Go slow getting to know your new co-workers. In your ‘being new’ nervousness, you may reveal more about yourself than you really want to. You may be telling your life history to the office gossiper. If you are asked to lunch with the group, be neutral to everyone, polite and friendly. The work environment is revealed at lunchtime, and you will hear inside scoops of what is going on with work, projects and people. Don’t make judgments or remarks. Wait until you get to know the people and the issues and even then, don’t make judgments or remarks. And don’t repeat what you hear at lunch or in the halls to your cubicle co-workers. Gossip spreads through offices faster than forest fires. And your name will be attached to it.

4) Go to lunch at your appointed lunch time and take the one-half hour or whatever the rule is. Some companies allot 45 minutes or one hour for lunch. Long-time employees may stretch their lunch times from the one-half hour lunch to a 45 minute or one hour lunch. That’s their choice, but as a new employee, you don’t want to get a reputation that you ‘take long lunches’. It’s a title that you may earn quickly and it will stick with you. Your supervisor will know about it sooner than you think. Co-workers usually stagger lunch times so that someone is always in the office, and you will get off on the wrong foot in your office if someone is waiting for you to come back from lunch and you’re late and taking time away from their own lunch.

5) Start off your new job with a team attitude. There are different ways to help someone out even if it is picking up their mail or copy order at office services. Your helpfulness will reflect back from your co-workers who will do the same for you. This becomes invaluable on a really busy day when you need an extra set of hands; kindness goes a long way and people react positively to it. When someone turns their back on being a team player with the rest of the group, the group usually reacts in the same manner.

6) If your office surroundings are efficient-situated…..which usually means a phone, PC, desk, and chair in a cubicle with only enough room to turn around in. You will hear others’ conversations on the phone and normal business interchanges during the day. Most office workers tune out these distractions, but it’s hard to tune out loud or noisy social gatherings or constant social talking on the phones and/or laughing. A certain amount of sociability is expected in the office, but if you constantly stop at someone’s station and gab or allow someone to come to yours and do the same, someone is going to complain about the ‘noise’. And if you’re new, you don’t want to start off with that image. If someone lingers, you might just say, that you need to get something done and you’ll ‘see them later’. Don’t socialize more than you have to at work. You’re there to do a job, not listen to someone’s problems or the great time they had at a party last night. Or to talk on the phone with personal calls or send zany emails. Companies monitor both calls and PCs, so be careful what you say and write.

7) Every office has a Don Juan Casanova or Flirty Feline who will try to engage you somehow. They can’t help it – it’s in their genes. Be friendly, but keep your distance. The more time you give them, the more time they will devote to hanging around you. Be busy, and they will finally move on to the next new person. Don’t be flattered or taken in; you are one of many.

8)  Keep wearing to work the kind of clothes you wore on the interview. Now that you have the job, you don’t want to slip out of your good shoes and  wear athletic shoes and sweats to the office. Most offices have dress codes or ‘business attire’ or ‘business casual’  which is a suit or pants, shirt and tie for men and suits, dresses, or pants outfits for women. Leave the décolletage necklines home as well as stretch pants that reveal all. Jeans may be allowed on ‘Casual Day’ but don’t wear them on any other day. The saying goes “Dress for the job you want to have” and that’s pretty good advice. Good grooming and neat appearance go a long way in the office. You never know who is going to stop in the office that day or what meeting your boss may ask you to attend in his or her place.

9) Never discuss with your co-workers how much money you make or what your bonus was or the percentage of your merit raise. Salary levels are the same for most positions, but other factors may reflect different salaries for you and the person next to you who do the same kind of work. That person may have more advanced education or a degree that requires a specialty in their work or they may have been given a larger starting salary than you if they had more experience. Sometimes an employee is not given extra money for the same work you both do, but may have been given an extra week vacation as a negotiation factor in employing them for less pay than what they were getting. There are many variables in salaries and it’s only going to cause stress if workers compare salaries. Having worked on compensation issues and raises myself, I could not believe hard workers getting a lower merit raise than someone who did not work as hard getting a higher one. My boss always told me to just kick the desk when I saw glitches like that – it was beyond our control. I did kick the desk a lot. Avoid this upset — don’t ask and don’t tell.

10) As a new employee, you will need to find out about the company your work for in a short amount of time. Read the annual report and study the organizational charts. Find out where people sit so you aren’t wandering around the building, getting flustered and nervous. Find out what the pecking order is so you don’t mistake a Chief Executive Officer for a co-worker. A new worker once turned unknowingly to a vice-president and complained that ‘this place is a nuthouse’. It became a joke between them, but not all V-Ps have sense of humors like this one did. Tread lightly until you know the waters. Put your best foot forward, as they say, and you will be an asset to the company you work for – and be rewarded as such.

Remember – statistics show that it can take up to six months before you feel knowledgeable about what you are doing.   Good luck!

©Marie Coppola  March 2014

How Vitamin C Saved a Rooster’s Life

 

Charleston, West Virginia’s City Council has a new law governing just how many baby chicks a person can buy. The new law amends a law that had been on their books for five decades. The prior ordinance had stated it was unlawful to sell baby fowl, such as chicks, ducklings, goslings, or turkeys, in lots of fewer than six. Now businesses and breeders can sell just one young fowl.   There was a time when families bought a dozen baby chicks as an Easter present.   No more.

It seems that people buy the fluffy, adorable little chicks and forget that they can grow up to be big, pecking chickens or roosters. A chicken more than doubles it’s weight every two weeks until it’s full grown. The Animal Shelter in Charleston said that someone brought in a chicken that was given as an Easter gift. Sometimes people dispose of them especially if they are bought in larger quantities because they really only wanted one. It is not recommended to buy more than one since most people don’t have the space to keep them. And it saves unnecessary disposing of baby chicks.

Our dad bought us a dozen baby chicks one Easter when I was 12; it was common for families to get them for the kids’ pleasure for Easter. Our baby chicks survived the fondling and squeezing that younger kids excel in doing and the chicks more than doubled in size quickly. Dad had to erect a chicken coop in our yard to hold 12 mature roosters.   We had a large wooded lot in the back and if anyone in our development minded the cock-a-doodle doos early in the morning, no one complained. At least, not to us.

I was given the task of making sure the coop was locked every night against predators such as weasels and/or foxes. Although I was conscientious about this, one night, my younger neighbor next door asked if he could play with them and he would lock the coop for me. I said OK, but unfortunately, the young 9 year old forgot to do so. At dawn, the next morning, we found that none of the chickens survived the night invasion, except for one lying motionless in the driveway and the smallest one of the group who had run away, but came back that next morning

I was devastated and guilt-ridden. My mother, who grew up with chickens herself, said the most humane thing was to ‘pull’ the chicken’s neck and put him out of his misery. I begged and pleaded as only a 12-year can do, and my mom, God bless her, said I could stay home from school and see what I could do for the fallen rooster.

The poor thing kinda flopped where he lay and had very little life in him. He could not stand, and couldn’t or wouldn’t open his eyes. Food was not even an option; he could not have eaten or even put his head up and try. I made a little bed with rags for him – and wrapped them around him as he could not be lifted; I was afraid he would die from the move. Since he couldn’t eat, I tried to find some bugs and other things like corn or bread that he liked, but he had no interest at all.

The only thing I could think of was oranges. We always had lots of oranges, and I squeezed some in a bowl. To ‘feed’ the rooster, I had to nudge his head up and put his beak into the orange juice. He had two choices: he could pick up his beak and gurgle it or he could drown in it. He gurgled. For the next few days, he was given orange juice in this manner. Again, my mom, let me stay home another day, but said I had to go back to school on Monday – that gave me 4 days in total to juice the rooster.

Mornings I would get up before school, juice the rooster, dash home and juice again and then at night. Eventually, the rooster got stronger and was standing – although wobbly – which was cause for a family celebration. When he finally walked, he was given his regular food in addition to the orange juice – and even though he walked somewhat lopsided like a crab, he could walk. He never ran as fast as his brother, but he wobbled along nicely beside him. Always – on a slant, but almost catching up.

Eventually, the two brother roosters were able to inhabit the coop again and I never forgot to lock the coop again. The greatest moment for me was one morning, as usual, the brother rooster would wake us up for school about 6:30 am with his perky doddle doo. A few minutes later, there was this very throaty, uneven, bizarre cock-a-doodle-doo which could not be made by any other animal except a once-wounded rooster. In true Walton Family Style, you could hear everyone laughing from their bedrooms and clapping and shouting that I, indeed, did fix the rooster. My mother never had to remind us to drink our orange juice after this; we learned first-hand the benefits of Vitamin C.

Vitamin C is required for life. The nature of our modern diets leads to a serious lack of this essential nutrient. This situation may be a leading contributor to much of the sickness and chronic disease that the population of the earth suffers.

A study in the Journal of Epidemiology (May, 1992) was reported to show that people who have high blood levels of vitamin C live 6 years longer than those who have lower blood levels. Ref: http://www.cforyourself.com/

You don’t have to convince me. I found out first-hand at age 12 just how potent Vitamin C is. It is life sustaining and most necessary nutrient. An animal was nurtured back from imminent death; sustained until strength returned and made an almost full recovery.

© Marie Coppola  March 2014

 

Try Singing – It’s Good for Your Health & Soul


 

Many of us like to sing. Some of us sing well, and …. well, some of us sing like Lucy Riccardo on I Love Lucy. That’s me. Some of us hum and sing when we are nervous; my brother does that.  Humming actually helps relax you as you breathe differently when you sing. And some of us only sing in the shower where the acoustics help us out.

It’s a fact that singing is good for you.  It has a positive effect in that it reduces stress levels which helps our well-being.”It can also be considered a good work-out, even if sitting because it is an aerobic activity that brings oxygen into the blood stream and exercises major muscle groups in the upper body. It’s also psychologically beneficial as singing together in a chorus or group promotes a sense of community, sharing and belonging to a common cause.” Ref: Professor Graham Welch, Chair of Music Education at the Institute of Education, University of London

“Regular exercising of the vocal cords can even prolong life, because you are exercising your lungs and heart. Not only that, your body produces ‘feel good’ hormones called endorphins, which rush around your body when you sing. Not only can it increase lung capacity, it improves posture, clears respiratory tubes and sinuses, and can increase mental alertness through greater oxygenation. It even tones the muscles of your stomach and back, that is if you’re singing correctly.” Ref: guardian.co.uk

So, singing even helps you live longer, enhances your mental state and even helps keep wrinkles off your face. A study at the University of California has reported higher levels of immune system proteins upon singing/choral participation.

Ahhh, then there are the songbirds we all know, who sing well, and what a delight they are to hear.   What does singing have to do with ‘make a joyful noise unto the Lord?’ Psalm 100 says…” Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness; come before his presence with singing.”

Does God like us to sing to Him? What does the Bible say?

Singing is also a delight to our Lord, who mentions throughout His Book about singing praises and thanks to Him. He doesn’t care about acoustics or if we sound like Lucy; He takes pleasure in our devotion of singing. Zephaniah :17 tells us – “…He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.

We have grace in our hearts when we sing to the Lord. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (Col. 3:16).”

When we sing to God, we sing with our spirit and mind. ” What is the outcome then? I shall pray with the spirit and I shall pray with the mind also; I shall sing with the spirit and I shall sing with the mind also.” 1 Cor 14:15

“Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” (Eph. 5:19)

“O sing to the Lord a new song; sing to God all the earth.” Psalm 96

Lift up your heart to the Lord by singing songs in gratitude and praise. It will improve your life and your health and delight the Lord.

Here is a pleasant, relaxing example of praise to the Lord by Laurie Klein – Maranatha – who sings “I Love You, Lord”.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5DnUvrxpeM 

SING ALONG – IT’S GOOD FOR YOU! AND IT MAY MAKE GOD SMILE…….

Marie Coppola  February 2014

 

Thanksgiving Memories

 

“Over the River and Through the Woods” is a well-known Thanksgiving song written by Lydia Maria Child. It was originally written as a poem, entitled “A Boy’s Thanksgiving Day and celebrated childhood memories of Lydia Maria visiting her grandparent’s house. Although it is sometimes substituted as a song for Christmas, our family never failed to sing this song in our unmelodic voices on our way to Thanksgiving Dinner at Nana and Grandpa’s house. Usually driving over a bridge precipitates it and we break into song. It is a tradition that spills over into the grandkids. It goes:

“Over the river, and through the wood, To Grandmother’s house we go; The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh through the white and drifted snow. Ohhh”

Over the river, and through the wood—Oh, how the wind does blow! It stings the toes and bites the nose , As over the ground we go.”

Thanksgiving, like Christmas, is a traditional family gathering either at our parents, if we still are fortunate enough to have them, or a sibling or whichever family member does the cooking that year. The holiday conjures up memories of other Thanksgivings and more often than not, there is a big stuffed turkey, with lots of vegetables and trimmings. If you are Italian, or any other nationality, there is sure to be favored ethnic dishes piled high. We try to make sure we have room for the pumpkin, apple and mince pies – what is Thanksgiving without the memories of feasts we’ve shared?

The day, of course, is in gratitude for all our blessings and family members. As we gather round, we are grateful for the gathering and maybe some new additions to the family. There may also be some empty chairs for many reasons that once were filled, and we are grateful for the memories we hold for these family members, too.

We probably all have similar sayings and customs for this “Thank You Day” or “Turkey Day”. I always say something which my mother always said when we sit down at 3:00 pm for dinner, “Do you realize how many people are doing this same thing right now?”…..and most likely my daughter will say it someday when I’m not around in memory and fun. She does so already.

Here are some of our happenings on this special holiday.

  • After our first blessing, I ask one of the children to say grace. Children love to be part of an adult gathering and they love to say grace. They are thankful for everything, so make sure all the plates are covered against getting cold. The rest of the children want to add their thanks, too, and you get a good idea of what makes these little people the happiest. Anyone who wants to add a prayer, is welcomed.
  • After dinner, we always go round the table and each person tells everyone what they are most thankful for this year. The kids enjoy this part the most. This is always special as some people always joke; some always get very serious; some get emotional; and some articulate beautiful thanks to someone there who especially went the extra mile to help them. This part of the meal – while digesting – and before dessert – is very family-oriented. No hand-held video games, iPods, or cell phones are brought to the table.
  • During dessert, we ask if anyone wants to do the ‘Christmas grab bag gift’ idea. We started this when the family and kids and grand kids started to number 30. Instead of buying small gifts for everybody, we have a grab bag. Everyone’s name goes in the hat and each person picks a name and buys a gift for that person and that person only. We put a price tag on it – one year it was $25.00 and that was a little too much for the teens and kids, so we settled on $15 or $10.

I wish you all a blessed and memorable Thanksgiving ~~~

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” Psalm 107:1

Marie Coppola November 2013

 

How to Get Over The Fear of Flying


Flying in an airplane is about par with giving an oral presentation. You feel you can’t do it — it’s a dreaded thing to do but once you do it, you’re always grateful when it’s over with and you’ve survived.

Having been up on a small plane in my teens with my brother who had just gotten his license, I remember the open sides on the small propeller plane and my knees shaking the whole time we were up in the air. I vowed that I would never get in another plane as long as I lived.

Fast forward to work experiences, and a proposed company trip to Puerto Rico for a convention that shattered my equilibrium. I ran out and bought the book Fear of Flying by Erica Jong. Mainly, it was about sex, passion and sexual identity and not a word about the fear of flying. Well, not in the sense of flying in a plane.

After not sleeping the two nights before the flight actually transpired, I re-enacted the wobbly knees of former experience and even took a Valium someone offered me. Just as I was settling into the level just below wigging out, someone from work who knew of my fear, yelled out, “Hey Marie, your horoscope says you shouldn’t travel today”. Funny to everyone on board but me. The trip is a blur going and coming and the time in the air was the whole focus of the trip. Not a fun trip.

 

I vowed yet again, I would never fly.

A couple of years later, my job required ‘flying’ but only on the east coast for career seminars. I didn’t want to fly period. No way, Jose. I always went into my fugue on these trips and always made sure I was with someone I knew. A short time later, there was a human resource need for supporters on an outreach program in Cincinnati and I had to go alone! This was an up-all nighter worrying fest and thankfully, I knew someone from the company on the flight. White knuckles all the way.

On each flight, I vowed it would be my last. I hated flying – too much free floating anxiety around.

After about 10 flights like this, I decided that was it. There was a plane crash the week before I had to fly to Charlotte, NC and a plane crash in Charlotte, NC the week after I got back and that blew my ‘odds’ that lightning couldn’t strike twice in the same place. What are the odds of that happening?

I really got good at making excuses for not traveling or making other arrangements (why don’t you come up this way?) and just when I felt that I never had to fly again, I married a man who was born in Sicily and had family there. He redid the family house and wanted to travel to Italy at least once a year. Eight or nine hours one way? And the same the way back? No way, Jose. I barely did the east coast for up to 3 hours top. All that time in a plane? I would never last.

He never insisted, but I did always want to see Italy. So this is how I get on a plane every year to travel 8 or 9 hours (depending on the wind) to go to Italy.

  • It has to be something you really want to do. Like visiting a last family member in Scotland or a vacation in France that someone bought for you. You have to be the one to decide, just like giving up smoking or deciding to lose weight – it’s your call and something you want to do more than you fear it.
  • I went to local airports and watched the planes come in and go out. They do that every couple of minutes or less. And they were all fine. And thought about all the planes that came in all day there every couple of minutes – in and out. And thought of all the cities and airports all over the world that do the same thing. All those flights.
  • The amount of things that can go wrong on a flight are nothing like other modes of traveling. You hear about accidents and crashes all the time with cars, trains and ships but flying is actually the safest way to travel.
  • You have to minimize stress if you decide to travel – travel light and detail your arrangements. Make direct flights where you don’t have to juggle your luggage through airports to another terminal. Even with rides, it can be stressful doing that.
  • Try to get an aisle seat when you make flight arrangements. It gives you some control over getting up and getting down, using the rest room and just stretching your legs.
  • Bring things that will absorb you (yes, it can happen) so that you don’t count the whirrs the engine is making and one time if there are more than usual and you wonder why. I bring books that I’ve been wanting to read, crossroad puzzles, my journal and datebook to go over for the trip.
  • International flights usually have wonderful ways to keep your mind occupied: they show new movies concurrently – with head gear so you can watch, go back or pick it up wherever you want and whenever you want. They also have these neat computers in front of each person where you can track your flight or play games like poker or solitaire or watch popular TV programs. The same head gear lets you listen to all kinds of music.

There are blankets, but I bring a warm, long sweater; it’s cozy while closing your eyes even if you don’t sleep.

I do bring a Tylenol PM and take it around 9:00 pm our time. With the time change, you will be flying into the airport around 7:00 am, and breakfast will be served – our time it will be around 1:00 am but it will be light out and you will eat breakfast. And get on with another day even though it is early in the morning our time. {I don’t sleep until nighttime – their time – at 9:00 pm and go right into their time schedule.}

They also have a duty-free service aboard and sell all these neat things – it’s like shopping on QVC – another mind-diverting tactic.

There is usually a dinner and a breakfast and a snack served – all with alcoholic drinks. So if you don’t Tylenol, you can drink. All these servings take up time and are a nice diversion from you worrying if the pilot is still awake.

Busy hands are happy hands – and two matters cannot occupy the same space at the same time. If you keep busy, and I promise you will, you won’t have time to focus on your fear. The more you travel, the less fearful you are.

I still don’t like to fly. I don’t like being up in the air with no control over how to steer the plane. However, it is much more safe with the pilots up there behind the controls. But I’m more comfortable with it now and do it because I really want to go where the plane will take us.

The clincher for me that took away all my fears and fidgeting was a take-off with my relaxed husband and me with white knuckles. I looked at him and he smiled as we took off, and said sweetly, “Did you leave your faith on the ground?” Since I am a faith-based person, this made tremendous sense to me; I relaxed and now leave my trip safety in God’s hands.

Marie Coppola © September 2013