Please Don’t Delay Your Job Search


Many people eventually experience a disruption in the continuity of their work history. That is to say they find themselves out of work either by choice or through means out of their control. Depending on why one is out of work, it is reasonable to take a break for reasons of physical and/or mental health; the length of which can vary greatly. Yet wait too long before jumping back in and you could have added challenges.

The most obvious problem that comes to mind is the gap of time between your last job and the present day. If the days turn grow into month’s, you should expect a prospective employer is going to question what you’ve done with your time. The reason this is of interest to them is because typically they like to hire people who use their time profitably; who keep up good work habits – often labelled as having a good work ethic.  You may not have paid employment it’s true, but how have you used your time to your advantage?

Now while it’s no one’s business but your own, another key reason to get back in the hunt for paid employment is to shore up the financial bleeding that unemployment accompanies. Sure you might have employment insurance of some kind where you live, but the weeks you are entitled to receive these benefits does go by quickly. True, you might also have severance pay from your last employer, but the sooner you get working, the more you can see these as additional funds and not your only funds.

You could also find – although you would never have thought so in the past – that you come to find certain aspects of being out of work attractive. So much so in fact, that giving what it takes to find work, often described as a full-time job itself, is more work than you’re ready to put in. This isn’t good! You could be falling into a bad situation where you’re rationalizing that your new-found free time is your right to enjoy; that you’ve had it all wrong up to now.

If you’re in a situation where you’ve got a second income in the family from a partner, could be that you’re immediate need to contribute financially to meet payments isn’t that urgent. While this is the case, your partner might now be caught in a very uncomfortable situation of wanting you working to contribute financially, but also not wanting to put too much pressure on you to get a job. Caught up in this predicament, they might be feeling increasing pressure at the same time you seem to be feeling very little pressure at all. This isn’t a good recipe for a happy partnership.

Of course as many people find, conditions in the job market change from time to time, as does how to even go about finding work. Many people who have to suddenly find work after decades of having held jobs find they don’t know how to go about it. The memories they have of handing out resumes in person and their personal experiences of having found getting a job easily are soon replaced with current realities; the job search experience has shifted and continues to evolve.

I need not tell many readers that the issue of age crops up often too. I’ve got people in their mid-forties telling me they are feeling their age is working against them. If 20 somethings are saying they aren’t being taken seriously because they lack experience, have we got to where only the 30 somethings are the ideal age to find work? Let’s hope not!

Despite all the above, there is another reason – the most troubling quite frankly and the hardest to overcome – that you should get back into the job search earlier and not later. You could develop a very unattractive attitude of bitterness, resentment or anger. Without even being aware of it, you might not be able to help it showing on your face, in your sighs of exasperation, your body language etc. Suddenly you’re at risk of becoming a prematurely old and bitter person who may have the skills to do the job and the experience, but the attitude you’ve come to own makes you a bad hiring choice.

It’s only natural to look at ourselves and see what we’ve got to offer an employer. We know more than anyone what skills and experience we have and how these could benefit others. Unfortunately, what we may fail to see when we look at things from this perspective is the people we are up against for employment and what they offer. Employer’s don’t have this dilemma. They have the benefit of having many applicants from which to choose for the jobs they interview for. They therefore look not just at the skills, education and experience applicants have, but at the intangibles too; the feelings they get from the conversations they have.

These feelings – call them gut reactions if you will – they pay attention to. They are trying to address the chemistry that will exist if you’re hired. Will you add to something positive or bring negativity and disrupt the current situation. A growing period of unemployment can make coming across as upbeat, positive, happy and enthusiastic harder to do, if not downright impossible.

Sure take a reasonable break after your employment ends to refocus on finding your next job; but do get going!

Older And Stuck Career-Wise. Now What?


So you feel stuck career-wise; seemingly unable to break free.

Could be that all or most of your experience is in a field that you’re no longer able to compete in. Your educational qualifications are old and dated, you’ve relied too much on your year’s of accumulated experience and growing seniority to give you job security. Now it would seem, you’re feeling pushed out in favour of people with less direct experience, but whom you admit do have the academic qualifications you don’t.

Now another possibility is that you’ve just grown complacent; stagnating in the job; you’re no longer as hungry as you once were to stay on top of the latest trends, the best practices and sought out upgrading courses and classes that would have you doing things differently. Too late for regrets though, you can’t go back now and change the past; what’s done is done – or not done in your case.

You might be pushed out the door already and unemployed, or you’re smart enough to see that it won’t be very much longer before someone either suggests you think strongly about an early retirement or they’ll simply let you go.

The bottom line is that you’re going to be, or you already are, in a situation where you’re in need of a new job and this isn’t what you had foreseen when you looked ahead and saw yourself in your mid to late 50’s or early 60’s. You know you both want and need to work but the question is doing what?

For you possibly, doing what you’ve always done seems easiest because looking for similar work means you can draw on your extensive work history. Changing careers altogether while appealing, would take a lot of work to find what you could do that your recent work experience and well-dated education might qualify you to compete for.

One problem you foresee is that returning to school to acquire up-to-date education might take you out of the job hunt for 6 months to 2 or 3 years, and time is not on your side when you’re already concerned about coming across as an older worker now and being discriminated against because of it.  So the problem is job search with no recent education and you’re up against younger applicants with recent formal education or return to school and emerge with an even wider age gap between you and the competition. Have I summed up your thinking accurately?

Let me ask you this first; do you need to work, want to work, or is it a combination of the two? If you’re financially sound and don’t have to work to support yourself, you have a luxury of seeking work that will bring you personal satisfaction as a first priority. This could mean instead of full-time work only, you’ve got the option of part-time employment or volunteering your services. There’s a huge market for people with the maturity and wisdom that comes from both life and work experience in a mentoring capacity. If your physical health or your stamina to keep up with the demands of full-time work is questionable, these are two great options to consider.

Now if you need to work financially, the pressure to find a job becomes greater. That shouldn’t however, get you so desperate that you jump immediately at the first job you see advertised and then end up working in a job you loathe even though the financial bleeding is being addressed. You don’t want to grow bitter, waking up day after day with the thought, “And this is what the rest of my life has come down to?”

It would seem to be good advice to take stock of your strengths and your accomplishments. What are you good at? What have others appreciated about you and what achievements have you realized over the years? Personality-wise, what kinds of working environments have you fit in best with? Are you a people person or have you come to realize that you are increasingly working productively when isolated from the annoying chitter chatter of co-workers?

You might have what it takes and have the personal qualities to work on a consultative basis too. Self-employed; you’re for hire on a contractual basis, and getting set up to work for yourself would be a low financial risk with little to buy in terms of supplies and raw materials. Is there a market for your services and are you the kind of person that can communicate and train others, sharing your knowledge?

Whether you go self-employment or look to work for an organization, you are now faced with marketing yourself (again); something you may not have had to do for a decade or more. That may seem daunting. Again, making a list of your assets, strengths, accomplishments and your achievements is an excellent way to give yourself credit for who you are. Knowing who you are now is the starting point to knowing what you offer to others.

I get it, you’re feeling like a blow has been dealt to you. Your confidence is ebbing and this idea of ‘selling yourself’ is not something you’d choose to be doing at your age. Remember that the accumulation of your life experience is something no 20 or 30 something old has; this is your advantage!

Focus on your strengths and address your liabilities to the extent you can. Solid advice that will never steer you wrong.

 

Interviews: The Key Fundamental


We’re living in a world that’s become increasingly sophisticated; (feel free to substitute the word complicated for sophisticated if you wish).

While progress is often a good thing, it can completely intimidate some, leaving them far behind when it comes to interviewing. All these new interview formats and techniques have interviewees feeling overly stressed, resulting in many not interviewing at their best. Few people love interviews and so it’s easy to understand few take the time to improve their interviewing skills. After all, if you don’t like interviews, it’s not likely you’ll invest time voluntarily participating in the experience.

For you then, here’s the key to a successful experience; for no matter how complicated things seem to be, this one fundamental will help you reduce your stress levels and compete better. What is it?

See the interview for what it is. An interview is a conversation between two or more people. That’s it. You have conversations – and therefore interviews – many times during the day. Those are not high stress interactions. You’ll notice that although I’ve intentionally omitted the word, ‘job’ to this point, you’ve probably inserted it as you’ve read along. Thus you read, “See the job interview for what it is.”

A job interview is at its heart just conversation between two or more people where the agreed upon subject is an opportunity. Indulge me by re-reading that again. A job interview is a conversation between two or more people where the agreed upon subject is an opportunity. I’d remind you that this opportunity is not solely for the person applying for the job, but also for the organization conducting the job interviews.

If you are fearful and intimidated by the job application process; if you wish you could bypass the job interview and just get hired, it’s likely you perceive the interview very differently than those who embrace them. Yes, it’s likely you see the job interview as this unpleasant experience you must endure where the job interviewer judges you and decides your fate, most often rejecting you personally. If so, is it any wonder that even the subject of job interviews gets your stomach churning and you view them as a necessary evil to be avoided at all costs? No wonder there are people right now who hate their jobs but refuse to quit because it will mean choosing to put themselves through more job interviews!

Seriously, it’s just a conversation about an opportunity. In a conversation, participants contribute to the discussion; not always equally if you think about it, but both sides do contribute. A job interview is no different. The employer represented by the interviewer or interviewers, wants to learn about you, what motivates you, what you might bring and contribute to their organization. They ask about your experience, education and skills in order to flesh out as best they can who you are and most importantly how you align with what they know to be their needs.

You however? You’ve got a stake in this too. Your after information on perhaps the working conditions, the culture of the organization, the management style of the person you’d be reporting to, the autonomy the position demands, the benefits of working with the company, how they view the consumers of their goods and services. You’re likely to want to know the expectations they have, and in short whether this move would be a good fit for you for the foreseeable future. Hence, they’ve got questions and so should you.

Now think please of the first time you meet people. Back to the beginning when you two introduce yourselves. If the person you are meeting looks stressed and clearly uncomfortable, it’s probable that you’re first impression isn’t favourable and you’ll remove yourself early, ceasing to invest more time with them. You’ve sized that person up pretty quickly based on the limited information you gathered and you excused yourself.

Those who interview job applicants do exactly the same thing. Hence, it’s extremely important to make that all important good first impression. Get past the first 30 seconds with a smile, a friendly, “Hello, it’s very nice to meet you”, and an expression of gratitude for meeting with them and you’re on your way.

As you settle in, you’ll be asked questions and this is your opportunity to market yourself to their advertised needs. Doesn’t it stand to reason that those who best show that they’ll bring what the company said they want will be the best fit and get the job offers? They may ask the majority of the questions I grant, but you get to do the bulk of the talking as you phrase your replies. Remember to focus your answers on the questions asked, and the only way they will know you can do what you claim is to demonstrate via specific examples that prove to them you’ve got what it takes.

Essential to remember is that your body, at least as much as your words, communicates. Look engaged, interested, focused and dressed appropriately.

Instead of an interrogation where you voluntarily go to be executed, the job interview is your opportunity – and theirs – to determine if the match between the employer and you is a good fit for both. This fundamental shift in your thinking; how you perceive the job interview, may be the one thing you do that changes how you perform.

It starts in the mind!

 

 

A ‘Staycation’ With Pirates And Pedicure


“So, how was your vacation?”

Whenever you return from time off work; be it a week or more, you can bet you’ll be answering this question or some version of it upon your return. I know where I work, I hear the question a lot, and I overhear many of the people who get asked the question talk of their great trips to foreign lands. Somehow however, when someone says they stayed at home and relaxed, they tend to sound apologetic as in, “I just stayed home.”

Now there’s a lot to be said for the so-called, staycation. I am back to work today after having been off for a week. I really enjoyed the time my wife and I spent together this past week. While we don’t have a, ‘memory of a lifetime’ to paste into some scrapbook, the time off and our choice on how to use it did for us exactly what we hoped it would do.

It was nice I must say to get in a lot of the little things we enjoy: reading for pleasure, gardening, day trips together and one with a friend, visiting the farmer’s market, dining out, a trip to a local Spa and we had some fun going to a few open houses and checking out some travel trailers. Not the stuff of adventure magazines or destined to win the, ‘how I spent my vacation’ essays one always seemed to have to write upon returning to school as a child. Still, our vacation and our choice how to use it.

I tell you this; we both return to work entirely rested and satisfied with how we spent our time together. Recharged in body and mind, we’re ready to return to work. While our time off was rejuvenating and yes I admit I commented, “Imagine this being our everyday reality upon retirement”, we’re both ready to return to work. One comment we didn’t make – neither of us – is, “Where did the time go?” No, the days were long and we got a lot out of them.

You know it’s funny and somewhat ironic when I think about the fact that there’s always that person it seems at work who on their first day back talks about needing a vacation to recover from their vacation. They packed in so much and it was go, go, go right from the start to the end that they didn’t actually relax much. Then there’s the person who inevitably ends their vacation with being absent the first day they are due to return to catch up on jet lag.

I must say I truly value the time off work. There are some people working contract jobs who don’t get a vacation at all. They have a prescribed start and end date, working perhaps in the hope of extending the contract they have, taking time off when they can’t string together consecutive, seamless contracts. The time off isn’t the same however from the standpoint of rest and relaxation, as for many they are not sure about how long they will be out of work. The not knowing makes spending time and money for pleasure somewhat difficult as ever-present is the notion of needing to find more income.

This is a curious thing isn’t it? The notion of having, ‘earned’ one’s time off. Sitting side by side in many offices you could find one employee working a contract and another working salaried. The two would certainly seem to be doing similar work to the casual observer, however only one of the two is building up their vacation entitlement. The other is working out their contract. From the work engaged in, how is it then that one is earning their vacation while the other is not?

While off, one of the extravagances I indulged in was what the spa referred to as their, ‘ultimate foot massage’. When I was diagnosed last year with diabetes 2, the Doctor and the Nurse Dietician in the Diabetes Unit both recommended taking particular care of my feet. So, over this week break, I did two things for the first time; a foot assessment at a foot care clinic and followed this up with a first-rate foot cleansing and pedicure (minus the nail polish!). Well a little pampering to be sure but really it was all about making sure from their trained eyes nothing was amiss. It felt good – and isn’t that what vacations are supposed to do? Make us feel good!

It took no time to get through a re-read of Treasure Island; catching up with Long John Silver and Jim Hawkins from my childhood.  An easy read in a comfortable seat under the shade of the gazebo next to the waterfall in the backyard. Love my books and the places they take me. Yes, sometimes the weeding and watering didn’t take precedence.

This is work/life balance; well, one example of it at any rate. Time off is essential; it restores one’s perspective, gives time for reflection and focus. The body as well as the mind get a chance to align with whatever you find fuels your soul.

Wherever you live and whatever time of year it is as you read this, my hope for you is that you get time to spend doing what you want to recharge. Be they big plans or modest in nature, may you find that work/life balance yourself.

 

 

 

Be Nice


You may have big plans on where you see yourself in 2, 5 or 20 years from now. Conversely, you might not have a clue where life will take you; you have no idea what you’ll be doing in 3 weeks let alone years into your future. No matter what might be ahead in your future, one of the best things you can do now and along the way to wherever you land, you can do no better favour for yourself than to be nice along the way.

Now, already the ‘A’ type personality folks are assembling and some among them are saying that being nice gets you nowhere; that it’s a dog eat dog kind of world. Nice people are fodder to be chewed up and spit out, walked over and left on the lower rungs of the corporate ladders. They might say that nice guys finish last, that you’ve got to claw and fight your way up to every hand-hold you can clasp on the way up because nobody but nobody who amounts to anything will reach back and give you a hand up.

I suppose there are people like that; well let’s be entirely honest – there’s no supposing about it. Yes, there are people and professions that attract those kind of people with those kind of mentalities.

For the majority of us however, what is the price of being nice? Weigh any answer you come up with against the question, what is the price of not being nice? There’s the little gestures and the big ones of course. The big ones are the ones that most often make the headlines; the customer who drops a $3,000 tip for the waitress, the celebrity television host who treats the entire audience with gifts and goodies, makes wishes come true for ordinary people on the shows etc. They’ve got the untold wealth and corporate backing to be the face of niceness.

You and me though? Well, we’re likely just your everyday people; folks who work regular jobs, won’t ever gain widespread recognition. The emergence of social media has given us a platform to share our smiling faces with the world, and that’s likely the most public exposure we’re likely to garner.

Being nice can be self-serving of course and let’s be honest, it sure makes us feel good to do good for others. Drop some coins in a panhandlers cap, open a door for someone, give praise to someone who guts out a personal challenge and part of us feels good inside for doing so. Nothing wrong with making yourself feel good. Do more of it I say.

When you’re nice it can have some ripple effects too. You smile at me and I smile back. A few steps later, I give that smile to someone else and like the wave at a sporting event, it catches on and gets shared. Being nice is like that. I’ve seen first-hand people in cafe’s buy a drink for a stranger in line behind them and then that stranger do likewise for someone else. These aren’t just stories of the goody two-shoes types; these are real people. Sometimes the beneficiary of an act of kindness isn’t thankful true enough, but then again sometimes the beneficiary receives an unexpected act of kindness right at the moment when they needed it most; that reminder of the good around them. It can pull people sharply into the moment if they’ve been wandering around in their own little world, feeling ignored or invisible.

Being nice doesn’t have to cost any money whatsoever though. It can mean asking a co-worker how they’re doing and actually stopping long enough to show you really want to know. It can mean recalling something they told you two days ago and then following up with an inquiry about how that evening went or how that trip with the kids to the theme park turned out. Being nice could mean investing a tad of yourself in what that other person shares as important to them or meaningful to them.

Being nice might mean things that never get seen, never get recognized but nonetheless make things better for others. Maybe you do up a few dishes that aren’t yours at work, you make sure the toilet seat is clean every time you leave the washroom, you sharpen a few pencils at the Reception desk or keep the stapler stocked each morning so someone never gets frustrated looking for a pen.

I was saying to a colleague just yesterday that it was ironic that I was interviewed for a job years later by a woman whose children I supervised while working in a Boys and Girls Club decades ago. Good thing I was nice to both her and her kids! Who could have predicted that life would bring us back into contact that way in a completely different city and context?

Want to shock the person you’re in a relationship with? Send them an email or instant message that reads nothing more than, “Thinking of you just now.” Nice!

Yes, what if you did the odd thing or two simply with a goal and nothing more beyond being nice? You’d better watch out; you might develop a reputation for being a nice person!

Should you find that your acts of kindness go unnoticed or you get taken advantage of, be nice anyhow. We need more people like you.

 

Suppose You Were Given This Key…


Imagine if you will that you chance upon a box which upon opening, has a key and a note. The note reads, “Congratulations. You are now the owner of a key which will open any one single thing you desire. Choose wisely.” What would you open?

Depending on your inquisitiveness, you might be already wondering whether you found the key at home or work; was it out in the open like on your desk or hidden behind some wall in a castle you’re visiting built in the 1400’s? Don’t fret about that. You might wonder who put it there? Why me? How big or small is it? How could it open anything? Will it change shape as I insert it? You’ve been gifted this unique opportunity so just accept it and don’t over think it; the key is in your possession so leave it at that.

So do you opt for something tangible like the keys to a house? I suppose if you’re homeless or have had a life full of moving from one substandard housing unit to another this might have great appeal. On the other hand, if you already have stable housing and you’re relatively happy with what you have, the idea of using this key to unlock something you already have holds less appeal. In other words, you might not want to use the key to make a minor upgrade on what you already own. This you perceive is the big game-changer; the one chance you’ve got to dramatically alter your current existence.

Maybe you’ll go for the tangible but indulgent. You know, the key to a yacht, your own private jet, the front door to a vacation property in some island paradise. Why you can almost hear the jingle, “Just imagine” from a Lotto 649 commercial playing in your head. The fanciful side of you may want the yacht but before you actually declare with finality that the yacht is what it fits, the practical side of you says, “Hold on! We’ll have to pay the insurance, the storage fees and just think of the gas money at todays prices!” So you second guess what you want this key to open and pause to reconsider.

After some moments you think that maybe something tangible isn’t the only thing this key could open. Maybe the romantic lover in you imagines then that this key unlocks the heart of that person you’ve always wanted to see you in the same way you see them. They’ve always had your heart but somehow you’ve never felt they shared your feelings; this key you own could be used to open what you most desire and always have; them. But then some voice whispers to you that it just seems wrong somehow to get this person this way. You really want them to come to love you for who you are, not because you used this key as you would a love potion.

Sigh….

What about a job then? Ah, a job! Not just any job but THE job! The one you’ve tried unsuccessfully to get for what seems like an eternity. It does say it will open anything you desire so why not the door that keeps getting slammed in your face every time you apply for work? Yes, your dream job. Just wish it and it becomes your reality…your phone will ring in minutes with some voice at the other end telling you they’d be thrilled to have you come and work with them!

Unlike the heart of the person you’re hopelessly – or Hope Fully in love with, there’s little or no guilt surely in getting what you want by using this key. There’s nothing wrong with using it to unlock the doors to that corner office in the tower, the Chairman’s office, the Ranger tower in the forest or – well wherever this job you want is located. So why does your conscience nag at you that using it to get that job cause you difficulty?

Okay, okay! So you go to something that’s just fun and harmless. The key may just unlock the door to the local ice cream shop. Yes! Ice cream when you want it for you and your friends! A myriad of flavours at your choosing; vanilla and chocolate when you’re in the mood and raspberry thunder when you’re craving it! Harmless too; it’s only ice cream! Ah, but your health would suffer you acknowledge. After all, how much ice cream could you eat without having your fill? What if you got diabetes or became lactose intolerant? Then your wish for ice cream would be a cruel joke and a waste of the key. Rethink.

What about a vault that holds money. Surely then you could use the money stored there to get whatever you want and when you want it! As your needs and wants change, the money would be there to easily go out and get it. Would that be so bad? It’s like using your last wish to ask the Genie for more wishes. That has its problems too of course.

Enough with the ideas to spur one’s imagination. Would it make a difference in what you wish for if there was a limited time to use it? Would you unlock the mysteries of the universe?

What would the key open if you come across it today?

Maybe you already hold such a key.

 

 

Bulletin Board Of Inspired Quotes


Last week I had a moment of inspiration while spending some time in our Resource Centre. Just like you; just like anyone I suppose, that moment came where I thought, “I wonder if other people will think as much of this idea as I do; it has a lot of potential.”

Now ours is a place to go exclusively for those in receipt of Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program social assistance programs. So essentially those who make use of it may be there for a number of reasons. Some look for jobs, housing, attend workshops and seminars or get help finding community services. Others use it as a place to network, socialize, have someone they can trust hear them out, make a phone call or use the fax/copy services. We attract a variety of purposes, even though our centre is at present limited to these two groups.

At the rear of our drop-in Resource Centre are 5 boards we’ve typically used in the past to put up the latest job postings. Observation of these boards has suggested that while some people continue to scan them for employment possibilities, more and more users tend to sit down at one of the 20 computers we have and look for jobs themselves; finding them as they are posted throughout a day.

This has led our team to re-examine the effectiveness of having all 5 of these boards filled with jobs and duplicating what people find themselves. I stood looking at an empty board the other day and thought about what I or we could do with that board other than job opportunities. Then it came to me. I’d search online for motivational quotes and stick them up on the board with the invitation to take whatever a person wanted or needed. But would it work?

I began by turning to the internet and went to Bing. Sorry Google, but I’m a Bing man. I searched, “Quotes with pictures” and clicked on Images which gave me the result of photographs and illustrations with various motivational or insightful quotes overlaid on them. These I scanned, choosing the ones I thought might particularly appeal to the audience they would attract.

Characteristically, the people who would stand before this board might be unemployed, anxious, perhaps lacking career direction, feeling despair, loneliness, isolation, depression, dwindling hope, low self-esteem, medically and mentally fragile and frustrated. On the other hand they may also be resilient, determined to succeed, need support, adaptable, hopeful, open to change and thankful.

When I found a quote I liked and hoped might speak personally to someone in a public space, I saved the photo to the computer I was on and then copied and pasted the photo/quote to a Word document I called, “Quotes with pictures”. Yes, painfully obvious; but that’s what file names are supposed to be right?

Then it was left to me to print several pages of these gather quotes with pictures and make sure they were of various sizes, so they’d appeal more to the eye as a collage and not looking too institutionalized. With 7 or 8 pages of these quotes, I cut them all to size and pinned them to the board, taking care to ensure they were randomly placed by theme, size and image. In the center of the board I placed, “Please Take What You Need”; an invitation to help yourself to anyone looking.

That was just Friday last and yesterday combined. With anything new, you’ve got two choices; direct people who don’t notice to what you’ve done or allow people to discover what’s new on their own. In a place like ours, people can get robotic; come in, do their thing, leave, return, repeat. I opted to let people go the self-discovery way. After all, I didn’t want people to feel they had to compliment me on the board, nor did I want people to feel they should take something just to please me.

I was delighted to later have a fellow come up to me with 7 or 8 of the quotes in his hand and double-check to see if he really could take them with him or if he was expected to photocopy what he took and replace them. When I told him to help himself; that they were there for the taking, he smiled and appeared quite happy. I could have asked why those 7 or 8. I could have looked at them to know which ones to replace. I could have started data collecting to see what speaks to people and then use that information to start conversations with people on whatever they wanted to talk about. I didn’t do any of these things. I replaced the quotes with more.

If you like this idea or some resemblance of it, feel free to duplicate it all or in part and adapt it to your space and your audience. You can also search by topic: leadership, hope, goal setting, courage, team work, strength, wisdom – the list is only as long as your own imagination. There’s other ways of arriving at the same finished products too; you could make your own quotes and insert them as text over your own photos. You could also use a colour printer. Or what about one colour photo in a sea of black and white ones – just to see the impact?

Conversation starter or source of inspiration; my share with you to start August 2017.