Be Beautiful


Physically beautiful is nice; inner beauty is always better. It takes some people years to accept and believe this, while others get it right from the start. Let’s not start with the assumption that the all the physically beautiful people of the world have a flawed inner self; that’s an erroneous assumption and gets us off on the wrong point. Inner beauty is something we have full control over and this is where it differs dramatically from natural outer beauty.

I write as you may know with a purpose of helping people find and keep employment. So you may or may not immediately get what writing about being beautiful has to do with finding a job or getting ahead.

Inner beauty is all about being nice; attracting to you the good in others by shining brightly with your own good attitude and good works. You know these people of whom I speak. No doubt you have some in your workplace; you may well be one yourself and if you are, I applaud you.

The folks with inner beauty are the ones who always lend you help when you need it if it is in their power to do so. They say hello when they see you and ask how you are and most importantly you feel they really mean it. They smile and laugh easily and while this doesn’t mean they don’t have their ‘days’, they don’t have many of them and they certainly don’t seek misery and sympathy. They just get on with what they have to do the best they can.

Those who shine their inner beauty are good folks to have around. They lift you up, make you feel better just by having them around. They can be at any level in an organization too. Yes, right from the CEO at the top, they can be in the mailroom, the service desk, hold the keys to the office supplies, sit at reception or if you’re lucky, share an office with you or if you’re extremely lucky they could be your boss.

Inner beauty is something you can cultivate and nurture or you can shut it down and refuse adamantly to bring out. Be careful I warn you because you’ll recall how I’ve said many times in the past that once people have their view of you it’s tough to change how you are perceived. It’s not impossible of course, but well, you know about first impressions right?

Radiating goodness is what inner beauty is all about. A sincere willingness to help others and looking for opportunities to do just that is how inner beauty manifests itself. “Let me help you with that”, “Really it’s no problem; it’s my pleasure” and “You’re good at what you do” are the kind of comments you’ll hear them say and others like them. They are helpful, they do delight in being of assistance and they pass out compliments to others often but always with sincerity.

They look for the good in others too. In fact the one thing that might annoy them most is when they interact with other people who are not just indifferent but who are actually negative, mean or mean-spirited. Those with inner beauty will many times even in these situations kindly point out to the person concerned that they could be more pleasant – and they’ll do it in a way that isn’t a condemnation or value judgement. They just do it naturally.

Now think about where you work and see if you aren’t thinking of someone or some people who fit this description.  If you’re out of work, think of places you’ve worked in the past or somewhere you volunteer your time. Think of people you know in your personal life, maybe a good friend or family member. These kind of good people aren’t rare (thankfully) and they may be all around you.

Two things I offer by way of suggestion; for one, thank them. Thank them while you have a chance because showing your appreciation encourages them to continue to be the beautiful people they are. It costs you nothing to do so too. They probably would love a card or flowers but a word of genuine thanks is what they’d most like. Secondly, I’d suggest you do more to bring out your own inner beauty.

Guys can be beautiful too you know. Why not? The beautiful is not reserved for the women of this world. “He was just a beautiful guy” is a statement I’ve read again and again when a man passes away who others admired. Why not share your admiration with the living while they are in your presence? Even better however is why not choose to be a beautiful person now – now – while you have the power to decide and be whomever you want?

Go about your day with some positivity; encourage others, do good work, work with integrity and be on the lookout for others doing things you can applaud. Imagine if you did so and soon their were two or three others doing the same. Then it caught on and the  atmosphere in your workplace changed for the better; the ‘like attracts like’ syndrome starting happening. Your workplace culture would shift, the work environment would improve and a happier place would emerge to work. The cost? Nothing but a little effort. What’s the cost of suppressing inner beauty?

 

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On A Career Journey? Learn From Tracey


On March 1 I received a message via LinkedIn from a woman who had read one of my blog posts and was touched by it enough that she reached out to me and asked if I’d be willing to meet with her face-to-face to hear first-hand about my career path. On her own career journey, she respectfully asked for 20 minutes of my time over a coffee, and even then said if not, she’d understand and wished me well in my passionate endeavors.

First thing I did was look up her profile on LinkedIn and read up on who this person was and what she’d done to date. We exchanged a couple of messages and the short of it is that we agreed to meet last evening in a public café. I mean here was someone doing exactly what I and many others so often suggest doing; reach out and network, ask for 20 minutes and see what you can learn. I was impressed.

So last evening we met at our agreed time and after introducing ourselves, Tracey made good on her offer of buying me a tea. In exchange for that small investment and the cost of the gas to get to and from the meeting, what she got was more than 20 minutes. We sat there and had a great conversation for…are you ready?…..3 hours. Yep, 3 hours.

When did you last meet someone for the first time and not only found yourself happily immersed in talking but found this interest reciprocated for so long? This was special. The conversation had a nice flow back and forth, both of us sharing experiences, and how those experiences have us where we are in the present. There was something in that post of mine that prompted Tracey to feel she could benefit from meeting; perhaps gaining some insight into what she herself might do with her own career moving forward.

So I shared my working philosophy, the significant characteristics I believe are essential in this line of work, the benefits I derive, what I actually do and what I learn in return. As I spoke I observed Tracey and noted many positive qualities which we’d all do well to replicate in similar situations should we initiate such meetings ourselves.

She listened attentively, made excellent eye contact, smiled, commented on what she heard,  added her own experiences to the conversation so it was a two-way exchange. She was well dressed, came prepared with some written questions and had a pen and paper at hand. Now ironically, the questions she’d prepared didn’t play much of a part in the meeting, as our conversation went back and forth at a comfortable pace and apparently satisfied her questions.

I was interested to hear that in addition to myself, she was meeting with others too; people she had been referred to by others. She said it this meeting was the first time she’d reached out on her own to someone she didn’t know, and we laughed a bit at that. It’s prudent to be cautious when doing so of course, but we were meeting in a public space and sometimes that courage provides new perspectives; hearing from others actually doing the kind of work you might be considering yourself.

I found it interesting that she’d spent 4 years teaching abroad, has recently invested in upgrading her education in Social Sciences and has experience working as a Researcher. More significant to me was hearing her speak about her own love for helping others, having a need for innovation and creativity and how much she enjoys interacting one-to-one. Like attracts like, and so being innovative myself, connecting with others one-on-one, loving helping others and being creative I envisioned her as a professional colleague in the same line of work. Having just met, I don’t know her inside and out, but still, I started to read her and see if she had what it would take to be in this field and succeed. No question about it.

What struck me was her dilemma. What to do? Look for work in the field she just upgraded her education in or possibly pursue a career in something else. Now as I said to her, if her heart was in the work she’d just went to school for, she likely wouldn’t be sitting in a café having a conversation like the one we were having; she’d be enthusiastically out there applying for jobs. Yet here she was. That is a most telling reality; seems to me she’s looking for some work to do with passion herself; helping others in some capacity and looking to feel fulfilled. That apparently hasn’t manifested itself where she is right now.

In the end, it will be Tracey who makes up her mind as to where she goes from here and what she does next in her career journey. She’s an intelligent woman gathering information and others perspectives, and I’m very interested myself to stay in touch and hear what transpires. I’ve made myself available in any way that she might find helpful too, be it further conversations in-person or otherwise.

Now as for you and me, this is yet another example where connecting via social media is a good start, but leveraging these connections into actual conversations and truly networking is what we could do more of. 3 hours you might not get I acknowledge, but asking for 20 minutes…priceless. Happy networking!

 

Take The Advice Of Professionals


There’s a black t-shirt that keeps showing up on my Facebook page with writing on it that says, “If at first you don’t succeed do what your Employment Counsellor told you to do in the first place.” Yes those brainy folks at FB have found a way to send me a feed that fits perfectly with my line work – lo and behold I am an Employment Counsellor and yes many a time my colleagues and I say to each other, “If they would just do what we suggest things would be so much better!”

Maybe you’ve got something similar showing up on your social media pages and the job title is specific to what it is you do too? I wonder. It does go to show how the information we provide online helps others target us directly with their marketing all the way from products we can buy to ads we view on our pages. Be careful what you search for online. Am I buying myself one of these t-shirts? No, but I do kind of want one even though I wouldn’t wear it to work!

Think about the message though and you can view it two ways; the first is of course to see ourselves as the expert; the all-knowing wise ones who hold all the secrets to happiness and success. It can come across as sanctimonious, smug, cocky, perhaps even arrogant. On the other hand there’s a lot of truth in that message. After all, anyone who is an expert in their field and has been in it for a period of time has to know more than the average dabbler into the field.

When the brakes need fixing on our cars we typically head out and seek the services of a brake professional; it’s just too important when you’re driving down the road at 90 km and have to stop suddenly to put your life and the lives of others in the hands of anyone else. I know I certainly wouldn’t go to my neighbour who happens to work at a cemetery and expect him to knowledgeably and expertly fix my breaks. I could of course, but I might find my family needing his professional services for my own funeral and the last thing they would do is leave my burial and final send off to a brake professional. That’s ludicrous.

Yes I am often perplexed and amazed when, in my line of work, I encounter numerous people who have trusted their job search tactics and specifically resume and interview help to friends, family and friends of family. “Who did your resume?” I sometimes ask at the outset to see if the person did it themselves or got assistance – and this before even looking at it. “Oh I got help from my sister”, is the kind of response I often hear. “And what does she do for a living?” I might ask only to be told any number of jobs – all of which I trust the sisters of this world are pretty good if not great at – but alas, resume construction and crafting is not numbered upon the areas in which they have expertise.

What gets more interesting is that as the critiquing starts when doing a resume consultation, the owner of the resume often gives up all ownership and responsibility for the content and design, blaming the person who made it for them. In fact many are quite happy and ready to tell me that some other, “professional” did it for them. Well, as I point out to them at this point, no matter who did or does a person’s resume, if your name is at the top of the page, you have to take full responsibility for content, design and how it markets you overall.

Just like in any profession, some people are better at it than others. You’ll find the professional who is on top of their game, using best practices, changing with the times who updates their skills and is the go-to person getting top results. You’ll find the professional who used to be engrossed with striving for the best but who is now coasting on their record and riding into retirement no matter how many years off. You can find the young professional who has all the right intentions and knows some of the latest and greatest but who lacks life experience and who’s gusto and energy outmatches their actual skills.

So getting help from a professional doesn’t guarantee the result you might hope for. Good advice is to ask professionals – no matter the field – about their credentials. How long have they been doing what they do? What’s their track record for success? Can they provide references you could contact? How do their fees stack up against others doing the same work? Not all professionals are the same nor are they…ahem…professional.

I have had two people in the last two weeks tell me they paid a professional $500 for their resumes. $500?! They looked slick and shiny and hadn’t in either case yielded the hoped for interviews for jobs applied to. Both resumes had mistakes; not things I personally prefer but outright errors. $500? In both cases I offered to revise what they had – no charge. I wish my brake specialist would do my brakes for free – even once!

Seek out and listen to professionals no matter the trade is good general advice; they, (we) know our stuff.

Feeling Overwhelmed? Drop The Job Search


Most people I would guess walk around each day with at least one thing on their mind beyond what they are doing at the moment. Could be the family pet is in rough shape, there’s some house repairs that should be looked into and actioned, a close friend doesn’t seem the same etc. Fortunately, we have within us the ability to function at the same level of performance when we need to during the day, and we can manage to set aside the time to address those personal issues we have.

However for some people, it’s not just one or two things that are going on but rather many things going on; could be 10 – 15 issues all at the same time and of varying degrees of importance. In addition for example to the pet problems, there’s a friend with cancer, children that need attention, a spouse that mentioned off-hand wanting some ironing done, dinner plans with the neighbours, a car that is stalling all of a sudden, an unexpected bill that arrived yesterday with ‘past due’ on the envelope, floors that need cleaning and dishes in the sink from two nights ago. Then there’s an issue at work that’s becoming bigger than it should, a boss that is asking for a commitment to doing some overtime and it’s a busy time of the month; oh and it’s soccer night and gymnastics night for the kids.

You’d think that this is a lot of its own but on top of all this throw in the prevailing thought the person has that in some way they are failing both those around them and themselves. Great! Let’s add guilt, anxiety and a growing sadness or depression. All this does is lead to falling asleep unexpectedly at 7:20 p.m. and then have a sleepless night when the brain won’t turn off, until exhausted, sleep comes an hour before its time to rise in the morning to let out the dog and wake up the kids.

Does this ring a bell with you? Even if it’s not you, I think it safe to say someone in your circle of friends, co-workers or family just might have a life that looks like this one. You may or may not be aware of what’s going on of course, as some people are working hard to cover up these issues lest they be perceived as weak or unable to cope.

Wow, that’s a lot to be coping with and at the same time trying to be productive and a real team player at work, or worse yet, trying to find employment when focusing on a job search and putting out 100% effort is expected. Of course if you can’t maintain that energy to job search for 6 or 7 hours a day, somebody somewhere is wondering if you’re really serious or not about getting a job. That’s rich; if they only knew!

Somehow in 2016, it seems that we’ve got more to manage and less time or resources to do so. Some would say technology is to blame, others would argue that in the past one family member stayed home to handle all the domestic chores and family or that we just have more on the go now than people had to manage in the past.

What of you though? How are YOU coping? If you’re sailing along happy and managing everything in stride, well good for you and your family. What if however, you’re not doing so well, you’re not coping at the level you feel you should, and things seem to be getting more out of hand instead of more under control?

Maybe, just maybe of course, dropping the job search for a month or two would be healthy. Concentrating on taking care of some of the things that are bugging you might give you a sense of accomplishment and achievement; thereby lifting your spirits a little. Ironically, the best way to get and keep a job might be to hold off even looking for one until you really can devote the time necessary to find the right job. Lurching into a job you don’t really want but feel you have no choice but to take could be disastrous if the things going on outside work cause you to be late, call in absent or underperform. Then you’d have a failed job to add to your list of worries. Yes it’s true; putting off looking for work while you sort out some issues may be the best job search strategy you can gift yourself with.

One thing you might find hard to believe is that you’re far from being alone. There are a growing number of people who aren’t coping well with all their outside and personal issues. Like you however, they may be doing their very best to put on a happy face at work and keep busy. Like you too though, it could be a fragile outer shell or façade that you see as they go about their day.

Juggling one or two items is far easier than juggling many, so do your best to juggle only what you can reasonably be expected to handle. So put off the job search and get the pet down to the vets. Spend an afternoon with your friend, pay the overdue bill, do some ironing while watching a television show that will make you laugh.

Job Search? Just Give Up


Are you one of the many people who has grown so frustrated with the job search process that you’ve given up entirely on looking for work? If you have, there are a lot of other job seekers out there who would like to thank you for making it easier for them; so cheers on their behalf. Oh and let’s not forget the employers who are grateful that you’ve stopped wasting their time as well. They raise a glass and toast you as well.

So now that you’ve made it easier for others to get jobs and you’ve made life easier on the employers who have one less resume and cover letter to look over and reject in the end, how do you feel? I suspect you’re feeling relief and can finally relax now that the stress of the job search is over. Yes sir, you can finally put your feet up and settle in to that seat on the couch you always favoured at the end of your work day. This will give you time after all to put up your feel on the coffee table or ottoman,  pick up your favourite book and disappear into some world of espionage, fantasy landscape or romantic paradise.

Is it really like that? Sure maybe for a few moments, days or even weeks. We’re all different after all so maybe you can sustain that illusion of a stress-free life. Ah but for the vast majority, it’s not stress-free whatsoever. Your creditors don’t look at your new-found decision favourably; they still want their money. They may appear to be giving you a break by only asking for minimum payments, but that interest is adding up – and not in your favour.

Bills, school loans, borrowing on credit, it’s all adding up. Are you one of the people who ignores the envelopes from creditors and doesn’t pick up the phone when you just know it’s them on the other end demanding payments? Are you wondering how long it will be until you wake up to the sound of your car being towed away and a repossession order put into  your hands as a replacement? Sure this is the stress-free life you envisioned when you gave up the job search?

I rather doubt this is what you had in mind. If only the world would stop turning for a bit and you could play catch up. But it doesn’t stop does it? No, life goes on and the pressure never seems to stop. You see commercials for the things you want on the television and on billboard screens. You hear radio ads and long for things that are out of reach to you but seem to be available to just about anyone else? Life is so unfair!

Sooner or later you’ll probably come to a point where living this kind of life loses its appeal too; and looking for work will seem more desirable. You’ll admit in the future that you should never have stopped looking in the first place; but by then you’ll have new barriers to employment. You’ll find your references have dried up, your skills are rusty, your confidence to work is shot; self-esteem is in the toilet and you’ll tire easily with minimum effort because you aren’t use to putting in a strong 7 hour day of both physical and mental work.

Here’s another reality you won’t like; from the day you stopped actively looking for work right up until you change your mind, the number of people looking for work has steadily increased. Suddenly you’ll have not just more people to compete with, but you’ll compete with more people who have more recent work experience and who have current education trumping your then dated experience.

In other words, as hard as it appears now, if you put your job search into hibernation, it’s going to be substantially harder when you decide to re-enter the job search market.

That being said, another truism is that however you are going about your job search now is obviously not working. You need a different approach, probably some employment counselling or coaching, and most people who have asked for and received help in finding work have found the support they received beneficial.

If you’ve lost your enthusiasm for looking for work, it’s pretty hard to just light a switch and burn anew with the energy job searching demands. Even if you believe you’re on fire again, that fire is going to need some stoking and some fresh source of fuel to fan the flames. This is where seeking out someone where you live to support you in your job search can be the difference between a successful start and going through a number of false starts.

Employment Counsellors and Consultants, Job Coaches and Mentors can walk that fine line between pointing out what you’re doing poorly and at the same time believing in you during a time when you’ve lost confidence in yourself.

Please don’t read this blog as an advertisement for business. I’d like you to look up and get 1:1 help in your local area; it may be that you walk in and set up an appointment with a professional at no cost whatsoever depending on the service you have available. What you learn on the other hand might be priceless.

Give up or get going; your choice; always has been and always will be.

“Proofread My Resume Please?”


If you ask someone to proofread your resume, you have to be open and receptive to the possibility that they will find mistakes. If you’re going to argue and defend your errors instead of correcting them, you’re not only wasting the time of the person doing the proofreading, you’re also risking their willingness to provide you with honesty.

Yesterday I had two very different experiences with two different people in the drop in Employment Resource Centre where I work. The first was with a fellow who was applying for employment with the Province of Ontario; which meant there were very specific instructions on how to submit an application; not only in terms of the resume, but also with respect to his cover letter and how to apply.

This gentleman approached me with his initial resume and to be honest it was extremely poorly constructed. It contained irregular spacing, multiple fonts; the content was weak and didn’t relate to the job he was applying for at all. Had he submitted this version of his resume it wouldn’t even have got more than a glance let alone led to the offer of an interview.

During the course of what was a fairly busy morning for me personally assisting a number of people, he would make revisions based on my suggestions and then approach me again for further feedback. He did this five times, and with every presentation, he was getting closer to a stronger application; not to mention his basic understanding of how to make a resume in general was becoming stronger. It was precisely because he was genuinely appreciative of the feedback that he was offered more and more. In short, he took the advice he sought out and implemented the changes; never getting frustrated but learning from the experience and implementing the ideas he received.

Now I contrast his experience with another person who approached me much later in the day. This woman approached me and said she was applying for a job and would I like to read over her cover letter, resume and list of references. I looked at the cover letter first only because it was on top of the resume. The initial sentence began, “I am submitting my Resume…”

I stopped reading and pointed out that the capital letter ‘R’ in the word resume should be lower case not a capital, and she said to me, “Well I’m not going to change it now. I’ve gone back to this cover letter that worked for me years ago so we’ll see.” I stopped proofreading the cover letter right there and looked at the resume.

The resume wasn’t a disaster at first glance, but it was missing the most recent two years on it. When I asked about that she said, “Oh this is a resume from two years ago, I’m just sending it the way it is.” I shuffled the papers and moved to the list of references. Now this document looked fine. It only contained three names instead of a standard four, but there were titles and contact information so it looked appropriate. However, just as I was about to say it was fine, she voluntarily said, “The first guy is dead but I’m leaving him on there.”

I put all three sheets down and said, “You’re intentionally leaving a dead person on your list of references instead of replacing him with someone else who can actually be contacted and speak to your experience?” She told me that she was indeed, because – and you guessed it – it worked years ago so she was using it again.

So what’s the point of asking someone for their feedback if you aren’t open to hearing what they’ve got to say, or are going to actually implement any of the changes they recommend? I told her in summing things up that there were problems with all three documents and that she really should make some changes to them if she wanted to improve her odds of getting an interview. I added however that it didn’t appear she was ready to make any changes at this time, so I wasn’t going to get into identifying all the corrections needed.

Now ironically, the woman might get further with her resume than the fellow. There is the possibility that because he is applying for a government position, the competition will be fierce and others extremely qualified. Sheer numbers could keep him from advancing to the interview stage. The woman may get an interview as she’s applying for a job through a mutual friend. The scrutiny that each application is going under is very different. While the employer may look over her resume and have her in for an interview as a favour to her friend, the fellow has no such connection, and if he gets an interview, he earned it entirely.

Look, the bottom line is that it’s wise to ask for others to proofread your work, and both get full marks for asking. However, it’s equally essential that you stay open to the help you get and consider the advice of people who are doing you a favour. Otherwise you are wasting your time and theirs; showing little respect for the time and opinions of others.

Can you get an interview with flawed documents full of grammar and spelling errors? Sure you can; it is possible. Is it likely? No. Act on advice and improve your odds.

Does Your Job Make Life Better?


What purpose does your work serve? I mean, does it improve the quality of your life? What about the lives of others? I put it out there that if your work is not making your life better, you should be looking for something else – and fast!

This idea of making your life better in some way isn’t new. Whether it was the Industrial Age, The Crusades, why even all the way back to the early days of human civilization, people have always engaged in work activities that improved their quality of life. Going to war to preserve their lifestyle or freedom, creating some invention that would improve on whatever people currently had – it all made their lives better.

Okay so let’s look at us; you and me. We’ve got this general pattern where we depend entirely on others early in life and then develop into young people with hopes and dreams, testing our independence until we fly the nest and start relying on ourselves. We  make our own choices, and with each choice there are consequences great or small. Every choice we make seemed like a good idea at the time, and we made those choices to make our lives better; for the moment or long-term.

So is this why we become unhappy if we realize that our daily jobs don’t bring us the satisfaction and some sense of pleasure? The job itself may not be a fun one, but we justify continuing with it if what we get out of it improves our lives in some other way. Hence the money factor. Take a job not many would willingly do for the work alone, and attaching money to it will at some point attract enough people to perform the work you want done. Offer too little and you won’t attract the skilled people to do the work and the quality of the work will suffer.

Some Career Coaches or Employment Counsellors will inevitably ask the people they work with, “What would make you happy?” You see we get it. If you could share with us the work, job or career (substitute your word of choice) that would make your life better, then we could help you define the steps required to take you from your present situation to the reality of having the dream job you want. With the attainment of the job, you’ll be happy; your life would be better. So goes the theory.

The problem for many is they can’t answer the question, “What’s your dream job?” They honestly don’t know. It’s for this reason many people feel conflicted, confused, anxiety and ultimately voice this in statements like, “What’s wrong with me? I should know by now!” or the classic, “Everybody’s telling me to just get a job but I don’t know what I want to do.” Figuring out the, ‘want’ is really trying to figure out what would make life better.

After all, if you and I are going to invest 7 or so hours a day in some activity 5 days a week, presumably that investment of time should make our lives better. If the job we take doesn’t make life better, why are we still doing the work? Ah but then maybe it’s how we define a better life that is the real crux of the matter. If we hate the actual work we do with a passion – the exact opposite of what an employer typically asks for, but the job provides us with money that we then use to pay for rent, food, possessions and our lives improve on our personal time, some of us can then justifiably state that the job we hate makes life better.

Not all of us feel this way however. Some believe that the work they do is such a big part of their waking lives that it had better not only pay well, but the work itself has to bring them joy. The job has to be one they’d find fulfilling. However while some get out and try job after job trying to find  the right fit to improve their lives, others don’t. The ones that don’t make a decision not to do any work at all until they are fairly certain the job will bring them happiness. Not having ever done the work, they use their imagination to visualize themselves in a job, and with this limited knowledge or perception of what they believe the job to be, they make a decision to work or not in that job; usually deciding not to.

Researching a job or a profession is good advice to give you data you may find helpful in making a better informed decision on whether the job will make you happy or improve your life. All the research in the world can’t tell you how you’ll really experience that job however until you plunge into it. There are many variables like the supervision style of the person you report to, the comings and goings of co-workers that will affect the atmosphere, culture, location, hours of work etc.

If life is the best it can be keep doing what you’re doing – job or no job. If life isn’t as good as it could be with the work you currently do, and presuming you want it to be better, get going; you’ve only got so much time to improve your life through your work.

What do you think people?