Monday, July 28, 2014

New Job Anxiety


I had a long conversation with my daughter the other day about her new job. She’s working for the same company, but they recently transferred her group into a new area—with new responsibilities. And little or no training.

The employees were given a checklist and told to follow it. However, the checklist continued to change—once three times in the same day. And they were provided no details about what had changed—or why.

When her rating came out at the end of last week, many of her cases had errors. She is a lot like her mother—a perfectionist/overachiever. She’s used to being the go-to person in the group and getting high ratings on her work. She is not used to errors, especially since she’d done a conscientious job and tried to follow the checklists exactly. She was devastated.

Her boss called a meeting of the group to talk about their performance—or lack of same. Turns out, all of them had errors, many had more than my daughter. However, that realization didn’t make her feel much better.

Years ago, I hired many entry-level people. I trained them, and then other departments ‘stole’ them for better positions. Therefore, I was continually replacing personnel, since I had twenty-six in my group.

Even though I thoroughly trained each one, occasionally I found an overachiever who expected to be perfect after the first week or two. When it didn’t happen, they panicked.

I developed this standard ‘timeline’ for a new job, which I shared with my employees and my daughter. You may also find it useful.

WEEK ONE
You are in training. It’s interesting (or not), and your expectation is that you don’t know it all yet. Same for week two.

WEEK THREE
You are starting to get into the groove and feel as though you really understand how to do the job. (This is about where my daughter was last week.)

WEEK FOUR
Reality crashes in. You discover you’ve made mistakes. For the hyper-conscientious, this is the point where you start to think, “I’ll never get it! I don’t even understand the terminology. There’s no one else to go to since we’re all busy.” This feeling is exacerbated if the training was insufficient or non-existent.

At this point, hunker down and hang in. Several of my employees attempted to quit when they reached this stage because they felt overwhelmed. I talked them into staying for just two more weeks. That was all I asked for.

At the end of two more weeks, they had started to really understand the job and develop some proficiency. From then on, their progress continued, not necessarily swiftly but consistently.
Many went on to better positions, and I started the training process again.

I can remember passing this insight on to a friend who had reached the point of giving up. She has now been in her position for about twenty years. I also had to talk my brother into staying with what turned out to be the best job he ever had.

So if you are starting a new job, just remember this timeline. During the last few years I worked, I was hired on contracts and had to remind myself of this reality with each new position I accepted. I got through the rough times with all of them to perform at my accustomed level of proficiency.


Do you have any other pieces of wisdom for folks staring a new job? Would you be willing to share them?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Another Loss

On Saturday, my funny friend and fellow writer, Rebecca (RE) Geneck Delo, died after a heroic battle with cancer. I HATE CANCER! I’ve lost entirely too many friends to it, and now another.
Rebecca was a member of our church. She had also belonged to our critique group, although she had stopped attending before we began. Still, the group continued to cheer her on, and in 2012, she announced that her first book, Another Crappy Diet Book, was finally available in paperback.

I got one of the first copies, and found it laugh-out-loud funny. The next time I saw her, she said she knew some revisions were still necessary. I said I’d help her edit it for a second edition and also get it into Kindle as an ebook.
Life happened, and we never completed either of those tasks. Then came the cancer.
In the final chapter of her book, Rebecca (almost prophetically) says:
“Through the course of living, we lose some of our loved ones, No matter how old or young they were, it’s a painful loss. However, from our grief comes strength.”
Later she continues:
“…Our gifts are many; use all of them. When we do this, an interesting thing happens—life becomes so much easier, and simply happier. We must embrace what we have, because we are the lucky ones.
“Our parents have given us the greatest gift of all: our life. Maybe it’s time to let the little child in us come out to play. The future has amazing possibilities for us. Enjoy your path.”
And she did.
Her husband wrote a note to the church today:
To our Church Family. Rebecca passed after a long and painful struggle. Cancer got her body, but not her Spirit and her Soul. Your thoughts, prayers and love sustained her over the past three years and was a monumental support to both of us. May God continue to bless you all.”
Her book is available on Amazon.com. The proceeds are donated to the animal rescue group she and her husband ran on their ranch. If you want to enjoy a hearty laugh, get a copy. Like Rebecca herself, much of the narrative is unfiltered, and all of it is real and genuine.
You can find it here: http://tinyurl.com/py89t2x.

Your life was much too short, my friend, but your legacy of laughter will bring joy to all who read your words. Rest in peace.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Very Inspiring Blogger Award.



I’ve been nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award.


The purpose is simple. It’s designed to introduce authors to readers and to other writers who are creating some of the finest blogs on the Internet today. I was nominated by author John Lindermuth. When you have a chance, check out his blog (http://jrlindermuth.blogspot.com/) and writing. I think you’ll enjoy both.

Here are the rules of the contest:
  • Thank and link back to the amazing person who nominated you. (Thank you, John!)
  • List the rules and display the award.
  • Share seven facts about yourself
    1. I was born and raised in California, one of those rare beings, a true California native.
    2. I have lived in other states (Illinois and Colorado) and a foreign country (Japan), and I have traveled all around the world.
    3. I’ll be married to my incredible husband, Larry, for 49 years as of September 4.
    4. I was married the week after my 18th birthday. (So now you know how old I am!)
    5. In locating my high school class of 600 students for our 50th high school reunion, I’ve become a pretty good detective—and I enjoy it!
    6. I now have eleven books in publication. My goal was twelve books in twelve years, and I’m already at eleven books in nine years. I just might make it!
    7. My father died when I was seven years old. His early loss was probably the most influential event in my life. I became aware at a very early age that life was finite, so I never take ANYTHING for granted!
  • Nominate fifteen other amazing blogs and remember to comment on their blogs to let them know you have nominated them. Also, follow the blogger who nominated you.

Here are the 15 people I’ve nominated. Do yourself a favor and check out their blogs and writing, too:

Barbara M. Hodges https://www.blogger.com/profile/13823676426356355707 (And listen to her podcasts!)
Rabbi Ilene Schneider http://rabbiauthor.com/

You’ll find my blog at http://lornacollins-author.blogspot.com.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Facebook 101 – Part 2 – Pages and Groups



Remember, Facebook is about communication. Engage in conversation with other Facebook users. Start with your Facebook friends. You’ll see their posts on your Timeline (that’s your Home page). If you like something a friend has posted, click Like below the post. If you really like it, Share it. When you click Share below a post, it will appear on your profile and your friend will receive email notice.





If you want your friend’s name to appear on your post, type the ‘at’ sign (@) ahead of the first letter. Keep typing the letters of the name, and their name will appear. Click on the name, and Facebook will connect your reference to your friend.



PAGES



If you are an author, artist, or other business owner, you may want to create a Page for your business. Follow the instructions here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/create/



Some of our friends have created separate pages for each of their books. Since we had published a couple of books already, we created our page (and our website) using our names. Fortunately, mine is uncommon, so it’s not likely to be confusing for anyone looking for us.



Our son, Toshi, created a second page for our first book, 31 Months in Japan: The Building of a Theme Park. This one is specifically for staying in touch with our Japanese friends.



What do we post on our pages? Updates and information specific to our business. In our case, we post links to new reviews, announcements about new releases. If we’re doing a signing or personal appearance, the information goes on our page. This is NOT the place for noting what we ate for breakfast (unless we’re at a conference or other book-related event).



On your page, you can invite your friends to like your page. We just passed 500 likes for ours. You can also post the link to your page on your profile to let your friends know you have one.



GROUPS



Do you have a particular interest? Do you share friends from work, school, church? A group probably exists for people who share your interest. If it doesn’t, you can create one. http://www.wikihow.com/Create-a-New-Facebook-Group



Many groups are open. All you have to do is ask to join and you are a part of the group. Others are closed, and the administrator has to approve you.



Through your groups, you can stay in touch with old friends. 
We have been planning our high school class reunion for the past year. I created a class group on Facebook. There we can post updates on the plans, lists of those we have yet to locate and those who have sent their reservations. Classmates are posting their old photos and starting conversations, reconnecting with old friends, and making plans for connecting at the reunion.



Once you get the hang of it, you might even get hooked on Facebook.



Any questions? Feel free to ask them!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Facebook 101 – Part 1 – The Basics

 After we published our first book in 2005, we attended a conference where Penny Sanseveri was the keynote speaker. She spoke about being on social media. At the time, she listed these as the basics:
  1. Website (We already had our site www.lornalarry.com.)
  2. Blog (I already had one and posted erratically. Your blog can be connected to your website.)
  3. LinkedIn (We each had a profile here for work, and it’s important to add your author status on this site www.linkedin.com.)
  4. Twitter (I had created an account, but I didn’t have a clue about what it was about. I still don’t, but I finally linked this to my LinkedIn account, so all my posts to that site automatically post on Twitter as well.)
  5. Facebook (I had a profile but only used it to find old friends and family. I had no idea how powerful a marketing tool it could be.)

Lately I have been talking to quite a few people who’ve said, “I just don’t get Facebook.” Since I now have over 1700 friends and spend quite a bit of time on the site, I think I’m prepared to help you understand what it is and how to use it.

Facebook is primarily about communication. Some of my fellow authors joined Facebook solely to promote their books. A few only posted about their wonderful tome to the point where I skipped over what they had to say every time I saw their names. (There is a Hide option, and I have used it so I didn’t have to see the endless promotion. More about this feature later.)

So, how does Facebook work?

Facebook has three different kinds of sites, and each serves a different purpose: Profile, Page, and Group. This week, I’ll talk about your Profile. Next week, I’ll cover Groups and Pages.

PROFILE
The profile is the basic way to begin using Facebook. When you go to www.facebook.com for the first time, a Sign Up button appears I the upper left section of the screen. The next screen asks for additional information like your email address and other basics, including a photo. Professionals should always include a good, recent headshot. You must create a password. Make sure it contains upper and lower case letters, numbers, and another character like: !@#$%&.

Once you create a profile, you can find the link to your profile page in the dark blue strip at the top of the Facebook page. The link will be your first name.

Complete your profile by using the Update Info button. On the next screen, you can add information about your work, your relationship status, your birthdate, schools you attended, your current location, etc. These details will allow others to find you more easily.

FRIENDS
Now you can begin to add friends. Locate the search bar (the white stripe with the magnifying glass on the right side) at the top of the page. The easiest way to connect with friends is to go to your email address book and copy the email address of someone you know. Paste it into the search bar and click the magnifying glass. For people with somewhat common names, this is the best way to locate the correct one. However, you can also type in the person’s name. You will be given several suggestions. I usually select: Find all people named “whatever.” When you locate the right one, click the name.

This will take you to the other person’s Profile page. Hopefully, they have a photo so you can verify their identity. If the profile is for the correct person, click the Add Friend button. This sends an email message to the person. They can choose to accept or ignore the request. If they accept, you will receive an email telling you they are now friends.

Some of the kinds of folks you may want to consider as friends for Facebook:
  1. Family members - I found several long-lost cousins this way, and we’re all thrilled to be back in touch with each other.
  2. School friends - I am currently preparing for a high school reunion and have spent the last year hunting for classmates. Many of them are on Facebook, and it has been fun reconnecting there ahead of the event.
  3. Work friends – I have Facebook friends from nearly every job I’ve ever held, and I enjoy staying in touch with them.
  4. Fans – As authors, we really love when people who enjoy our books become our Facebook friends.

Once you have a few friends, begin posting. This can be tricky. Some people love to post every small detail about their daily lives. Others only post the most basic information. Still others just share the photos other people post. You need to decide how much and how often to post, but in order to have visibility, I’d suggest once a day at a minimum.

You can post from your Profile or from your Timeline.

TIMELINE
The Timeline is your Home page. It’s where you see your friends’ posts. This location allows you to engage with your friends. You can Like their posts, Comment on them and Share them. You can also Hide the post or all their posts by clicking the small downward arrow at the top right of the post. Select your preference from the dropdown.

If you Like a post, your friend will see your name when they look at the post.

When you Comment on a post, you will receive an email every time someone else adds a comment. Feel free to delete these as they arrive in your inbox, but occasionally, you may want to add something to the conversation. (It’s all about communication, remember.)

If you like something someone else has posted, Share it. It will then appear on your own profile and show up on your friends’ timelines.

DOS AND DON’T’S
1.    Do share exciting news in your life. Your friends will celebrate with you.
2.    Do post milestones like the publication of a new book, a good review, a new cover, etc.
3.    Do take a hint from what others post. If you like something they do, don’t be afraid to do the same. Just make sure the content is your own.
4.    Do wish your friends a happy birthday.
5.    Do NOT troll your friends’ friends list and invite everyone to be yours! It’s extremely bad form, and your friends will catch on if you do this. You can look over their friends to see if someone you know appears on their list and extend an invitation, but Facebook frowns on people who send friend requests to lots of folks they don’t know. I can honestly say I know who all 1700+ of my Facebook friends are and how we are connected.
6.    Don’t write overly long posts UNLESS you are posting an update (like during a health or other crisis) and you want to reach all your FB friends at the same time.
7.    Do enjoy the give and take and treat each post as a conversation.

Any questions so far?


Next week: Groups and Pages

Monday, June 23, 2014

France 2014 - Finale

April 22 – Tuesday

Another great breakfast at the hotel. We arrived right at 7:00 a.m. when service is supposed to start. However, the doors did not open until 7:10. All the great choices we had come to expect, including the croissants and bread.

We brushed our teeth and then gathered our bags to check out. Discovered breakfast was included each day, so we had no extra fee for that. A very pleasant surprise!

We had arranged for a shuttle to the airport the day before, and we boarded the van at 8:15 along with five others. Lots of traffic and an accident slowed our trip, but we still arrived at the airport nearly three hours ahead of our flight.

Good thing! The line to check in at American Airlines snaked back and forth in front of the baggage check-in, then continued for a couple of blocks into the next terminal! Yet another long line. A guy who travels often said it wasn’t usually this bad, but we were still in the middle of the spring holiday. Note to self: do NOT plan a trip during that week!

When we finally got to the first staging area, we had to go through a security check—not the last. At this point, they scanned our passports, then asked the usual questions: purpose of trip, who packed the bags, did anyone give us anything to take with us, and was our luggage with us at all times, etc. A yellow sticker was applied to the back of our passports, and we were allowed to continue.

Another line to get to the self-check-in where our passports were scanned in a machine. Mine went through fine, but for some reason, the machine didn’t like Larry’s (maybe because it was bent) and issued us a ticket to take to a help clerk.

After another line, we finally got to a person who was able to process our reservations and provide our boarding passes. He also checked the one bag with our gifts in it. No fee!
Next, we went through customs. No issues there. Finally, we were routed through the French equivalent of TSA screening. Once again, our boarding passes had TSA Pre-check on them. However, they don’t recognize them in France.

So we stood in another line to have our bags run through the machines. For some reason, they pulled my backpack for hand-check. I’m not sure whether it was the tin of mints, my toiletry bag, or my makeup bag which caused the concern, but all were checked and cleared.

By this time, we had to make a mad dash to get to our gate.

Pre-boarding had begun by the time we reached the gate.

The flight was packed, but we had no issues.

Since we left at 11:30 a.m., lunch was served, and the food was quite good. (Of course, it came from Paris!) The entrée was chicken and vegetables in a light sauce with gnocchi. It was accompanied by a salad, roll, cheese, crackers, and a cookie.

Since we’d be flying in the daylight, we tried to stay awake. Two movies were shown, but unfortunately the screens were small and at some distance from our seats. The first film was Frozen. Since we’d already seen it several times, the video wasn’t too important, and we enjoyed listening to the music again. The second was Spiderman, but we opted out of watching and read instead.

We were supposed to be in the air for nearly ten hours, but we arrived forty-five minutes early into Dallas-Ft. Worth.

Customs went fairly quickly, and our TSA Pre-check got us through those lines ahead of the other passengers. What a great perk!

Re-checked our one bag and then took the SkyLink train to the posted gate: C7.

Our tickets were behind one another, so we went to the podium to inquire about changing to seats together. The only ones available were in the last row. Since we both had aisle seats, we decided to keep them.

We were informed the gate had been changed to C8, so we moved to that one.

About half an hour later, we heard an announcement that the gate for San Diego had been changed to C21—in another terminal. Back upstairs and onto the train again. Then back downstairs for the long walk to the gate.

After settling in, we got a pretzel and a soda to share.

But another gate change necessitated a move to C20.

During the time we were changing gates, additional changes were announced for St. Louis, Baltimore and a couple of other cities. We began to wonder how anyone ended up at the right place, but somehow they did.

Nice flight into San Diego without incident. Just ahead of us were a couple of young recruits. For two of them, it was their first flight. They were cute and reminded us how exciting flying used to be. The flight attendants gave each of them some snacks as they disembarked and made an announcement that they were onboard. They received a round of applause. Nice touch.

We collected our checked bag and then walked outside where we had a short wait for Bob to pick us up. He arrived with Rich Zodnik, and we quickly loaded the bags.

I rattled on about the trip all the way home. We still wished they had been able to go with us, but Bernie’s surgery had been the day before, and having her shunt put in was far more important. Bob’s surgery was scheduled for May 1, so once they recover, we may be able to think about doing it all again next year with them.

We were glad to be home, but we certainly had a terrific time and would consider repeating the experience.

We were in bed by 10:00, happy to be back to our own pillows.



Final Thoughts

  • ·         Everything good we’d heard about Paris was more than accurate.

  • ·         We never saw any of the rude behavior we’d heard about from Parisians. Quite the contrary. Shopkeepers, wait staff, clerks all went out of their way to meet our needs—with smiles and friendliness.
  • ·         The reputation for French food is more than deserved. The best ever!
  • ·         The countryside was absolutely breathtaking, and the gardens we saw were stunning.

Highlights

  • ·         Lorna – The early morning Lauds service at Mont Saint-Michel was the absolute highlight of the trip for me. The whole place far exceeded my hopes and expectations.


  • ·         Larry – The visit to Normandy was inspiring and brought home the significance of D-Day in a much more personal manner.
  • ·         Seeing the chateaux and churches made us aware of the incredible history of the country. We are now reading more about it after having seen these fabulous edifices.
  • ·         Nighttime views of the city from the Eiffel Tower provided an amazing panorama of Paris. Seeing the sparkling lights come on to illuminate the tower felt like we’d been transported to Wonderland.
  • ·         Once we got the hang of it, thanks to our tour guide, the Paris Metro was extremely user-friendly and efficient. What a great way to see the city!
  • ·         The trip itself covered great distances and many locations, some of which we would never have found on our own, and all of which we enjoyed.
  • ·         We were with a terrific group of people. We loved meeting each and every one of them.

  • ·         Our tour guide, Virginie, was perfect in every way. She was born in Britany, but lived in California, Idaho, and Florida before moving to England. She has a superb understanding of her own country’s uniqueness and of the kinds of things which interest Americans. She also took great care to be sure each of us found the experience(s) we had hoped to find during the trip. In our case, she succeeded well beyond our dreams, and I believe everyone who traveled with us had a similar experience.

  • Would we go back again? In a heartbeat.
  • Would we repeat the same tour again? Absolutely!
  • We plan to attend the trip reunion in Edmonds, WA next January where we hope to see some of our fellow tourists and Virginie and her husband, Olivier.

P.S.
I stole these photos from Dick McConnell who spent the entire trip with a really good camera around his neck. He convinced me to take my good one next time!

Have you been to France? What was your experience like? Would you return?