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Courtesy of Intercom, the Magazine of the Society for Technical Communication, May 2015

Courtesy of Intercom, the Magazine of the Society for Technical Communication, May 2015

In the spring of 1985, I was working in a career services office for a university when a request came from a corporate manager for someone to write a policies and procedures manual. Though I had not worked in corporate America and had not written a manual, a colleague encouraged me to apply. With a degree in Public Communication and a major in Literacy Journalism, I had solid writing skills. I took the four-month assignment, enjoyed the work, did it well, resigned from the university, worked through an agency on a variety of technical and business writing projects, and, a year later, launched my own business.

Part of what I love about running Shenouda Associates Inc. is the ability to schedule my own time. By now, I know what needs to be done to keep the business humming along. My calendar is filled with key dates, so that at the start of any given week, I can set priorities. No longer is every day or every hour booked, which means I have the luxury of doing some of my own creative work, including self-publishing my own books.

Overall, my job includes activities in the administrative, HR, and marketing areas and, of course, many day-to-day activities revolve around the craft of researching, writing, editing, and publishing. Read More

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You have a book that’s waiting…for you! It’s in your head. It’s in your heart. It’s in your bones. You can feel it wanting to take shape and become alive.

Purchase a journal, your future book. Now, pick it up. Maybe you’re apprehensive, wondering how you are going to fill these empty pages, how you are going to make a book that, next year, will have a place at the table of a book sale, a place in which others can peruse your book, purchase it, read it, benefit from it, and enjoy it. Now, relax a bit. Take a deep breath, because, like Santa, who is arriving very soon, you have a team that helps you carry the load. You have your very own Rudolph, your own Dasher, Dancer, Donder, and Blitzen.

You have Writer, Designer, and

Researcher, Reviewer, and

Editor, Publisher, and

Printer, Bookseller, and

As you may recall, you have

The most famous one of all

Your very own Rudolph, your Muse,

With a passion so bright,

Who guides your book to light.

In your journal, your future book, write Dedication at the top of one page; on another page, write Acknowledgments. Consider now the team pulling your sleigh, the team making your book real. Add their names to your book. Of course, this will change over time, but you don’t need to wait for your book to be complete to think about those you will thank, the contributors who will appear in your Dedication and Acknowledgments.

Let’s start with your muse. Who or what is inspiring you to write this book? Add the muse to the Dedication. Read More

Back cover for A Bisl of This, A Bisl of That: Eating Our Way

Back cover for A Bisl of This, A Bisl of That: Eating Our Way

A new look

This week, I dressed up my blog! The old header, which highlighted Career Success in 12 Easy Steps: A Journal, my first book, is gone. A new, impressionistic splurge of colors now appears. Just above it, there is a new menu item, Eating Our Way. Just above that, there’s a new book title, A Bisl of This, A Bisl of That: Eating Our Way. And to the right, there’s a new image, showing off one very tasty dish―part cookbook, part inspiration, part memoir―that is now hot off the press! With this facelift completed, I sit back, look, and enjoy it.

A new book

The reason for this new look? I wanted to include my new book in this blog. The original blog focused on how to transition successfully from one phase of work or one phase of life to another, based on the process detailed in Career Success in 12 Easy Steps: A Journal.

This refreshed, revitalized blog retains the existing blog entries and categories and additionally showcases the results of paying attention to the many earlier postings in this blog. Being mindful of Capabilities, talents, and strengths; Decision-making, problem-solving, and organizing; Motivation and inspiration; Self-discovery and self-actualization through exploration and reflection; and Work and life balance; I now have A Bisl of This, A Bisl of That: Eating Our Way as an addition to my Products, services, and offerings. It is now among my Success stories!

A new opportunity―for you

Look over this blog. See what resonates. Let the postings, the comments, the books, the menu, and the categories evoke something positive in you. Let the impressionistic dots, patterns, ripples, waves, and colors splashed in the new header allow you to picture an opportunity that is waiting just for you. Perhaps it is a project, a product, or another creation. Tell us about it. Tell the world!

It is said that advice is cheap. We know that many people give it freely. So freely, that those of us on the receiving often end pay little attention. Since this month includes Valentine’s Day, I started thinking about how advice is sometimes a precious gift. Let me introduce you to Thomas Transport, Star Singer, and Polly Politico. Consider how their advice can inspire you to dream about your career success, give you high hopes, and motivate you to take some next steps!

Like Orville and Wilbur Wright, Thomas Transport is an inventor. He dreams of combining technologies from land, sea, and air transports into a brand new vehicle. Others say that Thomas’s new vehicle can’t be built, because the design he envisions has never been built before. Yet, he continues to tinker with the many scrap parts he collects from builders of traditional modes of transportation. He persists. His advice? Keep at it. Accept others’ discards. Experiment. You might just transform what appears to be junk into a real treasure.

Star Singer lost her job and her home. Yet, she continues to dream that someday, one of those homes she sees with a “for sale” sign will be her home. As she looks at the smoke coming from a chimney, she envisions a day when she will be warmly snuggled inside. Though hungry, Star finds it difficult to ask for help. The solution? She volunteers to work in a community cupboard as payment for food. She sees others with needs, offers a smile and a song, starts entertaining for free, and then finds paid gigs. One day, she will have a home and fill a community cupboard for others. Star’s advice? Whatever your current circumstance, pick up the pieces, start over, and remember to give back.

Polly Politico dreams of one day being President! Still in her 20s, she runs for mayor of her town and dreams of empowering all constituents—young, old, disenfranchised, and privileged—to revitalize the community. Read More

Notetaking (Photo is courtesy of geekcalendar’s photostream, flickr.com, Creative Commons)

Are you thinking of attending a professional conference? Are you weighing the cons with the pros? Sure, this will cost you money—likely out of your own pocket—and  time. While you’re away, that looming project deadline will not disappear. Neither will that family event. Yet, you’d like a change of scenery. You could benefit from a renewed sense of purpose. You know it’s time to recharge! You decide Yes! You will go.

A while ago, I committed to doing a presentation at an out-of-town conference of technical communicators and made my travel arrangements. Early last week, I got my act together, finalizing my presentation, taking care of responsibilities on the business and home front, and preparing myself for a few days away. Read More

Poker

Poker! (Courtesy of Viri G, flickr.com, Creative Commons)

My book, Career Success in 12 Easy Steps: A Journal, offers a step-by-step approach to creating a successful life at work, in a career, and beyond. Laying out the steps to achieving goals makes the journey manageable. A topic that comes up frequently for me—and likely for you—is identifying and conveying the value that our work, our products, our services, our offerings provide. In business terms, that translates to a value proposition—the savings in time and cost, the improvements that result, the ability of our client to succeed, and more. A value proposition lets our clients and others know that we understand them and that we have goods—in every sense of the word—that are different from and better than those of others.

This takes me to my 12-step process—Step 3: Own Your Competencies. After all, our competencies are integral to the value we provide clients, employers, employees, colleagues, and just about anyone with whom we interact. Our competencies include our knowledge, abilities, talents, skills, and gifts that add up to our strengths. They become the differentiators that make each of us and our offerings unique. Read More

The job seeker’s perspective—Kerry Meagher

In today’s climate of 700 responses to a single job opening, it is important to identify for yourself exactly what it is that differentiates you from the other 600-plus applicants who are applying for the same job. No doubt those in charge of the interviews are looking for someone who is:

  • Analytical
  • Creative
  • Detail oriented
  • Hard working
  • Objective
  • Problem identifying
  • Problem solving
  • Punctual
  • Reliable
  • Synthesizing

… and the list goes on.

Now, it is unrealistic for anyone to have all of these traits, but everyone has an assortment of some of these, which is just what makes you the unique candidate for each company to want to hire. Take a moment to ask yourself this—what combination of traits do I have that makes me unique?

Personally, I can list creative, detail oriented, hard working, and problem solving in my unique combination of traits that makes me marketable in the roles of technical writer, market researcher, and editor. Just taking the time to identify for myself the traits I bring to the table has helped me in my current job search by easing the process of writing cover letters and using my list of traits as a type of mantra that I can repeat to myself before the always frightening job interview.

The employer’s perspective—Judith Shenouda

This business succeeds if workers are appropriately aligned with the business’s mission, which is developing publications that simplify the tangle of technological jargon, making them readable and usable for the intended audience. Achieving this mission is no short order and requires workers who get it!

Those who do not get it are not keepers. Who are they? They are workers who do not come through for this business or for our clients. The deliverables are an unacceptable quality. Deadlines are missed. The time required to complete the project is excessive. Questionable integrity, talking ill of others, leaving a project before completion, passively agreeing to anything and everything, aggressively lashing out, and similar behaviors are indicators that a worker is not a keeper.

Now, who are the workers that do get it? Who are the keepers? Simply put, they are suited to the mission of the business and its clients. They take pride in doing quality work. They continue to hone their skills and positively influence the project team and the project. Keepers possess a strong work ethic and have a professional demeanor. They are committed, dedicated, and enthusiastic.

This employer seeks workers with the right competencies, the right attitude, the right demeanor, and the right alignment—a combination that produces the right results!