2018 Accenture Study

A 2018 Accenture study revealed:

Firms with the best practices in hiring individuals with disabilities saw:

28 percent higher revenue

Double the net income

30 percent higher profit margins

On average over a 4-year period.

Further:

It’s estimated that if the number of people with disabilities in the labor force grew only 1 percent the U.S. gross domestic product could expand by as much as $25 billion.

About 61 million Americans have some kind of disability.

My goal is to publish the print and e-book copies of Working Assets: A Career Guide for Peers in this coming summer.

One of the workers quoted in the news article that referenced the 2018 study:

“has long felt the limitations of other people’s expectations.”

James Geary lives with cerebral palsy. People discounted why he would be going to college since they thought no employer would hire him.

Today he’s working at his dream job courtesy of InReturn Strategies a recruiting firm that was founded to tackle “the disability employment gap.”

In the end that is what my goal is too:

To help people living with mental health challenges find purposeful work that gives us joy and dignity.

Sane Artists Collective

The words Sane Artists Collective flashed into my head and onto a notebook at “10:15 on a Saturday Night”–like the title of the Cure song from the 1980s.

I had not set out to create a Facebook group. It happened in an instant. That’s when I realized that since I hadn’t gotten support on other social media groups that creating SAC would be perfect.

Too often peers with mental health challenges are crucified because we choose to take medication. So I would form SAC for others like me who want to be healthy so that we can create art.

Art is therapy. Making art can help a person heal.

The description of SAC:

Sane Artists Collective / SAC is an online support group for artists of any kind living in recovery and engaged in treatment. We believe in the transformative beauty of creating art to make the world a better place. SAC seeks to promote health and wellbeing so that members can create their chosen art. 

If you’re interested you can search on Sane Artists Collective on Facebook. To join a person must respond to 2 questions.

The premise behind using the term Sane was that Artists shouldn’t have to live their lives starving in a garret or going mad in pursuit of art-making.

Being First and Not the Last

The November 2020 issue of Harper’s Bazaar has a feature article on The Paradox of Being First: “You’re creating space for people to dream.”

I wanted to touch on this topic before the year ends. In 1988 when it was unheard of to think this I believed that a person could recover from schizophrenia. In 1990 I had a full-time job and my own rental apartment at a time when this was not common.

In 2002 shortly after I began my library job I started my pro bono career as a Mental Health Advocate.

Precisely because I was told my early goals were not possible I wanted to help other peers coming through the door after me.

Not everyone has the wherewithal to pull themselves up solely by their own bootstraps.

In the early 2000s a so-called international expert was still claiming that no one could recover. When I Googled her name I couldn’t find her website. Nor had she published any articles in peer-reviewed journals.

In the early days of advocating for peers I got a lot of flak for claiming people could recover.

Only I believed in my vision that recovery was possible from whatever a person was in recovery from.

I believed that you could recover from a microaggression, a mental or physical illness, trauma or any kind of setback or obstacle.

I wasn’t going to go along on my merry way, acting like the world was my oyster and nobody else’s.

In Harper’s Bazaar Toni Morrison was quoted from a 2003 interview. She told her students:

“When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game.”

It’s 2020. The door is open. Come on through.

Executive Slack(s)

I wanted to write about a new popular form of workplace communication: Slack. It’s like Facebook for employees of a company.

I’m not a fan of Facebook at all. I’m a member of 2 Facebook groups devoted to fashion and image consulting. They’re the only ones I go on every week.

At your job you will be forced to sign up to your company’s Slack account. It’s either you do that or you’re kept out of the loop.

A person on a team or committee or working group that you’re a member of can create a Slack channel for this project without telling you about it.

Whether this is intentional or an accidental oversight you won’t know about it. Until you’re told this Slack channel exists and you should be on it. The person might not tell you at all that they’ve created this channel.

Not only that a lot of staff members send notices about meetings and other information only via Slack channels. Email has become to Slack what voicemail has become for texting–no one uses it to communicate anymore.

I would prefer to receive dates and times of meetings the old fashioned way–via email. Only it’s more convenient and reaches every team member at once when a person posts the meeting details to the project’s Slack channel.

Oh I know–you could create an email Distribution List and send the notice to everyone at once via the group email. That isn’t going to happen anymore either the way modern communication takes place at your job.

One thing is certain: you might be the only one sending comments to team members via your designated Slack channel. That is you might expect a reply to your Slack channel comment within a half hour.

When no one responds to you within a half hour you’ll need to keep checking your team’s Slack feed regularly to see exactly when and if someone has commented on what you said.

This leads me to want to write a blog entry here about the perils of online Zoom meetings. I’m going to write in detail about acing your video impression on Zoom. I’ll do this at the start of the New Year.

For now I’m giving you pointers about Slack because like other forms of social media Slack appears to be here to stay as a relationship-building tool.

How often should you check your Slack channel? As often as you check email? This can be a time-waster when it’s checked at inopportune times of the day.

Only the fact remains that there’s one more Feed to feed regularly to keep on top of your work projects.

I will be checking Slack at my job every 2 hours. Not any sooner and not spaced out longer than 2 hours.

You can keep Slack open on your internet browser and pop into the channel quickly.

Using Your Preferred Pronoun

There’s been a trend to use your preferred pronoun in email signatures like as:

Joe Jones (he/him)

Zadie Zorn (she/her)

Leslie Madison (they/them)

I might have written about this before in here. I’m going to cover it again for new followers.

I’ve read that when a cisgender person lists their preferred pronoun it helps Trans and other individuals feel safe to do the same.

Is it possible though that when you identify as they/them in an email and the person receiving it hasn’t met you in person they will attribute traits to you based on your perceived identity?

Only none of us should fear expressing our gender identity. Feel free to fire up they/them after your name in an email.

Having gender pride is a healthy form of self-expression.

I’ve decided that in 2021 I’m going to go the she/her route in my work email signature.

This is one of the few areas where the fact that “everybody’s doing it” makes sense for a person to follow along.

Of course the choice is yours. You have the right to list only your full name and job title in a work email.

It gets dicey further when composing the content of an email message.

I’ll talk about this in the coming blog entry.

Your Work Email Signature

I’ve decided to feature a blog entries carnival about sending and receiving emails at work.

You don’t want to be That Person. The one who thinks they’re being clever. Yet is only serving to antagonize their coworkers with a snarky message.

Case in point: using a pointed quote in your email signature like the following:

Kayla King, Senior Office Aide

Working smarter not hard

I ask you: is your email signature the best avenue for promoting yourself? I think not.

Last week I cracked open this fortune cookie:

Working efficiently is doing the job right. Working effectively is doing the right job.

Making an excuse for your behavior if you ask me will come across as trying to justify doing the bare minimum.

Your work ethic should speak for itself.

This email signature tactic might help someone else. I doubt you and I will benefit from attaching a gimmicky quote after our names.

In the coming blog entry: what you can and should list after your name.

Video Conference Tactics

The Zoom boom experienced during the pandemic has altered how people work too. My go-to Vault website offers detailed tips and tactics.           

The top takeaway: using lighting and location to your advantage. You’ll want to access your computer in a room free of distractions like loud noises, running children, and cluttered background.

Dressing in formal business attire from head to heel will set the tone for how you interact with your potential boss or actual supervisor and coworkers. No pajamas from the waist down please.

Look into the camera not down. You want your face to be visible. It should appear that you’re making eye contact with the other person.

Resist uploading a photo as a background. Ideally, the view of the room behind you will be of a white wall with minimal bright or other objects in the room.

Experiment beforehand to adjust the lighting and background. Verify that your computer video and audio and webcam are working properly. You want others to see your face as well as hear you speak.

Again, smiling appropriately will go a long way as well as speaking in a clear slow voice. Rushing through your presentation will be obvious. People will comment among themselves afterward that you were talking too fast. They might not tell you this.

Brushing up on your public speaking skills can help you do well with video conference platforms online. One thing no one else has talked about is what happens when the session has ended, and people click Leave. Some of you might stay on the video and chat informally among yourselves.

Keep this “off-the-record” conversation professional. You can use this chat to talk about common interests you share with your coworkers outside of the job. Refrain from divulging sensitive information here that others shouldn’t be privy to. Maybe you want to talk about a new recipe you’re going to cook for dinner.

I’ve stayed online with two coworkers after a Microsoft Teams meeting. This is the modern day equivalent of gathering at the water cooler in the office. Some companies offer Zoom online “Happy Hours.”

One last tip: You don’t have to click on your webcam’s icon on your computer desktop beforehand to turn on the webcam to join an online meeting. Simply click “Join” on the link you’re given to the MS Teams or Zoom or other conference. Your face should then appear in the video.

Tackling a Telephone Interview

Today a telephone interview is a screening interview to rule out or verify whether the hiring manager thinks you’re the perfect candidate for an in-person meeting.

In the time of the COVID-19 outbreak working remotely from home, using Zoom and Microsoft Teams online to conduct meetings, and being interviewed via telephone were all common practices. Expect to see a rise in telephone interviews and Zoom meetings.

Dress in business clothes when you’re being interviewed on the phone. A study revealed that individuals who dress this way “could think faster on their feet and had more creative ideas.” These skills are coveted on the job.

A telephone screening is a way to determine if you’re the right fit for the company. Talk up your unique skills, abilities, and strengths. You should’ve researched the firm to uncover the hiring manager’s hidden pain in filling a need the business has. Give specific examples of how you think you can come up with a solution.

Smile when talking on the phone to convey energy and sound more upbeat. Remember that like with an in-person meeting you have the right to “interview the interviewer.” Ask questions. You can use the telephone chat to rule out or verify that this is the ideal company for you.

Today a video interview is more common. Up next tactics for a Zoom meeting.

Working from Home Part Two

You can make a salad or heat up soup for lunch. I’m a big salad freak and coworkers have always remarked on the job about my favorite lunch greens. In the afternoon I have fruit or a container of plain full-fat Greek yogurt with berries mixed in.

Again, at home like at work you can use time management apps like Time Doctor, Toggi, Rescue Time, Focus Booster, Hours, and Vericlock. The monthly fee to use one of these apps ranges from $5 and up.

Try to schedule non-work interruptions during the time of the morning and afternoon that you take a regular work break..

At home you should be in command of your desktop just like at the office. On my desk I placed a magnet with this quote: Art is a Guaranty of Sanity. Plus, a Michael Jordan quote magnet that reads: Don’t Be Afraid to Fail. Be Afraid Not to Try.

Keep active and in touch with your supervisor and coworkers. While I worked remotely in my apartment on some days during the COVID-19 outbreak I telephoned my supervisor to talk about pressing issues. It’s more imperative to talk to your boss in a WFH scenario.

At the end of the day to transition into home life I recommend changing your clothes into your preferred casual lounge outfit to delineate night from day and household management from business protocol. Store your work clothes in your closet or drawers instead of tossing them on your bed or a chair.

Working from Home – Part One

The rise of work-from-home or WFH has become a reality in the post-COVID world. Being successful on the job working remotely comes down to time and project management tactics that will give you an edge.

Not having a long commute to the office has its advantages in terms of setting yourself up for a successful day. All you must do is shower, get dressed, have breakfast. Then walk to your desk or dining table to use your computer or laptop.

This gives you benefits you don’t ordinarily have. How to reap these rewards?

Schedule your work and life routine into five parts: getting ready/self-care; morning work; lunch; afternoon work; ending of day/transition back into home life.

Not having to commute to work with a bus, train, or car gives you extra time to devote to self-care in the morning. Why not apply makeup to feel good even though no one else will see you? Or write down five things you’re grateful for in a grateful journal. Meditate for ten minutes if you’re able.

Or simply compose yourself with a breathing exercise I do anytime anywhere when I’m under stress: breathe in for a count of three, hold the breath for a count of four, breathe out for a count of five.

Dress in the business attire you ordinarily would on the job. For breakfast, I recommend scrambling eggs and veggies if you’re not a vegan. Some people cook oatmeal. I don’t advise that you have any kind of boxed cereal.

Without having a long commute to the office this is where having a leisurely healthful breakfast can make your day by fueling you up for the tasks at hand.

 Like at the office, schedule your work in one-hour blocks. Get up from your desk every half hour to rest your eyes from the computer screen. Take one short break in the morning and one short break in the afternoon.

To be continued with Part Two