career – Young Money Money: Earn it, Invest it, Spend it Wed, 14 Jun 2017 19:16:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Self Employed? Here’s How to Make Good Money Thu, 18 May 2017 15:12:05 +0000

Oftentimes, the stereotype of the young, self-employed businessperson is like that of the starving artist. You’re eking out a living, existing on ramen and chips. You’re a “flash in the pan.” During your brief time on Earth hardly anyone will hear of you. Hopefully, after years and years of hard work, you’ll be able to retire on the money you frugally stashed away in your IRA.

Okay so the IRA part doesn’t normally figure into the starving artist stereotype, but it sounds familiar right? As a young self-employed American, you’re used to hearing that—after you pay off your student debt—it’s wise to start saving for retirement. At the same time, you’re used to hearing you have to spend money to make money. So which is it? Set aside money now or use it to create more wealth?

You’re interested in making more money now—otherwise, you wouldn’t be reading this. To do so, take advantage of your unique position and use the right tools.

Your Brand, Your Unique Position

Your brand is more than just your name, logo, and the colors you choose. Your brand is your unique style, it’s every aspect of how you represent yourself to your audience. There’s no one else exactly like you. If you’re self-employed, you have the advantage of being able to use your distinct personality and experiences to inform your brand.

Start with the best practices for building your brand:

  • Concentrate on experiences: Each time a potential or existing client comes in contact with your brand, it’s an experience. Think hard about the wording and images you’ll use anytime you’re going to represent your brand, and look at examples of experiential marketing to create contact points.
  • Be consistent: On your website, social media, in person, and anywhere else you represent your brand, you’ll be delivering messages. Think ahead about the tone of your messages and what you want to them to convey. Be consistent with your delivery.
  • Develop and curate supportive content: You’ll absolutely want a blog to support your brand, with posts that pair directly with your vision. Include your blog posts in social media activity. Look for like-minded and supportive content from great bloggers and authors. Follow them, include their posts in your social media feed, and reach out to them for guest posts. Try guest posting on their sites and ask them to guest post on yours.
  • Be different: Showcase your uniqueness by taking risks. Start a podcast, develop videos for YouTube and other social media channels, partner with artists and poets, self-publish books, sponsor events that align with your values, hire a mascot—look for things your competitors aren’t doing and do them.
  • Enlist ambassadors: One simple way to create brand ambassadors is to ask for guest posts on your blog, and make sure the posts support your brand values. Also, ask clients to review you online, and if you have employees, empower them to post on your social media pages and write blog posts. Make sure to impart your vision to them clearly so that they represent your brand accurately.

Always look at what your competitors are doing, and think about what you can do to distinguish yourself. Again, take risks; people won’t be able to tell you’re unique unless you put yourself out there.

How will this make you money? The brands that truly succeed create visibility. Build your brand tirelessly and people will pay more attention to you than they do your competitors.

The Right Tools

You want to be able to build your brand and become a thought leader in your industry. But how will you be able to do that if you’re spending all your time and energy on the nuts and bolts of running your business? Use tools to help run the business and save money at the same time.

Marketing Automation

If you don’t automate your marketing, you’ll have to do everything manually, including putting up social media posts and blog posts, doing search engine optimization, sending emails, and so much more. These aren’t a cure-all, but take a look at the best marketing automation tools available. You’re still going to have to be the brains behind your marketing campaigns, but software makes executing a campaign a whole lot easier.

Invoice Software 

Filling out and sending invoices to clients individually takes time you could be spending building your brand. As with almost every aspect of modern business, you could use software to solve this problem. Invoice software lets you customize invoices based on your brand’s colors, logo, and fonts. You can create and send invoices from your smartphone, and you can automate recurring invoices for clients with whom you have ongoing business. Also, you won’t be repeatedly entering information in fields, because the software does that automatically.

Mileage Tracking Software

You can write off business miles on your taxes, but who wants to manually track their miles, log them, and report them when the time comes? Mileage tracking software does the work for you. It’s a great idea to meet with clients face-to-face, but don’t spend more money than you should on the trip to get there.


You can run pretty much every aspect of your business with Excel; from inventory management, to bookkeeping, to payroll, to crawling the web for data, the list goes on and on. Excel can automate any part of your business having to do with numbers—you just have learn how to tell it what to do. Don’t despair about learning Excel, check out a free course on all things Excel-related. All the information you need to learn Excel is available online.

In conclusion, making money when you’re self-employed is about maximizing your brand potential and using the right tools. What can you offer to your audience that’s different and better than your competitors? How can you use tools to reach a wider audience while saving time and money? Master your branding and harness technology, and you’re well on your way to making good money.

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How to Make Change a Positive Experience for Your Millennial Employees Thu, 11 May 2017 19:10:05 +0000

Starting your own business? You’ll need to hire and retain some excellent talent. Millennials are highly trained and skilled, and they’re ready to join your workforce. Yet, at work 71% of millennials are not engaged, and 47% will switch jobs if this doesn’t improve.

As the millennial generation begins to mature and make career inroads, observers keep noting a salient trend: these young people change jobs a lot. Good employers are eager to buck the attrition trend and invest much-needed retention efforts in valuable millennial employees. But why do us millennials jump from job to job so often to begin with?

There’s a lot of competition for our talent. And, there are constant, often abrupt changes happening. Companies get bought out, they grow in leaps and bounds, they alter direction, or they dwindle and suddenly die. In today’s business world, change is the only constant.

You must find strength in change and help employees view developments in a positive light, even if they’re negative. This starts with management.

Empower Managers

According to Terry Petracca, an HR expert from MEL, managers are the number one reason employees leave organizations. This applies big-time to situations of company upheaval and change. Petracca believes authenticity is the number one way for managers to establish a relationship of trust with employees. She says, “A manager needs their employees to believe them because they’re the gatekeeper for truth and knowledge about the company.”

In order for a manager to be authentic, in order for a manager to impart “truth and knowledge” to employees during a time of change, you must empower your managers:

  • Encourage transparency
  • Regularly brief managers with all the facts and bottom line information that affects change
  • Reinforce and encourage their leadership abilities
  • Give them a voice throughout the transitional process, seriously consider their suggestions and act on them whenever possible

Although change is inevitable, losing employees isn’t. Employees value honesty and rapport with you and your managers. Managers are particularly close to employees during day-to-day operations. When they build strong rapport with employees through honesty and communication, employees are less likely to leave. The manager effectively leads them through change as it happens.

Encourage Stress Management

When you’re under a ton of stress due to transition, it can be hard to recognize employees are too. The weight feels like it’s all on you. For anyone, stress triggers a fight or flight response. For employees who aren’t as rooted in the business as you are, it’s easier to quit when stress gets overwhelming. Ignore the fact that employees are stressed, and risk losing employees—and that includes managers.

Coach employees on stress relief tactics; doing so will acknowledge and validate their feelings. They probably know these tactics already, but a quick refresher on the following stress relief techniques will provide everyone with a welcome moment of levity:

  • Listen to music: Listening to relaxing music can lower blood pressure and reduce the release of cortisol, a chemical related to stress
  • Talk to a friend: In and out of the workplace, communicating with someone about stressors really puts things in perspective
  • Coach yourself through it: The most successful individuals know the value of positive self-talk
  • Eat a healthy diet: Foods with high Omega-3 content, such as fish, can help reduce stress symptoms
  • Get humorous: Laughter releases endorphins and minimizes release of cortisol and adrenaline
  • Drink green tea instead of coffee: While coffee increases adrenaline, green tea has an amino acid called theanine, which has a calming effect
  • Practice mindfulness: This is the act of paying attention to one’s senses, thoughts, and surroundings (more on this important one later)
  • Get exercise: Exercise also releases endorphins and relieves stress
  • Get plenty of sleep: Seven to eight hours
  • Do breathing exercises: Deep breathing oxygenates your blood and increases calm

The more you care for the psychological state of your employees under stress, the more likely they are to stick with you. Mindfulness can even improve performance under stress.

Psychologist Ellen Langer has been studying mindfulness for 40 years. She says, “If everyone is working in the same context and is fully present, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t get a superior coordinated performance.” She lists improvements in attention, creativity, interpersonal relationships, and stress management as benefits of mindfulness. “Question the belief that you’re the only one who can do it, that there’s only one way to do it, and that the company will collapse if you don’t do it. When you open your views to be mindful, the stress just dissipates.”

Know Best Practices

Langer’s advice on mindfulness can truly guide the entire change management process. Because each company is unique, there is no single set of rules or practices guaranteed to be best for your situation. Context determines the way to manage change. Yet, rules do provide guideposts. Being aware of them is like being a musician who masters the basics to enable improvisation and innovation.

Change management best practices make sense—after all, this is about initiating change as well as letting it happen:

  • Change from the top down: As a leader, take a proactive role in delineating how change will take place and who will be on the change management team
  • Pay attention to timing: You may feel a big shakeup is necessary, but can your company handle it all at once? Is right now the best time? What’s a realistic timeline to mitigate risk?
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate: Facilitate communication routinely the whole way through, and disclose technical details to management
  • Pay attention to process: Watch the extent to which various stakeholders in the process need differing levels of assistance and resources, and solicit feedback
  • Plan on disruption: Even when everything seems in place for a transition to go off without a hitch, the theme here is that change is constant; prepare for things not to go as planned, and pinpoint areas where problems may arise

There are a lot of variables that leave room for disruption, such as problems or advances in technology, budget issues, compliance with local and state statutes, personnel losses, etc. Leave room for flexibility. At the same time, with best practices you’re maintaining the framework and order within which disruption and stress are good things.

You want change. You want problems. Without them you don’t improve, you remain stagnant and your employees move onto bigger and better things. Be mindful of change management strategy, and watch your employees flourish as your business does as well.



The Pros, Cons, and In-betweens of Starting Your Own Business Tue, 25 Apr 2017 14:47:19 +0000

A black and white world doesn’t exist. If I were to tell you, “There’s absolutely no downside to starting your own business”, I would be be wrong. Rather, starting your own enterprise involves entering a world of complexity you’ve only glimpsed from the outskirts.

The good news: about one-third of new businesses survive 10 years or longer, while about half survive five years or longer. If you’re really in this for the long-term and are ready to go all out, you stand a good chance of sticking around. If you’re not, you stand a good chance of being among the two-thirds who fail.


  • There’s a lot of assistance available: Simply Google “How to start a business” and there’s a wealth of information. The Small Business Association offers a ton of resources, and you can attend conferences, or other meetups; for an example of the type of info available, check out my article about saving money on internet marketing.
  • There are a ton of options: For one, the possibility of e-commerce opens up a world in which all you need is a product and a website. If you don’t have your own product, there are organizations like Amway that supply products for you to sell. The Amway model is called “Direct Selling”, it typically provides a supplemental option for aspiring entrepreneurs. Three million people worldwide are Amway “Independent Business Owners”, and the direct selling model—in general, not just Amway’s—brought in $36.12 billion in 2015.
  • You can do what you want: What you do with your business is only limited by your own ambition. If you want to keep it small, keep it small. If you want to go big, do your best to appeal to a wider and wider audience.
  • You can offer true personalization: You are the shop-next-door, the equivalent of today’s mom-and-pop operation, the underdog, the face of what has made America great from the get-go. You can get to know your customers face-to-face, learn their names, what they like, what their friends like, and, ultimately, what your target audience wants and needs.
  • You can end your job search: Young adults ages 20-28 change careers an average of seven times before arriving where they want to be; start a business doing something you really want to do, and stop the vicious cycle of looking for a new job and being dissatisfied with what you find.


  • There’s a lot of responsibility: Some people thrive on responsibility and love it, while for others the level of responsibility involved in starting a business is just too much. Before starting a business, evaluate what type of person you are and ask yourself if you’re willing to invest your entire life in it.
  • There’s a ton of competition: On one hand, the many advanced, ravenous competitors make it tough to gain an advantage; on the other, competition is good for business because your competitors will push you to be better.
  • You can’t just sit there and focus on product: If your offering is all you’re passionate about, this can be a difficult truth to recognize: a great deal of your success will depend on marketing and branding, networking with other business owners, maintaining inventory and keeping air-tight books. This is why it’s important to raise funds for hiring consultants and specialists, but nothing beats learning how to do everything yourself.


  • People try to take advantage of you: The more your business grows, the more you’ll be on the radar of other businesses and individuals who will try to take advantage of you in one way or another—and there’s simply no escaping the fact that there are bad actors in the world. Beware, do your homework, and don’t go into business with anyone unless they’re squeaky clean. Make sure their proposition is legitimate in terms of how you’ll come out on the other end.
  • You can end up being out-of-touch, overconfident, or overly-stressed: Of course, this won’t necessarily happen, but single-mindedness can be the result of overzealous pursuit. Out of Forbes’ reasons why businesses fail, a big one is leadership failure. The other reasons, such as failure to properly communicate a value proposition, stem from the owner being disconnected from the people upon which the business depends.
  • It’s about nothing but money: In the beginning, making good money was going to be a byproduct, not the end-all-be-all, because you were passionate about people and ideas, not just money; don’t let dollar signs become your only reason for doing business. Those bad actors I talked about earlier? They’re motivated by moolah.
  • It becomes ho-hum: You’re not doing anything different, you’re set in your ways, and so are the people who keep you afloat; continue on this way, and you’ll soon find yourself gasping for air.

The great thing about starting a business is the cons depend on you. Decide to steer clear of the bad actors, not to be one yourself, and to stay attuned to the evolving business world. Evolve with it, even ahead of it, and you’ll see more pros than cons.

Entrepreneurs: How to Minimize Marketing Spend Online Wed, 12 Apr 2017 15:11:41 +0000 Are you a young entrepreneur going into business for the first time? If there’s anything you don’t have a lot of at the outset, it’s money. In terms of cash flow, 28% of small businesses that go bankrupt have big problems with their financial structure. There are a multitude of expenses, from product development, to finding and leasing a quality brick-and-mortar location, to hiring and training staff, to paying consultants and accountants—the list goes on.

Thankfully, many of your first-time expenses are tax deductible. You can deduct up to $5,000 in your first year of doing business. After that, deduct your remaining expenses in installments over a period of 5 years.

Things like property, vehicles, and inventory aren’t expenses—they’re capital expenditures. Over time, you can write off the cost of tangible items through depreciation. But that doesn’t make up for the fact that you have to invest money in capital expenditures at the beginning. The same applies for expenses; you could spend well over $5,000 at the beginning. With both capital expenditures and expenses, you have a year during which you’re on your own, and you may not see any return on investment (ROI) unless you do some high quality marketing.

That’s where this guide comes in. If you lower your marketing spend, you may be able to write off all of your marketing expenses in the first year. A great place to start is right here, on the internet.

Understand Google and Internet Advertising

If you’re planning on drawing in customers, invest in a website. There will be costs, such as web hosting fees. If you want to minimize your overall spend, check out a free course on how to make a website. You can DIY and achieve awesome results. It’s purely a matter of how much time and effort you put into your site.

Once you have a site, consider the matter of making yourself visible online. There are several ways of going about this, but let me just get straight to the reality of the situation: You can spend plenty of money on advertising, but not achieve any results. When it comes to display ads, publishers and advertisers have to cope with the fact that over 200 million people use ad-blockers. You are 475 times more likely to survive a plane crash than click a display ad, and 33% of people find ads “intolerable”.

As a first-time entrepreneur, you’re nowhere near the point where you’re a publisher who can prompt people to whitelist you on their ad-blocker extension. The best, and most inexpensive way for you to gain visibility online is to rank as high as you can in Google.

There are two ways to do this. You can buy AdWords, meaning that if you pay Google for certain keywords related to your business, you’ll show up at the top of the page when someone enters that particular search phrase. The unfortunate thing about AdWords is that if someone clicks on your ad, but doesn’t buy anything, you still pay for that click. Also, if you’re looking to compete on a national level, the competition for your keywords will be incredibly fierce unless your product is so niche nobody else is selling it. Fierce competition equals expensive keywords.

The second way to rank in Google is the organic way, otherwise known as content marketing. Organic can also be the least expensive. Start a blog on your website and create informative content related to your product or service. Put the keywords you want to rank for in your posts, but don’t overdo it. Make sure the meta structure of your site is also in good shape. Send clear signals about what you want to rank for. Next, guest post on high authority blogs and create backlinks to your content. Particularly since you’re the business owner, many different sites will want to hear from you.

This is all part of the complex and competitive world of SEO. Before you undertake this, make sure you know exactly what the deal is with Google and links. Some links to your site can be negative, some can be great. You want good links to your site, and you want internal links between your pages, ultimately funneling the user to product pages where they can make purchases. The only way they’re going buy anything is if you’ve convinced them along the way.

Understand Social Media Marketing

Social media is a great tool for valuable, inexpensive marketing. You’ve probably seen plenty of it during your personal time on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and any other social media sites you might use. There are entire websites devoted to the topic of social media marketing; it’s an art, just as content marketing is to Google.

This is a huge subject so here’s a digestible, step-by-step intro:

  • Set up your business page on Facebook, which is the social grandaddy
  • Decide on your Twitter handle, and start your business Twitter account
  • Sign up with one or two other platforms on which you’d really like to see some engagement; i.e. you’re appealing to a young audience, and they’re all over Instagram and Snapchat
  • On your website, provide social media buttons for sharing content and liking your company
  • Consult these four social media rules for businesses:
  1. Along with promotional content, provide valuable information related to your niche
  2. Pay attention to your brand message by using the right words, images, and other media
  3. Post at good times; e.g. Facebook users prefer 1-4pm, Google+ users 9-11am
  4. Create conversations that evoke emotions
  • Pay attention to video marketing trends and take advantage of them; people love video—about 65% of viewers will visit your website after watching your video
  • There are so many great free tools you can use for social media marketing; even just looking at these will help give you an idea of all the different things you can do
  • Respond to your audience as quickly as possible when they reach out to you

Overall, your reach on social media can be huge and you can get started on most networks for free. Link up your content marketing efforts with your social media efforts. Think about who your customers are and what type of customers you want, then design your marketing messages accordingly. Put your heart into this, and you’ll get great results for a very small investment.




Save money on your first small business brick and mortar location Thu, 02 Mar 2017 23:17:41 +0000 Starting a small business? Real estate will be one of your biggest expenses. Unless you’re committed to doing nothing but ecommerce, there’s no escaping the difficulty of finding just the right location at a price you can afford. Particularly if you’re planning on starting something like a coffee shop, a type of business highly dependent on accessibility, your location is the difference between success and failure.

Getting started

First, you’ve got to determine where the money for your new location is going to come from. Just like The Lenders Network connects homebuyers to lenders, the SBA page on loans and grants is a tool for connecting entrepreneurs to a lender. But loans come at a price. You’ll have to pay the mortgage on your loan, so when all is said and done, you’ll pay more than the actual value of the real estate.

To avoid costly mortgage rates, start with crowdfunding. Indiegogo only charges 4% if you meet your goal, a much smaller amount than you’ll end up paying with a mortgage. Kickstarter allows you to crowdfund the creation of a product–if it takes a brick and mortar location to create that product, acquiring one is part of your campaign. Rockethub bills itself as “The leading global community for entrepreneurs”, with the “Elequity” funding hub as a starting point to guide you through the funding process. Peerbackers also specializes in entrepreneurial and small business funding, with its Crowdfunding Academy there to help educate you on how best to go about crowdfunding your business.

Maximizing your space for sustainability

Once you’ve procured funding to get going, choosing the right location is your next step. In terms of saving money, it pays to think about sustainability.

Have you looked into sustainable commercial real estate? Green buildings can save you up to 20% on utilities alone. If the building isn’t up to sustainability standards, according to Marylhurst University there are income tax credits, rebates, grants, and property tax abatements  “for everything from solar installation projects to interior energy retrofits of commercial buildings”.

If property values on sustainable buildings in your area are too high, the smart route is to identify a building in a good location that hasn’t been updated. Then, determine the price of green renovations and add it to the cost of the building. Next, research the federal, state, and local incentives for installing things like solar panels, double-pane windows, and high quality insulation. Subtract the estimated dollar amount of incentive kickbacks from your first figure, which was the cost of the lease combined with the cost of green renovations. Finally, compare that number with the price of buildings that are already updated for sustainability.

In the long run, you’ll only save money from updated, eco-friendly real estate, because you’ll save on utilities and repairs. You can also use your investment in sustainability as part of your branding, with environmental stewardship as a cornerstone of your business.

Incentives and practical considerations

Incentives don’t just come from modernizing a space for sustainability. Have you ever considered relocating to a different city? In terms of finding the absolute best location for your small business, there are cities such as Chicago that offer grants, loans, fee waivers, tax reductions and land-write downs in exchange for job creation. Do your research on areas where your product is needed, look into state and city incentives, and then consult with the local Small Business Development Center. If you’re willing to relocate beyond the US, consider global hotspots for entrepreneurship, such as Berlin, Tel-Aviv, and London.

Quickbooks points out, “The cheapest choice isn’t always the right choice.” Look for an area with plenty of traffic from your target customers. Be aware of how much competition there is in the area, too. The more competition, the less visibility you’ll have. However, if you find a key price point on which you can undercut competitors, and you have a unique brand, take the risky location with a reasonable price.

When it comes to relocating, some states have lower minimum wage than others. Research minimum wage along with the economic environment of prospective states, and plan accordingly.

In some states, you’ll have multiple power companies to choose from. Find the one with the best rates and be aware of whether they have additional charges during peak hours of use. Large spaces cost more to heat and cool. Don’t get a bigger space than you need. Reserve about 80% of the space for retail, and use low cost rental space for any additional storage, distribution, and offices.

As far as janitorial and maintenance costs, DIY is the cheapest. Another option is to use an app such as TaskRabbit, which connects you to inexpensive and reliable freelance janitors and maintenance personnel.

You’ll need liability insurance in case anyone gets hurt in your store, so use a broker to look hard for the insurance provider with the best rates.

Ultimately, the smart decision on your first location is finding the balance between price and location. A great location with lots of traffic will pay for itself. But if you don’t have a ton of funds at the outset, and don’t want to rack up lots of debt, look for the space with a decent price in a decent area, and work hard at marketing and branding to make customers come to you.

Featured image via Flickr

What is a Career in Law really like? Tue, 06 Jul 2010 13:41:48 +0000 You enjoyed watching Law and Order and those old Perry Mason reruns. The drama and excitement made you certain that becoming a criminal lawyer and having center stage in the courtroom was your calling. After all, you were outstanding as lead in To Kill a Mockingbird and excelled on the high school debate team.

But, you talked with the lawyer who lives next door to Mom and Dad; she gave you a very different view of what lawyers do. Criminal lawyers work with legal cases where the State is the plaintiff and individuals are the defendants. Most of the everyday lawyers you encounter practice civil law. Civil cases usually involve conflicts or litigation between two private parties. On TV, you see lawyers in court, but seldom get the true picture of the many hours spent in their office or doing research.

Lawyers specialize in family law.

Though not particularly glamorous, sometimes petty, and often heartbreaking, messy divorces, ugly custody cases, and other domestic situations require the expertise of a skilled and compassionate family lawyer. Should little Buffy and Skipper spend Christmas or Thanksgiving with Mom or with Dad? When do Grandma and Grandpa get to see the little guys? And, who gets custody the pooch, the pension, and the photos? Good listening skills and patience for ongoing “he said, she said” situations, make some family lawyers function like psychologists, counselors, or social workers at times. Become a family lawyer, and you will come home from work each day and be increasingly thankful for your comfortably sedate personal life.

Writing wills and trusts and handling house closings are generally routine tasks handled by civil lawyers. Knowledge of the specific laws in your state is essential. Clients provide the necessary information; you, their attorney, draft the paperwork.

Lawyers handle personal injury cases, medical neglect and also some traffic situations.

You’ve seen their ads on daytime TV that target down-on-their-luck folks. But, if you decide to be a personal injury lawyer, word-of-mouth recommendation within your own community should attract ample business. For example, John had a routine surgical procedure at the local hospital. His personal injury lawyer is trying to untangle the facts; why is John more disabled now than he was before the surgery? John can no longer dress himself nor do other daily tasks and cannot perform essential functions at work. It may take a while for John’s attorney to receive the financial settlement that John deserves.

Government lawyers have a variety of on-the-job responsibilities.

Though many civil lawyers are self-employed or in small practices, those who work for the government appreciate the steady paycheck and fairly regular hours. Some attorneys are advisers or advocates to legal aid societies that help those who cannot afford legal help. Government lawyers are employed at the city, county, state or federal level, and some are involved in criminal cases. The work is exciting and interesting and varies daily.

Depending on the size of the municipality, a city may have one or several city attorneys. A city attorney can advise a citizen of their legal rights, as in the case of Sara who shares a driveway with an irrational neighbor and repeatedly has her car blocked so she can’t get out. City attorneys generally attend city council meetings and present their expertise as needed.

A Public Defender is employed by the county. Larger counties usually have several public defenders. They represent defendants who cannot afford a lawyer in criminal cases. The psycho who set a fire that destroyed part of a downtown area was represented by a Public Defender, because just like you, alleged criminals are entitled to legal representation, too.

Most State’s Attorney’s are elected county officials. The State’s Attorney is a prosecutor for criminal and some traffic cases. You may recognize the name and face of your county’s State’s Attorney from the TV News reports of high profile cases.

There are other specialties for attorneys.

Landlord and eviction cases are never pretty. Old man Chuck’s case lasted for nearly a year. Widowed and possibly not-of-sound-mind when he quickly remarried, he bequeathed the family home to his young gold-digging widow. Chuck died unexpectedly. When Chuck’s grief-stricken children came to the house to collect family mementos, the widow barricaded herself in the house and wouldn’t allow them access.

Where you live dictates the need for certain attorney jobs. In large cities with much commerce, tax lawyers or corporate lawyers, especially those with expertise in contracts are in demand. Live someplace like New York or Los Angeles and you could be an entertainment lawyer. Also, immigration law is an emerging law specialty. And if you live near a major university, you might enjoy teaching a class in torts or constitutional law.

In a perfect world, people will all get along with each other, and there’s no need for lawyers. Until that happens, you’re likely to find ample employment practicing criminal or civil law. Being a lawyer can be a satisfying and lucrative profession.

Debra L. Karplus, MS, OTR/L
Registered Occupational Therapist

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Nursing: The Job of the Future Mon, 24 May 2010 15:02:43 +0000 It’s not news that our economy is in the toilet. Across the board, layoffs are bolstering the ranks of the unemployed and prospects for new jobs are bleak at best (although apparently it’s all going to turn around very soon). Despite this, certain fields seem to be holding steady or even growing. Nursing seems to be at the top of the list (a close tie with customer service…ugh). At one point or another, everyone is going to need health care, and with baby boomers hitting retirement and health care reform set to increase the number of insured Americans by millions, the future looks bright for those entering the nursing profession. So what are your options when it comes to a career in nursing?

Well, if you plan to be a nurse for life, you really should aim for at least a Registered Nurse (RN) degree. It is a two-year degree and seems to be the minimum for almost any job in nursing (from staff to travel to school). You can also get a four year degree, which is a Bachelors of Science in Nursing (BSN). Either way, you will be required to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) in order to practice. Most fields also require additional certification depending on both the area of expertise and the state you will practice in. And now, on to the fun stuff.

Once you have the required schooling taken care of, there are a wealth of options available to those in the nursing profession. You can be a staff nurse at a hospital or private practice. You can work as a school nurse, caring for and educating students. There is also travel nursing, which allows you to see other parts of the country (or the world) and set your own schedule through the contracts you choose (many companies that place travel nurses even offer benefits like insurance and 401k). Another option is in-home care-giving, which can be both fulfilling (working with one patient for an extended period) and lucrative (many care-giver situations are live-in, so you get room and board in addition to a salary). And these are just a few of the options available to those with a degree in nursing.

In these uncertain times, it pays to choose a career that will continue to be in demand regardless of the solvency of our economy. And the benefits of nursing exceed the merely financial. Nursing offers you a unique opportunity to give something of yourself to both individuals and the community at large. You will acquire a sense of satisfaction from helping those in need, as well as enjoy a unique opportunity to connect with other people on the most intimate level. And through mentoring programs, you will even be able to steer others along the path to their own careers. All of these incentives make a move towards nursing look very appealing indeed.

Guest Post by: Sarah Leonard of Online Nursing Programs.

How to Begin Tackling Organization Overwhelm Tue, 11 May 2010 16:30:26 +0000 Our environment is a reflection of how we are operating in the world. All we need to do is to look around our environment to realize how overwhelmed we feel. There is always an urgent task that needs to get done and before we know it, the desk is full of papers, dishes are overflowing in the sink, and of course the laundry isn’t folded. For some people, that is just the home environment, there are more papers waiting on the desk at work.

I have never been great at organizing, but I could organize things just enough so I could find things when I needed them. But lately, halfway has not been working for me. I really wanted a system that worked for all the time. My things started telling me it was time to make a change. I was at my desk in my office and a closet door that was ajar opened up, pushed by the weight of the things inside. Then I knew it was time.

When I asked myself why or how things became disorganized and really allowed myself to listen, it became clear to me it was a symptom of overwhelm. Not that I was lazy or apathetic, I was just overwhelmed. I spend my days helping my clients eliminate their overwhelm, how could this be?

When we put pressure on ourselves to “do” at every moment, everything seems urgent. We rationalize that the papers and clothes will be there tomorrow, but the other tasks have to happen now. Yes the things will be there tomorrow, but so will you, so the stress continues every time we walk into our home or office. In the end, the clutter starts affecting us on a core level, it just doesn’t feel good. Functioning in an environment that doesn’t serve you and/or holding on to things we don’t need, is just another way to keep us preoccupied with feelings of overwhelm and powerlessness. It starts to distract us from the big things we want to accomplish. We know we want it organized, we just don’t know how. It’s all about a system.

Marilyn Paul has her Ph.D from Yale and an M.B.A. from Cornell. She is an organizational development consultant. She was successful at helping the firms she worked for get organized, but personally she was far from organized. Her quest to de-clutter the outer and inner sources of her disorganization can be found in her book: “It’s Hard to Make a Difference When You Can’t Find Your Keys”. She outlines a seven step system that will take you from identifying your purpose for organizing to taking action steps and keeping your momentum steady.

Here are a few tips:

  • Establish Your Purpose: What can organizing do for you
  • Envision What You Want: Visualize how the being organized can contribute to your life vision
  • Take Stock: Be realistic about how you are contributing to disorganization in your daily life
  • Choose Support: Find people who are role models and can keep you motivated
  • Identify Strategies for Change: Learn how to build new systems and habits
  • Take Action: Use implementation tools to put your approach into action by setting reasonable goals.
  • Go Deeper to Keep Going: Take care of yourself better and free yourself from destructive habits.

There is much more to organizing than putting your stuff away. Once you identify the source of your disorganization and how it may be holding you back, you free yourself from the build up of pressure that is depleting your energy to move ahead in all areas of your life.

Laura Tirello is a Career and Life Coach. Her company, Core Life Design, works with people who are looking to find their highest potential both in their careers and personal lives. Are you looking for ways to turn your ideas into goals? Get a copy of my *free* special report: “5 Ways to Eliminate Idea Overwhelm”. Visit for more information. Laura can be contacted at

4 Ways to Release Pressure Tue, 27 Apr 2010 06:00:20 +0000 How many times have you heard people say they perform best under pressure? In our society the idea that applying pressure to a situation will reap the best results is very prevalent. It’s such a part of our psyche that we do it subconsciously. For many of us it’s a part of life, basically second nature.

I’m not here to say whether our national obsession with pressure is right or wrong. However, I have noticed a significant pattern between my clients overall mental and physical well being and the amount of pressure they apply to themselves. It reminds me of a two liter bottle of soda with the contents under pressure. Many of us are that soda bottle, building with pressure until we feel we are going to explode—and sometimes we do. What I see on a daily basis is clients who are suffering from putting too much pressure on themselves without even realizing it. Why? Because it seems natural to be on edge, the whole fight or fight thing.

The drawback is that our body and mind are not made to feel this way all the time. And all that built up pressure starts to feel uncomfortable. Then when we ignore the uncomfortable feeling, it turns into the physical: headache, stomachache, and tension. This is happening because “the contents” are under pressure and it’s building without any release.

There is no real way to avoid all pressure in our society, things will happen and the stress will build. It’s more of a matter of finding ways to release the pressure. If you are an athlete and you are pressured in a tie game to win, you will naturally let go of the adrenaline and pressure through the physical activity. But how do you release pressure if sit at a desk all day?

Here are some suggestions:

  • Take control of the level of pressure you put on yourself. Instead of criticizing yourself and forcing yourself to work harder, add some breaks to your day. Use this time, even if it is only 3 minutes to do something you enjoy like listening to music.
  • Add physical activity to your day, wherever and whenever you can, even if it’s just 15 minutes a day, it will release your stress.
  • Do something just for the fun of it. Allow yourself to play like you were a kid again. This type of play helps bring good feelings back to your brain.
  • Breathe. Sounds odd since we do it naturally. The trick is to breathe deeply. Take a minute in the morning, afternoon, and evening to concentrate for 60 seconds on deep breathing. This will help you let go of the pressure and focus better.

If you work well under pressure and are able to let it go at the end of the workday then you may be naturally releasing the pressure. If you notice that you keep trying and you aren’t getting the results you desire, it’s time to release the pressure. Ask yourself why you are applying pressure and what you think the outcome will be. Then try to create other ways to achieve the same outcome that feel good to you. For many of my clients they are actually more productive when they take the pressure off and allow themselves to work at a comfortable pace.

Laura Tirello is a Career and Life Coach. Her company, Core Life Design, works with people who are looking to find their highest potential both in their careers and personal lives. Are you looking for ways to turn your career ideas into action while staying at your current job? I am hosting a*free* teleclass “Simple Steps to Making Career Changes” which will feature an open forum for discussions around creating new career opportunities and finding peace at your current job. Email Laura at to sign up or visit for more information.

What Should I Do with My Life? Fri, 23 Apr 2010 06:00:57 +0000 Are you graduating college this year? Are you unsure of what you want to do with your life? Relax, most of us don’t know what we want to do when we first graduate. In fact, some of us have been out of school for years and still don’t know.

 Research all the possible careers within the degree field you have just completed and any other careers that interest you. Next, make a list of what you believe to be your strengths and weaknesses. List how you use these strengths and these weaknesses everyday. Is there a good match between your strongest abilities and the requirements of the jobs you are considering?

If you have no idea what you want from a job then you can start by thinking of some of the happiest moments in your life. Where were you? What were you doing? Then, look at how you work best: Do you prefer working in groups or independently? Are you self-motivated or do you need a structured environment? What are some settings that seem to put you in a bad mood or make you feel disconnected? Think about these questions and write your answers down. Look at your choices: do they fit these core pieces of your personality?

After you figure out what types of environments you want to work in, it’s time to look at a life plan. I know this seems overwhelming at first, but if you take the time to develop a sense of what you want your future to look like, finding the right job will be easier. Think about your “ideal” life.

• Where do you live?
• Where do you work (at home, in an office, outdoors)?
• Who do you work for?
• How many hours a day do you work?
• Do you travel for your job?
• How much do you want to earn per year?
• What do you want your financial portfolio to look like (retirement and savings)?
• What do you want to do when you are not working?

Once you become clear on your strengths and what kind of lifestyle you desire, you will begin to find the opportunities that are best for you.

Laura Tirello is a Life and Career Coach.  Her company, Core Life Design, works with people who are looking to find their highest potential both in their careers and personal lives. She helps her clients develop a life plan for success and create a balanced life. For more information about Laura and her life coaching business, visit or email Laura at

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