White Chocolate Raspberry Swirl Ice Cream

Guest recipe by Anne Walker, Dabney Gough and Kris Hoogerhyde
Authors of Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones: 90 Recipes for Making Your Own Ice Cream and Frozen Treats from Bi-Rite Creamery

Makes about 1 quart

5 large egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
5 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped (11/4 cups)
2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup Raspberry Swirl Sauce (page 142)
Make the base
1. In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the yolks just to break them up, then whisk in half of the sugar (2 tablespoons). Set aside. Put the chopped chocolate in another medium heatproof bowl and set that aside as well.
2. In a heavy nonreactive saucepan, stir together the cream, milk, salt, and the remaining sugar (2 tablespoons) and put the pan over medium-high heat. When the mixture approaches a bare simmer, reduce the heat to medium.
3. Carefully scoop out about 1⁄2 cup of the hot cream mixture and, whisking the eggs constantly, add the cream to the bowl with the egg yolks. Repeat, adding another 1⁄2 cup of the hot cream to the bowl with the yolks. Using a heatproof rubber spatula, stir the cream in the saucepan as you slowly pour the egg-and-cream mixture from the bowl into the pan.
4. Cook the mixture carefully over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it is thickened, coats the back of a spatula, and holds a clear path when you run your finger across the spatula, 1 to 2 minutes longer. 
5. Strain the base through a fine-mesh strainer into the bowl with the white chocolate and whisk to combine. Set the container into an ice-water bath, wash your spatula, and use it to stir the base occasionally until it is cool. Remove the container from the ice-water bath, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate the base for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Freeze the ice cream
6. Whisk the vanilla into the chilled base.
7. Freeze in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. While the ice cream is churning, put the container you’ll use to store the ice cream into the freezer. 
8. As you transfer the ice cream to the storage container, drizzle in some raspberry purée after every few spoonfuls. When all the ice cream is in the container, use a chopstick or butter knife to gently swirl the mixture. Enjoy right away or, for a firmer ice cream, freeze for at least 4 hours.

Raspberry Swirl Sauce
Makes about 1/2 cup | Pictured on page 140

2 half-pint baskets raspberries (2 cups), preferably organic
1/3 cup sugar
1. Combine the raspberries and sugar in a small nonreactive saucepan and put the pan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until most of the liquid has evaporated and the mixture has a jammy consistency, about 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium as the mixture thickens to prevent scorching.
2. Remove from the heat and let cool for a minute. Transfer to a blender and purée until smooth, being careful to avoid hot splatters. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl, pressing on the solids to extract as much purée as possible. 
If using as a topping, serve warm or at room temperature; chill well before swirling into ice cream. 
“Reprinted with permission from Sweet Cream & Sugar Cones by Kris Hoogerhyde, Anne Walker, and Dabney Gough, copyright © 2012.  

Pumpkin Spice Doughnuts

Guest recipe by DeDe Wilson
Author of A Baker's Field Guide to Doughnuts: More than 60 Warm and Fresh Homemade Treats

Description: This cake-style doughnut is gently spiced to allow the pumpkin flavor to shine through. It pairs well with simple glazes and dry toppings.

Field Notes: Use canned pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling, which is sweetened and spiced. Feel free to mix and match toppings with this recipe, such as Spiced Orange Glaze or a simple Cinnamon-Sugar Topping.

Lifespan: These are best eaten as soon as possible.

Yield: about sixteen 3-inch doughnuts

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sifted cake flour
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup full-fat sour cream, at room temperature
2 tablespoons flavorless vegetable oil, such as canola, plus more for deep-frying

Glaze(s) or topping(s) of your choice
Whisk together both flours, the baking powder, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, ginger, and nutmeg in a medium-size bowl to aerate and combine.

In a large bowl, beat together the pumpkin puree, eggs, and both sugars with an electric mixer until creamy, or whisk well by hand. Beat in the sour cream and 2 tablespoons oil until combined. Add the dry mixture in two batches and stir with a wooden spoon just until the dough comes together. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Line a rimmed baking sheet pan with a triple layer of paper towels. Heat 3 inches of oil in a deep pot or deep-fat fryer to 350° to 355°F.

While the oil is heating, dust the work surface with flour. Scrape the dough onto the surface, dust the top of the dough lightly with flour, and roll out to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut out doughnuts with a lightly floured 3-inch round cutter. Gently gather the scraps, press them together, roll out the dough, and cut out as many additional doughnuts as possible.
Fry a few doughnuts at a time; do not crowd. Fry until light golden brown, about 1 1/2 minutes, flip them over, and fry for about 1 1/2 minutes more, until light golden brown on the other side as well. Using a slotted spoon, remove each doughnut from the oil and drain thoroughly on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining dough.
While the doughnuts are still slightly warm, apply dry topping(s) or glaze(s) as desired.

Espresso Brownie Cake Balls

Guest recipe by DeDe Wilson
Author of Cake Balls: More Than 60 Delectable and Whimsical Sweet Spheres of Goodness 

For coffee lovers only! These pack not only a serious espresso flavor but also quite a caffeine punch. The espresso brownie is so moist that it doesn’t need any binder. Rolled into balls, dipped in a dark chocolate shell, and topped with crumbled chocolate-covered coffee beans, these are the most robust cake balls in the book. I recommend a smaller size for these cake balls, as they are dense and rich, with a brownie-like texture.

Makes about 60 1-inch balls

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup instant espresso powder
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup chocolate-covered espresso beans
1 pound semisweet chocolate, such as Callebaut or Valrhona Equatoriale, finely chopped
60 (1-inch) fluted paper cups (optional)

1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat the inside of a 9-inch square pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.

2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl to aerate and combine.

3. Whisk together the melted butter, sugars, and vanilla. Whisk in the espresso powder, then add the eggs one at a time, whisking well after each addition until smooth. Add the flour mixture, stirring until just combined. Scrape into the prepared pan.

4. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with some moist crumbs clinging. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. The brownie is ready to use. Alternatively, double-wrap the pan in plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to 1 day before proceeding.

5. To make the cake balls, crumble the cooled brownie and work with your hands (or the flat paddle of an electric mixer) until the crumbs come together. Roll into golf ball–size cake balls. Refrigerate until firm, if needed.

6. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Crush the chocolate-covered espresso beans. You can use the flat bottom of a heavy pan or place them in a zipper-top bag and crush with a rolling pin. Melt the chocolate in the microwave or a double boiler. Dip the balls one at a time in the chocolate, encouraging any excess chocolate to drip back into the container. Place, evenly spaced, on the prepared pan. Sprinkle some crushed espresso beans on top of each cake ball while the chocolate is still wet. Refrigerate briefly until the chocolate is set. Trim the bottoms, if needed. Place each cake ball in a paper cup, if desired. Place in a single layer in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Oh The Places You'll Go

Guest post by Dr. Dee Soder

Transitions are difficult, but with a few basics and the right attitude you will succeed.

Anyone contemplating a job change in the current economic climate should spend at least an hour a day-two if the handwriting is on the wall. And regardless of level or age, read Dr. Seuss' terrific book "Oh, The Places You'll Go". In humorous verse and pictures, he gives advice on weathering the ups and downs we all encounter during the course of our careers: confusion and uncertainty, unexpected success, loneliness, finding fun, meeting people, taking charge, and the Great Balancing Act.

Will reaching your goal be challenging -yes. Fun-no. Require work-yes. Is the work worth it? Yes!! Per Dr. Seuss:

"And will you succeed?

Yes! You will indeed!

(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)"

Tips for Moving On and Up

  1. Develop a self-summary that can be heard and easily repeated. If you're an analyst who's passionate about technology and good with creative people, say so. Test your self-summary on a clerk, neighbor, or manicurist-can they repeat it later?
  2. Have three introductions ready. One is very short, another is five minutes long, and the third is longer yet. For example, the shortest summary is for a quick intro at a party, the five-minute version when you just have a short time to talk and last is for an interview or if you're sitting next to someone at dinner. Most people neglect the first and second intros-and make their messages too lengthy.
  3. Make sure people know how to reach you. In emails, give time and phone number-translate any time difference and use their time zone. On voice mails, give your phone number early and slowly, repeat at end.
  4. Send thank-you notes promptly, generally the same day. Keep them short and don't over-sell in a thank-you note. Be careful with salutations. For example, "Hi Dave" to a potential boss or peer is wrong tone. Whether to use a note card, stationary, or email depends on the person and the context. For example, use email to write someone who is traveling and not apt to receive your note for a week. Generally thank-you notes sent by messenger or over-night delivery aren't appropriate and look too eager
  5. Waiting for an interview to start? Stand-you'll look and feel better ("How To Act Like A CEO", Fortune, Sept. 8, 1997.)
  6. Utilize an old IBM sales tactic-when you first enter someone's office, look around and notice what "doesn't belong". The hard hat, movie poster, or sailfish in an otherwise traditional corporate office has a story-ask about it. One client discussed sailing with the potential employer for 15 minutes before he was asked about work (he's since been promoted twice and gone sailing.)
  7. Have good questions. "What made you want to work here" is often a good early question because it gets the interviewer in a recruiting mind-frame. Questions about specifics during the interview will make it a conversation and demonstrate your diligence and knowledge of the company.
  8. Remember that executives often ask assistants and others for their impressions or to conduct an initial screen. Treat staff as professionals-they are. Patronizing flattery, condescension, manipulation attempts and similar behavior is inappropriate and unwise.
  9. Be the perfect, gracious guest when you visit a company. If the interviewer's assistant offers you a beverage, accepting a glass of water is perfectly fine. Requesting decaf, hazelnut-flavored coffee with skim milk and artificial sweetener sends the message that you're needy and high-maintenance.
  10. Don't fake it when asked about your experience or knowledge. It won't work and can be disastrous. Ask the person who falsely claimed fluency in German, or the person who implied friendship with a prominent lawyer, how they felt when facts surfaced.
  11. Turned down? Lost out on a job? Be gracious and follow with a thank-you for consideration. Keep in touch-you never know what will happen. Executives have good memories and many friends. There's always a chance you'll be considered for a similar position when it becomes vacant. Avoid the "I didn't want the job anyway" mindset.

Basics of Moving On and Up

The basics of transitioning are just that-basic to a successful transition.

  1. Decide you want to move-whether to a new area, new function or new company. Decide whether you'll put in the effort and time to make a change. The Olympics illustrate the importance of dedication, persistence and the right attitude. The gold medals go to the best prepared people, those who got up early, practiced (and practiced and practiced), and who had their goal always in mind.
  2. Luck happens-but don't count on it. And be prepared to take advantage if it does. Have your introductory spiel and resume ready, look and act sharp. You never know when a senior person may "drop by" unexpectedly, when you may get to attend a key meeting, or who you'll meet en route to a client. I met two CEOs while boarding an airplane and secured major engagements from them only a few months later. Most senior executives have advanced their careers via chance encounters. During a reorganization or merger, presence is especially important-look rested and confident. During busy times, an executive may pass you in the hall and make a decision as to whether you can handle more (Is she up to the task? Can he take the next step?). Of course, bad luck happens too. Plan ahead.
  3. Know yourself. Know your strengths, weaknesses, motives and quirks. Too often people think about whether they can get a job and not whether they truly want it. Be realistic. You may be a great salesperson for MegaCorp, but that may change with a new business card for a little-known company. Similarly strong coffee may help for a few weeks if you're not a morning person, but joining a company where everyone's at work by 7 or 7:30 doesn't make sense if you "come alive in the afternoon". If you're good in finance, but truly enjoy marketing and management-think twice before accepting a finance job. (In doubt? Then call and we can put you in touch with well-paid people who wish they had chosen differently.)
  4. Know where you're going. Develop a list of other jobs, areas, and/or companies that interest you and seem like a possible match to you. Not aware of other possibilities? Develop a preliminary target list. Some people recommend talking to contacts (networking). We don't-preferring to reserve those contacts for a later time. We recommend setting aside a few hours each week for research. The internet and the library are terrific resources. One executive recommends "spending a Saturday at the library and going through the last few years of Fortune or an industry publication, the last year of The Wall Street Journal…you get a feeling for growth areas and executives which you can refine later."
  5. Identify allies and sources of help. A list of friends, allies and contacts will be most helpful if it's written down. Keep adding to it as you think of new people and recall people whom you've helped. Review the list to see how they can help you with your target list. Some people will be able to provide background information, some introductions, etcetera. Wise use of this two list system (your target list and contact list) will ensure the proverbial win-win. It saves your allies time, enables them to be truly helpful and provides you with desired information easily and efficiently.
  6. Do your homework. Learn as much as possible about the people, job and business before you start discussions. The internet is obviously a great resource, but not the only one. For example, one person attended a venture conference in order to meet a future employer. Another person was able to overcome a staid banking stereotype by spending a day watching how people dressed, acted, and talked in his desired company, a technology venture. The work and time paid off. The banker became one of Apple's first employees (and a millionaire at an early age). Doing your homework can help you in a transition- both in getting an offer and avoiding a mistake by accepting the wrong job.
  7. Practice intros, greetings and interviews. Enlist a friend or relative's help, but to ensure maximum help, tell them you want to hear at least five flaws or things you can improve. Friends are often reluctant to be too critical. Remember, too, that you will act differently with a friend. One client I coached was great with his good friend, but nervous and sweating during practice with a colleague of mine. Leave yourself a voicemail to hear how you sound on the phone. Practice your handshake-a bad one is more problematic than most people realize. Don't let nervousness or a desire to show you "get it" result in your cutting people off, or finishing their sentences. Simply count to four after the person stops speaking and before you start.  
  8. Be cautious about whom you tell you're seeking a new situation. It's a competitive world. Plus even well-meaning friends can mention it to the wrong people or give the wrong slant with a detrimental result. At a recent workshop an attendee asked how to recover from a blunder-- the blunder? He asked a coworker if she knew of any jobs in advertising as a good friend wanted to move due to a bad boss….the coworker was the sister of the "bad boss". She was married, with a different name, and fortunately wasn't close to her brother. Certain situations and industries call for extra caution in transitions-approach them with a rifle, not a shotgun.
  9. Remember: employers are people too. Your future boss wants to work with someone who is thoughtful, follows-up, loyal, personable, honest, and shares similar values. So in addition to impressing a future boss with your skills and ability, demonstrate that you'll make her look and feel better on a daily basis. Thank her for considering you (send a follow-up note promptly.) Last week two senior clients expressed annoyance and amazement at poor etiquette and follow-through of candidates. If an email is appropriate, follow to make sure it is received. Make it easy for a potential boss to find you, especially if you travel. If you can't access your private email at work, are you checking it frequently? Slow responses will be interpreted as low drive and interest. Administrative assistants, search executives, assessment experts and others whom you may meet in search of "the right job" are part of your potential employer's family too. Remember employers will hire the best all-around person, not the smartest.
  10. Beware the dream job. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Keep the differences between recruiting and reality to a minimum by good questions and diligence. Then the surprises will be pleasant ones.

Per Dr. Seuss,       

be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea
you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!”

Copyright 2009 CEO Perspective Group™, All Rights Reserved www.ceoperspective.com 

Oh No!" to Opportunity - Surviving the Pink Slip

Guest post by Diane Danielson

Slips happen. Specifically, pink slips happen to good people. It's a fact of life. Some of the most successful leaders have been fired or passed over for promotions. Take Andrea Jung, now CEO of Avon. Despite her achievements as the company's COO, she was initially passed over for the top job. And how about Oprah, who early on in her career was taken off the air in Baltimore and told she wasn't a good fit for television as an anchorwoman? Goodbye news, hello talk shows! Heck, if she had buried her head in the sand or moved to an even smaller metropolitan market, half of us wouldn't have known what to read for our book clubs.

When the unthinkable happens to you (yes, we could have said "if," but really, it happens to everyone), you've got options. You can (a) sit there at your desk muttering and squeezing a stress ball until the veins on your forehead pop out; (b) bawl to anyone who will listen; (c) initiate intensive chocolate or retail therapy; or (d) step right up to the table and start talking. Sure, (a), (b), and (c) may feel good for a while. But (a) and (b) won't pay the rent (or even pay for tickets to the play "Rent.") And (c) will just leave you feeling bloated or broke, and definitely guilty.

No one's suggesting that you don't have the right to sing the blues a little. In fact, it's a good idea to vent to a friend or significant other and engage in some self-therapy right after the catastrophe. Otherwise, you may waste time with your valuable networking contacts lamenting over the past instead of ramping up for your future. Spend a few days getting over your anger, hurt, and disappointment, and finding a few positives (things you learned while in that job or with that client; things you can do to ensure that you avoid similar catastrophes; or even appreciating the gift of time to pursue a pipe dream). With all that out of the way, you can now regroup, face the world, and do something about your situation. 
Shift gears into job hunt mode by first calling a brainstorming session with friends, mentors, former colleagues, etc. You can even ask close contacts to review your resume for editorial suggestions (an easy, non-intrusive way to slip someone your resume and have it proofread). This is also the time when you need to start building your job-hunting strategy, which will serve as a guide to keep you focused and make it easy for others to help you. 

With your strategy in place, it's time to make things happen by networking both efficiently and effectively. The following is a list of some simple things to try that can help you network your way back onto the career track. 

1. Get specific. Use your initial brainstorming sessions to develop a clear picture or idea of what you want to do. Better yet, find a company you'd like to work for or an individual whose job you've been lusting after for years. Convey these specifics to your contacts. While you may think this will limit the input you receive, you'll find that it really doesn't. Instead, it gives people a tangible idea of what you want. Most of the time, your contacts will come up with relevant alternative suggestions. 

2. Think back. What if you have no idea what you want to do now or you're considering changing careers? Think back to three interesting and fun projects that you've done in any part of your life (professional and personal). This could include running a church fund-raiser, mentoring a young employee, coaching your child's soccer team, or giving a major presentation. Write down the aspects of the projects you liked, the skills you used or developed, and why the projects were successful. Generally, a common thread appears that might give you some new ideas about a career direction. You also might be surprised by how different those projects are from your current career path.

3. Listen up. Still stumped as to whether to pursue your current path or make a major change in career direction? Think about what you like to do in your spare time. Is it mountain biking alone in the wilds or participating in a team sport? If you enjoy the camaraderie of the latter, then maybe freelancing on your own is not the best fit. Listen to your own personal likes and dislikes for career clues. Still perplexed? Turn to trusted, appropriate contacts and ask, "What do you see me doing?" If nine out of 10 people think you should be in sales rather than accounting, then maybe, just maybe, they might be on to something. 

4. Open wide. Don't dismiss the wild and wacky idea out of hand. Have an open mind! We often tend to like what we know. But by trying something new, something outside your comfort zone, you could find a whole new set of skills you never knew you had. Consider the job hunt as your own personal excellent adventure, with interesting people and surprising plot twists, and the possibility of a happy ending for all. 

5. Follow up. Follow up with every individual whose name has been provided to you by a contact. Even if it seems like a dead end. You never know whom else that new person might know. But this is where having a clear job-hunting objective comes in handy, because following up with a bunch of random and unfocused contacts is time-consuming. However, the alternative is not attractive. For example, if you don't appear interested, or fail to follow up on someone's suggestions, why would that person ever give you another name, suggest that someone else give you a name, or even listen for opportunities that might appeal to you? Some simple job-hunting rules of etiquette include:

§ Follow up in the way your contact requests -- via phone, e-mail, whatever.
§ When e-mailing a new contact, make the subject line crystal clear and include the name of the person who referred you. That way your e-mail won't be considered spam and will show that you respect your new contact's time.
§ When sending a resume by e-mail, put your full name in the name of the document. That way when people detach it to save on their network or hard drive, or forward it along to another person, it is easily identifiable as your resume.

§ Make it easy for new contacts to follow-up with you by having personal business cards. Inexpensive ones are available on-line and can simply contain your relevant contact information. However, it's even better to add a brief skill description, like "marketing consultant," "computer sales," or "technical writer/editor." You can even have several different versions tailored to the different avenues you're pursuing.

6. Follow through. If you're going to start networking for a job, you must be physically and mentally prepared to act on suggestions given by other people. It's not a good idea to ask for someone's help two days before you set sail on a two-week Caribbean cruise; or if you're still lying in bed, surrounded by balled up tissues and take-out menus, watching Lifetime, and moaning, "Why me?"

7. Don't forget to say "thank you." If you follow-up with a lead, send thank you's to both your original and your new contact. Depending on how close you are to your original contact, you can express your gratitude verbally or via e-mail. Your new contact should be thanked by letter or handwritten note. We know of one job hunter who secured a job by hand-delivering a thank you note later the same day. An e-mail is also okay in certain situations like when immediate follow-up is required. 

Above all, focus on the positive throughout the new process. Remember the things you like about yourself, how far you've come, and all the hurdles you've already surmounted in life. Take pleasure in making new connections and thinking about your new direction. It's exciting! Look in the mirror in the morning and do a little dance. Why? Because enthusiasm - and the doldrums - are contagious. Oozing excitement rather than leaking the blues will make you more of an asset to the people and businesses you're reaching out to - and if you force it a little in the beginning, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. 

The above article is based on an excerpt from Table Talk: The Savvy Girl's Alternative to Networking by Diane K. Danielson and Rachel Solar-Tuttle,(1stBooks, 2003 Reprinted with permission.)

Ten Phrases That Should Be Banned From the Workplace Forever

Guest post by Darlene Price
Author of Well Said!: Presentations and Conversations That Get Results

Do the top leaders and successful managers use specific words to achieve success? Are there words and phrases that should be avoided at all costs? Yes indeed!

You’ve got to know your audience and tailor your content to meet their needs. Being sincere, natural, enthusiastic and passionate go hand in hand with maintaining good eye contact and being calm and polite.

It’s also crucial to learn that there are certain words and phrases that are certain to cause damage to one’s progress. If you want to maximize your success as you climb the career ladder, and avoid slipping, here are her top ten phrases to stop using in the workplace.

1. AVOID: “I can’t do that” or “That’s impossible” or “That can’t be done.”

Even though you may feel this way on the inside, these negative phrases are perceived by others as pessimistic, unconstructive, and even stubborn. Your boss, peers and customers most likely want to hear what CAN be done. Instead say, “I’ll be glad to check on that for you” or “What I can do is…” or “Because of company policy, what I CAN do is…”

2. AVOID: “You should have…” or “You could have…” or You ought to have...

The words should, could and ought imply blame, finger-pointing and fault. There’s no quicker way to upset a boss, colleague or customer than to suggest they’re guilty of something (even if they are). Instead, take a collaborative approach. “Please help me understand why…” or “Next time may we adopt an alternative approach….” or “I understand your challenges; let’s resolve this together…”

3. AVOID: “That’s not my job” or “I don’t get paid enough for this” or “That’s not my problem.”

If you’re asked to do something by your boss, co-worker or a customer, it’s because it’s important to them. Therefore, as a team player, goal #1 is to figure out how to help them get it accomplished. Even if it’s not in your job description, by saying so displays a career-limiting bad attitude. For example, if your boss lays an unreasonable request on you, reply by saying, “I’ll be glad to help you accomplish that. Given my current tasks of A…B…and C…. which one of these would you like to place on back-burner while I work on this new assignment?” This clearly communicates priority; reminds the boss of your current work load; and subtly implies realistic expectations.

4. AVOID: “I may be wrong, but…” or “This may be a dumb question, but…” or “I’m not sure about this, but…” or “This may be a silly idea, but…”

Eliminate any prefacing phrase that demeans or negates what you’re about the say. Instead, get rid of the self-deprecating phrase, drop the ‘but’, and make your comment.

5. AVOID: “I’ll try.”

Imagine your boss says to you, “I need your proposal by 10 am tomorrow for the customer meeting.” Your reply is, “Okay. I’ll try to get it finished.” The word “try” implies the possibility it may not get finished. It presupposes possible failure. Instead say, “I’ll get it finished” or “I’ll have it on your desk by 9am.”

6. AVOID: “I think…”

Which of these two statements do you find to be more effective? “I think you might like this new solution we offer.” vs. “I believe (or I’m confident) you’re going to like this new solution we offer.” The difference in wording is fairly subtle. However, the influence communicated to your customer can be profound. Reread each sentence. The first one contains two weak words, “think” and “might.” These words make you sound unsure or insecure about the message, and subtly undermine your credibility. Notice how the second sentence is confident and strong. Replace the word “think” with “believe” and strike the tentative “might.” That’s a statement from someone who believes in what he or she saying.

7. AVOID: “…don’t you think?” Or, “…isn’t it?” Or “…okay?” 

To convey a confident commanding presence, eliminate validation questions. Make your statement or recommendation with certainty and avoid tacking on the unnecessary approval-seeking question. Don’t say, “This would be a good investment, don’t you think?” Instead say, “This solution will be a wise investment that provides long-term benefits.” Don’t say, “I think we should proceed using this proposed strategy, okay?” Instead, make a declaration: “We’ll proceed using this proposed strategy.”

8. AVOID: “I don’t have time for this right now” or “I don’t have time to talk to you right now.”

Other than being abrupt and rude, this phrase tells the person they’re less important to you than something or someone else. Instead say, “I’d be glad to discuss this with you. I’m meeting a deadline at the moment. May I stop by your office (or phone you) in this afternoon at 3pm? 

9. AVOID: “…but…”

Simply replace the word “But” with “And.” The word “but” cancels and negates anything that comes before it. Imagine if your significant other said to you, “Honey, I love you, but . . .” Similarly, imagine if a software salesperson said, “Yes, our implementation process is fast, easy, and affordable….but we can’t install it until June. The “but” creates a negative that didn’t exist before, offsetting the benefits of fast, easy, and affordable. Replace the “but” with “and” and hear the difference: “Yes, our implementation process is fast, easy and affordable, and we can install it as early as June.” Most of the time, “and” may be easily substituted for “but,” with positive results.

10. AVOID: “He’s a jerk” or “She’s lazy” or “They’re stupid” or “I hate my job” or “This company stinks.”

Avoid making unconstructive or judgmental statements that convey a negative attitude toward people or your job. This mishap tanks a career quickly. If a genuine complaint or issue needs to be brought to someone’s attention, do so with tact, consideration and non-judgment. For example, when discussing a co-worker’s tardiness with your boss, don’t say “She’s lazy.” Instead say, “I’ve noticed Susan has been an hour late for work every morning this month.” This comment states an observable fact and avoids disparaging language. 

How To Think on Your Feet....Seven Steps for Successful Speaking On The Spot

Guest blog by Darlene Price
Author of Well Said!: Presentations and Conversations That Get Results

"So, Karen, you’re recommending that we migrate our current systems to a brand new platform? How do you plan on avoiding the disaster that happened with our Detroit division who tried this two years ago? Surely you’re not recommending we do the same thing.” 
If you're Karen, you've just been put on the spot. You have to answer the question clearly, confidently and concisely so that you dispel the CEO's concerns and gain approval on your proposal. What do you say? How do you say it? What if your mind goes blank? 
Mastering the art of thinking on your feet is an essential career-building skill. Not only does it reveal how confident, credible and composed you are, it ensures your ideas are heard and acted upon. 
Whether you’re answering Q&A after a presentation, responding to your boss in a meeting, or interviewing with the press, you don’t have to ‘sweat it’ when you’re in the hot seat. Try these seven steps for successful speaking on the spot.

-1. Relax. You want your voice to sound confident and your brain to think clearly, so you have to be as relaxed as possible. This is of course is the opposite of how you are feeling so you must intentionally take steps to ‘manufacture’ relaxing affects. Take a few slow deep breaths – this relaxes the body and the mind. Be sure to avoid a pensive scowl or furrowed brow by consciously keeping your facial expressions neutral to positive. Silently affirm yourself by thinking, “I can do this.” “I’m confident and in control.” “I’m the expert on this subject.” Remember, your audience can only see how you look and act on the outside; they never see how you feel on the inside.

-2. Listen. Often when we are in a high pressure situation and the adrenalin is pumping, we don’t stop to hear the actual question or concern of the speaker due to the static in our own minds. To make sure we understand the question and give the appropriate answer, focus intently on the other person. Look at him or her directly in the eyes. Hear exactly what is being spoken. Observe the speaker’s body language. This shows attentiveness, prevents distraction and increases comprehension. Try to interpret what is being said ‘between the lines.’ Is this a legitimate objection or an attack? Is it a simple request for more information or a test? Why is this person asking this question and what is it they really want? 

-3. Repeat the question, if appropriate. Especially in a large meeting or public setting, restate the question loudly enough for everyone to hear. This gives the questioner the opportunity to clarify the question, or more clearly articulate it the second time. In the process, you gain more time to think and formulate your answer. Also, restating allows you to take control of the question and re-phrase or neutralize it if needed. 

-4. Ask a clarifying question. If the question is too broad and you want to narrow the focus before you can effectively answer, ask them a question first before you respond. This ensures you reply with a more meaningful helpful answer, plus it shows you care and are listening. For example, in the above scenario, Karen could have asked, “Which aspects of the Detroit migration concern you the most about this project?”

-5. Pause and Think. Silence, used appropriately, communicates you are in charge of the situation and comfortable in the setting. When you pause you look and sound poised and confident. Avoid the temptation to answer too quickly – even though you may have the perfect reply. This often results in speaking too fast and saying too much. A well-timed pause to collect your thoughts tells your brain to slow down. It also helps you organize and prioritize the content of your answer. 

-6. Use an organized structure. In addition to anxiety, another key reason we freeze or go blank when placed on the spot is because so many ideas begin to stream through our minds at once. Avoid verbalizing that stream of consciousness (also known as rambling, or winging it). Remember, the questioner does not want or expect you to give a speech on the subject. What they do want is a clear concise answer with just enough supporting information to satisfy their concern. This requires on-the-spot structure. Limit yourself to two, no more than three key points with a statement of evidence under each. For example, here’s how Karen could have responded to her CEO: 
“Yes, Bob, I do recommend we migrate our current systems to the new platform. There are three main reasons why this transition will successfully avoid your Detroit concerns: First, the new platform features 99% defect free software…(give one or two statements of supporting evidence).
Second, it integrates seamlessly with all our systems…
And third, our migration strategy ensures no downtime for our customers…” 
By focusing on two or three main points, and giving just the right amount of supporting evidence, you sound confident, clear and concise. 

-7. Summarize and Stop. Conclude your response with a quick summary statement and stop. Most likely, a brief period of silence will follow as listeners are absorbing your message. Resist the common error of filling this silence with more information. If you ramble on with more details, you may end up causing confusion, belaboring the point, or opening up a can of worms. Here’s how Karen could have summarized: “So Bob, in summary, I do hear and appreciate your concerns; however, my team and I have thoroughly reviewed the challenges of the Detroit migration, and we’re confident the plan for our division will succeed. With the new bug-free software, seamless integration, and customer uptime, our strategy will deliver all the benefits outlined in the proposal and ensure the success of our company and customers.” 
Thinking on your feet means staying in control of the situation. Remember to relax your body and breathe deeply. Listen actively to the questioner. Repeat their question if necessary, and ask them a question if necessary to narrow the focus. Use the reflective pause to aid clear calm thinking. Then, when you’re ready to speak on the spot, be sure to apply a solid structure – limit your answer to three key points with brief supporting evidence under each. Summarize your points and stop. By practicing these simple steps, you will come across as a confident, credible, and trustworthy expert who knows how to think on her feet and speak on the spot. 

Empowering Women Caregivers: 6 Steps to Reclaim Your Life and Relationships

Guest post by  Diana B. Denholm, PhD, LMHC
Author of The Caregiving Wife's Handbook: Caring for Your Seriously Ill Husband, Caring for Yourself

Terminal illness shatters lives and marriages. Fortunately, by following simple strategies you can learn to solve problems and quickly discover that your life and your marriage are not over! In The Caregiving Wife’s Handbook, you learn how to bring your marriage back--to uncover the love and caring you once experienced--as you discover options and choices to reclaim the closeness--and your loving bond. Learned communication is the key to these options and choices. It isn’t just talk!

Wives avoid discussing difficult issues with their husbands because they feel guilty, they're afraid it will upset them, they think it won't make any difference, or because they simply don't know how to do it! And that’s where the problems begin.

Do you experience common caregiver concerns? Mary and Mark are a very attractive retired couple. Mark is dying of Parkinson’s, and their advancing age makes it hard to handle the many unexpected changes that come their way. Watching her husband decline is incredibly difficult, yet she also has to deal with numerous concerns common to most caregivers. These include the day-to-day matters of her role in his care, her previous roles, her self-care, their ongoing lives, household management, sleep, sex and intimacy--all of which put strains on her marriage. Hygiene and appearance concern Mary, as they do many caregivers. Mark has lost a lot of weight, and his Parkinson’s caused his posture to deteriorate. Mary is concerned that others might think she’s failing in her “wifely duties” because he looks unkempt. So, she criticizes him, in front of others, saying he looks like he’s slouching in his suits. Mark, and everyone present, is deeply embarrassed--for both of them. Instead of having a private discussion, she inadvertently and repeatedly, breaks their intimate and loving bond. 

Using learned communication methods resolves concerns. Noticing other people’s reactions and realizing what she was doing, Mary decided she had to make some changes. Using my book, she learned the Six Step Communication and Resolution Strategy allowing her to compassionately and effectively communicate with Mark. Here are the six steps: 

Step 1. Bring it all out into the open--with yourself. Mary began with the 24-Question Planning Guide and wrote down, for her eyes only and without censoring herself, every concern or complaint she had about any area of her life. A typical list may include topics ranging from minor annoyances (Your ostomy bag smells bad. I can't take your complaining), to fears (How will I pay the bills after you're gone? You'll fall down if you don't use the walker), and everything in between (I'm sad we can't make love anymore. I wish I could get a break. I'm mad that you're still sneaking cigarettes. Your family takes me for granted).

Step 2. Choose your discussion topics. Next, Mary learned to organize her concerns so she could decide which things she would talk about with Mark. Four categories were all she needed: A--things I want to say but don't expect a response to; B--things I want to say but won't, because it won't make a difference; C--things I want to say but should only share with a friend; D--things I really need to talk about, know about, have resolved, or make a decision about. Category D are the topics you will discuss with your husband. 

No topic is off limits, but the wording you use and the way you express yourself will determine the proper category. For instance, saying, “You really stink and I can’t stand being around you”, isn’t off limits, but would go into C--only to share with a friend or confidant. However, saying “I’m concerned about your hygiene” is fine for Category D and sharing with your spouse.

Step 3. Familiarize yourself with easy tips that make communication more effective. Here are a few simple tips and techniques Mary learned: not asking "why" (you really don’t want to know why your husband leaves the toilet seat up, you just want him to change his behavior and put it down.); letting him keep his opinion, while changing his behavior (It’s all right if he hates his medicine, as long as he takes it.); reflective listening, where you repeat back to him what he just said, instead of interpreting (If you interpret what he says, it will stop a conversation dead in its tracks); using "I" statements (It’s more effective if you don’t presume something about another person by using the inclusive “we”); speaking his language, which means structuring your statements in the way he will most easily understand them (If he's very reason- and logic-oriented, for example, you might ask him what he "thinks" about something, rather than how he feels.). 

Step 4. Make a "talking date" with your husband. Using her new tips and tools, Mary set up a “talking date” with Mark. Rather than saying “We need to talk”–the phrase most men dread and which causes an immediate shutdown–Mary began, “Mark, I have some concerns about your appearance. I know I’m not handling that very well, so I’d like to talk about it. Would this evening be good, or would tomorrow morning at breakfast be better?” She used an “I” statement because, it wasn’t Mark’s desire to talk. Then rather than demanding the discussion on the spot, she gave two closed-end options, knowing that just asking Mark when they could talk probably would have been answered with, “Never! 

Knowing that some settings are more conducive to good conversation than others, Mary picked a lovely location for their discussion. Depending on your loved one’s condition, you may need to choose a place such as your living room or the hospital chapel or solarium rather than going to a park or out for a boat ride.

Step 5. Prepare for the "big talk." Before you have your discussion, you need to complete one more step. Take some time for yourself, look at your topic list, and briefly run the discussion through your mind—focusing on ways to encourage mutual respect. Remember that this is not an adversarial activity. Instead, you and your husband are going to collaborate to resolve issues and problems, or to plan a course of action. Then put away your list and notes. Make yourself as calm as possible. Pray, meditate, or just sit quietly. Avoid caffeine, cigarettes, and sugar which can make you hyper, and alcohol or drugs, which can cloud your thinking. 

Step 6. Have your talk, and create agreements. Having employed mutual respect and compassion in their discussion, Mary and Mark came up with several agreements about expectations for themselves and others. Agreements can be written down to include who will do what and when. This is particularly helpful with issues about family visits—“From now on, my family will only visit on Sundays, and only if we invite them." Occasionally, partners hit an impasse and have the option to agree to disagree on a topic in order to reestablish peace in the home. This is much healthier than continuing to argue over something that won’t change.

Now Mary has taken all the important steps on the path–the path to making life easier, and making her life and marriage work. She and Mark could now reclaim their loving bond.  www.caregivingwife.com