How to Stay Calm When Everything Around You Is Stressful

By Lolly Daskal President and CEO, Lead From Within

Most advice on stress will tell you to breathe your way into calm, but I am going give you the most powerful weapons against stress–because it’s a matter of life and death.

Most of us live with some degree of stress as an ever-present force. Success requires that you cultivate the ability to stay calm when everything around you is stressful and everyone around is stressed out. Stress is worth taking seriously: it’s a known killer. But you can fight back.

 vacastress_introHere are six powerful ways you can wage the life-and-death fight against stress:

 1. Forego blame. When things go wrong, it’s human nature to seek out someone to blame. You want to find someone to be at fault and teach them a lesson so this never happens again. But blame does nothing to ease stress and doesn’t solve the problem. Forgo placing blame and start thinking of your own responsibility-the things you can do differently next time to prevent the problem or make the repercussions less severe. The day you stop blaming others is the day you begin to feel relief from stress.

 2. Put things in perspective. Stress enters when things are out of control and when you lose perspective. Those who are strong and successful tend to throw wider nets and take longer views of their problem to put things into perspective. Try to think not in terms of a crisis but a problem-something that can be solved. And don’t get stuck trying to solve the problem with the same thinking you used to create it; change your perspective and you’ll see new possibilities.

 3. Stay available. When stress hits, it’s a natural response to want to run and hide. And some people do literally check out-they physically leave when there’s trouble. In fact, the way to offset the stress is to do exactly the opposite: make yourself more accessible and stay more available. When you authenticate it and deal with it in proximity to your team, you can work through it in collaboration, not around it on your own.

 4. Be part of the solution. There will always be problems and stress. To position yourself as part of the solution means becoming the person who stays calm enough long enough to think of ways to make it through. Within every problem, every challenge, there is always a solution. And when nothing is sure, the possibilities are wide open.

 5. Tap into your confidence.Especially in stressful times, it’s easy to start second-guessing yourself, to lose focus on your confidence and spend your time comparing yourself to others. Everybody has their own strengths and weakness, and its only when you accept yourself and everything that you are that you truly succeed. When you tap into your confidence, you can stay consistent and focused in your priorities. In tough times, be gentle with yourself and tell yourself you are doing the best you can.

 6. Take action. The best way to combat stress is simply to be present with it. When you look stress in the face you can unmask what you are afraid of and begin making things happen. After all, the goal is to succeed-and to succeed takes action, hard work and effort.

 The person who can find that calm center in times of great challenge will prevail through focus, perspective and a firm grip on purposeful action.

How to Tell a Coworker They’re Annoying You

By Caroline Webb

Whenever we’re working closely with other people, it’s easy for tensions to arise thanks to differences in personal styles and priorities. When they do, we have a choice: should we raise the issue, or keep quiet? Many of us bite our tongue, worrying that speaking up will harm an important relationship.

But research suggests that letting something simmer can make things worse, for several reasons. When we’re stressed, our brain tends to mount a defensive “fight-flight-or-freeze” response—during which there’s reduced activity in brain areas. And trying to suppress our irritation has been found to make our brain’s defensive response more pronounced rather than less. So chanting “I’m fine” repeatedly is unlikely to get us back onto an even keel.

Our supposedly hidden emotions are also strangely contagious. Psychologists have foundthat one person in a negative mood transmits their angst to others nearby within five minutes—even when they aren’t speaking to each other or working together. So your colleague will be subconsciously picking up your disapproving signals, whether you mean for them to read your mind or not. annoying

The good news is that there is a safe way to raise difficult issues with a colleague, even in awkward hierarchical situations—one that helps to keep both your brains from going on the defensive and that helps you set a positive tone for the conversation. Here’s how it works:

Step 0: Set a collaborative intention. Before the conversation, ask yourself: “What outcome do I really want for my relationship with this person?”

Early in my career, I had a boss who kept rewriting my work. Sometimes he twisted the syntax so badly that the sentences became difficult to understand, and his micromanagement was making me feel like a sulky teenager. I felt I had to say something. Without pausing to think about my intention for the conversation, my unspoken goal would have been: “make [damn] sure he realizes he’s driving me nuts!” That would have kept my brain firmly in “fight” mode. But five seconds of reflection led me to set a more collegiate goal: “find out why he’s doing what he’s doing, and figure out how to work together more effectively.” If emotions are contagious, that was going to be a much better vibe to radiate.

Step 1: Ask permission. Don’t just launch into your spiel. Say something like: “Our working relationship is important to me, and there’s something on my mind—can I talk to you about it?” If it’s a bad time, you don’t want to choose this moment for your chat; if it’s a good time, you’ve signaled your collaborative intent.

Step 2: Describe the “true facts.” The trick here is to pick one specific incident and describe what I call the “true facts”: the things you know for sure, stripped of emotion, interpretation, or generalization.  For me, that meant not saying things like “Your edits suck” or “You’re not giving me enough space.” These statements are debatable, because the other person can say “That’s not true.” And because they’re so broadly critical, they’re more likely to put your colleague’s brain on the defensive—meaning they won’t be at their most expansive and generous as they respond. Instead, aim for something that feels more like “What I noticed was [fact, fact, fact].” Be as precise and concrete as you can, even if you think there’s a big issue at stake. In my case, I said: “I noticed that in the last presentation, you rewrote the headings on fourteen of the twenty slides. The sentences got longer and less to-the-point.”

Step 3: Say how the “true facts” made you feel, and why this matters to you. Just like the “true facts,” your feelings aren’t disputable, and describing them explains why you’re raising the issue. Research has also found that you lower your stress levels when you carefully label your emotions. So I said: “That made me feel worried that I’m not understanding what you want from me.” Here, it helps not to use aggressive language. I was angry, for sure—but when I asked myself what deeper fear was underneath that anger, I realized it was a genuine worry that I was falling short. It also helps to add a sincere explanation of why this matters to you, to convey that this isn’t about you whining. It doesn’t have to be complicated. I simply said: “And I care about doing a good job.”

Step 4: Ask for their perspective. When we’ve built up our courage to broach a difficult topic, it’s easy to forget that we may not have the whole picture. In fact, we rarely do; we all suffer from a phenomenon known to scientists as “selective attention.” So make sure to ask: “What’s your perspective on this?” Pay real attention to their answer, even if you disagree. The idea is to understand what lies behind their behavior, to give you a better idea of how to solve the problem. In my case, it became clear that my manager’s goal had been to add what he called “more nuance” to my rather black-and-white messages. He wasn’t a skilled writer, so his edits weren’t very effective. But once I understood his aim, I could better see how to meet both his needs and mine.

Step 5: Do some joint problem solving. Finally, decide together how to improve the situation. Try asking them for their thoughts on this first, before building on their suggestions. This isn’t about caving in to hierarchy; it’s because research shows that people feel far more attachment to any idea that they’ve had a hand in shaping. So before I said “okay, here’s what I’ll do differently in the future, and here’s how I’d like to get input from you,” it paid dividends for me to ask: “what can I do to introduce more of the subtlety you’re missing?”

The upshot? Things got better. I didn’t get fired. And time and again over the years, I’ve seen this feedback technique provide a secure path through even the most challenging conversations—in one case, when a CEO needed to stop his Chairman from undermining his decisions; in another, when a high-ranking executive in the Middle East needed to call out dysfunctional behavior in her patriarchal boss. And several of my clients vouch for its effectiveness in the toughest arena of all: conversations with actual sulky teenagers.

Caroline Webb is the author of How to Have a Good Day: Harness the Power of Behavioral Science to Transform Your Working Life. She is also CEO of coaching firm Sevenshift, and a Senior Adviser to McKinsey & Company.


By Elements of Living

Are you in charge of coordinating the next event happening in your community? While your to-do list may seem a mile long, there are some simple steps to make the occasion fun and memorable.

If throwing a themed event sounds like a ton of work, never fear! Here are eight simple ideas that will make your community event go off without a hitch, and be the talk of the neighborhood for weeks afterwards.

Planning Before Partying

Rushing to hit a certain date is sure to sabotage your efforts; not to mention you will be a frazzled wreck by the end. Start off with a master list or spreadsheet of all action items required for the event and assign deadlines for completing each task. While every event is different, allotting an appropriate timeline allows for securing sponsors, venues, entertainment, and caterers, as well as proper marketing time.

Assemble A Crew

One of the biggest mistakes planners make is thinking they can bear the heavy burden of planning a community event all by themselves. Recruit a small group of individuals who will toil alongside you to make your event a success. Assign them to specific tasks that match their personality. For example, if someone is a “people-person,” ask them to help secure vendors and sponsors. Other tasks include event promotion, decorating, tearing down and cleaning up, and managing entertainment. This crew should offer ample time out of their schedules to attend meetings and contribute to planning and pulling off a successful event.

Make A Budget

One of the biggest decisions you and your committee will make is how much to spend on the event. It’s integral to decide on the amount of the event as a whole, as well as to chop up the total sum into smaller pieces for each facet of the event. Going to splurge on the band? Then you may need to go with less expensive decorations. It’s important that every committee member understands where the money is being spent, so you’re all on the same page. Map out the budget on a spreadsheet so each person involved can see the amount of money they have available for their specific responsibility. This is key to avoiding budget-busting decisions that can tank the planning.

Designate And Delegate

Once you’ve delegated your team to specific tasks, stay in the loop with regular in-person meetings and a sharable spreadsheet, like Google Docs. This minimizes the chance of an important task falling through the cracks, missing important deadlines, or going over budget. As the event draws near, it may be tempting to jump in and micro-manage the event planning. Resist this urge. Remember: You carefully selected your team. Hold them accountable and let them shine.

Choose A Theme

A fun way to boost the community event’s involvement and entertainment factor is to choose a festive theme. Talk it over with your committee and think about exactly what type of crowd will attend. For example, a 1950’s theme is fun for a more mature crowd, while a football theme may excite sporting enthusiasts. Other fun theme ideas include Star Wars, Wild West, disco, and the always celebratory luau. Once the theme is set, incorporate it into every aspect of the community event, from the decor to the food to the entertainment.

Get The Word Out

Marketing is essential to drive interest and achieve a highly anticipated, well attended event. The person in charge of promoting the event needs to start early, creating buzz and anticipation by talking up your event on social media or your community website. The group as a whole should work on the design and messaging for fliers, advertisements, and other theme-oriented marketing materials. And don’t forget one of the most important ways to promote an event is word of mouth! Encourage everyone involved to tell their friends, neighbors, and local community groups about the event.


Focus on your theme and the people who will be attending, and come up with some fun activities and ideas. Should you plan a variety of games? Set up a raffle or silent auction? Hire a DJ or a band? Secure a speaker? A few – or all – of these build a fun, memorable experience for your attendees. Remember, tie everything back to your overall event theme for a cohesive, well-planned feel.

Food Options

Choosing the theme for your event helps narrow down food and drink options. Do you want a buffet? Just appetizers, or a full meal? You may want to ask vendors to set up different stations with various food choices. All of these decisions depend on the type of community event you are planning, as well as your budget.

Community events are a fun and entertaining way to meet people and enjoy something out of the ordinary.Successfully planning such a festivity takes more than one person, plenty of time, and a structured budget. By putting these eight tips in place, you will be able to plan and execute a well-attended event that will be enjoyable, safe, and memorable for all.

Now, party on!

party planning

14 Stress Reducing Practices

By Forbes Coaches Council

Work is a leading cause of stress. When you’re stressed, it becomes even more difficult to take the necessary steps toward change because change can feel like just another stress. Furthermore, work stress may be different from other kinds of stress because it’s something you can’t control.


While you may not be able to control the stressors you face at work, you can control how you react to them. We asked 14 professional coaches from Forbes Coaches Council what might be some ways to reduce daily stress. Here’s what they said:

  1. Control The Controllables

Deep breathing and progressive relaxation exercises can help you handle your physical and emotional response to pressure. A more problem-focused technique is to control the controllables. Wasting energy on things you have no control over can empty your energy tank and lead to frustration. Make a conscious effort to focus on the things you can do something about.   – Lianne LynePLP Coaching, LLC

  1. Organize Your Work Space

How can you have a clear, focused mind if you’re surrounded by chaos? How can you run a multimillion-dollar deal if you can’t find your tablet? Take five minutes a day to organize your workspace. Doing so will also help you organize your thoughts and give you — and your clients — peace of mind that you have a handle on things.   – Shauna C. BryceBryce Legal Career Counsel

  1. Schedule Downtime In Your Calendar

The modern professional schedules every moment of the work day in his/her calendar. However, when it comes to personal priorities, they often aren’t scheduled (eat well, exercise, spend time with family). At the end of the work day, often these priorities have fallen by the wayside of a busy day. Successful, busy professionals now schedule their downtime in their calendar.   – Lindsay GuthrieThe Career Path Partners

  1. Take Quarterly Retreats

One of the most powerful ways to stay creative and sharp is to get plenty of rest. So take time at the start of the year to plan personal retreats for each quarter. Take at least two full days away from work, and away from home. Go on your own, or with friends and family. Take a journal. Take your dog. Take a walk. Take a nap. But go — and don’t take your work. Monday will be a much better day.   – Wendy Pitts Reeves, C2C Consulting, PLLC

  1. Practice Gratitude

First thing in the morning when you wake up, acknowledge that you’re awake. Before your thoughts get on to all of the things you’re stressing out about, make a “thank you” list — in your head or on paper. “Thank you for my breath. Thank you for my bed, the sunrise, my toothbrush, my clothes, hot water, my heartbeat…”  Pick things you’re not resistant to and easily feel thankful for.   – Christine Meyer, Christine Meyer Coaching

  1. Become Aware Of Body Language

Stress is caused by cortisol — the stress hormone that slows down our metabolism and our thinking. Testosterone (for both men and women) is the strength hormone. Researchers at the University of British Colombia found that winning athletes use pride body language when they win. Leaders can use this too. Just roll your shoulders back, stand wide, and claim your space.   –Vanessa Van Edwards, Science of People

  1. Catch Someone Doing Something Right

Whether you are a CEO or front line contributor you have the power to influence positive action. Remind yourself every morning to scan your environment for a positive act, and take a moment to recognize that act. It doesn’t have to be anything more than a simple thank you.   – Dr. Woody WoodwardHCI

  1. Find Moments To Notice Your Breath

You don’t have to meditate for 20 minutes — all you need is 20 seconds. Use the passive moments when you’re walking from your desk to the conference room. Instead of asking someone to get you a cup of coffee, make your own. Take deep breaths while you watch the coffee drip and start your next meeting with a clear mind.   – Tanya

  1. Mind Your Mind

Pay attention on purpose. We tend to rush through our work days, allowing distractions and habits to dominate our time and energy. Paying attention on purpose means being present and noticing your thoughts and feelings, without necessarily reacting to them. In this manner, you’ll be able to direct your attention. From optimism to gratitude, what you focus on in your mind is what you get in life.   – Cha TekeliChalamode, Inc.

  1. Create A Life Plan

All too often stress is a result of failing to give enough attention and focus to all key facets of our life. A resource like the book Living Forward by Daniel Harkavy and Michael Hyatt can give you a blueprint for creating a life plan that will help you stay on track with all areas of your life, rather than letting your career overshadow everything else and cause unnecessary stress.   – Pat

  1. Find Ways To Laugh

Whether it’s slapstick comedy, bawdy humor, or the occasional knock-knock joke, find whatever makes you laugh. Countless studies directly point to the positive physical and mental de-stressing effects of laughter. Science aside, though, take some time to read or watch something that just tickles your funny bone. Even five minutes of levity can seriously lighten your stress load.   –Emily Kapit, MS, MRW, ACRW, CPRWReFresh Your Step, LLC

  1. Talk To A Friend

Talk. Vent. Share. Relate. Stress, like poor air quality, needs to be ventilated so that we can think (and breathe) clearly again. Stress can be isolating. Friendships change that. They give us new perspectives and they validate our experiences, making us feel less crazy and more normal. Ten minutes over coffee each week can be an incredibly helpful behavioral pattern to cope with stress.   – Priya Nalkur-Pai, Dr. Priya Nalkur-Pai

  1. Try Yoga Nidra For Power Napping

Yoga nidra or “yogic sleep” is an ancient technique of bringing the body into deep relaxation by lowering brain activity to a low-level while remaining awake. As a registered yoga teacher (RYT-200) and self-employed creative, I use yoga nidra as one might a “power nap” midday when I need to recharge without actually sleeping. Search for yoga nidra soundtracks to help you recharge in minutes!   – Dave UrsilloThe Literati Writers

  1. Create A Reference List Of What You Do To Cope

Decreasing stress is a personal thing. So too, are coping mechanisms. At a time when you aren’t feeling stressed, create a reference list of your personal practices. Post it where you can see it. Then you can easily pick the right one for a stressful time. As no one thing works all the time, the longer the list, the better. For example, exercise works, but not in the middle of the workday.   – Julie Kantor, PhDJP Kantor Consulting

Top business and career coaches from Forbes Coaches Council offer firsthand insights on leadership development & careers.

7 Agreements to Ensure Your Success

By Lolly Daskal

Accomplishing the things you want to do requires performing at your highest standard, but getting there–and staying there–can be challenging.

One proven technique involves making an agreement with yourself.

Tell yourself that you choose to be a certain way and agree that every decision, every choice, every challenge, will be met from the same perspective.

Here are seven agreements to make with yourself–a path to success. success (1)

1.     I will always be open. It’s always easy to make assumptions, but if you want to know what is happening, ask. If you want to tell people what is going on, communicate. Leave no room for speculation or guessing–communicate and dialogue directly and concisely. Assumptions kill achievement.

2.     I will always lead with integrity. When you speak, and when you act, it will always be with integrity. That means you will say what you mean and mean what you say; your words will always be impeccable, irreproachable, and, most important, aligned to your actions. Keep integrity at the core.

3.     I will always do my very best. If you want to succeed, whatever you do will  always have to be from your very best. Doing your best is never going to mean the same thing each time–it will change with changing circumstances and new people. But whatever the circumstance of situation, no matter who is involved or what you do, everything should come with your highest intentions and best effort.

4.     I will always be appreciative: Sometimes we can take  people or things for granted. It’s easy to take on an entitlement perspective–to say “I deserve this.” And perhaps you do, but you should never take anything for granted. Always show appreciation, because when you show appreciation, you will always get back more than expected.

5.     I will always listen better. Unfortunately, most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply. Communication is at the heart of leadership, and that means we all have to become better listeners. Learn to be more conscious of how you listen, because success requires that we do much more listening than talking. Focus on each word, each hesitation, each silence.

6.     I will always be of service. If you want to succeed, serve, if you want to be successful, serve with heart. At the heart of great achievement lies the foundation of helping others, guiding others, supporting others. Just as we are successful because of others, we are successful when we help others. Your gifts are not about you, your leadership is not about you, and your purpose is not about you. A life of success is all about serving those who need your gifts, your leadership and your purpose.

7.     I will be always be honest. Telling the truth is hard; research says that 60 percent of adults can’t have a 10-minute conversation without lying at least once. Telling the truth is hard sometimes, but it’s the right thing to do. Think about your meetings, conversations, business deals–where can you add your truth? Success comes to those who can honestly say what is on their minds, regardless of what people might think or say.

Start with these seven–or as many as you think you need–and keep adding to the list and refining it as you need to. Success isn’t a quick fix but a lifelong path of agreements.

Lolly Daskal is the president and CEO of Lead From Within, a global consultancy that specializes in leadership and entrepreneurial development. Daskal’s programs galvanize clients into achieving their best, helping them accelerate and deliver on their professional goals and business objectives. 

Workers Holding Credentials Earn More, New Data Show

By Larry Swisher

The 25.5 percent of U.S. workers who hold a professional certification or license have higher earnings than those who don’t among all education levels, according to figures released April 15 for the first time by the Labor Department. certifications and licenses

The new data come from questions added in 2015 to a monthly survey of 60,000 households, which is used to determine the unemployment rate.

“While BLS has published statistics on labor force status by level of education for a long time, nondegree credentials, such as professional certifications or licenses, have received less attention in national surveys,” Erica Groshen, commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, said in a statement posted on the agency’s website.

The new data will allow the BLS to see whether the proportion of people with certifications and licenses changes over time and to track “measures of labor market success for people who hold a certification or license, compared with people who don’t hold these credentials,” Groshen said.

Certifications and licenses—gained to demonstrate a worker has the skill or knowledge needed to do a specific job—include commercial driver’s licenses, teaching licenses, medical licenses and information technology certifications. Some occupations such as those in health care have more workers who hold certifications and licenses.

Among all full-time workers age 25 and older, median weekly earnings of workers with a certification or license were 34 percent higher than those without the credentials in 2015 ($1,004 versus $747).

The amount of the earnings premium varied by education. Weekly earnings of workers with some college or an associate degree and a certification or license were 11 percent higher than their peers who did not have the credentials ($825 per week versus $742).

The occupations with the highest proportions of workers who have a certification or license are health-care practitioners and technical (76.9 percent), legal (68.1 percent), and education, training and library (55.5 percent).

Government workers, many of whom are employed in education and health services, are more likely to hold a certification or license than private-industry workers (40.6 percent versus 22.6 percent).

For more information, see Compensation and Benefits Library’s Bloomberg BNA’s Wage Trend Indicator chapter.

Protecting Your Community Against Zika and Other Mosquito Borne-Viruses

By Andrew Fortin

The Zika virus has been making a lot of headlines lately. An outbreak of the virus in Brazil and a possible correlation between Zika and birth defects has generated a lot of concern. Closer to home, the fact that the mosquito that carries the virus can be found year around in South Florida and seasonal over much of the Eastern U.S. has also caused some alarm. The reality is that mosquitos in general can be a vector for a variety of illnesses. The best weapon against any health threat is information. So we thought we’d take a look at what the Zika virus is, how it spreads, and what steps you can take to mitigate the risk of the virus in your community and address any concerns that may arise from your community members.

It is important to remember that Zika is just one of many diseases the can be spread by mosquitos. Many of the other infections that mosquitos can spread are far more dangerous like West Nile, yellow fever, encephalitis, Dengue fever and Malaria. Despite the seeming danger of these many diseases, the proven and best way to prevent their transmission is taking proper precautions to prevent mosquito bites and to eliminate conditions that favor mosquito breeding.

What is the Zika Virus?

Interestingly, Zika virus is nothing new. It was originally discovered by scientists in 1947 and is named after a forest in Uganda where it was first found. Since then there have been periodic outbreaks of Zika related illness in various tropical or subtropical areas of the world. In nearly all cases, according to the CDC, Zika infections result in a mild illness characterized by fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes. The infection rarely requires hospitalization and once the infection clears, scientists believe that the person is then immune from future infections.

More recently, an outbreak of Zika virus in Brazil has led to an increase among pregnant women of a specific birth defect called microcephaly, a condition which impacts the development of the brain size and head of children. This has been the cause of the interest and concern regarding the spread of Zika and the mosquitos that carry it. While there is a correlation to Zika infection and the incidents of microcephaly, the CDC indicates that a direct causal link between the two has yet to be determined. This provides little reassurance for residents in areas where the virus may spread this summer.

Howzika Does Zika Spread?

Zika is spread primarily by mosquito bites. The specific species of mosquito that carries Zika is actually active during the daytime, as opposed to the mosquitos that plague us in the evening hours. Southern Florida is currently the only area of the United States where these mosquitos are active year around, so the risk there is higher than in other states. You can find a map of where the Zika risk exists at this link. It is important to acknowledge that at the time of this article, the only cases of Zika on the mainland U.S. were contracted during travel overseas.

How Can Communities Respond?

First, the best way to prevent any mosquito-borne illness is to prevent mosquitos! This is true for any mosquito-borne illness. Thankfully, mosquito mitigation is something that is well understood and simple to put into action. The most important task any homeowner or association can take is to remove or eliminate any areas or sources of standing water. Those catch basins we put under our potted plants are one of the biggest sources of mosquito breeding; make sure they aren’t retaining water. Second, many municipalities and communities engage professional mosquito control specialists to spray areas where mosquitos exist such as common areas or areas near standing bodies of water. Engaging a professional is the best way to make sure that the spraying methods are in line with current consumer protections regulating insecticides.

For homeowners and individuals, there are a host of steps that can be taken to repel mosquitos. The CDC recommends wearing long sleeves and pants when mosquitos are most active or applying mosquito repellent to exposed areas of the body. A great organic way of controlling mosquitos is attracting bats! Bats can eat their weight in mosquitos each day. Building a bat shelter can help attract these beneficial mammals, just make sure they don’t run afoul of community rules.

Additional Resources:

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has an excellent website with information on Zika, it includes steps you can take to mitigate mosquito breeding and to protect yourself from mosquito bites. It includes many helpful posters you can print and post in your community.


Andrew S. Fortin is the Senior Vice President of External Affairs for Associa. He works to engage government officials, the media and clients in building stronger community associations and help shape laws that support vibrant community associations.

Study: Certifications Lead To Higher Salaries and Greater Job Fulfillment

By Katie Bascuas

A new study found that a majority of professionals who completed an online certification course reported bumps in salary and job fulfillment—promising news for associations and their members.

Earlier this year the HR Certification Institute launched a new professional certification for early-career human resource professionals.

The Associate Professional in Human Resources (aPHR) helped fill a void in HRCI’s certification offerings for younger HR professionals just out of school and other more experienced professionals who may be transitioning into the HR industry from other areas.

Not only is the new certification a boon to HRCI because it increases the organization’s relevance to a wider audience, but, according to new research, the aPHR may also be a big benefit for those who complete it.

A recent survey of 400,000 people across the globe found that after completing an online certification, 76 percent reported a salary increase or promotion. And when compared with noncertified professionals, those who had completed an online certification were also more likely to report higher levels of confidence and fulfillment at work.

Conducted by Simplilearn, a professional online certification course provider, the survey found that the fields with some of the most significant gains in job titles and salary were digital marketing, IT service and architecture, project management, and big data analytics.

“Employees who go the extra mile to continue to build on their college degrees, particularly in areas that are in most demand by their employers, do receive upticks in salary, promotions, quality of work done, and quality of work assigned, across several fields and industries,” Michael Stebbins, Simplilearn’s chief innovation officer, said in a statement.

The findings, while somewhat self-interested given who conducted the survey, do highlight the value of certifications. An idea supported by research from the ASAE Foundation and North Carolina State University’s Institute for Nonprofits, which found that the benefits of a credential can include increased prestige and a competitive advantage for credential holders, depending on the raise

While some jobs in the association industry are in high demand right now, others are less so, and a certification or professional credential could help set job applicants apart. After all, showing a potential employer that you have invested in your own professional development and take your career growth seriously might be the difference between you and 100 other applicants.

Meanwhile, for associations that offer certifications—given their reported value in leading to higher pay and promotions—following in HRCI’s footsteps and surveying where there are potential gaps in what you offer members might be beneficial to both your organization and membership.

Have you found that a certification led to increased growth and fulfillment in your career? Please share in the comments.

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now.

Combat Misconceptions with Education

By Jeremy van der Heiden

To many Americans, living in a homeowner’s association is a new concept. Since 1964, homeowner associations have become increasingly common in the United States. With one in six homes in America now in a community association, many homeowners have less than positive things to say about management companies or homeowner’s associations in general. A lack of education can lead to misconceptions and misinformation. What are these, and how can you combat them?

Common Misconceptions True-or-false-5ff753

Where did this Violation Come From?

Much of the negativity coming from homeowners has to do with the fact that they received a violation letter from the management company, sometimes associated with a fee, and they are upset about it. However, the management company did not make up the rules. Even the current board probably had little or nothing to do with the rules (which are typically set by the developer before the community isturned over to the HOA) These are the codes, covenants and restrictions that were decided within the community itself. It is the community manager’s job to facilitate these rules and take proper action with a notice, late fee or whichever apply per their contract.

Where is My Money Going?

In the homeowner’s mind, why should a management company receive money to simply apply fees and send letters informing of wrong-doing? What most homeowners are unaware of is where  their money is actually going. Running an HOA takes a lot of time, money, manpower and education. Someone needs to do the inspections of the homes, mentioned above. An account needs to be employed to prepare and execute budgets, manage accounts payable and receivable, take homeowner’s dues, manage collections, monitor vendor services and work orders, manage special assessments for upkeep. Budget transparency is a necessary aspect of a functional community.

The Community Association Impinges on my Rights

More and more frequently we are hearing the opinion that community associations impinge on the constitutional rights of the members (homewners) because the association has restrictive covenants. This is quite simply not true, and those few associations that have tried such things have quickly been slapped down by the courts. Many homeowners do not understand that community associations are regulated by many federal and state laws and neither the board nor the manager operate in a vacuum.

My Board is Petty and Power Hungry

Many homeowners think the board is filled with power grabbing tyrants who just want to lord their position over other homeowners. While this has been known to happen on rare occasions, the vast majority of community association boards are just regular people trying to do the right thing for their community. Homeowners who are unhappy with the current leadership should be encouraged to join the board or at least volunteer on a committee. It’s the fastest form of education, and a great way to turn the problem into the solution by effecting change from within.

There are many misconceptions about Community Association Management. How to combat these misconceptions? One of the single greatest tools in your arsenal is homeowner education.

Combat Misconceptions with Education

Relatively minor changes to your communications strategy and the incorporation of a few new projects will go a long way toward boosting your CAM company’s image in the eyes of current and prospective owners, all the while ensuring that board politics are handled properly and intelligently.

Educational Seminars

Many management companies conduct educational seminars for homeowners. This serves a dual purpose of not only training your homeowners, but also getting the opportunity to mingle with them – you can get to know each other. The problem with educational seminars is quite simply time. Most homeowners are not inclined to spend a day or even an hour learning about their association before they are exposed to the value.

Community Forums

People react to very few things as well as free pizza and libations. Consider hosting a forum of sorts on a monthly basis to go over some of the finer points of association ownership and other matters that might interest your clientele. This will not only help to boost their knowledge of ownership, but will connect them with one another. When friendships are built in an association, chances are people will be less likely to cause trouble.

Websites & Portals

A Community website or portal can serve up a multitude of helpful resources for homeowners.  You can create one that owners can use to quickly search for information they need completely autonomously. Your portal can also serve as a conduit to further communications between the association manager, the board and your homeowners.


Whether it is printed, posted or emailed, a community newsletter can be an excellent passive avenue for improving homeowner education. A monthly newsletter that is concise and informative can help to educate owners while keeping them abreast of current goings-on in the association itself.

Welcome Packages

Many times when a new homeowner joins the association, they either know nothing of community association living, or they have been burned by a poor experience they or someone they know has had in the past. To overcome that perception, you need to show that living in a community association can be a positive experience that enhances their neighborhood and ultimately makes their lives better for living there.

Your welcome packet provides new homeowners with an overview of how the community is governed, provides them with an understanding of the rules that they will be living under in the community, gives them plenty of useful information to help them get settled in their new home, and presents them with productive ways to contribute to the community.


Perhaps the most effective technique you can use to further homeowner communication is to actually listen to what they have to say. Give your homeowners an opportunity to voice their frustrations andactively listen and identify their pain points. Often even the angriest homeowner can be appeased when they know that you are hearing their concerns and taking action based on that.

If homeowner education is a major issue facing your CAM business, chances are you are not properly communicating with your clientele. Communication is among the most important assets you have, and that goes for both internal collaboration with colleagues and external discussions with owners. If you want to build a sense of community and combat homeowner misconceptions, you need to focus on communication as a major priority.

Change for the Better

By: Jim Rohn

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be motivated to succeed by such a lofty goal as benevolence?

In the early years of my struggle to succeed, my motivation was a lot more down-to-earth. My reason for succeeding was more basic. In fact, it fell into the category of what I like to call “nitty-gritty reasons.” A nitty-gritty reason is the kind that anyone can have—and it can cause our lives to change. Let me tell you what happened to me.

Shortly before I met my mentor Earl Shoaff, I was lounging at home one day when I heard a knock at the door. It was a timid, hesitant knock. When I opened the door, I looked down to see a pair of big brown eyes staring up at me. There stood a girl of about 10. She told me, with all the courage and determination her little heart could muster, that she was selling Girl Scout cookies. It was a masterful presentation—several flavors, a special deal and only $2 per box. How could anyone refuse? With a big smile, she politely asked me to buy.

I wanted to—except for one thing: I didn’t have $2. Here I was, a father, a college graduate with a job—and yet I didn’t have $2 to my name.

But I couldn’t tell this to the little girl with the big brown eyes. So I lied to her. I said, “Thanks, but I’ve already bought Girl Scout cookies this year. And I’ve still got plenty stacked in the house.”

It was the only thing I could think of to get me off the hook. And it did. The little girl said, “That’s OK, sir. Thank you very much.” And with that she turned around and went on her way.

I stared after her for what seemed like a very long time. Finally, I closed the door behind me and cried out, “I don’t want to live like this anymore! I’ve had it with being broke and I’ve had it with lying. I’ll never be embarrassed again by not having any money in my pocket.” That day I promised myself to earn enough to always have several hundred dollars in my pocket at all times.

old life new life

This is what I mean by a nitty-gritty reason. It may not win me any prize for greatness, but it was enough to have a permanent effect on my life.

My Girl Scout cookie story does have a happy ending. Several years later, as I was walking out of the bank, I saw two little girls selling candy for a girls’ organization.

One of them approached me, saying, “Mister, would you like to buy some candy?”

“I probably would,” I said playfully. “What kind of candy do you have?”

“It’s Almond Roca.”

“Almond Roca, that’s my favorite! How much is it?”

“It’s only $2.”

$2, it couldn’t be! I was excited. “How many boxes of candy have you got?”

“I’ve got five.”

Looking at her friend, I said, “And how many boxes do you have left?”

“I’ve got four.”

“OK, I’ll take them all.”

At this, both girls’ mouths fell open as they exclaimed in unison, “Really?”

“Sure,” I said. “I’ve got some friends that I’ll pass some around to.”

Excitedly, they scurried to stack all the boxes together. I reached into my pocket and gave them $18. As I was about to leave, the boxes tucked under my arm, one of the girls looked up and said, “Mister, you’re really something!” How about that! Can you imagine spending only $18 and having someone look you in the face and say, “You’re really something!”?

Now you know why I always carry a few hundred dollars on me. I’m not about to miss chances like that ever again.

And to think it all resulted from my own embarrassment, that when properly channeled, acted as a powerful motivator to help me achieve.

How about you? What nitty-gritty reasons do you have waiting to challenge and provoke you to change for the better? Look for them, they’re there.

Sometimes it can be as simple as a brown-eyed girl selling Girl Scout cookies.


Jim Rohn, the man many consider to be America’s Foremost Business Philosopher, shared his success philosophies and principles for over 46 years, with more than 6,000 audiences and over 5 million people worldwide.