Monthly Archives: April 2015



SEATTLE—Drawing on her more than twenty years of experience as a career counselor/coach, Halimah Bellows, MA, MS, CCC, CPC announces the publication of her new self-coaching guide Champion Your Career: Winning in the World of Work as an ebook. The perspective she brings to her book strongly encourages readers to seek careers that offer genuine fulfillment and align with their personal interests, values, strengths and skills. To support this effort, she provides a powerful assortment self-assessment tools to enable individuals to explore the personal qualities they bring to the workplace. She then offers sound strategies for decision-making, goal-setting and networking to move forward on the chosen career path. Special advice is provided for college students, retirees and those changing careers in mid-life.

After developing a clear idea of their career goals, readers are ready to examine the existing job market. Champion Your Career provides both time-tested and up-to-the-minute suggestions for identifying and researching potential employers. The book includes solid advice on resume writing, interviewing skills and utilizing internet-based tools. The book’s Appendix offers a wealth of additional resources. Champion Your Career is available at,,, and

Halimah Bellows is also the creator of the unique portable self-coaching tool CAREER QUEST CARDS TM© as well as an educator and educational planner for colleges and non-profits on the West Coast. She is available for counseling, coaching or presentations and can be reached at,, or 206-595.7927. More information about CAREER QUEST CARDS TM© is available at


The 7 Secrets to Work-Life Harmony

It’s not as elusive as you may think it is.

By Dr. Ivan Misner

Finding time for family, your business, leisure time and BNI can be challenging.  It’s difficult to do it all.  So, I thought you might like the secret to balance.  Are you ready?  Here it is…

Forget about balance. It’s an illusion.  Balance assumes that we spend an equal amount of time in all or most areas of our life.  It is like the image of the “scales” where everything is completely in balance and equal.  It assumes that we must spend a certain portion of each week devoted in some equal measure to every item important in our life.

The problem with that is that almost no businessperson can actually achieve that.  We tend to live such hectic, busy lives it is incredibly difficult to fit it all in.

So, what do we do about this?  For me, it’s about creating harmony, not balance.  This is more than semantics – it is a different way of looking at life.  While life can’t be fully in balance, it is possible to create a life that is in harmony with your vision of who you are and what you want to do.  If that resonates with you – try these simple techniques:

1. Wherever you are – be there.  Here are three simple words that can begin to make a huge difference in creating harmony in your life: be here now.  Wherever you are – be there.  If you are at work, don’t be thinking about the time you didn’t spend with the family the night before, or what you should be doing with your “significant other” right now.  When you are at home, don’t be thinking about the work you have to do at the office.  Wherever you are – be there, fully and completely. This includes a BNI meeting – step away from the mobile devices and be fully present to the members in your group.

2. Be creative (about how you manage your time). If you have a big project at work that has to be done and you want to spend time with the family one evening – get creative. I used to spend the evening with the family, and when everyone went to bed, I sat down to write my first book. I finished the book without taking any time away from the family. Be creative and inventive in finding ways that you can accomplish what you need to do yet still allow you to spend time doing the other things in your life that bring you harmony.

3, Integrate various elements of your life.  For many years, I spent a couple weeks working remotely from a small lake house.  Now that I have more room, I bring up my staff and management team for short retreat/work days.  It is a great way to combine my work life into a leisure environment.   Then, the last week or so, I take off completely and spend the time with the family.  By integrating my two worlds, I create a sense of harmony. Look for ways to integrate elements of your life whenever possible.

4. Practice “letting go” and “holding on.” Contrary to popular belief, I do not think it is possible to “have it all.” Unfortunately, life involves making choices. Practice understanding what things to say “no” to and then letting go of them. At the same time think about the things that are truly important in your life and hold on to them with all your might.

5. Be intentional (about who you “let in your room.”) Imagine that you live your entire life in one room and that room had only one door and that door was an “Enter Only” door. Anyone who gets in – is  there for life. If that were true, would you be more selective about who you let into your room? Everyone I ask says a resounding “YES!” Well, luckily this is only a metaphor. However, when we do let people into our lives that are caustic or difficult, it is very difficult to get them out. If you want harmony in your life, be more selective about who you let in your room.

6. Create margins. Life for an entrepreneur is crazy-busy. Create a life that has margin. Build in free time, family time, personal time into the margins of your day-to- day existence. You’ll be happier for it – I promise.

7. Work in your flame not your wax.  When an entrepreneur is doing things they hate to do they are in their wax – meaning they are doing things that are sapping their energy. When an entrepreneur is doing things that they love to do – they are in their flame. They are energized and excited. If you want harmony, strive to do things that are in your flame and not in your wax.

The truth is that when you are 70 years old, you are not going to wish you spent more time at the office.  You don’t need to be a workaholic to be successful.  Focus on creating harmony in your life.  Be creative.  Find ideas that work for you and the life you live.  Make the time and be innovative.  Harmony is created where harmony is sought.

I would love to hear how you have sought and found harmony in your life. What actions did you take, and how did it positively change your business and personal life?

Called the “father of modern networking” by CNN, Dr. Ivan Misner is a New York Times bestselling author.  He is the Founder and Chief Visionary Officer of BNI (, the world’s largest business networking organization.  His book, Networking Like a Pro can be viewed at  Dr. Misner is also the Sr. Partner for the Referral Institute, an international referral training company ( 

4 Phases of Interview Preparation–Phase Two

Ask Powerful Questions—

More importantly—LISTEN well for their answers

Create a Two-Way Dialogue

By Paula Fitzgerald Boos

This is the MOST important part of your interview. Powerful questions demonstrate your preparation and enable you to uncover what your interviewer cares about most. There are all kinds of important questions to ask and I believe your beginning and closing questions are the most important for any type of interview. I call these “framing” questions. Framing questions happen following the initial conversation starters and before the closing gratitude expressions and acknowledgements.

Beginning your interview conversation with a framing question like, “What is most important for you to learn from me today?” and/or “What do you believe are the most important attributes of the candidate you will hire or the most important outcome the person in this role will create in the next year?” This orients your conversation toward the interviewer—whether it as a HR phone screen or a decision maker—you establish up front what they believe is vital to the job and how you can best connect your value to what they need. It begins your conversation in a way that orients it toward the interviewer.

From there you want to create a two-way dialogue if possible. Sometimes in structured interviews they will want to ask their questions and get your responses and if/when this is the case you need to honor their structure. In your preparation hopefully you know what type of interview to expect. When you are able to create the conversation you always want to answer their question and then segue into a related follow on question. For example, the interviewer asks about your most successful project—you answer connecting it to their context and then ask about the most important project this role will be expected to execute. The best interviews are synergistic dialogues.

The framing question at the close of an interview asks for feedback. It typically will follow the interviewer’s question to you, “what other questions do you have?” It may be something like, “what is your assessment of how my skills and background align with what you are hoping for?” You may also add before or after your closing question (if you believe it to be true), “based on our conversation I feel confident that I will do well in this role and am excited for the possibility.” This is your opportunity to check in on how you did. If you are uncomfortable with a question this direct you always want to ask about next steps in the process before you end.

Other powerful questions to consider between your framing questions could include

What are the biggest changes your group has experienced in the last year? What were the impacts? What changes do you anticipate in the next year?

If I get the job, what does “exceeding expectations” look like? What are the key outcomes you’d like to see in this role over the next year?

How would you characterize your (or my future boss’) leadership style?

Which of your major competitors worries you most and why?

How do other departments–sales / operations / technology / marketing / finance–work here? (I.e., groups other than the one you’re interviewing for.) And how would you describe how your group works with them?

Tell me about your company culture.

How would you describe the professionals who are most successful here? What types of people don’t fit?

What’s one thing that’s key to your company’s success that somebody from outside the company wouldn’t know about?

Tell me about your background in this industry? What do you most appreciate about your industry/company?

What are your group’s best and worst working relationships with other groups in the company? What are the pain points you have to deal with day-to-day?

What keeps you up at night? What’s your biggest worry these days?

Who are the heroes at your company? What characteristics do the people who are most celebrated have in common with each other?

Conversely, what are the characteristics that are common to the promising people you hired, but who then flamed out and failed or left? As I’m considering whether or not I’d be successful here, how should I think about the experiences of the heroes and of the flame-outs?

Why did you decide to hire this position instead of the many other roles / jobs you could have hired for? What about this position made you prioritize it over others?

Tell me about your performance management/reward system. How do you acknowledge your employees?

What do you like best about your system? What about it works well? If you could change any one thing, what would it be?

How do you do performance reviews? How do I make the most of the performance review process to ensure that I’m doing the best I can for the company?

What information is shared with the employees (revenues, costs, operating metrics)? Is this an “open book” management style or something different?

How is information shared? How do I get access to the information I need to be successful in this job?

If we are going to have a very successful year in 2015, what will that look like? What will we have done over the next 6 months to make success happen?

How does this position contribute to those goals?

What is the rhythm to the work here? Is there a time of year that is more intense? How about during the week / month? Is work evenly spread, or are there crunch days?

What type of industry / functional / skills-based experience and background are you looking for in the person who will fill this position? What would the “perfect” candidate look like? (This could also be a way to ask a framing question)

What is your (or my future boss’) hiring philosophy? Is it “hire the attitude / teach the skills” or are you primarily looking to add people with domain expertise?

What’s your process and timeline for making a decision on this position? 

Paula Fitzgerald Boos is a Career Strategist, Executive Coach & Facilitator, Professional Development Expert, and Change Champion