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Wisdom

Top 10 Blog Posts on Life and Entrepreneurship in 2015

Top 10 of the year (done in 3d)

I feel like I need to start by asking the obligatory question of “Where has the year gone?” But truthfully, I feel like it’s been quite a long year packed with great memories, exciting achievements and whole lot of interesting writing.

Before we close out 2015 and turn our calendars to the New Year, I wanted to take one last opportunity to revisit some of my favorite blog posts. We covered just about everything you could imagine including branding, communication, personality types, time management and of course my cat, Pinot.

Join me on this brief trip down memory lane with a list of the top 10 blog posts on life and entrepreneurship in 2015 from Bennis Inc. May 2016 be filled with just as much insight and inspiration!

How Do an Introvert and Extrovert Live Together in Peace?

Whether it’s your spouse, best friend or boss, co-existing with the opposite personality type brings a unique set of challenges. This blog explores my personal experience as an introvert living (and often working) with my husband who is an extrovert.

Read the original blog here.

How to Rebrand Your Business

This blog is the first post in a 5-part series that was inspired by my website redesign (check it out at www.bennisinc.com!) So often, businesses miss the signs that they are in need of rebranding or are overwhelmed by the task and don’t know where to begin. These posts provide a step-by-step guide to walk you through the process.

Read the original blog here.

The 4 Most Powerful Words You Can Ask Someone

In between my many articles focused on communications, public relations and marketing, I also like to insert posts that are philosophical and geared toward life in general. This is one of those posts…and one of my favorites from 2015. Find out what four words I’m talking about and why we should use them today.

Read the original blog here.

7 Ways to Use a Press Release Beyond Pitching to Media

I never like to see good content go to waste which is what inspired this particular blog post on repurposing a press release. Even if you don’t get a single media hit, you have the power to get the most out of this content with how you personally promote it across your communication channels.

Read the original blog here.

5 Tips for Running a Productive Business Meeting

I love efficiency and good time management which is why I often hate sitting in boring business meetings. This blog post received a ton of love from my readers who can relate! Take a look at how you can run a more productive business meeting in 2016.

Read the original blog here.

5 Lessons My Cat Has Taught Me About Entrepreneurship

Of course my cat, Pinot, had to make an appearance at least once in 2015, so this is her post. What I’ve learned by observing her actions are usually more “what not to do,” but she inspired me with some solid advice this year as well.

Read the original blog here.

How to Professionally Fire a Client

This was among the most read and shared Bennis Inc blog posts in 2015. Breaking off a bad relationship with a client is a hard and uncomfortable topic for many business owners. In this post I offer advice on how to identify these “must-go” clients and how to remain professional when showing them the door.

Read the original blog here.

Why Technology is Killing These 11 Essential Skills

So often we read about the wonderful advancements and achievements of technology, but it’s important to also stop and examine how technology may be making our life more difficult. In this blog post I challenge the “helpful” aspects of technology by pointing out 11 essential skills it is hindering in our society.

Read the original blog here.

6 Valuable Lessons I Learned from Working from Home

I am a passionate advocate for the virtual work environment, but I am also constantly learning how to balance and manage the unique challenges that come with working from home. This blog post takes a fresh look at the lessons I’ve learned specifically in 2015 about how to be efficient and effective when working from home.

Read the original blog here.

8 Reasons Why We Never Have Enough Free Time

This is the perfect post to end my top 10 list for 2015. As we hopefully get some rest over the holidays, we can all benefit from reflecting upon why we might feel like we never have enough free time. January tends to be among the most stressful and hectic months for many business owners. Prepare yourself for a calm and collected 2016 by learning about these time management pitfalls.

Read the original blog here.

Want to explore most blog posts from Stephanie Shirley and Bennis Inc? Be our guest! Click here to browse business and success, here to browse life and here to explore all the rest.

Finding Stability In Constant Change

The first Monday of each month, I dust off a favorite post from the Bennis Inc Blog archives and give you another chance to enjoy the wit and wisdom that’s been shared. Enjoy this month’s treasure – and if it inspires you – be sure to share it with family and friends!


Finding Stability In Constant ChangeAsk a business owner, entrepreneur or self-employed person to describe the qualities of their chosen career path and I would be shocked to hear them use the word “stable.” Stability is a very desirable perk for any job that simply isn’t in the description of entrepreneurship. This should come as no surprise to those of us who have willingly ventured down this path. We know what we signed up for – and we also know the benefits that offset the lack of stability. But is it possible for the chaos-embracing entrepreneur to find stability amidst this constant change? Can change be turned into a constant?

I think so.

Each day is wildly different. There is little rhythm to the type of projects I work on day to day and month to month. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. Because so much of my work is hard to plan for or anticipate, I’ve found stability in creating a schedule for the work I do complete on a weekly or monthly basis. For example, each morning my to-do list always begins with logging on to WordPress and commenting on five other blogs. Every Friday I write my Bennis Inc blog post for the following week. Then of course there is the client work that is regular and reoccurring such as scheduling social media updates or blog writing that gain a place in my work “schedule.” By having a set time carved out in my schedule for this anticipated work, I can then dedicate my remaining time to the unanticipated – and sometimes urgent – projects that always come up. Not only is this good time management, but it gives me a feeling of stability and regularity amidst the ever-changing variety and quantity of my work.

Another way in which I’ve learned to feel stable in a career field that most certainly is not is that I’ve changed the way in which I view contracted work. Each month my work may change, but what won’t change is my ability to seek out new work as I need it. With the skill to hunt you’ll never go hungry. Even as clients come and go, I never run the same risk of having my income go to zero in one day’s time. It would be a slow and gradual process for which I could react and prepare. In other words, I don’t carry the same fear as someone who could be laid off. So while there is stability in a regular income and a bi-weekly paycheck, there is always the risk that it could all come to a halt almost instantly. As a traditional employee, the process of being interviewed, hired and placed on payroll is much longer than signing a new client. And due to contracts, I will always have at least one month’s notice of losing a client rather than only receiving a pink slip and the rest of the day to clear my desk. Realizing this unique benefit of entrepreneurship, I now know stability can be found in the confidence I have to always be able to seek out new clients and more work.

The career path of the self-emplyed is in no way predictable or certain, but if you look in the right places you will find that stability does exist. It may not make for the biggest lifeboat, but it can still help to keep you afloat until you can again find calm waters.

Finding a New Perspective at 13,000 Feet

The first Monday of each month, I dust off a favorite post from the Bennis Inc Blog archives and give you another chance to enjoy the wit and wisdom that’s been shared. Enjoy this month’s treasure – and if it inspires you – be sure to share it with family and friends!


Finding a New Perspective at 13,000 FeetNot much in life shocks or scares me anymore. I’m not an adrenaline junkie or immune to fear, but I just haven’t experienced much in my daily life lately that has gotten my heart racing. I began to question whether I was apathetic to life or just not pushing myself outside of my comfort zone, so I decided to take an extreme test of fear, courage and insanity to find the answer. I decided to go skydiving.

Throughout the whole experience I was most apprehensive about kneeling at the door of the plane, looking down at a world so small, it’s barely recognizable…and not feeling a single thing. How sad would it be to discover that life isn’t enough to satisfy you? With everything beautiful and wonderful to experience in our world, I think the worst emotion to suffer through is the lack of emotion altogether.

Skydiving proved to me that I am very capable of feeling every emotion and in rapid succession. As the door opened and I inched my way toward it, I had no time to over-think what was happening—I jumped. And like that, I was free falling to the earth for close to a minute. In those 60 seconds I experienced doubt, fear, confusion, lack of control, excitement, happiness, appreciation, love and pride. When the parachute successfully released, I felt an unexpected sense of calm. I was still falling rapidly toward the earth, but in comparison to free falling, I was relaxed and content to just enjoy the ride.

By the time I landed, sitting in the grass, all of the stresses that had seemed so overwhelming must have blown off me on the way down. The only way to describe how I felt is to compare it to having just gotten the most amazing massage. I was so relaxed and almost in a dream-like state, my heart rate might have been 40 beats a minute. I understand how ridiculous this sounds, comparing skydiving to a massage, so I don’t blame you if you don’t believe me—I wouldn’t have either 24 hours ago.

I loved my experience, but I’m not “addicted” to this extreme sport and I may choose to never go back. I think I’ve gained from it everything I needed to and I don’t want to risk a second experience tarnishing the spiritual awakening it was for me.

When you’re free falling 13,000 feet above the earth, your mind can focus on little else but finding the energy to breathe. And maybe that’s what this whole experience helped me to realize. Life is made up of a series of breaths and no matter how stressful or uncomfortable the situation may be, as long as I find the strength and composure to take that one next breath, everything else—just like the world from two miles up—is small in comparison.

First breath out of the plane

Scott during his free fall

Back on the ground, coming off of an adrenaline high!

Taking a Cue from Mother Nature

The first Monday of each month, I dust off a favorite post from the Bennis Inc Blog archives and give you another chance to enjoy the wit and wisdom that’s been shared. Enjoy this month’s treasure – and if it inspires you – be sure to share it with family and friends!


“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” Lao Tzu

Taking a Cue from Mother NatureSo often in life, nature is something we first try to change and then try equally as hard to replicate. I might be among the worst offenders of this. I’m always looking for ways to be more efficient with my time, cut-out the waste and cram in just one more hour’s worth of work somewhere, somehow. But time and time again, this haste has led me to mistakes, accidents and set-backs that in the end required more of my time than if I had just tried to do things right in the first place. Just a few days ago I was inspired by the Lao Tzu quote, “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” Ancient philosophers have quite a knack for making the most obvious statements while lining them with an intensely deep meaning that changes your world in a matter of seconds. And with this quote, I began to reexamine the perceived benefit of rushing through life’s tasks.

I can recall countless instances where rushing has cost me valuable time and caused unnecessary frustration. In the morning, I always feel like I’m saving time by multi tasking while brushing my teeth, but when toothpaste ends up on clothes and carpets, I spend more time cleaning up a mess that would otherwise have not been created. One specific morning, I was reaching for a canister of oatmeal with one hand and opening a drawer to grab a spoon with the other, when the entire canister came crashing to the floor. I lost about 20 minutes that day sweeping up oatmeal all for the possibility of saving a few extra seconds. Aside from a few messes here and there, rushing while driving to a meeting, proof-reading an important document or balancing my finances could lead to consequences far more severe. I suppose the underlying point is – how much time could I really be gaining by overloading myself with unnecessary multi-tasking?

In looking to nature for examples, I realized far more important tasks are accomplished every day, moving at the exact same pace they have been for all time. There’s something to be said for steady and consistent progress. Flowers bloom, animals migrate and weather changes just as it should to keep everything else moving in harmony. Could you imagine if just one piece of this puzzle were to rush its role? Everything else would be thrown off to create repercussions almost unimaginable. Most interesting of all is that we might be the only species inclined to rush. Where does this pressure come from? Why do we feel like what we accomplish in the time we’re given is never enough? I’m sure we can each answer this based upon different reflections, but what’s important is that we stop rushing long enough to at least ask.

In my own life, I can easily pick out the almost comical examples of how I try to change nature, just to replicate it. Our natural state is what we first try to improve upon, but ultimately use as our model for perfection. Just last week I spent a day rushing through my to-do list, feeling overwhelmed by everything I needed to get done. My reason for the rush? I wanted to have time to do yoga that afternoon so I could “unwind and de-stress.”  My new goal is to take a cue from Mother Nature and find a pace at which I’m making steady and consistent progress. For a serial multi-tasker this will be hard habit to break, but if it allows me to find more moments of clarity and contentment to appreciate the natural perfection of the world around me, it’s a challenge I’m willing to accept.

One of my favorite photos of Scott and me in front of Penn State’s Old Main Building. Every year, these flowers bloom in perfect harmony with spring and summer on campus.

What Building a Home Has Taught Me About Project Management

Right before we broke ground after a long and cold winter.

Right before we broke ground after a long and cold winter.

I feel fortunate and excited to announce that we are just two months out from the completion of our new home. Building a custom home has been a long-time dream that was made possible only through sacrifices and hard work from both my husband and me as well as through many generous and talented people in our lives.

It’s been quite a process that I can only describe as thrilling, overwhelming, humbling and surreal. It required meeting at least once per week with our project managers to make countless decisions and to attempt to balance a budget that was expanding faster than our toddler during a growth spurt.

Although each home our builder creates is custom from start to finish, there is a clear process in place that keeps things moving while allowing for adjustments to be continually made as needed. It’s quite impressive! My husband’s background is in civil engineering, so he had a better understanding of how this whole “construction thing” worked. Still, it was an equal learning experience for both of us.

And I learned a lot.

As a Public Relations consultant, I often play the role of “project manager” for my clients. I scope the project, divide tasks, manage budgets and meet deadlines. While the soft skills of PR are different than the hard skills of the subcontractors working on our home, I found many similarities as to how they effectively approached each project.

Through our personal home building process, I developed a deeper understanding of what it takes to be a good project manager and how to advocate for your client’s best interests. Of course I want to take this knowledge and use it to benefit my own clients. Here are the most valuable lessons I now plan to further incorporate into my own business:

The decision to start a project is only the first of countless decisions

When we made the decision to build a custom home, we took a deep sigh of relief that this variable was now a known. However, it’s foolish to praise yourself too much for this major life decision. It’s merely the first of countless others you must make to complete the project. The best piece of advice I gained from this experience was to stay committed to (and interested in) the project – even when there are setbacks and standstills.

This applies to my clients, whether we are working on new website content, implementing a social media strategy or creating marketing materials, remember that all of these projects will require many, many decisions. If you are not in a position to give the project the attention it requires, consider whether now is a smart time to begin the project altogether.

A picture of the stone in progress.

A picture of the stone in progress.

Know Your Critical Path

In construction, there is a clearly outlined critical path of smaller tasks that must be completed in a specific order and meet specific deadlines in order to keep the project as a whole on track. The importance of knowing your critical path applies far beyond construction alone.

I now have a renewed appreciation for beginning each project with a shared understanding of its critical path so that the client and any outside vendors are aware of the valuable role they play and how their deadlines affect so many others.

Be prepared for setbacks – and to hustle to make up time

So often the phrase that runs through my mind on projects is “I’m hurrying up only to wait.” What I mean is I often feel like other people involved in the project delay critical pieces and then when they finally deliver, they expect an immediate turnaround from me. You can surely see how this would be frustrating.

Through home building, I have learned that this is far from a unique problem. Whether it’s Mother Nature or another subcontractors holding up the show, inevitably other workers will be expected to expedite their results to make up for lost time. And sometimes this rush is for nothing as other factors hold up the next piece of the project anyways. Frustration – yes this is a shared feeling across all projects regardless of size or industry!

“Now” is always the best time to voice a concern

One day on site, my husband was walking through our home and had an idea to make the opening to our dining room even more “open concept.” This would, however, require cutting down the existing framing that had been put into place not a day or so sooner. We hesitated, considering the small inconvenience this would cause a worker; however, our project manager quickly spoke up. Within the next few minutes, the wood was cut back and repositioned to create the larger opening. That’s all it took at this point in the project.

What I learned was had we waited until there was drywall in place before voicing our concern, the fix would have required far more time and manpower. Worse, we may have chosen to live with the wall as it originally was and always wondered “what if.” From this example, I gained the lesson that right now will always be the best time to voice a concern. Waiting until you send the project to print or hit send on the email is too late. Speak up now – and don’t worry, people will be sure to weigh the pros and cons for you if the request is going to require more than just a few minutes to correct.

These blueprints show both the bare bones of the project as well as some special details we hand selected.

These blueprints show both the bare bones of the project as well as some special details we hand selected.

The framework provides structure, but the details provide character

Finally, the process of building a custom home gave me an appreciation for both the framework and the finishing details. While I was happy to finally break ground, I wasn’t overly excited about a big cement hole. Nor was I particularly excited to select an HVAC system or frame out our low voltage wiring. When I finally got enthusiastic with the project was when I was able to select things like the marble for our kitchen or the style of our built-ins.

I realize now, more than ever, that these less than exciting details will be the ones that keep me comfortable in our home throughout the years. I may not always see them, but I will certainly appreciate the value they add. The framework and more technical details to any project may not be artistic, but they are necessary for achieving the end result. The details are where you truly define character and add personality. Regardless of what gets you excited, both must work in unison to deliver a functional and attractive finished product.

What other pieces of advice on project management could you add to this list? Share your thoughts by commenting below!

Never Lose Sight of Your Childhood Dream

Child DreamEvery time a beautiful home catches my eye or I’m inspired by a furniture store’s interior design, I’m reminded that there was a time in my life when I was quite certain that I would grow up to become a creator similar works of art. Yes, my childhood dream was to become an architect and interior designer. The signs were quite obvious, really. The remnants of my mounding collection of doll houses can still be found packed away in my parent’s attic. Yet instead of playing house with the tiny people inside these homes, I would spend hours rearranging furniture and building additional walls to expand the modest structures into dream mansions.  I filled binders and binders with magazine pictures of bedrooms, kitchens and patios and would stare at blueprints long enough until I could visualize the house I would use them to someday create. And at the age when most children were still building with Legos and Lincoln Logs, I taught myself to use the same computer programs used by professional architects and designers.

Even as an adult, the memory of this childhood passion is still vivid.  It’s no longer as common that I allow myself to become so consumed in a hobby or so certain of a dream – and maybe that’s why I love to reminisce back to the time in my life when I did. Childhood should be a time for complete creative freedom and to allow natural talents to shine through. It is also a time that can tell us a lot of about ourselves and who we were destined to become long before we let responsibilities, worries and failures affect our dreams.

It should be obvious to you now that I never became that architect or interior designer of my dreams. The level of intensity I had for this hobby didn’t outlast high school. Instead, I slowly migrated into a completely different career path in communications and writing. Not many people know about my dreams to become an architect that I once constructed so carefully. For the longest time I thought it to be irrelevant and to some degree an admittance of failure. I walked away from something I was so passionate about and never felt the need to look back. Or did I?

To this day, I may not have a portfolio of beautifully furnished houses to showcase, but I do have quite a different portfolio of equally impressive work. I’ve never built a home, but I’ve built a brand and business. I don’t use my creative talent toward interior design, but I do use my creativity in so many broader ways every day. That passion for building something from the ground up and talent for thinking outside the box were never lost, only reassigned. I’m a Public Relations professional, not an architect, but I’m confident this is what all my childhood daydreaming has prepared me to do.

So many years ago I may have mastered some impressive feats for a 10-year-old architect, but I wouldn’t have had the slightest clue as to what Public Relations was and certainly wouldn’t have understood how to apply my talents toward this career path. Yet, with every choice I made to move away from architecture and design, I took one step in the right direction of finding the career I now have today. I couldn’t be more grateful for all the hours I spent playing with those doll houses. Almost 15 years later, I still have yet to build a single home, but I’ve built exactly what my childhood self would have wished for had she known everything that was possible.

As a child, did you ever have a passionate dream about becoming something far different than what you are today? Look closely at the career path you have chosen and you may see that these childhood talents were never lost, only reassigned.  Share your own story by commenting below!

You Don’t Need the Best of Everything To Make the Best of Everything

HappinessSometimes I don’t know what to count first. My blessings—or the little moments in life that make me stop and want to count my blessings. It was the second or third time I’ve used this particular cashier at a local shop. It’s the type of job that garners little respect or attention, no matter how frequent the customers or how pleasant the small talk. But this guy has grabbed my attention on more than one occasion for no better reason than he is completely, contagiously, happy. So many visual cues tell me this guy has a lot he could be frustrated about or unhappy with, but instead he bubbles over with such contentment for the life he’s been given that I have yet to walk out of the store without a smile.

After I leave his small glow of happiness, the real work begins to wear on me again. I hear negative comments from all around. People will yell when their phone isn’t working, complain about their job or become sarcastic when someone suggests an idea they don’t like. There’s a time and place for every emotion, but why do we first seem to resort to the negative reaction to a situation? I’m reminded of a phrase I’ve seen displayed in various ways that reads:

The happiest people don’t have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything.

It seems that some of the happiest people I have ever met are the ones who have fairly average lives. Some of these people have even dealt with major struggles and setbacks that would leave most of us feeling frustrated and pitiful. Instead, they’ve (knowingly or unknowingly) mastered the art of making the best of everything. These people aren’t naive nor are they complacent, they are simply happy, and what else is more important? If a magic genie came to grant you just one wish, I would say we’d all be smart to wish for happiness. Everything else is really secondary. Unfortunately, the people who have yet to figure this out are obvious. We can likely all pull up a real life example in our minds of a person, who on paper, is wealthy and successful, but knowing them deeper allows you to also know most of their life is spent feeling stressed, angry and unfulfilled. In contrast, are those who have learned that happiness is not having the best of everything; it’s making the best of everything.

Slowly, I too am learning to make the best of everything. Even the most unexpected and outrageous situations can be a reason to smile if you loosen up long enough to realize you’re simply not in control. Whether my career continues to excel or one day I have to take a different job to make ends meet, knowing that I have the power to be happy through anything makes any outcome okay. It’s an incredible realization that the stress we place on being happy can become the cause of our unhappiness.

Thinking back to that contagiously happy cashier, I would love to one day know that he finally got the life he dreamed of. But who am I to say that he hasn’t already?

Panic Does Not Equal Passion

For better or for worse, I seem to be pulled toward career paths that are not for the faint of heart. Just when I caught my breath from a whirlwind statewide gubernatorial election, it took merely 4 short months before I needed that adrenaline rush again. I craved the feeling of having meaningful tasks to keep me so busy that I was racing against the clock, not watching it countdown until quitting time.

After campaign life, where showers and haircuts were a luxury and 5pm wasn’t quitting time – it was merely the half point mark of your day, I swore I was done. Once was enough for me. I earned my badge and can say I did it, but I wasn’t going back. I was ready for a steady 9-5 job where I could make plans with friends and actually keep them. But then the boredom crept in. At first it was a pleasant boredom, the type you’re happy to get used to. But then even my best time-wasting tasks were leaving me with hours of the day unfilled. Slowly but surely I was developing “cubicle fever.” My maximum workload had been pushed to such limits on the campaign, that this has become the only work pace I now know. As much as I craved a normal work schedule, I had been trained to function like a one-person department and there was no going back. It’s like riding a train going 80mph and suddenly falling off and coming to a complete stop. When dropped back into the real world, I could no longer relate. So as many of you who have followed my journey thus far know, I took the leap and created my own Public Relations business as a way to again find that whirlwind work pace that has become my metric for normal.

Almost a year later and I’ve found myself ramped up to campaign speed again. The biggest difference is, this time around I call the shots. I can take unlimited time-off so long as I plan ahead and get my work done or take it with me as I travel (yes, from time to time I still have to call upon my envelope stuffing skills, but you won’t find me doing door-to-door voter polls anytime soon). I’m working now harder than ever, and depending on the week, am even busier than I was the week before Election Day on the campaign; however, I’ve realized one profound truth from these two experiences.

Panic does not equal passion.

On the campaign it was normal for people to be run around like a chicken with their head cut off and there were certainly circumstances that called for panic. But in many cases I believe people would overact with stress and drama as a way to declare their passion for their work. I’m a calm person by nature and I handle stress best internally. This led to one or more occasions on the campaign where my commitment was questioned. But I can assure you – anyone who is NOT committed on a campaign would not last more than a week. It’s a frustrating position to be put in. Do you give in and act panicked just to declare your passion? Or do you do nothing and risk your dedication and hard work being written off as less than your very best? The only answer I’ve been able to form came years later….it was starting my own business where the proof of my passion is my quality of work and my cool head and calm demeanor has become the signature characteristic of Bennis Inc.

I know that the panic vs. passion struggle is not limited to campaign life. I saw it emerging in various forms in my other jobs. Two people can get the same amount of work done in a day even if one leaves at 5pm and the other at 9pm. The late worker shouldn’t be award a medal of honor for staying late if he took a 2 hour lunch and surfed the web for an hour. So much is dependent upon your leadership style and how you react under pressure. In a salaried job and in campaign life, there is no reward for working efficiently – more work is simply piled on. I’m grateful that if I work smarter and get my task list done for the day, I am rewarded with a flexible afternoon or the ability to take on more work and earn more money. But more than anything, I’m grateful that I don’t have to give in to panicking just to prove my passion.

Keep calm and carry on.

Allowing Talent to Determine Your Calling

My calling is in writing and communicating with the world around me

A quote by Aristotle was once shared with me that says, “Where you talents meet the needs of the world, therein lies your calling.” It’s easy to gloss over these words without truly taking them to heart, but if you read it again—more slowly—you will realize the power this timeless quote holds.

Whether you’re a newly graduated student, someone looking for a career change or an entrepreneur ready to start your own business, there is a lot of uncertainty you must face. I’ve asked myself these same questions: what do I want to do, what am I good at, what’s my purpose? And I can’t say I’ve come up with definitive answers as of yet. These may be lifelong questions which we continually ask ourselves to re-evaluate our life goals every so often. But I do know one thing for sure, where you talents meet the needs of the world, therein lies your calling.

The biggest push I had to leave my former career and start Bennis Public Relations, Inc was the belief that I had more to offer the world than working a desk job and answering phones. I wanted to work with a variety of different people—all with different communications needs—and share my talents to help them better themselves and their business. This was my passion and my drive. I still know when I’m on the right path when I get excited for the tasks ahead of me each day. And this is the message I want to share with you—we all have a passion and a talent for something.  Right now, today, are you using yours to meet the needs of the world?

I recently came across a video clip of a man who should have every reason to feel sorry for himself and question his self-worth—but he doesn’t. Instead, he uses his talents to meet the needs of the world, the need to inspire us and put our blessings into perspective. While dealt an unfortunate situation, he has not only survived, but has become an immensely talented speaker. Imagine what you could do with your talents?

I strongly urge you to take just 4 minutes out of your day to watch this video.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gc4HGQHgeFE]

Combining a Degree With Experience: Four Things College Students Need To Do Before They Graduate

Bennis Inc is pleased to welcome another guest blogger this week! As college students around the world make their final push toward the end of the fall semester, final exams, holidays and a month-long break from school may be at the forefront of their minds. But as you enjoy the upcoming winter break, consider this insightful blog post by Cheval John. Cheval discusses four ways college students can make their degree worth even more in the real-world through things they can do as undergrads (To learn more about Cheval John, please see the paragraph following his post).

GraduationMany people can relate to this scenario: a recent college graduate is looking for an entry-level job only to find out that the employer is looking for someone with experience along with that college degree. But how can you get experience if you can’t get a job? Here are four remarkably accessible ways a college student can earn career experience before they step out into the real-world:

1. Join a Student Organization.

Joining a student organization allows you to expand your network, gain professional experience and serve in leadership roles all before stepping your foot in the real-world. This doesn’t mean go out and join every club your university has to offer. The main benefits of joining an organization come from being an active member. Choose the clubs that you are personally passionate about and are professionally applicable to your career aspirations. For example, if you hope to work in the human resource field, consider joining a student chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management. This club will connect you directly with professionals who work in your field and allow you to serve in a leadership role that highlights the skills a future employer will look for. For a real-life example, just ask Megan Murphy.

2. Write For Your College Newspaper.

Why write for a college newspaper you ask? Because it teaches you time management! Having to meet both class and newspaper deadlines will force you to prioritize your time and stay on task. Possibly the most important benefit of writing for your college newspaper is that it allows you to learn the “ins and outs” of your university and to meet influential people that run your university. So maybe you’re not a journalism major and writing isn’t your calling. These are even better reasons to take part! In addition to improving your written communication, an extremely powerful skill set to have, it will also show future employers that you take initiative and can excel at any task you are given. Don’t take my word for it, ask Stephen Green!

3. Start a Blog.

If you’re already writing regularly for your college newspaper, consider starting a blog. It’s easy to feel like you don’t have the time because of your class schedule, but blogging can require as little as 30 minutes each week (which can easily be carved out of Facebook surfing time). Through blogging, you are demonstrating that you know how to create and maintain your own website and interact with people from all over the world. Depending on the topics of your blogging, you can even gain an edge when looking for a job. Say you are applying for a marketing position and you have a blog about market trends, this adds credibility and experience to your knowledge that will set you apart. Note: When blogging, it’s important that you blog consistently and interact with the blogging community, because this is how you grow your blog and show your dedication to completing a task.

4. Study Abroad.

Globalization is happening around us and employers realize that competition is both domestic and international. Businesses need people who not only have technical knowledge, but cultural knowledge as well. Studying abroad allows you to see the world from a different point of view and take a course that may not be offered at your home university. Two years ago, I studied abroad at the University of Vina del Mar in Vina del Mar, Chile. It allowed me to understand why Chile was different from the other Latin American countries and to improve my Spanish through staying with a host family. Also consider taking an internship while abroad to step outside of your comfort zone and increase your cultural knowledge by working with the locals. Earning part of your degree while studying abroad shows employers that you can learn, work and succeed in a culture that is different from your own!

Recommended Websites: www.transitionsabroad.com and www.trafficgenerationcafe.com

Cheval JohnAbout the Guest Blogger: Cheval John is a sports reporter and staff blogger for the Houstonian, the independent student newspaper of Sam Houston State University. Cheval is currently working toward a Master of Arts Degree in Spanish. He studied abroad in Mexico during the summer of 2008 and studied and interned abroad in Chile during the summer of 2009. Please check out Cheval’s blog here!