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Author Archive for Carmela Ciotti-Hooper

Entrepreneurship – is it all it’s cracked up to be?

This blog post is part of our “Day In the Life” series offered this summer.

When asked by Bonni if I would write a blog on “the day in the life of a coach”, I was thrilled and at the same time a little scared. I know what you’re thinking….how can I be scared? Well, maybe scared isn’t quite the word I should use. It might be more like “how am I going to fill a blog on what I do?” I’ve always written about other things pertaining to coaching as in networking, career transition, job search and more. Now I’m to talk about myself? Really? This should be good…..well here it goes folks, I hope you enjoy it.

After 25 years in the corporate world of Human Resources, I found myself just over three years ago with a startling discovery. It was time to answer to only one person and that was ME. I had returned to school, got my accreditation in coaching and was now all ready to take flight. I spread my wings and soared, or I thought I was soaring and then realized I was missing something. What could that be? I was my own boss, connecting and building relationships, controlling my own destiny and choosing when I took a contract or not. Having days off when I wanted them, choosing to be with my grandchildren if I wanted so life should be perfect right? Not entirely… I found out.

“Entrepreneurship” as I like to call it carries with it many pros and also many cons. If you’re not prepared you could find yourself deep in the cons and before you know it you don’t know how to get out. Lucky for me, I have a strong support group of colleagues and family members who could see what was happening and were there to catch me as I was falling. Maybe I should go back just a little to explain what I am talking about.

As an entrepreneur, in the first couple of years you’re working very hard to get your business off the ground. In fact, I would say you work harder and longer when it is your own business than when you’re working for an organization. Obviously, the satisfaction is very different and when you get your first contract you’re so excited you can barely contain yourself. All these happened to me and more. I was enjoying the challenge, the creative process and the ability to make my own decisions. This went on very well until the third year in 2013. The change was gradual and caught me totally off guard. Contracts were not coming in, networking seemed to be at an all-time slump, expenses were still occurring and isolation from people began to rear its ugly head. As an HR professional and coach I have always been surrounded by people. Guiding others to make the changes they needed in order to live a fulfilled life with purpose and passion has been what got me out of bed each day and now I couldn’t find that reason anymore. How did this happen?

What I did realize with the help of others is you can’t dwell on what is not working only change that which you can. So again….I had to find a way to reinvent myself. I knew I didn’t want to go back to the corporate world and give up just yet (though it did cross my mind many times – even sent out some resumes). I secretly hoped they wouldn’t call because my heart was not into going back only forward. I had an interesting conversation with a colleague who said to me “Carm, you need to look at those transferable skills. It’s those skills that you can take anywhere and consider other avenues where you can make a difference”. So, I pondered what I heard for a while and began searching. I didn’t have to look too far, you see the reason I left the corporate world was to begin my coaching business and to work with students/graduates either as they approach completion of their schooling or when they leave post-secondary. As a life-long learner and an avid student in career development I believe a designed career path is essential in our ever changing economic world and is extremely necessary within the post-secondary environment. So I went in search on how I could consciously and continuously make this my goal and work with our young people and those individuals in transitional change as they design their professional future.

What was I looking for? I was looking for the missing spice – “variety”. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do. Guiding individuals as they make decisions that benefit them both personally and professionally. I support my clients who are ready for change by putting them in touch with what is working, what is not and where do we go from here. Yet, working with students / graduates had eluted me and I HAD TO FIND IT FAST. So, what did I do…..I looked to my network of course. I began contacting those in my network who were instructors, teachers, professors and spoke to anyone who would listen to me as to what I wanted to do. There is a great need in our education system (post-secondary especially) for guidance/ coaching of our students. One thing lead to another, applications were filled, resumes sent out and constant connections were made until one day in January 2014 when I saw an ad online for a Career & Employment Strategies Instructor at Everest College. I did as I was doing for about 4 months, filled out an online application on January 2nd along with supplying my resume. Well, two days later I got a call from the Director of Education at Everest asking if I was still interested in the position. I thought I was dreaming….seriously she was asking me if I was interested? Within two more days I’m sitting answering questions and signing documents in order to get my application expedited quickly.

On January 22nd, 2014 I became faculty at Everest College and so began the next chapter in my career. I have to say that instructing at a career college has brought me so much joy. The courses I teach are very short compared to the programs the students take and I say to myself… do teachers do it. How do they say “good-bye” to these students? You form a bond that I cannot explain. The first time I got told by a student “thank you for being such a great teacher” “for helping me understand” “for not giving up on me”. WOW….I was blown away. Recently, in June I took part in the summer graduation of approximately 200 students. Because I had only been at the school for six months, I didn’t think any of the students would say anything to me. Boy was I wrong…….the hugs, the pictures, the tears all were there and more.

So, I now can say I am a Certified Professional Coach, Human Resources Consultant, HRPA Board member, Mentor, International Career Consultant and a Faculty member / Instructor at Everest College. My plate is not quite full yet but my heart is overflowing. So, I say to those of you who think you’re too old to make changes, I say look forward not back and open your heart to what is possible.

How to Increase Employee Morale in the Workplace

Every organization would love to have great employee morale because they know it leads to a more successful organization. Every manager and business owner looks forward to having a motivated staff. An organization would find it virtually impossible for it to stay competitive if it suffered from low employee morale. Unhappy staff in the workplace is becoming a very large problem and according to a January 2010 report released by The Conference Board, only 45 percent of employees are satisfied with their jobs. The good news is that managers can directly impact morale with a few simple steps.

  1. Be accessible to employees. It’s surprising how many managers seem to avoid communicating with their employees. They are more comfortable being insulated in their office and assuming everything is okay. Employees are not motivated by absentee managers. If you, as the leader, don’t show your concern, how can you expect employees to care?
  2. Create an environment where people can make mistakes – and learn from them. Employees who are punished for making mistakes learn to cover their tracks and avoid taking risks. Businesses do not thrive with an internal atmosphere of fear. When employees feel they can speak freely, think outside the box and make mistakes they become more motivated and creative.
  3. Take time for fun. There’s a time and place for everything–including having fun at work. A sweatshop environment grinds employees down and makes them dread coming to work. Playing games, sharing a good laugh and allowing your employees to blow off steam will rejuvenate them. As managers we need to show that we understand human nature.
  4. Make sure the basic organizational and departmental goals are crystal clear. Don’t assume your employees truly understand. Communicate your goals and mission in a simple format that all will understand and remember. Employees cannot embrace if they don’t understand.
  5. Check your personal motivation level. If you as the leader lack motivation, it’ll be apparent to your staff. How can you expect your staff to show enthusiasm if you cannot demonstrate the same. If your energy level toward your job is lacking, shore it up before you work on your team. The leader’s personal example cannot be underestimated.

Gratitude – Is It A Science?

Over the years, numerous studies have confirmed a link between a positive attitude and good health. It only makes sense that when you feel that your “life is great” that you want to take the best of care of your health. That way you can continue to enjoy the life you have. Make sense? There are numerous ways that people bring happiness into their lives, one way we might cultivate happiness could be through the expression of gratitude.

There has been research that shows what happens when people practice gratitude:

  • Improvements in your mood
  • In some cases stress is eliminated or greatly decreased
  • Enhanced quality of sleep
  • More energy to do things
  • Relationships begin to blossom and grow
  • Increased satisfaction with your life in general

Here are a few ways to benefit from having a grateful life:

1. Get yourself a journal and write.

Once a week, twice a week or whenever you think of something you are grateful for – write it down. I just heard from a colleague that there is now an app that you can use on your iPhone or Android, called Gratitude Journal, for those of you who prefer your devices instead of the old fashion writing approach. Remember when you’re writing to focus on yourself and your life experiences. What is it that happened on this specific day that made you grateful? Also you want to center on the moment and not just the person in the moment. For example – someone might say… I’m grateful for my grandchildren. Where the meaning of grateful stands out if you said “I’m grateful for the hugs and kisses I got today from my grandchildren”. Do you see the difference?

2. Experience life with no reservations attached.

Do you walk or run? Do you look around each morning when you get up and see what beauty is all around you? Take a walk and be grateful for the beautiful scenery around you. Or, get up early one morning and go to a place where you can watch the sunrise. Doing the most simplest of actions and witnessing all the opportunities we have in our everyday life is truly a sign of being grateful. As grandparents my husband and I make a point when we’re sitting the grandchildren to do all the things they love to do, like colouring, playing in the backyard and reading books. And we are so grateful for our health and those opportunities each and every day. What are you experiencing and being grateful for each day?

3. Commit to change and begin a life of gratitude.

What do you think? Can you begin each day by saying “I am grateful.”? During the summer months my husband and I like to sit outside on our deck where we have several hanging chimes. When the wind blows and the chimes begin to sing a song, I begin to meditate and vision all of my blessings. During the colder months we have our wood fireplace that moves me to close my eyes and reminisce about all that I have and love to do. Before long, you will find yourself looking for things that will help you and allow you to write in your gratitude journal!