Thursday, July 21, 2011


I have the privilege during this transition in my life to be the Managing Editor of a newsletter produced by the Professional Service Group (PSG) of Mercer County, which is a free resource for professional networking, training, coaching, support and education for professionals in transition. Its mission statement says that it's a "voluntary, self-managing and mutual support network affiliated with the Mercer County One-Stop Career Center, for professionals who are seeking new employment and contracting opportunities throughout the region."

Next to my extended family, it's the finest group of people with which I've ever been associated.

The facilitator of this group, Craig Jez, is himself a great resource for brainstorming, career counselling, and no-nonsense advice, especially about networking and resume writing. He pens a column for the PSG Newsletter and he calls it The Last Word, and it's always a terrific read. What I like about the column is that Craig writes it in his own voice, and it actually reads like he talks, a mix of salesman/bartender/next-door neighbor that is a delight to experience.

I've had the good fortune of working with many talented and compelling writers as an editor over the years (Lew Bryson, Ken Alan, Jim Tarantino and Katie Loeb among them), but I am particularly enjoying reading Craig's columns from the past 3 years' worth of newsletters, which you can peruse at the PSG website,

Read them all.

For the July-August issue of the PSG Newsletter, Craig wrote about karma. Here are some highlights, but I encourage you to read the whole article:

"Patience is an attribute you all exercise every day. Patience is responding to the woes of bills due and still smiling at the job interview. Patience is replacing unemployment depression with acts of volunteer kindness. We had a member who recently landed who defined patience as “the positive energy required daily during a 17 month transition period.” Patience is doing for others as a PSG Committee member despite you yourself needing to find a job yesterday."

"Planning your time should include active networking. Persistent and effective networking is important because you never know who the person you are networking with knows. It is like an adult game of whisper-down-the-lane. PSG has experienced a growing history of happy coincidences where spontaneous networking conversations developed a contact that led to an interview that culminated in a hire. The Karma part is the ebb and flow of relationships evolved from networking. PSG members are constantly surprised by who steps up to help them land at the bleakest moment."

"Another concept surfacing in the market is 'relationship recruiting.' Sounds like a cousin to networking, but let me explain. Say you interview with an employer but it does not work. There is no fit, you are not a match for their corporate culture or otherwise it is not going to happen with that company. To keep the corporate contact, you of course thank the company for spending time to meet you and that you greatly enjoyed learning about them. The extra step is connecting them with a candidate from your networking pool. The employer might appreciate the gesture. Perhaps they might be inclined to return the favor by connecting you with others in the same professional network. The maximum response would be if they referred you to other hiring managers as future unadvertised positions open up."

"Whether you call it Karma or making your own good luck, positive things will happen when you get out of the house, get active and help somebody every once in awhile. If you do it now, do it more.

If you do not do it, get out and try it."

Good stuff, universal appeal, endless uses in anyone's daily life, employed or unemployed. I've seen it work in my life and it's hard to deny the power of karma. But Carig Jez said it better. He always does.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


I delight in the art my children create. I can't explain it, but it fascinates me.

After collecting their artwork from the last two years of their schooling, I am continually amazed at their creative energy, and at the skill of their teachers to inspire them. Their preschool art teacher, Mr. Colavita, walked me into their school last spring for the student art show and showed me their self-portraits, which he mounted on a kiosk at the school's entrance, and pointing to their art, said, "Watch those two, they have something, they really do."

And ever since I have paid particular attention to the artwork they bring home from school. This year, their kindergarten year, under the guidance of their art teacher, Mrs. Skorupa, it seems like both Ben and Sophie have exploded with artistic energy, creativity and awareness. Their kindergarten self-portraits (above and below) are whimsically revealing, from Sophie's eyelashes and big smile to Ben's persuasive smirk. That will probably be my last attempt at any kind of critique of their work. The rest of this post will just be a display of their best stuff. I think you'll agree that their creative energy and verve are fun to experience.

Ben's "Squares" one of several takes on the art of Piet Mondrian, believe it or not. yes, Mrs. Skorupa was teaching them about Mondrian.

"Under The Sea" by Sophie

Ben's version of "Under The Sea"

Sophie's "t-shirt"

Ben's "t-shirt"

Dr. Suess hats by Sophie

Ben's take on the Dr. Suess hat

Pastel shadings from Ben

Sophie's pastel shadings

"Rainbow Fish" by Ben

Sophie's "Rainbow Fish"

Father's Day "neckties" from Sophie (l.) and Ben (r.)

Sophie's American flag

Ben's Spring Flower

Sophie's Sprin g Flower

Ben's water color "circles", so large a piece, this photo really doesn't do it justice. The visual power of it just blew me away.

Sophie's water color "circles". Again, these particular pieces are so big, they really are a knockout to see in person. Everything you see here I have displayed around the house, on doors to the basement, garage, laundry room and powder room. And it's starting to take over the walls of the den. Beats anything else we've hung in that room.

And this is just a small sampling of their enormous output of art over the school year. I'm trying to catalog it all, and I hope I'll be able to display more of it as I go through it all over the summer.

Biased parental pride? You bet. But I hope you enjoy the beauty and raw energy of Ben and Sophie's creative side.