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Daphne’s List of 7: A word about writing recommendations for people

Times are tough and competition is ferocious. Recommending a friend colleague, student or employee is serious business. What you have to say and how you choose to say it matters and can help sway a hiring manager or other decision-maker when they are deciding to work with an individual. Here are seven tips to consider if you’re ever asked to write a recommendation:

  1. No–feel free to say no. There are many gracious ways to decline a request for a recommendation. If for any reason you are not comfortable recommending a person, say no. Do not recommend a person if you are not confident that you want to recommend them. You are not only promoting the other person when you recommend them, you also are extending your personal and professional reputation to them. There are countless reasons you may not wish to recommend a person, so use your best judgment.
  2. Please write it yourself–there is a common practice of friends, professors and supervisors asking recommendees to write their own recommendations. Please don’t do this. While you might think you’re complimenting the recommendee, you are not. You’re sending a message that you either aren’t sure what to write about this person or that they aren’t worth your time for you to take a few minutes to do it yourself. If you are in a position where you are fortunate to have a 3rd party subordinate (executive assistant, intern, etc.) who can craft a rough recommendation draft for you to fine-tune and add in personal details and, etc. that’s acceptable. Please don’t ask the recommendee to do this, though. This is their moment to learn what you have to say about them, provided it’s an open recommendation. And this can be quite meaningful.
  3. Do ask for details–feel free to ask the recommendee for details so that you don’t have to do all of the work. If you are an employer, as the recommendee to provide salary and work history information. Ask for something in writing detailing the purpose of the recommendation such as who is the recommendation going to, what do they want to know about the recommendee, what is the recommendee proposing to do for the recipient of the recommendation, what qualities or qualifications does the recommendee wish to highlight. One you have these details, make an effort to give a little more than what is requested if you believe this recommendee is worth that.
  4. The form–If it is a recommendation form, be honest but not brutal. Be fair. For instance, if you had a particular unfortunate issue with a recommendee, examine your perspective of that issue before you check a box against them. Do you believe that this unfortunate issue will continue and could potentially cause problems, was it something that only happened once or twice, are you certain that your perspective of the issue is accurate, etc. Always fill out the comment section. If when you read the form you determine that honest answers will not be in the best interest of the recommendee, talk to the recommendee. If you feel it would be appropriate, explain why it would be best for you to not complete this form for them. You may also choose to find a shorter, less revealing way to decline completing this form. Not completing the form is a better choice that completing a recommendation for that will have a negative slant. Make certain you let the recommendee know your decision as soon as possible to allow them to find another person to complete the form if possible.
  5. Talk about it–once you have completed the recommendation, feel free to have a discussion with the recommendee about what you’ve written. This could be a meaningful opportunity to verbally reinforce how much you value the recommendee and the talents and experience they have demonstrated to you. Try not to turn this into a coaching session–if this is necessary, please do this at another time. This need not be a long talk, just a couple of words of thanks or encouragement would be very appropriate.
  6. Moving on–if you are the current supervisor of an employee who is wishing to move on from a position and he or she requests a recommendation from you, please try to be supportive if possible. Very few employees stick in the same position for more than a few years anymore, and they deserve an opportunity to move up or move along to help fulfill their personal and professional goals. This can be a difficult conversation for both the employee and employer, but maintaining a positive frame of the conversation from both individuals is critical. After all, you are only being asked for a recommendation. He or she may not get the job, and you will most likely continue working together from here on for quite a while. Try to keep the conversation as positive and comfortable as possible.
  7. Social Networks–primarily LinkedIn, are a great place to exchange recommendations. Please take these recommendations as seriously as any recommendations you write. Many prospective  employers actually do read these, and they do help shape decisions. About social networks and why recommendations on LinkedIn matter: It’s not a bad idea to work on branding yourself as a valuable cutting-edge professional on social networks. In this generation, it is common for prospective employers to search for you online to see what you’re all about “virtually.” LinkedIn, blogs, Facebook, Twitter are all social tools that can help shape a professional’s online brand. Your recommendation speaking to that brand is an effective way of supporting an employee, friend or colleague you value.

Why look for a job? Create one.

Here are 7 self-employment opportunities most people have the qualifications to do:

  1. Virtual Assistant–some skills are absolutely required such as computer skills, typing, verbal and written communication, organization, problem-solving, scheduling, appointment setting, booking travel and budgeting/bookkeeping/finance are some of the top skills needed for this job. But, if you have extensive office experience and find yourself out of a job, this may be a good fit for you. Essentially, you provide administrative/executive assistant services to businesses and individuals from a remote location. This saves your clients money as you are an independent agent versus an employee needing benefits and office space. It offers you the opportunity to work with more than one client, increasing your income potential while allowing you the freedom to work from home or any other remote location.
  2. Baking–specific to Florida and any other states who have passed Cottage Food Laws. July 1, 2011, the State of Florida passed its Cottage Food Law, allowing individuals to prepare certain food items, such as baked goods, for sale. This law allows individuals the opportunity to prepare these foods in their homes without needing a license or a commercially certified kitchen. There are specific parameters within the law, such as the fact that you cannot earn more than $15,000/year through the sale of your food items, so please read the law in full for the details. What this law can do is afford an individual the ability to launch a small-scale business from their home while working to grow the business to commercial standards that could eventually turn into a full-time, sustainable and profitable business.
  3. Lawn care–most home owners already have the tools at their disposal to launch a lawn care business. Lawn mower, weed eater, blower, rake, clippers, etc. are just a few of the basic tools of the trade. You will also need a means of transporting your equipment to jobs such as a truck or trailer. But, with the right tools and a lot of hard work, you could be ono your way to financial independence.
  4. Pet care–if you love animals, especially if you know how to care for more exotic pets such as reptiles, birds and fish, this could be a great income-making venture. Look on-line and in your own neighborhood to check out your competition and to get ideas of how you might structure your business. You could begin with dog walking or perhaps if you have the space in your home, setting up a doggie daycare. If you’re thinking about doing in-home care, make sure to check out bonding and insurance needs for the industry.
  5. Handyman or woman–do you know how to fix many simple things around the house for basic upkeep and repairs? Do you have the tools needed to get the job done? Maybe you can turn this into an income-making skill. Begin by doing small jobs for people in need and collect references and distribute business cards and fliers liberally throughout your neighborhood. You might be surprised how quickly your handy skills around the house can begin bringing money in the door.
  6. Cleaning–home and commercial cleaning businesses continue to be in demand. Start small and offer any unique services that may help propel your marketability to the top of your competition. Do you know how to polish silver and care for fine art? Do you know formulas for non-toxic cleaning solutions made from organic materials? Maybe you can extend internal house cleaning to include external cleaning if you have a power washer or other such tools at hand.
  7. Whatever you do best–make a list of your best skills and experience, whether you’ve been paid to do these things before or not means nothing. if you do it well, it’s a skill you can be paid to do. Now, turn that skill into a business venture, and you’re on your way to success.

Know that it is important to consider items such as licences, insurances, bonding, taxes, bookkeeping, marketing and capital to get any business started. There are some industries that have specific requirements, so please do your research. Also, consider partnering with someone else or a group of people to share resources and get something started. The most successful businesses and collaborations begin with identifying a problem that needs to be solved then providing that solution through a business. What problem do you see other people and/or businesses have, and how can you provide goods or services to help address that problem? Now, do it.

Daphne Taylor Street’s Resume (2 page visual version)

The Rise of the Creative Class: leading talent often means getting out of the way



Itay Talgam at TED 2009

The greatest conductors on leadership & managment. Cultivate the BEST talent, then let them do their job. How to lead, direct, correct… Different styles:

Itay Talgem is one of the world’s most esteemed conductors, and in this TED Talk, he breaks apart leadership skills of other world-renowned conductors. It’s fascinating in and of itself, but it’s more enlightening when thought of in terms of business and project leadership and management. Also, community and cause leadership–it is critical to cultivate and nurture the creative class in a style that helps them bring the best they have every time. Conductors have been doing this well for centuries. Let’s take a lesson from the best.

Archaic management styles of blind obedience and linear hierarchies reap the worst in productivity and progress within your workforce. It’s time for every business and leader to change from this mindset or risk becoming miserably irrelevant. The most valuable thing a leader has to give is to empower others to lead, but if you’re stuck in the ineffective beliefs of traditional role delineation where insecurities and power-mongering run amok within leadership, you essentially create an oppressive regime. Here, creativity and buy-in become stifled amongst your team, and this directly erodes productivity and progress. You create an army of mindless drones instead of a team of empowered, creative problem-solvers and critical thought leaders.

One of two things will happen if you put too many restrictions on creative professionals: 1) they will flee from you or 2) they will produce drab uninspired work. If you want them to create the masterpieces you hired them to create, step back a bit. Let them tinker and make mistakes (as long as the mistakes aren’t too costly), and they will produce masterpeices over and over again for you and your company.

What leadership style speaks best to you? Are there any lessons you’re taking away from viewing this presentation? Has it changed your thinking in any way?

So, you want to hire a communications consultant. Great idea! Here’s what to look for…


Hiring a communications consultant:


Do not hire a consultant who wants to change you or your image. Do hire a consultant who understands you & the image you want to portray. Best practices in communications is about authenticity. Your consultant should help amp up the volume on who you are and help you communicate you and your brand authentically, effectively and efficiently. That’s communication in the 21st Century.

Want to find out a bit more or even hire a communications consultant? Please feel free to contact me directly and visit my website:

How to write an email (oh I know… you THINK you already know)

  1. Spend one sentence summarizing your point, your FIRST sentence. Why? Smart phones aren’t really all that smart. Worse, they tend to cause or enhance ADHD in their useres, showing a limited view of your text up front, and enticing users to bounce around on topics without reading the full email. Worse still, smart phones are EVERYWHERE! So, just assume your email recipient is using one when reading your email
  2. Email is NOT sooooo 20th Century. It’s still a critical communication medium. Don’t assume everyone is reading their Facebook updates all the time. Take a second to send an email. It’s bad enought that hand-written letters are archaic. eMail is not. Use it.
  3. Email, at best, is interactive. Hyperlinks are fantastic ways to keep messages short while providing additional information. Eg, when inviting someone to a new restaurant, email them a link to the place where they can get directions, look at a menu, the decor, etc.
  4. When in doubt, don’t send it. If you’ve written something, particualrly a negative something, and you’re hesitating sending it, hesitate forever, and delete it. Don’t send. At least, save it as a draft and wait a day or two. If at that point you no longer doubt wheather you should send–you feel strongly that you should send–okay, click send. But, don;t say I didn’t warn you.
  5. Keep in touch via email. Facebook and other social networking sites are a good way to reach multiple “friends” at once and keep them up-to-date on you, it’s quite passive and impersonal. While I still recommend a hand-written letter or at least a card now and then, at least send an email. Make it personal, one-on-one. Let people know you’re meaning to speak specifically to them. Connect.

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