Skip to main content


Showing posts from 2010

Leadership #quote "The world really is run by the people who show up. It isn't trite; it's true!" Mary Woody, MSN, RN FAAN (

"The world really is run by the people who show up. It isn't trite; it's true!" Mary Woody, MSN, RN FAA former Dean, CNO, Charter Fellow and Living Legend of the American Academy of Nursing (AA) (d. 2010) from the article Leadership: What the books don’t tell you By Leah Curtin, RN, SciD (h), FAAN , Vol. 5, No. 11 Posted via email from sue griffey's posterous

What Were You Aiming at This Year? And Did You Get There?

26 Dec. 2010   The end of the year is always a time of reflection. Do you think back on what’s happened during the year? Try it - it can be surprising to do this – a year turns out to be a long time.   You may not make resolutions on New Year’s each year, but most of us return to work in early January with a renewed sense of our professional selves, charged up from rest, relaxation, celebration, and connections.   Last January when 2010 was just starting, did you expect to be reading a blog like this? Did it help you, spur something inside you to take an action to further your professional life? By March as spring weather (at least in the NE of the US) was urging us to spend more time outside and we were beginning to see more daylight, did you decide to do more of something at work or to keep up professionally? When summer came and you took some vacation, did you take a book on leadership along with your summer beach reads? Maybe the fall saw you redoubling efforts such as organi

Patience "Observe calmly the natural unfolding of events. Rapid growth and advancement are unnatural." Tao of Mentoring #quote

"While perseverance, a deliberate mind-set, keeps us constantly moving toward the attainment of a vision during times of discouragement, patiences is the virtue that enables us to stay calmly focused and enjoy the wait as the vision unfolds."  from  Mentoring: The Tao of Giving and Receiving Wisdom Posted via email from sue griffey's posterous

Finding a Mentor

I was pleased to get an email the other day from a young professional who seeks out my mentoring advice on occasion. She told me she had just learned she would be starting the new job soon that she’d been hoping to obtain. That reminded me of what it’s like to change jobs – at any point in a career. When you start a new job, it is usually overwhelming. There are new people’s names (and titles) to learn along with the office layout, the alphabet soup of acronyms, and the culture and ethos of the organization. You aren’t thinking about identifying a mentor, I’m sure. But that is something that would be very useful at this early stage. While some organizations assign a “buddy” or other peer co-worker to new, junior employees to help them navigate the newness at an organization, as you become more senior, this rarely happens. For some reason, leaders think other leaders and leaders-on-the-way don’t need help when joining an organization. Don’t let this stop you. Mentors are everywhere arou

Leading Through Learning (from #MyWorld Fall 2010 - American Mgt Assn)

These 12 leading through learning principles apply to all of us no matter what our position description says. Each of us is a leader in some fashion, even if we feel we are just starting out on our career track. I think you’ll agree that they apply to you. 1.       Understand that we will never get back to normal. 2.       Take care of one another. 3.       React…pause…respond. 4.       Talk-even when you don’t believe there is much to say. 5.       Be visible-now is not the time to play hide-and-seek. 6.       Maintain integrity and high moral values. 7.       Optimize costs, with retention in mind. 8.       Be a brand ambassador. 9.       Assess and rebuild trust. 10.    Remember, leaders are human, too. 11.    Think like a child. 12.    Take care of your emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. Posted via email from sue griffey's posterous

"Technologies don't just replace one another" just as you build on your skills and experience

This from Tim O'Reilly  (L ovely piece about how technologies don't just replace one another. Search for 3rd occurrence of "Displacive Fallacy"  ) is a useful parallel about building your career. You bring an integrated set of skills and experience to your work with each passing year - and you may not be aware of how often you use skills from the "old you" into your present proefessional life. Take a moment to read what he points out (if nothing else - and the rest is fascinating) and think about the additive nature of your career. You may not have done this since your last interview (the key place and time at which we often are asked about and then verbalize this).  It will give you a new perspective. Posted via email from sue griffey's posterous

What You Don’t Know Might Hurt You (see

Catalyst  has done 2 very interesting studies which identify ways in which unwritten rules affect you in the workplace. In their 2nd study, Unwritten Rules: Why Doing a Good Job Might Not Be Enough , they identified these conclusions: Regardless of gender and ethnicity, unwritten rules play a major role in career advancement. Career strategies involving communication and feedback, performance, career planning, increasing visibility, and relationship-building were viewed as particularly important to career advancement. When it comes to learning about advancement strategies in the workplace, observation, seeking out mentors, and soliciting feedback emerged as the most effective ways to learn about unwritten rules for advancement. Read more – and also link to both the first and second studies – at:   It is useful to reflect on these findings and think about your experiences in the work

Unwritten rules..... (see

I’ve read some interesting articles on Unwritten Rules in various situations. They have a lot to inform us about because they describe how to deal with an organization’s culture, gender and personality types in organizational hierarchies, and relationships with colleagues.   Here’s the first: Bill Swanson’s  25 “Unwritten Rules of Management” 1. Learn to say, “I don’t know.” If used when appropriate, it will be often. 2. It is easier to get into something than it is to get out of it. 3. If you are not criticized, you may not be doing much. 4. Look for what is missing. Many know how to improve what’s there, but few can see what isn’t there. 5. Viewgraph rule: When something appears on a viewgraph (an overhead transparency), assume the world knows about it, and deal with it accordingly. 6. Work for a boss with whom you are comfortable telling it like it is. Remember that you can’t pick your relatives, but you can pick your boss. 7. Constantly review develo

One Picture is Worth… (see

Do you have a photo posted in your online profiles and web spaces?   I have been surprised to notice in the past few months how many of my colleagues and friends do NOT have a photo posted. In many cases, they are new to the website (e.g., just joined LinkedIn). It has made me wonder why.   I remember the early days of life online. I didn’t post my photo for several years but I finally got over my nervousness in 1999. (Those were also the years where the most common place to post a photo was in online dating sites.)   Nowadays, there is much more openness and comfort with our lives being lived online as well as in person. Many of you readers are online in multiple spaces – both professionally and personally.   I recommend that you post a photo in your various web spaces – and also that you use the same photo in all your professional sites. (I just changed my photo and made sure that LinkedIn, my SueMentors blog, and my SueMentors twitter profile all use the same photo.) Why?  

Important Professional Tools – More than Knowing How to use SPSS or SAS (see

A young professional just starting out after finishing her MPH asked me a very interesting question. She said she took a lot of research courses during her MPH program. But she felt pretty unprepared in school for the key tools that are needed in the workplace. She was now interning and was applying her research skills in an interesting intern position. But she also realized that the work involved much more than just applying research skills.   She asked, “What kinds of tools are important to have?”   Here are the things I expect and hope your professionals to have these days – or to be ready to learn as soon as they come to work:   Budgeting: you should be able to construct a basic budget in Excel, using straightforward formulas (add, subtract, multiply, divide a column of numbers). This will help you get more facile with a key aspect of project planning and implementation – matching resources to activities.   Charting and Figures: you should be able to use Excel to creat

The Objective Statement – Why I Don’t Like It. Use a Biosketch Summary Instead. (See

As you know, if you’ve been reading my blog, I get resumes frequently. I have watched styles of resumes change - and I have even changed how I do my resume, the biggest change being that I now include a summary of my experience and skills at the top of the first page.   Many resumes, especially from younger professionals, now come with an objective statement. It tells me much of what they may also include in their cover letter (although I realized a few months ago that these are no longer coming to me now that SSS’ HR department uses an online application system). The objective statement tells me what they want to do in their career.   But oftentimes, these seem superfluous to me, at their best, and occasionally arrogant, at their worst.   When I review your CV, I assume you’re applying for a job with me or contacting me because you want a job and/or advice about work in research, evaluation, or public health.   What I need and what I look for is a summary of you. I try to glea

Ask the Mentor: the 3 mentor questions answered by Dr. Jill Posner, Sr. Research & Evaluation Advisor, AIDSTAR-One (see

Ask the Mentor: Dr. Jill Posner, Senior Research & Evaluation Advisor, AIDSTAR-One   Jill's whole professional life has included a focus on mentoring - students, new graduates, and junior colleagues. Here's her responses to the Mentor Questions I posed: What are mentees looking for?     Guidance that is scaffolded--(ask for the mentee's input; review; suggest)     What 1 piece of advice do you give every mentee you work with?     Please ask me when you don't understand why we are doing something and don't be afraid to tell me what you think if you disagree.  I may not take your suggestion, but I will take it seriously and I usually am open to other ways of doing things.  Learning is a two-way street when there is mutual respect.     Why are you interested in mentoring?     It is a way of making sure that years of experience and learning gets passed on efficiently and it is important for good relations in the workplace if both people are invested.

How Do I Know What Job I Want – Whether They Want Me or Not?

You have worked hard at your job search and it’s starting to pay off. You are getting contacted to have a telephone interview. And then another. And then another. You start to imagine yourself in these different jobs and they begin to seem real. You are anxious to get to work.   But have you asked yourself which job might be the best one for you? It may not be obvious. The one with the position title you think best reflects what you want to do may not be the one that’s best. Here are some questions that may help you better identify this.   Is the agency offering the job one I want to work for?   If you have targeted a specific agency and they offer you a job, that’s great. You may think it’s even better when they have jobs available in 2 different locations and you’ve had interviews for both. But don’t forget to consider that the agency may differ greatly by its location. For example, jobs at CDC in Atlanta are quite different from CDC jobs in different states or overseas.  

Still Waters Run Deep – don’t they?

It’s been 3 months since I posted last. Life got busy – with work, international travel, and then with everything. I kept making notes on topics to blog about. I kept getting more ideas. But I never got to posting.   And then I reflected on this quiet period and saw many parallels such as fields that need to lie fallow.   It looked to you like I wasn’t posting – because I wasn’t. But it didn’t mean I wasn’t working on blogging.   I think there’s a parallel in how your job search may go. You are enthusiastic and committed and working hard. You read everything you can in e-newsletters and on line that help expand your job search potential. You make contact with your contacts. You send out your CV, tailoring cover letters to each situation for which you are applying.   And then the “NO” messages start to come (or worse yet, you’re left hanging with no communications coming at all).   It is hard, I know, to keep at it when there seems to be no news, no positive reinforcement. It

How much am I worth – and how do I know this?

A boss of mine awhile ago used to say “Bargain hard at the beginning [for your salary] and then I don’t want to hear from you again.”   But one of the difficulties new professionals have is finding out what their target rate (annual salary, daily rate) should be so you can do that negotating. So here are some ways to try to gather more information.   There is something called the 260 rule that some US government agencies use to calculate someone’s daily rate. It gives you a good rule of thumb. The 260 rule says – take your annual salary and divide it by 260 days and that will give you your daily rate. So, if you’re employed and wanting to consult (which means you now have expenses such as health insurance), you can try to adjust your daily rate upwards to cover these additional costs of being an independent consultant. (Note that, even though you have these additional costs to bear, not all US agencies’ contracting officers will allow you this increase.)   If you are an independ

Mentor: Kevin Beverly, Executive Vice President, Social & Scientific Systems, Inc.

Another feature of this blog is bringing you advice and perspectives from people who mentor, by answering 3 questions:   What are mentees looking for? What 1 piece of advice do you give every mentee you work with? Why are you interested in mentoring?   I’m inaugurating this feature with a friend and colleague, Kevin Beverly who is Executive Vice President at Social & Scientific Systems, Inc. (where I also work).   Years ago, Kevin founded the Mildred Beverly Memorial Family Fund, in honor of his mother, to support the education needs of underprivileged youth in Dorchester County, Maryland. But he doesn’t just fund scholarships. He also gives his time to innovative after-school programs that help Montgomery County teenagers gain the skills they need to succeed.   So here are Kevin’s answers…..(and any errors in transcribing them are mine and mine alone!)   What are mentees looking for?   Affirmation.   Many of the kids I mentor are bright and have good ideas but th

Suggestion 7: It’s a 2-way street – just because I want you doesn’t mean you want me – and that’s OK

Some day soon you’ll get the position you’re been seeking. In the meantime, you’ve applied for a variety of positions and eventually one or more of those companies has called you.   It’s always flattering to get that call and know of a company’s interest in you. But it’s perfectly all right if you’ve decided that you are no longer interested in pursuing that position – even if you don’t yet have a job. While I always recommend taking the opportunity to talk to a potential employer, if you’ve decided that the position is no longer suitable, it’s fine to tell that to the person who has called you.   When I call you, you are usually one of a short list of 2-4 candidates for a position. The phone call allows me to further understand your suitability beyond what’s in the CV and cover letter I’ve received.   But just because I finally get in touch with you doesn’t mean that you still want me (aka the position in my company).   If you’re smart (and I know you are because you’re read

Suggestion 6: It’s more than a job title. Read all the words in a job ad, not just the headlines.

I’ve noticed a pattern in job ads over the past decade – and I read a lot of them to keep up with what is going on in my career area. Many of these ads have the same title (such as Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Specialist), and yet they all vary quite a bit from each other.   You will be much better informed about your job search if you take the time to read the job ads through completely – even those ads whose position title doesn’t seem quite apt for you. I have seen jobs for M&E specialists that really encompass more program management work – and I have seen the opposite: program manager jobs where most of the skills and experience desired seem to fit that of an M&E specialist. And job ads will often describe the organization which gives you insights into its culture as well.   So I always recommend that you read more than just the job title - read job ads and see what appeals to you. As you read more of them, identify where your skills and experience best fit. Yo

An unplanned hiatus: Life takes over – and still, mentoring opportunities where you don’t expect them.

I hadn’t planned to take more than a week off from posting but then a family urgency took over. Though I didn’t get to post Suggestion 6 (Look for that next!), I was surprised to be in a conversation with someone who talked about wanting help to update her CV as she begins job-hunting for her next step in June.   It reminded me that we all have opportunities to mentor in so many ways – and many of these may just be 5-minute conversational exchanges.   Whether you’re a mentor or a mentee, embrace these opportunities wherever they occur.   Posted via email from suegriffey's posterous

Suggestion 5: Walk on water and do windows. Be prepared to do lots of windows – but remember that you get to look into them at the same time.

When I talk with professionals just starting out in a career or in a new aspect of work, they almost always tell me that the work they want to do is what they’re not yet very qualified to do. For example, a new grad with a master’s in public health may tell me that she wants to get a job conducting program research because she took some research courses in her graduate program and really liked them. She may even have worked for a professor and helped out on some of the prof’s research.   When a new grad or someone with just a year or two of experience tells me they are qualified to run a research project or conduct a field study – because they want to apply for a job titled Research Scientist, for example, it reminds me that they haven’t got the full picture of what is really involved in conducting research – at least in public health programs. Eventually, this person will walk on water, but we all do windows much more often in our jobs, no matter what level we are at.   We all wa

Suggestion 4: Make sure you know what’s out there. Take control of YOU.

Our world now revolves around Google and the internet. We all search for information all the time. So make sure you know what's out there about you. Do your online ego search and make sure you do it on various ways your name would look - full text, last name and first initial, etc. Remember that much information is cached and someone might be able to find a posting from your younger days. Make sure you know what's out there that may be seen in a negative light before you learn about it from someone interviewing you (if you even get that far!).   Taking control of YOU means ensuring that you have the widest electronic presence possible. If you aren't already doing all these things, you need to.   Join your professional organizations. For public health careers, join APHA and add GHC (Global Health Council) if you're interested in working in international development. Don’t forget about special-interest groups in organizations as well.   Make sure you've joine

Suggestion 3: Always ask. The most they can say is NO - but don’t be defensive when they do.

My mother always used to tell me this - and it was validated when I was a senior in high school. My grades were just under the A- line which identified the group that was required to take the National Merit Scholarship test while it was optional for others. Thanks to my mother, it was a test I did take. Only the class valedictorian and I had test scores giving us Letters of Commendation.     So you should always ask - for an informational interview, for help connecting you to a colleague of mine, for consideration for a job. You never know what the person will say - and it could be YES....   But don't be defensive if I do say No. It may not be the right time, the right place, the right skills fit, or the right person. Remember that there will be another opportunity. Posted via email from suegriffey's posterous

Suggestion 2: Use your networks, but don’t abuse your networks.

 I know you're using your networks. After all, you're being proactive about searching out what you need. But this post is all about being prepared so your mentor isn't having to do your work for you.   Mentors don't mind helping out at all. That's what mentoring is. But don’t make me do your work for you because then you stick out in my mind - and not always in a good way. A few suggestions about being prepared:   You can ask for an informational interview but understand that I many not want to do it in person. Given all the demands on everyone's time these days, asking for 15-20 minutes by phone during a weekday is reasonable to request. Some people you contact may want to go to lunch, but most of my colleagues and I now prefer you get concentrated discussion time on the phone. Do prep and study before an informational interview whether by phone or email. Make sure you've looked up both my organization and me. And then take time to think about the

Suggestion 1: Be proactive - and also be reactive

All advice about job-hunting says to be proactive. So no doubt you've already made lists of what you want in a job and where you want to work - and you've been e-searching and compiling all the information. You've been busy organizing and contacting organizations and sending out resumes and cover letters for job postings.   But don't get so busy that you're missing signals that are already coming to you. Take advantage of serendipity and over-the-transom opportunities.   Think back and you'll probably identify a conversation with someone who mentioned an opportunity for work or interning - and you may have mentally dismissed it because it didn't sound like something you wanted to do.   If you're not paying attention to incoming signals, you may be missing an opportunity that's looking for you. Posted via email from suegriffey's posterous

My 7 Suggestions for Mentees

Here's my list of things to think about. I'll be writing on each one of these in the next few postings. Be proactive - and also be reactive. Use your networks, but don’t abuse your networks. Always ask. The most they can say is NO - but don’t be defensive when they do. Make sure you know what’s out there. Take control of YOU. Walk on water and do windows. Be prepared to do lots of windows – but remember that you get to look into them at the same time. It’s more than a job title. Read all the words in a job ad, not just the headlines. It’s a 2-way street – just because I want you doesn’t mean you want me – and that’s OK.