Monday, July 30, 2007

Jed Lowrie

Way to go Jed!

It is really fun to see when one of our clients does great things. Jed Lowrie (North Salem class of 2001) got drafted by the Boston Red Sox just three years ago. He has been playing single A and double A ball for their organization and we just got word that he has been moved to their AAA Pawtucket team! If you have seen as many great baseball movies as we have, you know he is just one small step from “The Show” (major league).

You can find out more about Jed in the sports section of July 29 Statesman Journal newspaper.

We are praying for you, Jed. Hope you stay “injury free”. It is clear you have the talent!

(Jed Lowrie, age 10!)

Monday, July 23, 2007

Magical Ages of Childhood Contest 2007

And the winner is . . .
The results are in for the children’s contest!

The People’s Choice award goes to Lindzee Schaeffer of West Salem. Her mom, Kristina, chose the theme “Rain, rain, go away” and put her in a rain slicker, boots, and umbrella. The forecast that day was for rain but we got sunshine!
Some people have the idea that all the wonderful images we display are of children who are very cooperative and will always do exactly as we say and will sit still for long periods of time. Hah!
Lindzee, shown here, had a mind of her own and was running all over the place. What she wanted to do and what we had in mind were usually two different things. We discovered that she loved our dog, Katie, so we had Katie running around and found we could get good expressions just by asking, “Where’s Katie?” By getting into the flow of what she wanted to do, I feel we really captured her spirit.

Madison Applebee of Salem was the winner of the Artistic Merit award. When her mom, Nikkie, came in for a consultation she told me that her parents had sheep and she really wanted to do a “Mary had a Little Lamb” portrait, but how did I feel about a live lamb in the studio? No problem. In fact, I had used the idea before in the award winning image “No Lambs at School” from the contest several years ago.

Madison’s grandparents own sheep and were more skeptical. They were sure the lamb was too wild to have in a studio. I, on the other hand, was sure we could make it work. (The secret is to close all the doors to the camera room and keep shooing the lamb back into the set.) Oh, and lots and LOTS of paper towels to clean up the inevitable messes.

The Children's contest was really fun this year and the panel of photographers clearly had a tough time choosing a winner. Our thanks to all who participated.

Successful Interviewing Tips

Having owned our own business for 30 years (can you believe it?), Neil and I have gained lots of experience in interviewing people for jobs. We have also done practice interviews for friends and helped them to get job offers.

Today, I did a practice interview with a friend that is applying for a teaching position. Laura is a single mom and really needs a stable income to support herself and her three boys. She has been looking for over a year, so please keep her in your thoughts and prayers.

Here are the tips that I wrote for her. These should be applicable to any situation.

Successful Interviewing 101

Prepare ahead of time
· Do research about the business you will be interviewing with. Do you know anyone who works there that can give you insider information? Do they have a mission statement? What are their areas of strength? How can you help them build on their strengths?
· It is also helpful to know something about the personality of the person who will interview you. The only way you can know this ahead of time is to get insider information, but you can still tell some things by watching them. If they are friendly and outgoing, be friendly and outgoing. If they have worked in the same position for a long time, it may be a good indication that they value stability and longevity. With a person like that, you might want to tell them that you could see this position as your ideal place to sink down roots and make a difference.
· Practice in front of a mirror. Practice with other people. Give them a list of questions to ask and practice, practice, practice. Perfect your responses.
· Don’t worry. Be happy. It will help you to be more relaxed and confident. Be certain that you are the best person for the job but also remember that this is not the last job on earth.

The Interview
· Always be a few minutes early. Smile at every opportunity.
· Smile warmly and look the interviewer in the eye when you shake their hand.
· Two common interview questions are, “What is your greatest strength?” and “What is your greatest weakness?” Be prepared with an answer to the “weakness” question with an honest answer but immediately follow it up with something positive. (i.e. My flat demeanor can sometimes come across as cold but I have had to work with some seriously troubled and dangerous kids and developed this manner as a way of dealing with them. No matter what they do or say to “get to” me, I stay cool and calm.)
· State your strengths as positively as possible. Rather than saying, “I feel like I have talents and skills to share," say "I have talents and skills to share." Leave out the “I feel like” part. It weakens your statement.
· Be sure to give specific examples of how you have handled situations well. Have anecdotes prepared to show how you have dealt well with a variety of coworker communication styles, how you ensured customer success, how you worked well in a team, how you have dealt with an unhappy customer. Smile whenever appropriate.
· One of my favorite questions to ask is, “Tell me about a specific time when you had to deal with an unhappy customer.” I am looking for a response that tells me that they know the importance of listening (give them time to vent), empathizing (tell them you understand their frustration) and willingness to go the extra mile to take care of the problem. This is KEY to good customer service and anyone who ever works with the public should know it.
· Do not volunteer any personal information. They certainly do not need to hear about any personal problems.
· When he/she asks if you have any questions, be sure to ask them what the ideal candidate for this position would look like. You may get information that you can use in your follow up. Get their direct email address, if at all possible.

Follow up
· Write a personal follow-up letter. I am not sure if email or postal service would be more effective (it might be o.k. to ask.) In the letter, let them know that this position is exactly where you want to be and why.
· Follow up again in writing in a week with something else positive to say.

· Stay positive at all times. Smile often. If you don’t feel it, act it! If you act positive all the time, you start to believe it. You will also find that more good things happen to people with a positive attitude than people that are discouraged all the time.