It’s an understatement that the US has just experienced one of the most divisive political seasons in modern history. Unlike those people who weren’t looking forward to discussing politics over Thanksgiving dinner, I encouraged the discussion. The reason is because now that the election is over, even if you’re passionate about your candidate, we all need to learn to understand a different point of view that you may not agree with and start the healing process.

Banning people from Thanksgiving because they supported a different candidate is not only causing problems in families but will only continue to cause the country to be so divided that we can’t make any progress as a country. Putting aside our differences, learning to be tolerant and work together on the issues we can agree on for the good of the country is the only way we can become better as a nation.

Instead of arguing over political positions, it might be more productive to ask the opposite side to explain the reason they have a certain position and not judge them, then see if there’s any common ground in some area you can agree on, if not on that particular issue than another issue. Hopefully you’ll be surprised that you have more in common than you initially expected.

Even though Washington is broken and can’t work together, we don’t have to follow their lead. It’s important as Americans that we get this right to make things better for all of us and show our children that are watching that we can put our differences aside and work together for the common good of our communities.

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I don’t normally write about television shows but I had to make an exception in this case because I was shocked to learn some information about a particular scam. I was watching American Greed on CNBC. This show is about people similar to Bernie Madoff who scammed people out of millions of dollars by operating sometimes legitimate businesses.

This episode was about those familiar calls or junk mail you get saying that you won the lottery, all you have to do is pay the taxes first to receive the money. Most people know this is a scam because you only pay taxes after you receive the money. The Jamaican scammers were preying on elderly people that were confused enough to fall for the scam. These elderly people were sending the scammers their life’s savings, in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. These kinds of stories sadden me because people are taking advantage of people that are losing their mental faculties and no one is protecting them.

But the shocking part of this story on American Greed was after the FBI got involved by targeting one particular scammer and reached out to several of the victims, some of them knew it was a scam. Several elderly people told the FBI that they knew the lottery wasn’t real but they kept sending the money because the scammers were so nice to them on the phone and they were the only people that took enough interest in their life to constantly talk to them on a regular basis.

How lonely do you have to be that you would let people take your hard earned money just to have them call you and be nice to you on the phone? When I started this blog, my first post was about how loneliness has become an epidemic and how loneliness hurts a person’s mental health but I didn’t understand the gravity of the situation until I saw this show.

Please read my first post about the Just Say Hello Campaign to help people that may be suffering from loneliness. If there’s an elderly person in your life that you haven’t talked to in a while please call or visit them. No one should be so lonely that they want to be scammed.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I was active in a networking group called, I Know Somebody Houston (IKSH). Now that I’ve relocated to Nashville, I’ve been looking for a new group to start rebuilding my professional network. My standards are pretty high because of how effective IKSH is at helping new members share their story to the group and find a like-minded connection.

This week I attended a meeting for the Levo League Nashville Chapter. This is a group of young women that make networking fun because it’s socially driven. For people that are intimidated by the concept of networking, this laid back, fun approach is for you.

It was a Happy Hour event that was very casual and geared towards getting to know each other. As you build on the connection, then you can see what areas you’re able to help each other. What I liked is that this event made everyone feel relaxed, they weren’t focused on trying to pitch themselves but on building genuine relationships.

I had a really interesting conversation with one of the leaders of the group Amanda Mishelle, a wardrobe stylist. She was sharing with me how she’s very excited about her new assessory line she just launched called NASHchic. During our conversation, I mentioned to her that I was very passionate about working on the new phase of a product launch event. She was so supportive that she has already offered to give me connections with industry professionals to test the product. I wasn’t expecting everyone to be so generous since I had just joined the group.

The Levo League has chapters in various cities around the U.S. If you’re a young woman that likes a laid back approach to build your professional network, I would highly recommend you check them out.

When I ask people how they feel about networking, typically they have a negative response. The majority of people say it makes them feel uncomfortable and awkward. Another problem is that they leave a networking event with 15 business cards and don’t know what to do with them. Here’s some advice to ease the anxiety about networking. I usually ask questions that center around these categorizes: interests, desires/goals, and needs. This makes it easier to break the ice because people enjoy talking about topics they’re interested in discussing.

Interests: In the last post, I discussed asking people about something they’re currently working on that they’re passionate about instead of asking what they do. Some other questions you could ask are, what causes/charities are you interested in? What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Desires/Goals: What are some career goals you would like to accomplish? If you’re attending a conference, what are you hoping to gain from attending this conference?

Needs: What challenge is your top priority to get resolved in your business/career? What brought you to this event?

When you exchange business cards, if there isn’t a picture of the person on the card, on the back write down a brief description of their appearance. Also, write down one interesting they said during the conversation and a possible common interest. This will help you to determine which people that it could be beneficial to follow up with after the event and remember what was said during the conversation. Before you call them, make sure to look them up on Linkedin to discern if there are some other ways you can bring value to each others careers.

One of the first questions we ask a person after meeting them is, “What do you do?” The reason this question is so important is because our culture places value on people based on their profession. People put so much emphasis on their career, that if they become unemployed, they feel as though they lack an identity.

Here’s the problem with making judgements about a person’s status or value based on their profession. We can miss out on where that person is headed or the potential they have. A janitor could aspire to start their own janitorial business or be a talented artist that’s working a job until their art is able to bring in a consistent income. We could miss out on a diamond in the rough.

Instead, a better question is what’s something you’re working on that you’re passionate about? By asking this question, you can learn more interesting parts of a person’s story and what they’re really about. I have a friend that does billing for healthcare companies but on the side she’s an entrepreneur that aspires to get a product sold in stores. When I met her, I asked her this question and she told me about her product. I loved the idea so much that I offered to help her figure out how to launch her product.

If I had asked her what’s your profession, she probably would have told me that she works in medical billing and most likely that would have been the end of the conversation. Both of us would have missed out on what we have in common and how we could help each other.

I challenge you the next time you’re networking or meeting someone new, ask them what’s something you’re working on that you’re passionate about? It will probably be a more interesting conversation and you never know, a connection could come out of it.

So what happens when you gave your goals your best shot but nothing much has changed? I personally have been going through a period of stagnation and have learned how to deal with it from a healthy perspective.

Last year I did everything possible to advance The Connect with Your Calling Project. I was able to help a few people get connections to advance their careers and I’m grateful that some are making progress. With one client in particular we went through the casting process for 2 national TV shows and almost got selected both times but then towards the end we were cut. Needless to say this was an emotionally draining process and very disappointing.

We haven’t given up and decided to keep moving forward but we’ve learned some valuable lessons along the way. I’ve made a conscious decision that I’m not going to let my happiness be dependent on whether or not we achieve our goal. I’ll be thrilled to help my client get her product on national TV but the outcome is not under my control. I’ve decided to be content regardless of the outcome to maintain my peace and happiness.

Going after your dreams is a bruising process so here are a few suggestions that came from an article written by Bishop Joseph W. Walker III.

  1. Find contentment. When you know you’ve done your best and given your all, you can live with no regrets.
  2. Begin with the end in mind. Visualize where you want to be this time next year and come up with a strategy with small measurable steps.
  3. Set realistic goals. Don’t overdo it. Recognize that you are only one person and it’s better to do a few things well than do many things horribly.
  4. Be intentional about prioritizing. Failure to do so may lead to unnecessary compromises that may set you back.
(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

I’ve decided to address a situation that I’m currently helping a client deal with that happens to everyone at some point during their professional career. What do you do when you make a mistake or drop the ball at work? It’s unreasonable to have the expectation that you’re on your A game 100% of the time, so when these things happen, you need to already know how to handle it in a way that it doesn’t permanently damage your career.

I’m going to use the recent mistake that Steve Harvey made announcing the winner of Miss Universe 2015 as an example.

  1. Take complete responsibility for the mistake. (Don’t come up with excuses) Acknowledge what went wrong and explain why it won’t happen again.
  2. Apologize. Let the person know that you understand how your actions affected them and have a genuine remorse about the situation.
  3. If possible try to rectify the situation. If there’s some action you can take to make the situation better, than you should do your best to fix it. The offended party is more likely to forgive if they see actions over just hearing the words I’m sorry.

If Steve wants to rectify the situation publicly, he could have her come on his talk show, apologize to her and find a way to assist her in accomplishing some of the things she would have done as Miss Universe. There are usually some creative ways to fix the problem that may turn out to be a blessing for them and you.