Travel Light but Right: 7 Tips for Breezing through Security

 

  •   Wear Slip on Shoes
  •      Wear your blazer (it will give you tons of room in your suitcase).
  •       If bringing a carry-on bag the TSA provides tips for packing this so the security agent can see everything quickly if they need to open it.  Go to www.tsa.gov.
  •        Know the TSA regulations for liquids and have them available.  Basically its 3-1-1, liquids in containers no larger than 3.4 ounces, 1 clear quart size zip lock bag to put them in, and one suitcase.  Have the zip lock bag in your outer compartment of your luggage so you can get it out quickly as you approach security.
  •     Make sure all your electronics are out and your pockets are empty and your jewelry and belts are off.  You will also have to take off any jackets and scarves.
  •  Have your laptop in a TSA approved carrier, opened and ready to go through the screener.  Go to www.tsa.gov for specifics; however, the carrier should have a laptop only section that opens and lies flat without inside or outside pockets and no zippers or buckles inside or underneath this side.  Moreover, only keep the laptop in this section.
  • Have your boarding pass and ID in your hand.
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Travel Light and Right: Part 2 Travel Basics for Men

·       For men where suits are required, consider bringing a gray suit or just a navy blazer and coordinating slacks and shirts.  Double up on your ties and shirts so you have variety each day.  Make sure to include coordinating belts and shoes as well as other accessories.  For the weekend consider button down pin point oxford dress shirts with trousers and a cardigan or pullover with your blazer.  Limit shoes to two pairs such as wing tips, ties or slip-ons. 

·        If jackets are optional you will want to include a pair of trousers in a neutral such as gray, khaki or olive to wear with button-down oxford shirts, polo shirts, or long sleeve plaid shirts, pullover sweaters, v-necks, or turtleneck sweaters that coordinate with your blazer.  Confine shoes to loafers and perhaps deck shoes. 

·        If jeans are permitted bring your best pair in a dark wash.  Consider a black or navy blazer for evening, dressier occasions.  For these you can wear a white dress shirt, jeans and your blazer.  Introduce pullovers, cardigans and short sleeve pullovers tops that coordinate with your jeans. 

Travel Right but Light: Part 1 Women’s Basics

 

The new year has begun and with it a travel itinerary that takes you near and far.  Whether it is to visit an existing client, a prospective one, or traveling for a job interview, you will want to be dressed to impress and

comfortable so you are able to concentrate on the business at hand.

When traveling, whatever your occupation or position, bring items that can coordinate with other pieces of your wardrobe.  Build your travel wardrobe around neutrals such as black, taupe, camel, navy and go from there.  Include lots of accessories, such as scarves, jewelry, belts and hosiery to change up the look with the same pieces.  Here are some ideas for a great travel wardrobe:

  • ·         If suits are required bring a suit or suit separates.  Add blouses and shirts for variety and accessorize for impact.  Consider a black dress with bold jewelry for evening and stripy sandals.  Or consider a dress with a coordinating jacket that works both during business hours and after.  Wear the jacket over the dress with some jewelry during the day, take off the jacket and add some bold jewelry and perhaps a shawl for evening.  Consider trousers and a coordinating cardigan with a top for weekend events.  Choose a couple of pair of shoes such as pump or ties that go with your travel wardrobe with medium heels.
  • ·         If jackets are optional, consider knits for day and evening wear.  Chico’s has their “Travelers” line that was popularized by Michael Phelp’s mother during the Beijing Olympics.  Made of Lycra and Acetate, they travel well, are easy to care for and comfortable to wear.  Consider pants and skirts and coordinating tops and jackets that can go anywhere as well as day into evening like black, silver, deep navy or dark chocolate.  Team up black Traveler’s pants with a black turtleneck and jewelry and perhaps if its cooler, a tailor mandarin collar jean jacket with jeweled buttons for evening events on the road. For day try the black pants with the black denim jacket and a tailored shirt, belted for day.  Everything goes with black.
  • ·         Consider classic suit separates that go from day to evening such a gabardine twill trousers or skirts and a single blazer in black or navy.  Bring an assortment of blouses, shirts and sweaters such as turtlenecks that coordinate.  Accessorize dramatically for evening events and employ scarves and some jewelry for day. 
  • ·         If you have a tendency to get cold in air conditioned hotels, bring a blazer or good rib knit or double knit cardigan that coordinates with the rest of your travel wardrobe.
  • ·         If jeans are permitted choose ones in a dark wash that are in excellent condition as well as another pair of pants or skirt in a neutral such as khaki or black.
  • ·         Introduce knits such as sweater sets, cotton V- or round neck pullovers or turtlenecks and mock turtle styles.  Look to natural fibers blended with synthetics or 100% synthetic fabrics for ease of care. 
  • ·         Consider bringing one jacket, perhaps a black blazer or a cardigan that coordinates with the rest of your wardrobe.  A blazer or box jacket, if necessary, can take you to evening if jackets are optional and jeans are permitted.  Wear it with a silk blouse or jeweled tone shirt and bold jewelry.
  • ·         Regarding shoes, don’t buy any new ones to wear on your trip, your feet will hate you.  Buy the shoes about a week or two in advance and break them in at home, then they will be ready for your trip.  Consider bringing a pair of shoes perhaps slip-ons, loafer or tie styles in a medium to low heel such as an inch and a half.    
  • ·         When it comes to cosmetics, have them in a makeup bag.  You may have lots of makeup but you can only take what you really need and the colors you wear most often.  All of my makeup is in such a bag and makes it really easy to travel anywhere and cuts down on decision making each morning. 

Being the Dream Guest: Part I

 

Polite guests reward the time and effort of throwing a party, and they are remembered for this.  Indeed, an essential part of projecting the executive image is conducting yourself properly when invited to a restaurant, a reception, or the company picnic.  As your client’s or boss’s guest, you are being evaluated in these environments.  Being a good guest contributes to your success.

            There is no question that guest manners in our society are deteriorating.  Thank-you notes are virtually unheard of.  Guests arrive late and provide little help in the kitchen.  Granted, societal trends may account for more casual atmospheres when it comes to entertaining; yet this cannot excuse plain bad manners.  Guests have responsibilities too, for the success of any party depends on them.

            Here are some tips on how to be the dream guest:

  • When you are invited to lunch or dinner, remember that it is not your responsibility to pick up the check.  It is common for a woman to invite a professional colleague to lunch.  If it truly is an invitation, let her pick up the check.
  • When a client, associate, or your boss invites you to dinner, give your response within 24 hours.  If something comes up and you have to cancel, place the call yourself.  Don’t let the secretary or leave a voice mail.
  • Confirm an appointment, whether it’s for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  Call the day ahead if it’s for a breakfast meeting.
  • It is important, whether you’ve been invited to a restaurant, home or ballroom, that you arrive on time.  Ten minutes late is considered rude.  If you know you’re going to be late, call to change the time if possible, or call the restaurant to have your host notified.
  • If you happen to beat your host to the restaurant, wait in the lobby of entry hall until he or she arrives.  If you notice that the restaurant if filling up quickly, you can ask the restaurant host to seat you and to have the rest of the party directed there as they arrive.
  • If your host is at least 15 minutes overdue, call his or her office.  Wait for your host for about 40 minutes; if she still hasn’t shown up, either tip the waiter five to ten dollars or have something to eat.
  • When there are more than two people in the party, don’t sit down immediately when you’ve been led to your table; wait for the host to direct you. 
  • When in a large party, observe what other people are ordering.  If they haven’t ordered an appetizer or side salad, don’t be the only one.  And don’t order the most expensive item on the menu simply because it’s the most expensive.
  • When there are just two of you at a restaurant, it’s polite to wait until both have been served before eating.  If there is a long delay, then the one who has not been served should urge the other to start eating.
  • At a dinner where spouses or partners are present, remember to talk about other subjects than business.
  • If someone tells a good joke or you’re having a great time, it’s okay to laugh; just keep the noise level down so it doesn’t interfere with others.
  • Don’t “table hop.”
  • If you must make or receive a phone call, excuse yourself and go to a phone away from the table.  Keep your conversation short.
  • Don’t get drunk!  If you have had too much to drink, however, allow someone who is sober to drive you home.  Furthermore, if you get outright drunk, don’t become loud, obnoxious, or embarrassing at the party.  It’s time for you to “call it a night” or regret you every came.
  • After the event, party or get together, write a thank you note.  This gesture is extremely important whether the party was a social or business one.  This will truly ensure that you are considered the dream guest and foster great relationships in the future.

Save yourself at the Holiday Party

Its that time of year when parties abound – office parties and parties with friends.  And don’t forget December 31st and the NewYear’s celebrations.  Here are some tips for surviving and enjoying those holiday parties in style.

Office parties:

  • Remember it’s the office party and your image is just as important! This party is not the time to let your hair hang down!!
  • Clothes.  If the party is an afternoon open house, casual is appropriate but avoid the tattered jeans and sweats.  If the party is in the evening, dresses and pantsuits are great for women and suits are great for men.
  • Food. If a food is served that you are allergic to or don’t like don’t say anything to the host.  Just don’t eat it.  The host is not obligated to address the tastes of their guests.
  • Behavior.  Don’t get drunk – it’s not appropriate at the office party or a get together with your friends.  Remember not to speak with your mouth full of food.  Avoid using toothpicks in public.
  • At Midnight.  When the clock strikes 12 toast to the New Year and then make your exit soon after.  Be sure to thank the host on your way out.
  • Don’t be the last to leave.  If it’s an open house leave when the time frame is over.
  • If it’s a dinner party be sure to be on time.
  • If the party is at someone’s home.  Bring a gift for the host(s) such as chocolate, flowers, or a bottle of wine.  If you don’t see ashtrays, don’t light up especially in the bathroom.
  • Conversation.  If an office party talk about topics other than “shop talk.”  Consider the upcoming Olympics, traveling, books or movies.  Avoid off-colored jokes.  Try reading the headlines of the newspaper or listening to the news on TV or the radio or topics to talk about if you’re normally a wallflower.  Keep foul language out the conversation – for either gender it is not cool.
  • At a sit down dinner talk to both partners seated next to you.  Rather than pointing out the fly in your salad focus on positive topics.
  • Remember to introduce your significant other to the people you meet.  Be sure to include them in the conversation.

If You’re Blue – Wear Blue – Really!

It’s true, when you’re blue, wearing blue will help you feel better.  And this is the season for blue – thank goodness – electric blue!  It happened to me this past week, I was feeling blue and decided to see if this cliche really did make a difference.  I pulled on my blue shirt and behold, I was feeling a bit better.  The importance of color in clothing cannot be underestimated.  Colors that we see are a result of light waves that affect our feelings and our response to objects we see.  Blue as a color is a cool tone that indicative of the calmness of the ocean and the horizon.  Peace and tranquility are terms often associated with the blue ocean so naturally, the color inspires the same in the clothing we wear.  So the next time you’re feeling blue, pull out that blue shirt and put it on.  You’re going to start feeling a whole lot better!

Looking Good IS Important!

We are a very visual society!  With YouTube and the variety of entertainment shows, gossip magazines as well as the hundreds of reality shows, we give a lot of clout to what we see.   As someone in the advertising and marketing industry, exposure on TV is where it’s at.  Trends and fads get their forward motion via the media either by TV or the internet, both being visual in nature. 

            All across the world there are distinct definitions of what is beautiful.  What is beautiful in one country may be perceived as ugly in the next.  Why is beauty so important?  It seems that most people associate with what is beautiful with what is good.  There has been a lot of research on this topic with the same findings.   For example, a study done in measuring student success found that students that were perceived as “beautiful” were also perceived to be smarter and more inclined to succeed in school.  Outward beauty is defined by a culture and drives a multitude of product and service offerings.

            As I mentioned earlier, human beings subconsciously or perhaps unconsciously, size up other people, places and things on first encounters on very little information.  Attribution theory states that for human beings to function in a society where we face a barrage of stimuli constantly, we need to be able to categorize it quickly and do so on limited information.  It’s kind of like organizing your computer files, putting all the files in various folders as well as the recycle bin.  Or think about all the emails you receive, some you read some you delete and some you save for later.  It’s how we, as human beings, can simplify our lives and move on. 

            So understanding this mental process what are the nonverbal messages or cues that human beings use to categorize people that they encounter on a daily basis.  Some of these factors include clothes worn, body image, mannerisms, and overall appearance.  Everything about a person communicates messages about them.  For example, if you see someone and they have acne you might infer that they’re young, like teenagers.  If we see someone with glasses perhaps we might infer that they’re smart (or want to be) or do a lot of reading.  If we see a woman covering her head we may infer that she is a member of a particular religion or from another culture.  Bottom line we make inferences about people on very little information that subsequently influence how we interact with them.

            That’s why so much consideration is given to appearance.  The sum of the factors, such as clothing, body language and type, that constitutes an individual’s appearance and is perhaps considered beautiful and favorable in the eye of the beholder, subsequently promotes interaction between these individuals.  In fact appearance is about 55 percent of the evaluation in first impression situations.  Frankly, in the first 3-4 seconds people size up the people they meet on all the cues that are available such as hair, body type, clothes and mannerism.  All of this is done before we ever say hello!  And once that happens does what they say fulfill those expectations or break them?  As they say first impressions count and are so critical in the workplace, in interviews and on first dates!

            Further, in 30 seconds people make at least 11 assumptions about you including your occupation, social status, marital status, trustworthiness, credibility, ancestry, and most important, your likelihood to succeed!  Everyone wants to be around a winner!  In interviews, about 75 percent of the decision to hire you is based on your appearance.  The actual interview itself is whether you fulfill the expectations set when you both saw each other.   Additionally, there is an 8-20 percent difference in the entry salary you receive based on your appearance.  Maybe you look like a person that the company wants to invest in and maybe you don’t – it’s up to you.

Moreover, research has shown that people are attracted to others that dress like them.  Often, someone’s appearance infers their political beliefs, values and attitudes.  Let’s say you are interviewing for a position at Saks Fifth Avenue.  Do you look like a Saks Fifth Avenue employee or someone from Walmart?  You decide – do you want to look the part?

            However, realize that impressions can be broken.  For example, if we have little experience working with persons with disabilities we may hold a negative impression based on an outward physical disability.  Yet when we get to know them we may find that they are brilliant and wonderful to work with.  If you meet someone, extend a hand to shake it but they give you a very weak shake, this may be due to problems with arthritis.   If we encounter someone that has their arms folded we may infer that they are in a defensive posture and reluctant to meet others when in actuality they may be cold.  Or perhaps you’re trying to do business with someone from another country, perhaps Japan.  You are frustrated because they don’t give you eye contact.  Well in many Asian countries eye contact is perceived as inappropriate and where they do look might be your forehead.  As with impressions, nothing is in stone; however, we want to put our best foot forward.

Dining with Style

 

  For most of us we are lost when it comes to dining etiquette at a business banquet, luncheon interview or a meal with a client.  Knowing about which fork to use and what to do with your napkin will enhance your confidence in similar unfamiliar situations.  Many executives read up on these or are coached so they can give off a polished image that says that they are comfortable and confident in the most posh of surroundings.  In fact, someone once told me, that to hang out with the rich you needed to know the appropriate behavior and get comfortable with nice things.  Whatever the group, good table manners will give you the edge in business and help propel you up the corporate ladder.   Here are some tips so that you can feel confident in any dining situation:

  • Don’t talk with your mouth full, chew with your mouth full or smack when eating.
  • Sit at the table in a comfortably erect posture, not like the naval academy!
  • Place your napkin in your lap when you sit down.  Please don’t tuck it in your shirt or blouse.
  • Don’t stack your dishes when you’re done.  On a side note, I would also wish that waiters would not stack them in front of me – it’s gross!
  • At a small party wait until the host or guest of honor start eating before you do. If at a large banquet, if seated at a table, wait until the table is served before eating.
  • Don’t reach across the table for the salt, pepper, sugar or cream.  Ask that it be passed to you.
  • Initiate passing of the salt and pepper, or when it is passed to you, use it and than pass it to the person next to you.
  • Ok, now to the table setting, your glasses will be on your right side and your bread plate will be on your left.  The salad fork is left of the entrée fork.  The large spoon on your right is for a soup course.  Don’t slurp this course!  The dessert fork and coffee spoon are usually place at the top of the entrée plate.  Usually, when there are a lot of utensils the rule of thumb is to work from the outside in.
  • When eating American style you hold the fork in your right hand (if right handed) when bringing the food to the mouth.  Do not lean toward the plate so you’re inches above it.  The problem I see most often among men and women of my age and younger is when they are trying to cut something.  It’s rather barbaric.  Instead, put the fork in your left hand (if right handed) and the knife in your right, cut the food (one to three pieces at a time) place the knife horizontally at the top of the plate, and switch the fork (with the food on it) to your right hand and bring it to your mouth.  Learn how to hold your knife correctly rather than looking as though you are stabbing your food.
  • If you are allergic to a certain food just don’t eat it.  If you are vegetarian, fill up before you go if you know that the main course is not and there are not any vegetarian options.  This is particularly true for home parties.  If the host asks just say that you were full on all the delicious food that was offered.
  • When you have finished eating, place your fork, knife and other utensils used at the clock position of ten minutes to four ( If you are right handed), 20 minutes to 2 is a good position for left-handers.

Selecting a Greeting Card for a Co-Worker

I recently had to purchase a birthday for one of my colleague’s 40th birthday.  I purchased two cards, gave a look over after I bought them and decided they were inappropriate for work; hence, the reason for this blog entry.  Cards, whether e-cards or paper ones, are excellent ways to congratulate a co-worker regarding their accomplishments personally and professionally.  It is important to acknowledge co-workers accomplishments – you would want them to do the same for you.  When it comes to cards for any occasion for co-workers the best direction is to go conservative.  If you have to think twice about what the card is saying don’t buy it.  Here are some additional tips to consider:

  • Avoid inferences to sex
  • Avoid inferences to gender
  • Avoid inferences to religion and politics
  • Avoid inferences to romantic love

It really depends on the nature of your relationship with your co-worker.  If you have a close relationship then the message will be mutually understood.  However, when it comes to the boss, an acknowledgement of a birthday or an arrival of a baby or grand child, a card is a thoughtful gesture that enhances any work relationship so being conservative is the best road to go.   It’s when you recognize others and let them know that you are thinking of them that makes the biggest difference with the office.    Consider having some personalized note cards made so that you can send a note of congratulations to colleagues and associates anytime.  Your efforts will go miles with others and contribute to your career success.

 

Keep Your Cool to Stay Ahead

It’s a difficult time for all of us; however, its not cool to take it out on others or to be rude and obnoxious.  Especially in the workplace, letting loose in face-to-fact situations or in email or social media can actually be grounds for termination and the end of a bright career path.

If you really want to have an A game, be civil.  In other words, be decent, polite, or practice The Golden Rule.  In a former time it was called etiquette that being respect for everyday living.  What happened to it?  It’s not just on the streets where people blast their horns because you don’t go fast enough, it’s in Congress.   Remember when South Carolina Representative Joe Wilson made a loud remark during President Obama’s State of the Union address?    President Obama even pointed out the importance of civility at his Notre Dame address to graduates, “one of the things I’m trying to figure out is, how can we make sure that civility is interesting.”  Interesting???  I guess if it’s interesting we will remain civil in the course of our actions and discussions with others on a daily basis.  Whatever. . . !

                Whether it’s in the political arena or on the playing field, or in interactions with others, being civil and polite is the key to keeping your A game.  The Vancouver Sun (April 4, 2008, http://www.canada.com) identified 10 rules for being civil.  Try these on for size and see if they don’t enhance your ability to be successful in everything you do.

1.       Pay Attention to what’s going on.

2.       Practice Compassion.

3.       Act.

4.       Hold individual accountable for what they do.

5.       Be clear in stating your case.

6.       Listen.

7.       Be prepared to change.

8.       Avoid physical and emotional violence.

9.       Remain genuine.

10.   Treat others with the respect with which you’d like to be treated.