3 Reasons to Embrace Your Scars

I was rummaging through some business photos the other day, when my youngest child said, “Daddy, what’s wrong with your face?”

The photo she was referring to was my “professional head shot” photo for work.

As I looked at the photo, I realized what she was referring to.

When I took the photo, the photographer immediately uploaded it to his computer and started doing his “magic”.  He said, “It’s amazing what the camera can see.”  When I asked him what he meant, he said, “I can see where your skin is damaged.  I can see blemishes you didn’t know you had.”  When I responded with an intrigued (and somewhat concerned) look, he said, “Don’t worry.  I can fix them.”

Then I watched him work.  He smoothed some skin out here.  Removed a scar there.  Gave me a little color.  Fixed my collar line.  At the time, I thought, “How cool.  This must be how they do it in the movies and magazines.”

What I didn’t realize at the time was that he wasn’t really capturing me.  He created a version of me that looked, well….”plastic”.   And my little one was sharp enough to pick up on that.

I looked deeper at the photo.  I started to account for the scars that were missing in the photo – and what each one stood for.  One from falling out of a tree.  Two from chicken pox when I was a child.  One from an outpatient surgery.   And others…

Scars mean many things.  They remind us of our adventures, risks, and even some of the dumb things we did.  Sometimes they remind us of success, while other times they remind us of defeat.  Sometimes they are a reminder of a funny story.  And sometimes they tell the tale of a painful and tragic event.

Regardless, they are a part of who we are.  And from the funny to the tragic, they tell the story of where we’ve been.

Personally, I have found that embracing my scars is an important part of my well-being.  I am mentally healthier because I allow them to remind me of:

  • Life lessons.  Most of us can account for every scar on our bodies – we know what happened, how, and when.  We remember the lessons that we learned – and are keen about not repeating our mistakes.
  • Identity.  Not all scars showcase a mistake, sometimes they tell the tale of who we are.   When I was a younger man, I worked for a short time for a farmer.  Before he hired me, he asked me to show him my hands.   When I did so, he nodded in satisfaction and said I could work for him.  Confused, I asked for an explanation.  He said that my hands had nicks and scars and that showed him that I wasn’t afraid to work.  Scars showcase experience and tell a tale.
  • Survival.  Regardless of whether the scar was caused by a major tragedy or a minor folly, they remind us that even in the worst of times – we had the fortitude to survive.   We persevered.  We endured.  And that reminder gives us hope the next time we face a difficult situation.

As I reflect on my own scars, I think not only about the physical scars, but emotional and psychological scars as well.  All of these together represent many lessons of risk and reward; recklessness and consequence; tragedy and triumph.  And it is up to me – it is up to you – to determine how to view our own scars.

We can try to hide and forget our scars and let them bring us down when we catch a glimpse.  OR we can embrace them, remember the lessons, and live stronger and wiser because of them.

Personally, I choose the latter.  These scars are part of who I am.  Their experiences have molded and shaped me into the person I am today.  I am thankful for them.

I have since retired my “professional head shot” photo.  I’ll go back and take another at some point, but this time, I’ll have the photographer leave the scars there – to properly reflect the real me.

How do you view your own scars?

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3 Reasons to Become Audacious

Do you have the audacity to be audacious?

Do you desire to be bold, courageous, or even fearless?

If your answer is yes, then what’s stopping you?  If you answer no, then maybe this article isn’t for you.  If you hesitated or didn’t know the answer, then read on.

So, what do I mean by ‘being audacious’?

I mean to be bold.  Be brave and/or daring.   Step outside of your comfort zone.   Be unrestrained by the conventional way.  Purposefully learn something that’s outside of your norm.  Gain a new or broader perspective. Be adventurous and inquisitive.  Step up and do something different!

Why should you become audacious?  Here are three good reasons.

  • You’re sleepwalking.  Most of us have been here for either a brief time or perhaps are still stuck here in lifeisboringsville.  You do the same things every day – day in and day out – over and over.  It’s repetitious…and you’re tired of it!  It’s time to wake up!  It’s time to jump the rut and do something different with your life!
  • You’re living scared.  Most of us have been here too.  We’ve all been scared from time to time – but being scared and being too petrified to move or act are two very different things.   If we allow our fear and worry to imprison us, we may never break free and may never meet our true potential.  But if we can find the courage and strength, we may be able to overcome our self-imposed prison to find new amazing success and achievement.
  • You want something more or different.  Ahhh….one of my favorites.  You know that you have more in you to give.  More in you to share.  More in you to accomplish.  This reason is the one that focuses on the positive of untapped potential – and quite honestly has the greatest opportunity for success – if only we take a leap of faith and step out.

If you find yourself relating to one of the three situations mentioned above, then it’s time for you to take a step into audaciousness.

Don’t know how?  Try one (or all) of these:

  • Set one Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG – as author Jim Collins puts it) with a time limit.  Don’t set some little wimpy arbitrary goal.  Really put something specific out there that is just out of reach, but realistic.  Something that will challenge you to learn, grow, stretch, and evolve.
  • Push past your comfort zone.  If you know yourself well enough to know your boundaries, start poking beyond those.   If you can only run a 12-minute mile – push yourself to hit a 10- minute mile.
  • Create accountability.  Invite others to hold you accountable.  Share your goals and desires.  Tell them what you’re doing and have them help you succeed.
  • Meet one new person a week.  Proactively introduce yourself to others.  Choose people that you wouldn’t normally meet and/or create a list of people you want to meet (and seek them out without becoming a stalker). Be proactive in growing your relationships.  But don’t just develop acquaintances.  Develop a real relationship where you invest time in learning about others.  What drives them?   What experiences have they had?  Why do they do what they do?
  • Ask more questions than you make statements.  This is one of my favorites. Use open ended questions (who, what, when, where, why, and how).  Listen more, learn more.

These are just a few things you can do to jump start your new audacious life!  What others can you think of?

As a personal goal, I want to step out even more this next year.  I want to be more bold in the way that I live life, work, play and relate to others.  I won’t settle for less.

You only get one turn on this earth.  Live your life everyday!  Make it the best!  Make a difference!

I will be audacious!  What about you?

A Lesson in Dignity

My parents have taught me many lessons over the years.   I joke with them that I’m amazed how wise they’ve become as I’ve gotten older.   But as I get older, I’ve noticed that those lessons sometimes come when I least expect them – and last week was no different.

Last week, my Dad called.  Our phone conversation started off pretty normal.  After making sure everything was going well with me, he let me in on some news.

My Dad informed me that his company was downsizing and he had just been laid off from work.

I must admit – a whole host of emotions occur when someone close gives you news like this.  I ran the gamut and experienced everything from shock to concern to anger.

But what happened next was truly a life lesson in dignity.

As he spoke, I took note of several things.

My Dad was calm.  As I think about it, I wonder if I’d be that calm if I was just let go from my job.  He was very composed and his voice was soothing and relaxed.

My Dad was not angry.  He said that he didn’t blame anyone for the situation.  He didn’t take it personally.  It just was what it was.  He explained the company’s situation, economy, challenges and in the end that they (the company) had to make a decision.

My Dad was at peace with the situation.  He informed me that things happen for a reason, and clearly there was a reason for this to happen.  My Dad is a man of strong faith and knows that God has a greater plan for his life.

My Dad is close, but not quite ready to retire – he told me that he was going to search for the opportunity in the situation.  And that he was going to take advantage of it to make sure his next step better positions them [my parents] for the next chapter in their life.

My Dad took the high road.  Probably one of the most impacting parts of his story was when he told me about his boss having to terminate his employment.  He said that while he had known his boss for a good many years and they were friends, he had recently been restructured and his boss had only been his boss for about a week.

His boss and an HR rep sat my Dad down that afternoon.  My Dad already knew what was coming.  He said his boss was clearly upset by the situation and could barely talk.  When he did speak, he spoke quietly.  Then my Dad did something very cool.  He reassured his boss and told him it was okay.  He told him that he knew it wasn’t his fault.  In essence, he gave his boss permission to carry out his duty.

Knowing my Dad, I can mentally picture him sitting there with his employers.  His head held high – a compassionate look on his face – with a half-grin telling the weary messenger – “It’s okay.  Go ahead.”

My Dad left his company with dignity.  He did it with no shame or embarrassment.  He did it with the satisfaction of knowing he had contributed greatly to his organization. He did it with poise and pride.  He did it like I’d expect of a great man.

And, in a son’s eyes, my Dad is a great man.  He’s taught me much.  And I love him dearly.

While this is a very personal story, I wanted to share because there were several lessons above about how to think and act when life knocks you down.

One of the most valuable lessons is one my parents taught me growing up:  You can’t always control what happens to you, but you can control how you react.

I have taught and re-taught that lesson to many (and reminded myself of it many times).  To see it in practice by the one who taught it to me in such an extreme circumstance is absolutely inspiring.

The next time, I find myself face to face with a difficult dilemma – I will remember this story.  I will remember my Dad.

How will you react when faced with a difficult challenge?

5 Ways to Listen Better

Listening is a critical skill.

I don’t think anyone reading this post would deny it.

As I watch the great leaders around me, I notice one thing that they have in common.  They listen.

Rarely are they the first to talk.  They listen, contemplate, and then ask questions.

And then, when they are ready to make a statement, those around them almost lean forward in anticipation of what is about to be said because they know that it will be important.

But why?

Because the leader’s words were built upon a foundation of first listening to others.

So, how do you become a better listener?

The first method of course is to simply close your own mouth, which many of us often find to be a challenge.  I’m the first to admit that I sometimes struggle in this area.  However, when I get it right, it’s amazing what happens.  I find myself listening more intently to those around me and understanding much more than I did before.

The path to improved listening, however, is more of a journey than a sudden magnificent change.  There are many methods, but each of them takes focus, practice, and conscious repetitious effort.

This weekend, I stumbled across a TED video by Julian Treasure that talks about 5 Ways to Listen Better.  So, I thought that I would share with you here to put more tools into your leader’s locker.

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So, what’d you think?  Pretty interesting!

Personally, I found the fifth exercise to be the best.  However, all are great tools to enhance your ability to listen to the environment around you.  And hopefully to not only enhance your ability to listen, but your enjoyment of it as well.

What exercises, tools, or tips have you found to help improve your listening skill?

7 Tips for Interacting with Employees on Social Media

Here’s a leadership challenge.

What do you do when an employee sends you a “friend request” on Facebook?  What about on LinkedIn?  Or if they follow you on Twitter?

This is today’s reality and it can be very troubling for a leader.  You don’t want to hurt people’s feelings, but where is the line between public and private life?

In Part 1 and Part 2 of Social Media and You (the Leader) we covered some tips on (1) the general landscape and (2) navigating the minefield.  In Part 3, we are going to look at interaction with employees on social media.

By this point, you should know that HOW you engage on social media is really up to you, but that you should have a plan.  Also up to you is how you interact with your employees on social media, but this is one of those places that you really have to weigh the pros and cons.

Unfortunately, as I researched this topic, I found just about as much evidence ‘for’ as I did ‘against’, which wasn’t very helpful.  I did find one private practice legal website that I liked though.  While they took a fairly neutral stance, they certainly provided a little more ‘meat’ than other articles I read.  For your benefit, I am providing the pros and cons that they listed on their website below.

  • Pro: Friending employees can help you discover common interests with your staff and can build camaraderie between people in your workforce.
  • Con: Access to your employees’ Facebook (or other) pages may reveal their personal problems or issues and can introduce “drama” into your work environment.
  • Pro: Allowing your employees access to your Facebook (or other) pages may show your more personable side, which can make you more “approachable” to employees.
  • Con: Connecting through social media may make managers too “approachable” and can blur the line between supervisor and subordinate.
  • Pro: Friending employees may provide insight on how best to motivate employees, which can lead to new, more effective ways of relating to your employees.
  • Con: Reviewing an employee’s Facebook (or other) page may result in discovering an employee’s religious affiliation or health problems, which can be pointed to if claims of discrimination are ever raised by the employee.
  • Pro: Friending your employees may uncover their hidden talents and hobbies which could be useful to your business.
  • Con: To avoid “playing favorites,” if you accept a friend request from one employee, you probably need to accept friend requests from all your employees.

So what do you do?  Here are 7 tips for interacting with employees on social media:

  • KNOW THE RULES.  Know if your company has a policy against being “friends” with subordinates on social media sites.  If they do, then don’t do it.
  • SET BOUNDARIES.  YOU have to make a decision on whether or not you will be friends with employees on social media sites (also bosses, co-workers, colleagues, etc.).  It’s up to you.  But you need to make a decision and set those fence posts.
  • STICK TO YOUR GUNS.  Once you’ve made that decision, apply it consistently.  Don’t treat employees differently (there is a huge opportunity for misperception there).  Treat them all the same.
  • PLAN FOR THE CONVERSATION.  Social media is incredibly personal to some people and they WILL get their feelings hurt if you choose not to “accept” them.  Be prepared to have the conversation with them (usually following the friend request denial) that you have a personal policy of not interacting with employees on social media sites.  This may sting a little at first, but will be better in the long run because it will remove speculation and diminish curiosity as to why.
  • CORRECT THE MISTAKE.  If you start out accepting employees, but figure out that you don’t want to do that anymore, then make the change.  Just know that this too may sting for a little bit, as people associate “unfriending” with not being personally accepted.  Ripping the band-aid of may be the best in this situation.  Just make sure that you communicate it appropriately.
  • DON’T INVITE.  Do not ‘invite’ or ‘friend’ your employees.  Again – social media is very personal.  A boss initiating the invite may make the employee feel like they have to accept and you may be invading their personal space.  This includes asking your employees to “recommend” you on LinkedIn.  Don’t invite or ask.
  • BE NICE, NOT NAUGHTY.  If you decide to be friends with employees on social media sites, take a ‘neutral to nice’ approach to the content you post.   Don’t be negative (in any sense of that word).  Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your boss or HR to see.  You may think that this doesn’t allow “you to be you”.  But if you want to be “you” without censorship, then don’t invite your employees to the party.

Two more things.

  1.  Watch out for the PROMOTION.  When you promote and the people that you used to call “peer” are now your “subordinates” your relationship changes.  This includes how you engage with each other from a social standpoint, which includes social media sites.  This means one of two things. First, if your policy is not to be “friends” with employees on Facebook, then you may need to ‘unfriend’ your former peers, which is a tough one.  OR, it means that you may need to modify how you use that social site.  Not doing either could be a recipe for disaster (see bullets 4, 5, and 7 above).
  2. You don’t have to have a one size fits all approach to social media sites.  You may NOT want them to be your friends on Facebook, but LinkedIn may be OKAY because it is a professional networking site.  Know how to use the sites, know your purpose, and engage accordingly.

I’m sure this has spawned lots of questions for you.  But this was a great starting place.  Ultimately, the decision is yours.  Just make sure you are making an educated and informed decision.  If you are still unsure, you can always seek advice from your company’s legal counsel.  They should be able to provide you with additional insight and perspective.

Now, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Should a boss be friends with their employees on social media sites?  Why or why not?

5 Suggestions for Avoiding Social Media Blunders

Social Media.  Personally, I’m a big fan and huge user!  Wrong or right, it is shaping how we communicate as a society.  More importantly for us, it’s shaping how we communicate as leaders.  Being leaders means that people watch our actions closely and social media now gives those watchers a magnifying glass.

As Part 2 in our series Social Media and You (the Leader), I wanted to get a little more personal and talk about how to avoid some of the missteps.

For myself, I’m engaged on lots of different platforms (e.g., Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Linkedin, etc.).  You may be different, but chances are, you’ve ventured out and tried at least one platform (most likely Facebook or MySpace).  I’m generally pretty open in my use of social media, but am extremely cognizant of whom I’m engaging with and how.  I also know how to use the features and tools on the sites that I participate on.  AND, I am very mindful of the content I post.

Leaders be ready!  How you engage is really up to you, but navigating the social media minefield requires a little bit of thought and discipline.

Here are 5 practical tips to help you out:

  • LEARN TO DRIVE.  Think of social media platforms like a car.  Every car is different (so are social media platforms).  Every car has different features (so do social media platforms).  You have to learn the ‘rules of the road’ to drive successfully (the same is true for social media platforms).  You can crash in a car and can cause injury or damage (as you can on social media platforms).  A car can provide great freedom, efficiency, and opportunity in one’s life (as can social media platforms).   The key is to learn how to use your “car” effectively.  Doing so will improve the chance that you don’t make inadvertent mistakes (like posting things to the wrong audience).  Learn how to set the privacy and security features.  Learn what other’s see when you post.  Learn how to use filters and groups.  Learn how to retract posts.  Learn how to use the features of the platforms correctly.  When you learned to drive, you probably had someone instruct you.  Social media platforms all have tutorials – use them wisely.
  • DEFINE YOUR PURPOSE for using social media.  Know why you are there.  Are you using it for professional purposes (e.g., job hunting, networking, relationship management, etc.)?  Are you using it for sharing your latest personal thoughts and ideas?  Are you using it to promote your business?  Keep in touch with friends and family?  Whatever your desire, be disciplined in your use and be cautious in mixing purposes.  Sharing the wrong content with the wrong people can have disastrous consequences.  For example, posting a rant about how bad [insert your rival college football team here] did this last year on Linkedin, probably won’t help you get that new job (especially if the recruiter went to school there). Define how you want to engage and why and then stick with it!
  • KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE.  Hopefully, from the previous point, you’ve defined the people that you want to engage with.  Once you’ve defined how you want to use a social media site, only invite and accept invites, friend requests, or whatever else from those that fit that definition.  If you want Facebook to be a place for you to share info with family and real friends, then do that.  If you want LinkedIn to just be business contacts, then do that.  But be prepared to “ignore” or “reject” some friend requests from people that don’t fit “the profile”.  We’ll tackle this in the next post.
  • KEEP IT CLEAN.  Treat anything that you want to put in to Facebook or any other social media site like it is PUBLIC information!  Don’t ever think otherwise.  Even with the strictest of privacy settings in place, don’t ever think that you’re only sharing information with your “best buddies”.  Others that have access to your info can share, retweet, repost, link to, copy, or “screen shot” your information and may unintentionally (or intentionally) share information that you don’t want shared with others.  This is one of the most frequent landmines that I see on a regular basis.  Rule of thumb:  Don’t post anything that you wouldn’t want your parents, pastor, or boss to read.
  • QUARREL NOT!   For all the reasons listed in the last point, Facebook or other sites are not the place to “air your dirty laundry” or someone else’s.  Just like in any other form of communication, there are right and wrong ways to do things.  Personally, I’m a believer that if you and I have an “issue” then I am going to come and talk to you about it.  Not email it, voice mail it, text it, or heaven forbid – post it on Twitter.  Plus, it makes you look like a jerk.  If someone goads you, then let it go or take care of it “offline”.  Don’t fall in to the trap of public self-destruction.

In the next post, we’ll talk a little about how employees and co-workers play in to your social media use.

What tips do you have for avoiding social media blunders?

Enjoy!

~J

How Do They Describe You?

This is not a setup to a joke, but… A funny thing happened at work the other day.

Apparently, a couple of interns were talking with some of my team members when referring to me one said, “Where is that funny guy?” And the other quickly added, “With the spikey hair.”

Funny guy with the spikey hair. Hmmmmm.

My team members responded, “You mean our boss?” And they immediately became embarrassed for not remembering my name. They then asked my team not to relay the story to me, and…well since I am blogging about it…you can see how that worked out for them.

Of course, I had a little fun with them about it over the following days. After all, there are much worse things to be called.

While a hilarious situation, it really leads to a great point.

How do people describe you?

In my situation, the interns couldn’t remember my name, so they had to describe me to others based upon my actions and characteristics. They used the adjective “funny”, which isn’t too bad in my eyes, because they could have always said, “the guy that tries to be funny”. And they called out the fact that I had hair, which at my age is becoming more and more of a plus.

The use of these descriptors highlighted not only how the interns perceive me, but also the characteristics that stand out that make me unique.

So, how do people describe you?

What are the characteristics that you display that people remember? That set you apart? That you are known for?

Do they describe you in positive or negative terms?

Are you funny, hard working, caring, friendly, approachable, creative, crazy (good), humble, driven, savvy, or imaginative?

Or do people see you as condescending, stressed, arrogant, wishy-washy, unfriendly, or jerky? Yes. Jerky (not as in the edible dried meat product, but as someone they don’t want to be around).

I definitely would have been concerned if they would have said, “Where is that jerky guy with the spikey hair?”

Whether you have relatively little interaction with people or lots, how you act and treat them predominately forms the basis of how they see and perceive you. And after all, their perception is their reality. And its this reality that they share with others.

So, as a leader, be self-aware. Know how people describe and perceive you. This is a  very important skill to develop.  If you don’t know how people see you, then ask. Find some trusted colleagues, a mentor, a boss, or others and ask. If you don’t like what you hear, then do something about it.

How do they describe you?

Is That the Best You Can Do?

This week, we were honored to have Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo, speak at our workplace.  She is a very interesting and dynamic speaker.  Many that attended found her brutal honesty to be refreshing.

Among the many experiences and stories that she told was one about the speechwriter for Henry Kissinger that I think was very intriguing.  So much so, that I did some research on the story.  I found out that earlier in his career, Winston Lord was Kissinger’s speechwriter before he later became the ambassador to China.  The story basically goes like this:

Lord was preparing a speech for Kissinger and delivered a draft.  Kissinger called him in the next day and simply said, “Is that the best you can do?”  Lord said, “I thought so, but I’ll try again.”  He returned a draft to Kissinger, only to be called back again and asked the same question, “Is that the best you can do?”  This back and forth continued several times until Lord, who was exasperated and exhausted, finally said, “Yes!  I know it’s the best I can do.  I can’t possibly improve one more word.”  Kissinger then replied, “In that case, now I will read it.”

While I found that there were a few variations of this story (even as told by Lord himself in interviews), I found that the moral of the story remained constant and rings true; are you giving your best the first time?  The story is popular and I found it used in several blogs on leadership , articles and speeches. 

So the story begs the question, “Are you delivering your best work the first time?”

All Kissinger really wanted was an assurance and confidence in the fact that this was in fact his speechwriter’s best work.  If the speechwriter would have said “Yes” the first time Kissinger probably would have accepted it, but by repeatedly issuing the challenge he ultimately received his speechwriter’s best.

As I think about the application of this story to leadership, I think about it in two ways.

First, as leaders, do we elicit the best work from our people? How do you know?  What are you doing to challenge your  people to be better?  Are you teaching and developing them to produce quality work?  Do they convey their confidence when submitting work product? Do they strive to provide their best the first time?

Second, as leaders, do we set a good example and provide OUR BEST work the first time?  To your boss?  To your subordinates?  To your colleagues and partners?  To your customers?  Are people seeing your best work the first time?  Or do you scrape drafts together and submit them haphazardly just to get by? 

Here’s 5 tips on helping you achieve your best work the first time:

  1. Chuck laziness aside!  Don’t procrastinate!  You may be thinking, “Ha!  Easier said than done.”  Procrastination is one of the most widespread workplace diseases that there is.  Many even fall victim to the fallacy that “I do my best work under pressure.”  Well, then create artificial pressure to get you there, because leaving things to the last-minute generally leads to less than desired performance.  Force yourself to get started on things early.  If you can get in to this habit, you will be a step ahead of many.   This basic tip also sets you up for more effectively employing the next three tips.
  2. Plan for the Red Pen Plan time for the proof-reading, editing and review of your work.   Your boss shouldn’t be spending time red-penning (editing) your work.  Make sure this is part of your own project or work plan.  And honestly, once you learn to use it appropriately it becomes second nature. 
  3. Find Good Hole Punchers!  In addition to planning the proofing process in to your work, is the development of a list of trusted people who can review your work before you submit it.  Have them punch holes in your theories, format, content and anything else they can.  This list should be of people from a cross-section of your work environment because you may want different or multiple opinions on varying pieces of work.  Two key callouts though are that your list needs to be made up of people who have no fear of being brutally honest with you AND you need to be willing to accept any feedback that they provide with an open mind. 
  4. Sleep on it!  One of the great tricks of the trade, especially if you don’t have good hole punchers is to come to a stopping point in your work, put it aside, sleep on it a day or two, and then come back to it with a fresh set of eyes.  This gives your mind time to rest.  And when you come back to the work, you may see things you didn’t see before or think of new ways to phrase or say things.
  5. Obsess on improvement!  How many times has spell check saved your life in catching a misspelled word?  How many times since then have you misspelled that same word over and over only to have spell check catch it again?  I know it’s happened to me.  However, you won’t always have spell check around to save you.  So, wouldn’t it be good to get past being lazy and learn to actually spell the word right?  The same applies to all that you learn each time you submit a piece a work for review.  As people proof your work or provide you edits, learn the lessons they are teaching you and apply them to future work.  Learn to spell the word right!

What tips do you have for submitting your best work the first time?

Enjoy!

~Jason

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