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Top 10 Blog Posts on Life and Entrepreneurship in 2016

Best of... onlineHappy New Year! Hopefully you have recovered from your holiday celebrations and have started to think about how you plan to make 2017 your best year yet.

Before we completely move on from 2016, I wanted to take one final look back at some of the insight and inspiration we’ve shared on the Bennis Inc blog, specifically on topics related to life and entrepreneurship. As I read through the year’s worth of writing, I found myself particularly drawn to these 10 articles. I hope that they give you a renewed passion for pursuing your dreams in 2017!

Life Lesson: Are You Satisfied or Merely Distracted?

It’s easy to find things to distract us, but it’s not quite as easy to find true satisfaction in life. So often these two feelings are confused which causes us to life a “busy” life, but not a fulfilled life. This blog helps you to identify the difference and make changes in your life to achieve satisfaction.

Read the original blog here.

Best Practices for Internal Communication During a Crisis

We never want to imagine something bad happening to our business or personal reputation, which is why so often we don’t have a plan to deal with a crisis. This blog offers best practices for internal communication – that means your staff, family, etc – when life throws you a curve ball.

Read the original blog here.

Thanking Up: Sharing gratitude with your superiors

When you want to show your boss appreciation, it can be an awkward situation. How do you properly thank a superior without it appearing condescending? This blog offers tips for how to “thank up” and show gratitude for people above you in rank.

Read the original blog here.

Parenthood: Adjusting to the Ever-Changing “New Normal”

This is a personal post that focuses on the journey of parenthood combined with entrepreneurship. Spoiler alert…it most certainly has its challenges! How have I adjusted to the “new normal” of running a business while raising a growing family? Take a look!

Read the original blog here.

What My Toddler Has Taught Me About Motivating People to Say Yes

Just about every parent can agree that a toddler’s favorite word is “No.” Each day is a new challenge to motivate my children to comply with my requests. Here’s what the experience has also taught me about motivating clients to say “Yes.”

Read the original blog here.

Declutter Your Life by Asking These 5 Questions

Whether you’re a neat freak or someone who wishes they could keep their life a bit more organized, this blog post can help you declutter by asking yourself five simple questions.

Read the original blog here.

The Power of Picking Your Focus

Some of the most successful people are those who can intensely focus on one goal and see it through completion. With the start of the New Year, this is a great article to re-read to help you prioritize your resolutions.

Read the original blog here.

How Some of the Worst Jobs Have Made My Career Better

We’re all had less than favorable career experiences, but rather than chalking it up as a failure, we can choose to learn something valuable. In this blog I recap some of my worst job experiences but how they ultimately led me to a fulfilling career.

Read the original blog here.

Can an Introvert Thrive in a Career in Public Relations?

Knowing now how much of an introvert that I am, I may have never chosen to pursue a career in PR. But that would have been a mistake! Introverts can most certainly thrive in a career in Public Relations and this blog explains how.

Read the original blog here.

5 Ways You Are Spreading Negativity Without Knowing It

No one enjoys being around a negative person. However, sometimes we spread negativity without realizing we’re doing so. Start the New Year off on a positive note by reading about the five ways we spread negatively unintentionally.

Read the original blog here.

Want to explore most blog posts from Stephanie Shirley and Bennis Inc? Be our guest! Click here to browse business and success, here to browse life and here to explore all the rest.

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2017 in Business & Success, Life, Wisdom

 

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Top 10 Blog Posts on Life and Entrepreneurship in 2015

Top 10 of the year (done in 3d)

I feel like I need to start by asking the obligatory question of “Where has the year gone?” But truthfully, I feel like it’s been quite a long year packed with great memories, exciting achievements and whole lot of interesting writing.

Before we close out 2015 and turn our calendars to the New Year, I wanted to take one last opportunity to revisit some of my favorite blog posts. We covered just about everything you could imagine including branding, communication, personality types, time management and of course my cat, Pinot.

Join me on this brief trip down memory lane with a list of the top 10 blog posts on life and entrepreneurship in 2015 from Bennis Inc. May 2016 be filled with just as much insight and inspiration!

How Do an Introvert and Extrovert Live Together in Peace?

Whether it’s your spouse, best friend or boss, co-existing with the opposite personality type brings a unique set of challenges. This blog explores my personal experience as an introvert living (and often working) with my husband who is an extrovert.

Read the original blog here.

How to Rebrand Your Business

This blog is the first post in a 5-part series that was inspired by my website redesign (check it out at www.bennisinc.com!) So often, businesses miss the signs that they are in need of rebranding or are overwhelmed by the task and don’t know where to begin. These posts provide a step-by-step guide to walk you through the process.

Read the original blog here.

The 4 Most Powerful Words You Can Ask Someone

In between my many articles focused on communications, public relations and marketing, I also like to insert posts that are philosophical and geared toward life in general. This is one of those posts…and one of my favorites from 2015. Find out what four words I’m talking about and why we should use them today.

Read the original blog here.

7 Ways to Use a Press Release Beyond Pitching to Media

I never like to see good content go to waste which is what inspired this particular blog post on repurposing a press release. Even if you don’t get a single media hit, you have the power to get the most out of this content with how you personally promote it across your communication channels.

Read the original blog here.

5 Tips for Running a Productive Business Meeting

I love efficiency and good time management which is why I often hate sitting in boring business meetings. This blog post received a ton of love from my readers who can relate! Take a look at how you can run a more productive business meeting in 2016.

Read the original blog here.

5 Lessons My Cat Has Taught Me About Entrepreneurship

Of course my cat, Pinot, had to make an appearance at least once in 2015, so this is her post. What I’ve learned by observing her actions are usually more “what not to do,” but she inspired me with some solid advice this year as well.

Read the original blog here.

How to Professionally Fire a Client

This was among the most read and shared Bennis Inc blog posts in 2015. Breaking off a bad relationship with a client is a hard and uncomfortable topic for many business owners. In this post I offer advice on how to identify these “must-go” clients and how to remain professional when showing them the door.

Read the original blog here.

Why Technology is Killing These 11 Essential Skills

So often we read about the wonderful advancements and achievements of technology, but it’s important to also stop and examine how technology may be making our life more difficult. In this blog post I challenge the “helpful” aspects of technology by pointing out 11 essential skills it is hindering in our society.

Read the original blog here.

6 Valuable Lessons I Learned from Working from Home

I am a passionate advocate for the virtual work environment, but I am also constantly learning how to balance and manage the unique challenges that come with working from home. This blog post takes a fresh look at the lessons I’ve learned specifically in 2015 about how to be efficient and effective when working from home.

Read the original blog here.

8 Reasons Why We Never Have Enough Free Time

This is the perfect post to end my top 10 list for 2015. As we hopefully get some rest over the holidays, we can all benefit from reflecting upon why we might feel like we never have enough free time. January tends to be among the most stressful and hectic months for many business owners. Prepare yourself for a calm and collected 2016 by learning about these time management pitfalls.

Read the original blog here.

Want to explore most blog posts from Stephanie Shirley and Bennis Inc? Be our guest! Click here to browse business and success, here to browse life and here to explore all the rest.

 
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Posted by on December 28, 2015 in Business & Success, Life, Wisdom

 

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The 9 C’s of What Motivates Humans to Do Anything

What Motivates Humans to Do Anything

Motivation is a powerful and fascinating component of our human lives. We are fickle, particular and often lazy creatures that require a great deal of motivation to do anything. Nearly every part of my career in communications is somehow related back to how I can motivate someone to do something. And while it may seem simple enough, it’s no easy task!

Any effective marketing, advertising or public relations strategy should take into consideration the most likely motivating factors of your target audience. What will get them to take action? The bad news is that it can be a combination of any number of things. The good news is that the most common motivators fall into nine categories (that ironically can all be labeled with a word that starts with C).

Let’s take a look at the nine C’s of what motivates humans to do anything – and how to ignite this motivation style. I urge you to carefully think about which one is the strongest motivator for you personally and pinpoint the one you rely on the most to motivate others. I promise the results will spark your curiosity (yes, that’s one of the C words we will cover)!

Challenge

As human begins, we are drawn to a challenge. The excitement and fulfillment we receive when we achieve more than we initially thought possible is an intoxicating rush of adrenaline that keeps us coming back for more. To an extent this can depend upon personality type, but to some degree we all crave a good challenge now and then.

How to ignite this motivation style: Set the bar and challenge your audience to raise it. Some very effective marketing campaigns have challenged us to create a better solution, try something new or dare to be different. We crave the feelings of pride and accomplishment that come from taking on a challenge.

Competition

Long before we had a term to define marketing and advertising strategies, we have been motivating people through competition in a variety of ways. It’s why athletes put their bodies through intensive training and unbelievable feats of endurance – all to better themselves and gain a leg up on the competition. We’re not all athletes, but we are all motivated by competition in some shape or form. If we think we can do or have something better than someone else, you better believe we’re going to be motivated to try it!

How to ignite this motivation style: Showcase how other people are excelling and how your audience can too with your business or service. No one wants to be left behind. Appeal to the desire to “keep up with the Joneses” and you will motive action.

Compliance

Thinking of compliance as a motivating factor seems funny because not often do we like to be told what to do. Or so we think. As creatures of habit, we seek someone who will tell us what to do because it’s all we have known our whole lives (we can thank Mom and Dad for that). If your boss or client should walk in right now and hand you a work task, chances are nearly certain that you will comply with their request. You now feel obligated to complete this task which is a strong motivator for action.

How to ignite this motivation style: Make your audience feel obligated or committed to doing something. Identify a specific action and convince them that it is their responsibility to fulfil this duty.

Consequence

What should happen if you do not take an action? Will you lose money, lose your job, make someone angry or something worse? If you believe that a negative consequence is associated with not taking a specific action, you are highly motivated to indeed take that action. Whether we know it or not, we run cost-benefit analyses in our head all the time. The consequence must be perceived as worse than the effort, expense or risk associated with the action. That’s where marketing comes in.

How to ignite this motivation style: Play upon fear or doubt that something bad will result from not taking this action. They key is to identify your audience’s shared insecurity or vulnerability and position your desired action as the way to prevent negative consequences.

Control

There are countless aspects of our lives that we simply cannot control. This is why our ability to control something – anything – is a great motivator. We want to feel the power and stability of being in control, no matter how small. Even if this is simply picking our ice cream flavor or choosing the color of our car, empower people with a sense of control and they will be motivated to take action.

How to ignite this motivation style: Show how taking action will put your audience in a position of control. Empower them with (limited) options to improve their current situation or demonstrate how the action will help them solve a problem that feels beyond their control.

Connection

We are also motivated by the desire to feel connected to other people. This is why we devote a great portion of our time to cultivating friendships and building a community around us. Our individual personalities will influence how many and what type connections we seek, but we all want to feel connected to some degree. I am without a doubt an introvert, but I still need and crave connections in my life.

How to ignite this motivation style: Speak to your audience’s inherent desire to feel accepted and part of the “bigger picture.” Paint a picture of a connected community bonding and working together.

Contribution

Another motivational factor that is closely linked to the feeling of community and involvement is “contribution.” Our actions can be motivated by the desire to help a cause. Fundraising for a nonprofit or political organization takes a very specific appeal – and based upon the millions of dollars donated to various organizations every month, it is also a very effective form of motivation.

How to ignite this motivation style: Convince your audience that their actions will contribute to a community or cause. Make it easy to understand how their actions will benefit the greater good and serve a purpose that is meaningful to them.

Craftsmanship

We have covered the categories of people wanting to feel connected and people wanting to contribute to something bigger than themselves, but we would be amiss to not also address a more selfish motivator of pride. Craftsmanship motivates us to take action because we are drawn to the idea of showcasing our skills and talents to create something that other people admire. Craftsmanship is not all selfish. Many people create beautiful and useful things for someone else to enjoy while also placing a feather in their cap.

How to ignite this motivation style: Play upon your audience’s pride to use their skills and talents create something of value. Showcase examples of what others have created and how they are being used and enjoyed by many.

Curiosity

Finally there is curiosity. This is another inherent human desire that exists within each and every one of us. We want to know what something is, how it works and ultimately how it can benefit our lives in some way. Piquing someone’s curiosity in an effort to elicit action is a common, but extremely effective marketing technique.

How to ignite this motivation style: Ask a good question to leave your audience with a burning desire to know more. You shouldn’t aim to fully answer the question, but rather spark interest that will drive them to take action to get more information.

What factor tends to motivate you the most? Expand upon an idea or add to the list by commenting below!

 

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2015 in Business & Success, Life

 

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Oh What a Year! Top 10 Blog Posts from 2014

2014-year

At the end of December, it’s become a new tradition on the BPR blog to pause, reflect upon and highlight some of the best moments from the year gone by. As we say “Goodmorning!” on this last Monday of 2014, it’s only appropriate to again feature a top ten list of the best blog posts we published in 2014.

What exactly determined what blog posts made the cut? A combination of things really, that – let’s be honest – just boiled down to my personal preference. But there is some method to this madness. I wanted to include the blog posts that you, the readers, deemed most popular based upon web hits. I also included some blog posts that captured an important memory or milestone from the year. In many instances, these overlapped, making the selection quite obvious!

If you’re a frequent reader, join me on this trip down memory lane. And if you’re stopping by for the first time, perfect! You get to experience a whole year’s worth of our best moments in one blog.

  1. The Easiest Way to Find Your Passion

In our busy lives, we often lose sight of our passion and forget to devote time to cultivating this into each and every day. This post looks at the single question you need to ask yourself to truly understand your passion – and it’s not “What do you want to be when you grow up.” As we look toward the New Year, we could all benefit from revisiting this particular post…and looking critically at whether our lives align with our passion.

  1. 4 Ways to Make More Money Without Raising Your Rates

I had a lot of fun writing this one and it’s a wonder the topic didn’t come to me sooner! As an entrepreneur, I have to stay flexible and resourceful when it comes to earning a living. These four tips show you that simply slapping a higher price tag on your products or services isn’t always the best answer. Think outside the box with these expert tips!

  1. The 11 Most Annoying Email Personalities

For this blog post, I of course came up with quite a few of these most annoying email personalities based upon my own personal experiences. But I also turned to friends and family who had some great input on ones I missed by sharing their own horrifically frustrating stories. It’s comforting to know I’m not alone, but unsettling to know how common these personalities are! Take a look and tell me how many you’ve personally encountered.

  1. Why We Need Rainy Days

This blog post was written on the tail end of an absolutely gorgeous and invigorating summer. We didn’t have too many rainy days to speak of, which helped me stumble upon the realization of just why we need the rain to keep us balanced on a personal and psychological level. Now in December, I would love for the summer warmth, but looking back on this post was a good reminder to appreciate the weather we have and use it to keep you balanced.

  1. When an Introvert Takes a Family Vacation

2014 was the year of our first family vacation with a toddler in tow. What a different experience! In addition to the wonderful memories, I also gained the realization that family vacations as especially challenging for introverts who rely on alone time to recharge. I was blown away by home many of my readers could relate to this scenario. Thank you for helping alleviate my guilt for liking my solo time!

  1. 7 Ways to Effectively Manage Busy People

I’m a busy person and I live with two other busy people (an entrepreneurial husband and a toddler). Not to mention the many clients I serve on a daily basis. Communicating with truly busy people can be quite the challenge, but I’ve developed quite a few techniques for breaking through the noise. Check them out!

  1. At the Intersection of Passion and Purpose

This blog falls into the category of “2014 milestones” as it describes my physical, mental and emotional journey taking on a crazy GORUCK challenge while raising funds for rare disease research. When you have a Special Ops Cadre leading your team for 6 hours of military training, you can expect to be sore and tired. What I didn’t expect was how fulfilling and life changing this experience would be…beyond that single day.

  1. Life Lesson: 5 Ways to be Your Own Advocate

In this blog post, I shared a personal backstory as to why this topic is so important to me – and my career path. While I am not an outgoing, demanding or selfish person by nature, I’ve learned that at certain moments I need to do a better job of speaking up and going after what I want. These 5 ways to be your own advocate will teach you how to do the same.

  1. 8 Time Saving Hacks I Use Everyday

I haven’t mastered the 4-Hour Work Week, nor am I sure I want to, but I am a huge proponent of saving time by being smart and efficient. Work smarter not harder, right? This blog takes a fresh look at what I am doing right now in my daily life to save time as an entrepreneur, mother and wife. I swear that these tactics have helped me to “make” more hours in my day!

  1. 5 Ways to Build Your Personal Brand

Personal branding is a hot topic that calls for an expertise all its own. I’ve had the pleasure of working with many different clients and helping them to improve and market their personal brand. As a sole proprietor, I am my business’s brand, so I have also implemented these techniques on a personal level. What I like most, is that they are ones you can start doing today. You don’t need a grand budget, entire PR team or celebrity status. Your personal brand really comes down to telling your story in a way that connects with your audience.

There you have it! A sweet and condensed version of the 52 weeks of the BPR blog from 2014 transformed into a Top Ten list for your skimming pleasure. I already have some great topics on my “brainstorming list” cued up for the New Year, not to mention the many new milestones that will inspire topics I can’t even predict. I invite you to continue along with me on this journey of a 20-something entrepreneur!

What blogs or pieces from your portfolio represent your year? Share some of your most memorable moments from 2014 by commenting below!

 
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Posted by on December 29, 2014 in Business & Success, Life

 

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The 11 Most Annoying Email Personalities

annoying_email_habits

Proper email etiquette is an acquired skill and one we must actively work to maintain. Communicating with someone who lacks this etiquette can be one of the most frustrating experiences for any professional. A few of your most frequent offenders might be coming to mind right now. You know who they are. They’re the people who never respond, always hit “reply all” or frequently fill your inbox with spam.  Simply put, they make communication far more complicated than it needs to be.

From my experience, I’ve identified 11 personalities of poor email etiquette. Some stem from ignorance while others stem from defiance. No matter the origin of the personality, they all produce a similar aggravation when it comes time to communicate with them. How many of these sound frustratingly familiar?

The black hole

You may as well be sending your message in to outer space. No matter how many times and ways you follow-up, you never receive a response. Ever. I mean, why even have an email account?

The never BCC

Blind-closed-copying (BCC) is a glorious tool that allows people to send a message to the masses, without disclosing everyone’s email address to each other. That is, until it is misused. Such as when you get included in a long email chain with people you don’t know – and don’t really want to have your email address. Which leads to…

The reply all

Inevitably the “never BCC” offender brings about the “reply all” guy who copies the entire email list on a response that is only relevant to the sender…or no one at all. Most of us know this disastrous scenario. The reply all email responses keep coming days, even weeks later and not one of them ever really relevant to anyone more than the sender (yeah, the “never BCC” guy).

The reply one

In selective instances where you actually want people to reply all, like when you’re trying to introduce two people or have them work together, one person only ever replies to you. This means you have to constantly forward to the rest of the group so that they’re aware of the response.

The forward with no explanation

This is the person who forwards a message to you with no additional details and it’s not overly apparent as to what’s expected of you. Do you need to respond? Is this just FYI? Forwarding an email takes no effort, at least grant us with a small explanation so we don’t have to send the passive aggressive response, “Is any action needed for this?”

The single word response

You’ll send a long email with various topics requiring some thought and explanation in return, yet this person finds it somehow sufficient to respond simply with “okay” or “yes.” After a while, you’ll try tactics like bolding, highlighting and underlining the exact questions you need answered in detail – but I promise you, even with all that effort, they’re only ever going to tell you that it’s “okay.”

The stream of conscious

These email messages tend to read like a terribly written monologue. They include every thought that pops into the person’s head during his time writing, sometimes even including strange and irrelevant details like what he ate for lunch or that he has to walk the dog tonight. You’ll wholeheartedly wish it was acceptable to respond with “Can you just boil this down into an executive summary for me?”

The spammer

This person clutters your inbox with non-work related emails, sharing those forwarded messages that contain corny jokes, awkward gifs and links to download a video you just “have to see to believe.” Not everyone thinks that video of a dancing cat is hilarious – or deserving of 5 minutes of your busy work day. If only the government would also mandate a required unsubscribe option for these people as well.

The hit and run

This is the person who, for a while, will answer your messages quickly and with enthusiasm. Then, he goes completely AWOL. What changed? What did I do? I get it. Everyone can get swamped with work for a few days or be out traveling. Still, such a drastic 180 in email communication is as hard to rationalize as it is annoying.

The last word

This person always has to have the last word, even when a response is completely unnecessary. Say, for example, you send an email to coordinate a time to meet. Once you decide on a place and time, it’s perfectly acceptable to close the conversation there. Instead “the last word” guy will always shoot back a final email to whatever you say even if it’s merely repeating your exact message. If you have the time and patience, you could really have some fun just to see how many of the same responses you can get from “the last word” guy.

The selective responder

This email personality is most frustrating when you have several important questions for which you need answers. You clearly outline each one (maybe even with numbers or bullet points), yet “the selective responder” will reply with only a fraction of the requested information, offering no acknowledgement of or explanation for the outstanding questions that remain. Inevitably, you reply again (and again) with a narrowed down list of questions until you get all your answers. You may as well be a dentist pulling teeth.

The better late than never

Finally, there’s this wild card. The “better late than never” guy will finally respond to an email you sent months ago without acknowledging the fact half a year has gone by or offering an explanation as to why it took so long. Even odder, this email personality doesn’t seem to realize that his response has little to no value now as you’ve had to move on and find your information elsewhere.

What type of annoying email personalities do you most often encounter? Do you have some more that should be added to this list? Share your thoughts by commenting below!

 
 

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The Yes List: Finding Meaning in the “To Do” List (Guest Blog by Amy Gaines)

The following blog post is part of the Bennis Blogger Battle. Support Amy by “Liking” this post, leaving a comment and sharing it on your social media! The blog with the most hits, wins.

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to-do-listIn a recent battle with the ever-growing To Do List, the relationship between completing TDL tasks and building a personal brand developed new meaning: that of being a concrete, comprehensive, collected list of commitments.

Commitments are just that – something we have committed to complete by saying “Yes.” When we complete these tasks, our integrity, trustworthiness, and personal marketability increases because our word turned into our action.

And yet, maintaining the perspective that every item on that list is an opportunity to grow and improve our personal brand takes work. It takes work to guard the items to which we commit, work to keep track of those commitments, work to follow through on those commitments, and work to give 100% of our effort to those commitments. And in the midst of all that work, the tie between our word and our action is easily buried.

However, investing in the effort needed to maintain that perspective reaps significant benefits. Let’s take a closer look at the work involved in building your personal brand by making your word equal your action.

Guarding the TDL

If we are quick to say yes to everything, our commitments become unruly. Even high performers that churn through tasks quickly will eventually be overrun by an unkempt TDL. Learning to say “no” to certain commitments creates an opportunity to limit what goes on your TDL and allows you to focus on specific tasks. Good guidelines for identifying what goes on the TDL include: basic job responsibilities, direct requests from managers, [your] special interest projects, and personal favors.

Organizing the TDL

Many, many resources exist for taking and maintaining stock of commitments on the TDL. A personal favorite is the “Getting Things Done” series by David Allen. Regardless of the method, keeping track of the madness is mandatory.

Acting on the TDL

Break your commitments into actions and act. Keep stock of the resources you need to act on your commitments. Analyze the time a commitment will require before adding it to your TDL to ensure you have the time to complete the actions needed to follow through with the commitment. Above all else, learn to take your word (your commitments) and turn it into action.

Shifting our perspective to recognize the direct connection between our word/our actions and our personal brand is crucial to both success and sanity [especially in the professional world]. Recognizing this connection reminds us of the meaning and importance of each and every task on our TDL because that task is ultimately linked to a commitment. Completing our commitments sets a foundation of integrity for our personal brand that gives us added encouragement and footing to move forward successfully.

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Amy GainesAmy Gaines is a functional software consultant in the higher education industry. Her specialties include recruiting, admissions, and enrollment management. She loves to travel, read and write, and chase a thought to completion. Helping customers improve their processes, efficiency and reporting gives her the most satisfaction. Please support Amy by “Liking” this post, leaving a comment below and visiting her personal blog “This Imperfect Life” at greyceiling.wordpress.com

 
 

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