Monthly Archives: January 2021

Recent Interviews

I’ve conducted more interviews in this last year than ever before. It always reminds me a bit like being on a first date – they are being at their best and I’m also portraying the best aspects of the job and the team on my side.

Do you know what I dislike the most about interviewing during covid? Not seeing people’s full face as we speak. I’ve come to wonder if I was a horse trader in a prior life and I need to see the teeth before I buy the pony.

I just find it so interesting when the mask comes off later and it feels like a totally different person in front of me. I think that maybe one of my “tells” on reading people is if their expressions match their eyes. Like when a person gives you a smile, but has no smile in their eyes. And some keep their eyes so neutral, that I feel like I need the visibility of the mouth to see when there is the natural curl in one direction or another.

Besides peoples demeanors, there are always those questions and answers that are revealing.

This past week I interviewed this lovely young gal who was as sweet as can be. She touted her problem solving skills albeit with little backup description. So I asked if she enjoyed puzzles and what kind she liked. I find it interesting to ask people if they like to do puzzles – because most real puzzle people don’t just think jigsaw, they also think word, soduku, jumbles and crosswords as well. She conveyed that she did love puzzles and she has been doing many with her boyfriends daughter. I knew from her hand movement of moving imaginary pieces around that she was referring to jigsaw puzzles. I immediately pictured some of the elaborate puzzles I have done with some of my family members over the years and asked how old his daughter was. “Oh, she is three and we’ve been doing all of these Princess puzzles that she has”. The elaborate 1000 piece or 3D puzzles that had been in my thoughts were immediately replaced with 20-30. big piece, Disney puzzles. Good for her, for engaging and playing with the budding child, but I would have hoped for her to relay something on her level of puzzle solving and not of a three year old in an interview.

She then said she was starting college and wanted to be a realtor and then further herself beyond that into real estate law later on. So, I asked her what her best subject was. She shrugged and said, well, she just started classes, so she didn’t really know. “Ok”, I said, “what classes did you excel at in high school?”. She paused and giggled and said that the truth was, she liked gym class the best. At this point, I was hoping that I could have had sunglasses on to mask my likely visible eye roll. Still not ready to give up on getting a good answer, I prodded further by saying, of her academic curriculum, what did she feel she did better in? Well, she wasn’t good at math (math people are problem solvers of one kind, so I’m always looking for that), although she was quick to add that she did pass. (oh good, maybe you can still balance your checkbook then). She thought for a bit and relayed that History was probably the best choice then. Now, I’ve nothing against history being the subject where anyone excels, but this sounded like it was just the choice of where she was just marginally better that other subjects that she clearly had no vested interest in. I almost wanted to ask if she was a good cheerleader – as her enthusiasm was at least putting her at the top of that possibility.

She was sweet, she likely would have been fun to have around and on the team, but in the end, I need people who can think and problem solve and not just be a bubbly voice on the phone and around the office.

I did hire and start another gal this past week who I have nicknamed Tinkerbell in my head (and probably have said it aloud to a few too many other people in the office for that nickname to not surface at some point). Unlike the interview described above, she was smart, witty, answered questions well and her views of customer support aligned with everything I wanted to hear. She has a shaved haircut much in the style that Sinead Oconnor has mostly worn, she is tiny in stature and pencil thin. She has an internal light that shines brightly and so with all the features together, I felt she was the embodiment of Tinkerbell – less the hair of coarse.

I caught myself questioning if I should hire her as our job is tough some days and I in no way wanted to consider dimming her internal light at the expense of just getting another person for the team. I then caught myself and reminded myself to not make decisions based on fear as those are the ones that limit you. I reminded myself that it was more of her type of energy that we needed, so make the leap of faith that she will make it and she will be more of the positive attitude that is always needed.

One of my favorite questions that I preface to them as I ask it, and that the answer has no bearing onto my hiring decision (although, really, anything said and done in an interview does factor in on how perceptions are logged), is, “If you were to recommend just one book to read, what would it be and why?”

I love this question for a few reasons. One, it’s not the answer that I’m interested in as much as the support of the answer. It reveals who they are thinking of or had thought of when the book stirred emotions in them. I also enjoy noticing the emotions that reflect onto their expression and body language as they talk about it. It is always a bit of a thrill to glimpse into what people are passionate about. Two, it provides a new list of books to potentially read and enjoy that I may not have heard of before. Three, it is a question that none of them have mentally prepared themselves to answer, so I get to see a glimpse of how they think on their feet.

Example: Bubbly girl with PE as her favorite class couldn’t recall the name of the book, but it was in her car and it was something to do with making goals. It’s always a bit sad to me when they cannot think of one book that has influenced them in life and the one they do try to pass off, is just the one that they clearly last touched, but didn’t have any passion about.

Tinkerbell’s favorite book was quick off of her lips as it is her ‘go to’ an any given day. It is “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle. She was excited to tell about it and I later felt a tad bad about telling her that I had also read it, thus denying her of her eager synopsis she was ready to relay.

I’ll have to go back through my resume’s to see the ones that I wrote down, but I do remember one gal (I hired her, she was great, but she then left to go back to her previous job that she had been furloughed and then offered back). Her book that she had stumbled into and then purchased for her mother, her aunts and well, really most of the women in her life was “Women Rowing North”. I have it on my list to get at some point and check it out for myself.

On the chance that the person can’t even come up with one example (so sad). I generally ask about a movie or podcast then, but to be honest, if they have never read, then I find they also have no thought provoking movies that they have watched as well. The answer is just some block buster movie that is candy for the senses when I’m hoping for food for the soul.

I’ve a few more people to hire, so I’ll let you know if any possible great books come out on the list.

I’d love to hear what book has made an impact on you. (Everyone can likely say the Bible as belief or not, it has influenced all aspects of society in one way or another, so I’m removing it from submission). And a favorite doesn’t need be earth shattering either. It can just be one that stirs something in you. One of my favorites is “The Secret life of Bees”.



Where the stories began to be shared

This weeks story

I think it is ironic most days, that I actually own a website where I can write and post anything that I wish. It is ironic because It is a potentially very public platform for something I hold quite private. I mean, I love to write personal notes or even stories to people, but having it be public is a different beast than an individual note, card or text. I think that the reason that I can write something and allow it to be read by multiple people at all, stems from one moment in high school.

Some background first:

I was a bit of a mess as for that last year of high school. I’ll say it all started when my mother and father had gone to visit friends in Xenia Ohio for a weekend. It was memorable for several reasons. One, my parents rarely went anywhere – we were dairy farmers, so you don’t get to leave, as cows always need fed and milked. Two, Xenia was the location of one of the largest most powerful tornados ever to hit the state of Ohio just several years prior and we were curious to have eyes on the changes to the town.

Three, our world changed forever that weekend. While staying in their friends home, my Mom had what they thought was a stroke. After a night of fun, games and conversations, they went to the guest bedroom and she later awoke and could not speak or move properly. They called an ambulance and took her for medical attention. I don’t recall them being gone for any longer than they had scheduled to be away, so she must have recovered in the hospital fairly quickly to be sent home. The directive was that she was to see her local doctors as soon as possible once back at our house. It shook my Mom for that to have occurred. She had felt embarrassed to have had it happen in someone’s home when all was to have been a joyous time. It also scared her – that her always reliable body – had failed her without reason. The reason came not too long and several tests later when they diagnosed her with a mass in her brain. They then cut open her skull to look and see what type of mass it was. It was not a hard definable mass that they could cut out, it was a soft tumor that grew onto her brain and they could not really take more than a sample out as to do otherwise would have caused more brain damage than what the tumor was already doing.

So, all of this was going on, and I guess that I handled all of those emotions of what was happening better some days than others. I’m sure that I was way more sullen some days than I thought I was showing. It’s funny how when you shut down your emotions thinking that it will hide them from view, it instead acts more like a billboard stating there’s a problem.

Back to that one memorable day. I was in an advanced math class and instead of my normal rapt attention, was lost in the fearful thoughts of not knowing what was going to happen with Mom. Towards the end of the class, the teacher, irritated with my non-engagement in a problem, asked if I was ok and could I join the rest in paying attention. I honestly don’t exactly recall what my reply was, but I was feeling so fragile at that moment that having someone direct any attention at me was more than I could handle. I stood up and said no I wasn’t fine and asked if I could please be excused as I started to cry and headed for the door. Not a known cryer, she nodded approval and I left for the restroom. Problem was, I was in near full bawling mode and knew that I couldn’t regain composure by the start of next class as the bell was about to ring for change just a few minutes after I left. Never one to just ditch a class, I decided to reach my upcoming English class early and ask to be excused until I could get it together once again. She said sure, take what you need, she would be reading stories to the class that we had all been writing recently. We had been directed to write short stories. I think it was maybe a mythology unit that we were studying and we were all to create mythological creatures of our own.

So, I made my way back to the girls bathroom trying to make myself invisible to everyone now flooding the halls in the change of classes. I cried out of frustration, fear and now embarrassment that I had had a public breakdown. My face was red, my eyes puffy, my nose running and while the cold water I was using to try to calm these manifestations, felt good and calming, it did little to hide the obvious results of a really good cry.

When I could again breath in a normal rhythm and felt I wouldn’t relapse and loose composure if someone looked or spoke to me, I ploddingly made it to the English class. I had missed most of the class by then and was relieved that she just let me get to my desk without a word or reference to my sad state or length of delay in showing up. She merely continued reading the current story.

My relief was short lived as the very next story she began was mine. First of all, I had hoped my story wouldn’t have been read at all – even if she didn’t tell the class what stories were by whom, I still felt that my horror of having it read aloud would give me away. The thing of it was, it may have been the first real creative writing story that I ever did and I found that it was fun. For me, it was like making mud pies and structures as a kid, as long as no one was critiquing your creation, you could make anything and just enjoy the process.

So there I was, just fresh from crying my eyes out, feeling I had maybe dodged too much humiliation of self exposure and now all of a sudden, I was again feeling exposed as she was starting to read my story. If I could have made myself disappear, I absolutely would have. I’m sure I must have looked up and given her a “Please No, please don’t do it” look, but in her ever confident, melodic reading voice, she read.

I remember initially thinking that this was perhaps a betrayal or assault to purposefully now bring attention to me (even if it was only she and I who knew it was my story) when I was already beaten down for the day. But, beneath the panic of the moment, I felt her support, her purposeful act of holding onto my story until I was in the room to hear it read. Her allowing me to absorb bits of appreciation and plant that seed that stories can be shared and the world doesn’t stop when you do so even when you feel it might.

It was also a lesson on how hiding your fears gives them power, while shining a light on them gives you power.

So, if you like that I write a note, story or blog to share every now and then, you just might want to send a thank you to my English teacher turned advisor, friend and pal. She doesn’t grade my output any longer -although my sentence structures, punctuation and grammar probably make her wish she could – she does still fully support me in sharing some stories.

Acknowledgement: my memories of this time period may differ from others around for those same times. We all see the world from our own lens and this was mine alone.

Love, Sally

A Distraction of Stories

This is a strange and hard time for many. Some are secluded, some are going through tough times, some are bored and some are being overworked. Put me in the overworked column. I can tell you that from interacting with our customer base from all corners of the US and Europe, that people’s emotions are all over the place.

Anyway, I’ve a friend that is going through a particularly hard time and so I’ve said to this pal that I would send a story every now and then as needed for a distraction. Sometimes we need something unexpected that isn’t from the news, or part of your current surroundings to take your mind off of the bubble of your own space. So a story or few thoughts strung together it will be as much as I can manage.

It may be a tad like the times I was writing of my days of training and planning for my Australia trip and all over the spectrum – as one just never knows what will inspire on any given day or week and come off of the page.

I imagine that there will be some stories that I will send to her personally in text or mail, but while I have this platform, I thought I would share a few here as well.

I also may not link everything to Facebook, so if you want to know when a post goes up, you can subscribe and receive an email. (it does not put you on any mailing list except for post notifications)

And if you don’t want to be notified, that is ok, maybe just check back in once in a while to see if there has been a post update.

Here’s to more posts soon.

Love, Sally