News and Information

International Corporate and International Protocol Specialist

OCTOBER 6- – 14, 2014

Train to be a Corporate and International Protocol Specialist

In today’s burgeoning international marketplace, there is an increasing demand for thoroughly trained protocol specialists to deliver, timely, customized seminars, briefings and training programs. The rewards of presenting these comprehensive programs to visionary clients and corporations have proven to be both profitable and personally fulfilling.

Intensive, hands-on, five-day certification protocol on corporate and international protocol that will enable you to present seminars, orchestrate and manage complex cross-cultural, protocol and diplomatic events, either in-house (add to your Resume)  or become a respected private consultant. Our depth of knowledge is reflected in the calibre of the materials and extensive curriculum presented. The program will give you the powerful tools necessary to present top-notch training programs and/or orchestrate world-class events for visiting dignitaries, delegations and clients.

Participants emerge knowing how to:

  • present up-to-the minute international protocol seminars and training programs
  • be the in-house protocol expert to handle everyday protocol challenges
  • customize comprehensive regional and country-specific briefings and training programs
  • host international clients, dignitaries and delegations
  • provide consultation services for individuals who are relocating abroad
  • travel abroad to orchestrate international business meetings
  • deliver keynote addresses for business development and financial reward

Course Description:

Diplomatic Procedure/Event Logistics/Arrivals/Departures/Ceremonies/ Order of Introductions/International Greetings/Introducing dignitaries at Representational Functions/Forms of Address/Titles/Team Briefing/Formal Invitations/ Hotels/Choosing the Site/Risk Management/Security Essentials/Media Management/Entertainment/Menus/Place Cards/Seating/Receiving Lines/Order of Precedence/Formal Dining Etiquette/Greetings/Introductions/Introducing Honored Guests/Flag Etiquette/Marketing strategies to promote your business/Presentation skills to impress potential clients

Who should attend

  • Companies initiating business in the global marketplace
  • Marketing professionals
  • Representatives from your company whom you are grooming to interact with your overseas clients
  • Executives conducting business internationally
  • Entrepreneurs/Consultants
  • Personnel who host international clients and dignitaries
  • College graduates
  • New hires
  • Sales professionals
  • Administrative staff
  • Companies, organizations and non-profit entities

On successful completion of the program, you will receive: Certification as a “Corporate and International Protocol Specialist.”

Materials Include: Four Presenter Manuals, Real-World Case Studies, Expert Instruction, “Ready to Train” Power Point Slides, Relevant Articles and On-Going Support.

Join us in San Diego for our five-day intensive program on
September 8th – 13th, 2014
Contact us directly at (858)259-8302

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Metro Manners in Paris!

Paris releases new rule book on Metro manners

Published: 06 Dec 2013 10:52 GMT+01:00
Updated: 06 Dec 2013 10:52 GMT+01:00

“They push on”, “nobody smiles” and “people smell” – these are all common complaints from regular travellers on the notoriously uncivil Paris Metro.

But transport authorities in the capital are determined, it seems, to try and civilize the capital’s commuters and teach them some old-fashioned Metro manners.

RATP, the company that runs the Metro system, has published a rule book this week containing 12 instructions on how passengers should act in order to bring a little bit of “savoir-vivre” to the carriages.

“Civility in public transport is an issue more topical than ever and deserves the attention of all of us, every day,” reads the introduction to the manual.

The book, entitled “An etiquette manual for the modern traveller”, was based on complaints by members of the public. A reading committee managed to whittle down 2,000 suggestions from the passengers to 12 solid commandments, by which we should all abide.

The rules are broken up into four categories: “courtesy”, “helpfulness”, “manners” and “politeness” and include directives, written in a tongue-in-cheek style, on everything from making sure body odour is kept in check to helping old ladies and confused tourists.

“Offer help to the person standing there in Bermuda shorts holding a metro map in one hand and his head in the other,” reads rule number two, and tells Parisians that’s it’s worth giving over two minutes of your time to help tourists, just to hear them try and pronounce the names of some of the more tongue-twisting Paris Metro stations.

And rule number 3, one that may strike a chord with many who have squeezed onto packed Metro carriages during the summer months, reads: “On really hot days, even an emperor penguin needs to keep his arms close to his body so grab the bottom of the post and not the very top.”

Other rules are more obvious, with one telling commuters that the Metro is a not a place to share music by playing it so loud that everyone else can hear it, and another reminding Parisians that the no smoking signs are “not art installations”, they are in fact “no smoking signs”.

There are also rules for not staring at people and not causing a rumpus if someone accidentally stands on your toe.

Authorities also want us to help out elderly ladies by carrying their shopping bags up the steps and use a handkerchief, not to wave goodbye, but to “keep our germs to ourself”.

And anyone who has been whacked in the face by an exit door at a station will be pleased to see rule number 4, telling people to hold the doors open for the person behind you.

The rule book, which is available online, is just the latest effort by RATP to improve civility on the Metro. In June last year they launched a poster-campaign aimed at ‘educating’ Metro users on how to behave.

To view the full rule book in French click on the image below.

The posters depicted the most typically impolite Paris Metro users as animals, whose typical selfish act leaves other passengers shocked. (see below).

In December last year, France’s rail company SNCF announced it was deploying 3,000 inspectors, who were dubbed the “politeness police” to eradicate bad train etiquette, which included spitting, insulting staff and putting your feet on the seats.

At the time SNCF boss Guillaume Pepy said a “line had been crossed” in “uncouth behaviour and delinquency”.

“Impolite behaviour generates a feeling of anxiety and discomfort,” he added.

In September this year Metro chiefs also announced plans to clean up the grimey network through a whopping €350million investment.

But will the new rule book help put an end to rudeness on the Paris Metro? What’s the worst experience you have had on the Metro?

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Always dress as if you have an important interview that day

Remember “Murphy’s Law?” The day you don’t make the effort to dress your best will be the day you will run into your most important client at lunchtime!

Every Day at Work is an Interview to Keep Your Job – 5 Tips for Career Success
Randy Conley / 15 hours ago
Job Interview 2The dress code in my office is business casual, but every once in a while I like to wear a tie. You know…look good, feel good…dress for the job you want, not the job you have…all that good stuff. Actually, there are times I just like to dress up for no special reason. But whenever I do, invariably I hear the same wisecrack from one or more team members: “Why are you all dressed up? Got a job interview today?” My response is always the same: “I interview for my job every day!”

Although I say that somewhat jokingly, there is an element of truth I’m trying to reinforce with my team—every day you show up to work is an interview for your job. In today’s economy you have to continually demonstrate to your employer how you’re adding value to the organization. I’m not talking about approaching your job from a state of fear, constantly afraid of being let go if you don’t hit a home run every time you come to bat. I’m talking about having an understanding and appreciation for how you have to “bring it” each day you walk through your company’s front door.

Here are five key principles that will help you increase the value and contribution you provide to your organization and increase your chances for long-term success in your career:

1. Accept the new reality – My brother Ron had only one job his entire life. He recently retired from a 40+ year career with a national grocery store chain, having been employed by them since he was a 17 year-old high school student. Those days are gone for most of us. We live in a new reality of a dynamic, constantly shifting, and evolving global economy. It requires businesses to be agile and shift their strategies to take advantage of new opportunities, create new markets, or ward off upstart competitors. You have to come to grips with the need to constantly stay relevant in your job or profession. Complacency and stagnation makes you vulnerable and less valuable to your organization. If you aren’t adding value, you’re probably expendable.

2. Take charge of your own career development – As employees, all of us should expect our employer to help develop us in our role, but career development should be seen as a privilege, not a right. Organizations have an obligation to provide the right training, tools, and resources to enable employees to maximize their potential in the job they were hired to do. But career development (promotions, moving into new roles, etc.) is a privilege and is not the employer’s responsibility. Is it a smart thing for employers to facilitate career development in order to attract and retain key talent? Absolutely! But it’s up to you to keep learning, to further your education, improve proficiency in your job, and develop new skills in alignment with the direction of your organization’s goals and strategies. No one else except you is responsible for your career development.

3. Have an ownership mentality – How would the value of your contribution be different if you acted like you own the place? Would you be more emotionally invested and passionate about the work you do? Would you produce higher quality products? Would you be a little more prudent or cautious with company expenses? Would you care a little more about the customer experience? People who approach their jobs with an ownership mentality care about these sorts of things. They view themselves as stewards of the company’s resources and work hard to promote the success of the entire organization, not just their particular role, team, or department.

4. Build your brand – Whether you realize it or not, you have a brand image at work. Your brand image is not only how people perceive you (your reputation), but also what differentiates you from everyone else in your company. Tom Peters, the guru of personal branding, says, “If you are going to be a brand, you’ve got to become relentlessly focused on what you do that adds value, what you’re proud of, and most important, what you can shamelessly take credit for.” Forget your job title. What is it about your performance that makes you memorable, distinct, or unique? What’s the “buzz” on you? Forget about your job description too. What accomplishments are you most proud of? How have you gone above, beyond, or outside the scope of your job description to add value to your organization? Those are the elements that make up your brand. Check out this article if you need help developing your brand.

5. Consider yourself an independent contractor – Most of us are governed by at-will employment agreements with our companies. Either party can decide to end the employment relationship at any time for any reason (within certain legal boundaries, of course). You would be well-served to view yourself as an independent contractor in the business of you—You, Inc. You have hired out your services to your employer in exchange for a specific level of compensation. At some point in time, either by your choice or your employer’s, that business arrangement may change or end. In the meantime, focus on building a portfolio of accomplishments you can use to secure business with future clients. See rules 1 and 2 above.

Thinking of yourself in these ways might be new to you. It takes a shift in perspective to view yourself as not just an employee doing a job, but as an independent contractor running your own business. If you make that shift, you’ll realize you have to constantly develop your skill-set (i.e., the services you have to offer), build an attractive brand image, and consistently demonstrate to your client (i.e., employer) how you’re adding value. Remember, you are in the business of YOU!

Randy Conley is the V.P. of Client Services and Trust Practice Leader at The Ken Blanchard Companies and his LeaderChat posts normally appear the fourth Thursday of every month. For more insights on trust and leadership, visit Randy at his Leading with Trust blog or follow him on Twitter @RandyConley.


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Russia’s Bad Manners Will Be Its Downfall

Etiquette and Protocol are far more than just being nice and respectful.  They have the power to topple world powers!

Russia’s Bad Manners Will Be Its Downfall

A wave of anger passed through Russia after Russian media widely broadcast Ukrainian Acting Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsia’s obscene comment about President Vladimir Putin, made while attempting to calm a mob attacking the Russian Embassy in Kiev.

But Deshchytsia’s comment raised an important question: Why do Russia’s neighbors dislike this country so much that they throw stones at the windows of the Russian diplomatic mission?

Of course, such a breach of diplomatic etiquette and unprintable language from the mouth of a neighboring state’s senior official is both unethical and unacceptable.

However, Russian politicians and media had already lowered the bar concerning permissible language in discussing key policy issues of the day. Just recall pro-Kremlin television anchor Dmitry Kiselyov’s comment about turning the U.S. into atomic dust and his suggestion that the hearts of homosexuals be “buried or burned” if they were to die in an accident.

That is not Moscow’s only style of discourse, but it is one of them, and the one that plays a central role in setting officialdom’s current tone. And if senior Russian officials feel such forms of expression are appropriate, it is strange that they would take offense when others do the same. To the contrary, they should take pride in the fact that their opinions — and the manner in which they are expressed — obviously carry so much weight.

But seriously, the invective that has begun to dominate Russia’s discourse with the rest of the world reflects the desperate inability of senior Moscow officials to make others like them.

In today’s world, that “reserve of likeability” is no less important than gas and oil reserves or a large nuclear arsenal. Russian politicians have learned that it is called soft power, but they do not fully understand what it means.

I once had a confidential conversation with a Russian official responsible for contacts with the former Soviet republics. He was young, well-educated, thoroughly familiar with the political landscape in each of those countries and demonstrated a strong degree of professional competence.

We finally came to the main point: “Why is it,” we pondered, “that those republics are turning away from Russia, one after the other — first Georgia, and now Ukraine?”

“Maybe because Russia does not provide an example that others would want to follow,” I answered, with the first thought that came to mind. “We just do not know how to make others like us.”

“And how could we get them to like us?” asked the official with the charming arrogance of a person sitting in a small office in the building that once housed the Communist Party’s Central Committee.

He apparently thought the former Soviet republics should consider the fact of the great, powerful and wonderful Russia’s existence in this world enough reason to continue the long-established tradition of aligning their every thought and move with Moscow’s — and with the functionaries in the building of the former Communist Party’s Central Committee.

But for others to like you, you must first like yourself — and honestly, Russia has a big problem in this regard. What does Russia have that its own people and others would like — that is, apart from the cheerful young beauties in Moscow’s nightclubs for expats?

It seems that state-run television stations have never asked themselves this question either, and we see the results every day. Judging from their programs, the Russian people should like the fact that their grandfathers defeated Nazi Germany and their fathers lived in a country called the Soviet Union — a country that held half of the world in submission and the other half in fear.

That’s not much of a choice, though, especially when considering that both values are focused on the past, not the future.

Nor is it so easy to apply those values gained from World War II in everyday life. Practice shows that the more St. George ribbons and other patriotic symbols displayed on an expensive foreign car, the more unpredictably and rudely that driver will behave.

And whereas the government originally intended for World War II veterans to enjoy certain privileges, such as the right to priority service] at medical clinics and other public facilities, self-seeking individuals now use that exception as the basis for corrupt dealings.

Only a true sense of community and well-functioning public institutions — not hysterical television commentators and miles of St. George ribbons — can produce the sense of inner well-being that people seek. When that inner peace exists, others always see it, and that is what makes a person — or a country — an attractive example to others.

It is surprising, of course, that a country that has spent the past 20 years transforming itself into a hydrocarbons trading company is only now starting to think about how to begin liking itself and getting others to like it as well. After all, large corporations always set corporate identity and image-building as key priorities.

Perhaps this is because Russia is less a corporation than a large-scale version of a little rustic kerosene shop whose grumpy vendor names a different price for every buyer, depending on whether he likes the fellow or not.

However, a country with a population of 145 million people cannot be reduced to a simple kerosene shop, and if it wants to survive, it will have to relearn to like itself, and to make itself genuinely attractive to others. It is clearly not enough to bring up memories of the World War II victory that next year will mark its 70th anniversary, or to invoke the Soviet Union, now almost 25 years behind us.

Ivan Sukhov is a journalist who has covered conflicts in Russia and the CIS for the past 20 years.


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Dress Code for the Royal Ascot Races

One of our clients (graduate of our “Private and Confidential Finishing School”) just returned from Ascot and was the darling of the English Press and Royalty alike!


The dress code set out below is designed to help racegoers dress appropriately for the occasion.

Ladies are kindly reminded that formal daywear is a requirement in the Royal Enclosure, defined as follows:

  • Dresses and skirts should be of modest length defined as falling just above the knee or longer.
  • Dresses and tops should have straps of one inch or greater.
  • Jackets and pashminas may be worn, but the dresses and tops underneath should still comply with the Royal Enclosure dress code.
  • Trouser suits are welcome. They should be full length and of matching material and colour.
  • Hats should be worn; a headpiece which has a base of 4 inches (10cm) or more in diameter is acceptable as an alternative to a hat.

Ladies are kindly asked to note the following:

  • Strapless, off the shoulder, halter neck and spaghetti straps are not permitted.
  • Midriffs must be covered.
  • Fascinators are no longer permitted; neither are headpieces which do not have a base covering a sufficient area of the head (4 inches / 10cm).

Gentlemen are kindly reminded that it is a requirement to wear black or grey morning dress, which must include:

  • A waistcoat and tie (no cravats)
  • A black or grey top hat
  • A gentleman may remove his hat within a restaurant, a private box, a private club or that facility’s terrace, balcony or garden. Hats may also be removed within any enclosed external seating area within the Royal Enclosure Garden. The customisation of top hats (with, for example, coloured ribbons or bands) is not permitted in the Royal Enclosure.
  • Black shoes

Girls (aged 10-16) should dress for a formal occasion. Smart summer dresses are suggested. Hats, headpieces and fascinators may be worn but are not compulsory.

Boys (aged 10-16) should dress in accordance with the gentlemen’s dress code, or may wear a dark-coloured lounge suit with a shirt and tie (no hat required).

Overseas visitors
Overseas visitors are welcome to wear the formal National Dress of their country or Service Dress.

Serving military personnel
Serving military personnel are welcome to wear Service Dress or equivalent.


Grandstand Admission racegoers have the choice to follow the dress code for the Grandstand or that of the Royal Enclosure.

Ladies within the main Grandstand Enclosure are encouraged to dress in a manner as befits a formal occasion.

Ladies are kindly asked to take particular note of the following:

  • A hat, headpiece or fascinator should be worn at all times.
  • Strapless or sheer strap dresses and tops are not permitted.
  • Trousers must be full length and worn with a top that adheres to the guidelines above (i.e. strapless or sheer strap tops are not permitted).
  • Jackets and pashminas may be worn but dresses and tops underneath should still comply with the Grandstand Admission dress code.
  • Midriffs must be covered.
  • Shorts are not permitted.

Gentlemen are required to wear a suit with a shirt and tie.

Girls (17 or under) should be dressed for a formal occasion. Smart summer dresses are suggested. Hats, headpieces and fascinators may be worn but are not compulsory.

Boys aged (13-17) should wear a suit or jacket with a shirt and a tie. Younger boys (12 or under) should be dressed smartly but are not required to wear a jacket or tie.


Although no formal dress code applies in the Silver Ring Enclosure and Heath Enclosure, racegoers are encouraged to wear smart clothes.

Please note that bare chests are not permitted at any time.


In addition to the dress code advice, please note that fancy dress, novelty and branded or promotional clothing is not allowed within the racecourse during Royal Ascot. There may be instances where a degree of discretion is required in determining compliance with the Royal Ascot dress code. In such instances, reasonable judgement will be exercised.

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Conduct your orchestra and take a bow! – Acknowledge others and it will come back to you!

Why 80 percent of front-line leaders fail (and how to break the cycle)

“A leader is best when people barely know he exists. When his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.” Lao Tzu

By Jennifer Johnson

You know the scenario. After a year of performing exceptionally, Emily, a mid-20s analyst, moves to a manager role supervising three former peers. Within weeks, Emily’s manager observes that she stays late every night, completing work that should be done by her team. After promising to delegate, Emily regresses. Her team members have disengaged, and Emily shows signs of burnout. All are considering leaving the company.

If you work in a professional environment, then chances are you have witnessed a front-line leader like Emily fail. You have worked for an overwhelmed front-line leader, been one yourself, and hired or promoted one. You have watched as he struggled to balance the work he felt responsible to complete, unable to delegate effectively and unable to manage the anxiety growing within himself and his team.

In its study, “How Companies Manage the Front Line Today,” McKinsey found that 80 percent of front-line leaders report dissatisfaction with their job performance, and 70 percent of senior managers agreed.

These failures create many unintended and expensive consequences. Employees cite their manager as a primary reason for leaving an organization. The cost for organizations is staggeringly high. Research suggests it costs roughly 50 percent of an employee’s salary to find and train a replacement. For a company with 10,000 workers, the estimated cost to replace entry-level workers is $11.5 million annually. This figure does not take into account the more common outcome: employees stay but produce less, with lower quality.

Given that front-line leaders manage a majority of the workforce, companies have a compelling business case for providing them with the tools they need to be successful.

So, what can senior managers and companies do to help front-line leaders? The answer starts with understanding what motivates front-line leaders. Throughout their early careers, they are rewarded for completing tasks and solving problems. Presented with a challenge, they work to overcome it and earn praise and satisfaction for a job well done.

Over time, a three-part cycle [see figure] becomes a conditioned pattern. New managers begin to anticipate a reward as soon as they encounter a challenge. Those with the strongest desire are most likely to be promoted to leadership roles.

However, when an individual contributor becomes a front-line leader, the cycle is disrupted. Literally overnight, with a promotion to front-line leadership, the new manager is expected to forego two steps in the cycle: the action and the reward. Not surprisingly, and in too many cases, she adapts poorly to the new behavior required (e.g., delegating) and reverts to the old habits of working as an individual contributor.

Successful companies recognize that habits eat intentions for breakfast. Despite intending to delegate to their team members, habitual patterns take over and front-line leaders find themselves doing the work. They justify stepping into situations involving high stakes (whether or not the situation warrants it) or erroneously believe that the best way to teach others is to have them observe. Thus begins their struggle to accomplish more work than can be completed by one person, and their team members quickly become alienated.

Thankfully, this outcome can be avoided. If guided correctly, new managers can progress smoothly from individual contributor to front-line leader and beyond. This occurs when front-line leaders learn to acknowledge the cycle and modify their behavior rather than fight it. Instead of seeking praise as a reward, front-line leaders learn to take pleasure in the successes of their team members. Their own managers can help as well. When senior managers make clear to front-line leaders why they must delegate, reward them for doing so, and hold them accountable when they don’t, they retain the most important part of the cycle—the reward—and make the new behavior easier to achieve and sustain.

Once front-line leaders equate the success of their direct reports with their own success, other behaviors, such as coaching, mentoring, and giving feedback, become easier to put into practice. The new way of behaving lowers the risk of employee turnover and creates more engaged, higher performing teams. A virtuous cycle has replaced a doomed one.

For more information on Thunderbird Executive Education’s work with front-line leaders, contact Jennifer Johnson at (602) 978-7354.

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Cubicle Etiquette, Prairie Dogging and the Malodourous Lunch!

golf cubeAre the “cube mates” driving you, or someone you know, crazy?? If so, then share this serious (although somewhat humorous when you stop to think about it) advice for not tearing your hair out by the end of the day.

Because those in cubes are so visible, there is a subconscious assumption that the person is always available. Following are some guidelines for our workday life in the cubicle world:

Give Cube Mates a sense of control over their own space Knock on cube walls before speaking, even if they are only the symbolic foam partitions.  Ask permission to enter.  Avoid hovering if they’re on the phone.  “Don, we’re in close quarters, but would you mind giving me privacy when I’m on the phone? Thanks.”

Respect time and space, a.k.a. NO loitering:  Avoid conversation free-floating among people who are trying to make phone calls, read or write important documents and concentrate on their work.  Distractions can cause tremendous frustration to those who need quiet while working.  “Mary, I’m working on something right now that demands my full concentration. Thanks.”

Odors know no boundaries.  What smells good to you can turn someone else’s stomach. If you eat at your desk, take the empty containers to the trash immediately. Other annoyances that can bring on grievances are: shoes (keep them ON, please);  strong perfume (sneeze, wheeze…my sinuses just went shut); or other things that are pleasing to us but not so tolerable for the cube mates.

Be more aware of what you say and how loud you are.  Personal tiffs, weird bodily functions, clipping or tapping nails, gum popping, the radio, and particularly loud phone conversations carry over cubicle walls with a much greater noise level than we think.  Assume everyone within a four-cube radius can hear you so always avoid shouting over walls for any reason.  Take sensitive matters to a closed-door room.  Also, vibrating cell phones on your desk can jump around and be very disturbing (that includes when in meetings and during meals as well). Can you alternate lunch hours with those around you to have some quiet time?

 Avoid “Prairie Dogging”.  Heads popping up over cube walls is greatly frowned upon by those who need the privacy and respect of working in their own space uninterrupted.  “Bob, I know it’s easiest for you to talk over the wall, but would you do me a favor and come around? Thanks”

Home Sweet Home (uh, Cube):  Tastefully “framed” photos, nice plants, and meaningful knickknacks can show class. This does not include the traveling trophy I saw with only the back half of the horse on the stand (use your imagination…smile).  Everything gives an impression to others. What are your thoughts?

Stay tuned for upcoming posts!  By Rita Rocker, Transformation Academy, LLC,

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Is “Finishing School for Adults” for you? Change your image…change your life!

If you want something different, then you have to do something different!   Many newly- single or business professionals, who have very little time, lament that they want to find that special person to share their lives with.  The question is are you ready? Have you prepared to be all you can be when that special person shows up in your life?  This is where social skills come into play.  I  have worked with many clients who, upon meeting, use poor grammer…this is the first tip-off that they are not what they seem to be on the outside.  This can be exacerbated by dining faux pas and most of all, lack of conversational skills…the list goes on.  To fill this niche in the market, we have developed an extensive (over one-hundred page Manual) “Finishing School for Adults” program.  “Rome was not built in a day,” and neither will habits of a lifetime change in a four-hour class.  Therefore, our program is a six-month commitment to filling in the gaps in your social persona to give you the confidence to attract what you want into your life, or indeed, keep what you have!

Call us to set up a free consultation: (858)259-8302

The San Diego experts in Business and Social Etiquette since 1989.  Let us design a customized program just for you.

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It’s not about me, it’s about you… the 21 questions you need to ask in a job interview

Marc Candella, Founder at “Candella Partners wrote:

It’s time for my twice-a-year update of the best questions for you to ask in an interview.

I’ve put this list together because so often we can forget what an interview’s all about. It sure feels like it’s about you, but it’s really not.

An interview is actually about how you can help your future boss and future employer succeed. It’s about finding out what their requirements and hopes are and matching up your background and experience with what they need.

Overlooking these basic facts about the interview is easy. There’s so much else going on in your work, your life, and in your job search, that you can forget to look at the interview from the interviewer’s point of view. And that’s a shame, because you need the interviewer to walk away from the interview thoroughly impressed.

When I ran these questions previously, commenter “spiderji” wrote in and said:

Marc, I used some of your questions in a job interview today. When I asked how to get a “gold star” on the evaluation, the interviewers faces lit up!” I contrast today’s interview with others I’ve been on where I didn’t have any meaningful questions at the end. This one was electric! I won’t know the results for a couple of days, but if they hire me I’ll owe you a drink! Thank you!

And reader LBRZ shared:

I have to thank you! I had an interview yesterday and it went great. When I asked about his leadership style and reward system his face lit up like a christmas tree.

After he answered the question “how can I help you receive your next promotion?”, he began to give me advice on how I should negotiate for a higher starting salary.

And that’s exactly the point, Readers. By asking these questions, which focus on the needs, traits, and preferences of your future boss and future employer, you’re demonstrating that you are somebody who is genuinely interested in their well-being. And the more interest we show in others, the more commitment they show to aiding our cause.

With that in mind, here’s the twice-a-year update to my collection of “best interview questions” below. My aim here is to arm you with easy-to-ask, revealing-to-answer questions for you to take with you to an interview:

1. What’s the biggest change your group has gone through in the last year? Does your group feel like the tough times are over and things are getting better, or are things still pretty bleak? What’s the plan to handle to either scenario?

2. If I get the job, how do I earn a “gold star” on my performance review? What are the key accomplishments you’d like to see in this role over the next year?

3. What’s your (or my future boss’) leadership style?

4. About which competitor are you most worried?

5. How does sales / operations / technology / marketing / finance work around here? (I.e., groups other than the one you’re interviewing for.)

6. What type of people are successful here? What type of people are not?

7. What’s one thing that’s key to this company’s success that somebody from outside the company wouldn’t know about?

8. How did you get your start in this industry? Why do you stay?

9. What are your group’s best and worst working relationships with other groups in the company? What are the pain points you have to deal with day-to-day?

10. What keeps you up at night? What’s your biggest worry these days?

11. What’s the timeline for making a decision on this position? When should I get back in touch with you?

12. These are tough economic times, and every position is precious when it comes to the budget. Why did you decide to hire somebody for this position instead of the many other roles / jobs you could have hired for? What about this position made you prioritize it over others?

13. What is your reward system? Is it a star system / team-oriented / equity-based / bonus-based / “attaboy!”-based? Why is that your reward system? What do you guys hope to get out of it, and what actually happens when you put it into practice? What are the positives and the negatives of your reward system? If you could change any one thing, what would it be?

14. What information is shared with the employees (revenues, costs, operating metrics)? Is this an “open book” shop, or do you play it closer to the vest? How is information shared? How do I get access to the information I need to be successful in this job?

15. If we are going to have a very successful year in 2015, what will that look like? What will we have done over the next 6 months to make it successful? How does this position help achieve those goals? (This question helps show your ability to look beyond today’s duties to the future more than a year away.)

16. How does the company / my future boss do performance reviews? How do I make the most of the performance review process to ensure that I’m doing the best I can for the company?

17. What is the rhythm to the work around here? Is there a time of year that it’s “all hands on deck” and we’re pulling all-nighters, or is it pretty consistent throughout the year? How about during the week / month? Is it pretty evenly spread throughout the week / month, or are there crunch days?

18. What type of industry / functional / skills-based experience and background are you looking for in the person who will fill this position? What would the “perfect” candidate look like? How do you assess my experience in comparison? What gaps do you see?

19. What is your (or my future boss’) hiring philosophy? Is it “hire the attitude / teach the skills” or are you primarily looking to add people with domain expertise first and foremost?

20. In my career, I’ve primarily enjoyed working with big / small / growing / independent / private / public / family-run companies. If that’s the case, how successful will I be at your firm?

21. Who are the heroes at your company? What characteristics do the people who are most celebrated have in common with each other? Conversely, what are the characteristics that are common to the promising people you hired, but who then flamed out and failed or left? As I’m considering whether or not I’d be successful here, how should I think about the experiences of the heroes and of the flame-outs?

I hope you find these questions useful in your interviews, Readers!

A final note. Previously, another commenter, “Lenore”, asked:

Hi Marc. Awesome questions!

My question for you is… do you ask questions when you are meeting with more than one interviewer. I met with 3 to 4 interviewers, one at a time. I didn’t want to come off generic by asking each of them the same questions. I guess you can go by their role to determine what questions you are going to ask. Sometimes they are all top executives. I’m guessing there are enough questions to divide amongst them all. I had asked so many questions in an interview once, that I didn’t want to seem redundant. Do you think this is ok?

To which I replied:

Great question Lenore.

Three options:

1) Change the wording a little bit each time so you’re not asking the same question in the same way.

2) Mention that “You know, I already asked your colleague about this, and I’d love to hear your thoughts…”

3) Divide the list and ask different people different questions, as you suggested.

Hope that helps!


OK, Readers, have a great week in the job search!

I’m rooting for you!MarcMarc Cenedella, Founder



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Marc Cenedella, Founder

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The 10 secrets of being a good conversationalist

Being a good conversationalist is the first step in establishing rapport either in the U.S. or internationally.

  1. Prepare topics for small talk
  2. Ask open-ended questions
  3. Listen, listen, listen! The best conversationalists are the best listeners!
  4. Be aware of body stance in conversation – folded arms indicate that the other person is either hostile or doesn’t want to hear what you have to say
  5. Validate others and compliment genuinely when appropriate
  6. Stop thinking of what you’re going to say next or interrupting
  7. Give that person your full attention…no searching for a better prospect!
  8. Ten minutes is a good rule of thumb and you can break away by saying: “It was a pleasure talking with you and I will follow up with…”
  9. Leave people feeling as if they had a wonderful conversation even if you didn’t get a word in edgewise…remember everyone’s favorite subject is talking about themselves!
  10. Always shake hands on departing

Etiquette in San Diego – The International Protocol Institute of California provides real solutions to your etiquette and protocol challenges.


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