5 Steps to Scholarship Success–Overview

Hi, this is Lawrence D. “Larry” Stevenson. I began helping people find scholarships in 1994. Our team worked with 1,000s of students to help them earn $4,000 to $360,000 from scholarships.

It’s been a while since I wrote to this blog. I’m going to start adding to it more frequently. This blog will introduce you to the five steps to Scholarship Success.

  1. Find 60 to 155 scholarships that are perfect for you.
  2. Can you prove that you deserve the scholarships. (This is the power option). We’re going to help you prepare 36 statements to convince the scholarship committees you deserve the money.
  3. Solicit four to get five letters of recommendation that you can reuse over and over in your presentations.
  4. Prepare five to six reusable essays. That saves time, that you modify immediately.
  5. You apply for two to three scholarships each week in about 60 to 90 minutes.

Each blog in this series will cover one of the keys. You’ll learn how to

  • Find the scholarships using three sources: scholarship lists, scholarship search engines, and single sources.
  • You’ll be able to prepare those 36 statements that will say things like, “As chairman of our high school sub for Santa Committee, I supervise 26 students. We raised $12,000 and provided Christmas to 255 disadvantaged families.”
  • You will solicit four to five letters of recommendation from people who can recognize what you’ve done and speak specifically of your accomplishments.
  • You’ll write reusable essays and we’ll teach you how to take essays you’ve already written and turned them into essays that people want to use and will reward in scholarships.
  • Finally, with all of those reusable materials, you’ll start completing two to three applications each week and it’ll take you about 60 to 90 minutes to do all three each week.

We hope you enjoy the series and we ask that you leave us comments, especially as the money starts rolling in. We hope you enjoy it. Thank you.

Enroll in our free or paid online courses at GoalsWork-Institute1.Teachable.com

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Get a Promotion 9: Build an Internal Network of Contacts

networkThis continues our series on actions to help you get a promotion in your current company

We discussed the need to develop a network of contacts in a previous post. The focus, in that post, dealt with how a network helps you improve your productivity, efficiency, effectiveness, and quality. This post explores how internal networks of contacts teach you the written and unwritten rules, and about the organizational structure.

How to Build Your Internal Network

You build your network by making friends in the company. Do not select your friends based on what you think they can do for you. Select people that you want to know more about.

Sarah and Jared Stewart teach 9 keys building relationships. I’d like to share just of few of their keys in this post:

  • Get out of the coliseum: avoid developing relationships for hoped for transaction
  • Learn, serve, grow: Learn about people so that you can find a way to serve them, so the relationship will grow
  • Just because: build relationships just because knowing people is good: not for some selfish purpose

The CIO Survival Guide authored by Karl D. Schubert offers this good advice:

  • Cultivate a broad network to exchange ideas and rally collaborative support
  • Stay in touch with people at all levels of your organization—vertically & horizontally
  • Continuously investigate what managers and others need from you and your team
  • Respect and openly acknowledge the individuals on your team
  • Adapt your interpersonal style to align with the strengths & shortcomings of others
  • Act to preserve relationships, even under difficult stress or heated emotions
  • Promote collaboration and remove obstacles to teamwork across the organization

What Your Network Can Teach You

EFinancialCareers posted “Building a network within your company can be as important to your success as developing contacts outside. But watch out: The wrong moves can sink you. Here’s how to avoid some of the most common pitfalls.

  • Assess Your Workplace Culture
  • Follow Company Guidelines
  • Keep Your Boss in the Loop
  • Stay Positive
  • Reciprocate
  • Don’t Be Pushy”

Monday we examine how studying the policies & procedures for the company helps you fit in

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Get a Promotion 8: Fit In the Organization—Find a Mentor

MentoringThis continue our series on actions that can help you get a promotion within the company

The first step to getting a promotion is doing the job management wants done—and more. The second step involves fitting into the work team or organization. Fitting in includes abiding by the written and unwritten rules, the organizational culture, and getting along with co-workers. A good mentor will help you learn what you need to fit in.

Traits of a Mentor

Mentor Scout defines “A mentor is a coach, guide, tutor, facilitator, councilor and trusted advisor. A mentor is someone willing to spend his or her time and expertise to guide the development of another person.” Mentors help you fit in.

The University of Washington published What is a Mentor?,

  • “A mentor may share with a mentee (or protégé) information about his or her own career path, as well as provide guidance, motivation, emotional support, and role modeling.
  • A mentor may help with exploring careers, setting goals, developing contacts, and identifying resources.
  • The mentor role may change as the needs of the mentee change.
  • Some mentoring relationships are part of structured programs that have specific expectations and guidelines: others are more informal.”

How to Find and Cultivate a Mentor

The American Psychological Association lists characteristics of effective mentoring to include “the ability and willingness to

  • value the mentee as a person;
  • develop mutual trust and respect;
  • maintain confidentiality;
  • listen both to what is being said and how it is being said;
  • help the mentee solve his or her own problem, rather than give direction;
  • focus on the mentee’s development and resist the urge to produce a clone.”

Lindsey Pollack authored Seek a Mentor on Wet Feet.com: She advises:

  • Seek a mentor in your existing network
  • Ask a focused and informed question about something you need to learn about the organization
  • Be specific about the kind of help you want
  • Meet any way you can
  • Ask your mentor to make you accountable

Friday we will discuss how to build an internal network and use it to get a promotion

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Get a Promotion 7: Chart Your Performance & Goals

3-line graphThis continues our series exploring actions that help you get a promotion on your job

Improving performance and reporting it to management helps you get the promotions you desire. You monitor your progress more effectively if you make a chart graphing your expected, targeted, and actual performance. A chart or graph visually communicates your improvements to you, your supervisors, and others.

What Should You Chart

Each job will measure something different. We discussed metrics in a previous post. Hopefully, you identified the important metrics for your job if you followed our suggestions.

You probably need to maintain multiple charts. First, you chart the metrics for each of the following measurement criteria:

  • Productivity metrics: how much you produce
  • Efficiency metrics: how much time, money, or materials do you use for production
  • Effectiveness metrics: how well does what you accomplish its intended purpose
  • Quality metrics: the degree of excellence or shoddiness of the performance

Second, you chart:

  • What management expects you to perform in each of the areas listed above
  • Your target to exceed what management expects
  • Your actual performance for each of the metrics identified

How to Make Your Charts

Several methods of making charts exist:

  • Manual graphs: you can use graph paper to manually make a chart
  • Google Spreadsheets: you can graph your metrics for free using Google documents
  • Microsoft Excel spreadsheet: you must buy MS Excel to graph performance this way

A line graph will display your metrics better than a bar or other type of chart. You create a separate graph for each metric because each graph will chart three measurements.

The details of your graph will include:

  •  Time (days, weeks, or months) along the bottom line of the graph
  • Performance metrics along the vertical or left side of the graph
    • One row (line) of the table will contain expected performance data
    • Another row (line) of the table will contain data of your goals
    • Final row (line) of the table will contain your actual data performance
  • Data labels if you wish

Wednesday we begin to explore the next step in getting a promotion—fit into the organization

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Get a Promotion 6: How to Improve Your Performance

people and puzzlesThis continues our series about actions that may help you get a promotion at work

When you begin to exceed the company’s expectations, you move toward a promotion. You must decide what you wish to improve: your productivity, efficiency, effectiveness, or quality of your work. You must also decide how you will improve your performance. Fortunately, you do not have to decide on your own. Your mentor and network of contacts within and outside the company may help you brainstorm ideas and develop your plan of action.

Incorporate Others in Developing Your Plan

Several people can help you improve your performance. They each assist you in different ways:

  • Your supervisor can help you understand why the company does things the way they do it. He or she can explain any restrictions, guidelines, or ideas for improvement
  • Your mentor can nurture you, guide you, and brainstorm ideas on how to improve within the corporate culture. Your mentor can also introduce you to others that can help you improve.
  • Your internal network of contacts can help you get your work done more efficiently and effectively. For example your contacts in,
    • Purchasing may teach you how to order your material more efficiently
    • Clerical staff can make your written materials clearer & more accurate
    • Operations can show you the better products to promote
    • Shipping can help you understand how to prepare your orders better
  • The Internet shares best practices, benchmarks, articles, and ideas for improving performance. You move forward when you spend 30 minutes 2-3 times a week studying
  • Your Vendors can help you reduce costs, find discounts, and improve work
  • Your professional or trade associations can share best practices from others doing the same work

Deciding What to Do

Your research and discussion will probably generate a multitude of ideas for improving your performance on the job. Eventually, you must select 1-3 specific actions. I suggest you use the Proact model to guide your decisions:

  • PRoblem: describe it
  • Objectives: what are they
  • Alternative actions: to consider
  • Tradeoffs: weighted to prioritize

Monday we will explore how charting expectations, goals & actual performance will help

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Get a Promotion 5: What to Improve in Your Performance

PEEQ ImprovementsThis continues our series describing actions that can get you a promotion at work

We’ve described how to get a promotion you must 1) discover exactly what they want you to do—and more, 2) identify the metrics you or they will use to measure you performance, and 3) translate the value of your improvements to dollars or percentages. Today, we examine what to improve. You begin to qualify for promotions when you improve the productivity, efficiency, effectiveness, or quality of your work or those you manage. You may focus on one area or strive to improve in all four areas. You must, however, show progress to qualify for promotions.

Improve Productivity

Productivity measures the quantity of work you do. You improve productivity by increasing the number of what you do. For example:

  • Sales representatives or clerks sell more product than they sold
  • Assembly workers make more product
  • Customer service clerks handle more calls per hour than before
  • Data entry or accounting clerks process more transactions per hour

Verify that doing more will not create problems: too much product, sell more than you can deliver, or bottleneck the next step in the process.

Improve Efficiency

Efficiency measures the resources you use to complete the task. Most business owners seek to increase efficiency.  For example:

  • Use less time, money, raw materials, equipment, facilities, and other costs. 
  • Do it faster & cheaper as measured by time or cost per unit or shortened sales cycle

Improve Effectiveness

Effectiveness measures how well your work accomplishes it’s purpose. Increasing productivity or efficiency mean little if you do not accomplish your purpose. For example:

  • Making more sales calls in less time means nothing if you did not sell anything
  • Processing accounts payables in less time means nothing if the bills don’t get paid

Improve Quality

Measures the degree of excellence of your work. For example:

  • Manufacturing measures acceptable versus rejected parts per standards
  • Accounting and clerical staff measure accuracy of work produced
  • Attorneys and judges measure how many cases are appealed or overturned

Friday we will explore how you can improve your performance to get a promotion

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Get a Promotion 4: Establish the Value of Your Contribution

business-increase-profits1This continues our series on actions that can help you get a promotion

You will earn better promotions the more you establish your value to the company. We already discussed that companies promote people who prove they: 1) can do the job management wants done, 2) fit into the team or organization, and 3) return a good investment (value). Your value increases as you connect your improved metrics to dollars.

Improvements in Work Performance Connect to Money

The importance of giving a return on investment to your employer increased in the past 15 years. Companies cannot carry employees who do not contribute profits. Currently, every employee must contribute. Those who contribute most receive the best compensation.

For example, Chief Executive Officers receive exorbitant salaries because stockholders perceive they create the billions in dividends and profits. Sales representatives  receive high commissions because they generate all the revenues. Assembly workers, especially those on production lines, receive higher wages because collective bargaining increased their perceived contribution to the company.

Formula for Establishing Value

Formula for estimating percent improvements

  1. Identify performance before you began your improvements (i.e. 10,000)
  2. Identify new performance (i.e. 12,000)
  3. Divide the difference by the original (i.e. 2,0000/10,000=20%)

Formula for estimating a dollar increase (if not obvious, like increased sales)

  1. Repeat steps 1 & 2 from above
  2. Multiply the difference by average profit per hour (i.e. 2,000 per month x $20.00=$40,000. x 12 months= $480,000 per year)

Formula for estimating cost savings

  1. Identify how long it originally took to do the tasks (i.e. 8 hours to process A/P)
  2. Identify how long it takes after improvements (i.e. 2 hours)
  3. Multiply the difference by the cost per hour (i.e. A/P clerks get paid $15.00 per hour [6x$15.00=$90.00])
  4. Multiply value by the number of transactions (i.e. 20 [$90.x20=$1,800 per week or $93,600 per year)
  5. Recognize how savings may accrue:
    • Additional transactions that can be processed assuming growing need
    • New work employees now perform they couldn’t before
    • Reduced salaries because the company does not need as workers

Wednesday we will investigate how to improve your performance

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Get a Promotion 3: Identify How They Measure Results

MetricsThis continues our series on actions that can help you get a promotion

You need to know how management measures your success to successfully complete the job they want you to do, . You cannot graph your progress to expectations and goals unless you know what to include on the graph. Most companies and industries, today, establish specific metrics for almost all jobs or tasks.

Metrics Quantify Almost All Work Today

Companies evaluate almost all jobs today based on certain metrics. Some metrics include the following:

  • Productivity per hour measures time efficiency of work
  • Cost per placement measures financial efficiency of work
  • Transactions per hour measures efficiency of cashiers and customer service agents
  • Clients serviced per month measures productivity in medicine, law, dentistry, & more
  • Months of clean and sober measures the effectiveness of addiction recovery
  • Keystrokes per hour measures clerical and data entry production

Benchmarks Compare Performance to Best Practices

The Internet and global collaboration simplified the ability for companies to share and compare benchmarks. Wikipedia defines benchmarking “Benchmarking is the process of comparing one’s business processes and performance metrics to industry bests or best practices from other industries. Dimensions typically measured are quality, time and cost. In the process of benchmarking, management identifies the best firms in their industry, or in another industry where similar processes exist, and compare the results and processes of those studied (the “targets”) to one’s own results and processes. In this way, they learn how well the targets perform and, more importantly, the business processes that explain why these firms are successful.”

Most industries provide benchmark metrics for their industry. For example, education professionals can find benchmarks through Project 2061, CPU designers and manufacturers to PassMark, and child welfare workers from BenchMarksNC.

How to Discover Your Important Metrics

You may use several methods to find the metrics for your job:

  • Study benchmark research for your industry or job title
  • Contact your union, trade, business or professional association
  • Ask your mentor, network of contacts in the company, and supervisor

Monday we will discuss how to identify the value of your work to management

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Get a Promotion 2: Do the Job They Want Done—& More

Improved GraphThis continues our series on actions that will help you get a promotion

You need to impress management for them to want to promote you. Sometimes, they may want to move you out of a job if you cannot do it effectively. They will lay you off, or—if they really like you—they may try you in something more to your skills. To receive a promotion you have to do the job they want done—and then do more than they expect.

Discover What Job They Want Done

You have to know what job management wants you to do before you can do it. Unfortunately, companies sometimes fail to communicate their expectations effectively. You may need to research to find them. The following activities may help you discover their expectations:

  • Ask for, and study, the job description, noting the specific results they want
  • Talk to your mentor several times asking questions to understand their perspective
  • Talk to people in your network of contacts inside the company to gain their insights
  • Study what the company posts as results in annual reports, posters, & office memos
  • Ask your supervisor after completing the above activities

Meet Their Expectations

Once you know what they expect—you work to meet their expectations. Some specific actions will help you accomplish what they want done:

  • Create an Excel spreadsheet with graphs to monitor and track your performance
  • Include a line on your graph for each week or month for each of the following measurements
    • Each result they expect from you
    • Your actual performance on each result
  • Brainstorm ideas of what you can do to improve your performance with your mentor, network, and your supervisor
  • Make needed changes to improve your performance

Do More Than They Expect

Once you begin to meet expectations, continue your focus on improvement. Try the following:

  • Add a line to your graph showing your monthly goals to do more
  • Consult with your mentor, network, and supervisor for ideas to exceed expectations

Your continued improvement will qualify you for promotions.

Friday we will discuss how to clarify how management measures results they wish to achieve

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Get a Promotion 1: Overview

Promotion 1This begins a new series on getting a promotion from your current job to a better job

As the economy improves people who took lower paying jobs, now look to increase their income. Some will look for new jobs in new companies. Many hope promotions will provide better responsibilities and increased income. You may want a promotion or know someone that does. Either way the posts over the next few weeks will share ideas to help you get the promotion.

Do the Job They Want Done—and More

You must do the job they want done to keep your job. For a promotion you need to do more than what they expect:

  • Verify that you understand what results they want you to achieve
  • Identify how management measures your performance and the results
  • Establish the value of the results
  • Set goals to achieve the results and then exceed them
  • Investigate how to improve your performance
  • Chart expectations, targets, and actual performance

Fit Into the Work Team or Organization

Organizations establish written rules, unwritten rules, organizational behaviors, and corporate cultures. You need to prove you understand and fit into the organization for them to promote you. These steps will help you fit in:

  • Find a mentor to nurture and guide you
  • Build a network of people within the company
  • Study the policies, procedures, and guidelines for the whole company
  • Let your mentor and network teach you
  • Conform to the attendance, dress, and behavior standards

Provide a Good Return on Investment

Your company expects a good return on their investment in you. You cost them:

  • Salary
  • Matching contribution on a pension
  • Medical benefit (if any)
  • Training time at less than ideal performance
  • Facilities costs for your desk, utilities, equipment, and supplies

You need to prove that you return at least 7-20 times than the total of these costs.

Communicate Your Successes to Management

You must communicate your successes to management effectively. You hold responsibility to prove that you deserve the promotion—and that you deserve it better than anyone else.

Wednesday we will begin examining how to discover what job management wants you to do

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