The Invisible Mentor http://theinvisiblementor.com Your ideal mentor is virtually in the palm of your hands Wed, 16 Apr 2014 09:32:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9 Rapid Reading and Retention Workshop http://theinvisiblementor.com/rapid-reading-retention-workshop/ http://theinvisiblementor.com/rapid-reading-retention-workshop/#respond Wed, 16 Apr 2014 09:32:56 +0000 http://theinvisiblementor.com/?p=16104 Rapid Reading and Retention Workshop Talk about synchronicity! As you know I have been investing a lot of time learning to read faster so that I can read the 50 classic literature books for my informal liberal arts education. And each day I perform speed reading drills using browser extensions and bookmarklets. I received an email informing […]

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Rapid Reading and Retention Workshop

Talk about synchronicity! As you know I have been investing a lot of time learning to read faster so that I can read the 50 classic literature books for my informal liberal arts education. And each day I perform speed reading drills using browser extensions and bookmarklets. I received an email informing me about a Rapid Reading and Retention workshop offered by Jim Kwik so I immediately signed up. I like to learn as much as I can about a topic of interest or a new subject so that I can pick out the sections that will work for my situation. And this is especially important since the ability to read faster with increased comprehension is critical today.Rapid Reading

Jim Kwik’s goal for the workshop was to teach us two techniques to increase reading speed. He introduced us to the acronym FAST: Forget, Active, State and Teach.

FORGET

  • Forget everything you already know about speed reading.
  • Set aside preconceived notions.
  • Set aside limiting beliefs.
  • Forget what you have done in the past.

ACTIVE

  • Actively participate.
  • Learning is not passive.

STATE

  • All learning is a state, which is dependent on your mood.
  • How do you make learning interesting?
  • Get involved in learning. 

TEACH

  • Take good notes and teach others what you learn.
  • When you teach what you have learned, you learn it twice. 

Before Reading

Before you start to read, do some exercises. Exercises which engage both sides of the brain are excellent. The 40-page book, Brain Gym by Paul & Gail Dennison has some simple exercises that you can do in a few minutes. Kwik mentioned the lazy eight exercises (visualize an eight on its side). Clasp your hands together with your index fingers pointed upwards and touching and move your hands in that position as if you were drawing a lazy eight. Perform that movement for a few seconds. If you are right handed, practice using your left hand to brush your teeth and eat.

Enemies of Reading Speed

  1. Lack of education: When was the last time you took a course on how to read?
  2. Focus: Most people have a difficult time maintaining focus while reading. Contrary to what most people think, when you read faster your level of comprehension increases because of better focus.
  3. Subvocalization: Sounding out words slows down your reading speed.
  4. Regression: Rereading information slows down reading speed. 

Use a Visual Pacer

It’s been found that sight and touch are linked, so it’s important to use a visual pacer such as your index finger to focus and move you through the information. I found it surprising that Jim Kwik advised us to use our left index finger as the pacer. By using our left hand, which is connected to our right brain, we do not just hear the words, but also experience them. Be inside the book that you are reading – it increases your retention. And using a visual pacer increases your reading speed by 25 percent.

To eliminate subvocalization requires reading at least 400 words per minute. A good speed reading drill is the 4-3-2-1 drill. Time yourself and read for four minutes, then read the same amount in three minutes, then two minutes and finally in one minute. I appreciated this workshop because I learned some new things, was reminded to hold the book upright when reading, and the workshop is very timely.

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below. Liked this post? Share it and subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more! If you’re new to the blog, visit the Start Here page for my pillar posts.

Author Bio: Avil Beckford, an expert interviewer, entrepreneur and published author is passionate about books and professional development, and that’s why she founded The Invisible Mentor and the Virtual Literary World Tour to give you your ideal mentors virtually in the palm of your hands by offering book reviews and book summaries, biographies of wise people and interviews of successful people.

Book links are affiliate links.

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Do you make this critical mistake because of impatience? http://theinvisiblementor.com/make-critical-mistake-impatience/ http://theinvisiblementor.com/make-critical-mistake-impatience/#respond Tue, 15 Apr 2014 09:27:49 +0000 http://theinvisiblementor.com/?p=16100 Do you make this critical mistake because of impatience? We are living in a world that is always turned on, with the expectation that people will respond at the speed of light. You get an email, and if you do not respond in a few minutes, you may receive a phone call inquiring if you […]

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Do you make this critical mistake because of impatience?

We are living in a world that is always turned on, with the expectation that people will respond at the speed of light. You get an email, and if you do not respond in a few minutes, you may receive a phone call inquiring if you did not receive the email message. Because of this intense pressure, people may cut corners in many areas of their lives hoping to accelerate things, achieving their goals faster. They could also cut corners in their professional development, thinking that they will attain professional success that much faster if they eliminate elements of their learning. But it doesn’t always work that way, you have to invest the time to reap the rewards.

Mistakes

Image Credit: Geralt via Pixabay

To become successful in your field, you have to know and understand the fundamentals, then you build on them. The most successful writers advise us to study and understand the rules of writing, at which time we are in the position to break the rules effectively. The greatest thinkers and innovators who have helped to shape the world, all had one thing in common, they mastered the foundational knowledge of their fields. After mastering the foundational knowledge, they built on it, and there are many times recorded in history when they looked at what others had done, then took that piece of work to the next level. Had they not understood the foundational knowledge, they would have been incapable of expanding on the work of others in the field.

Have you made the critical mistake of not taking the time to study and understand the building blocks of your field because you were feeling impatient – feeling that it was taking too much of your time? Have you been overlooked for a promotion because there is a gap in your skills? Have you refused to acquire a new skill because it will take too much time for you to learn and understand the foundational knowledge? Have you given up learning a new skill because you had been working at it for what seemed to you like a long time and you did see the expected result? What if mastery was just around the corner at the time you gave up? These are important questions that are worth reflecting on.

In life, the most important achievements take investment of a substantial amount of time. Isn’t it worth the effort to invest the time to leave your legacy behind? Do not make this critical mistake because of impatience. When I decided to write this post, I was also writing it for myself and thought others would benefit. This is the second part of the post Do you make this mistake with your professional development?

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below. Liked this post? Share it and subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more! If you’re new to the blog, visit the Start Here page for my pillar posts.

Author Bio: Avil Beckford, an expert interviewer, entrepreneur and published author is passionate about books and professional development, and that’s why she founded The Invisible Mentor and the Virtual Literary World Tour to give you your ideal mentors virtually in the palm of your hands by offering book reviews and book summaries, biographies of wise people and interviews of successful people.

Book links are affiliate links.

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The Purloined Letter by Edgar Allan Poe http://theinvisiblementor.com/the-purloined-letter-edgar-allan-poe/ http://theinvisiblementor.com/the-purloined-letter-edgar-allan-poe/#respond Mon, 14 Apr 2014 11:00:59 +0000 http://theinvisiblementor.com/?p=16095 The Purloined Letter by Edgar Allan Poe, Review The Purloined Letter  by Edgar Allan Poe is a short story that I found at American Literature. Early this year, I read a blog post, and in it the blogger commented that reading a short story each day helped to improve his writing. As a writer, there […]

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The Purloined Letter by Edgar Allan Poe, Review

The Purloined Letter  by Edgar Allan Poe is a short story that I found at American Literature. Early this year, I read a blog post, and in it the blogger commented that reading a short story each day helped to improve his writing. As a writer, there is always room for improvement so that I can become better at my craft. But, the reason for reading the short stories is that they present opportunities for me to practice my speed reading drills while getting access to works by a variety of writers. If you use a speed reading bookmarklet to read the story, you can complete it in eight minutes or less. Or if you read it the regular way, it will take you about 35 minutes.

Edgar Allan Poe

Image Credit: Wikipedia 1848 “Ultima Thule” daguerreotype of Poe

While I was reading The Purloined Letter by Edgar Allan Poe, the story and the characters reminded me of the Sherlock Holmes stories. The unnamed narrator is in the company of his friend, C. Auguste Dupin in a small library in the apartment, each with his own thoughts. The narrator is ruminating on the murder of Marie Rogt, which they had discussed earlier, when Monsieur G, Prefect of the Parisian police, an old friend, throws open the apartment door and enters.

After putting all the pleasantries aside, Monsieur G explains that he has a simple, yet odd situation that he needs a perspective on. It is believed that Minister D, who holds a very high position, has stolen an important letter from the royal apartment. While in the royal apartment, he notices the address on the letter and recognizes the handwriting so he switches the letter. The letter’s owner does not say anything because a third party is present, and not wanting to create a scene keeps quiet. Minister D is also not someone you want to challenge, but more importantly, simply possessing the letter, gives him power, which he is using for political purposes.

The person who has lost the letter is asking Monsieur G to retrieve it for her. It is a tricky situation because the Parisian police cannot simply approach Minister D and ask him to return the letter so they have to find another way to retrieve it – they have to use subterfuge. Monsieur G has searched every place that the robber could have hidden the letter, but has been unable to retrieve it so far. He has also created situations where he could search Minister D without creating suspicion, but the letter is never on his person. Monsieur G is puzzled because it is a simple matter, yet he cannot solve it.

The case is confidential, so the police officer has to be very discreet, which limits who he can speak to about the case. He trusts Dupin and the narrator completely and knows that they will not betray his trust. He discloses everything about the case to them, they in turn ask him questions, which he answers honestly. They conclude that the letter has to be in the Minister’s apartment even though the Parisian officer have done a thorough search, opening parcels, looking through all the books in the library, lifting the carpet and examining the boards, all to no avail.

Monsieur G leaves his two friends feeling quite depressed about his inability to solve a simple crime. A month later, he visits his friends again at their apartment. Dupin asks the police officer about the reward for finding the letter, but not wanting to disclose the amount,Monsieur G responds that he would write an individual check for 50,000 francs to anyone who finds the letter. After some small talk, Dupin tells the officer to fill out the check for the specified amount and he will hand him the letter. Monsieur looks at the letter and is so happy to solve the case that he asks no questions and runs through the door without saying a word.

After Monsieur G’s swift departure, the reader learns, in true Sherlock Holmes style, how Dupin finds the letter. He explains that the reason why the police failed in their search for the letter is that they were searching places where they personally would have hidden the letter – no ingenuity comes into play. Dupin knows Minister D, and after gathering the information from Monsieur G, he spends some time reflecting on it to figure out where the politician would likely place the letter. He visits the Minister one morning wearing green glasses, and during their conversation complains of having weak eyes, suggesting that he cannot see very well. All during the time there, he is looking at possible hiding spots for the letter.

He eventually spots the letter. The crafty Minister dirties the appearance of the letter so that others will think that it is unimportant during a search. Dupin bids goodbye to his host, deliberately leaving behind his gold snuff-box. The next morning he visits the Minister again, but under the guise of retrieving his snuff-box. Prior to entering the home, he pays someone to create a diversion. When the disturbance happens, the Minister goes to the window to see what is happening, and during those precious seconds, Dupin switches the letter.

The big lessons in The Purloined Letter by Edgar Allan Poe are that things are not always what they seem, so expect the unexpected; and that when you are confronted with problems, have different approaches to solving them. Investigate how others who are different from you would solve the problems.

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below. Liked this post? Share it and subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more! If you’re new to the blog, visit the Start Here page for my pillar posts.

Author Bio: Avil Beckford, an expert interviewer, entrepreneur and published author is passionate about books and professional development, and that’s why she founded The Invisible Mentor and the Virtual Literary World Tour to give you your ideal mentors virtually in the palm of your hands by offering book reviews and book summaries, biographies of wise people and interviews of successful people.

Book links are affiliate links.

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Maude Abbott, International Authority on Heart Disease http://theinvisiblementor.com/maude-abbott-international-authority-heart-disease/ http://theinvisiblementor.com/maude-abbott-international-authority-heart-disease/#respond Fri, 11 Apr 2014 09:30:09 +0000 http://theinvisiblementor.com/?p=16086 Maude Abbott, International Authority on Heart Disease Name: Maude Abbott Birth Date: March 18, 1869 – September 2,1940 Job Functions: Medical Doctor & Curator Fields: Medicine Known For: Heart Disease Specialist Maude Abbott and her sister Alice were raised by their maternal grandmother after their mother died from tuberculosis and their father abandoned them. Their […]

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Maude Abbott, International Authority on Heart Disease

Name: Maude Abbott
Birth Date: March 18, 1869 – September 2,1940
Job Functions: Medical Doctor & Curator
Fields: Medicine
Known For: Heart Disease Specialist

Maude Abbott

Image Credit: Wikipedia

Maude Abbott and her sister Alice were raised by their maternal grandmother after their mother died from tuberculosis and their father abandoned them. Their grandmother legally adopted them at the age of 62 and gave her granddaughters her surname. In June 1885, Maude received a scholarship to attend McGill University, which recently started to admit girls. In fact, Maude Abbott was a part of the third class of women to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Donalda Department for Women at McGill, so the women were segregated. She also pursued a teaching diploma from McGill Normal school at the same time.

Five years later in 1890, Maude Abbott earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree. She excelled while pursuing her degree, and was awarded the prestigious Lord Stanley Gold Medal. Because she achieved this distinction, she was asked to be her class valedictorian. Maude enjoyed her time at McGill so it seemed the likely choice for her to pursue a medical degree. Despite her stellar performance at McGill, the powers that be declined her application because she was a woman.

Maude Abbott’s Petition for Women to Attend McGill’s School of Medicine

Not accepting the decision, she petitioned for McGill to open its medical school doors to women, and went as far as to raise the funds for them to attend.

Although she had the support of the media, and leading men and women in Montreal, McGill refused to open its doors to women who wanted to take medical courses. Maude Abbott had no choice but to pursue her medical degree at the Faculty of Medicine at Bishop’s College in Montreal.  Bishop’s College wanted to upstage McGill, so it offered to admit Maude who accepted. Not surprisingly, she was the only woman in her class. Once again, Maude Abbott achieved academic excellence, graduated with honors in June 1894, four years after entering medical school, winning two prestigious awards – the Senior Anatomy Prize and the Chancellor’s Prize.

Travel to Europe for more Medical Training

Maude Abbott wanted more medical training, so along with her sister, Alice – who was suffering from a mental illness – the two traveled to Europe. With a letter of introduction from Victor Horsley, the founder of neurosurgery, Maude got access to many medical establishments. She had access to the London School for Medicine, was able to view surgeries performed by Vincenz Czerny in Germany. Maude studied in Switzerland, but it was impacted because Alice, who had suffered a breakdown needed care.

When Alice’s care became too much for her, she had her sister admitted to the Gartnavel Royal Asylum in Glasgow in January 1897. The two returned to Canada in September of that year and it was the last time that Alice received institutional care – she was cared for in the family home after that.

Opening a Practice and Working for McGill

Maude Abbott is a courageous woman, and in the summer of 1898 she opened her own doctor’s office in Montreal, where she treated women and children. And during that summer she was appointed as the Assistant Curator of the Medical Museum of McGill University. The specimen at the Museum had never been organized so Maude visited medical museums in America to determine how best to classify them.

While she was visiting Baltimore, she met world renowned, Canadian physician and educator, Dr William Osler, who encouraged her to specialize in congenital heart disease. In 1901, Maude was appointed Curator and had to reduce her medical practice. She did such a stellar job in her role as curator, that in 1904 when William Osler visited, he was so impressed that he wrote to the Dean of Medicine saying that Maude’s work was the best he had seen at McGill to date, and that the museum was now the best in North America and Britain.

Opportunity of a Lifetime

Maude Abbott

History of Cardiology Panel 1 – Photographed by Irene Barajas & Emiliano García

In 1905, Osler invited Maude to write a chapter on congenital cardiac disease for his textbook, Systems of Modern Medicine (A System of Medicine, Volume 1). Completed in 1907, this work gave her worldwide authority on the subject. Now that Maude Abbott had received international acclaim, in 1910, McGill awarded her an honorary medical degree, and appointed her to its academic staff. In 1925 she was appointed Assistant Professor, but was never promoted beyond this rank despite her continued stellar performance. In 1936, she published Atlas of Congenital Cardiac Disease.

Other institutions recognized and respected Maude Abbott’s accomplishments far more than McGill University, but she didn’t relocate because she refused to leave Alice whom she cared for, for 40 years. On one occasion Maude took a leave of absence from McGill and went to the Women’s Medical College of Philadelphia where she worked for two years. Although she wanted to work beyond 65 years, McGill forced her to retire. She died from a brain hemorrhage on September 2, 1940. At the time she died, she was recognized as a top cardiologist and the founder of the International Association of Medical Museums.

During her career, “Dr. Abbott published over 140 papers and books and delivered countless lectures.” When the first women graduated from McGill Medical School in 1922, Maude Abbott hosted a celebratory tea party at the Ritz in their honor.

In 1943, after her death, the famous Mexican painter, Diego Rivera, recognized Maude Abbot by paying her one of the greatest homage – he included her, the only woman and Canadian in a mural of 50 of the most important heart specialists in the world.

Maude Abbot

Panel 2

Lessons from Maude Abbott

  • Fight and stand up for what you believe in.
  • Work around obstacles to get what you need.
  • Be the best in your field.
  • Show your work so others may learn from you. 

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below. Liked this post? Share it and subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more! If you’re new to the blog, visit the Start Here page for my pillar posts.

Author Bio: Avil Beckford, an expert interviewer, entrepreneur and published author is passionate about books and professional development, and that’s why she founded The Invisible Mentor and the Virtual Literary World Tour to give you your ideal mentors virtually in the palm of your hands by offering book reviews and book summaries, biographies of wise people and interviews of successful people.

Book links are affiliate links.

Image Credit: British Medical Journal http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1322258/

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The Model Millionaire by Oscar Wilde http://theinvisiblementor.com/the-model-millionaire-oscar-wilde/ http://theinvisiblementor.com/the-model-millionaire-oscar-wilde/#respond Thu, 10 Apr 2014 09:09:46 +0000 http://theinvisiblementor.com/?p=16082 The Model Millionaire by Oscar Wilde The Model Millionaire by Oscar Wilde is not a book, but a short story. In the mornings when I am practicing my speed reading drills using bookmarklets, I have been doing so with short stories that I find on the American Literature website. I have found and read some excellent […]

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The Model Millionaire by Oscar Wilde

The Model Millionaire by Oscar Wilde is not a book, but a short story. In the mornings when I am practicing my speed reading drills using bookmarklets, I have been doing so with short stories that I find on the American Literature website. I have found and read some excellent short stories on this site. Please also read my review of Oscar Wilde’s The Canterville Ghost.

Oscar Wilde

Image Credit: Oscar Wilde Oxford 1876 via Wikipedia

I found The Model Millionaire by Oscar Wilde very touching. Oscar Wilde wrote an amazing start for this story, “Unless one is wealthy there is no use in being a charming fellow. Romance is the privilege of the rich, not the profession of the unemployed. The poor should be practical and prosaic. It is better to have a permanent income than to be fascinating.” What are your thoughts, do you agree with this?

Hughie Erskine, a handsome young man, hasn’t been able to get his act together. He has tried many things to make a living, including being a stock trader and also a merchant. Hughie is in love with Laura Merton, the daughter of a retired merchant. Although the retired Colonel likes and approves of the young man, he will not give his daughter’s hand in marriage unless Hughie is able to amass a wealth of £10,000, and then he will revisit the matter. Hughie does not have a profession and doesn’t know how he will ever get the money. On the positive side, Laura loves him, but what good is that if they cannot marry?

Hughie often visits his friend, Alan Trevor, a renowned painter, whose paintings are always in demand. Alan happens to like Hughie, and allows him to visit even while he is working. One day when Hughie is visiting, Alan is painting a beggar with a piteous and miserable look on his face. The two friends talk about the beggar and Hughie asks how much the model gets, and he learns a schilling for an hour while Alan gets 2000 guineas for the painting. Hughie declares that the model works as hard as the painter and should earn more.

“’Nonsense, nonsense! Why, look at the trouble of laying on the paint alone, and standing all day long at one’s easel! It’s all very well, Hughie, for you to talk, but I assure you that there are moments when Art almost attains to the dignity of manual labour. But you mustn’t chatter; I’m very busy. Smoke a cigarette, and keep quiet.’”

A servant informs Alan that the frame maker wants to speak to him. While he is gone, the beggar takes the time to rest his weary body. Hughie starts to speak to him, and feeling compassion he dips into his pocket and shares the little he has, thinking that the beggar needs it more than he does. The beggar is very grateful for the money. It’s at a great sacrifice because that means that Hughie has no transportation for two weeks and will have to walk home. Is that such a bad thing? Anyway, much later when he visits Laura and tells her what he did, she scolds him for being extravagant.

At 11:00 pm that night, he visits the Palette Club and finds Alan there, sitting by himself smoking and drinking. Alan tells Hughie that he told the beggar all about him – about his financial situation and the £10,000 he has to amass before he can marry Laura. Hughie cannot understand why Alan would share his personal information with a beggar. He also tells Alan that he gave the beggar money. Alan discloses that the beggar isn’t really a beggar, “’that old beggar, as you call him, is one of the richest men in Europe. He could buy all London tomorrow without overdrawing his account. He has a house in every capital, dines off gold plate, and can prevent Russia going to war when he chooses.’”

The ‘beggar,’ Baron Hausberg, commissioned the painted and posed for it. Hughie is not happy about the deception. The next morning while he is eating breakfast, his servant brings him a card from Monsieur Gustave Naudin who works for Baron Hausberg. Hughie thinks he has to apologize for giving a multimillionaire spare change. As it turns out, Baron Hausberg was touched by Hughie’s kind gesture despite his financial situation. Monsieur Gustave Naudin delivers a cheque made out to Hughie Erskine for £10,000 so that he can marry his sweetheart.

I loved this story because it teaches us to have compassion for all, and that we are our brother’s keeper. Today, we are living in an individualistic society where most of us focus on monetary success, and often forget the important things in life. The Model Millionaire by Oscar Wilde is a great reminder to me that social and economic justice matter. It is possible that big lessons can come in small packages.

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below. Liked this post? Share it and subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more! If you’re new to the blog, visit the Start Here page for my pillar posts.

Author Bio: Avil Beckford, an expert interviewer, entrepreneur and published author is passionate about books and professional development, and that’s why she founded The Invisible Mentor and the Virtual Literary World Tour to give you your ideal mentors virtually in the palm of your hands by offering book reviews and book summaries, biographies of wise people and interviews of successful people.

Book links are affiliate links.

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James J. Kaufman, Attorney, Former Judge, Businessman, and Author of The Collectibles and The Concealers http://theinvisiblementor.com/james-j-kaufman-attorney-former-judge-businessman-and-author-collectibles-concealers/ http://theinvisiblementor.com/james-j-kaufman-attorney-former-judge-businessman-and-author-collectibles-concealers/#respond Wed, 09 Apr 2014 09:15:42 +0000 http://theinvisiblementor.com/?p=16070 Interview with James J. Kaufman, Attorney, Former Judge, Businessman, and Author of The Collectibles and The Concealers  Invisible Mentor: James J. Kaufman Company Name: The Kaufman Group, Ltd. Website: http://jamesjkaufman.com, http://www.thekaufmangroupltd.com  Part One: Introduction Avil Beckford: In a couple of sentences, tell me a little bit about yourself. James J. Kaufman: I am an attorney […]

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Interview with James J. Kaufman, Attorney, Former Judge, Businessman, and Author of The Collectibles and The Concealers 

Invisible Mentor: James J. Kaufman
Company Name: The Kaufman Group, Ltd.
Website: http://jamesjkaufman.com, http://www.thekaufmangroupltd.com James J Kaufman

Part One: Introduction

Avil Beckford: In a couple of sentences, tell me a little bit about yourself.

James J. Kaufman: I am an attorney who has practiced law for over thirty-five years, was judge for fourteen years, interim CEO of Riveria Yachts of the Americas, an Australian company doing business in 29 countries, and Chairman and CEO of The Kaufman Group, Ltd., a strategic turnaround company. I am now an author, having written The Collectibles, my first novel and The Concealers, book two of the The Collectibles trilogy. I live with my wife in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Avil Beckford: What’s a typical day like for you?

James J. Kaufman:  I write in the mornings, review my work, and attend to emails, telephone calls and other business and charity work in the afternoon. Then I work out, have dinner with my wife, talk to my family and friends, and read or watch TV.

Avil Beckford: How do you motivate yourself and stay motivated?

James J. Kaufman: Actually, my task is to not be over-motivated. I have been blessed with an ample amount of energy, driven by multiple interests and an oversized curiosity, with an inherent drive to accomplish my goals. Probably my greatest motivation is responding those who need my help and being encouraged by the challenges I face and the successes I have been fortunate enough to achieve.

Avil Beckford: If you had to start over from scratch, knowing what you now know, what would you do differently?

James J. Kaufman:  I would have applied to Yale and then Harvard MBA. I would have bought some real estate in New York City and I would have learned Spanish, Mandarin, and Japanese early on, knowing what I know now.

Avil Beckford: Tell me about your big break and who gave you.

James J. Kaufman:  I don’t think I’ve had a big break in the context in which I think you ask the question. I’ve had more than my share of good fortune. For me, my first break, if you will, was having two wonderful role models in my parents, and to be married to a woman with whom I still remain hopelessly in love. Happily married, with successful and happy grown children, and grandchildren, and having been able to accomplish what I have set out to do, and realize my dreams – those are the biggest breaks I can imagine.

Part Two: Career

Avil Beckford: How did mentors influence your life?

James J. Kaufman: I’ve been blessed to have several mentors. Each taught me the value of meaningful relationships. They invited me into their lives and minds, allowing me to see what they actually do, how they do it, and what their priorities were. For example, I remember when I was just about to become a judge, one of my judicial mentors told me, “If you are going to be a judge – be the judge.” A message shared by other mentors was, “Work hard, trust my instincts, follow my internal compass and my core values systems.” What I observed in my mentors were men and women who had the courage to do what they thought was right and make the right decisions.

Avil Beckford: An invisible mentor is a unique leader you can learn from by observing them from a distance. In that capacity, what is one piece of advice that you would give to others?

James J. Kaufman: I would tell them to reach out to others, find their intrinsic worth, their bright side; to encourage them, help them and empower them through teaching and earning their trust, to do the best they can with what they have, and to follow their dreams. I would remind them to say, “I love you” when they do, and I would tell them to live each day with the realization that they may never get a chance to do that again.

Avil Beckford: What kind of leader are you? What’s your leadership philosophy?

James J. Kaufman: I would consider myself a strong, and unless otherwise required, quiet leader who is unafraid to delegate.  I lead by example, candor and clarity of vision and direction. Above all, I believe in integrity, trust, and the importance of a positive attitude. “How to” instead of “why not”.

Avil Beckford: What big steps did you take to succeed in your field? What is one step or action you have consistently taken that has contributed the most to your success?

James J. Kaufman:  I sought the best education I could, and have continued to educate myself by all means available. I have consistently strived to actively listen to others, learn from them, and face self-imposed, new challenges for the rest of my life. I’ve worked as hard as I can and I never quit.  As soon as I become successful in one arena, I move the goalposts, create a bigger scale. If I had to choose one action that I have consistently taken, that has contributed to my success, it has been and continues to be my desire to deal with everyone with clarity, dignity, respect, and above all honesty.

Part Three: Life

Avil Beckford: Describe one of your biggest failures. What lessons did you learn, and how did it contribute to a greater success?

James J. Kaufman:  My biggest failure occurred in my first year in law school. I received high grades except in one course, which I failed. It was a lecture-only course and there were no books.  The Dean asked me why I failed. I told him I thought I had a hearing problem – that I had trouble hearing that particular professor, with his back to the class as he wrote on the blackboard. In those days, many law schools admitted men only, and did not want students with any disabilities. He told me there was no place in his law school for a student with a hearing problem. That was a lot of years ago.

I had never failed at anything before, and I was advised by everyone at the time to forget my dream of being a trial lawyer, and accept reality. Fortunately, I decided to chase my dream and I did not accept their advice. I was fitted with hearing aids, found another law school, excelled there, and went on to have an amazing career as a lawyer, judge, businessman, and now an author.

The lesson I learned was to take a disability and turn it into a strength. If you can’t hear well, get help and listen harder, chase your dreams, have faith in yourself, and the courage to face adversity.  Find a way.

Avil Beckford: What’s one of the toughest decisions you’ve had to make and how did it impact your life?

James J. Kaufman:  Actually, the toughest decision I ever had to make was what I just talked about – to have the courage to go forward, against the advice of everybody I knew at the time and trusted – who were telling me it couldn’t be done. I believe that my determination and faith in God and myself was rewarded by whatever success I’ve achieved. I continue to try to help others in any way I can, especially those with special challenges.

Avil Beckford: What are three events that helped to shape your life?

James J. Kaufman:

  1. Growing up in a small, rural town in upstate New York watching my father, an old-fashioned family doctor, and my mother, his nurse, be a wonderful dad and mom, always helping others.
  2. Sharing life with my wife, whose love and support have been critically essential to the development of my several careers, achieving expertise and accomplishing whatever I have.
  3. The third event in shaping my life would be the blessing of two wonderful children and our grandchildren, together with my extended family and so many wonderful friends and clients. 

Avil Beckford: What’s an accomplishment that you are proudest of?

James J. Kaufman: I think the thing I am proudest of is having the love, trust and respect of my family, friends, clients, business associates and peers. As an attorney, I’ve received the highest ratings my peers could give, I’ve never had a complaint from a client, never been reversed on appeal as a judge. Looking back, having my wife, children and grandchildren feel proud of me – that’s my biggest accomplishment.

Avil Beckford: What are five life lessons that you have learned so far?

James J. Kaufman:

  1. The strength of the truth, the need for trust and the importance of having the right approach and attitude.
  2. Treating everyone with respect and dignity, even if you disagree with his or her position.
  3. Gratitude. Remembering to say thank you.
  4. The importance of active listening.
  5. Never be afraid to fail, but always be afraid not to try. 

Avil Beckford: If trusted friends could introduce you to five people (living or dead) that you’ve always wanted to meet, who would you choose? And what one question you would you say to them?

James J. Kaufman:  Churchill, Gandhi, Lincoln, Mark Twain and Jesus. As far as what I would say to them: I’d thank them for taking the time to talk to me, and I’d ask them the same questions you are asking me.

Avil Beckford: Which one book had a profound impact on your life? What was it about this book that impacted you so deeply?

James J. Kaufman:  There are so many. One book that comes to mind is Selected Essays by Michel de Montaigne, particularly the essays on friendship. That had a great impact because of my believe in the importance of great relationships; it helped shape my fundamental views about what to expect in enduring friendships and relationships, and what really makes them work.

Avil Beckford: You are one of the 10 finalists on the reality show, So, How Would You Spend Your Time? Each finalist is placed on different deserted islands for two years. You have a basic hut on the island and all the tools for survival; you just have to be imaginative and inventive when using them. You are allowed to take five books, one movie and one music CD, and whatever else you take has to fit in one suitcase and a travel on case. What would you take with you and how would you spend the time? The prize is worth your while and at this stage in the game there really aren’t any losers among the 10 finalists, since each are guaranteed at least $2 million.

Two Years

James J. Kaufman:  I would explore the island and it’s adjoining waters, underneath and in the caves and everywhere else. I would use the tools to assure that I had an ample supply of food and water and protection from the elements or any other unforeseen threats. I would take along solar powered equipment, and I would fish, hunt, and use an inflatable boat. I’d spend my time eating, drinking, sleeping, communicating with others (by sat phone with a portable hand current generator); spend time making practical, useful things and also art. I’d train animals, birds and other creatures to be my friends and communicate with me, build a windmill, and try to figure out how to make a record of all this – so that I could write a book someday.

Five Books

James J. Kaufman:

I would take:

  1. The Bible
  2. Scrapbook of pictures of my family and friends.
  3. Walking the Amazon, which had to do with survival on a remote island I would throw that in.
  4. Robinson Crusoe
  5. A book on what to eat and what not to eat. 

Avil Beckford: When you have some down time, how do you spend it? How do you nurture your soul?

James J. Kaufman: My best down time is spent laughing and sharing life with family and friends. I love to read, watch movies, go boating, fishing, sit on my back porch and study the wildlife on our pond. All of these things are important, and the value of family and friends, and helping others, and the relationships which ensue – all nurture my soul.

Avil Beckford: Complete the following, I am happy when…..

James J. Kaufman: I am happy when:  I get a call from someone with a tough problem that needs me; I exceed my expectations of myself; I’m with my wife, my family, and having a casual dinner with friends; anytime I boat in the Caribbean or Greek Islands, or travelling in Italy; I receive letters from my readers – telling me they love my books and that their reading them changed their way of looking at life; I’m eating an ice cream bar; I’m speaking to a group that is really into the subject; and I’m happy each day, and thankful that I’m here to enjoy it.

Books by James J. Kaufman

The Collectibles, Book I of The Collectibles Trilogy (My review)

The Concealers, Book 2 of The Collectibles Trilogy (My Review)

The author may be reached at: jamesjkaufman.com; TheCollectiblesNovel@gmail.com; TheConcealersNovel@gmail.com or by visiting DownstreamPublishing.com, or writing to downstreampublishing@gmail.com; and visiting TheKaufmanGroupLTD.com

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below. Liked this post? Share it and subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more! If you’re new to the blog, visit the Start Here page for my pillar posts.

Author Bio: Avil Beckford, an expert interviewer, entrepreneur and published author is passionate about books and professional development, and that’s why she founded The Invisible Mentor and the Virtual Literary World Tour to give you your ideal mentors virtually in the palm of your hands by offering book reviews and book summaries, biographies of wise people and interviews of successful people.

Book links are affiliate links.

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Do you let doubt stop you in your track? http://theinvisiblementor.com/let-doubt-stop-track/ http://theinvisiblementor.com/let-doubt-stop-track/#respond Tue, 08 Apr 2014 09:01:23 +0000 http://theinvisiblementor.com/?p=16062 Do you let doubt stop you in your track? Doubt can be both good and bad. Good, because it makes you question things. And bad because it can prevent you from doing important things. This morning as I was practicing my speed reading drills I had an epiphany. When you use speed reading bookmarklets, the […]

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Do you let doubt stop you in your track?

Doubt can be both good and bad. Good, because it makes you question things. And bad because it can prevent you from doing important things. This morning as I was practicing my speed reading drills I had an epiphany. When you use speed reading bookmarklets, the words of the text you are reading flash across the screen, and you can adjust the settings to how many words at a time that you want to flash. You can also adjust the words per minute at which you would like to read. Depending on the speed reading bookmarklet, there could be other functionalities as well.

Doubt

Image Credit: Geralt via Pixabay

There are three things that slow your reading speed: reading one word at a time, sounding out the words (subvocalization) and rereading the text (regression). When using bookmarklets, you are forced to recognize the word because they are flashing quickly so you have no time to subvocalize. You are encouraged to set the words per minute at which you read much higher than your reading rate to force you to stop trying to say the words, or reread any part of the text. In the book, BrainRead – Effective Speed Reading – Reading like the Swedish, and during the Iris Reading speed reading course that I took a few years ago, we were instructed to at first focus on reading speed without trying to comprehend what you are reading, that comes later.

And now for my epiphany, each time that I start to use the bookmarklets, and I set the rate at which I read so high that I cannot read the words, after doing it for a while, doubt creeps in because of my logical side, and I believe that the process will never work, so I abandon it. I never recognized this weakness until this morning. I know that I usually stop the process, but I didn’t know why. This morning, that little voice that sometimes gives us bad advice, was showing its ugly head. But because I am so committed to giving the process the time it deserves since I have so much riding on my informal liberal arts education, and the necessity to read the right old books, I ignored the voice. This tells me that with awareness, a major part of the battle between doubt and doing what we must is won. Have you had a similar experience?

I am hoping that when I have developed the habit of reading by sight instead of by subvocalizing the words, I will begin to start understanding what I am reading and can work on improving my level of understanding of what I am reading. You get better at a skill by practicing, but it’s not intuitive to read by sight because that’s not how we are taught to read. A process, in this case, learning to read by subvocalizing is very effective when we first started to read, but when we have mastered the art of reading, and no longer need to subvocalize, we are not introduced to a new method of reading – reading by sight. At what point in our lives, is the appropriate time to change the way we read to be more proficient? It should be way before adulthood, because it is much more difficult to do at that stage.

The trick for me is to shut down the negative chatter and not succumb to the feelings of doubt that reading by sight is impossible. It is a process of not only unlearning what I have been taught, which is subvocalizing, but replacing it with reading by sight because it is important not to have a vacuum since I will revert back to the old behaviors. And that’s what I have done in the past when I was practicing my speed reading. Awareness prevents you from allowing doubt to stop you in your track.

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below. Liked this post? Share it and subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more! If you’re new to the blog, visit the Start Here page for my pillar posts.

Author Bio: Avil Beckford, an expert interviewer, entrepreneur and published author is passionate about books and professional development, and that’s why she founded The Invisible Mentor and the Virtual Literary World Tour to give you your ideal mentors virtually in the palm of your hands by offering book reviews and book summaries, biographies of wise people and interviews of successful people.

Book links are affiliate links.

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Do you make this mistake with your professional development? http://theinvisiblementor.com/make-mistake-professional-development/ http://theinvisiblementor.com/make-mistake-professional-development/#comments Mon, 07 Apr 2014 09:23:33 +0000 http://theinvisiblementor.com/?p=16057 Do you make this mistake with your professional development? Are you attracted to the new shiny object? Anyone who reads this blog knows that I am big on professional development. Heck, this blog is about professional development. Recently, I was seriously thinking about going to Minneapolis to take Learning Strategies’ PhotoReading course, but things weren’t […]

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Do you make this mistake with your professional development?

Speed reading

Image Credit: superjhs via Pixabay

Are you attracted to the new shiny object? Anyone who reads this blog knows that I am big on professional development. Heck, this blog is about professional development. Recently, I was seriously thinking about going to Minneapolis to take Learning Strategies’ PhotoReading course, but things weren’t coming together smoothly. You know how that is?

I tried everything to convince myself that I needed to take that course. I told myself that although I had learned about how to read syntopically from How to Read a Book by Mortimer Adler, I still needed to learn the process from Learning Strategies. I told myself that I had to take the Genius Code course because it will allow me to read faster and use my whole brain. What things do you tell yourself to convince you that you need the next shiny object?

I am not saying that the PhotoReading course isn’t good. In fact, I purchased the home study program, which usually sells for just over $500. Three years ago, I purchased a speed reading software. Three years ago I attended Iris Reading speed reading course. Seven years ago, I purchased a lucid dreaming meditation audio program, which does what Genius Code does. I have speed reading bookmarklets on my computer. I purchased two different speed reading apps for my smart phone. I learned that the Swedes are among the fastest readers in the world because as children, they had to read sub-titles to understand the TV programs from the West (sub-titles promote speed reading). Göran Askeljung wrote BrainRead, which teaches the process, and I purchased that book 10 months ago. I am reading faster than I was three years ago, but not as fast as I should be considering all the shiny objects I have in my speed reading toolkit.

The big mistake I made? I have been so busy collecting speed reading resources that I haven’t invested enough time in using them to read faster. Can you relate to this? You are so busy collecting resources to acquire a new skill that you forget to actually do the work needed to acquire the skills.

I realized that I am trying to do too many things and need to step back and evaluate what’s important to me now. I un-enrolled from two courses because I need the time to focus on increasing the speed at which I read. Speed reading is a critical skill to have today because a 2012 study by the McKinsey Global Institute office workers on average spent 5.6 hours “reading and answering emails and processing written information” are showing that each of us has to read for at least four hours each day just to keep up with information critical for our work. Anyone who expects to succeed, to get promoted at work, has to read faster and increase their level of understanding of the material. There is no way around it.

Acquiring my informal liberal arts education is important to me. Reading faster and increasing my level of understanding will go a long way in achieving this goal in the time I have set aside, so I have created a checklist of the things that I have to do each day to read faster, and before I go to bed I start checking off activities. How can you lie to yourself when you have a checklist staring you in the face? You cannot! I have done this for only a week and am taking it seriously. To make the process simple, when I can, I speed read information that I have to read for work. The way this works is that I have speed reading bookmarklets on my browser toolbar, specifically, Spreed, Reasy and Squirt, and I use them to read online information. I use Squirt and Spreed the most. I am reading BrainRead – Effective Speed Reading – Reading like the Swedish slowly and doing all the exercises. I am also listening to my lucid dreaming meditation mp3 before I go to sleep. For now, I commit to doing these things for 40 days to develop the habit. By then, I should see a notable increase in my reading people and level of comprehension.

What does this mean for you? Think about the critical skills that you have to develop in the next three years to make yourself more valuable and marketable, work toward acquiring those skills today. Additionally, have you been collecting information on a certain topic because you are interested in it, or because you have to stay on top of it for work? Have you been doing more collecting than reading? Spend 15 minutes each day reading the information that you have already collected, and if the information is online, consider using one of the speed reading bookmarklets that I have mentioned.

Don’t make this mistake with your professional development! Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below. Liked this post? Share it and subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more! If you’re new to the blog, visit the Start Here page for my pillar posts.

Author Bio: Avil Beckford, an expert interviewer, entrepreneur and published author is passionate about books and professional development, and that’s why she founded The Invisible Mentor and the Virtual Literary World Tour to give you your ideal mentors virtually in the palm of your hands by offering book reviews and book summaries, biographies of wise people and interviews of successful people.

Book links are affiliate links.

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Mind Maps: Quicker Notes, Better Memory, and Improved Learning 3.0 by Michael Taylor, Review http://theinvisiblementor.com/mind-maps-quicker-notes-better-memory-improved-learning-3-0-michael-taylor-review/ http://theinvisiblementor.com/mind-maps-quicker-notes-better-memory-improved-learning-3-0-michael-taylor-review/#respond Sat, 05 Apr 2014 10:04:02 +0000 http://theinvisiblementor.com/?p=16051 Mind Maps: Quicker Notes, Better Memory, and Improved Learning 2.0 by Michael Taylor Can another book on mind mapping really help me? I have mentioned before that every day I visit the Digital Books Today website to see which new books are on offer for free. I recently came across Mind Maps: Quicker Notes, Better Memory, […]

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Mind Maps: Quicker Notes, Better Memory, and Improved Learning 2.0 by Michael Taylor

Can another book on mind mapping really help me? I have mentioned before that every day I visit the Digital Books Today website to see which new books are on offer for free. I recently came across Mind Maps: Quicker Notes, Better Memory, and Improved Learning 3.0 by Michael Taylor and thought that I already read a good book on mind maps, Mind Mapping for Kids: How Elementary School Students Can Use Mind Maps to Improve Reading Comprehension and Critical Thinking by Toni Krasnic. But the book was there for free so I downloaded it. Michael Taylor writes about things that affect me now in Mind Maps: Quicker Notes, Better Memory, and Improved Learning 2.0, so it is very useful to me.

For instance, the main reason that I am interested in mind maps is to use them in books reviews because not everyone likes to read. I wondered how best to create mind maps for books summaries. Should I create a mind map based on the chapter titles, or themes, or the five big ideas in the book that I am summarizing. In Mind Maps: Quicker Notes, Better Memory, and Improved Learning 2.0, the author demonstrates with mind map examples, a variety of ways to create a mind map for books. This reminded me of the power of show, don’t tell! But, I also noticed that the process to create a mind map of a book summary or review, follows speed reading techniques such as skimming through the book, reading the table of content, all the headings in the chapters, anything that is bold and italicized. By doing this, you will know what the main topic and sub-topics are. Finding the right keywords for your mind map will go a long way to capturing the essence of what the book is about.

I have never thought of creating mind maps for research, or for when I am reading syntopically to learn a new topic. Additionally, it wasn’t on my radar to use mind maps to capture the information you hear in speeches and lectures. And the amazing thing is that the techniques used to mind map a book, research, lecture and speeches are not necessarily the same, but the good news is that Taylor walks you through the processes. For instance, when mind mapping a lecture, you cannot go back to refer to the lecture – unless it’s online and recorded – so you have to pay attention and guess the main ideas and subtopics, but most times the presenter gives you an outline so you can use that to decide you main idea and sub-topics.

I have stated many times on The Invisible Mentor blog that one of the outcomes from my informal liberal arts education is a book, and Mind Maps: Quicker Notes, Better Memory, and Improved Learning 3.0 has a section where it explains how to use mind maps for writing books.

  1. “Create your book outline based on the main topic and subtopics of your Mind Map.

  2. Pick a subtopic to start writing — you don’t need to write them in order. Sometimes it is easiest to start at the end of a writing project and work backwards.

  3. As you write, check off subsets on your Mind Map that you have addressed.

  4. When all the subsets of a subtopic are checked off, you have finished that subtopic.

  5. Write a conclusion for that section of your project and move on to the next subtopic.” 

There are examples of how to use mind maps to brainstorm, problem solve and prepare presentations. To become proficient at creating mind maps you have create at least 100 of them. Mind Maps: Quicker Notes, Better Memory, and Improved Learning 3.0 by Michael Taylor is a nice complement to Mind Mapping for Kids: How Elementary School Students Can Use Mind Maps to Improve Reading Comprehension and Critical Thinking by Toni Krasnic.

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below. Liked this post? Share it and subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more! If you’re new to the blog, visit the Start Here page for my pillar posts.

Author Bio: Avil Beckford, an expert interviewer, entrepreneur and published author is passionate about books and professional development, and that’s why she founded The Invisible Mentor and the Virtual Literary World Tour to give you your ideal mentors virtually in the palm of your hands by offering book reviews and book summaries, biographies of wise people and interviews of successful people.

Book links are affiliate links.

Kindle

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Susan Butler, First Female Partner, Andersen Consulting (Accenture), II http://theinvisiblementor.com/susan-butler-first-female-partner-andersen-consulting-accenture-2/ http://theinvisiblementor.com/susan-butler-first-female-partner-andersen-consulting-accenture-2/#comments Fri, 04 Apr 2014 09:03:49 +0000 http://theinvisiblementor.com/?p=16033 Susan Butler, First Female Partner, Andersen Consulting (Accenture), Interview Part II Invisible Mentor: Susan B. Butler Company Name: The SBB Institute Website: http://www.sbbinstitute.org               In this interview with Susan Butler, you will hear time and time again, the importance of listening, speaking up for yourself and being the CEO […]

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Susan Butler, First Female Partner, Andersen Consulting (Accenture), Interview Part II

Invisible Mentor: Susan B. Butler
Company Name: The SBB Institute
Website: http://www.sbbinstitute.orgSusan Butler

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In this interview with Susan Butler, you will hear time and time again, the importance of listening, speaking up for yourself and being the CEO of YOU. You have to clearly articulate where you want your career to go, create and execute your plan.

Avil Beckford: What are three events that helped to shape your life? 

Susan Butler: I believe the first one was when a Partner in the company (and these are the owners) said, “Susan you can be a Partner and we are going to help you get there”. Now I had no more idea at that point in time that that was even something that I could achieve. I was a manager, an experienced manager, but still Partners were way up on the ladder, and when he said that it just put a really big thing in my head that said, “Susan you can do it.” And I learnt from that a very important point that we need to do that for others, to give them hope and give them livelihood that they can make it. So that was a big one when he said that he would make it happen.

I also won a huge project, and I didn’t know it was so important at the time, but a very important project with the US Navy. After I became a Partner this new line of business called Change Management helped us to get a big training project from the US Navy, training the people in the Navy to use an aircraft maintenance system. What that did was it opened other doors, which I didn’t realize at the time but the computer system that we were training on was not a very good system and the Navy realized that. So they put out a proposal for a company to come in and redesign the computer system. Of course they had to competitively bid it but because we had been there for doing all the training we knew a lot about that system. As a result, we won that project, and I became the Partner in charge of installing an aircraft maintenance system for the US Navy.

So this one idea of my getting promoted, the training job and then moving on to the US Navy was one of my significant events that helped to shape my life and then asking for what I want.

There was a point in time when everybody knew who I was because I was the first woman hired, and the first woman Partner, but I wasn’t on one of the big organization charts. And I don’t where this came to mind, but I can see myself in my office in Washington DC thinking about this, and saying to Susan , “Susan if don’t throw your name in the hat you will never know whether you are being considered.” Interestingly enough, about a week later I heard about a job, a position that was available in Philadelphia. It was the Partner in charge of Change Management in Philadelphia, and I said,” I can do that. “Remember Susan you have to throw your name into the hat because you don’t know whether you will be considered.”  So I had to find out who was filling that position. I found out that it wasn’t one of my most favourite Partners in the firm, but I said, “Nothing ventured nothing gained Susan, you have got to throw your name in the hat”.  So I went and had a meeting with this individual, and actually it turned out that I made his job easy. He made an assumption that I wouldn’t want to move because I was so entrenched in Washington DC – I loved it. I said, “Larry how many times have I moved for the firm?” The rest was history. I made his job easy. I moved to Philadelphia and I ran this Partner in Charge of Change Management.

Another learning I had; remember you have to ask for what you want. I asked other people that were in that position in other offices. I said, “Will you help me if I have a problem because I have never done this before?” And they said, “Absolutely Susan, don’t hesitate one minute to call me”.

So that was a big event. And then, lucky as I was, being in Philadelphia, the firm changed, and I became the Partner in Charge of the Philadelphia Office, of which I probably would never have done had I still been in Washington DC. So it’s interesting how things lead from one to another.

Avil Beckford: What’s an accomplishment that you are proudest of?

Susan Butler: Well it’s getting hired in the first place. In those days there weren’t many opportunities. I had offers from Arthur Andersen and IBM and that was it. But getting hired by Arthur Anderson was the first step. Obviously getting promoted, and then what I am proudest of now is opening doors for other women so that they can be successful. I have to say I am so tired of people saying, “Susan, why are women so hard on other women?” I am trying to change that so that women start helping other women, and if we could come together as a whole group of women supporting other women, and helping them up the ladder, can you imagine how quickly the equality insight would happen?

Avil Beckford: It’s interesting that you raise this issue because I have faced that. I have seen women who are part of an association and then when they get to the top they forget to send the elevator back down and they’re saying that they are busy and they won’t give you the time of day. I’ve asked a few women for some help, and they say they would and when I emailed them they didn’t give me the time of day. That’s important what you are doing. That’s really good work.

Susan Butler: Yes that’s how I spend my time helping other women.

Avil Beckford: What are five life lessons that you have learned so far?

Susan Butler: Interesting that you say ‘so far’ because we are always continuing to learn. The one thing is you can do anything you set your mind to do. That is a big deal for me and I learnt it the hard way (I guess). Because we let our confidence get in our way, and we have got to build our confidence to say you can do anything you set your mind to do. This goes to another phrase ‘when to say yes, and when to say no’ because I have a tendency at times to say no without thinking about it, and I missed out on a great opportunity to Rio de Janeiro to help out on a proposal once because I didn’t have the confidence in my ability to do the work. I made up some idea why I couldn’t go, but I missed out on building my confidence and learning how to write proposals, because I had never written one before and that’s what got in my way. I missed out on this big trip to South America and the Amazon. I mean they had such a good time when that team went down, and my mentor said ‘Susan, Carlos had more confidence in you than you had in yourself. He wasn’t going to let you not succeed.”  So that was a big Aha! You can do anything you set your mind to do, but sometimes you have to say yes when your tendency is to say no, so you build your confidence.

Make things happen for you rather than let things happen to you; that’s how I live my life. Wherever you are, be there as if you are going to be there for the long term. When I was in charge of the office I would ask all these young people, “How long do you think you are going to stay?”  “Oh we are just going to stay for a couple years until we have got Arthur Anderson Consulting on our resume and we gotten some good training”. But I used to say, “What is the difference if you think about being here for the long term and that is your attitude?” I said, “I can tell you what you can get out of being here even if you just stay two years. What you get out of here is a much bigger, thoughtful skill-base because I am going to talk to you as if you are going to be there for the long term. I don’t want to train somebody that is a short timer and I am going to give you lots of experiences that you can move up the ladder. And you know what?  I have been here in those days, I was for twenty-five years and I said you know, I never thought I was going to leave and look at where I am. So act as if you are going to be there for the long term and who knows, you might be or you can get off the train any time you want to, but the time you are going to be there it’s going to be better for you.”

The next one was when things go wrong get yourself up, brush yourself off, learn from it and move forward. I think that something goes wrong and we pout for a while; we got to get over it. I can remember when I got a ‘requires improvement’ evaluation and that wasn’t something that you really wanted to get. I was a Partner at the time and I could see myself walking out of the Partner’s Office as we are talking and I said, “Susan you are not ‘requires improvement’ I will show them”. And I had to get over it, but I did show them because I left the firm as an ‘outstanding performer’.

And last but not least, ask for help, and there will be always someone there to reach out to. Now, given the situation that many women find themselves in, they ask for help and there is nobody on the receiving end to answer the call, but it doesn’t have to be another woman, it can be a man, it can be anybody but just ask for help because there is usually somebody out there that’s going to help you .

Avil Beckford: If trusted friends could introduce you to five people (living or dead) that you’ve always wanted to meet, who would you choose? And what one question you would you say to them? 

Susan Butler: This is a wonderful question. It gave me some really good food for thought. But given where I am the first woman that came to mind was Susan B. Anthony (My profile of Susan B. Anthony). Now in the United States she was the one in the early 1800s that was really making equality happen. She was the one that helped us to get the right to vote, and I am sure she thought that equality would come along with that. Of course we know that didn’t happen, but I would like to thank her for her courage and celebrate with her when we finally get equality.

Another person I just think really great things about is Amelia Earhart (MY profile of Amelia Earhart). She really believed in woman and she really was there to help women say you can be anything you want to be, you can fly airplanes if you want to, and I just thank her for believing in women, and our ability to do whatever we want to be.

The third one was Gloria Steinem. Now Gloria Steinem and her “bra burning women” were doing this when I was in college and I have to say that I “poo, pooed” everything that they did; I wasn’t one of them. My parents had said you can do anything you set your mind to do, and my sister was already out in the business world, but I look back now, and I will one day meet Gloria Steinem because she is in some of the organisation that I am related to, and I would say “Gloria, thank you for all you did for women, because if you hadn’t done what you did in the 1960s and 1970s, we wouldn’t be where we are today, so thank you.” And I even think I am sort of like Gloria Steinem in this new era bringing about equality.

And I stopped there and I talked to my friend this morning, and I said, “so I got three but I don’t have five, I need five.” So we were chatting and two things came to mind; the CEO of Coke Cola he is a strong supporter of women, and he is hoping to get 50 percent women on his board and 50% women in his organisation and I just love what he is doing and I would love to buy him a coke and say thank you. But on the other hand there is Warren Buffet who talks a lot, and he is a big supporter but when you go out and see his representation of women on his Boards, I have been told it’s not there.

And then lastly, I ran into this person on the plane whose wife works for Pepsi, and of course they have a woman CEO, and I said “You know, I would love to interview her” – his wife, to see what it’s like to work for a company that has a woman CEO, to see what the differences are, because I know that there are differences, and that’s what I would like to have there.

One of those women also that I would like to interview would be the new CEO of General Motors, but she sure has her hands full right now. And I believe that had there been a woman as CEO when these problems were occurring, it never would have been swept under the carpet like it has been for the past ten years or so.

Avil Beckford: Which one book had a profound impact on your life? What was it about this book that impacted you so deeply?

Susan Butler:  This is not exactly answering your question, but I have told you that the most impactful book was when somebody said to me, “Susan you need to write a book when you retire”.  I thought now what am I going to write a book about, what would people be interested in, and this really had a profound impact on me – writing my own story. What would I say? And then I thought it.  How I created my career! So what I did, I actually created a handbook for men and women, titled Become the CEO of You,Inc.: A Pioneering Executive Shares Her Secrets for Career Success and it’s all about how to create your career and your life. And I found that this book has been impactful on a lot of people both males and females and it really had an impact on me being able to write it. So it’s a little different twist on the question but that was how I thought I needed to answer it.

Avil Beckford: You are one of the 10 finalists on the reality show, So, How Would You Spend Your Time? Each finalist is placed on different deserted islands for two years. You have a basic hut on the island and all the tools for survival; you just have to be imaginative and inventive when using them. You are allowed to take five books and whatever else you take has to fit in one suitcase and a travel on case. What would you take with you and how would you spend the time? The prize is worth your while and at this stage in the game there really aren’t any losers among the 10 finalists, since each are guaranteed at least $2 million.

Susan Butler:  Well first of all, I hope I never find myself in a place like that because I would go crazy. I am such a people person, and I would just go crazy. The other thing is unfortunately I am not a reader, so five books was really tough, but the first one hasn’t been published yet, it about to be published but it’s called The Dean’s Bible: Five Purdue Women and Their Quest for Equality (Founders Series). Well I went to Purdue, I think I knew all of these five women or have met them over time, and this was a book that was passed down as each one of these women took over either being the Dean of Women, or the Dean of Students at Purdue University and then there has been this book written about The Dean’s Bible, so I am just really excited and I am going to make myself read this because each one of these women were a legend in bringing equality in sight for women. And I looked up to them and it’s no wonder I am doing what I am doing because they were doing to me what I am doing for the next generation.

So there are other biographies that I would like to read. I have always wanted to read I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban about the young women that was so critically injured and is now going back to her country to get more women into education.  I love Doris Kearns Goodwin and the books that she writes, although these are all big books and I kind a turn away from thick books, but I need to read more about Eleanor Roosevelt, and there is a book about Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt that I want to read. And I do find myself from time to time reading biographical novels like Frank Lloyd Wright.  I learned a lot about him and his architecture, yes it was a novel, there was a love story behind it and all of that, but those are the kind of books I think I would reach out and search for those kinds of books that I know I would enjoy and learn something from. But right now, coming up with five books I couldn’t name them for you other than describing them to you.

Avil Beckford: Complete the following, I am happy when…..

Susan Butler:  I am happy when I am helping women being all they can be. I am happy because I am sharing my life with the love of my life – my high school sweetheart has come back into my life after fifty years.

Avil Beckford: Thank you Susan for allowing me to interview you.

Susan Butler: This has been a wonderful, wonderful experience. I loved your questions and I hope that being an invisible mentor to people, your audience, they can learn a lot from what I have shared with you.

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Author Bio: Avil Beckford, an expert interviewer, entrepreneur and published author is passionate about books and professional development, and that’s why she founded The Invisible Mentor and the Virtual Literary World Tour to give you your ideal mentors virtually in the palm of your hands by offering book reviews and book summaries, biographies of wise people and interviews of successful people.

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