Monday, February 26, 2007

Barbara Vu--Not Just Another Face in the Crowd

When Barbara Vu attended my seminar--"How to Become a Dynamic Speaker!"-- we spoke briefly afterward while she purchased my book, The Complete Communicator: Change Your Communication, Change Your Life! At this stage, she seemed to blend in with the group, another aspiring professional eager to improve her communication skills.

However, because I had copied her credit card number incorrectly, I E-mailed her. As we started corresponding, I found that she was far from just another face in the crowd. When she told me what had happened already in her young life, the headlines I had read about similiar cases became reality, front and center. The big difference between Barbara and most highly publicized cases we hear about: her mistakes weren't fatal, as they are for so many who don't get a second chance.

To be specific: At age fifteen, lonely, feeling isolated from and unappreciated by her family, suffering from lack of self esteem, she sought help where millions of frantic individuals look--in alcohol, cocaine, and methamphetamine. How did she celebrate her "sweet sixteen" birthday? She didn't. She was rushed to the emergency room, at the point of death.

However, that shocking event didn't stop her enslavement to destructive habits. Only when her home life collapsed completely did she seek a different kind of help. In her words: "I knew that it was time to stop. That night, I bowed my head to pray. I prayed to the Lord to give me strength and determination to fix what I have done. I prayed all that I could and I promised Him that I would change my life around and make my parents proud of me as well as loving myself."

What resulted?

"My prayers were soon answered when my cousins from Atlanta, Georgia asked me if I would like to stay with them. I knew this had to be God's doing because he saved me when I had no hope for life. I know God has a purpose for me being here and I am doing the best I can to become a better person. I grew up faster and matured quicker than most kids, but I am proud of it."

To what extent has she rebuilt her shattered life? "It has been two years since I've been in Georgia and I have accomplished so much. I am trying my best to be a straight A student and I am on the honor roll. This past October, I was selected to be the artist for Taste of Norcross and I designed the logo. It was an honor for me because I have such a great passion for art."

There's more: "Just recently, I have been nominated to be Norcross' student of the year." Ironically, as I write this, Barbara "will be attending the banquet" tonight.

Her plans have evolved almost magically. A business major, she wants to use her artistic skills to enhance her business impact. Equally as important, she intends to speak to young people, urging them not to slip into the drug scene that almost annihilated her. Also, she will encourage parents to give their children love, encouragement, unconditional backing, and self-respect. She knows too well how desperate children become without those qualities.

Today I passed Barbara's name along to a church group that will invite her to tell her story. They're in for a mesmerizing presentation, I'm sure.

Already, Barbara is a skilled writer. One day we'll read her story in her first book, I predict. She will become a grand illustration that no one has to stay at the bottom.

Definitely, she is not just another face in the crowd. In fact, if you look at her picture above, you'll notice an unmistakable glow surrounding her.

I'll close with her observation that after her incredible comback from devastation, she saw life anew: "Everynight before I go to bed, I would talk to God. I would thank Him for letting me see another beautiful day and live life the way I'm supposed to. I know I still have a whole life in front of me and I will NEVER take that for granted again."

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Anita Bruzzese Writes a "Must-Have" Book

Several years ago, I started reading "On the Job," a terrific weekly column carried by Gannett Newspapers. The columnist, Anita Bruzzese--pictured on the left-- gave superb advice about how to succeed in the work force.
Her writing style captivated me--humorous, upbeat, yet content-rich, sprinkled with practical illustrations that came from her numerous interviews with successful professionals.
Now Bruzzese has produced a book that capsules the advice her columns offered. The title grabs attention quickly: 45 Things You Do That Drive Your Boss Crazy--And How to Avoid Them.
My review of this book for Amazon displays this title: "Don't Go to Work Without This Book." Really, you shouldn't.

Without fail, Bruzzese scratches readers where they itch. In fact, hers is not armchair counsel. "I work for a living," she explains in this book's Introduction, "and have since I was fifteen."
Beyond her own experience, she draws on the hundreds of letters she receives from readers, and "hundreds of interviews I have done with company managers and career experts." Her conclusion: "Something is seriously wrong here, folks."
In 45 Things You Do, Bruzzese spotlights what's wrong--what we do, or don't do, on the job and even off duty that jeopardizes our standing with the boss, and frequently annoys our work associates as well. Office romance, enjoying the office holiday season party too much, inappopriate clothing, gossiping, crying at work--nothing offensive escapes her sleuthing eye.
In every case, fortunately, she tells us how to eliminate toxic behavior from our professional life.
I wish this very helpful book had been available when I started my twenty-three year management career. I would have benefited two ways. First, I would have avoided stupid blunders of my own that angered my bosses and threatened my career. The unfortunate part was that I didn't consider my behavior risky, much less out of bounds. Yet with each careless act, my bosses must have moved me into the "do not promote" category.
Second, I would have made this book required reading for every person I supervised, so they would ease my mind and improve their performance dramatically.
Now that I serve as a consultant and coach for top-level corporations, I will recommend 45 Things You Do to my clients. They will thank me, and will praise Anita Bruzzese for her terrific practical guidelines.
To order 45 Things, visit Anita Bruzzese's Web site:
Remember. . .don't go to work without this book.
For more information about communication, motivation, customer service and sales, visit my Web site: