Foliotek Blog

Four Tips for Public Speaking

alt "Nervous about public speaking? Picture the audience in their underwear." I don't know about you, but this little tidbit of information has never helped me calm down before a public speaking event. Why would I want to picture a crowd of people sitting and staring at me ... in their underwear? That does not make me laugh or calm my nerves! Let's talk about a few realistic public speaking tips that can help you rather than making you feel more awkward.


"Make eye contact with audience members one by one." WHAT? Literally look this crowd of eager and unfamiliar faces in the eye when I'm talking? No way! One of the top TED Talk Presenters, Simon Sinek, told Entrepreneur "If you can, give each person that you intently look at an entire sentence or thought, without breaking your gaze. When you finish a sentence, move on to another person and keep connecting with individual people until you're done speaking." Not only is Simon one of the top-watched presenters, but he's probably one of the most shy. It is mentioned in the article that he would rather not be at a social event, but if he is, he would like to just hide out in the corner. So if Sinek recommends looking people in the eye when you talk, he isn't messing around. Check out his TED Talk below to see how well he does this.

It's like you're having a conversation with your audience ... you're not speaking at them, you're speaking with them - Simon Sinek


Another tip from Sinek: turn nervousness into excitement. Transform these anxious symptoms into an excited energy instead. Oh, your palms are sweaty? That's because you can't wait to get out on that stage and start talking one-on-one with all these awesome people! Give yourself a pep-talk and rationalize all of your nerves as enthusiastic reactions to being ready for your presentation.


Believe that people are rooting for you. "They want a great experience. No one likes to see someone bomb. They really do want you to win" says Danielle LaPorte. People don't choose to go to a speaking event hoping to be bored, waste their time, or leave wishing they had seen a different presenter. They genuinely want to be intrigued, learn, and walk away from a speaker who has taught them a little something about themselves.


"Know your strengths and weaknesses as a speaker, and accentuate the positive." No one is perfect. Understand how you excel and what you're still working on, and play on those traits as you speak. If you aren't a natural comedian, don't try to be; the audience will pick up on this. Instead, play on your intelligence and genuine care of the subject material. People appreciate true passion just as much as a joke or two. Plus, being true to yourself will make you feel more comfortable and in your element than trying to be someone you're not (especially in front of all those people just sitting around in their underwear).

The next time you're asked to speak or present and you start to get nervous, remember these tips and breathe a little easier knowing that you will present like a pro.

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3 Things to Learn from Your Part-Time Job

"You have to start somewhere." We've all heard that saying and it's true. Most people don't become CEO of a multi-billion dollar company overnight. Just ask Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett; his first job was delivering newspapers. Now look at him!

Some might think delivering papers is a menial job that has no connection to his current position as CEO. But my guess is that Mr. Buffett learned quite a bit from his days as a paperboy.
alt For most of us, our 'starting somewhere' involves a part-time job during high school or college. Maybe it's babysitting, flipping burgers, waiting tables, or making copies. It's easy to see these jobs as insignificant, something to just pay the bills or generate a little fun money. But I think those part-time jobs are more than that. In many cases, it's our first experience working in the real world. We get to see how businesses operate. We'll have good experiences and bad ones. But most of all, it's our opportunity to develop some key employment skills and get a sense of what we might want out of our dream job. So, during your next shift at your part-time gig, be thinking about these three things:


Your work ethic is part of your personal brand. In fact, one of my colleagues wrote a blog post that explains how everything you do affects your personal brand. Therefore, you shouldn't take it lightly ... especially since a strong work ethic is a trait that employers will look for when hiring a new employee. Your part-time job provides the opportunity for you to build this characteristic: don't cut corners, do everything to the best of your ability, meet deadlines, look for things that need to be done and do them (even if they're not in your job description) and go above and beyond to surpass expectations. Remember that your current boss could be a great reference when interviewing for your next position, so make a lasting impact.


Chances are, your part-time job requires you to communicate with other people either verbally or in writing. This is great news because communication is one of the top skills wanted by employers!
alt Utilize this opportunity to develop your communication skills (which includes listening). Do some research, read this article, pay close attention in your COMM classes and apply what you learn in the workplace. If you learn how to speak and write professionally, you'll be one step closer to your dream job.


Be aware of your surroundings and how you respond to them. Are you energized after a busy lunch rush at the burger joint or are you drained? Do you enjoy working inside or outside? Working with others or alone? What about management style? Are you a self-starter or do you prefer instruction from others? Noticing how you react to these aspects of your work environment can help you choose a career path that is the perfect fit. Make a pros and cons list for your current work environment, identify your must-haves and look for them when searching for your dream job. A fun quiz like this one can also help you think about what work environment is ideal for you.

No matter what part-time job you have, whether it relates to your major or not, there is something to learn. And when you learn it, share it. When you have experiences that develop your skills (gracefully dealing with a difficult customer, juggling a variety of tasks, writing professional emails), create a Foliotek project and put it on your ID page or ePortfolio. When you're ready to start your career, these are the stories you should share with potential employers.

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Self-Reflection Tips

Whether it’s for a resume, an eportfolio, or a job interview, knowing how to present ourselves to an audience is hard. We’ve all stared at a blank computer screen for an extended period of time, not knowing where to start. How can we summarize our life story into one page? Where do you even start?

Self-Reflection Defined: “Self-Reflection is mediation and serious thoughts about one’s character, actions, or motives.”


Before jumping to conclusions that Self-Reflection is just as hard as presenting to your audience, take a moment to consider these steps from Sandburg. It’s very similar to exercising. It sounds really hard at first, but once you get in the rhythm, it all starts making sense. You will be happy you got started!

“It is necessary … for man to go away by himself ... to sit on a rock ... and ask, ‘Who am I, where have I been, and where am I going?” – Carl Sandburg

Step 1: Who am I?

From a career standpoint, an individual can be good at something and not enjoy it. Let’s be honest, lacking motivation and heart for your career will eventually give. So for this first step, focus on writing down the things you both enjoy and are good at. For example, maybe you are good at solving problems and you enjoy helping people. Make note of these areas and look for consistencies. Write down all the things that fire you up and that you are naturally motivated to do. Ultimately, these intrinsic motivators are what shape who you are.

Step 2: Where have I been?

This is where the reflection on past experiences will take place. Really look at what career decisions you have made and whether they turned out well or not. Learn from your mistakes, but also learn from the work environments you have enjoyed. If you haven’t had a lot of job experiences yet, write down what type of courses you really enjoyed and the learning environments where you work best. Perhaps you really liked round-table discussions or hands-on experiences. Again, apply the motivation aspect, but now specifically to your past career experiences. If you have some work experience, what positions did you like and how did you excel? Which ones were a challenge? By answering these questions now, you will be ready to really present your true passions and gifts.

Step 3: Where am I going?

After the first two steps, you should start noticing some consistencies in what career paths are a good fit for you. Consider what you can already offer to an employer with the education and the training that you’ve already received. It’s alright if you don’t have all the answers, but having a better understanding of where your strengths and passions are is a huge step in itself. Knowing the career paths you don’t want to take is also a huge victory.

These questions can help you reflect on who you are and where you want to be in life. Reflecting on this information can help you while preparing your resume, piecing together important artifacts for a portfolio, and speaking intelligently about your experiences in an interview. Even if you aren't preparing for any of the above, these tips will help you appreciate the work you've put in to get where you are today.

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Back to School Technology Tips

The semester is under way and our little college town has filled up with the youth and energy that the students bring. I really enjoy this time of year as it reminds me of my younger days when it was I roaming the campus at the University of Missouri. When thinking about what to write about for my blog post this month, the thought of offering helpful technology tips to all of the students out there made me smile. So, here it goes; five terrific technical tips to make life a little easier.
alt First, I wish to offer a simple technological solution to keeping track of everything that needs to be done. There are many to-do list applications that can be easily learned and utilized on a smart phone. This keeps the lists off of paper which often times gets lost and doesn’t travel well. I personally really enjoy a tool called ToDoist. It is quite simple to use. Create a project for each course and a separate list of things to do for each one. Any time you have an assignment or a quiz/test to study for, put it on the list with a deadline.

Second, using the calendar on your smartphone to plot out your schedule is very helpful. Put recurring meetings for each course time, planned study sessions, and other responsibilities. Organizing time is a key to success for college students. We all have this tool in our pocket, but many don’t bother to use it. Having this on your phone will ensure you will always have it with you. Notifications will pop up on your screen which will remind you to be where you need to be when you need to be there.

Third, use the alarms on your phone to remind you to do the little things. Schedules get busy; sometimes students struggle for simple reasons like being dehydrated or under-nourished. A little alarm that reminds you to drink some water or have your afternoon snack can help a lot in this regard.

Taking the time to update your resume along with other aspects of your personal brand at the start of each semester is a great habit to get into.

Fourth, take the start of each semester as a reminder to work on your personal brand. If you are going to college, chances are you are hoping to seek a professional position when you are done. Working on your Foliotek ID page, which includes an updated resume and links to your best artifact-filled projects, can help you build your identity incrementally. One big mistake young people make is putting this off until the end of college. This is not ideal as it is very easy to forget things like what the best projects were and what information is resume worthy. By taking the time to work on your professional identity each semester, you will have a lot to work with when it comes time to search for that first job.

Finally, I would like to suggest that you take the time to archive all of your work from each course into an online storage system. Again, Foliotek has a perfect tool for this. The files repository can be organized with a folder for each course. Simply upload every paper, PowerPoint, Excel file, video, or anything else you produce for each course. Uploading your work here will archive it safely. Hard drives crash, discs and thumbnail drives get lost, but your Foliotek account will still have your work in it even if your account expires. You can always come back to renew your account or click a button to download all of your files.

In summation, being a college student is a busy endeavor. It is easy to lose track of what must be done to maximize your opportunities. I am suggesting these five tips to help you be the best you can be: use a to do list application, use the calendar on your phone, use phone alarms to remember the little things, work on your professional identity every semester, and archive all of your work in a safe online repository. Taking these steps will help you keep organized and make the most out of your investment in a college education.

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How to Create a Personal Brand

What is Your Brand?

Whether we like it or not, every decision we make affects our brand. From the words we use, or the clothes we wear, to the content we publish in social media, all of it speaks to your personal identity. Your Brand.

So what is your brand? You can find out by asking this question:

"What is the word or phrase people think of when they think of you?"

That can be a pretty scary question to answer. But that, in essence, is your brand. Let’s look at a more comprehensive definition from Tim O’Brien.



PART 01 -

“Stimulates a meaningful emotional response in your target audience.”

This means that your actions, on and off the web, are going to affect other people. In many cases, people will decide what your brand is within 15 seconds of meeting you. Obviously 15 seconds is not enough time for them to draw a logical conclusion about what makes you tick without having any tangible evidence, but sadly, this is the case. People are going to have an emotional response to … "You." This meaningful, emotional response could be positive or negative; regardless, it will mean something to them and in turn have an effect on you.

The second part of this statement, "Target Audience," adds a layer of intentionality. Who is your target audience? Interestingly, your brand is going to impact both your "target audience" and your non-target audience. The difference is that your brand cares about, or is more focused on, a defined group of people. While everyone is going to make their own decision about what your brand is, your focus should be on the group of people whose opinions you care most about. How do you want to be perceived?

For example, if I wear a suit every day (HA), no matter the temperature, and you always see me in my suit, it conveys a certain message. That would be a part of my brand. Some might see me and think, "That's guys got swag" others might see me and think, "what a pompous jerk." My attire is a part of my brand, and it can conveys both a positive and negative message. You just need to be certain the message you are conveying is the right message for the right audience.

PART 02 -

“About the values and qualities for which you stand”

Clearly your brand is focused on soliciting an emotional response from a group of people. Now you need to decide what values and qualities you want your brand to state. My colleague has a post about How to Create a Personal Brand. It's a great post. If you have a few minutes, give it a read. However, whether you read it or not, remember this:

You have already built your brand.


That bit of truth is about as scary as answering the question that defines your brand. But there is good news, you can still shape your brand and refine it to be more intentional and focused on the values and qualities for which you stand. Just because you may have a brand that means “x” today doesn’t mean you can’t begin the process of refining that brand to be more intentional tomorrow.

So start to work out your plan and make the necessary changes for “stimulating the meaningful emotional responses” you have purposefully defined.

If you have some time, check out this Personal Brand video by Tim O'Brien. It will make you think more carefully about the emotional impact of your brand.

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