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Sandbox Grains of Wisdom

Sand for Your Inbox
November 2007

Small bits of meaningful advice can be helpful.

A couple of weeks ago I was in the town of my alma mater, Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. I arranged with my favorite professor to speak with students finishing up their studies in the public relations program.

Here are a few grains of knowledge I was able to share with them…

Keep an Idea Journal

Always have something with you to write down thoughts and ideas. Getting them out of your brain and onto paper makes room for future thoughts. Storing ideas on paper keeps them safe and seems to spur even more ideas. Cool.

Add Knowledge

When given an assignment, do more than is expected. Find a way to add more. It may be reformatting, fixing typos, or an added perspective on the topic. Your boss will take note of your initiative. And you’ll feel good about yourself.

Arrive With A Solution

While you may be excited to be the first to discover and alert your boss (or significant other) of a problem, don’t show up without a solution in mind. Finding something broken can position you as part of the problem. Arriving with suggested fixes makes you part of the solution.

Jerks Are Everywhere, Learn from Them

No matter where I’ve worked there always seems to be the same set of people. Along with the nice people, this set includes “the jerk.” Since this is reality you might as well get used to him. You can learn in two ways (1) learn how to deal with the jerks, and (2) learn how NOT to treat others.

Avoid Jargon

Jargon is the low-hanging fruit of the bizworld. While you may think maximizing jargon makes you sound world-class, you should consider jargon out of scope. Yes, I’m on the same page as you… and yes… if we examined the metrics, jargon may actually free-up bandwidth… But, at the end of the day, the habit (just like swearing) will result in using jargon when it isn’t appropriate (e.g., in front of your customers). Net-net? Consider it a best practice to use real words and avoid jargon.

Expand Your Field of Knowledge

The more you learn and experience, the bigger your brain reference library. This makes you smarter and faster at solving problems and allows you to add knowledge at home and work.

You Are Your Brand

Just as a company thinks about the quality of their products and service, their output, how they treat their customers, how they act, react, and are perceived – so should you as a person. It is liberating to realize – just like a brand – if your performance isn’t up to snuff or don’t like how you’re perceived – update your brand.

I’m sure you’ll find these equally relevant whether you’ve been out of school for a half-hour or a half-century.

Take care,


Paul Williams
professional problem solver
Idea Sandbox
Twitter: @IdeaSandbox

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