Sunday, November 9, 2008

Dual Coding Theory

The advertisement created by Nike contains elements that the human brain processes using dual-coding theory.  

We first are drawn to the writing on the wall. The phrases "Practice Like Champions" and "We Believe"  are meant to instill a sense of determination and fervor in those who read it. The fact that they are different texts and colors, along with being on different surfaces suggests that we consider both separately while the placement suggests we should consider them as parts of one grand idea.

The second thing the brain does is attach meaning to the images that can be seen. In this ad, a strip of green to the left is about the only hint of what is behind the second wooden screen.  It appears to be a field, likely a football stadium at a high school.  This would place the viewer in a locker room with a glimpse of glory in their eyes. The phrases are once again considered, giving a fiery meaning to the images.  

As the brain weighs the written stimuli and the visual stimuli, it invokes significance to the usage of each. Dual-coding theory is the human brain's involuntary method of decrypting information, and in this case, forces us to imagine the glory of a high school football championship.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Communication Breakdown!

Since I began working at Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Shop in Downtown Clemson, I have started to realize that communication is one of the key factors of efficient business operations.  Without proper and open lines of communication, a company can find itself in dire emergency.

A relevant case arose at "the creamery" when our ice cream distributor (whom shall remain unnamed) switched the delivery schedule from once a week to once every two weeks.....without notifying anyone.  

Normally this is no problem, but it was First Friday at Clemson.  Now we have a problem.

Let's put some numbers up on the board.  On a well-prepared home game weekend we should offer a maximum 36 flavors.  We had 6.  We should have 40 bins as backup inventory.  We had 6. 

After numerous calls the week prior to the game, no ice cream was delivered.  

What we came to realize is that the secretary at the distributor quit; and as it turned out the "fill-in" was not so "filled-in" on what the job entailed (i.e. reporting a scheduling change to your customers).  The lines of communication had been severed, and what was left was a disaster of a week in sales for likely most of the southeastern dessert shops.  


Sunday, October 12, 2008

My Thoughts Before the Interview

Since I have yet to meet with Professor Rogers due to her illness, I am unable to write a reflection.  Hooray! No blog assignment due this week for me!  

Well, sort of. 

I have been in such a good habit of writing a blog post Sunday night of each week that I feel I should continue. So I will write about some of the thoughts and feelings I have before conducting the mock interview. Here are a few:

  • I am fairly confident in my ability to speak professionally with a possible future employer.
  • However, I must remember to keep eye contact and be attentive at all times, and keep my posture upright.
  • I should mention things pertaining to successes in my life, and try to relate it to adding value to the firm for which I am applying.
  • Towards the end of the meeting, I should insist on continued correspondence and demonstrate my interest in a second interview.
I feel that things will run relatively smoothly, but I must always be mindful of the possibility that a question could stump me.  If so, I should remain relaxed, think about my response, and present my thoughts clearly.  

P.S.  I will likely update this post with a reflection after the mock interview.

And here it is...

The interview with Ms. Rogers went relatively well, with the exception of one part.  I felt comfortable speaking with her; this might be attributed to the fact that I have a class with her.  

Despite this, I acted as if it were real, and knew she would conduct it as such.  I answered her questions as I had learned to do in class.  This involved being collected and prepared to be put on the spot.  

Although I practiced answering certain important matters, one question that stumped me was "What is your biggest weakness?"  It was difficult to respond to this, because it is imperative that one stress his or her strengths in an interview, not his or her weaknesses.

I stalled.

And stalled.

And made jokes.

And they were not funny.

Basically, I choked.

I was not prepared to answer a question about my shortcomings, as I had been too invested in expounding on my successes.  Other than this hiccup, I felt satisfied with my performance in the mock interview.  I now know that it pays to be equipped to address cases of failure as well as triumph.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Well Done Fellow Classmates!

The presentations this past week were quite interesting, and by having an open topic, we were truly able to learn a variety of things.  Three that I enjoyed were those by Frankie, Garrett, and Shawn.  

What played well for Frankie was the nature of his topic and the fact that he was first to present. A controversial topic such as the use of marijuana immediately catches the attention of an audience of our age and impressionable manner. It was also intriguing to hear some names for marijuana from other countries (i.e. Africa: daga).

Garrett was well-prepared and had an effective idea to keep people compelled to pay attention. That, coupled with the toys he passed around, allowed for a comfortable atmosphere to relay his message. I thought it was great that he mentioned upcoming events and how easily one could become involved. Again, the audience was also well considered. 

Shawn also picked a great topic for the class audience.  Revealing incongruities in the officiating of ACC basketball teams was a very captivating and weighty issue to take into consideration. The information seemed documented and well-backed, which sparked emotion from the listeners.  

To whittle my favorites down to three is not an easy task, as all of them kept me entertained. As aforementioned, each of these speakers chose a pertinent subject for the audience at hand. This is one of the most important aspects of speech preparation to bear in mind, and contributed to their success.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Cooking 101

I am severely addicted to food.  Today, I realized that there are many steps to creating a perfect dish, and I can not figure out which I enjoy the most.  As far as I break it down, there are 5 basic steps to inventing a recipe, while having fun:

1.  Dream.  
If you allow yourself to conjure up combinations of flavor without bounds you can open an entire new world of cooking possibilities.  And if you end up with a failed attempt, at least you should know what not to do in the future.

2.  Be picky.
I do not know how long normal folks spend in the grocery store to buy a week's worth of food, but I have got them beat.  I start at the same end of the store each time, working my way down the aisles.  Produce is always last, and my favorite section.  I study each piece until the prize fruit, vegetable, or herb is found.  Tomatoes, basil, onions, limes, mushrooms, cilantro, leeks, potatoes, spinach - nothing makes me happier.  Except...wait...garlic! Oh, the garlic!

3.  Prep well.
I might like this step the best of the five for one simple reason.  My passion for cooking is held in a 7.5 inch Santoku knife.  Chopping veggies to hear the snap of a clean cut is by far the best part of cooking - end of discussion and moving on.

4.  Be alert.
Not every oven or stove cooks the same, and a minute too long can ruin the doneness, consistency, and even the flavor of some foods.  Be watchful when the flame is on, and stir if it calls for it.  Catching a mistake early can save an entire meal.  

5.  Enjoy!
This step still takes second place to prepping, but it is the culmination of an afternoon in the kitchen.  Plating and garnishing the food is fun, but destroying the evidence of hard work is delicious and intoxicating.  

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Cover Letters Uncovered!

The advice given at seems reasonably credible, and after reading other sources on cover letters, was one of the most helpful.  I am glad that this class provides me with the tools I will need to be more successful as a professional - before doing this and other research, I was unaware of their value and the extent of their use.

Cover letters are application wrapping paper.  From what I learned about the reality of cover letters, employers tear through stacks of applications with one initiative: review resumes.  A cover letter is often overlooked at first to expedite the process of getting a position filled with a quality employee.  

One piece of advice that I have not allowed my mind to be convinced is a good idea is to hand-write a postscript (P.S.).  To me, with all the other documents being professional-looking and standard typed, a handwritten note on the front seems like a killer.  I do understand the concept of the employer seeing this first and perhaps reading the cover letter sooner, but I can not see it boding well as a technique to present the possible hire as professional.

I can relate to the tip about not sending mass emails because I delete eighty percent of mine without reading them.  I am sure employers looking to have a position filled get plenty of emails a day, and those that go by the offices likely have better chances of getting the job.  However, if you were referred to someone who is expecting to hear from you, an email would not be a ticket for a rejection letter.  

The value of cover letters is not diminished if they are crafted succinctly and skillfully.  They can be a beneficial addition to a resume or an ineffective impediment to getting the job.  If you consider a resume a gift, it is best to wrap that gift in the gold wrapping paper that is a compelling cover letter.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Job Interview Articles

Response to "Six Common Job Interview Questions" by Tom Musbach:

This article caught my attention immediately as something valuable I would need to know in order to be confident in an interview. Prior knowledge of these common interview questions can prepare me to have a solid response that would only better my chances at being given the job offer. I can easily see fielding any of these questions in an interview for a position I might want to fill.

Questions like "Why did you leave your last position?" are aggressive and demand a calm and legitimate response. I learned that one should always be honest, and refrain from speaking negatively about a previous job. The ramifications are obvious, as potential employers might feel that that the person is unable to cooperate, or that he or she holds unhealthy grudges.

Questions like "Can you describe a previous work situation in which you...?" and "What is your ideal work environment?" can give insight to interviewers about how a person might fit into the company mold. A sense of cohesiveness among coworkers is necessary for a successful business, and responding with strong, objective driven answers can really impress a future employer.

Response to "The Second Interview" by Caroline Levchuck:

This article was most helpful in providing good points relating to how to handle a second interview once passing the initial. To me, the second interview seems like perhaps the most important time spent with potential coworkers before terms of hire are agreed upon and settled.

During this time, one should be personable, approachable, and distinguishable as a worthy member of the business team. This is another good time to meet many new people, develop a list of contacts, and provide concrete examples of how your skills and experiences could add value to the company and it's objectives.

Determining the proper steps to take as follow up is just as important as preparation, and can make or break a job offer for a candidate. I was unaware that one should never take a job offer on the spot, but instead avoid hasty decisions. I could have easily seen myself getting overly-excited and biting at a handsome offer.

Both of these articles were very helpful in preparing me for the importance of the many factors that contribute to a successful interviewing process. I will likely read the others, and any other tools provided for me through this course as it can only foster a desire to achieve a high level of success in any endeavor I choose.