Reach The Executive Level With These 17 Leadership Development Tips

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You’ve spent years as a middle manager, guiding your team’s day-to-day operations and reporting their progress to your bosses and the executives. Now you’re ready to join their ranks, and start getting involved in the bigger, long-term “strategy” work that’s reserved for those in the C-suite.

But how do you get there? There are a lot fewer executive positions than mid-level management roles available, so it’s a lot more competitive – and therefore, more difficult – to climb to this next rung of the corporate ladder. However, with the right attitude, work ethic and connections, you can prove your value and earn that coveted executive title and responsibility.

If you want to up your leadership to the executive level, follow these 17 tips from the Forbes Coaches Council.

17. Re-Brand Your Inner Circle

We’re the average of the closest five people to us. Successful CEOs surround themselves strategically with leaders who meet their needs and fill in the gaps. You must do the same thing as the CEO of your life. Surround yourself with executive level or bound leaders you can learn from, grow with and add value too. – Tameka WilliamsonCelestial & Associates Consulting 

Check out the rest of the article on Forbes by clicking here.

Nine Ways C-Players Are Affecting Your Team And How To Handle It

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A strong team of high performers is a major asset to any group or company. They can dig deep, work hard and generate tremendous returns. But teams will occasionally have a mix of skill levels or work ethics: Not everyone working in a group is an A-player. The Bs are fine; you’re not too worried about how well they can keep up. But what about the odd C-players? Are they hurting how the team gets things done? And what can you do to improve their work output?

To help, members of Forbes Coaches Council share their perspectives and tips on how to handle C-tier employees, as well as what their presence means to a group. Here’s what they said:

6. Know That Everybody Can Be An Asset 

The key to leading high-performing teams is to recognize how each member is motivated and what their key assets are. Everyone’s not meant to be a top performer, but the propensity is there when people are positioned to operate in their strengths. Find the gaps and strategically align talent to meet their needs, holding them accountable via motivation and empowerment based on the person. – Tameka WilliamsonCelestial & Associates Consulting 

Check out the rest of the article on Forbes by clicking here.

It’s FAFSA Time – Be Prepared

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We are officially in financial aid season. The form used to apply for financial aid is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and the application opened on October 1. Many families are intimidated by the FAFSA and confused about the relevancy of completing it. Let me say, there are resources to help in completing the form and it is necessary if you want your child to receive any type of funding from the college/university. By not completing it, you are saying you are prepared to write a check. Unfortunately, there was $2.7 Billion of unused federal grant awards in the last academic year. About 1.5 million high school graduates never completed the FAFSA, with an estimated amount of Pell Grant eligible being 747,579. People, simply are not applying because they assume they are not eligible. As you can see, this is not true. Don’t let this be you. Go and apply right now. To help you gain a better understanding on how to tackle the FAFSA, see the tips, resources and information covered below.

First, let’s understand how the FAFSA is used so you can understand it’s significance. The results of your FAFSA application helps colleges/universities determine how much aid your child is eligible for. It also determines what your role as a parent is in contributing to the funding of your child’s education. In laymen’s terms, what you must pay. This is dictated by the Expected Financial Contribution (EFC) calculation.

The key to the college admissions process is preparation and planning. The more prepared you are for the FAFSA, the easier the process will be for you to complete the application process. Here are 4 main phases to completing the FAFSA.

Phase One – Preparation

There are certain documents and files you will need to complete the application process. This is where I would suggest you create a checklist of items based on application details found on the FAFSA website. Since I don’t believe in reinventing the wheel, my colleague and FAFSA guru, Dr. Gloria Ponce-Rodriquez, created the following FAFSA Prep sheet for her students and area school districts. Use this prep sheet to capture the required information you will need, get organized and track the application process. Here are the core items you will need to gather.

  • Social security number
  • Driver’s license number
  • FSA ID
  • 2016 Taxes
  • A list of schools your child plan to apply to
  • Records for untaxed funds (child support, veterans benefit, interest income, etc.)
  • Asset(s) information

<Click here to download the handout with explanation of FAFSA application>

Phase Two – Obtain FSA ID

The FSA ID is the username and password you use on federal student aid websites: and Your FSA ID identifies you as someone who has the right to access your own personal information on the Department of Education websites listed above.

Both the student and the parent need a FSA ID. It’s important to understand that the student and the parent may not share an FSA ID: Your FSA ID is your signature, so it has to be unique to you. Before you apply to the FAFSA on line you will need to have your FSA ID verified by Social Security Administration. If you are a parent of a dependent student, you will need your own FSA ID if you want to sign your child’s FAFSA electronically. If you have more than one child attending college, you can use the same FSA ID to sign all applications, but each child must have his or her own. Please note: Each FSA ID user must have a unique mobile phone number and/or email address.

Please note, this is a government process and these are government websites. So, you want to operate with honesty and keep your information protected. As your FSA ID is used to sign legally binding documents electronically, it has the same legal status as a written signature. Don’t give your FSA ID to anyone or allow anyone to create an FSA ID for you—not even your parent, your child, or someone helping you fill out the FAFSA. Sharing your FSA ID is like teaching someone to forge your signature; and it could put you at risk of identity theft!

Phase Three – FAFSA Application

Now, you will use the FSA ID and the information gathered to complete the FAFSA application. Although you can get your FSA ID prior to October 1st, you can not submit your FAFSA until October 1st. When it comes to awarding financial aid, it’s best to get it done early, as the early bird gets the worm when it comes to money. Don’t delay any further, make sure you get your application in as soon as possible, but definitely prior to your targeted colleges/universities financial aid deadlines.

When applying, the FAFSA will require information from both your student, as well as you, the parent(s) or guardian(s). Once you have completed and submitted the FAFSA online, you will receive a series of email communications. So, you will need to monitor your emails from Federal Student Aid for your FAFSA status.

  • First email; is sent immediately after you submit the FAFSA (This is only a submission
  • Second email; will be sent within 1-5 days to inform you of your FAFSA status, it’s either
    “Processed Successfully” or “Action Required.” If Action Required, you will need to go back into the FAFSA and make corrections.

The FAFSA is a required step in the college admissions process. Don’t panic or fret, just prepare and allocate time to complete the process correctly. Before you take action, make note of the following tips:

  • Use and verify the use of correct information: Name, date of birth and social (name must match what is on the social security card). Select the correct school year and tax return for IRS retrieval.
  • Make sure male students register for Selective Services (this is required if you want to be eligible for aid)
  • Don’t list extended family members as parents. (Only list biological, married, stepparent, adoptive parents. Do not include grandparents, uncle, aunt, sister, etc. or someone claiming you on their taxes).
  • Do not pay anyone to do your FAFSA or to help you. There are people who say they can help you and say the process is confusing and/or difficult, don’t do it. The FAFSA is free and you can get free assistance by visiting the Help Section or contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4FED-AID (1-800-433-3243). Also check out your child’s school, as many schools host financial aid workshops.
  • Everyone should complete the FAFSA, regardless of income. Remember, no FAFSA, no chance at getting aid to pay for college. Don’t assume you won’t qualify for aid. There are different types of aid the school offers and they can’t determine eligibility nor award any aid without a completed FAFSA on file.
  • Understand the EFC is what you as a parent will need to pay or your child need to earn in private scholarships. But, know it is not your total bill for college. (You can read more in my best-selling book, Parents: Send Your Child to College for FREE)
  • Check the colleges/universities your child is applying too to see if they also require the CSS Profile and have additional financial aid requirements. You not only want to ensure you meet the deadlines, but also submit all required material.

You can do this! Utilize the information provided and the links to the resources to get you through the process.

Connect with the College for FREE community for scholarship and internship opportunities.

15 Common Pieces Of Career Advice That Are Actually False

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When it comes to job searching or building a career, there’s lots of advice out there, and a lot of it can be conflicting. Different companies are looking for specific traits or skills, and those key traits or skills can vary easily, depending entirely on who is making the decisions and what philosophies they follow.

With all the moving parts to the system, it’s easy for someone to see patterns where there’s only noise. While someone can quickly dismiss superstitions like “sleep with a glass of water under your bed,” or “you have to wear a red suit, or they won’t consider you,” there are a number of tidbits floating around out there that everyone abides by, but aren’t actually true.

To help people sort fact from fiction, members of Forbes Coaches Council, below, talk about some common advice they’ve heard, and why it doesn’t really work. Here’s what they say:

12. ‘Keep Your Head Down And Work Hard — It Pays Off!’

Think about it! Keeping your head down causes you to blend in with everyone else when you need to stand out. Working hard is good, but if nobody knows about it, where is the value? I’m not saying brag because nobody likes arrogance. But you do want to present yourself as an asset who goes above and beyond by producing results and creating solutions. Track accomplishments and communicate with the boss. – Tameka WilliamsonCelestial & Associates Consulting

Check out the rest of the article on Forbes by clicking here.

What Uber’s Company Culture Crisis Taught Us About Leadership And Management

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In late June, Uber’s Travis Kalanick stepped down as CEO after receiving a letter from five board members calling for his resignation. According to reports, the company had been facing numerous problems, including sexual harassment issues in the workplace. Now that Kalanick is permanently out, Uber is working to fill the top position in the firm.

So what lessons can company leaders take away from the circumstances surrounding not only Kalanick’s resignation but the leadership crisis that preceded it? Members of Forbes Coaches Council have this to say:

4. Vision Can Birth Greatness, But Pride Can Kill It

Oftentimes, leaders who birth new ideas, are unconditionally married to it and not willing to walk away. But, the goal should be sustainability and profitability, even if that means walking away. Leaders must focus on the big picture, remembering it’s not about them. Instead, build a solid leadership team, a continuity plan to keep the business flowing and have a replacement to pass the baton to. – Tameka WilliamsonCelestial & Associates Consulting 

Check out the rest of the article on Forbes by clicking here.

Forbes Coaches Council Members Offer Their Expertise, Guidance to the Community

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Tameka Williamson Holds Virtual Back-to-School Rally

Tameka Williamson, coach and author of College for Free, has launched a virtual back-to-school rally to equip parents across the nation with information and resources on how to prepare, position and propel their college-bound students forward while curtailing college debt.

Participants are invited to attend 15 virtual webinars via FaceBook Live every Tuesday and Thursday at 8 p.m. during the month of August. Over 10 speakers who are knowledgeable about all aspects of planning, attending and paying for college will share the tools, insights and inspiration parents need to properly position their child to compete.

Topics expected to be discussed include:

  • What admissions look for
  • Financial aid pitfalls and how to avoid them
  • The true cost of college debt
  • Why test prep is important
  • The cost of not preparing and planning for college
  • And more

Learn more and register here.

Check out the rest of the article on Forbes by clicking here.

18 Ways To Get Better At Working Under Pressure

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My latest article on Forbes: 18 Ways to Get Better At Working Under Pressure

Everyone has to deal with pressure, both in their personal and professional lives. In the workplace, this pressure often manifests itself in the form of tight deadlines, demands from your boss, employee performance issues, and other obstacles that get in the way of you doing your job.

Since stress is unavoidable, it’s important to learn how to channel and deal with it in a healthy, productive way. In doing so, you’ll not only survive tough situations, but thrive in spite of them.

We asked 18 members of Forbes Coaches Council to each share one method of coaching yourself to work better under pressure.

11. Review Past Pressure Points And Identify Patterns

Time is a commodity we can’t get back, but we can manage it so it doesn’t manage us. Take control by reviewing past pressure points, identify patterns and lessons learned, then develop a prevention strategy to prevent reoccurrence and mitigate the unexpected risk factors. Plan using the “big rocks” concept to maximize your efforts and minimize stress. – Tameka WilliamsonCelestial & Associates Consulting 


Check out the rest of the article on Forbes by clicking here.

College Admissions Rescinded – How to Protect Yourself

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By now, you probably heard about U.C. Irvine’s decision to rescind 499 students admissions offer to attend this coming fall. As you can imagine, this is not a good thing for those students, nor is it a position you want to be in. So, what can you do? It’s the schools right to accept and then rescind an offer, right? Absolutely, it is! But note, this has happened in the past at other schools. You see, rescinded offers can happen for cause, as well as no cause. The University of California, had a problem with their system, where 28,000 students received acceptance letters by mistake in 2009. A couple of years ago, one of my client’s was attending Freshman Orientation weekend with their daughter and a group of students engaged in under-age drinking while on campus that resulted in them being sent home and their admissions rescinded. Then we have Harvard, who rescinded a group of students admissions offers in June of 2017 because of obscene meme’s posted on social media. As you can see, it can happen for a variety of reasons.

In the world of project management, we call this a known unknown risk; meaning we know it is a risk factor, so, we can now plan for it in the event it happens. Because families don’t think of this as an option, they are blindsided when it does happen; leaving them unprepared, frustrated, lost and confused. As a result, all college-bound families should have a contingency plan in place when planning to transition from high school to college. The goal is to mitigate the impact of this happening, since it is out of their control. Nothing is absolute, but here are some tips families can follow to ensure they have options and are not left out in the cold.

  1. Don’t let “senioritis” take over your child. Admissions is granted prior to the completion of student’s senior year. This doesn’t mean students can forget their studies and stop doing homework. Letting their grades tank could result in a rescinded offer, as schools require final transcripts upon high school graduation. According to a study by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), colleges say final grades are the reason for revoking admission 68.7 percent of the time.
  2. Meet obligations, but verify weekly. This is what I teach leaders constantly, “trust, but verify.” You can’t do everything and be everywhere. Schools are funneling tens and hundreds of thousands of files, paperwork and information every year and things can happen. After you submit required paperwork, documentation and pay necessary fees, call the school on a bi-weekly basis to ensure all is in order, nothing is missing and nothing has changed.
  3. Never let your child stop managing their brand. Once graduation time has come, students often lose sight of responsible decision making. They look at the summer as “free time” and a time to let loose and have lots of fun. This is fine, but it need to be within reason and not result in any legal encounters (run ins with the law). Nor should it produce irresponsible social media posts that don’t represent the values of the school or scholarship organization your child will partake in.
  4. Don’t get too comfortable during Freshman Orientation. Freshman Orientation and other campus related invites and activities are additional opportunities for the school to further evaluate whether or not your child is a good fit for their school. It’s like “being on the clock” at work while attending a networking or corporate event. Irresponsible behavior and illegal actions are unacceptable! It’s never too late for a school to rescind their offer.
  5. Have a double backup plan. Families should apply to multiple schools, giving them options. If acceptance was granted, there is a great chance an opportunity still exists, if the original offer was rescinded. Now, the money opportunity may not be the same, but that could be negotiated if your child possess the qualities the school is willing to pay for. As a last resort, attending a community college and transferring later to the school of choice is a way to still start college in the fall. This gives you time to recalibrate and work through the unexpected changes, while being productive at the same time.

Some of these options require sacrifice and/or may not be ideal, but it at least gives your family options. This is better than having no options and stressing about next steps in the midst of the chaos of having your admissions offer rescinded.

“The time to be ready, is never the time to get ready. You must always stay ready!”




Five Ways To Become Layoff-Proof In A Streamlining Market

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My latest article on Forbes: Five Ways to Become Layoff-Proof in A Streamlining Market

Nobody wants to lose their job, but layoffs are a reality in today’s climate. So, the question is, how do you become “layoff-proof”? Does such a thing exist? I believe it does. There are a few things I’ve learned, having gone through two layoffs myself and now providing executive coaching to develop progressive leaders. Before we get to the five ways leaders can weather the storm of a layoff, let me define for you what “layoff-proof” means, as it serves as the foundation for these strategies.

To be layoff-proof means an individual has assessed their existing credentials and skills and compared these to what the market demands so they can identify any current skill gaps. Based on these identified gaps, the individual will take action to up-level their skills and decrease the gap, increasing their opportunity potential.

Understanding how to make yourself “layoff-proof” will equip you with the tools needed to properly manage your career and not let your career manage you. It is ultimately what separates a person from being a “driver” versus a “passenger” in their life.

Thankfully, there are things professionals can do to command their future and demonstrate strong leadership skills.

1. Invest in your own professional development. According to the 2017 Workplace Learning Report conducted by LinkedIn Learning Solutions, 69% of learning and development professionals say talent is their company’s first priority. Some companies are increasing their budgets in this area, while others have budget constraints. To avoid the gamble of training opportunities not being made available, leaders must be willing to invest in their own development. Doing so also ensures the training is a good match for any skill gaps that need to be filled.

2. Build a personal dream team. The world revolves around relationships. Surrounding yourself with the right people can be the determining factor that connects you to the right opportunity or opens the right door. John Bennett, director of the Master of Science and executive coaching and assistant professor of behavioral science at the McColl School of Business at Queens University of Charlotte, says: “between 60-80% of jobs are found through personal relationships.” Think about your network and identify key influencers in your industry, workplace, community and any organizations you are affiliated with. Establish, build and cultivate a relationship with a diverse group of people who align with your career goals. Then strategically meet with them on a regular basis to stay in tune with the ebbs and flows of the market. It will also help to have some of these individuals serve as mentors and coaches.

Check out the rest of the article on Forbes by clicking here.

Five Successful Tips For Transitioning Into The New Year And Commanding Your Future

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As a member of the Forbes Coaches Council, here is one of my articles: Five Successful Tips for Transitioning Into The New Year and Commanding Your Future


Develop a growth transition team

The year is quickly coming to an end and your thoughts are likely nervously drifting to the open goals you haven’t started yet, the resolutions you started and didn’t finish, and the pressure to do more in your profession next year.

Now is your time to “reset” and start anew. This doesn’t mean you scratch and erase all that’s been done, but it does mean it’s okay to reassess, regroup and redo.

This is not a static process, but a dynamic one.

Tapping into my experience and training, I want to share with you five ways to close out this year and transition into the new year stronger and better so you can command your future.


Read full post here: Five Successful Tips for Transitioning Into The New Year and Commanding Your Future

Top business and career coaches from Forbes Coaches Council offer firsthand insights on leadership development & careers.