Leadership Strategies

Finances, College and Life Beyond – The Discussion

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Families who have a knowledge of managing finances are more apt to educate their kids on finances. This is a topic we can all improve on. How we change the game on setting our kids up for a stronger future is by educating them on the value of a dollar and teaching them strategies for saving and how to spend effectively.

Suntrust Bank was one of our sponsors for our Back to School Rally and we want to share with you our discussion and their FREE online platform Onup.

Branding is Important in College & Career Readiness

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Branding speaks to who you are, what you believe in and how you govern yourself. It tells a lot about you and people make a decision to do business or not based on your brand. The same concept applies to the college arena. Part of getting college and career ready is building a brand worth funding. Yes, that is correct. Your child’s brand must be “fundable”. The stronger and more attractive their brand is, the more funding opportunities they have.

Watch what I have to say about it in this video.

15 Activities Or Hobbies You Can Do To Help Keep Yourself Centered

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It’s easy for stress to knock you off balance, leaving you reacting to changes rather than pushing forward toward your own goals. There is simply too much noise in daily life, and while any one issue may not matter too much, when taken as a whole, it’s draining.

Centering yourself allows you to gain perspective on what’s going on, reign in any emotions that may not be helping, and take a second look at how you want to handle a challenge. Centering yourself can give you more emotional strength to take on specific tasks, like an unfriendly meeting or a challenging client.

There are more options than meditation for finding your emotional center, each with their own advantages. Gardening, travel and exercise all create visceral experiences, which can help break you out of thought lock.

Below are some methods that members of Forbes Coaches Council recommend in order to become centered. Try some, and see which hobbies or approaches work best for you.

11. Serve Through Mentorship 

Mentoring is an act of servanthood that can save lives and have generational impact. It’s the gift that keeps giving, especially when you mentor those who are disenfranchised. Stepping outside of your norm and into the space of someone with a different background, learning their path and identifying how to add value to their life, will humble you. Then you will gain a new perspective on yourself and life. – Tameka WilliamsonCelestial & Associates Consulting 

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

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.