Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Just acCount it!

Despite surface impressions, the field of accounting requires an underestimated amount of background knowledge and communication. Based on what I’ve been able to gather with almost two years of being in the accounting program at BYU, I’ve decided that the following will address the importance of understanding the history of accounting – supplemented with a few historical examples and the importance of communicating effectively within the field – broken in to two different contexts. Though these topics create a list that is far from an exhaustive description of the important forms of communication, I believe them to be critical based on my interactions with accounting professors and an internship with the nation’s top accounting firm, PwC.

History of Accounting

The tablet above holds accounting
information dated as far back as 3200  BC
Of all the things humanity has created – arts, theatre, technology, medicine – keeping track of money/valuables is one of the oldest. Even back to the days of the flood, Noah was instructed to take an accounting of the Lord’s valuables (His creations, the animals). Down through Moses we have records of accounting (i.e. the entire book of Numbers). Trade records and bartering systems were all accounted for and assessed, if not on a social level then on an individual one. Men have always been trying to be richer than his neighbor. And how does he know he’s rich? He accounts for what he and his neighbor have. In ancient Greece, officers were required to give accountings of the fund entrusted to them at the conclusion of their service. They were expected to properly manage the funds that had been given them. The importance of wealth and stewardship were not lost on the Greek and so they were sure to require an accounting of those who had been given so much. In ancient Rome, accounting played a particularly important role in leading the home. Fathers were expected to keep track of the accounts of the household. Fortunately, the lack of credit cards and predating of shopping malls made monitoring teenage spending significantly easier. Most purchasers were made with cash; however, there are clear indication that receivables and payables were set up with merchants and customers. As time lapsed into the medieval ages, we see an apparent retrogression of the accounting systems however apparently “Charlemagne had an elaborate system of accounting for income and expenditures and required detailed reports from all his subordinates.” (Kester, 1917)
Accounting has been formalized and structured over the centuries. In fact, in a more recent vein, the reliance on the way we account for things has a tremendous impact on everyone’s daily life. The value we give to different currency; the price floors and ceilings that certain markets and commodities bear; and the amount of money we pay in taxes each year all depend how we account for our money. On a nationwide scale, the most significant change to the accounting system in recent history is the Sarbanes-Oxley act passed in the wake of the Enron/Arthur Anderson debacle (Koehn and Stephen, 2004). This act revamped the way big businesses are allowed to account for their money. How does this affect the average consumer? Corporation now have to pay significantly more to have their accounts managed, these types of costs are always passed on to the consumer.

Accounting has been around a long time, and will be around forever. At the very least, men and women will always be required to give an accounting of the labors, which very well may include how we spend our money/substance.

Communication in Accounting

Two man avenues of communication exist in the accounting field. The first is internal with our fellow employees and managers. The second is with the customer or other external entities.
Internal Communication

Like the ever-ticking hands of an ornate grandfather clock, the world of business clicks on at an undeviating and unrelenting pace. Only the most competent and most exact companies survive the grueling grind of the free market. This medium of exchange, for innumerable vendors and consumers, demands specific type of communication -- a communication that one only understands by understanding the nature of business itself. This nature has two underlying fundamental principles that drive everything in the world of industry – efficiency and accuracy. Companies must produce every product and every service on time and to proper specification. Therefore, essentially all material communication works to meet those ends.

Accounting firms have a focused and restricted environment of communication. Information is exchanged almost exclusively on need-based circumstances. Accountants will use any type of communication necessary to obtain the requisite information as efficiently and accurately as possible. They will make phone calls at almost any time of day, they will send emails as soon as problems arise, and if necessary, they will physically visit other employees or customers in search of a solution. Accounting firms provide services to clients and charge those clients based on the amount of time it takes them to render those services. Therefore, the only way a firm can lower the cost of services it provides to the client, and consequently make the client happier, is to reduce the amount of time spent on each project. To that end, accountants prefer to communicate over any medium that resolves their concerns as quickly as possible.
For example, when management decisions are being made, a team of executives will gather to discuss the issue. They do not mince words and do not particularly care about how they come across to their peers. They all have one goal in mind, discus the facts and reach the best conclusion for the company. A high-performing, management team will set aside egos, pride, and pleasantries, to optimize the efficiency and accuracy of their communication.

External Communication

Among the biggest firms, clients will need to pay an average of $300 dollars an hour for accounting services. For clients that have large tax returns, which are literally one and a half feet tall when everything is printed out and stacked together, the firm can receive into the hundreds of thousands in revenue. Naturally, these clients have tremendous leverage over the firm in the sense that they can easily take their business to another firm if the previous does not meet their expectations. This bargaining power engenders tremendous focus on positive, client relationships. The firm will do everything they can to ensure that they maintain a healthy association with all of their clients – especially large ones. The following fictitious story illustrates the need for respectful and tactful but effective communication.

Michael the a tax manager for PricewaterhouseCoopers has longer had the Walt Disney Corporation assigned to him to ensure that their corporate tax returns are always filed on time and accurately. Michael thoroughly enjoys working with Disney as they almost never have any issues with how they have classified and reported their income. This proficiency means that despite Disney’s extraordinary size, filling out the tax returns is not overly complex. However, Michael is a diligent employee and always double checks.
On one unfortunate day he discovers an error – a gross error—an error of such blatant magnitude and nature that it would have unlikely been missed by the usually meticulous Disney tax preparers. Perplexed, Michael sends a quick email to his contact at Disney inquiring about the discrepancy. He receives a reply in a uncharacteristically short period of time that indicated he should not worry about the supposed error because it is not an error due to xyz explanation. This made Michael even more concerned. Not only would such an inquiry much more time to investigate than Disney took to respond, very suspicious, but also the explanation made no sense. Michael drafted another email that explained the error and politely elaborated on the proper solution. Again, Disney responded quickly and tersely. They adamantly reaffirmed their position and offered no further explanation. Michael knew he would need more authority in his next correspondence. He called an IRS hotline, available exclusively to the top accounting firms, received congruent advice. He the drafted the following email:
Dear Sarah:
Thank you very much for your prompt correspondence over the last few weeks. I am again writing regarding the allocation of income discussed in previous emails. I apologize for any annoyance caused by my persistence on this matter. I assure you my sole concern is to ensure that Disney avoids any penalties associated with inaccurate filling.
Regarding, the allocation of interest income generated by off-shore, related entities – specifically those related to Disney Cruise Lines must be reported as ordinary income. The internal revenue code very clearly states that all revenues received for engaging in the normal course of business must be classified as ordinary income not income received from capital gains despite the fact that Disney Cruise Lines is a capital investment that exists independent of The Disney Corporation. Furthermore, I called the IRS to receive further clarification about the proper allocation of this income and they confirmed the above opinion.
We cannot sign the return until the income has been reclassified. We are very grateful for your understanding and again apologize for any inconvenience caused.
Michael the Manager
The above scenario illustrates the need for tactful and courteous communication. Had Michael handled the situation poorly, he would have risked losing one of the firm’s biggest clients. Fortunately, it was handled well because Michael remained polite and unassuming. Though it seemed very suspicious that such an experienced firm should make such an egregious error and not fix it, Michael did not make an assumptions or accusations. Instead, he calmly investigated the matter and presented his case to the extent that either Disney would have to file a return without PwC and likely receive a penalty, or they could change the way they classified their income. Respectful style and appropriate delivery are paramount.


Accountants are always looking for new and more creative ways of saving their company and clients’ money. When we understand the importance of the history of accounting, we will be far less susceptible making the same mistakes.  After all, a creative form of accounting caused the largest business scandal in recent history. Furthermore, the need for appropriate communication is constant. Accountants cannot succeed in their field without understand how to express themselves in the varying situations that they will encounter.

Psychology Student, Huh?

Hey you! Yes, you! I can see it- you’re a people watcher. People fascinate you. It’s nothing to be ashamed about…as long as you’re not creepy about it. If you’re not creepy, you’ve picked the right field of study. Psychology and social work are right up your alley.  Hopefully this study will take you where you want to go, where you can people-watch to your heart’s content while you counsel and help people. There are some things that you should know before you get much further, though.

School and Experience
            Since you are at the beginning of your career exploration, there will likely be a lot of questions about requirements for classes and other school-related issues. Let’s start with the basics. Yes, you do have to take all the dreaded GEs. Trust me- they’ll be worth it. These classes will make you much more well-rounded, which will help you in talking to a variety of people. And those pesky pre-requisite classes will be helpful in their own ways, too. If they weren’t necessary, they wouldn’t be part of the curriculum. Pay close attention, too, because before you know it, you’ll be out in the real world, and a lot of the concepts you learn in class will be very applicable. What you don’t realize as you’re taking these classes is that every piece of information that you learn that seems more applicable to another field will help you relate more to people in general. If you know a little bit about civilization and anthropology and science, you’ll be able to converse with a larger population and build your credibility as a therapist. Even though they aren’t required, take some sociology classes, in addition to the psychology classes. These classes will help you understand human behavior and community dynamics that will be important to social work.
            Taking classes and going to school will not be enough to prepare you for real social work settings. Internships and research will give you the best understanding of the field. Real interactions with people will give you the most experience and give you the best perspective, so make sure you are looking for opportunities to broaden your horizons. I was lucky enough to find an amazing opportunity, interning at the Utah State Prison. In this setting, I get to work with a lesser-valued population, one on one, under the supervision of a license psychologist. There are also social workers in the prison that I get to shadow. I get to administer psychological tests and interact with inmates in a controlled, psychological setting. This opportunity has been invaluable to my learning. I have been able to apply concepts from classes directly to my internship, which has helped me get a better idea of the field.
It's about Character!
            One of the first things you will learn early on in this field is that it is not just about watching people. There will be countless social interactions with people of all ages, religions, cultures, and opinions. If you’re really in it for the right reasons, you aim to lessen people’s suffering, to understand why people do things, and to create a community that gives people opportunities for improvement. That being said, you’re going to be interacting with a lot of different people and it’s important that you don’t say the wrong thing and that you abide by a few rules.
            In medieval Catholic culture, social work evolved with the idea of almsgiving. In giving alms, people would give to those less fortunate to alleviate suffering. They would give food, money, service, and time to the poor and needy. This idea started with the Church commandment to act with charity and love. Today this same idea, of selfless service and giving, is central to social work and highly prized in many psychology settings as well. It is a long-standing practice that values respect. One way of showing respect to people is understanding their culture and talking with compassion, intent, and conscientiousness.

Communication is Key
            As a social worker, you have to be able to read the situation and react appropriately. There’s going to be a fine balance of informing people about what they need to hear and making them feel comfortable with what you are saying and building a thing called rapport. Rapport is a place of comfort when you build an attachment with someone and gain their trust and can easily talk to them. Gaining rapport means that you have to be gentle and understanding and show empathy to get people to trust you. Unfortunately, sometimes in this profession, you need to tell people things that they don’t want to hear and that can weaken the rapport. If you have built rapport first, your negative, but necessary messages will be taken better. This is why reading the situation and understanding circumstances and people is very important.
            Let me give you an example of a situation you could face. “Marie” is a woman with two children who were recently taken away because of her addiction to drugs. The goal of the social worker in this setting is to help her understand what she can do to get her kids back and sooth her anger and sadness. If Marie were to come into my office, I would start out by asking her to relay the situation to me to the best of her abilities. I would listen intently, ask questions when necessary, and tell her how much we care to see her family back together and to keep her family safe. All of these things would likely bring her comfort and build rapport without compromising my position to keep her kids safe. Originally, I would seem like the “bad guy” but after sitting down and understanding the situation from her point of view, hopefully she will see me as helpful and not harmful. The next step would be to tell her what she needs to hear. It would be helpful to understand laws and history to be able to tell her the things that she can be working on to get her family back. I would end the situation by asking if she had any questions or if there was anything that she would like help with. This would once again establish rapport and maintain the trust already established. Granted, not all situations will be this smooth- in this line of work; because we are “the bad guys,” we are likely to be met with a lot of opposition and anger. You will need to work on speaking with compassion, but neutrality; equality, but authority.
            Other situations when you’ll need to watch what you are communicating is in the case of written reports. In this situation, it is not as important to give compassion as it is to give truth. You will be doing a lot of paperwork, documenting interactions and requests. These need to be written very formally and honestly. Most of the time, these reports are sent to people with greater authority, allowing them to make decisions on behalf of clients. Because these higher authorities don’t always have contact with the clients, it is important to give an honest and unbiased account of the situation. For example, in writing notes about a client’s behavior, it would be more proper to write “Mr. Adams gave little eye-contact during our interaction, and only spoke once, and very quietly” instead of “Mr. Adams is shy and doesn’t care about therapy.” As you can see, the second report very well could be a correct interpretation, but the first is more accurate and unbiased. It is written in a way that allows for interpretation by multiple people, since no one can truly know another’s motivations and thought processes. It could be that Mr. Adams had a cold and didn’t want to speak and that he had been crying all day and was ashamed to make eye contact because his eyes were red and puffy. Of course, if they were red and puffy, those would be observational notes I would make, too. If Mr. Adams were going to court to determine his eligibility for clearance in his Alcoholics Anonymous program, if I had written the first report, the court may consider that Mr. Adams is not taking his program or therapy seriously.  What you write and portray could mean the difference between a positive or negative court decision for the client. This type of work is very common, so get used to writing objectively and without bias.

The Basics
            These examples showcase the importance of reading a situation, being educated in the history and practices behind social work and psychology, and knowing how to speak and write in a way that facilitates the desired results. I wouldn’t go into this field if you can’t speak eloquently and tactfully. I wouldn’t continue on this path if you were worried about being unbiased. Of course, there will be situations in which you have a very strong opinion, but these are not situations in which you can lose your professionalism. Good reading, writing, and speaking are all necessary to this field because it helps you to establish credibility and professionalism with your clients. No one is going to trust a therapist that they believe is uneducated, lacks compassion, and is biased.

            Hopefully, this account of the work you will be doing and the necessary components won’t scare you off too much. If you take your education seriously and really care to learn about people, you should be fine. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Communication and History are Critical in English Teaching

“A true teacher is one who, keeping the past alive,
is also able to understand the present.”

            If Confucius was right when he said that a true teacher utilizes the past as a guide to the present, then you, as an aspiring English teacher, must be able to do the same. As an English lover, you have an innate linguistic forte; as an aspiring teacher, you have a natural need to instruct your future students as effectively as you can. In order to develop a powerful pedagogy, you must explore two topics you won’t learn about in your college teacher-preparation curriculum: rhetoric (which is the art of communication) and history (in both ancient and recent times).

Education? Elementary, my dear Watson.

              Imagine you are in a room filled with twenty second graders.  They look up at you with admiration and expectation in their eyes.  You look back with seeing in each child his potential to become someone who will change the community, other’s lives and the future.  You look back with hope and love and even a little fear.  How can one individual know enough to inspire each one of these twenty expecting souls?  It seems impossible, but I can reassure you that is possible because you are exactly the individual who has enough love to help these children.  While practice and study are important, there are some other insights that I have learned from my own experience, study and through the experiences of other professionals in this field. 
                In my life I have had teachers that have inspired me to the point where I thought I could do anything and be anything and I have had teachers that make me feel like lying in bed all day and never going back to school again.  You may ask yourself what it was that made such a strong difference in my feelings and the answer is simple – communication.  If a teacher does not effectively communicate with students, parents and faculty, then there can be dire consequences.  But if a teacher effectively communicates, then he will be successful in inspiring and motivating students.  Through knowing how to address certain audiences, understanding the various form of communication that a teacher uses, and forming one’s own philosophy about education and communication, a teacher can be the catalyst for a love of learning in children’s lives.

Keys to Communication

An elementary teacher has the privilege to communicate on many levels.  A teacher is given instructions and guidelines from political leaders and administrators, must communicate the needs of individual students, discuss the best ways to teach the necessary curriculum, help children to understand basic concepts and assist parents in the teaching of their children.  Believe it or not persuasion has everything to do with teaching.  Most communication is done face to face but emails can be passed on and phone calls to parents are common.

A teacher must be able to analyze his audience and adapt to effectively communicate.  When speaking in the community or with administrators the needs of the children should be the focus and how to improve on what is already being done in the classroom.  Colloquial language should be avoided.  When communicating with a child the teacher must take great care in teaching in a way that is comprehensible to every child in the classroom.  The children’s interests and backgrounds should be taken into consideration to provide better understanding.  When communicating with parents the teacher must show love for their child and his specific needs.  One must show sincere concern for each child and his home life. 
Most communication in the field of education is deliberative or in other words that usually there is a goal of changing something in education and promoting action.  This is seen in community forums with the politics of education, in teams of teachers for the best way to teach and even in parent-teacher conferences to encourage the progress of the student.  Teachers want to encourage children to progress, want to change how the community views education, and want to inspire parents to help their children better learn. 

Political and Community Speaking

A few examples of communication with different audiences in mind will be given to provide further understanding into this skill that is so important in order to help these children who depend so much on you.  First an example will be given of how a teacher could appropriately address an audience at a community forum to encourage members of the community to donate since classroom sizes are so high and it is becoming more difficult to attend to the needs of each individual child. 

Speaking in a community forum a teacher or group of teachers may try to address the need for smaller class sizes to benefit the learning of the individual students and help funding for this to occur. A teacher could say something of the following:

"We are here to discuss the future of our children, our community and our country.  Have you ever been in a large group and something had been discussed that you didn't quite understand but because of the size of the group you felt your voice had been lost?  Children today are getting lost in these large class sizes.  They are entering a different community with different rules and often they get lost and left behind.  Isn't this contradictory with the No Child Left Behind Policy?  Your children and community need your help.  It is possible to make a difference in our community by donating and helping to fund the schools so that class sizes can be smaller and your children can have their voice heard and their needs met.  This is how real learning will occur.  The benefits are enormous for not only your family, but also our community and country.  Please stop and think of the future and make a difference today."
How was this address different than talking with a student or one on one with a parent?  When trying to persuade others to see the necessity of helping these children, a teacher needs to help those listening to feel for each child as the teacher feels and to show how unrealistic learning can be in the current situations.  It is important to connect to your audience by talking about how these children are the future of the community.  Those listening need to feel that acting on this will make a difference in their lives, because when it all comes down to it, humans as a race are egotistical. 

Parent - Teacher Communication

Now we will examine the communication between a teacher and a student that was struggling in her classroom as this teacher has a meeting with this student’s mother.  Mrs. Reggiani is a first grade teacher and has the privilege to help children become literate in reading and writing.  She lives in an area in the United States where there are many Spanish speakers and has some students in her class that are struggling because they are learning basic academics in a second language.  Because of this she has to communicate with the parents and guardians of students to help these children progress in their education.  She has attempted multiple times to communicate over the telephone without much success.  Mrs. Reggiani has scheduled to meet with the mother of one Spanish speaking student in her class, Maria who is from Chile.

She dresses in dress pants and a blouse but nothing too overdone as to appear more personable.  Before the meeting she has made a list of words in Spanish that she thinks will apply to their conversation.  Maria comes with her mother to help translate if needed.  Maria and her mother sit down with Mrs. Reggiani and she introduces herself.  She smiles and hugs Maria’s mother as is custom in Chile.  Mrs. Reggiani uses lots of gestures and pays attention to Maria’s mother when she speaks to help her to feel more comfortable.  The style is low as Mrs. Reggiani is trying to communicate Maria’s need in the classroom and show that she truly cares about her education and their family.  The delivery is clear and she enunciates as she speaks and speaks slowly.  Mrs. Reggiani frequently pauses to ask if she has been understood and listens as Maria’s mother explains what she has understood.  Some comparison is used to help her understand better but Mrs. Reggiani mostly avoids figurative language so as to avoid confusion.  She uses cause and effect to explain how the support of Maria’s family will help her in her academics.  They decide to meet regularly to increase Maria’s progression in the classroom.  Mrs. Reggiani was successful through her low and friendly style showing concern for Maria and respect for her family while explaining the situation clearly and with the help of her preparation in understanding better Maria’s cultural background.

We can see that this conversation between Maria’s mother and Mrs. Reggiani is very different than that of the teacher addressing the community forum.  But if you use the skill discussed earlier and focus on really connecting to those that you communicate with, then you won’t have to worry.  Remember that above anything else your focus should be on the needs of your students.  If you really care about your students, then communication will be done with love and will be effective.

Lessons from the Past

We can learn a lot from the past in how teachers have communicated and how that communication has changed recently.  Then it is each teacher’s responsibility to make a decision in what has been done previously and if that will be applied in the classroom. 

Ancient History

In ancient Greece, children started their elementary education around seven years of age.  It was divided between formal and informal education.  Formal education was for those families who had the money to pay for a pedagogue, or a private instructor, to teach their children.  The pedagogue would teach in the family’s home and would teach basic skills like reading, writing, and basic morals (Sienkewicz).  We can see that although our education system has evolved it is quite similar to this.  Here the communication was tailored more to the individual student and there was more time for each student to work with the teacher.

Recent History

There have been recent changes in the world that have affected the education system.  I talked to Lucelia Albernaz, a retired Elementary School principal, to learn more about these changes.  She said that the major factor in the recent history of education has been the technological development that has occurred.  I remember going to the computer lab during the school week in Elementary School and having to practice typing.  Now technology has become an even bigger part in the education of our children.  It is how grades are given, communication between the teacher and parent is done and now there are even classes that are flipped or use blended learning where the students watch video lectures at home and then problems and homework is done in the classroom with the help and guidance of the teacher.  This helps children to work at their own pace and to have more individualized time with the teacher in the classroom.  Writing is now done through technology so there is no more use for a stylus and wax board.  There has been a recent change from chalk boards to white boards and now to over-head projectors.  

So with all these changes is our children’s education improving?  It is up to you to make the decision of what type of communication is best for you and your students.  They need you and depend on you.  If one applies these principles, then children will have wonderful experiences in the classroom and teachers will feel more accomplished and happy in their work with these children.  The future leaders of the world can be in your classroom and through your effective communication you will change lives and the future.

Works Cited
Albernaz, Lucelia, Personal Interview, December 3, 2014.
Ed. Sienkewicz, “Education and Training,” Ancient Greece (New Jersey: Salem Press, Inc., 2007), 245.

Consulting Business Consultants: Come Know the Caveats

           It has been said that, “Hindsight is always twenty-twenty” and that is correct. In today’s world, people would be willing to pay billions to have twenty-twenty vision of the future or even the present. I do not have the answer to gain that perfect vision of the future but I do hold valuable knowledge as to how to see the present situation in twenty-twenty vision. The principles taught within can be applied to all situations but what will we be looking at exactly? Business consulting and how to find success therein. For those now preparing to enter into the field of business consulting there are some essential skills and knowledge that are often overlooked. I assure you, earning straight A’s across your business strategy college  courses will not be sufficient to truly be competitive in such a competitive field. Among the most  important influences of the success of a businessman is that of his ability to communicate clearly, respect surroundings appropriately, and create a powerful “perceived status” in the eyes of others. We will go deep into many of the vital, hidden principles of business consulting (that you won’t learn in your business classes) in order to satisfy the “unspoken rules” of successful business; addressing the key points learned through history, and communication to more fully grasp this important topic.
           This article does not contain the solution to every situation in order to find success but it does contain sufficient perspective and information as to allow one entering the business consulting field to recognize areas (beyond their studies) in which he or she must become expert to be successful.

Get It Right The First Time

                You consider yourself an influential, bright young individual ready to rock the boat in the world of business consulting. Rocking the boat can be powerful when deliberate but disastrous when not.  To avoid sinking the ship is as simple as understanding the following idea; when was the last time you went to some sort of event only to instantly realize that you were underdressed? Or maybe overdressed? Take a moment and recall what you felt; the embarrassment, the awkward feeling, the frustration and maybe in extreme cases even shame. A simple example to illustrate an important point; there is an accepted way to act, to communicate, and to appear for every situation and every context. It is no different in the world of business consulting.  Within business consulting there are no two days alike. Each day brings new situations and even newer relationships. To succeed in business consulting one must understand and be able to adapt to these situations and relationships. 
                Now, let’s imagine entering your first job interview only to come to find out that the company asked its’ applicants to dress in blue, pinstripe collared shirts with brown slacks and brown shoes. You sit down amidst the twelve other applicants who did not miss the memo. What are the chances of you getting the job? What are the chances of even being taken seriously before you open your mouth to answer the first question? That is a rhetorical question; you know the answer.  Just as there is a proper way to dress for certain situations, so too are there proper ways to speak and to act. Know the situation and what the situation calls for.

Matching the Communication with  the Situation

                Suppose you did obtain the job (because you went home quickly and changed your outfit to match the situation of course). Think, for a moment, of the many different ways in which you speak. You speak with friends, with family, with the opposite sex, with fellow coworkers, your manager, the list goes on. Each relationship calls for a different approach in communication. Understanding appropriate communication for the given situation is essential for you to keep that newly obtained job. One must learn to match the vocabulary, the body language, the tone of your voice with the nature of the relationship. For example; in sitting down with your first potential client think of how you would communicate. What vocabulary would be used? “Dude,” or maybe “bud” or “amigo?” If you are looking to lose your first not-customer this is a perfect way to do so. With your friends these words are just fine yet with this potential customer they will fail you. This may seem basic and implied knowledge but I assure you that those who are good; really, really good, stand tall above the competition. Learn this trade. It is not taught in your major studies.

Success Through Perception

                In the example of the interview, there is another element essential for success; “being taken seriously.” You have the ability and responsibility to create the type of character that you desire others to perceive. History illustrates this point exceptionally well. In Rome antiquity there was a group of people that organized the first Roman cavalry. These were called Equestrians. Equestrians were among the most noble, determined, and brave leaders. They were brilliant in their stratagem and execution.  Due to their status, Equestrians became powerful influences in the business world and one could argue, consultants in business. Others perception of the Equestrians allowed them to be influential leaders. Let us review. What is your perception of the Equestrians right now? Is it good or bad? My very words influenced your perception of the Equestrians. It only took three sentences. Now, a more important question.
                Why did you believe that the Equestrians were who I claimed they were? Over no great amount of time I have created a trustworthy, reliable source in your perception of who I am. One’s ability to find success in business consulting weighs heavily upon how he or she is perceived by others; or his perceived “status.” Every moment of interaction you are selling yourself; your abilities, your character, and your worth to the firm or customer. I do not speak of a status that cannot be influenced or changed. I speak of the status that one can create. Just as I created a perceived status of the Equestrians in your mind you must be able to create a desired perceived status in the minds of others. No matter how great your academic skills may be; if you have not the ability to create powerful perceived status success will always extend beyond your grasp.
                Developing a perceived status of trust, of loyalty, or of diligence are powerful ways to move forward in gaining success in business consulting. Allow me to guide you to another important principle.

Creating a New Kind of Value

                Paul Heathcote, a consultant with over 25 years of experience and who has recently given birth to his own consulting firm explains that being able to communicate effectively is essential. In his words he further taught, “You have to be able to show value to the customer right away.” Yes, this includes your academic knowledge of Proforma statements, the statements of cash flows, or whatever your line of expertise may be but we now know that there is more to it. The ability to “show value” is essential. That “showing” is not to be confused with “doing” valuable things. A consultant who can clearly “show value” through his words is a successful consultant. It takes more than the ability to analyze and crunch numbers to be successful; it takes persuasion by communication.

                An example; imagine two consultants in two different companies were asked to do the exact same task. Upon the asking of the completion of the task the first responds, “Yes, I finished what you had asked for; the papers are on your desk.” The second consultant responds in the following, “Yes, it was a bit more complex than what we had originally anticipated. Your request required a number of other steps that were not foreseen. Nonetheless, I was able to take care of the problem for you and the papers are now waiting for you at your desk.” The two consultants completed the exact same work in the exact same way but in your mind, who worked harder and accomplished more? The second most likely. I do not claim that more words are better than less. To find success in business consulting requires the ability to show to others that you are valuable while still creating a perceived status that is appropriate for your goals and situation. It is worth your time to learn the skill of communication and persuasion rather than just crunch numbers or problem solve.   


 In summary, I do not teach that influential communication alone will bring you great success. It is necessary to receive proper education in a competitive field in order to become a great businessman. That expertise, accompanied with the ability to communicate clearly, increase status, build trust, and demonstrate value is the formula for success. To be successful does not require twenty-twenty vision of the future but it does require the ability to communicate in such a way to demonstrate your control of the present. Learn from those who have already experienced your future; learn persuasion through communication. 
Works Cited
Paul Heathcote. Natural Knack Incorporated.
Burton, Gideon O. "Silva Rhetoricae: The Forest of Rhetoric." Silva Rhetoricae. 15 Dec. 2014.
"The Roman Empire in the First Century: Equestrians." PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 03 Dec. 2014. http://www.pbs.org/empires/

Dreams, Creation, and Communication

It is likely that you have created something in your lifetime. There is a process to creation. When we create something it doesn't simply appear out of nothing; it must first be an idea or a concept, then the concept must be communicated in some way; finally, we physically organize the material world to create something tangible out of an originally immaterial, intangible, and sometimes abstract idea. As students of architecture, we mostly concern ourselves with creating buildings. Unfortunately, many students of architecture destroy the bridge between the ideas in their minds and what is being organized in the material world by ignoring communication-while communication is actually a central part to architecture.

Envision an architect working, most people would envision a solitary, creative-looking person sitting at a large desk drafting a building in a sketchbook or on a computer; that vision is true for only a small fraction of the time; after all, if that was all they did, would anything get built? What do architects have to do in order to have their dreams and visions realized?

Interior of the Guggenheim.

Case Study

Imagine that you recently graduated from a great architecture program, you became accredited, and got a job at a firm you've always admired. The firm that you work for has recently been granted a commission to work on a new museum for a major city. You are assigned to be on the team of architects in charge of the design of this building. You are excited because you've probably come up with several museum concepts throughout your college time and even before that, and you think that your design concepts are genius, so this is a huge chance for you to prove yourself. But then you meet with the team of architects who you’ll be working with, all of them are more senior than you, and there is a project lead who conducts the meeting and tells the team about the specifications of the project. You learn a couple of things you did not anticipate, you’re going to have to do a lot more than just throw your designs from college out there in order to prove yourself, and all of those designs you did in school don’t fit the client’s specifications.

Observe how important communication is already; you will need to know how to observe and listen, you will need to know how to properly interact with the architects in your team in order to build the confidence and trust that they have in you, and you will need to know how to most effectively present your ideas to them. The interactions that will take place among you and the other architects extend even beyond verbal communication.

After several weeks of planning and conceptualizing this project, the team you are on has decided on an overall design concept, and you are tasked with designing the bathrooms, reception area, and the museum cafe. Notice here that nothing will be accomplished without communication; you will have to sketch, create computer renderings, perhaps build models, and be able to present those sketches and renderings effectively. While you would be presenting things a lot, it would usually be presented on an intimate level. Since the team you’re working with is small, there will be a lot of small
Some Guggenheim Museum blueprints.
gatherings around someone’s computer to see some of the latest developments on their portion of the project, and other similar interactions. Every decision that you make has to be cleared by the team in the end, so you will likewise be clearing the decisions made by the other architects, otherwise this museum would be a hodge-podge of designs and ideas, not a cohesive system that works. After months of planning and communicating as a team the final blueprints and designs are drafted and work moves forward with the clients and contractors to begin the actual building process. Now you have to know how to communicate not only with fellow architects, but with engineers, general contractors, electricians, plumbers, businessmen, and every other person that has something to do with building a structure.

You will be sending a lot of emails and taking a lot of phone calls during the building phase of the project. So picking up on and communicating verbal and written cues will be important. During this phase of the project there will also be many complications that arise, material orders get messed up, or perhaps some measurements don’t end up working. Sometimes, due to complications, contractors and engineers might try to alter building plans, usually in an attempt to make their job easier. How you and the team of architects respond to such complications can have a lot of effects; any negative response could sour the relationship you and the other architects have with the other professionals involved in the project, but knowing how to get what you want while not offending those who have to work to produce what you want would be very valuable. After months, perhaps years, all of your work has paid off, and you and the other architects are able to walk through the completed museum to see the physical reality that those concepts and ideas became. You can now say that you have placed your own little stamp on the world as the architects in the past have by filling the world with their ideas and creations.


Any student of architecture who has taken classes on architectural theory and the history of architecture has probably developed a personal liking to certain types of architecture and periods of architectural history. Certain styles and theories elicit different feelings and responses in all of us. They communicate something. In the end, all of the work that architects put into the buildings that they helped design will communicate something through the design of the structure itself. Sometimes a client will state clearly what they want to be communicated by their building, sometimes that is left up to the architect. It will be important for you to be able to hearken back to the past in order to remember what architects have said and how they have said it through their designs, so that you can elicit similar responses through your own creations.

The best architecture communicates something to those who experience it. That is why it lasts. But in order to create the best architecture, an architect must be able to communicate so effectively and skillfully with those around him that the meaning and idea of a design is clear; it is so easy for meaning to become lost in price estimates, construction complications, and the everyday business of creating a building. Don’t allow the every day to detract from what can be extraordinary. As Bjarke Ingels said, “Architecture is about trying to make the world a little more like our dreams.”

Works Cited:

Ingels, Bjarke. Interview by archi-ninja.com staff. Interview with Bjarke Ingels. arch-ninja.com 2009.  Web. 10 November 2009

Britannica article, "Western architecture"http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/32952/Western- architecture/47295/Roman-and-early-Christian

Stylin' in Sales


So you’re thinking of pursuing a serious career in one of the most high-stake and biggest commitment fields possible? Have you thought of the insane amount of time you will spend giving the job everything you have? Have you thought of the unbelievably high risks that will be on the line as you step up and give important presentations in front of large audiences? Can you even comprehend the stress levels you will undertake as you eat, sleep, and dream sales all day and night for the rest of your life? If you have, then welcome. Corporate sales is not only one of the most intense careers but it’s also one of the most rewarding and exhilarating careers that you could possibly attempt to endure. However, there is an extremely thin line that separates an ordinary salesman from an outstanding salesman. That line is called communication.
It takes a special type of person to become elite in the corporate sales world. You see, many people believe that salesmen simply have to be arrogant, aggressive and demanding so that they come off as powerful and persuasive. However, any real salesman would know that it is quite the contrary. Being aggressive and relentless isn’t necessarily the formula to persuasiveness. Understanding the desires and  the needs of a buyer is an art, and that understanding is crucial. Knowing how to meet their needs and provide exceptional emotional value to the buyer is also essential. Yet, the thing that is absolutely imperative is the ability to express an idea in a way so that the customer feels and sees exactly how perfect the idea really is and how they will benefit from making the purchase. If a salesman can master the art of rhetoric and truly understand the necessity of persuasion then they can become extremely successful in the corporate sales field. More specifically, if they can understand the way style plays into communication they can become exceptionally explosive.

                                              Prepare Yourself

In order to fully understand the ins and outs of quality communication and style, one must go through a rigorous workload from the start. Early in their college career, students will take on a substantially difficult amount of schoolwork as they take the “weed-out” classes like accounting, finance, economics, and marketing with thousands of other students. Not to mention, they will have to accustom themselves to having no summer breaks; finance students will need to get internships with different corporations in order to get their foot in the door. Students will have to learn everything they can from their superiors and meet as many new people as possible to open up their networking skills. Networking and communication are extremely correlated. The more people you can positively communicate with means the more potential clients and business partners you can obtain. These internships are spectacular examples of the importance of communication because if a salesman doesn’t know anyone, he is no longer a salesman. Sales are all about knowing as many people as possible and networking to the point where everyone knows, trusts, and loves you. Not to mention, one of the most important concepts that the students will master is the art of developing their sales “style”.
We know that when rhetoric is discussed, there are five basic canons: invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery. Anyone who has made a sale in their life knows that when it all comes down to it, it’s the virtues of “style” that make a sales executive successful. Here is an example:
John is a new college graduate who is finally about to give his first corporate sales pitch. He gets up to present himself in front of about fifteen potential clients who are trying to determine if they want to invest $450,000 into the firm. John begins confidently, but uses somewhat poor grammar as he attempts to sound intelligent. Everyone notices but nothing is said, because it is a professional setting. He proceeds to get to the point but is very ambiguous in doing so. He doesn’t explain very clearly what the long term goals are. He also doesn’t provide much convincing evidence as to how the goals will be accomplished. Many hands are raised in question and the control of the presentation is starting to flow to the audience. As he concludes he can feel the pressure and finishes without any confidence and without a “big finish”.

If you don’t quickly begin to study and scrutinize the virtues of style, you too will be like John on your first sales pitch. The lack of decorum, clarity, evidence, delivery, and correctness were all key factors to a terrific sales presentation that were missing. When someone is planning on investing their own money into an idea, they want to feel comforted with the knowledge that their money will be in great hands and even be multiplied. Once you realize that what they truly want is comfort, you can control the sale as you speak clearly and correctly, deliver with confidence, engage the audience, and of course persuasively display that their money is in great hands.

                                             Historic Examples

Back in the 1950’s, something unbelievably spectacular happened to the United States. As many other countries experienced awful economic blows and downfalls directly following World War II, the United States had tremendous success as their overall economy reached an increase of 37%. Many people accredited the success to President Eisenhower who appeared to have played a big role in the economic success as he lowered taxes and made adjustments to budgets. However, there may be one factor that has been widely overlooked. Perhaps one of the reasons that the economy went soaring in the United States is because there were instantly newfound needs that the American people had due to the fact that their country just went to war. When people have needs, it opens up a variety of windows and opportunities for corporate sales that we can’t even comprehend. Then, when salesmen can find a way to create a product that has value to a customer and communicate that overall value, they begin to have tremendous success. Salesmen all throughout the country created products that were valuable in the eyes of Americans. They used the virtues of style pristinely and the entire business world seized the moment while demonstrating great communication skills to sell stocks, products, and real estate to send the economy skyrocketing.

Even traced back to the ancient Greek civilization we can see similar success patterns in sales and rhetoric. The Greeks noticed specific problems that arose in their daily lives and they decided to come up with ideas and sell those ideas amongst their peers. For example, some Greek women noticed the distinct body odor that each person would give off. So, they decided to create a solution; in other words, perfume. They took their ideas and showed other women how great the perfume worked as well as the benefits that came from utilizing the fine perfumeries. Greek women not only ended up selling it to other Greeks, but also to other civilizations. This was one of the most basic, textbook selling strategies possible. If we look closely, we can see that the virtues of style were present in their selling. They were extremely clear as they identified a basic need. Then, they provided tangible evidence that the product smelled great and would mask bad odors. To conclude their sales they would’ve had to deliver the idea with a great incentive. 
Nowadays, the United States’ economy could benefit greatly by mimicking these same simple communication tactics used in ancient Greece. On top of that, the timing is perfect because we too are in very humble circumstances similar to those following World War II. The economy is simply waiting for good ideas to be brought forth and sold through magnificent styles of rhetoric. So again, I welcome you. If you think you can develop the rhetorical style to have what it takes to make billions in this dog-eat-dog world, it’s time to wake up. The sales world waits for nobody. 

Works Cited:

1) Scheidel, Walter, Ian Morris, and Richard P. Saller, eds. The Cambridge Economic History of the Greco-Roman World (2008) 

2) Shmoop Editorial Team. "Economy in World War II: Home Front." Shmoop.com. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 15 Dec. 2014.

Speaking is more than just the job description...

If you are reading this, it’s probably for one of two reasons. One, you are a young ambitious college student who has recently chosen to declare your future career as a translator, and you wish to discover more about how to prepare for your profession. The other reason is that you are one of my peers or teacher evaluating my final work for this.
So, you're interested in translating? This career has always been incredibly valued in the realm of communications. This job has one of the fastest growth rates over the next decade thanks to the rise of commonplace global communications, and the pay is based on demand for a specified language and the translator’s skill and speed in translation of the task. Typically, it’s recommended for a translator like yourself to have a degree in the intended language for translation, and a good background in English comprehension and writing. Considerably affordable compared to law school.
However, don’t think that these few things are the only barriers between you and what it takes to be an official translator. What deceivingly looks like a financially successful job with minimal prerequisites hides many more skills necessary to be adequately prepared as a translator. For example, do you understand the change that the translation industry is going through in our day and technology’s role in the current market? How are you going to successfully translate something, if you don’t know a thing about the origins or cultural context of the material? And are you able to work with a myriad of different people and establish honest and heartfelt connections with your employers? Each of these are necessary to grasp if you want to have success in this profession, and beneficial to you in many other professional endeavors.
Experience in the Old Country
You may know your second language very well, but how is a customer supposed to evaluate your skill aside from your word and a college degree? A good way to show proof of your linguistic skills is to study abroad in a different country. Most language degrees require one or an equivalence in order to get the degree, but for translation, there is a much higher emphasis for this. A translator shouldn’t just understand the grammatical rearranging required between two languages, but also its idioms, cultural emphasis, and colloquial speech. These are things that need a hands on experience to truly understand, and that is what interpretation and translation is all about. Although you may be guaranteed a study abroad through degree requirements, the more official study abroads you can put on your resume, the better it will benefit you (and there is no limit to quantity).
Studying a language in its original country has always been used as an efficient indicator of one’s skill. For example, when the Bible was being translated into Latin in the late 4th century. A priest by the name of Jerome wanted a reliable bible created for widespread use through the church, so with consent from the pope, he set out to do that himself. He moved to Jerusalem and spent five years of his life learning Hebrew from the Hebrews themselves. Then, he spent the next fifteen years In the holy land single-handedly translating the Bible into Latin from Greek and Hebrew. Because of his extensive time spent abroad and intricate involvement in the language, Jerome’s completed Vulgate Bible became known as the most accurate translation of the Bible for a thousand years until Martin Luther’s translation in 1536. (de  Gruyter, p. 304-315)

Are you fluent in Binary?
Another thing important to the modern-day translator is, well,  what the modern day holds. You may be deceived, thinking that technology plays a small part of translation’s work. After all, Google Translate can do hardly more than what a traditional dictionary can do. A translator should be practically a hermit, free to work on his own and never have to deal with anything more complicated than an email with the file of the completed work. Right? Wrong. The truth is that technology is your best ally in this work. The role of a translator has always been intertwined with the new advancements of whatever era it takes place in. The world wide web is deeply intertwined with commercial translation efforts. Clients are searched for here, materials are uploaded, even many assignments given are purely digital. Modern translators are not as easily reclusive as perhaps believed to be, and they must be flexible to the twists and changes that advances will bring.
It's thanks to this that your future career exists, as well as
the internet and your favorite fandom of choice.
The digital age isn't the only instance of the need for an adaptation to a more social and outspoken translator. In the times of the Egyptians, ancient Romans and even the middle ages, everything was written by hand. A translator’s job then was long and arduous work, with everything done by yourself and a small group of others, having to copy everything piece by piece down to the letter, without making a single mistake. Ugh! In 1450, all of that changed when the Gutenberg printing press was created. It was a warm welcome of relief. At the same time, it caused a severe shift in the life of translation up until that time. Gone was the monastic lifestyle and endless hours of repetition. Emphasis became more on spreading the materials created by the new, innovative process. Now the internet is placing emphasis on strong communication between the translators and their clients. Thereby, useful skills in marketing or business are highly praised in the current translator world. (Briggs,15-23, 61-73)
Extending the conversation beyond small talk...

The most mandatory, unofficial skill for people pursuing translation though is the unique understanding of literary composition and verbal discourse that a professional must have in their arsenal. When you think of knowing how to write and speak, you typically picture authors and lawyers to do those things. You should make no such mistake with translation. Knowing how to speak is the true hidden art within this career. What is so complicatedly confusing about it is the simple fact that as a translator (and especially as a vocal interpreter) You must understand how to keep something as original as possible. Context, wording, any change whatsoever must be virtually non-existent. When you translate, you must be a perfect representation of their ideas, emotions and credibility. In order to be an effective translator, you need to mimic your client and become a substitute. Failure to do so can lead to an improper result of what is desired and in a worst case scenario, unintentional wars started in foreign relations due to a translator displaying their work in lighting unintended for the message given.
If you truly desire to be a translator, my recommendation is to be involved with as many people as possible in real life (or online) and get a feel for just how valuable the aforementioned skills are. Try to translate a joke you like and keep the context in check, skype with people in different countries and get familiar with how to find and address clients through online means. Enhancing your ability to speak with others and convey the right message is what translation is truly about.


  1. Walter de Gruyter, “Theologische Realenzyklop√§die, Vol. 15”, Berlin – New York 1986, Web. 6 December 2014

Briggs, Asa and Burke, Peter “A Social History of the Media: from Gutenberg to the Internet” Polity, 3rd ed. 2010, Print