Apparently I suck…

at taking constructive criticism

Photo from

Photo from

It’s funny, for the last two weeks I have been assisting with interviewing youth for jobs – and one of the questions we asked was: “describe a time when you were given constructive criticism, and how you responded”.  As I sat on the other side of the table, I didn’t bother to think about how I would answer this question… but, today, I figured it out.

I recently interviewed for the position I have been working in for the last 8 months (on assignment).  I felt confident – as I was praised for the work I had done thus far, I knew I had made a positive impact, and I walked out of the interview feeling relatively confident.

To my surprise, my interview was described as “vanilla, low energy, not your A game…”

<insert blank look here>

As I let the feedback settle, all I focused on was the word “vanilla”.  Urban Dictionary describes “vanilla” as unexciting, conventional, normal, boring.  Ouch – that hurt.  I felt myself getting internally defensive, thinking my work had proven my worth, what did I miss, what didn’t I say, I answered all the questions, what else were they expecting?

My response was “perhaps I’m not the best candidate for this position“, and perhaps I’m not, but by golly, I wish I taken this feedback with a little more grace.  Yes, tears are welling in my eyes, I’ve already perused other jobs, and I am accepting that this may not be where God wants me – but I wish I would have sat up tall, smiled boldly, thanked the person for the criticism and expressed my goals of improvement.

Now, on top of feeling vanilla, I feel disappointed in myself for how I reacted.

So what’s the point of this rant?   To not let words cut so deep, to take them for what they were – honest feedback – and to be grown up enough to accept them and move on.

Thanks for hearing me out.  If anyone has any tips on interviewing, staying strong & positive, accepting criticism – etc., I would love to hear them.

God is good friends.  God is good.




Presenting 101

In the organization I work for, employees have the opportunity to apply for “acting assignments”.  An acting assignment is when a regular position in the organization becomes vacant, instead of instantly recruiting to fill the position, they open up the job as a temporary assignment to current employees. As a current employee you have to apply, meet the MQs, interview and be selected.  Assignments are anywhere from a few days to 6 months, and it’s great way to try out a different job and gain new experiences.

I was very blessed to be selected for a 6 month assignment back in October and boy o boy am I working my buns off!  I love it!

Today, I had the privilege to present the 5 months of work I have done to my Assistant General Manager.  At no point was I nervous about the information, but I was uneasy about my presenting skills.  I get the classic symptoms: sweating, stuttering/shaky voice, avoiding eye contact, forgetting information (even though it’s on the slide in front of me…) and more.  But today, I decided I wanted to do well.

 Here’s how I mentally and physically prepared for my presentation:

1.       Have a clear understanding of the expectations for the presentation.  Chat with whoever requested the meeting, and make sure you’re both on the same page.  Set yourself up for success from the start.

2.       Be willing to cater your presentation to your audience.  If your audience loves graphs, by golly use graphs!  If they love to be bombarded with the logistical information – bombard them!  Find out what appeals to your audience.  If you don’t know… ask someone else who has presented to them!  Or, ask the audience themselves!  It never hurts to ask!

3.       Information prep/gathering.  Get on it.  As soon as you have the date scheduled, start planning and gather.  Gather more information than needed and weed through it.  Maybe you won’t present on all the information, but you’ll have it at the ready just in case.

4.       Choose the best presentation tool.  I decided to use a specific presentation platform based off the feedback I got from #2.  Since I found out my audience loved visuals, I decided to go with PREZI. It’s fun and more visually appealing than PowerPoint.

5.       Practice.  Makes perfect!  Or at least prepares you for the next talking point.  Some people like to practice in front of other people, but I prefer to practice by myself, with the slides, and without – to make sure I genuinely know what I am talking about.

6.       Dress professionally.  I am very, very casual in my daily attire, but I stepped it up today.  I wore a dark grey, form fitting business/casual dress ($32, Old Navy), black tights ($4, TJ Maxx), black flats ($16, Marshalls), and a grey/white striped cardigan.  (The dress would be fine without but I chose to cover my tattoos for this meeting.)  I did my hair (a rarity for me) and make up, and I felt good.  I have experienced more confidence in myself when I feel like I look good.

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7.       Say a prayer.  I start every day in prayer.  Today, I asked God to “please keep me calm, collected and focused.  Please let me be eloquent with my words, knowledgeable and lead a good presentation.”  No harm in asking the man upstairs to guide your words and actions.  This is also how I keep calm – but “letting go and letting God.” Yes, this moto applies for all situations for me!

8.       Take a deep, deep breath (or 10).  Taking a deep breath physically calms you down.  Keep taking deep breaths until you’re collected.

9.       Words of affirmation.  Talk yourself up!  You should be your biggest cheerleader.  “I’m going to nail this presentation today!” “I got this!”  Also, it’s encouraging to hear from others, so don’t hesitate to share about your upcoming meeting and ask for some positive vibes be sent your way.  I posted a photo on IG asking for friends to send love, and within an hour I had multiple supportive comments and likes!  It helped!!

10.   NAIL IT.  You’ve got this.  You’ve prepped, practiced, rehearsed.  You’re ready.  You know the information you’re presenting, you’re the expert.  YOU GOT THIS.  Walk in confidently and shine my friend.

Other Tips:

*Before the meeting, brainstorm any possible scenarios or questions that may arise.  Be thinking out of the box!  If you have an answer, great, if not, don’t make something up!  Simply say “I will get back to you”.

*Take notes, especially if you’re presenting to a superior who will be giving directives during the meeting.

*If you find your nervously talking fast, keep a bottle of water with you.  Take sip, and use these few seconds to relax and breath.

*Smile.  The act of smiling has mental/physical benefits, and, has anyone ever told you you’re much prettier when you smile?IMG_9918

I’m excited to say I NAILED my presentation to say.  Or as a co-worked told me “you f-ing killed it!”  This is one of the few times I walked out of a presentation feeling confident.  Hallelujah!

I wish you all well!  These tips can be applied to meetings, interviews, you name it!  I’m rooting for you!