Wanted: World Problem Solvers

Big companies around the world agree on one thing: They like to hire problem solvers. Governments acpexels-photo-414916.jpegross the globe could also use a few more leaders able to find solutions to problems.

So school officials wonder: How do we turn today’s students into problem solvers? Employers ask: How can we help our people turn lemons into lemonade?

Promote thinking skills

A few years ago, we called it critical thinking. Today, we’re more likely to recognize the phrase complex problem solving. They’re pretty much the same. Problem solving is the ability to look at situations, think critically about them to make the best possible decisions in an increasingly complex world. This type of thinking requires:

  • Reading, seeing, or hearing all sides of an issue.
  • Ability to analyze information beyond its literal meanings.
  • Aptitude to ask probing questions and assess the ideas of others.
  • Capacity to seek out diverse points of view and multiple perspectives.
  • Use of evidence and reasoning to support ideas and opinions.
  • Competence in solving complex problems with apt solutions.

Teach problem solving

Teachers who encourage classroom discussion are on the right track. To become problem solvers, students need lessons that go beyond read and regurgitate. Rather than requiring 11th-graders just to read a chapter on the Civil War and list Who?, What?, When? and Where? on a work sheet, educators must urge them to probe further. Ask students and staff alike: Why? and How? 

Why was there a Civil War in the U.S.?

Why couldn’t North and South get along?

Why did each side feel the way they did?

How did North and South differ in their views?

How could states have resolved their differences peacefully?

How can we avoid this type of national disaster in the future?

Questions like these, along with facts and figures, help develop skill in finding solutions for complex problems. Relying on Why and How, rather than habit or instinct, or doing things as they’ve always been done, leads to deeper answers – both in the classroom and on the job.

It’s good to know the facts (Who, What, When and Where), but more important are the reasons (Why) and alternatives (How). Answers to those questions can change organizations, change lives and change the world.

For more communication, career or corporate insights: ask@cameo100.com

Susan K. Maciak | CAMEO Communications, Career & Corporate Consulting LLC | cameo100.com | lets-talk-business.com

Watch out for job scams

EVERY NEW YEAR brings new hopes and dreams. On Jan. 1, you will probably set your sights higher. If it’s a new job you want, watch out for scams.

PIC.14.performance reviewWork schemes are as rampant as New Year’s resolutions — even when the unemployment rate is low.


Here are a few rules to follow before jumping on the band wagon, or falling for what sounds like a good opportunity:

Rule 1: Never, ever pay for the privilege of working. No legitimate job requires upfront fees.

Rule 2: Run from anyone who asks you to buy something to get started in their business. You shouldn’t have to buy your own samples. Credible companies provide sales kits for their people at no cost to them.

Rule 3. Never deal with anyone who promises you a job. No one can guarantee that someone else will get a job. Real jobs always require you to meet standards through applications, resumes, interviews, etc.

Rule 4. Avoid schemes that offer training, certificates or degrees that guarantee jobs. Even if you have the right qualifications for a position, you still have to work hard at getting hired.

Rule 5. Don’t fall for promises that you can make big bucks working at home – especially if you have to invest money to get started. You might make a phone sale occasionally or work remotely from a job you already have, but most work at home schemes are time-consuming scams with little or no payback.

Rule 6. Don’t deal with any offer that requires you to act fast. Getting a job is usually a carefully thought out, lengthy process.

If you find yourself falling for any such schemes, the best you can do is make a report to save others from job cons.

Report your experience to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) by phone: 1-877-382-4357 or report online at ftc.gov/complaints. Any information you provide helps builds cases against swindlers.


Susan K. Maciak | CAMEO Communications, Career & Corporate Consulting LLC | cameo100.com | lets-talk-business.blog | ask@cameo100.com

Key business words: creative, innovative

“Every business is show business,” says Bill Capodagli, author of “Innovate the Pixar Way.” He makes a case for promoting creativity and critical thinking in the workplace. Without both — 21st Century businesses are likely to fail.

Today’s customers crave creative solutions to problems and expect innovative, new products and services on a regular basis. Companies that can’t keep pace are doomed to distinction.

In his book, Capodagli, international corporate consultant, tells business leaders how to promote creativity and innovation within their companies. He stresses that a successful organization is one where everyone is encouraged to innovate — not just R & D Departments.

“Collective creativity within a corporate culture never happens by accident,” Capodagli said. “It begins with creative leadership that is trustworthy . . . trusts others to accomplish big dreams.”

See http://www.cameo100.com to find out more about creativity-building programs provided by CAMEO or email us: ask@cameo100.com

Article by Susan K. Maciak, author / lead consultant, CAMEO Communications, Career & Corporate Consulting LLC.






New image for CAMEO

Have you noticed the new image used by CAMEO Consulting?

To reflect the wide variety of people we now serve, we’re featuring folks of all ages and from all walks of life.  (See above screenshot). 

Our clients include:

  • College students about to launch their careers.
  • Business owners and employees who want to go further.
  • Organizations that need to attract and keep customers.

To give extra value to our clients, CAMEO now offers extensive PR/Communications Services, along with corporate training and career consulting.

Check out what we now offer at: cameo100.com



Employed? Why Not?


PIC.13.city success
Why can’t I find a job?

“Why can’t I find a job? Why am I still unemployed? The economy is getting better, unemployment rates are down, I have a degree and a pretty good resume.”


A few years ago, the answer to this question might have varied:

  • I guess I don’t have the right skills.
  • Maybe, I’m over-qualified.
  • Money is tight so there are no jobs.
  • Most companies hire only insiders.

Disappointed job-seekers may have actually been eliminated for other reasons, including:

  • Poor interview skills.
  • Limited proficiency in technology. (Not enough software or internet savvy).
  • Missing information on applications. (Names, numbers, contact info for references or prior employers).

All of the above may be true, but another issue is rapidly becoming a top reason for not getting hired:

  • More and more job candidates are failing drug tests.
  • Loosening of marijuana laws has increased its use across the country.
  • Prescription drug abuse is causing an opioid epidemic in every state.

OnStaffUSA has over 400 unfilled job openings in West Michigan alone, according to an article by Jane Simons in a recent issue of MiBiz, a local business publication.

This growing problem has more than one implication. “When you have to turn down jobs because you don’t have enough employees, that affects the economy,” added Nora Balgoyen-Williams, outgoing director of economic development for Allegan County. When contracts are lost, companies stop hiring. Jobs go away altogether.

The bottom line: Drug abuse affects everyone – not just users.

Susan K. Maciak Let’s Talk Business! Blogs by Susan K. Maciak                                                                                                           CAMEO Consulting LLC:  cameo100.com  | ask@cameo100.com


Good grammar counts

Consultants Working  CREATIVE computers and great graphic art make it easy to compose internet content, social media blurbs and blog articles today.      Entrepreneurs often become their own marketers, communicators, and promoters . . . but should they?

Is ‘doing it all’ really the best way to be successful in business?   Not everyone is a great communicator. Even fewer of us are good spellers or grammarians. Publishing without polish can do more harm than good.

Most successful business owners excel in their area of expertise. They’re good at gardening, auto repair, or health care, for example. They may not do so well with writing. In that case, it pays to hire a professional to help communicate to the public.

Credibility counts                                                                                                               Even though business owners are often the best spokespeople for their products and services, their credibility can be ruined in an instant if they post a piece with obvious spelling or grammar errors. If writing style is archaic, hard to read or doesn’t communicate messages correctly, it can do more harm than good.

From the class genius to the guy who got Cs or Ds in English, everyone notices typos in print. Customers equate sentence fragments, grammar mistakes and spelling bloopers with incompetence. Such errors reflect poorly on any business.

Since computers can’t read words in context, the best spell checkers occasionally goof.  They may make corrections that aren’t needed, turning right words into wrong ones. Old-fashioned proofreading is still your best bet. A few simple tips include:

  • Two / To / Too: Use “two” to write out a number (two cats). “Too” means also (I want to go, too. I want to go also). Use “to” as a connector (to the store, to the car, to the person in front of me).
  • It’s / Its:“It’s is always a contraction, meaning “it is” (“It’s raining”); Its (without an apostrophe) is a possessive. (The dog lost its bone) Its shows ownership.
  • You’re / Your: “You’re” stands for “you are” (“You’re late); “Your” is a possessive pronoun, as in “Get your coat.”
  • There / Their / They’re: “There” refers to a place (“Let’s go there.”); “Their” is a possessive pronoun, as in “Get their coats.” A contraction spelled “they’re” replaces two words “They are.” (They’re going on vacation).
  • Who / Whom: Use “who” in place of it, he or she. Use “whom” where you would write him, her, us.
  • Punctuation and quotation marks:  Commas separating a direct quote from the rest of a sentence should be placed inside the quotation marks. The same is true for periods. Question marks should be inside quotes only if they are part of the quote. Outside, if not.

Fool-proof your proofreading                                                                                         It’s not always easy to proofread your own work. If you know exactly what something is supposed to say, you may subconsciously see what should be there rather than what’s actually on the page. Here are a few suggestions for fool-proofing your work while proofreading:

  • Increase font size to 150 percent to better see your words and more easily spot errors. (Don’t forget to switch it back to normal size when done proofreading).
  • Change the font to Courier, a mono-spaced font, to disrupt typical pattern recognition. This will help you pay closer attention to the text while proofing.
  • Read your work out loud. Hearing it helps you spot mistakes you might not see.
  • Print out a document to catch errors on paper that you’d miss on the monitor.
  • Ask a few other people to read your writing for accuracy before publishing it.

Keep in mind that everything the public sees makes an impression  – positive or negative. Misspelled words, bad grammar, or sub-par writing skills can lead to loss of business, no matter what business you’re in!

Susan K. Maciak Let’s Talk Business! Blogs by Susan K. Maciak                                                            CAMEO Consulting LLC:  cameo100.com  | ask@cameo100.com


Can you cope in a crisis?

Hurricane . . . Fire . . . Flood . . . and a few other kinds of catastrophe call for future- thinking and a formula for coping with a crisis. Disasters put business, school and office leaders on front stage whether they want to be or not.

The leadership quotient of people in charge is truly tested during times of crisis. While the world – or at least the surrounding community – is watching, leaders like school principals, factory supervisors and store managers must know how to perform under stress.

Very few people have the natural capacity for quick-witted or level-headed response in chaos. Reacting right in an emergency takes preparation and practice. Every organization is vulnerable at one time or another, so all places where people gather need a Crisis Action Plan.

Put an action plan in writing

Put together a team of leaders from all areas of your business or institution. Ask them to brainstorm any possible crises they could face. Then, work with your team on developing a plan for handing gracefully whatever comes their way.

Practice your plan                                                                                                                     Count on your team to relay your Crisis Action Plan to other employees. Provide everyone on staff with a copy. Then, walk through emergency procedures with various groups. Being prepared to cope with a crises goes a long way to help keep everyone cool, calm, and collected. Readiness lowers the panic rate and limits erratic behavior that adds danger to the situation.

Know how to communicate in a crisis

The media never ignores a calamity. News reporters will want a play-by-play description of how you are handling your mishap. It’s critical to:

  • Put people first. Let the media know that your people are your priority. Tell them what you’re doing to ensure the safety of everyone on site.
  • Then, you should refer reporters to a designated spokesperson to answer further media questions. The selected spokesperson should be someone who knows the organization and the crisis plan well.
  • Provide every employee with the spokesperson’s name and contact information, so they, too, can refer questions to the person best equipped to answer them.

It’s up to business owners and head honchos of all kinds to stay cool and set the pace for others. Leaders need to be ready and train their staff to react wisely in difficult situations.

Blog content provided by Susan K. Maciak, lead consultant at CAMEO Communications, Career  & Corporate Consulting LLC. For details on our Communicating in a Crises training program, contact us at ask@cameo100.com or visit our website: cameo100.com

Added value for students Get school year off to great start!

Teachers, counselors and school principals may be on vacation, but by the end of July their minds are drifting back to the classroom. “What can I do to make a difference for my students this year?” they wonder. Or . . . “How can I keep their attention?” Some even question: “What do my students expect from me?”

Most young people — and their parents — expect that they’ll be able to get a job once they are out of high school or college. Despite current low unemployment rates, some of them still struggle with that first step after graduation. Why? They don’t understand what it takes to get hired today.

School budgets are no longer big enough to support school-to-work programs, or career education. Increasing numbers of mandatory classes leave little time for anything else in the curriculum. The only way left to teach employability skills is to combine those lessons with other subjects, or keep school libraries stocked with job-seeking books. That’s why middle, high school or college staff members might want to take a look at two books by career coach Susan K. Maciak that fill the bill:

JOB SHOPPING . . . a do-it-yourself workbook that walks users through the entire job-seeking process. From looking for jobs that suit their skills to interviewing and following up later, JOB SHOPPING, provides students with valuable tips and tested strategies for getting a job. It makes the process easy with samples of resumes, cover letters, reference lists, etc., along with formats students follow to create their own.

First Job Jitters . . . a fictional story of a new graduate going through her first job hunt. While looking for her very first ‘real job,’ she takes readers through the Ps & Qs of a successful job search, like filling out applications correctly or asking the right questions at an interview. During the process of landing a job, she stumbles on clues to a crime and helps solve a mystery. Students learn the facts and enjoy the fiction!

These books sell for $15 to $22 on sites like Amazon.com, but Educators can take advantage of a summer special, available now through August 31, 2017.

Educators who order 20 or more copies of JOB SHOPPING and/or First Job Jitters for their classroom, library, study hall or school club, pay only $10 each plus postage. We’ll invoice your district.

Email the name/number of books you want to order directly to the author at suemaciak@gmail.com Include your name, school, school address and phone# – and a P.O.# if required by your school district.

To find out more about CAMEO Career & Corporate Consulting LLC, visit us at http://www.cameo100.com or contact us at ask@cameo100.com


Test Your Job Satisfaction


What’s your JSQ? Know your Job Satisfaction Quotient (JSQ)

Take this quiz to find out how satisfied you are with your current job. If you answer NO to two (2) or more of the questions below, you may want to consider making  a career move:

  1. __ Yes __ No . . . Do you have days when you cannot wait to get to work?
  2. __ Yes __ No . . . Does time seem to fly by while you are at work?
  3. __Yes __ No . . . Does your job fit in well with your lifestyle?
  4. __ Yes __ No . . . Do you enjoy yourself while at work?
  5. __ Yes __ No . . . Would your best friend like doing the kind of work you do?
  6. __ Yes __ No . . . Does your job make you feel good about yourself?
  7. __ Yes __ No . . . Are you able to use and improve your unique skills on the job?
  8. __ Yes __ No . . . Are you offered chances to learn new skills for advancement?
  9. __­ Yes __ No . . . Do your superiors and customers appreciate the work you do?
  10. __ Yes __ No . . . Do you feel like an important part of your team of co-workers?

If you cannot answer YES to most or all of these questions, you may want to try CAMEO’s online Career Assessment to identify some better job options. Use PROMO CODE: skm-20 for 20 percent discount through August 31, 2017.

Let’s Talk Business! . . .  an informational blog by Susan K. Maciak, member / consultant, CAMEO Communications, Career & Corporate Consulting LLC. For PR/Communications Services, Corporate Training and Career Consulting, see cameo100.com or ask@cameo100.com



Pick the perfect logo

Your logo is the quickest way to communicate what’s most important in your business or organization. It should reflect your mission and convey PIC.14.logo #2a message everywhere it goes.

Selecting a meaningful logo is the first step in branding — and in making your brand stand out from all the others. Your logo speaks for you. If you pick the perfect logo, you are likely to put your product or service in the minds of people who see it.

Take a look at Nike’s swoosh. It’s recognized immediately around the worboomerangld. People everywhere take note. It speaks eve when it appears without words. What does it say?

The iconic boomerang shouts Action! Fitness! Finesse!

It says Excelling! Energetic! Exciting!  It’s the perfect symbol for everything athletes admire, and it speaks in every language. People on all continents want to wear it. Nike’s logo represents the winner everyone wants to be. Its fluid motion pushes competitors further, longer, higher.

No matter how simple its design, a logo should carry a strong message. The symbol you select should suggest the best qualities of your organization, your products and services. Your logo doesn’t have to be complex or cost a fortune, but it must mean something.

heartsYou can’t slap any old picture next to your company name. Whether you hire a designer or rely on public domain, look at any image long and hard to determine what it will communicate to potential clients or customers.

Your organization can be the most loving, caring social service agency, so you want to show compassion. A heart made of tiny, colorful hearts, though, may be too full of youthful drama. You don’t want your logo to look like something Helping Hands Treea 13-year-old girl doodled on her notebook. Besides being too cute to be serious, it makes your firm look young, immature and inexperienced, not notions that build public confidence.

Consider carefully all the possible messages your logo could send, both positive and negative. Don’t pick an image just because you like it.  A great logo relates to a company’s purpose in some way. A tree is just a tree unless it carries a message.

Let’s Talk Business! is an informational blog by Susan K. Maciak, member / consultant, CAMEO Consulting LLC. CAMEO provides: PR/Communications | Corporate Training | Career Consulting.           ask@cameo100.com          cameo100.com

lets-talk-business.blog by Susan K. Maciak

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