How to Handle a Courtesy Job Interview

During the job search, applicants need to be aware of the courtesy interview. A courtesy job interview is one in which the company recruiter has no intent of hiring the candidate, but conducts the interview anyway. The courtesy interview is known to human resource departments, and is a practice carried out by every level of the hiring process.

There are also interviews which are ceremonial. The reviewer has already made up his or her mind to hire the candidate, and the meeting is perfunctory. The courtesy interview on the other hand, is a pretense of interest. There are some professionals who believe it exhibits a lack of respect toward the job applicant. At the least, it leans to an incredible disservice to the applicant, and a waste of time for both parties. If conducted carelessly, it can leave the candidate with a bad taste in the mouth. Why then, do recruiters, headhunters, former colleagues, Fortune 500 companies, etc. conduct courtesy interviews?

The answer is found in two types of courtesy interviews:

• After about ten minutes or so, it is clear to the interviewer that you are not the right fit for the company. But he or she wants to be polite, and will continue the interview for another twenty to thirty minutes before thanking you for your visit;

• The interviewer is only seeing you out of an obligation or human resource policy. Whether or not the interviewer is interested in you, he or she will proceed anyway out of courtesy and/or respect.

How then, do you know you are in a courtesy interview? Here are some samples:

• The first sentence may be, “I just wanted to see where you are in your career search”. This is a fishing expedition. The interviewer is curious about what you have done since your last job, which companies you have talked to so far, or to pump you for information not relevant to your job hunt;

• “We had already finished final interviews when we received your resume. After looking at your impressive cover letter and resume, we thought we should talk to you before making a final decision”. This means a person higher up in the company asked the candidate to apply. That information was in the cover letter. For the interviewer, he or she is only doing it out of respect for, or fear of, the company executive.

• “As you know, we are an equal employment opportunity firm. We take that seriously and under consideration when we interview applicants”. This is done to avoid discrimination lawsuits. Some firms who accept government funds are required to conduct at least 3 interviews with applicants of diverse backgrounds. On a positive note, it could also mean the company is sincere in hiring a diversity of applicants, you included.

Ten to fifteen minutes should be long enough to know whether or not you are in a serious interview or talking to a person just going through the paces. It is clear that he or she has no desire to hire you. What then, should you do once you realize you are in a courtesy interview?

• Ignore the interviewer’s irrelevant questions, and do the interview of a lifetime. Dazzle and impress. Why? He or she may decide to refer you to another firm who would love to hire you. Or, the recruiter may think you are not right for the current job, but is perfect for another open position at the company;

• Using great tact, end the interview. Say you do not believe you are the right fit for the job, and do not wish to waste either of your time;

• No matter how you feel, do not be rude or show how angry you feel. You may see this person again;

• Always thank the interviewer for talking with you. Depending on how you and the interviewer clicked, ask for a referral so you don’t feel it has been a waste

• Do an assessment of the interview. Take note of the positive parts. When did your conversation seem to excite the recruiter? What topics made him or her ask you follow up questions?

It is always tough to go through one interview after another, not knowing whether or not you are wasting your time and energy. Do not take it personally. The job hunting market is extremely competitive. Look at the courtesy interview as one piece of several that an unemployed person will experience during the job search.

Job applicants should look for employment like a daily duty. You must be diligent, consistent, and determined to find work that fits your skills, experience, education, and temperament. Your task is to convince a company that you are the right person for the job.

A positive attitude will go far toward putting a negative meeting in the past. Don’t let one bad interview experience kill your spirit. Look forward; maintain your daily job searching routine, and work on getting an interview with the next company you like.

6 Common Teacher Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

When you get a call from a school administrator inviting you to interview for a teaching job, how do you feel? Happy? Elated? Excited? Nervous? Scared stiff?

You don’t need to worry about the interview if you’re a well-prepared, qualified candidate. Preparing for a teaching interview is a lot like studying for a test. You can review commonly asked questions, think about what you’ll say beforehand, and go in to do your best. If you prepare beforehand, the interview questions will seem routine and familiar. You’ll have answers on the tip of your tongue, ready-to-go.

Below is a list of six commonly asked teacher interview questions from my eBook, Guide to Getting the Teaching Job of Your Dreams. How would you answer each question?

1. Tell us about yourself.

This will be the first question at almost every interview. Just give a brief background in about three sentences. Tell them what colleges you graduated from, what you’re certified to teach, what your teaching & working experiences are, and why you’d love the job.

2. How do you teach to the state standards?

If you interview in the United States, school administrators love to talk about state, local, or national standards! Reassure your interviewer that everything you do ties into standards. Be sure the lesson plans in your portfolio have the state standards typed right on them. When they ask about them, pull out your lesson and show them the close ties between your teaching and the standards.

3. How will you prepare students for standardized assessments?

There are standardized assessments at almost every grade level. Be sure you know the names of the tests. Talk about your experiences preparing students. You’ll get bonus points if you know and describe the format of the test because that will prove your familiarity.

4. Describe your discipline philosophy.

You use lots of positive reinforcement. You are firm, but you don’t yell. You have appropriate consequences for inappropriate behavior. You have your classroom rules posted clearly on the walls. You set common routines that students follow. You adhere to the school’s discipline guidelines. Also, emphasize that you suspect discipline problems will be minimal because your lessons are very interesting and engaging to students. Don’t tell the interviewer that you “send kids to the principal’s office” whenever there is a problem. You should be able to handle most discipline problems on your own. Only students who have committed very serious behavior problems should be sent to the office.

5. How do you make sure you meet the needs of a student with an IEP?

An IEP is an “individualized education plan.” Students with special needs will be given an IEP, or a list of things that you must do when teaching the child. An IEP might include anything from “additional time for testing” to “needs all test questions read aloud” to “needs to use braille textbook.” How do you ensure you’re meeting the needs of a student with an IEP? First, read the IEP carefully. If you have questions, consult a special education teacher, counselor, or other staff member who can help you. Then, you just make sure you follow the requirements on the IEP word for word. When necessary, you may be asked to attend a meeting in which you can make suggestions for updating the IEP. Your goal, and the goal of the IEP, is to make sure the student has whatever he or she needs to be successful in your class.

6. How do you communicate with parents?

This question will come up at almost every elementary school interview. It’s fairly common in the middle school and high school as well. You might have a weekly parent newsletter that you send home each week. For grades 3 and up, you may require students to have an assignment book that has to be signed each night. This way, parents know what assignments are given and when projects are due. When there are discipline problems you call home and talk to parents. It’s important to have an open-door policy and invite parents to share their concerns at any time.

For more teacher interview questions, I invite you to download my eBook Getting the Teaching Job of Your Dreams ( ). In it you will find 50 common interview questions and answers as well as practical advice for getting the teaching job you want.

How Long Should Your Audio Interview Be?

How long should an interview be? It should be as long as it has to get the job done. Most of my interviews are between thirty minutes and ninety minutes. Most of them will fall in between an hour after they’re edited. The more you tell, the more you sell.

I know you’ve heard in the copywriting circles a two page letter will outsell a one page letter. A four page letter will outsell a two page letter. An eight page letter will outsell a four page letter, and on and on.

If somebody is interested in something, they can’t get enough of it. If you were doing an interview that was four hours long about copywriting, I’d probably listen to the whole thing.

So, as long as it needs to be, and the great thing about audio interviews is the more content you have, the more valuable it is. Maybe you have an eBook that only sells for twenty bucks and it’s on making money in the cleaning business, you can increase the value of that product to $3,000. Go interview ten cleaning experts around the country.

Do the interviews. Offer the interviews. Put them on CDs. Offer the transcripts. Offer the downloads, and you can get world class experts who have made a million dollars in the cleaning business.

You’ve just got to provide valuable information, position them as an expert and put that interview in front of the demand. There’s demand on YouTube. There’s demand on iTunes. There’s demand on all the social media sites. Each one of them within it’s own little country, has search boxes, and there’s millions of people searching for different things within those services.

So, that’s why your interview, your expertise, there are people searching for that. You have to put your information in front of that demand. They have to stumble upon you or you have to strategically place yourself in front of that demand. That’s what this is all about.

By having it as an audio interview, you have a very great chance of getting your sales message in front of that demand listened to.

7 Resume Mistakes to Avoid If You Desire to Be Invited for a Job Interview

Many job-seekers, with impressive academic and professional qualifications, are not invited for job interviews owing to various errors and inaccuracies in their resumes. A document that encapsulates your suitability for a job should be error-free. A resume is the first significant contact between a prospective employer and a potential employee. Unfortunately, for thousands of job-seekers, this becomes the last interaction because this vital document portrays them as being irresponsible and careless.

The following seven biggest resume mistakes are obnoxious and detrimental to job hunting and should be avoided.

1. Grammatical and Spelling Errors

Job-seekers who present resumes replete with spelling and grammatical errors stand little chance of succeeding. Potential employers detest such blunders considering the owners had time to design and write the documents. Language-based blunders portray a job applicant as being thoughtless and unworthy of responsibility. If you cannot identify and rectify faults in such a vital personal paper, how will you handle organizational responsibilities?

2. Illogical Arrangement

Many job-seekers sequence the items on their resumes in an inconsistent or illogical manner. It is crucial to appreciate that potential employers read through numerous solicited and unsolicited documents. One of the most common resume mistakes is to use functional chronological styles in one document. For example, if you are at the job entry-level, arrange work experience and educational background chronologically to avoid annoying potential employers.

3. Inaccurate Information and Lies

To forge inaccurate or untruthful information, and to insert it in a resume as means to having an edge over competitors, damages a candidate’s credibility. If an employer discovers a lie, the employee may lose a job or even be jailed. Committing such mistakes, deliberately or otherwise, may have lifelong repercussions. These are resume writing errors that may return to haunt you long after you are hired.

4. Unexplained gaps

Inexplicable gaps in a resume contribute to the downfall of numerous job-seekers. It is normal to undergo periods of unemployment. However, when designing and writing your document, you should never assume that the employer will gloss over such omissions. Interviewers might attribute this to crime, misbehavior or ineptitude in a previous job, thus making this one of the biggest resume mistakes.

5. Incomplete information

Closely related to unexplained gaps in resumes is the error of presenting incomplete information. For example, if you were working in a certain firm, state the duration and the responsibility assigned. Moreover, when using a pattern in which you state the duration, title and responsibility in a sequence, ensure that every entry in your resume adheres to this categorization. Similarly, referees’ contact details should be comprehensive and accurate.

6. Clueless Referees

One of the most common resume mistakes is failing to inform your referees that you have assigned them that significant role. Potential employers will call these people to ascertain the information you have given and to understand your suitability for a job from another person’s point of view. What would happen if your referee tells a potential employer that your name is not familiar or he has no current or relevant information about you? To avoid such situations, talk to referees and request them to be your backers before including their names in a resume.

7. Fancy Internet Templates

The internet contains several resume templates you can adopt. However, avoid unnecessary excitement concerning formats as this may cause you to forget the crucial intention of impressing a prospective employer. One of the resume mistakes to avoid is to accentuate a template at the expense of the content. A wise job-seeker would rather have a simple format that communicates effectively than a fancy one devoid of content.

How to Avert Resume Blunders

To ensure a resume is error-free, print a copy and edit it thoroughly. You can also proofread it using a spellchecker or online software. A friend who is well-versed in language and grammar issues can also correct the resume. Unless you don’t desire a job, you cannot forget or ignore the editing of your document.

These are the most detestable resume writing mistakes job-seekers commit. The next time you are preparing a resume, create time to edit it. Remember that your chance of being invited for an interview largely depends on having an error-free resume.

What Does Spelling Have to Do With a Job Interview?

Not once have I been given a spelling test or a grammar test during a job interview (well, at least not when it wasn’t related to the job). What I didn’t realize until I became an interviewer myself is that a spelling test is standard component of the hiring process. And it happens before the job interview ever starts.

Would you believe that everyday hundreds of highly-qualified candidates are tossed out of the application review pile because they misspelled the company’s name or turned one run-on sentence into several paragraphs? In a 2009 survey of executives, 48% said that two or more typos could cost the applicant a job.

While it may not be important to the job, spelling is important to the hiring process. If you have not taken the create and submit a well-worded cover letter and resume, what does that say about your work ethic? The interviewer begins to doubt you and thinks, “If you couldn’t make sure this one document was correct, how are you going to perform on the job? Are you just going to skim over the relevant facts, not put in any extra effort, and say that mistakes aren’t a big deal?

Given the choice between two highly-qualified candidates, one with several spelling mistakes and one with none, I will call back the person who had no mistakes. If you are that person, you get a job interview. If you are the misspeller, better luck next time.

Here are a few tips to help you avoid unnecessary rejection:

1. Use spell check as a guide, not an authority. Programmers try their best to code all the spelling and grammar rules, but English is tough and computers don’t know everything. Learn the difference between they’re and their, it’s and its, and be sure you are attaching your resume instead of attacking it.

2. Make sure the company name and position name are correct. Not only is spelling important here, but if you are using a template and forget to change the information, you’re going to be tossed out of the competition without a second glance.

3. Ask a knowledgeable friend to help. If your buddy is just as bad at spelling as you are, asking him to review your cover letter and resume isn’t the smartest move. Go to someone you view as an expert, whether that’s a coworker, parent, or resume review service.

How to Write an Email Interview Thank You Letter?

Do a quick follow up with the employer by learning how to write an email interview thank you letter. Typically, only about 5% of those looking for a job send out thank you letters. Be one of the few and get a second interview or land the job.

The key to success is to send out a note the same day or no later than the next. This way you can get your name in front of the employer as quickly as possible.

Career experts and employers are not in total agreement on whether or not sending a thank you letter through email is proper protocol. Technology has changed the job search market with today’s online job boards, email, and web resumes. Let the company’s culture guide you when making your decision about emailing a thank you letter. Your best bet is to send an email and then follow up with a formal lette through snail mail.

Follow the tips below and keep your thank you note brief:

  • Be sure to check your spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
  • Thank the interviewer for his or her time.
  • Tailor the letter to the company and the relationship you established with the interviewer.
  • If during the interview you forgot something of importance mention it in your email.
  • Do reinforce important information provided during the interview.
  • State your interest in the job being offered.

Quick and to the point, that’s how to write an email thank you letter. This sample can serve as a model when you write your email thank you note:

Dear Mr. Jones,

Thank you for the opportunity to interview for the position of Loan Officer at Bloomington National Bank. I believe my education and experience are a fit for your organization. I look forward to helping your bank expand its market share and achieve its goals as it expands into the commercial mortgage field.

If I can provide you any additional information, please let me know.

I look forward to working with you soon!


James Lichner

(123) 456-7890

email address

Follow up with your thank you note as soon as possible and place yourself ahead of the competition in the job search race.

Interview with Joe Farcht, Author of "Building Personal Leadership"

Interview with Joe Farcht

author of Building Personal Leadership: Inspirational Tools & Techniques for Work and Life

Genesis Publishing (2007)

ISBN 1600371655

Reviewed by Cherie Fisher for Reader Views (6/07)

Today, Tyler R. Tichelaar of Reader Views is delighted to be joined by Joe Farcht, author of “Building Personal Leadership.” Joe Farcht’s new book focuses on the progressive development of personal productivity, personal leadership, business leadership, and overcoming the barriers to success. Joe Farcht has earned a BSEE degree, MBA, is an Air Force Lt. Col. (Retired) Vietnam veteran and fighter pilot, is certified as a Master Personnel and Executive Coach, is an expert in the Myers-Briggs Personality Typing, and a 13 year successful business owner.

Tyler: Thank you, Joe, for joining me today to discuss your new book. To begin, will you tell us a little bit about the idea of progression in “Building Personal Leadership”—is it a matter of developing the individual leader first so he or she can then develop the employees?

Joe: Tyler, you hit the nail right on the head. First you develop personal leadership and then you can lead other people. Employees observe their supervisor very carefully and judge them by their actions. What they say is largely disregarded. The greatest problems arise when an employee detects discrepancies between what the boss says and what he or she does. 75% of employees quit their jobs because of their immediate supervisor. Getting your act together as a leader of yourself first is the key to becoming a great supervisor of people. Think about it! The success of a leader is totally dependent upon the success of the people who work for them. If you don’t develop and grow your own skills, how can you help your employees grow and develop? Only if you are building your own personal leadership skills can you help others and assure your own continuing success.

Tyler: Joe, I understand your book focuses on many factors affecting the effectiveness and productivity of people including the motivation of employees. Having been a manager myself, I know money is not the only thing that motivates an employee. What other factors do you find are motivators for employees?

Joe: Tyler, that is a great question. I have done tons of study on the subject and teach it at the University. I have found that most motivational theories are in agreement on what motivates employees. Anyone who studies Maslow, Herzberg, Kovach, and others will find some very startling agreement. While motivation for each person is unique to that person, some generalities can be found in the population. The need for achievement is one of those motivators. Achievement can be found in stretch goals, learning through striving for new results, and doing something you have never done before. Closely associated with achievement is the motivation derived from recognition, appreciation, and increased self-esteem (doing great work and being / feeling valuable as a person). Achievement and recognition are powerful for the general population. However, if you are under 30 years of age and making less than $30,000, you will probably be motivated by money or money equivalents like promotion. One last word on motivation, get to know each individual personally. What are their goals, aspirations, hobbies, interests, and motivators? Then integrate what you know about the general population with the specifics of each person and you will become a great motivator of employees. By the way, this works with children, spouses, significant others, and friends.

Tyler: I’d like to go back a minute and comment on the primary reason you mentioned people leave their jobs—their immediate supervisors. Having been in middle-management myself, I know how difficult it can be to motivate your employees when the people higher up the ladder are uninterested in motivating, encouraging or rewarding you, which puts you in a position where you feel powerless to help yourself or reward and motivate your own employees. What suggestions would you have for people in such middle-management situations?

Joe: My whole purpose for living is to help people like you described to understand that they are not powerless to help themselves and that no matter what the work environment, they are able to encourage, coach, and motivate the people who work for them. You see, we have a choice. We can shrink from challenges, become powerless, or we can choose to lead by example, set ourselves apart, and be the leader we were meant to be. Middle managers who develop themselves into leaders are upbeat, guided by inner values, and care for each person who works for them no matter what the work environment. I wrote my book to help middle managers become leaders, model the right attitudes and behaviors, and overcome the shortcomings found in many organizations. I was one of those middle managers at one time. I was positive but found that my values and the organization’s values were too different to remain employed in that company. I was faced with taking a job I could do in my sleep or be downsized. I took downsizing. It was the best decision I ever made. It allowed me to create a wonderful and rewarding life.

Tyler: That’s a fantastic observation, Joe–that you have to make sure your personal values and the organization’s values are similar. But is it really that easy? What advice would you give to the many people who probably feel trapped working in jobs they dislike for companies they dislike simply because they feel they can’t leave if they want to pay the mortgage or feed their families? How can these people become their own leaders out of such quagmires?

Joe: Feeling probably trapped is a choice. It is based on fear and will drain the energy right out of a person. Everything is a choice. We choose to feel trapped. We choose to fear not being able to pay the bills or feed the family. We choose to slog on each and every day without the courage to choose something else. We choose limitations that keep us from using more of our potential and greatness. I’m going to be a little in everyone’s face and say that you can choose change. If you want a better life, well then make that choice and plan how you can accomplish that plan. You see, if you do the things you have always done, then you will get more of what you have always gotten. You must choose to learn, grow, and become something more. Like Oprah Winfrey, you need to hold a larger vision of yourself than you presently have. Ok, so here is what you do. Choose to buy my book. Turn to page one. Read the article called, “Back to the Basics.” Highlight insightful ideas you have. Take the best idea and start practicing it in your work and life. Do that for all 337 pages and your life will be transformed in a year and you will be prepared to make that leap to a better job, better life, and the joy and happiness you deserve. Oh, by the way, has the book used for $8.50. Is that too much to invest in your future?

Tyler: Your book also spends time on time management. What do you think are the biggest obstacles to getting people to manage their time properly?

Joe: The Habit Trap! We grow up amongst role models who have poor time management skills. Business cultures reinforce inefficient methods of working. People don’t know any better because no one is coaching them to improve because no one knows better ways of working. Everyone is trapped in in-effective and in-efficient ways of working and living. If a person is lucky they find a great book or resource that provides exceptional techniques to use your time more effectively and productively. If you are even luckier, your boss discovers and enrolls you in a development program that provides transformational attitude and time management skill development. If you are even luckier, your boss is a master at time management and coaches you to mirror his or her level of success. It is in his or her best interest to do that.

Tyler: Your examples then range from self-motivation to having a very supportive and motivating environment. Can an employee become his or her own personal leader, motivating himself to do a good job even if it seems like no one higher up cares? Can that one person turn that organization around?

Joe: Every person can develop personal leadership attitudes, skills, and competencies leading to self-motivation no matter what their circumstances. There are hundreds of examples of individuals overcoming adversity to achieve great things. Les Brown and Oprah Winfrey come to mind. Developing and exercising effective personal leadership attitudes and skills will set you apart from higher ups, peers, and others. It insulates you from the negative forces that would pull you down to their levels. Great personal leaders understand that their every thought and action is a choice and they choose the higher paths in their work and life. They don’t depend on the approval or caring of others. They recognize the source of their power is from within. They have so much to give and they give abundantly. Can one person turn the organization around? The answer is yes and no. Yes, you can if you are the top executive in the organization and you are smart about organizational and cultural change. No, if you are a middle manager bucking top leaders who have self-serving agendas. Middle managers will try but find their efforts very frustrating, deflating, a huge energy drain, and that they are not making any progress. In some cases there may be value clashes and the only option is to leave the company and find a more compatible place to work.

Tyler: I have heard it said that no one comes to work with the intention to do a bad job, yet we constantly see examples of poor customer service or employees who just don’t seem to care. What can a manager do to turn that situation around?

Joe: Tyler, I like this question. The manager can’t do anything! It is a top leadership problem and the top leader in the organization must make the changes to motivate managers and front line employees to provide the exceptional service that is desired. I recently had a one-on-one conversation with Dan Cathy, President and COO of Chick-fil-A, and what I learned will make you stand up and applaud. Dan Cathy has traveled to the top of his family owned corporate ladder but discovered that the answers to continuing success were not there. They rested with the front line employee serving the customer. Dan Cathy now spends considerable time sculpting, training, and leading front line employees to providing exceptional service to customers. In this way, Dan Cathy will ensure the continuing success of Chick-fil-A. You see, customer service and motivated employees start with the top leadership of an organization.

Tyler: That’s a great example, Joe. In “Building Personal Leadership” you emphasize the importance of setting goals and creating the attitudes and competencies for exercising effective personal leadership. However, I know lots of people have difficulty just figuring out what it is they want out of their personal lives and their jobs. What advice do you have for these people?

Joe: Oh, that is a great question! Let me explore how we get to this point in our lives and then I’ll provide some advice. We grow up in imperfect situations with mostly well meaning but imperfect parents, teachers trying to do their best in crowded classrooms, the influence of friends trying to find themselves, relatives who have their own problems and blemishes, and in neighborhoods that don’t support becoming all that a person can become. We develop limiting beliefs, attitudes, and habits of behaviors that severely limit what we can accomplish. So people know they have more to offer, but they feel lost and unable to contribute like they would like to. Often they become victims and don’t take responsibility for where they are in their lives. That said, now here is the answer. Understand that you had little control of your life until now. Today is the moment of decision. The life you live today is a result of your choices in the past. The life you live tomorrow is a result of the decisions you make and actions you take today. Decide today that you need to let go of old beliefs and ineffective conditioning in the past by learning new things, developing new habits, and changing into a new person. One new step each day. That is all it takes. Little changes each day and over time you will make big leaps in your leadership, success, and the results you enjoy. A great resource to start that journey of change is my book “Building Personal Leadership.”

Tyler: Your book was created from weekly emails and monthly newsletters you send to participants of your leadership development programs. Would you describe for us a little bit of the writing and organizational process that was involved in constructing the book?

Joe: I took hundreds of articles, threw them up into the air, and they magically fell into like piles. Well, ok, it didn’t happen quite like that. I did sort through them at a rather high level of organization and found four major themes of my writing. Then I hired a person to organize them into chapters with similar information. They were all combined into the book, which was then edited. My work then was to dive into the details, content, and all the supporting sections of the book. I learned a lot that will be incorporated into my next book. Just a comment, as I use my book in the leadership development process of my participants, I am always inspired by the content. There is something special about the content. Read it and you will experience the same special feeling.

Tyler: Do you see the book as evolving then into future editions—or you mentioned your next book—what will that be about?

Joe: I really love using my intuition and experiences to write for the several thousand people who receive my weekly messages. I have enough material since my book “Building Personal Leadership” to compile another book of similar organization and content. For sure my next book will be about personal leadership but exactly what form or the title, well, I’m looking to learn from the marketing of this book and to be inspired with the approach that might reach out to even more people. You see, there is nothing more important to me than helping people become more effective leaders in order to create the lives of their dreams. That is my purpose for living. Unleashing more of the unlimited potential and greatness that we all possess is my mission. Personal Leadership is everything!

Tyler: Do you have any thoughts about how email has changed the workplace, both from an employee and a management perspective?

Joe: That is an interesting question. I think a book could be written on the subject. From the employee’s perspective, they now use e-mail to communicate with other colleagues sitting next to each other in separate cubicles. It is also being used to keep historical records for a variety of purposes including their own protection (CYA). I also know employees who are teaching people to communicate with them via e-mail so they can manage their time better and keep focused on the important tasks they need to complete. From the management perspective, some managers work from home and send out literally hundreds of messages asking for information, following up on assignments, and in some cases micromanaging their subordinates. Using e-mail for these purposes can be good but I know some managers who get stressed out and write caustic and damaging e-mails causing great stress and unhealthy emotions among employees. Considering e-mail more globally, I think it is revolutionizing how we communicate and work. There is less personal contact, more computer face time, work done at home and traveling anywhere in the world, whole books are written through e-mail, new markets have emerged, and communication is timelier. The world has changed. What a glorious time to be alive. Our work and lives are filled with opportunity. Those who learn how to use e-mail and other technologies first and who seize the opportunities will win. E-mail is here to stay but like any communication tool, you need to know when to use it and how to use it to be effective.

Tyler: Thanks, Joe, I have to agree with you that because of new technology like the internet and e-mail, communication has improved and consequently, this time is one of the best to be alive. Could you tell us now a little bit about why you felt the need to write “Building Personal Leadership”?

Joe: I had many recipients of my articles and newsletters comment on the value and the inspiration they received when they read my weekly communications. During a networking meeting, a colleague suggested that I form them into a book. It took a couple of weeks for the idea to take hold and so I decided to do it! Now, I’m delighted with the book and I have plans to form an even more powerful book to become a resource to those courageous people who want to build their personal leadership attitudes, skills, and competencies. Change one life, change the world. Change many lives and change the Universe forever.

Tyler: And what do you feel sets “Building Personal Leadership” apart from all the other books out there about leadership and business management?

Joe: “Building Personal Leadership” contains hundreds of “in the trenches” tools and techniques for working smarter and creating the life you dream about. Each one is presented in a short one-minute or less reading with a call to action. Implement the tools and techniques in your work and life and I guarantee you will experience greater material rewards, happiness, and joy. It is uniquely organized and presented to capture and keep your interest. The index provides a complete guide to explore those particular tools and techniques in which you have an interest. If you want to go far in your life, then you must take this book along on your journey.

Tyler: Joe, would you be so kind as to share just one of those tools or techniques, or a success story in the workplace that resulted from using a tool from “Building Personal Leadership”?

Joe: I like stories. I was asked to work with a VP of Procurement of a food manufacturing company. He worked with the company for 17 years and did great work. However, his subordinate wouldn’t talk to him and he was having communication problems with the CFO. The executive team was very concerned with his dysfunctional behaviors and problems. In working together we learned he was an Introvert, Sensing, Thinking, and Judging type personality (ISTJ Myers-Briggs Type) with some really rough attitudes and habits. His emotional intelligence was very low showing the effects of the stress and problems he had but could not understand or manage. I used a leadership development program that lasted about 16 weeks with meetings of two hours each for 12 meetings. He had lessons to complete between meetings, extensive coaching during our meetings, and practiced the new skills and competencies we explored together. All those skills and competencies are recorded in my book.

As a result, his employee started to talk with him again, he initiated reconciliation with the CFO, and made other dramatic work life changes. His wife and family started reporting a new happier husband and father. Everyone could see him smiling more and he was happier. So I thought, I’ll administer the emotional intelligence assessment again and see if there were any changes. His emotional intelligence improved by three sigma (from the lower 5% of the population to the top 15% of the population). The story continues. He has been promoted and I just saw him and he is still smiling. This story is consistently repeated with the people I work with. The tools and techniques found in the book Building Personal Leadership simply work. YES! That’s why I live!

Tyler: That’s wonderful, Joe. I can tell from such an example that you really care about people and that they are the main reason why you wrote your book. Thank you so much for joining me today. Before we go, will you tell our readers your website address and where they can get more information about your book and your email newsletters?

Joe: My web site is [] and you can learn more about my services, products there. More detailed information about my book can be found at []. You may subscribe to the weekly emails and monthly newsletters at [] and after subscribing and receiving a confirmation e-mail, just click on the link to activate your subscription. My blog can be found at [] and you may explore leadership articles at my article site found at It has been a pleasure to answer your questions and explore the subject of Building Personal Leadership with your audience. I appreciate your great questions and I extend to you a heart felt Thank You.

Tyler: Likewise, Joe. I’ve been very pleased to speak to you and to hear good practical advice that I know from personal experience will be effective in the workplace. Good luck with “Building Personal Relationships” as well as your next book.

How to Land an Interview on Radio and Television

Interviews on radio and talk shows are probably the most coveted means of getting one’s message out if you are in the business of talking. From a two-minute news story to a half hour talk show, interviews on broadcast are worth their weight in gold. Since radio and TV make their profit from SELLING time, if you can get that amount of FREE time, you are scoring big!

But how do you get that interview?

The first step is to identify the stations and programs to go after. Start with the local stations in the community you will be having your speaking engagement in. Do a search on the Internet with the name of the town or city and the keywords “radio stations.” Once you have a list, go to each of those stations’ websites and find out their formats and any satellite programs they may broadcast.

The easiest place to obtain that coveted interview is with local talk shows or as a local news story. So start there.

Emails and phone calls are a good place to start, but since everyone else is sending to and calling the newsroom, you will want to make yourself stand out. First, find out what local stories are hot and when you write your email or call, refer to that story in the subject line of your email and when you first call the station. When possible, refer to the reporter who wrote or produced the piece. You will want to make them KNOW that you are aware of the local issues they are covering at that time and how your message will apply to it: the more of a “local angle” you can have, the better.

When calling the station, be aware that they ARE BUSY!!! It is best to ask for a specific person, preferably the reporter who covered the local story you will be referring to. Name the local talk show you would like to appear on… do not just ask for an interview. The more specific and local you can be, the better. Make their job as easy as you can.

Refer to the local issue, tell them how your message fits in with that issue and how you can provide a unique angle to it. This may take a bit of creativity on your part. For example, if the issue locally is an increase in drug use at the school and you are a BUSINESS coach… how can you connect the dots?

The answer is… approach the problem identified in the issue as a business problem. How do you advise business professionals on problems they may find with their companies? The same technique can be applied if you are a life coach or a marriage counselor. It can also be applied to just about any issue: a plant shutting down, a conflict with local city government, local historic preservation, etc. The common denominator in all local issues and with your message is PEOPLE.

Now, you have taken the first steps to getting that interview. You have sent emails and made contact by phone. What next?

Persistance! But remember… there is a fine line between being persistent and being a pest. That line with news reporters is if they feel you are telling them how to do their job. Don’t do that! Instead, a follow up would include any updates on that local angle the station may have covered. If the topic is still hot, your NEW angle on it will be something those reporters are looking for. However, if that issue has cooled off, approaching the reporter with a new issue and how you relate to it will be the avenue you will want to take. This will not seem a desperate way to get an interview if you make it appear that you are relevant to many local issues… which is the reason they will want to interview you.

The key to landing that interview is making the reporters/producers or news directors’ job as EASY as you can without telling them HOW to do their jobs. Identify what it is they want and then give that to them.

Here are some final tips in landing an interview:

Avoid using a cell phone for a phone interview. The quality is bad and you run the risk of losing a signal. If at all possible, do the interview in person. If you can’t because of scheduling or location, then a land-line phone is your next best choice.

Be as flexible with time and scheduling as you can. Your first choice would be to schedule it to coincide with your speaking engagement, but that may not be possible. Sometimes, especially during busy times, talk shows are simply booked up. If a time is available AFTER your gig, still take it. It will serve as a reminder of the message you delivered at your speech and may open up new opportunities for future speaking engagements.

Remember that the station, the reporter, the producer and the news director are the ones in control of your HAVING the interview and how it will be conducted. YOU are only in control of what you say during the interview. Use the opportunity to your greatest advantage.

And finally, live talk shows are the only time you have control over what will be heard by the public. In a recorded interview, the producer, news director or reporter may have to EDIT for time’s sake. And, in some cases, you can actually be misquoted because of the way they edit and write the story. You cannot control this, but you CAN be prepared for it! Just know that it can happen and do not over-react. You do NOT want to make enemies with the media. Instead, as a follow-up, whether the interview went good or bad, send a thank you or follow up with a thank you phone call. Those stations just gave you free air-time, so no matter what, thank them for it!

Killer Series – 7 Steps to the Killer Interview

The mere thought of interviewing makes many people break out into cold sweats. In many ways, the interview process can cause so much stress, people lose their marbles. They may be as limp as a soggy cornflake by the time they actually sit down for the “BIG” talk. Do you remember your first ever interview? How do you think you did?

Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned vet, the interview could still be a stressful event in your life. The fear of rejection is high and the anticipation of failure can be rather dreadful. Weak knees, sweaty palms, woozy stomach and cotton mouth are all some people can imagine when they think of answering the deadliest question an interviewer can ask, “So tell me about yourself” which, by the way, is technically not a proper question but, you get the point.

Anyway, what if I told you that you could ace an interview anytime you want and leave the interviewer nearly stupefied by your masterful self presentation, he’d have no choice but to hire you on your terms, would that be something in which you’d be interested?

Good… stick around then!

Yes, the interview process may put the fear of the devil into some people but after reading this article and practicing the proven techniques shared, the devil himself will fear you.

Following are the 7 Steps to the Killer Interview which can virtually guarantee you ace every interview from this day forward.

Step 1: Killer Resume

Your resume is usually the first point of contact that a potential interviewer will have with you. As such, you want to make sure that it leaves a blazoning impression on the reader. The resume is so important to this process; I may have to devote an entire article to the topic. For now, here are some key Dos and Don’ts of resume writing.

  1. Unless you’re a recent college graduate, don’t begin your resume with an objective. Nothing screams amateur more than to begin with a header like “Objectives:” Instead, start with something simple like “Overview of Qualifications” or “About.” It’s succinct and easy to digest.
  2. Do not use the term “Employment History.” Everybody else does and you’ll just be another rat in the pack. If you want to stand apart from the rest, use something like “Career Experience” or, “Overview of Experience.” Either approach will work way better for you in making that first impression.
  3. Don’t regurgitate your daily and routine tasks from one job to the next… that’s just “monkey work” and I guarantee you that no one cares and brownie points go way down. First of all resumes are tough to read as it is, why make it boring too? Instead of writing what your tasks are/were, exercise verbs in stating how you solved problems for your company or made them more money or saved them time and made them more efficient. In other words, your bullet points should begin more like this, Developed a new system that saved…, Implemented procedure that increased productivity by X%, Devised strategy that made the company $XXX in 3 months…, and so on and so on… you get the idea. Oh yeah… don’t forget to choose to highlight the accomplishments that are most closely aligned with the position for which you are interviewing.
  4. Please include your hobbies, awards and community service affiliations. This is who you are. Contrary to what many believe, no company worth working for wants to hire machines and buy people, they want to hire people and buy machines. Show them who you are. Besides, since most people present the machine, this will be another way you stand out plus it provides fuel for meaningful conversation and possible common interest connection during the interview… more on that later.
  5. Finally, under no circumstances include salary requirements. Even if the company insists, fight the urge to comply and tell them you’d rather discuss that in person.
  6. Spell check, proofread and then… save… print… send!

Step 2: Killer Cover Letter

Writing a Killer Cover Letter is definitely an art but can be easily mastered with a few pointers. Remember the cover letter goes along with the resume so here again is another opportunity to really present you. Don’t waste it!

Firstly, your cover letter is not your autobiography. It is not an endless pontification about your accolades and many talents. No one cares how long you can hold your breath under water before shaking and flailing like a fish on a hook (Unless they’re recruiters for the Navy Seals). What they do care about are the challenges their company faces and how you can help them overcome them. The only person that can let them in on that secret is you. The best way to utilize a cover letter is to use it as a way to align your skill set and experience with the position for which you are interviewing and the company’s goals.

To do this effectively, you want to use specific language and include certain elements to bring it home. Here are some key things to remember.

  1. Start by introducing yourself and stating exactly why you are contacting them; your language might read something like… My name is John Resume and I am writing you in regards to the Marketing Manager position you are seeking to fill in your Professional Products Division… simple, right?
  2. Next, state the main requirements of the position and then follow that with how your experience might fill their needs. Your language in this case might look something like… I understand that you are looking for someone who can do X and with my experience in Y, I know I can accomplish this with tremendous success…
  3. Conclude with a bold statement about their company goals and how you see your own goals aligning with them. Your language might look something like… I know that your company is spearheading many initiatives in clean air technology and I have done extensive community service work in this area…
  4. Keep your closing and salutation nice and simple. Your language might look something like… I look forward to hearing from you. Sincerely, John Resume…

Step 3: Killer Research

I wasn’t sure where to place this step because it affects the outcome of this entire process. Ultimately, I decided to put it somewhere in the middle since it impacts every step directly or indirectly plus, I like the number 3.

Skipping this step simply means you want the other guy next to you in the lobby to kick dust in your face as he refurnishes the corner office that was supposed to have your name on it… or was it? Research is vital to the interview process; it could mean the difference between the shredder pile and the resume that makes it all the way under the nose of the CEO.

Before you show up to interview, you want to know what you’re getting into… know the landscape so you can anticipate and navigate challenging situations. Be proactive in finding out all you can about the company, its mission, and its people. Done thoroughly, your research should cover 3 key areas, Company, Prep and Recon or as I like to call it CPR.

  1. Company – know everything you possible can about the company
    • Research the products and/or services the company provides and then summarize that into one sentence you can easily remember
    • Go through the website and any paraphernalia you can find to weed out the mission statement of the company
    • Make sure you look up their earnings for the last 12 months if it’s public knowledge – if you can get specifics on why the numbers look the way they do, even better
    • Know about any special projects on which the company might be working or are sponsoring
    • Know about their public service accolades
  2. Prep – I’ve never been accused of being too prepared
    • Study what you discovered in your research and make sure you know it well enough to carry a stress-free conversation
    • If at all possible – have someone of prominence from the industry for which you are interviewing, conduct a mock interview with you before hand… this could yield a lot of insights you wouldn’t gain otherwise
    • Know the three words you might use to describe yourself and be ready to give examples of when and how you’ve exhibited these traits in a past situation – ask your family, friends and colleagues for help if you need to for this one
    • Finally, know the fair market value for the salaries paid for the position with your level of expertise – perform several comparisons across different firms and industries if applicable (Try
  3. Recon – fail to do this and your research and prep may be all for naught
    • Take the mode of transportation you will use, the train, the bus, a cab or your car and drive to the interview location during rush hour before hand to gauge the amount of time you’ll need to get there – then add at least 30 minutes
    • Visit the interview location in the morning to see what time people arrive, what they wear to work and whether or not they have coffee in hand
    • Find a coffee shop nearby where you might sit, have a coffee and wait for your interview

With CPR covered, you are armed to the teeth with everything you need to kill the interview. Do you feel the stress lifting already? Hold on, you’re not quite finished yet.

Step 4: Killer Outfit

Now that you’re completely prepared to kill the interview, you need to dress to kill. So many people dismiss this element without giving it a second thought. Why would you want to distract your interviewer by wearing inappropriate, boring and uncomplimentary clothing to the interview? Take the time to choose an outfit carefully, it will be time and/or money well spent.

Remember the recon tasks you performed earlier? This is going to help you big time with choosing the right dress code. You should now know what the employees wear to work… right? If not, go back to Recon. The aim is to pick an outfit that compliments the company’s culture and dress it up just a tad.

For example, if most of the employees wear jeans and a t-shirt to work by all means feel free to wear jeans, a t-shirt and then dress it up by throwing on a nice, classic blazer… no rips and tears in your jeans of course. If the idea of wearing jeans to an interview scares you, don’t let it. As long as the outfit you wear is in line with the company’s culture, you will be viewed as intuitive… trust me. Just remember, your killer outfit is meant to kill them, not you.

Here are 7 “general rules of thumb” on interview outfits and overall appearance. These apply to both men and women.

  1. Keep at least one navy blue and one pinstriped gray suit in your closet at all times
  2. Wear light blue dress shirts or blouses whenever possible – this color conveys trust
  3. Keep the jewelry to a bare minimum – watch, 1 chain/necklace, 1 bracelet
  4. Earrings are for women only – sounds like a double standard but it’s still true
  5. Hide all body art unless you’re interviewing for the NBA, a rock n’ roll band or a biker gang
  6. Absolutely no beach wear or flip-flops (I know I’m not talking to you here but I’ve seen some whoppers.)
  7. Grooming is a must – combed hair, clean nails, clean teeth, pleasant body and oral odor (Again, I know I’m not talking to you but in the interest of being thorough…)

What makes a killer outfit for an interview is one that resonates with the identity of the company for which you are interviewing as well as represents your personal style. You have to decide what that balance is and then go for it. If all else fails, nothing is sharper than a navy blue or gray pin-striped suit with a white or blue dress shirt. Depending on the company culture you can choose to where a tie or not.

Step 5: Killer Discipline

An impression is formed about you in the first 3 minutes of a person meeting you. Many of us will decide whether we like a person or not in less time than that. What this means then as it pertains to interviewing is that you want to maintain discipline. Your diligence in preparing for the interview may seal the deal for you before you’ve even exchanged the first words of the interview.

The fact is that what you say means less to people than what you do. It’s an old cliché but it is universally true – your actions speak louder than your words… one thousand times louder.

There are a few simple rules to follow when it comes to interview discipline.

  1. Be on time for your interview – by “on time” I mean that if your interview is at 10 AM, you arrive between 9:40 AM and 9:50 AM. You want to be no more than 20 minutes early and no less than 10 minutes early. This gives you time to hang up your coat, accept a coffee graciously from the assistant, relax and collect your thoughts.
  2. Use the bathroom before your interview – this is the time to handle #1 only… handle #2 at home and check to make sure all your efforts in grooming are up to snuff. With everything in its place, there will be fewer distractions.
  3. Dial down the wind chill factor – you’re not the “Fonz”… being too cool will backfire quicker than a lemon with fire crackers in the muffler. Maintain professionalism, you don’t get brownie points for the “Clint Eastwood” cool factor.

Step 6: Killer Instinct

This is where you shine, where you combine your wonderful research and prep with your wit, charm and charisma. These elements taken in combination will give you the Killer Instinct.

Now that you are prepared and dressed to kill, you can calmly and confidently field ambiguous questions like the dreaded “So, tell me about yourself.” For the sake of clarity, let’s make sure we understand what is really being asked with a question (or not a question) like this.

What the interviewer is really after is, how and why did your experiences bring you to us and how will we benefit from the association. With this insight in mind, it will make it much easier for you to focus your answer on the parts of your life that directly relate to the company and the position for which you are interviewing.

This is to say that “So tell me about yourself” is not an invitation to tell your life story. It is however and invitation to tell the interviewer everything about you that matters most to him and his company. The caveat is you have to give just enough information to wet his or her pallet and leave it somewhat open ended inviting a probe for more information if he or she so chooses.

For example, if you had an interview for a Marketing Manager Position at Lancôme Cosmetics and you were asked the dreaded question; your answer might sound something like this.

“Well, I have always loved make-up, especially mascara which is the department I worked in at XYZ Company. The idea of accessorizing my look with cosmetics has always been interesting to me and that’s why my Thesis in Graduate School was about how much women spend on cosmetics and how it makes them feel. I spend a lot of time in places like Saphora just trying different kinds of cosmetic products.”

Do you see how that answer might resonate more with your Lancôme interviewer than something that started out with the following?

“Well I moved to New York when I was 12 years old and I attended P.S. 252 Junior High School before going to Midwood High School. My major in college was marketing and once I graduated I worked at…”

To your interviewer, the latter would not only be boring but somewhat disconnecting unless he or she too moved to New York at around the same age and had a similar experience as you did… not likely but it would be a lucky break. Personally, I am not willing to take that chance… are you?

Another element of the Killer Instinct is the “graceful refusal.” This is the art of refusing to answer an inappropriate question and have the interviewer be happy with it or at the very least respect your position. This is often a scary moment for many but it doesn’t have to be.

This moment often occurs with the money question. “So, what are your salary requirements?” or my all time favorite “How much do you earn at your current job?”

Now really, what does this question have to do with this interview? That’s right, absolutely nothing! So, why ask the question?

In the halls of Corporate America where I’ve worked for 15 years, this question is what I like to refer to as “sizing up.” This is a great opportunity for the interviewer to accomplish 2 things.

  1. See how confident you are and whether or not you are able to think quickly on your feet
  2. See whether or not your salary requirements fit into there pay scale

Regardless of the motive though, this is a question to avert at all cost in an interview. It doesn’t matter at what level you are in your career; this question is taboo from all sides. It immediately places you in a box and there goes any leverage you might have. And, if you didn’t come in with any leverage at all, you’ve essentially turned over your fate to the interviewer because once you answer this question, they get to keep the ball and decide where it lands. This is a no-no!

If you are asked this question, remain calm, pause and then confidently reply something like this…

“If we are going to discuss salary, I’d rather discuss a salary for this position that you consider to be fair market value and in line with my level of expertise.”


“I realize that this may be a standard question, however, I’d much rather confine our salary discussions to the parameters of the position for which I am interviewing and my level of expertise as I am sure you will agree that these are most relevant.”

In choosing a reply like the ones above, you avert the question and leave the door wide open for dialogue and negotiation. Furthermore, any interviewer would be hard-pressed to argue or rebut your position. At the very least he or she would respect you and you would have shown that you are confident and shrewd…BIG plus.

Whatever you do, don’t answer this question out of fear. I have never answered this question and I have used variations of the suggested replies above and they’ve worked every time. At the very least, trust your instincts and if you can’t trust yours (yet)… trust mine. I’ve been there and I am sharing my experience with you… leave this question alone and you will undoubtedly separate yourself from the many lambs that are doomed to the slaughter.

Step 7: Killer Close

You’re not quite finished yet. Now that everything has gone as planned right through the interview and you’re feeling great about yourself, no need to blow it by neglecting the little things.

The clincher to the deal may just be the Killer Close. It’s simple and may even be deemed trivial by many when you look at the whole. I on the other hand believe that more often than not, it’s the other way around. Without the close, all your efforts in steps 1-6 may be forgotten. Don’t forget that the interviewer may have seen many candidates before you and probably many more after. You just never know so it’s your duty to make sure that he or she remembers you and that you stand apart from the pack.

As my father use to say when I was growing up, “Dean, observe what the crowd is doing and do the opposite.” These are wise words that ring true in almost any situation and certainly in this one.

While others may forget this small detail, you will perfect a memorable Killer Close that will leave your mark on anyone you meet.

So, what’s the Killer Close all about?

This is where you crystallize all your efforts from step 1-6; it’s where you make sure that the impression you made is a lasting and positive one.

The Killer Close entails 3 simple steps and if followed could make all the difference in the world.

  1. The closing handshake – once your interview is finished, reach across to the interviewer with your right hand to shake his and then grip his elbow firmly with your left hand and say something like…
  2. “It was a pleasure to meet with you and I look forward to meeting with you again. Thank you for your time.” Former President Bill Clinton is famous for this type of exchange. It’s a professional approach with a personal touch that makes people feel validated… use it!

  3. No more than 24 hours after the interview, send an e-mail to the interviewer letting him or her know how much you enjoyed your meeting and are looking forward to another. Your e-mail should be succinct and personalized with one or two specific details of the interview. This emblazons you in the mind of the interviewer. It could read something like…
  4. “Dear Mr. X, It was a pleasure to meet with you today. I enjoyed our conversation especially when we discussed corporate social responsibility. I look forward to hearing from you soon. Thank you for your time.”

  5. Wait 14-21 days and if you have not heard from the company, send a follow up e-mail to say thanks once again for the interview and request that they keep your name on file. The purpose for this is to keep your name top of mind so that if other opportunities arise in the company, you are one of the first called. Your e-mail could read something like…

“Dear Mrs. Y, Thank you for meeting with me on (Date goes here). I realize that it is a competitive market and I understand if you have already filled the position for which I interviewed. Please keep me in mind and my resume, which is attached for your reference, in your files should another opportunity become available at your firm. I look forward to meeting with you again.”

Going beyond these 3 steps is not necessary unless working for this company is your ultimate goal. If that is the case you should continue to follow up via e-mail once every 3 months with inquiries about new opportunities. One caveat is that this could border on annoying and persistent… it will depend on the contact person and substance of your e-mails.

Well, these are the 7 Steps to the Killer Interview and I have used them all successfully on several occasions. I can share with you from first hand experience that these techniques work very well.

Happy hunting.

Interview With Author Jan Pippins

Jan Pippins, author of Henry Darrow: Lightning in the Bottle, explains how she first got involved writing the biography of veteran actor, Henry Darrow, the first actor of Puerto Rican heritage to star in an American television series. In chronicling the obstacles and successes during the actor’s more than fifty years in show business, Pippins (who co-wrote the book with Darrow) combined personal interviews, internet archives, and the actor’s personal memorabilia collection.

Although Pippins has written professionally for many years, this is her first book. Throughout several careers, she has written legislation, a local newspaper column, short news articles for trade publications and “Where are they now?” fan articles. But when she met the ALMA and Emmy Award-winning actor on her first trip to Los Angeles, she knew he would make the perfect subject for a book.

“It’s a story of life, work, love and redemption,” Pippins says. “Henry Darrow’s story entertains, inspires, and introduces readers to a very human hero who succeeded despite very long odds.”

Insider Scoop on Mid-Century America Show Business

In particular, the book follows the ups and downs of show business in mid-century America from Darrow’s unique perspective. He provides the insider scoop on how public sentiment, government intervention, advertising projections and hard feelings joined forces to kill the landmark series The High Chaparral and other television westerns. He also shares his observations about the problems confronting Latinos and other minorities before, during, and after the Civil Rights struggles of 1960s and how some people like Darrow surmounted those obstacles. The benefits of stardom, however, often came at great personal cost, such as the alienation from his children.

How did Pippins choose this particular subject? “Actually the subject chose me,” she says. “Darrow’s life has all the components of a good novel: a protagonist with big dreams and even bigger talent overcomes humble beginnings, life-threatening illness, crippling anxiety and prejudice to become an international star. At the height of his fame, he put his own hard-won career on the line to open doors for others. Hollywood chews people up and spits them out, but Henry was a working actor for over fifty years. When he asked me to write his biography, how could I refuse?”

Researching and Writing the Biography

Darrow’s massive memorabilia collection helped the author find the right background materials and authenticate stories from various sources. “He’s a packrat,” she says. “We cleaned out one garage and two closets, making his wife, Lauren, very pleased. It was sweaty work, but worth it.”

Her additional research included reading books on the history of Hispanics in the entertainment industry, television and movie westerns, and American history covering pertinent time periods. She also credits internet newspaper and trade magazine archives with helping her establish the proper context for Darrow’s biography.

As enjoyable as the researching and writing was for Pippins, she did face challenges in telling the story of someone in the public eye. One particular challenge was in structuring a career that spans over such a long period. She decided to begin Henry Darrow: Lightning in the Bottle, with a scene of the actor at age seventy-five while he was rehearsing for a demanding role in a stage play of “My Fair Lady.”

Pippins describes the opening of her book: “His knees are bad, his back aches and his memory is failing. For the first time in his life, he’s unsure of himself as an actor. From there we flashback through Henry’s remarkable life and career in three sections – three acts as if in a play. At the end we circle back around to ‘My Fair Lady’ and what happened in that performance.”

The author also recognized the importance of telling someone’s life story with accuracy, attention to detail, and tender loving care. According to Pippins, “While writing the book, I was acutely aware that I had a significant responsibility. This kind and charming man, his wonderful wife, friends and family entrusted me with their stories. I owed my best work to everyone involved, including eventual readers.”

Book Details

Henry Darrow: Lightning in the Bottle. Authors: Jan Pippins and Henry Darrow. Publisher: BearManor Media, 2012. Pages: 392. ISBN: 978-1593936884.

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