Guest post from Patrick Rosario: Five ways to realize your dreams

30 12 2012

Editor’s note: It’s been a really long time since I’ve touched this blog, but I’m amazed every day at the discussion and following that continues years later! Happy new year to you and thank you for following!

Patrick Rosario recently contacted me about posting an article about reaching his dreams. I’ve met so many people who are completely paralyzed by the daunting task of reaching a goal. Free yourself. Read this post.

Here’s why I think Patrick’s advice is sound: When it comes to reaching a goal, there’s always a tension between our current habits and changes (sometimes sacrifices) we have to make to achieve our goals. I almost think about reaching a goal as a mathematical, logical process–the effort that goes in is the effort that comes out. It involves understanding yourself really well, acknowledging what’s holding you back, and moving through it systematically. Check out his advice and let us know what you think.


We all have dreams, but most of us are never able to take those dreams and turn them into reality. This can be for many different reasons, from not having enough time or money to not having sufficient know-how to make it happen.

However, the truth is that your dreams are probably not as farfetched as you think; chances are you’ve just been going about it the wrong way—or haven’t even been trying at all.

While there’s no magic formula to achieving your dreams and lifelong happiness (if such a thing even exists), there are a few concrete steps you can take to narrow down the distance between where you are today and where you would like to be in the future.

1. Be specific about what you want

While most people have dreams and aspirations, if you were to ask them exactly what they want and how they will go about it, they wouldn’t be able to tell you anything specific. It’s all vague hopes and dreams and wishful thinking like “I want to be rich,” “I want to lose weight” or “I want to travel the world.”

These kinds of dreams are fine, and they are a good start. However, unless you identify a specific goal that you would like to reach, you will never get there because it’s too vague and just seems unreachable.

Instead of saying “I want to be rich” figure out how much money you would like to save. Instead of saying “I want to lose weight” figure out how many pounds you would need to lose in order to reach your ideal weight. Instead of saying “I want to travel the world” identify a country or continent you would like to visit.

Once you know exactly what you want to accomplish, it will be easier to start taking concrete steps towards that goal.

2. Decide what you are willing to do (or give up) to reach your goal

Now that you know what you want, you have to look at the bigger picture and think realistically about what you are willing and able to do to reach that goal.

If you want to save money, will you work longer hours? Will you give up some of your favorite luxuries like meals out and nights on the town with friends?

If you want to lose weight, will you give up desserts and unhealthy snacks throughout the day? Will you get up extra early every morning to make time for your workout? If you want to travel the world, will you quit your job? Will you give up the chance for a promotion in order to make your schedule more flexible?

3. Come up with a plan and break it down into small practical steps

Once you know what you want and what you will have to do to get it, it’s time to develop a plan of action. Without a clear plan that outlines practical steps you can take each day to get closer to your goal, your dream will never be more than wishful thinking.

Not having a plan to reach your goal is like trying to get to a new destination without any directions. You will be wandering aimlessly in circles and, eventually, you will get lost and end up somewhere you don’t want to be.

Think about the different steps you will have to take and break them down into small, doable actions that you can take every single day. Keep in mind that you will need to be flexible as well, because there will be challenges that you didn’t foresee, which may mean altering the plan as you go.

4. Set deadlines

The next step is to set a few clear deadlines. This doesn’t mean you have to reach your whole goal in a certain amount of time, it means taking those smaller steps and setting deadlines or target dates for when you want to reach each little milestone.

For example, you can set a deadline of six months to save a certain amount of money, or lose a certain amount of weight in one month, or have all your travel gear by a certain date.

These smaller goals give you something realistic to work toward, but it’s not the end of the world if it takes you a little longer. Sometimes you will miss the mark and be a little off, and that’s okay, as long as you are taking steps and making progress every single day.

5. Put everything in writing and review it as often as possible

In the first few weeks or months of your new challenge, you will probably be excited and motivated, but this initial boost of commitment tends to wear off after a while.

So, in order to keep your goals fresh in your mind, it is important to put everything down on paper. This way, you can remind yourself of the ultimate dream whenever you are feeling a little low or discouraged.

Write your goals down and carry them with you wherever you go or hang them on the fridge and your bathroom mirror. Find a picture of something you want, like a fit body or gorgeous travel destination, and put it somewhere where you can see it every day.


About the Author:

Patrick Del Rosario is a Filipino business and career ninja. He works at Open Colleges, one of the pioneers of Online education in Australia and one of the leading providers of Open Colleges Human resources courses. Aside from blogging and being a business ninja, Patrick is an aspiring photographer. If you want to feature his writings on your site, connect with him on Google+ or drop him a line at patrick (at)

First rule of blogging… (Perfect Resume IMHO, Part 5)

22 06 2011

is write in your blog.  Oops.  You guys, I have no excuse.  I think I apologize every time. I’m sure you’re tired of hearing it, but I hope you’ll forgive me again.

I had a really enlightening experience a few weeks ago.  Every year my company has a week where employees around the world volunteer for our local communities.  I found myself at the JVS in San Francisco reviewing resumes (no surprise!!).  I was a little nervous, because I had never reviewed resumes for people more than a few years out of school.  These were resumes of people who had 10-20 years of experience and were searching, because they had to. (Retirement gone, bad economy, you name it.)

What was so jarring about the experience was how accomplished some of these people were in their fields.  In some cases it wasn’t the resume that was the problem.  It was the fact that they just hadn’t searched for a new job in a long time.  And that put them in a vulnerable place.  It doesn’t matter how old you are and how many years of experience you have.  It’s a common process to start your career over and over again.  I truly wish these people the best of luck.

Here were a few things I learned from these people:

  • Treat every job application as if you tailored your resume specifically for that job (because you did).
    Every role has job specs.  To have a really strong resume for each position, you have to often look at the requirements for the job and rearrange or re-write your bullet points to speak directly to what they are asking for.  It is almost helpful to have a master resume that has EVERYTHING, and any time you want to apply for a job, create tailored resumes based off of the master.
  • Put away your inner artist.
    It’s important not to over think and duplicate information on your resume.  I was “discussing” with a woman who had over thunk her resume for a role she was applying to. She was coming up with all this “creative” formatting and ended up duplicating and scattering her work experience all over different sections of her resume. Say it once, and say it chronologically.
  • One page resumes–for real.
    I was reviewing the resume of a director that had some pretty amazing work experience and was promoted several times at his old company before he became a consultant.  Unfortunately, he had done so much ad-hoc consulting since his corporate experience that he had buried half of his promotion and stellar work history onto page 2.  What if I never received page 2?  What if the printer ran out of paper when I hit print and all I got was page 1?  Not knowing that there was a page 2, I might just miss all that great work that was on it.  If you’re going to have a Page 2, make it the extra stuff.
  • Getting a job is more than your resume.
    Once your resume is complete, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Make a list of past co-workers and managers that think highly of your work quality. Send each of them a personalized email letting them know about your current employment situation. Ask them if it would be all right if you took them out for lunch; picked their brains on how they landed their jobs; got their perspective on what hiring managers might be looking for; and just leveraged them for a sanity check.  In all this searching, it’s easy to lose your foundation and confidence–lean on your friends for help.  Even if their companies aren’t hiring, they might know of others that are.  It’s hard to have these vulnerable conversations, but human beings are hard wired to help each other (IMHO).  When they need something one day, I hope you’ll be there for them, too.
Check out this great training from Harvard University on how to write a resume.  If you have time to peruse their site, it’s phenomenal and would put me out of business!  Oh wait–I do this for free.  I’m already out of business.

The Perfect Resume, IMHO pt. 4: Resume Template

9 02 2011

I’ve been lazy.  Winter months took over, depression from the weather began to sink in.  I avoided writing.  Moody and feeling useless.  But to get out of my rut, I’m back.  A huge thank you to Kaitlyn Cole from for this mention and to Will Hsu (if you want to hire a great new grad, he’s your guy – contact me for info) for giving me the big kick in the pants I needed to post.

I conducted some interviews today and my goal was to understand their skills, their accomplishments, and how they got to where they are.  I’m always impressed with the interesting things that people have done in their lives.

Which got me thinking about resumes again.  Really.  How do you pique the interest of the company you want?  Assuming that the interviewer is going to ask you probing questions anyway, how will you draw them in?

My sister asked me for my opinion on a resume that she found that was organized by skills.  Under… say, the “Analytical” section, there was a block of text so dense that my eyes started to water.  It got me back to thinking about that 10-second review.

It sounds so non-progressive, but I was taught to write old-fashioned resumes where it listed sections on Education, Work Experience, Awards, and Extracurriculars with a few bullets under each section.  I actually have a really hard time breaking this format and reading resumes that are not organized this way.  I can’t find anything I need.  I don’t know where they learned the skill or if it’s a recent or past experience.  I’m just confused.  You don’t want to confuse a recruiter or interviewer when they look at your resume, right?

So I gave a sample resume before, but I really just want to drive home that the formatting is often overlooked but super important.   Here is the structure I used on my own resume.  Thanks to all the career advisors that helped along the way!

NOTE:  This probably is only really helpful for new and recent grads.  Experienced resumes (for general business roles), shouldn’t be much different.  Engineering and Science resumes are not my area of expertise, guys!  Sorry… the skills resume format might work for those roles, but I couldn’t tell you.

Contact phone, email


State your objective here


Bachelors of Awesomeness, Field of study,  MM/YY (date received)
Academic awards or distinctions or anything else you want to call out.


Most recent company 1, City, State
Job Title , MM/YY – present

  • Biggest achievement (show results with numbers where ever possible)
  • Second biggest achievement
  • Daily duties that are remarkable or worth calling out

Previous company 1, City, State
Job Title, MM/YY – MM/YY

  • repeat above

Previous internship company 1, City, State
Job Title, MM/YY – MM-YY

  • Just 1 bullet or no more bullets because I’ve been working so long.  Depends on how much more you have to put (and length of the resume)


  • I think I had like one a long time ago.  So I listed it here with the date MM/YY.  You can also list it below and just re-title Extracurriculars to Extracurriculars and Awards (always lead with awards).


  • Org name, Member of the org. that I’m in #1, Date received or MM/YY – MM-YY
  • (you can skip the section above and also put them here)  Awards for talent, merit, academics, or general awesomeness, MM/YY received
  • Volunteering, MM/YY

HOBBIES:  blogging, dancing, yoga, general awesomeness

If you guys spent just 10 seconds reviewing a resume in this resume format, would you be able to quickly grasp my accomplishments in one page?  Just a side note:  I couldn’t move my dates to the right side of the page, but I’d have them aligned there in the experience section.

Draw in these companies in with a shiny object (like results or productivity) and then let them ask you about the rest in your interview.  :)  You can do it!

P.S. My company is hiring.  In case you guys didn’t see the memo!

10 bad habits you need to shake after college

12 12 2010

Cross-post from

When Tim Handorf from contacted me to say hi, he also shared with me this fun 10-bad-habits list that I just had to cross-post here for those of you who missed it.  Channeling my inner Jenny Blake, it’s time for a list blog.  I wish that someone had given me this list when I graduated from college.  It would have saved me a lot of pain (it was embarrassing when my manager said to me: “Stef.  Not a morning person are you?”)  Read on.


10 Bad Habits You Need to Shake After College

Posted on November 29, 2010 at

After college, some of the things that you once thought were cool may not fit into your lifestyle anymore. More than likely you developed some bad habits during your college years that you just can’t seem to shake years later. As we approach the new year, it’s a good time to put an end to your bad college habits now and forever. Here are 10 bad habits you need to shake after college:

  1. Going to bed late: Going to bed late is one bad habit college grads can’t seem to shake very easily. Going to bed at 2 am and trying to get up at 7 am for work will most certainly cause some problems. Not only will you be sleep deprived, but you may not be as productive as you should be at work, and you could weaken your immune system. So, if you’re a night owl at heart, do yourself a favor and try to get to bed at a decent time so you aren’t worthless the next day.
  2. Sleeping until noon: Sleeping until noon on weekends or, gasp, on weekdays is no longer cool to brag about. Now that you’ve graduated, you shouldn’t be sleeping as much as a baby like you did in college. Plus, if you have a job (and want to keep it) this isn’t even possible on the weekdays. After college, your weekends are supposed to be spent doing adult-like things, so unless you were up all night working on your portfolio or planning your next investment move, you should be getting up before noon.
  3. Binge drinking: Taking shot after shot and bonging beers just isn’t the same as it used to be. After college, a weekend bender will put you out of commission for the rest of the week and your body will most certainly hate you. In case you haven’t slowed down your drinking habits, now is the time to put the binge drinking to rest and, for once, drink responsibly.
  4. Late-night eating: If you’re still giving into Taco Bell’s Fourthmeal or McDonald’s Big N’ Tasty at 3 am, you clearly haven’t shaken your late-night eating habits from college. Chances are whatever you’re eating between midnight and 4 am will satisfy your hunger, but it isn’t going to be found on the food pyramid. As a responsible adult, it shouldn’t be impossible to resist late-night food binges, but if you must quiet your tummy, opt for healthy snacks instead.
  5. Promiscuity: This one doesn’t require much explanation. Hookups happen, but now that you’re out of college and things are less cloudy, it’s a good idea to get to know someone before you consummate the relationship. If you’re going to do the deed, be responsible and use protection.
  6. Unhealthy diet: If the days of Ramen noodles and frozen pizzas aren’t over, you may be in need of a new and improved diet. Unless you are exercising regularly, an unhealthy diet can really start to show in all the wrong places. Now that you’re making some decent money, you should upgrade from the 99-cent menu and go grocery shopping.
  7. Making excuses: No more excuses! You may have talked your way out of getting tickets, absences or failing a class, but now that you’ve graduated, it’s time to quit making up excuses for every little mistake. Excuses will start to catch up with you, so it’s important to take responsibility for your mistakes and use excuses sparingly.
  8. Wasting time: Countless hours were wasted in college playing video games, looking at Facebook and doing God knows what else when you had plenty of free time. Now that you’re out of college, these time wasters aren’t nearly as fun as they used to be, nor should you have time to sit on your tuchus for hours on end. Whenever you’re wasting time, something is waiting to get done.
  9. Irresponsibility: You can get away with being irresponsible in college, like skipping class or drinking like a sailor, but things have got to change when you graduate. It’s assumed that you’ve gotten irresponsibility out of your system and you’re prepared to take on more responsibilities like work and paying bills. If you’re like the average college graduate, you probably aren’t financially supported by Mom and Dad anymore, and this means no insurance, no allowance and no more free rides.
  10. Unemployment: There’s no doubt that the current economic climate has hindered many college grads from finding jobs within their field. However, there are limits to how long you can blame the economy and terrible job market if you aren’t trying your damndest to find a job. You may be holding out for your dream job so you can use your degree, but sometimes you have to find other work and gain more experience before you can get there. Some money is better than no money.

Stef – Word.  This one goes out to my new grad readers.  Yo, those video games at 2 am?  Nah uh.

The Perfect Resume IMHO – Part 3: Who are you?

3 11 2010

I don’t even know which “The Perfect Resume, IMHO” Part I’m on… Part 3, Part 4, who cares.

I was reviewing my friend’s resume the other day and I scratched my head.  Something, just something, wasn’t sitting right with me.  I looked it over and over again and she had perfect grammar, a good amount of detail (while staying pretty succinct) and most of the details and facts were there about her work history.

It took me three or four thorough looks before I finally realized what was missing.  My friend.  This friend that I have grown to love and respect over the past 6 years was nowhere to be found on this resume.  Her work with non-profits, her passion for running, the accounting classes she takes (just for fun), the traveler, the photographer.  Nada.  Not to be found.  Zip.  Why?  A resume is a synopsis of your work history, right?  Eh, sort of.  But it has become much more.

Who are you?  Is all of who you are represented on this resume?

In a highly competitive talent landscape, employers are looking at all of you.  They want to get a good sense of who you are and what you bring to the table.  Through your resume, don’t forget to present the facts about outside projects, awards, organizations, and associations that you’re a part of.  Employers can tell a lot about you through your passion for doing other things.  They want you, all of you, to add to their workplace culture and to make it a better place. After all, you’d end up being a representation of them, right?

If you have something productive and proactive that you do outside of work, share it.  If you’re not doing anything outside of work, start now.

In a landscape where you’re competing against so many qualified people, make yourself shine by adding those extracurriculars back to your resume.  And since I know you guys are dying for some examples.  Here’s something like what she decided to add after we chatted:

  • Traveler (visited over ## countries since 2004)
  • Photographer (taking over ##,000 photos of life, friends, and food)
  • Runner and adventurer (completed # half-marathons and a 10K mud-obstacle course in 2010)
  • Freelance project manager for [company name/non-profit name], dates
  • Spanish teacher in [country] for [company], 06/2009 – 09/2009

Note:  She used only the facts to illustrate her passions and outside interests.  She showed her versatility of interests and was explicit about the dates and the amount of time spent or a numerical impact of her passions (e.g. # of countries visited or # of photos taken).

For example, you can’t write “I love flute!” on your resume without some concrete support to show your actual passion for flute.  What did you do that proves you love flute?  Do you write music?  Do you go to the symphony?  Do you play flute yourself?  What is it that is the proof that you are passionate about something and that you’ve proactively done something about it?

What we have now learned about her is that she is not just “all work and no play”, because, frankly, who wants to work with someone like that??  She’s more than an intern or a young professional, she is also human.  She’s someone who I’d want to work with and that other companies would be lucky to have!

I will report back one day with more information on her hit rate with her new resume.  In the meantime, you try it out and see if it changes how people respond to you.  Send your stories to me and I’ll follow up in a future post!

The Fight

17 10 2010

Sorry I’ve been so MIA, Awesome and Unemployed!  I just got back from Japan and work has been going in overdrive!  But I’m here.  I’m feeling inspired today, so this post is going to be more inspirational than tactical.  But every now and then, don’t we just need a little motivation? :)

Today, I ran my first half-marathon at the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco.  It was excruciating at some points, but I’m so glad that I stuck with it.  No matter what, I knew I was going to make it to the finish line.  This lesson is about finishing at your own pace.

I think that almost everything that could have gone wrong did.  I have been training the past few months for this race (not very hard, though :P) and it all came down to this day:

First snafu: I woke up at 5:45 and walked over to the starting area.  Three of my friends were supposed to meet me there at 6:45, but they were running late, so they never showed.  As I walked into the starting gate alone, I thought: this is going to be a looooonnnnnnngggg 13.1 mile run.  I started to feel pretty alone.

Second snafu: I forgot my race day shirt and my interval watch.  I had been running with my watch for my long runs and it really helped me keep pace and stay on track.  Without it, I was left to the mercy of my will, which could not be trusted!!

Third snafu:  It normally takes me about 2-3 miles before I’m really warmed up and at a good pace.  At about mile 2, I realized that I had to go to the bathroom and that the first restroom stop was mile 4.  Apparently, everyone else had to take a break, as well, so here I am, standing in line for 10 minutes, when I should be running.  I stopped again at mile 7 to go again!  Don’t you hate it when you’re finally getting the hang of things and you have to start over?

Fourth snafu:  The hills were just hard!  There are about 4 miles of hills in the NWM.  Just when you think you’ve got the hang of things, you have to climb a mountain.  Although I survived, I got an excruciating cramp in both of my knees at mile 9.5.  Again, I stopped to massage/roll it out and start all over again.

Fifth snafu:  Rain and hail [ok, maybe it was just rain that was being swirled around at high speeds by the wind??  it hurt like hail!!].  There was nothing I could do about this one, except to push through it!  I was soaked by the end of the race!

I nearly gave up.  I watched as girls around me were pulled out because of injuries.  They were just not able to go on.  I heard a coach pull aside a sobbing runner at mile 12 saying, “Let’s go home.  You did great.”

What got me through this? I pictured my honoree, Stephanie (see photo), at the end of the finish line, waiting for me (if I saw her as I was crossing I planned to pounce on her and give her the biggest hug imaginable).  I pictured my brother and all my friends.  My coaches got into the race and ran with me through the hardest parts to make sure that I was okay.  My Team in Training mentor and teammates were waiting for me at the finish line and gave me a high five, giving me the energy I needed to sprint through the end of the race.  It was not easy, but knowing how sweet it’d be when I got there was my motivation.  And when I needed help along the way, I befriended someone else who was fighting the same fight.

All around me were women pushing their limits, fighting challenges, perhaps even fighting cancer.  They were fighting because they knew there was something more at the finish line.  No matter what, you’ll get there, Awesome and Unemployed.  Don’t worry about your start time, your end time, just know what’s in store for you at the finish line and focus your energy on that.  There are things that may get in the way of your goal, but eventually, we all get there.

Do you ramble?

8 08 2010

Have you ever gotten feedback from an interview where people thought you were just rambling or not answering the questions?  I feel like this sometimes–I have so many thoughts and I just want to get them out.  But in the process of doing so, I’ve often left the original question hanging.  Yes, *stands up* I can ramble.

I just finished a course, where I am learning to be a better public speaker.  What makes someone an effective public speaker?  Their tone?  Their pace?  Their presence?  Their entertainment value?  It’s definitely a combination of qualities and many youtube videos give tips and tricks.

As I was taking this course, I read article and article and watched video after video about effective ways of public speaking.  However, having presented every day for the past 365 days, you would think that I would have a handle on this.  I actually don’t.  I may have some fundamental strengths, but some of my public speaking weaknesses far outweigh the strengths.

I’ve found that when I’m trying to persuade people to follow my idea, the delivery of my message is, perhaps, more important to the message itself.  When you’re in an interview, do you really take the time to make sure that you’re leveraging your public speaking skills and presenting yourself in the right way?

Here’s what I’m working on and some things that you should watch out for, as well:

  1. Fillers - um… uh…em… you know?… right? - I once had a high school student tell me that I said “um” 17 times in an impromptu speech that they asked me to give.  The kid was a brat.  But the kid was right. I like to fill silence with sound.  When I am thinking out loud or not getting an active response from my audience, I find myself rambling and asking qualifying statements, like “you know?”.  To be quite frank, I’m shaking my valley girl nuances and trying to polish my language.
    The solution:  practice silence spaces in the form of pauses and phrasing.
  2. Tone and speed - Sometimes I find myself reverting back to “little Stefanie” voice, with a high pitched tone and upward inflection at the end of my sentences.  When I come to these points, I ask–why am I doing this?  I am usually rambling.
    The solution:  pause, practice slowing down.  When I slow down, the tone also drops several octaves.
  3. Diving into the content: Sometimes, I just start talking without an apparent purpose, but I’m just thinking out loud.
    The solution:  prime your audience to brainstorm or to think through the scenario with you. Then it’s not rambling, it’s thought process.
  4. Rambling - I talk a lot.  Pause.  Closing my mouth now.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Communicate with purpose: Thinking is not always a group process.  Take a moment to collect your thoughts before you speak.
  • Communicate with structure: An easy way to collect your thoughts is to create a quick structure for them.  What is the main point you want to get across?  What are the pieces of evidence or explanation you are going to provide to back up your point?  Is there an action or take away?
  • Communicate conscientiously: This is probably one of the most important take aways for me.  Think about your audience.  What is going to relate to them?  What is going to make them feel connected to you and what you’re saying?  Why should they care?

Keeping some of these tips in mind can keep you from rambling and repeating yourself in an interview.  It’s something that I wish I had developed at a younger age, but here I am.  Learning to speak persuasively and effectively.  Watch some of those public speaking videos and read the Toast Masters public speaking tips and practice speaking as they do.  I promise that it will help you in communicating your skills and qualities effectively to your audience.

Man, I could have really used this skill when I was interviewing.


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