knowledge swap! share your expertise with people here

Are you good at something and willing to share that expertise with others here? We did this six years ago and it was a great success, so we’re doing it again. Here’s how it works:

1. In the comment section below, name something you’re really good at that you’d be willing to answer questions about. It could be Excel, or running meetings, or make-up recommendations, or resolving customer service problems, or anything else that you’re awesome at and willing to take questions on.

2. Ask questions of others, and answer the questions people ask of you.

3. Feel free to leave calls for expertise too — like “how do I confine a search to a single column in Excel?” or “how do I keep people from falling asleep in my presentations?”

If all goes well, at the end of the day you will have helped other people and been helped yourself.

{ 2,607 comments… read them below }

  1. A. Nonymous*

    Hello: I am very good at calendar management and inbox organization (I manage my boss’s inbox/calendar) and can try to answer any questions I can.

    Who here is good with managing or guiding a coworker on your team who isn’t your direct report?

    1. Lab Boss*

      Hi! I have a team under me (one lower-level manager, and then a team managed by them). They work closely with another individual contributor who reports directly to my boss, but is closer in level to my direct/indirect reports, and I often have to guide him without being able to directly manage him. What can I help with?

      1. A. Nonymous*

        responding to the top comment!
        (caveat: I am an assistant managing the inbox & calendar of my manager, a Global Group Head – this is from a paired perspective)

        So- the single most important thing to do is to create a quick visual “language” understood by yourself and your manager. You accomplish this a couple different ways – I mainly use the colored flagging system in Outlook. This allows my manager to be able to look at her inbox and quickly see, for example “OK – three immediate action items, two things to read, one personal item, and prep info.” This in turn allows her to effectively respond and manage her time – she knows which flag denotes which level of priority. “Write” this language quickly and distribute it. These are the color flag categories I use for her inbox and her calendar:
        – Action
        – Action ASAP
        – Catchup
        – Deadline
        – Decision/Review
        – DEI (She leads the company council)
        – Eating Meeting
        – (My initials) on it – “I’m taking care of this, you don’t have to”
        – External Event
        – File this!
        – Gym
        – Kids
        – Husband
        – Important
        – Lunch
        – Meeting
        – (My boss) Read – confidential, not for me to read
        – Open/free time
        – Personal
        – Prep
        – Read
        – Recruiting
        – Training
        – Travel
        – Vacation
        – Work in Progress

        Tailor as you like, and this can also work for you. Create a code that you understand and stick to it.

        Now for inbox management…
        I prefer too many folders over too few – it’s clunky at the beginning, but eventually you get the hand of it and learn how to navigate your own files. Use in tandem with color coding:
        – Competitors
        – Compliance
        – Conferences
        – ERGs
        – Company News
        – Global Communications
        – Highlights (when applicable)
        – HR (incl. DEI, Recruiting, Promos, Payround, Headcount)
        – Management
        – Newsletters
        – Office (Meeting Invites, Travel, Team building)
        – Operations
        – Personal
        – Planning
        – Presentations
        – Research (Internal, external)
        – Senior Meetings
        – No longer needed
        Happy to answer more questions. Happy organizing

    2. HonorBox*

      I have experience with guiding teammates who are not direct reports. I have several people who dotted line report to me, though my boss the the true manager. I’m happy to weigh in if I can help.

      1. Syfy Geek*

        HonorBox, how do I make it clear without being too abrupt to my teammate that when I give her the instructions for a re-occurring procedure, she should do it the same way, every time?

        She’s awesome at parts of her job, but the other parts not so much. Her great part is working with people, the not so great part is the follow up paperwork. So she wants to do it differently to make it faster and easier on her. And I understand that. But our paperwork goes to Accounts Payable, and they have RULES that have to be followed. When I’ve pointed out/reminded her of the procedures, she’s laughed it off, and said she’d start doing it. And she does, sometimes…

        1. Fire Lord Azula*

          One thing I have tried is asking the person to make a guide to the procedure and then check it with someone higher up. This definitely depends on the personality of the person, though – mine just can’t remember things and asks the same questions over and over, so we are having her write her own process docs that she can refer to.

        2. Cyborg Llama Horde*

          In situations like this, I generally try to state 1) that it is important that something be done a particular way/this isn’t a process we can change and 2) why, with an optional 3) acknowledging that this may feel trivial, if it does.

          “Hey, please remember to check that you’ve uploaded all the prerequisites before processing the job. If we don’t have all the prereqs, the job can succeed but actually be in a failed state, which in some cases can cause a security incident that we need to report.”
          “It’s really important that this box go green BEFORE you press this button, because if you initiate step three before step two is complete, it starts running on the old config, and that can cause serious issues for us.”
          “We need to go through this checklist every time, and document that we have completed the checklist, because it’s collateral for our security certifications, and if an auditor were to find items without documented checklists, we could get marked down or possibly even fail the audit.”
          “I know that the blue and green folders thing seems silly, but we need to do it, because if our files aren’t in the correct color folder, Accounting won’t process our vendor payments, and we nearly lost a big client last year because of a system outage caused by not paying our vendors on time.”

    3. BradC*

      Ooo, I’d love your email inbox primer: what’s your general philosophy (zero-inbox, etc)? How do you handle in-progress or waiting-on-something items? Flags/folders/etc? What about when something is complete? Delete/archive/move to project-related folders? I know I’m always going back to search for prior discussions on a topic.


      1. hypoglycemic rage*

        I would ALSO love to know this! I like to think I am pretty good at it now, but I can always improve. :D especially with organization…..

    4. abitahooey*

      I have a lot of experience with customer service in general, as well as brand social media. If you need help ousting any trolls I have GOT you!

    5. Fire Lord Azula*

      A general tip for guiding a coworker – I reward the behavior I want to see.

      For example, my coworker sent a Teams message to me while I was in the middle of something. At a quick glance, it could wait until I was at a good stopping point, so I didn’t answer. Coworker then sent a message to a group Teams thread that I am on. Then, about one minute after that, Coworker sent a message to a different Teams thread that I am on.

      This is something Coworker often does, if the person doesn’t respond quickly enough, they will continually paste the message into more and more Teams threads. That’s not really how we operate (Coworker is the newest member of the team, but not new-new anymore), so I just waited them out until they came to my desk to ask.

      I told them I was in the middle of something, but would be by to help when I could. And then did so!

    6. m0rgan*

      ohhh I have really been meaning to organize my inbox but I have no idea where to start!

      What are good folders to have/best methods of organization? Any tips to get started would be so helpful – I have 8 years of emails! Also what’s a good method for emails that I need to follow up on or get to at a later date? I’m currently leaving them “unread” until I get to it, then once completed, it can go to “read” and the notification disappears. Not sure that’s the best way to go about it.

      1. Healthcare Manager*

        Q. good method for emails that I need to follow up on or get to at a later date

        Alison has a blog about this, she puts all of the emails in a folder named ‘reply pending’

        I do slightly differently in that I use categories (right click on an email in outlook and you can see categories and rename them).

        Step 1. I move emails from my inbox AND sent box into allocated folders for each project so I can see everything in the one folder and then scroll through or filter based on category

        Step 2, name my categories
        Action: an email where I need to do something
        Monitor: an email where I don’t need to do something but someone else does and I need to keep track that a) they do it or b) I can then do my thing
        Reply pending: when I’ve sent an email to someone and I’m waiting for a reply
        Info: an email contains information I’ll want to refer back to at some point
        Done: to keep track of things that have been done / by myself or others (I use this in shared mailboxes, in my own I use the tick function)

        1. LC*

          I love categories, but I have one for items with my boss, and one for each staff member. I apply thr categories to both task list and emails.

          Then when I have staff 1:1 meetings I pull up my pending email folder and tasks and sort by category. There are all their pending items!

      2. Port*

        I’ve sort of abandoned the idea of organizing my inbox. It takes too much time and mental bandwidth to decide which email goes into which folder. It’s also labor intensive, esp if you have a few years to file. Plus a lot of emails might belong in more than one category of folder. So you spend more time looking for things. Ymmv! My outlook has a really good search function so I’m able to find past emails very fast, which lets me just leave everything in the inbox. If there’s an email I need to save for project documentation, I tend to export it to OneNote.

        If you’re looking for ways to sort out flagged emails and you have Outlook, then the tasks pane can be pretty powerful for managing tasks and flagged emails, although I see they’re phasing that out. (I am gonna be so mad when I can’t use it in outlook anymore.)

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          Amen to your last paragraph. Used correctly, Outlook Tasks is incredibly powerful and has been for twenty years. New Outlook has wholly done away with it, and I’m furious – uninstalled and went back.

          It’s very common for me to have multiple discrete actions from a single email and in all previous versions I’ve been able to do that with different deadlines, progress bars, notes, attachments etc.

    7. MCR*

      What is your process for scheduling conference calls for mid-sized groups (8-12 people) across organizations? I’m constantly frustrated by how much time this takes with my firm and our clients. The process goes something like this:
      Client: “We need a meeting to discuss this next week. Please let us know your availability. Copying in Kendall, Shiv, Roman, and Connor, who will need to join as well.”
      Us, team of 4: We engage an admin to look at our calendars to find a half an hour free in all of our schedules at various points in the next week. Admin emails me the times. I ask internally if these are correct. Internal team members chime in “oh actually I can’t do X time” and I edit accordingly, then I send the list of times to client.
      Client: I’m free at time X and Y.
      Kendall, Shiv, Roman, Connor: Each chime in saying they are free at different times, often not including X and Y. This process takes 1-2 days.
      In the meantime, internally we schedule over the times originally offered because it’s taking so long for client to decide.
      Often we end up pushing the call out even further and exchange 5-7 more emails before a time is picked.

      Drives me insane. Any tips!?

      1. The Analyst*

        I used to coordinate multi-day and conference call meetings for people at some 10 organizations, and I found a Doodle poll sent to all attendees with possible options is best. Each attendee can indicate available, available-but-not-ideal, or not available times. Your system using the admin up front can help narrow that initial list of times, and your colleagues can participate in the poll to indicate the times they appear free but are not, in fact, free.

      2. Cathie from Canada*

        Is it possible for you to tell your team to reserve tentatively a time block each week for meetings? Say, Wednesdays after 3 or Thursdays after lunch or ? Then you could offer these times to the client in the first email.

      3. Port*

        If doodle starts to feel like a moving target or a game of battleship, I usually go to when2meet, which shows where everyone’s availability overlaps in a different way. Very easy readout too.

      4. MrsPookie*

        I give dates and times and let them choose one and go from there-usually with the REPLY ALL option, folks will bend and work within others schedules.

      5. A. Nonymous*

        Honestly, ya gotta go full domme. Use the Share >> Email calendar function and make them work around you. Easiest way to keep everyone on the same page.

      6. JLG*

        This is like doodle, with the key advantage that everyone can see what others have already approved. In my experience once 3-4 people chime in, then people tend to gravitate towards the consensus spots.

      7. bailey*

        if I’m understanding your comment correctly, you’re saying that you initially confirm that times A/B/C/X/Y/Z work for all 4 team members, the client picks time X or Y, and then the 4 team members respond with times that are anything other than X or Y? it sounds like the process should be that you confirm times A/B/C/X/Y/Z work for all 4 team members, then all 6 of those times should be temporarily booked for all 4 team members until the client picks one, then release the other 5 bookings. would this work for your organization?

      8. Another Admin*

        Could you delegate this entire process to the admin? It’s possible there are admins at the other orgs and the admins could work together. A lot of times admins can be quicker with these things and will often know what can be shuffled. Meaning someone might just offer their calendar openings but if an admin knows there’s a conflict with 1:1 they know that can be shuffled to make room for larger meetings.

    8. Healthcare Manager*

      A. Inbox management

      I love to get some tips about managing heavy email flow with a busy meeting schedule. I’m at the point where I can’t read every email that comes in and have to multitask and respond to emails while in meetings to stay on top of everything. I’m a project manager/programme manager if it helps. I get 100-150 emails a day.

      My current strategy
      1. Folders set up to organise emails
      2. Categories on emails (action, monitor, reply pending) so can easily scroll and see which emails I need to do something/chase
      3. Quick sense check on every email in the pop up to see if I need to read the whole thing
      4. Trust people will chase me if I don’t see it (I don’t like this one, but it is common in my industry)
      5. Organise in downtime Prep notes with emails attached in my calendar for each meeting that day (4-5 a day)

      B. Guiding when not line manager

      A necessary skill in project manager as rarely have any authority as not the line manager (matrix model). I put a lot of energy into building relationships, and ask questions (even when I know the answer). Then talk to people to ‘explore options’, and help them to pick the option I want. It’s much longer but more effective to get someone to agree this way and better than telling them as most people just don’t like being told what to do.

    9. A. Nonymous*

      Replying to myself and to the top comment:

      (caveat: I am an assistant managing the inbox & calendar of my manager, a Global Group Head – this is from a paired perspective)
      So- the single most important thing to do is to create a quick visual “language” understood by yourself and your manager. You accomplish this a couple different ways – I mainly use the colored flagging system in Outlook. This allows my manager to be able to look at her inbox and quickly see, for example “OK – three immediate action items, two things to read, one personal item, and prep info.” This in turn allows her to effectively respond and manage her time – she knows which flag denotes which level of priority. “Write” this language quickly and distribute it. These are the color flag categories I use for her inbox and her calendar:
      – Action
      – Action ASAP
      – Catchup
      – Deadline
      – Decision/Review
      – DEI (She leads the company council)
      – Eating Meeting
      – (My initials) on it – “I’m taking care of this, you don’t have to”
      – External Event
      – File this!
      – Gym
      – Kids
      – Husband
      – Important
      – Lunch
      – Meeting
      – (My boss) Read – confidential, not for me to read
      – Open/free time
      – Personal
      – Prep
      – Read
      – Recruiting
      – Training
      – Travel
      – Vacation
      – Work in Progress
      Tailor as you like, and this can also work for you. Create a code that you understand and stick to it.
      Now for inbox management…
      I prefer too many folders over too few – it’s clunky at the beginning, but eventually you get the hand of it and learn how to navigate your own files. Use in tandem with color coding:
      – Competitors
      – Compliance
      – Conferences
      – ERGs
      – Company News
      – Global Communications
      – Highlights (when applicable)
      – HR (incl. DEI, Recruiting, Promos, Payround, Headcount)
      – Management
      – Newsletters
      – Office (Meeting Invites, Travel, Team building)
      – Operations
      – Personal
      – Planning
      – Presentations
      – Research (Internal, external)
      – Senior Meetings
      – No longer needed
      Happy to answer more questions. Happy organizing

    10. Jules the First*

      Got an inbox question for you and a calendar one!

      My inbox has 50,000 items in it which I need to sort through and archive. Is there an easy way to find and archive all the ones with big attachments? My Outlook mailbox is nearly full; using the desktop app. After this, any brilliant ideas for staying on top of my 500 messages a day?

      Calendar question: I’m getting a new PA next week and wondering how best to communicate how I want meetings scheduled and prioritised. Things like making sure I get regular breaks without having to set rigid rules/timing; knowing which meetings to defend at all costs and which ones can be rearranged.

      1. Cathie from Canada*

        500 emails a day? Sounds impossible to manage. Two assistants might be able to do it if they did nothing else. All emails you get would need to be seen by them first and sorted or handled or filed so you only read a dozen or two a day.
        As for the 50,000 in your inbox, email can be sorted so large attachments are at the top of the queue. But really, unless there are regulatory reasons to hold on to some of them, I recommend you just delete everything older than a week? or a month? whatever works for you. hope this helps

      2. markey j*

        if there’s any rhyme or reason to the e-mails you receive, I think automatic rules would really help. if a certain person or organization’s e-mails are always about a specific thing (project updates, hiring, whatever), you can create a rule to move those e-mails to a specific folder for that information. If there’s a certain phrase your organization always uses for something (example: the “Smithertonson project”), you can make a rule for that too. you can also add multiple phrases to the same rule (ex: move e-mails with “Smithertonson project” or “Smithertnson project” or “project Smithertonson” or “SMITHPROJ” et cetera to the Smithertonson Project folder) and continue to update the rule every time someone uses a new phrase or misspelling. the only caveat is that you now have to remember to check all those folders because you won’t get the e-mail in your inbox! you can also make rules but leave them turned off and just run them manually, which will let you see e-mails as they arrive and then file them away at the push of a button when you’re ready.

      3. Troubadour*

        To find-and-archive big attachments in your inbox (assuming Outlook desktop):
        * start in the inbox
        * click in the search bar – don’t type anything, but select “current folder” from the dropdown menu
        * click somewhere in the blue bar so you can see the tool panel again
        * click “Has atachments”
        * at the top of the list of email, find the sort menu (it’ll probably be on “by date”) and change it to sort by size

        Then you can select all the ones from largest to whatever you want the cutoff to be, and do what you like with them.

        500 emails a day: it depends on the emails. I get a lot of mailing list emails so I have rules to send these to specific folders, then when I have time I can scan the titles and delete as I go. You might be able to do something similar based on the sender. For anything you have to sort manually the important thing is to be able to make a snap decision of whether this is something that:
        1 you don’t actually need the detail -> delete unread
        2 useful to read but no further action -> skim and delete
        3 may be needed for reference later -> archive into a “for reference” folder
        4 requires a quick response -> skim, immediately reply with “Yes, go ahead” (or forward to someone with “can you follow up on this?”), and delete
        5 requires more work -> move into a “for action” folder (and/or add to whatever system you use to manage tasks – but getting it out of the inbox makes it easier to see what you haven’t seen yet)

        *Hopefully* most of your emails are in categories 1-4!

        Some people also find it helpful to block out a time when they’re doing this kind of triage only, vs times when they’re working on the actual actions when they ignore all new incoming emails which would distract from their focus. This varies depending on the person and the environment I think.

  2. Cubicles & Chimeras*

    I am great at building relationships where we work internationally or just have never been face to face. For all you struggling with hybrid, remote, zoom relationship building, holler at me.

    1. Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced Bouquet)*

      Any tips for making sure work is distributed fairly between remote and in-person staff when the people giving work have varying levels of tech ability? Working at a small/mid size law firm, and I feel like our in-person staff get hit with more work from the in-person partners.

      1. Cubicles & Chimeras*

        It’s a twofold thing:
        – One for your in house people: make sure they know their limits and have the ability to turn down work for someone else on the team to do. It’s hard to build that because it’s easier to be silent in a chatroom or email when another work item comes up – particularly if it comes up in person and gets handed off to the in house people. Sometimes you’ll have to be a bit vocal about “who can take x, sadie is full up”. Or assign/reassign work as needed to even the workload. Additionally, depending upon your in house person’s tenure, you could make it a part of their job to parcel out the work they’re given by in house people. This can be a mixed bag sometimes, perceived power by some or unwanted by the in house person, but with the right team it can feel very natural that part of their duties is to play operator for in house staff.

        – For your distribution amongst workers regardless: it might be time to revamp how you get work. I’m just going to run with the concept of an IT Team. You’ve got everything from “my mouse doesn’t work” to “complex computer problems that stump even your best people”. Your in house person is going to be hit with the worst of the lower end, which will suck for them because it’s not interesting. So you can do a few things: have your in house person be the lowest level person on the team so their job is to do the most boring work, you can have your in house person have time to “hide” so they’re unbotherable by your other in house people so they can do the more interesting work. You can revamp how work comes – nothing comes face to face, only internal tickets. (Law firm means they understand billable hours! So you can lean into this, that you need to track hours worked on all these different types of tasks to identify areas we’re overspending/efficiency gains/etc, so now all work types will be submitted by X, triaged, and then managed across the team.) That allows you to better distribute across your team and also see what they’re doing so you can ensure your staff are all doing the same amount of work.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      How do you get “facetime” for lack of a better word? I feel like a lot of the time my work goes unnoticed until there’s a problem.

      Also, how do you build community with your coworkers? Ive been here 2 years and never talked to some people that are full remote or heavily hybrid remote.

      1. EmF*

        I work fully remotely for a company with thousands of people scattered across the world. If I’m doing something that involves them, I’ll shoot them a Teams message. “Oh hey, I’m grimpling some wotsits at the moment, and I want to make sure I’m doing it in a way that helps your wotsit grimpling needs. Here’s a screenshot – how does that look?”

        Means I’m not contacting them randomly out of the blue, and then once they’ve taken a look at it, sometimes that gives me more to talk about “… wow, I’ve never seen wotsits grimpled that way before. It looks really effective. Do you have time/can we set time to walk me through it?” If nothing work-related, “Thanks, I appreciate the time! I hope you have a good Thursday evening – personally, I’m going to spend mine (something noncontroversial and relatable – laundry? trying a new recipe? Going for a walk because the weather’s finally nice?)”

        Working remotely, you don’t run into folks into the hallways, so it’s important to intentionally build contact. If they told me in return that they were looking forward to Bridgerton and it turns out we had that in common, I might make a note to myself to ask them how they liked the first episode. (“Have you watched it yet? I’m only on the first episode, but oh my GOODNESS, how cool is Penelope?”) once it airs, in a spoiler-free way.

        Or “oh, that’s Laura, Laura likes fantasy romance novels, I should ask her for a recommendation.” And then I’ll put a hold in at the library, and read the book, and if I like it I’ll let her know.

        I really like Teams/Slack conversations, because I can scroll up and be reminded of what we talked about last time and I won’t forget someone’s name. Super useful. I wish face-to-face interactions had that. “I know I’ve been introduced to you seven times, but I do not remember your name or what we talked about last time” is so embarrassing.

        1. EmF*

          (In summary: I know a lot of folks here aren’t huge fans of small talk, but small talk is super important when you’re working remotely. It’s the equivalent of smiling or nodding at people as you pass in the hallways. Hi! I see you! You exist! How’s the weather in Mumbai?)

      2. catlady*

        My department has a really lovely remote/hybrid work culture that all grew from the pandemic shift to remote. On Slack, we (team of 12) say good morning and we sign off. If we’re sick or have something else going on that’s going to impact work, we mention it in our good morning message (“I’m not feeling well, taking a sick day” or “that storm flooded my basement, I’ll monitor email for anything urgent but will otherwise be ooo” etc). It prompts a sense of community and support to know in broad terms what’s going on with folks, and no one gets too personal with the details. We also have the usual pet pics and random thoughts channels, too, but usage fluctuates as people get busy; having the sign ons and sign offs in the general channel really helps us feel connected when we’re not seeing each other in person.

      3. Cubicles & Chimeras*

        Ultimately these are a bit intertwined, and I speak as someone who “kept the lights on” so nobody remembered I had a job until something elsewhere broke it.

        You build face time. Some of it is ultimately that social/community aspect. You join chatrooms about cooking or your pets or books, and you ensure you’re actually chatting with people in them a few times a week. (This is the easiest step one.) If your company offers things like Employee Resource Groups or skillset building things like a speech club, you join those for networking and “face time” even in hybrid. You keep your camera on at all times so you are a Face to them. If you have a team chatroom, you ask about what people’s weekend plans are. You offer help whenever anyone asks even for in person stuff, because even if you’re remote you can offer to do the backend stuff. This is at a cost to you, but it is also to your benefit that people see you as friendly, helpful, and they remember your name because of it and tell people about you because of that! (Oh, John found us the caterer, it’s sad he can’t be here to enjoy it but I’d never ordered catering before and he was a godsend.)

        Then with those superficial things, you build deeper relationships intentionally. You schedule time with people for 15 mins. For some that you have that superficial relationship with, you can just say “I want 15 mins to catch up on the office gossip, or tell me about how people felt about X after the meeting”. (Useful if you’re the remote and they’re the in person, or they’re in another office.) For those fully remote you don’t have a relationship with, you can schedule that time and ask “I really want to know more about your job as I realize I don’t know much about what you do.” or you really want to know about this project they just finished, or you noticed they’re really great at managing to due dates and you want to improve on that. Asking for help, asking to understand how other people keep the lights on, they’re just as lonely as you sometimes and don’t know how to make that step. So you have to be that first reach out. Then you build on it. You follow up post that meeting a day or two later thanking them in chat and asking if that meeting went well/hope their kid was feeling better/something that alerts them you paid attention to their meeting and gives them a reason to respond. You invite them to those chatrooms/those hybrid skill building events/resource groups and you’re the person they know there so they can start meeting others.

        And you schedule it. I ensure I talk to my people at least once a month via zoom for 15 or so mins. I chat them at least once a week about inane things on top of work things. I have reminders upon reminders because I am actually not a naturally social person nor am I naturally good at building a network.

        And as you do all of this, they in turn will learn about your job. They will know that nobody knows what you do and they’ll start talking about it. But it’s also worth finding time with people who are up above you and scheduling 15 mins to talk, to learn more about what they do and how they got there. (Particularly anyone who is on a path you could see yourself going down.) Be proactive too about your keep the lights on work – you know there are things that could break it, reach out to those people, those teams, and work on preventative measures. Or ways you can both make sure you alert each other of changes that might turn the lights off.

      4. Marble Racers*

        I just started in a 90% remote role. Twice a day we have “non-transactional time” zoom meetings. My team can have a hard time with forced chitchat, so one of them started showing us “professional” marble racing video’s. At first I was kind of shocked – we all earn decent money and here we are twice a day, 30 minutes at a time, watching marble racing. I mentioned this to my friend and that I thought I might skip some meetings (they are optional). She pointed out the company sanctioned these meetings and it must be important to them, so I need to participate! And she was right. Even though I’ve only met the group a few times in person, by having these non-meeting meetings, we are a pretty close group now. We don’t always watch marble videos, sometimes it’s other things, sometimes we talk, and sometimes we’re all tied up and can’t get to the Zoom. But for the most part I do try to make every meeting, it really has helped this newcomer feel welcomed and not isolated. (PS – some of the marbles races are quite elaborate. I had no idea this existed, and it can be fun – so check some out!).

    3. Carrots*

      What are your tips for building relationships when there are minor language / accent barriers that prevent an easy flow of conversation without repetition or awkwardness? Even though meetings are conducted in a single language it can be tough when not everyone is completely fluent.

      1. Hannah Lee*

        Depending on the meeting format, one thing could be to plan your schedule so that you are present 10, even 15 minutes before the meeting begins. Especially for regularly occurring meetings with similar attendees each meeting. While not everyone might be there, that’s a time when the few people who are there can interact informally, get to know each other.

        And within the meeting, if you’re presenting, think about opportunities to use visual aids, maybe with more detailed content (either sending them prior to the meeting or using in-meeting) which can make it much easier for non-native speakers to catch details).

        Lastly, being a good meeting citizen in general, such as amplifying contributions of people who are not the most typical/prominent speakers, doing what you can to ensure the primary SME’s or stakeholders on a topic have an opportunity to get the floor if they tend to hold back or get talked over by faster/native speakers.

      2. Cubicles & Chimeras*

        A few things:
        – If you have closed captioning for zoom/teams, turn it on! It benefits everyone.
        – Find tv shows where people have specific accents (or music or youtube videos, tiktoks, whatever) You need to train your brain to think in that accent. Sometimes even learning a bit of the language, watching shows in that language can help. You can see how that language shapes how they speak another. Understanding how someone who’s Finnish and approaches the vowel O and someone who’s Brazilian and approaches the vowel O help you distinguish that thought process and therefore the word/accent better.
        – Ensure people don’t talk over others to explain. Give the person time to slowly state what they need to state if they can’t find the words. Just like you wouldn’t interrupt someone who’s stuttering, you don’t interrupt the person who’s finding the word they need. Make sure your people in these meetings do the same. (Believe me, as someone who speaks other languages, sometimes a word just disappears on you. Or you can only think of it in effing Swedish and you’re speaking Hindi.)
        – If you think someone is not understanding, you can play rephraser. “So Yusef said that we need to do x to do y, Juusi is your team able to do x so we can move forward?”
        – When possible, have things written how that may be technical/uncommon words so everyone knows what those words look like.

      3. Once too Often*

        Trust that participants are intelligent & well-intentioned, that helps in both directions of comprehension.

        I’ve been on both sides of conversational fluency without business language. Treat participants as you would like to be treated; be easy to ask for help & ask easily for yourself. Remember that cultures use similar words very differently, sometimes in ways that induce titters. Eg, talking about “prophylactics” & learning that that means “condoms” to them.

        But really, most important is assuming good will & intelligence take you the farthest.

    4. CanadaGoose*

      Oh, this is an area I could use tips! I support an all-remote team of professionals, and we’ve done the get-to-know you chats over the last year, but don’t necessarily meet or talk every week. 1. How often would you suggest connecting on non-work topics? 2. What balance of asking questions and sharing my own experiences do you find works best? 3. I’ve kept some notes on things like kids names, hobbies, and other personal details I’d otherwise struggle to remember – please tell me if this is a bad idea. Thanks!

      1. Cubicles & Chimeras*

        If you’re all remote, I’d offer a few optional times to maintain the get together aspect – assuming your time zones work together well. (I manage across many time zones currently so it doesn’t.) You can do things like have a once a month friday coffee hour for the entire group to just catch up (optional attendance though, don’t force social hour), or a once a month “lunch and learn” where someone on your team presents a training on something. (Fun fact: these do not need to be about work related items, it could be teaching everyone on how to build better habits through their goal of training for a marathon.) This seems a bit trite, but it truly does help to build that camaraderie aspect of the team. Balance the times so that it works for everyone on your team, and also ensure you follow up if someone continually is not showing up, to ensure it’s because they don’t want to not because they can’t. (But some of this is for a manager than it is for someone supporting a team and not managing them.)

        For you individually, schedule more meetings. Follow up on a project you heard about, touch base again, and use your notes! Ask about the kid/cat/whatever. After that meeting, chat them a few days later with a thanks for making the time and a quick question about something you talked about – oh hey did your kids project go well/did you beat your time for the marathon, etc. If you noticed shared interests across some people in your notes, ask them if they trade baking tips with so and so. Chat someone and say “I remember you said you’re good at gluten free baking and I have a friend coming over who’s GF, any tips? good recipes for a dessert?”. People intrinsically want to be helpful when it’s something they like to talk about. Until you build a regular rapport where you’re at least chatting in chat multiple times per week, I’d err on engaging them to talk 60-0% of the time and sharing your own stuff the rest of the time. Sometimes it’s okay to just be honest and say “I feel disconnected sometimes, do you mind if I schedule a “coffee” with you once a month where we zoom and chat?”

        As to the notes – as long as you don’t keep anything inappropriate in there, I don’t see harm in it. I too struggle with that kind of thing, and so I have notes on people as well. Be kind in your notes and never admit it to anyone who you work with.

      2. Marble Racers*

        I just started in a 90% remote role. Twice a day we have “non-transactional time” zoom meetings. My team can have a hard time with forced chitchat, so one of them started showing us “professional” marble racing video’s. At first I was kind of shocked – we all earn decent money and here we are twice a day, 30 minutes at a time, watching marble racing. I mentioned this to my friend and that I thought I might skip some meetings (they are optional). She pointed out the company sanctioned these meetings and it must be important to them, so I need to participate! And she was right. Even though I’ve only met the group a few times in person, by having these non-meeting meetings, we are a pretty close group now. We don’t always watch marble videos, sometimes it’s other things, sometimes we talk, and sometimes we’re all tied up and can’t get to the Zoom. But for the most part I do try to make every meeting, it really has helped this newcomer feel welcomed and not isolated. (PS – some of the marbles races are quite elaborate. I had no idea this existed, and it can be fun – so check some out!).

    5. Green Tea*

      Do you use any particular online tools/platforms/techniques? to facilitate collaboration and trust-building?

      1. Cubicles & Chimeras*

        People who are Synchronous but remote: Chat systems are the backbone to everything. But they need to be more than just work conversations, that social aspect ties people together. Current trend in my chats is sharing music playlists amongst the team. I used to be on one where someone would share their favorite recipe (simple ones) and once a quarter we’d all try making it and sharing our results. (Sometimes to absolute laughter.) For managing work, they’re still beneficial because they can have automated alerts as well as internal chat widgets to submit questions, which allows the entire team to assist or just learn from someone else’s answer. I like Kanbans otherwise, lets everyone see what’s going on and where everyone is at.

        People who are async: Chats are still good, but threading is important because nobody wants to come into work and see 100 chats from people and read through it, it doesn’t happen. Some chat systems have widgets you can utilize so important information doesn’t get lost, use that! This can be things like widgets that feed meeting information into a box that’s pinned every day, or through a command someone can see the to do list for today that people are claiming work out of. But you need to schedule meetings on occasion for this group to get face time. Yes it means someone’s is going to be shafted for hours (and it should be you even if you have no wish for a 2 am meeting), but if you can get Germany, Australia, India and the US on a call once a quarter, it does wonders.

        You also just need to encourage cross collaboration in your individuals – say that you want to do a cross-learning thing once a quarter, so each find someone to meet with and learn how they do x or y. Put it on them to have 1:1s with their peers. Assign work in pairs sometimes, so they build those relationships.

        1. Azure Jane Lunatic*

          For async chat tools that offer it, I really like dedicated offtopic channels, either one offtopic channel or some specific topics like pets, cooking/food appreciation, arts & crafts, media appreciation. Coupled with redirecting conversations that stray back into shop talk into the appropriate forum, and doing a sum-up of the part that happened elsewhere. That makes it so if someone who does not share cat pictures is reading back through the main discussion area, they will be able to see why everyone started talking about teapot microwave safety. “Oh, so Alanis mentioned the cutest cat teapot with gilding, which reminded Taylor that we need to address the issue with the iridescent teapot coating in terms of microwave safety.”

          1. Cubicles & Chimeras*

            Oh same – although it depends on the number of people in the channel at any given time. 5-10 people async and 30 people async in a channel are very different things. But I definitely encourage threading so we don’t chat bomb people regardless of sync or async and it lets people look at things they find interesting.

    6. Anon Just for This*

      I’m an individual contributor on a small team that hasn’t had a manager in half a year. We’re 100% remote, but all in the same time zone. As far as I can tell, we hardly ever talk to each other (though one colleague and I get along great and connect regularly; for the record, she has had the same observation). If we have a meeting and I ask how everyone’s weekend is, there is a long, awkward silence. Like, you have to direct the question at a specific person to get any kind of answer. I’m generally pretty personable and have had a manager tell me that I’m very good at developing relationships and putting people at ease, even in a fully remote job.

      I don’t expect us to have heart-to-hearts or share our deepest hopes and dreams. Just some basic collegial chit-chat from time to time.

      1. Cubicles & Chimeras*

        Ooof, I’m sorry you haven’t had a manager in half a year, that’s probably not helping things. You might need face time (via zoom or whatever) to make the chat take off. Could you or your one colleague take point since you’re missing your manager? Maybe post in chat and say something like “I feel disconnected since we lost *old manager name*, I’d like to schedule a meeting every other week just to touch base. We could use it to ensure anything we learn is shared with others/ask questions/keep each other updated of where we’re at. I’ll send something out for Thursdays at 9 am, but let me know if there’s a better time we could all meet.” If you make it about you (I feel lost, I would benefit from this), it makes others more apt to help you because it’s making them feel important. And if you don’t ask for a time decision, but instead give them a time and ask for suggestions if it doesn’t work, it means that you don’t have to wait for people to respond to send things out. (A lot of people follow the path of least resistance, so if you schedule something, they’ll show up. But if you ask them to schedule something or a time, they can go radio silent.)

        Then when those meetings kick off, do the small talk about weekends/weather/hobbies. It’ll feel more natural then when you follow up in chat on Monday saying “how did everyone’s weekends go? Here’s my pictures from my kayaking adventure. Amol, did you get your garden planted? How was that book Hilda, should I add it to my tbr?”

    7. ccsquared*

      Once you identify people you want to connect with, how to do you make a request for a meeting? I have in mind people I’ve been introduced to, but failed to follow up with right away, and while I have general topics I want to discuss, it’s not for anything pressing, so I feel bad asking for time. Any scripts or formulas to craft an email would be awesome!

      1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        I’m not the expert, but I’d suggest something like this:

        Hi Jane,
        I really enjoyed meeting you when Wakeen introduced us [fill in details]. Your work on / your experience in [topic] was really interesting. Would you be open to connecting on [thing] sometime next week / this month.

        Remind them where they met you, say something enthusiastic about their work, then ask to meet up.

        The worst that can happen is they say no or ignore your e-mail.

        1. ccsquared*

          Thanks, this is great! Appreciate that you provided both the formula and sample wording, as that will help me adapt to various scenarios.

      2. Cubicles & Chimeras*

        Depending on how I know them, I do it one of two ways:
        – If they’re peers or people below me on an org chart (or I know them fairly well from some kind of interaction in chat or in a work project), I’ll send them a chat and ask if they’re not busy in the next few weeks, I’d love to connect on X, could I put 15 (30) mins on their calendar? Then post meeting or even in the last 5 mins of the meeting, I say I really liked talking about X, can we make this a reoccurring thing, say every month or every other week or so?
        – If they’re above me and/or I don’t know them well, I find a time slot a few weeks out and send them a meeting request, letting them know I’d like to talk about X item (or learn more about their role or whatever) but please let me know if there’s a better time for this meeting as it isn’t urgent. After the meeting, I send a quick thank you with a few follow up questions if I have some, and then state I really appreciated them taking them time/that I learned a lot, could I schedule something again in a few months?

        1. ccsquared*

          Thanks! What’s funny is this is exactly what I intuitively do with people I feel like I have already developed some rapport with, but my socially-anxious brain couldn’t pull this out as an approach that would work with someone I haven’t interacted much with. Having someone else affirm that it can work in this context is super helpful!

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      Which platform do you use for event registration/management, and what are its advantages and disadvantages, including cost?
      (We’re in the process of dumping Eventbrite because they’re abysmal now.)
      Other events people, please chime in on this one too!

      1. Not a Real Giraffe*

        Another corporate event planner here. We use Cvent. Pros: It’s really robust and basically, if you can dream it, it can do it. It also syncs directly with our CRM system. Cons: It is expensive. We use it as part of an enterprise package with our parent company, but still feel the pain in our budget. It also takes a while to learn how to really use it well (though as a bonus, Cvent offers a lot of training opportunities both online and in-person). Depending on your account level, the customer service can vary from mildly helpful to superstar resolutions within minutes.

        I’ve used Event Create in other roles, but only recommend it for those who plan the occasional event. It’s cost-effective but not nearly as robust.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          Thank you! I have looked into Cvent and it seems pretty good (in a previous job, I used an event registration platform that was bought out by Cvent), but I’m not sure we’ll be able to justify the cost.

          1. Not a Real Giraffe*

            Another option is to explore vendors that already have Cvent licenses that you can use. I know meeting planner services like HPN Global have entire divisions that can help with event registration platforms for a fee way lower than your own Cvent license.

        2. Miette*

          Seconding Cvent and all the points made here. They also offer web programming and set up services, which really comes in handy if you don’t have that kind of thing in-house. It does take a while to learn, but the knowledgebase/training videos are actually quite helpful if you’ve the time/patience.

      2. frenchblue*

        We looked at Cvent, but it was ultimately out of budget. I’m exploring Pheedloop, and so far, I like it a lot.

        1. It's Me. Hi.*

          Pheedloop seems really promising, but I think they are best for smaller shows like under 3K.

          1. higher ed teaching*

            I anticipate maybe 25 people at any event for a couple years. I wouldn’t want them much bigger because I am doing workshop events.

      3. df200*

        I use Ticket Tailor because the fees were *much* cheaper than EventBrite. I’ve been really impressed with the functionality…it seems to do everything you could want it to do: easy payment processing using seamless connection to PayPal as a payment processor, the ability to offer discount codes and voucher codes, quick and easy to set up events, and some good back-end tools to manage bookings.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          Thank you, I’ve just started using Ticket Tailor for registration for our free events, so it’s good to hear from someone who’s used it more than me.

      1. Miette*

        Planning, promotion, production. Sorry for the alliteration, I’m primarily a marketer lol. The companies I work with either put on industry conferences or need support sending their staff/brand to industry trade shows.

    2. m0rgan*

      We do a lot of B2B work – we never know the best way to “advertise”, especially because relationship building is so integral. What do you find are the best methods to promote your work to other businesses? Any insight is appreciated!

      1. Miette*

        It depends on your audience and business model, but I find publishing content that is relevant to your audience is always very effective.

        Assuming you’ve got the basics already like a website and social media accounts on the platforms where your customers are likely to be, this content can be anything from white papers to webinars, blog posts, videos, user-generated content (UGC), social posts, webinars, etc. The key is to completely leverage the heck out of whatever you create across multiple channels so you get your money’s worth.

        Example: You’ve done a survey or some primary research in your space and will soon be publishing the results in a report. Get the biggest bang from it by: holding a webinar about the findings and how they show trends in the industry/are relevant to your target audience; issuing a press release (if the results are news-worthy); creating infographics promoting the paper on socials; cutting shorter videos from the webinar to also post on socials; create a series of blog posts; use the report as a fulfillment in paid promotions with an industry content site (I’m in tech so those would be TechTarget and similar); and on and on. As this content propagates, be sure you’ve got ways on your website to engage people who are interested in receiving more information–have a CTA for your email list/newsletter on every page, offer a free demo/trial, etc.

        Another thing to do is to develop content that’s relevant to your prospects at all stages of the purchasing funnel, not just at the top. So customer case studies, how to videos, technical articles, etc. are just as important as basic product info and promotional language around customer pain points/benefits. And if you’ve got happy customers who are willing to talk about it, put a customer story study pipeline together, because those testimonials are as good as gold.

        If you’ve the budget–and even if you don’t–I cannot undersell the impact that video has in reaching an audience. If you think YouTube is not for B2B, you’re wrong. It’s the second largest/most used search engine in the world, second only to Google, which owns it. I have noticed lately that Google prioritizes video in search results–just do a random search and you’ll often see that videos place higher even than the ads these days. This means that, if you optimize your videos for your SEO key words, you’ll place especially well in natural search and we all know how important that is. ALSO, be sure to post them to YT and embed the videos on your website (instead of just linking to them), because this also improves SEO results.

        Speaking of SEO, it really is the most important thing you can do, so make sure your website is optimized and if it isn’t get on it immediately. SEO is a marathon, not a sprint, and it takes time for it to be effective, but once it is, it’s extremely important to clients as they are in the initial stages of looking for a solution/product.

        Hope this helps–there’s loads more nuanced things you could do, of course, and other channels of promotion may work better in your market. Good luck!

    3. ferrina*

      Two questions:

      1. Are there any professional resources that you recommend, either directly or indirectly relating to B2B marketing? Podcasts or blogs or such?

      2. How do you get internal non-marketing people on board with the importance of marketing and things like brand messaging (so they don’t go rogue on their messaging)?

      1. Miette*

        1. It depends on which aspect of marketing you’re interested in learning more about, honestly. I’m on the lead generation/promotion/branding end of things, and I find that brands who are the leaders in their area tend to also publish a lot of good content on their blogs that’s relevant and free and useful. For example, if you’re wanting more info on how to do social marketing, I’d check out Sprout Social’s blog; if it’s blogging or website or email marketing, check out HubSpot.

        Also: Seth Godin is a minor deity–and a fun read, so check out his stuff.

        2. (Please take this in a non-gender-specific way) GUUURRRLLL! There’s a few places I’d start. First: do you have an executive “sponsor” that is someone with a “C” in their title who actually understands that marketing is important to the company and not just a cost center? If you can get them to back you up, then others will fall in line. Same goes for whomever is at the top of the department that’s causing the problem (Is it sales–it’s always sales). So start establishing a trust and rapport with whoever is in charge of that team. Second: If you can find an area where marketing really moved the needle for the company, something that no one thought of as being important before that maybe led to some quality prospects or even better, sales that closed. Demonstrate the value there–show how marketing directly led to a desired result. Increased awareness, SQLs, trials, etc. is what you’re looking for–something that sales people care about. This will sell the importance of what you do. As far as the importance of brand messaging, I long ago had to get super OK with being flexible about that, because unless you work for a company that’s draconian in the way they treat their brand and there are CONSEQUENCES for not doing it right, no one’s going to care much. THAT SAID, once the importance of marketing and what it can do for the org are established, you may find folks respect the process more and you can start asking/requiring them to purge all old PPT or email templates or whatever so that everyone’s on the same page. Good luck!

        1. Azure Jane Lunatic*

          A game-changer for my old team was learning how to migrate old PowerPoint presentations to a new template, so they didn’t have to do it manually for presentations they were still using. Just knowing that it could be done meant they could ask me how to do it rather than angsting over how much work it would be to do manually.

          1. Miette*

            This reminds me of a time when my company was had refreshed its brand so we were redoing all the PPTs and collateral. Once people saw how nice the professionally-done PPTs looked–and this was a place where there were lots and LOTS of network diagrams so this is saying something–they began to come to my team for help with new needs. They began so see our in-house designer as an asset they could use, which was a direct result of my campaign to get along well with the Sales VP and give them the support they needed whenever we could.

      2. T.N.H*

        For number 2, I’ve had success using Amplify which helps facilitate social media sharing across the org.

    1. Tuckerman*

      What’s the best way to prepare a soon to be kindergartener for starting at a language immersion school (Spanish program)?

      1. Spanish Prof*

        First – congrats on getting your kiddo into one of those programs! They can be remarkably effective if done right.

        Attending orientations will be extra important as kindergarten is already overwhelming for some kids without also being dunked into a language they don’t know. The more familiar they are with their classroom and teacher(s), the better.

        If you allow your kids screen time, there are lots of great shows out there in Spanish, about Spanish, or which have been translated to Spanish. Disney has done a marvelous job with its song translations, and it has the benefit of adding familiarity. Or you can play kids music in the car, etc.

        The final thing I would suggest is that you get ahead of your kiddo suggesting that people who are not speaking in English are talking “funny” or talking “wrong.” By exposing them to some input ahead of time, you can talk about how people in different places or sometimes even in the same place, simply use different words, and that’s okay :)

        1. chili oil*

          I second this. I did immersion for my kid, and for a long time (and in summers) we limited screentime to the immersed language. Also, try to learn it yourself, if you don’t speak it. There will be times that your kid wants to explain something, and they won’t have the vocab in English.

        2. Gen*

          My kid is in 4th grade in a Spanish immersion program. I also recommend parents learn the target language at the same time. No need to take a formal class but highly recommend if you can. Even an online app is sufficient. It helps to model the learning process (that mistakes are ok!) and it also allows parents to communicate with the mono-lingual Spanish families that often make up half the program.

      2. MikeM_inMD*

        ¿Que pasa?

        But seriously, the above is the most complex thing I can say in Spanish, and I am thinking it would be useful to learn Spanish. Are there any particular apps that you think do a good job at teaching conversational Spanish? Which one(s) would you recommend?

        1. Spanish Prof*

          As a classroom teacher, I never really made a study of the various apps. I am a bit familiar with Duolingo, but my sense of it is that it’s most useful for acquiring vocabulary (though it also depends on a person’s existing knowledge of a [any other] language(s), observational focus [“noticing”], willingness to mentally rehearse outside of app time, etc., all of which is highly individual and subjective).

          I hope others who have used apps will chime in, but my experience has taught me that unless you are a very self-aware, autodidactic learner, nothing beats actual live interactions for learning how to converse (once you have enough base vocabulary to even get started; otherwise it’s “how are you” and “fine” and then it’s pretty frustrating). That can be done in a classroom setting (your community center may have very low-cost classes available), through social groups (such as MeetUp, which often has language exchange groups), travel abroad, and through language exchange lists (I think there are some on Reddit and there are various sites available if you Google) which will match you with a fellow learner online.

          Sorry not to answer your question specifically but I hope these ideas may be helpful at some point. I also hope that you will indeed make this effort – learning a new language is brilliant for your brain, and of course opens doors to greater interpersonal connections and cultural appreciation.

          1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

            I tried Duolingo to refresh my basic Russian and this dovetails with my experience. It tested on vocab, but didn’t seem to get into any of the grammar. At least it didn’t in the lessons I did. Like, not even how to conjugate verbs.

          2. Trina*

            While I 100% agree that in-person instruction and/or practice is the way to go if you are really committed to learning the language, those who want to supplement that with some solo learning should check what resources your library has. They may carry CD/audio based programs like Pimsleur or let you access more structured learning apps; our patrons can use Mango Languages – which is usually subscription-based – for free.

        2. Spanish Prof*

          Ugh, Mike – I just typed out a long answer but it got lost in the ether. I promise I’ll respond!

      3. Jessica*

        I used to work at a Spanish immersion school, and one of the biggest things we recommended for Kindergarteners was SLEEP. School itself is exhausting for 5yo kids, and a new language ups the mental load. So get that kid to bed early, and don’t plan many other activities during the week for the first couple months!

      4. greg*

        My daughter is in a language immersion program for K (she came from an Italian program for Pre K). The track record at the school is very high with language acquisition. A few things:

        – Treat it like an honors program. It’s A LOT for them to take in so make sure they are getting extra rest etc.

        – Google translate can be your friend! I need to use it to help her with her math homework (yes Math is taught in Spanish) but I make sure to read the instructions in Spanish for her.

        – It is significantly easier to learn to read in Spanish than English BUT your child is then using extra brain power because they are non Native Spanish. I’d say the real challenge is at home she likes to practice English reading and I have to teach her to switch back and forth (For example, the letter “a” makes one sound in Spanish but multiple sounds in English).

    2. badger*

      What are your best resources for professional and technical Spanish learning? I have very strong social and conversational Spanish but am transitioning into working in Spanish professionally and really need more study resources for learning to speak, read and communicate in a high quality professional Spanish! (For context, I work with spanish-speakers from across the spanish speaking world, so doesn’t need to be dialect specific, as everyone is very tolerant of dialect differences, but more about levelling up my spanish to the technical elements of the professional sphere, rather than social/day to day life)

      1. Spanish Prof*

        I don’t have specific resources, but I can suggest an approach. It’s great you already have a foundational knowledge of the language to begin with!

        Treat yourself as if you were an intern in your field, and read up! I would look for blogs, newsletters, websites, etc., of companies and individuals who work in your field (you might use LinkedIn to find people to follow), and soak up (look up) as much as I could (try to make sure that the results are .mx or whatever so you know you’re looking at original Spanish and not a translation – which are often great, to be sure, but no reason not to get at the language as it was initially produced)

        Ask your Spanish-speaking colleagues if they’d be willing to forward or cc you on low-stakes communications so you can see how they’re using language in context.

        How’s your listening comprehension? Podcasts or YouTube channels by professionals in your field could be useful for additional exposure. The latter can sometimes generate excellent auto-captions, depending on audio quality.

        Keep a running list of unknown vocabulary, and split it into general Spanish and words related to a professional context (such as “gestionar” = manage/run). is my favorite online dictionary.

        Also, if you’re on Facebook, follow the “Mundo Godínez” page (Godínez is basically like “working stiff” or “working Joe” and is all about office life, management baloney, etc. – memes, jokes, sarcasm, etc.). It has a lot of content which will introduce you to words and concepts you might not know right now – some of it may fly over your head, but it’s a source of both culture and language. Sometimes they also do serious posts from people seeking help because their employer isn’t following the law.

        Last tidbit: “Saludos cordiales” is the time-honored way to end an email, at least in Mexico :)

    3. museum manager*

      Are there any common phrasing/idiom-type mistakes to watch out for, specifically in language around opening hours, holidays, and parking/directions?
      My midwestern USA museum tries to have professional Spanish translation for key pages on our website, but we update opening/closing times and parking availability too often for professional translation to be feasible every time, and sometimes we have to describe specific situations e.g. when the museum will be open for public school holidays. Currently, I (with my vague memories of college-level Spanish) usually search for the “Horarios” page for museums located in LatAm and/or Spain and try to adapt that wording as closely as possible, but I do worry about my cultural knowledge gap as we don’t have any native Spanish speakers on our (very small) team.

      1. Spanish Prof*

        You are doing exactly what I would recommend, which is comparing your translations to ones produced in the country(countries) where the target language is spoken. That’s perfect!!

        There are variations around words like “holiday” (día festivo, día feriado), though I don’t think those are regional. For “parking lot” or “to park”, Mexico uses “estacionamiento” and “estacionar(se)” – but others might use “aparcar” or even “parquear” (which sounds like Spanglish but I think is used fairly commonly, though I personally wouldn’t use it).

        I like because it will tag words (that it knows of) with italics and the country or region that it’s associated with. They also have a forum where you can search/post questions – super helpful – and the respondents also have their location so you know where the feedback is coming from.

        I suppose the other pitfall to look out for would be accidentally replacing commands with nouns. For example, “leave” (as in, leave your valuables in your car) would be the formal command form of dejar “deje” – but an uncareful dictionary user might end up with “permiso” (as in, maternity leave). I hate to say it but Google Translate has improved leaps and bounds from even just a few years ago :P

        Finally, try to be consistent. If your professionally-translated (bravo!) webpage was written with “tú” forms (addressing the visitor informally), then your command for “leave” would be “deja.” If it was written with “usted” forms (addressing the visitor formally), then your command would be “deje.” Etc. It’s not the end of the world when they are mixed up but it’s more professional when they’re consistent :)

        1. Spanish Prof*

          Sorry, I should say – the area of Mexico I lived in (DF/Puebla/Central) uses estacionamiento/estacionarse. One of my best friends is from Chihuahua and we often find that even that distance is enough for use to use different words for the same idea.

          1. museum manager*

            Thank you so much, this is all extremely helpful—I’d never heard of, but now I know how I’ll be procrastinating this afternoon!

          2. Annie*

            I’ve seen estacionamiento a lot in Tijuana, I think that’s one of the more difficult Spanish words (too many syllables!) :)

        2. Banana Pyjamas*

          Similar to parquear we used the word parquiadero. I actually forgot estacionamiento was a word. That’s in south and west suburban Chicago. I’ve heard parquiadero in music from northern Mexico as well.

    4. DisneyChannelThis*

      Here’s a really dumb question, what’s the difference between mexican spanish, columbian spanish, and spain spanish? Is there a way to learn specifically the version for a specific country (Like I know I can learn British English or American English) or will people look at me weird for asking that? My columbian friend uses words differently than my mexican friend, I’m not sure how widespread that difference is or even if like just what I am noticing is slang, accent etc.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        I don’t think this is a dumb question at all and would also like to know. I (think) I was taught spain-spanish in high school and even the little bit I know has been confusing to the mexican-spanish speakers in my area. That could obviously be user error to an extent but it’s difficult to navigate.

      2. Database Developer Dude*

        This is soooooooo NOT a dumb question. Dialects are a thing, yo!

        I was in Caracas in the pre-Chavez era, and almost got my face slapped when I was looking for some breakfast. You have to be careful!!

        I was in an Army Reserve unit with a core of Spanish speakers, and one time out at dinner together, a Puerto Rican Sergeant asked the Mexican Staff Sergeant “What are you going to choose for your dinner?”.

        The Mexican staff sergeant responds: “I don’t know what you’re going to do with your food but I’m going to eat mine”.

        They were speaking Spanish. The word for ‘to choose’ in Puerto Rican Spanish is the F word in Mexican Spanish!

        1. Spanish Prof*

          This is probably the most classic Spain v. Mexico one – the verb you’re referring to is “coger”, which mean grab/take in Spain, but has evolved to mean “to f**k” in Mexico (and I think several other countries). To choose is “escoger” (or elegir, seleccionar, etc.), which is not problematic. But yes, if the sergeant was like “What are you going “to grab” for dinner?” lol it does sound pretty funny.

          I can’t bring myself to type out the urban legend about the evolution of “coger” (it mentions SA), but you could probably Google it.

      3. non-native Spanish speaker*

        Very smart question. I was actually speaking with a colleague recently on this topic. I studied in Spain and she’s Venezuelan. There are certain phrases that are commonplace in one location and would be confusing (or not well received) in another.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          From my understanding, there are pronouns and conjugation rules that differ from one region to another! Or the long r: Costa Rica is like, naw, we don’t do that here.

      4. Spanish Prof*

        Sooooo not a dumb question!

        First thing to know is that the word “dialect” (dialecto) is a bit contentious. Unfortunately, “dialecto” has been used to refer to indigenous languages throughout Central/South America, when they are in fact their own languages (idiomas/lenguas). By calling them “dialectos”, it diminishes their importance as full-fledged languages. But that correlation can mean that when you say “dialecto” in Spanish, someone might think you’re talking about an indigenous language and they’ll be like “I don’t speak a dialect.” So just a heads-up.

        Second thing to know is why – why are there so many variations throughout Latin America, and v. Spain (castellano)? There are many reasons, but the principal reason that you might see totally different words for something (particularly plants, foods, textiles, etc.) is that the indigenous peoples who were here first, had their own, differing words for things (because, of course, there were hundreds of languages spoken across the continent). So in (what later became) Mexico the prevailing word for corn was “maíz” but in (what is now) Perú the word was “choclo.” Or “banana” in one place is “plátano” in another.

        The second reason is time. 500+ years out from the conquest (rape, pillage, destruction) is a long time for languages to evolve. The Spanish in Spain isn’t the same as it once was, nor is that of Argentina, Colombia (note spelling with an O not a U), or Cuba! Basically you take the ingredients of indigenous language + Spanish (which was by no means spoken to an equally fluent or educated degree by the conquistadores or the colonists, either), let simmer for a few hundred years, and you’re going to end up with some differences.

        Some of which is slang, for sure (and SO fun to learn about – all the different ways to say “dude”, for example). Pronunciation is there, too – the way Caribbean nations tend to drop the “s” at the end of words, or the “sh” sound prevalent in the Argentine accent. But other stuff goes deeper – Costa Ricans say their “tú” imperatives in a very nonstandard way. Argentines say “vos”. Etc. (this is not an exhaustive list of who says what where, btw, don’t @ me :) )

        As far as what to learn – the only differential made by most textbooks is Spain Spanish versus Latin American Spanish, because Spain uses “vosotros” as its plural informal “you” (so if you were addressing your friends and saying do “you guys” want to go to the movies) whereas most of L.Am. uses “ustedes”. This requires learning all the verb forms that go along with vosotros. I always recommended to my students that they focus on Latin American Spanish (and learn the “Mexican” version of words if there were two options for something) because of practicality as US Americans, but I did encourage/allow them to practice Spain Spanish if they planned to travel to Europe.

        I do think the language apps have this same division, for the most part. As for your friends, nobody will look at you weird for asking about these differences, and most people will be very enthusiastic to tell you about their special slang or how people from other countries “sing” their words :)

    5. Diatryma*

      What are some good ways to retain and regain Spanish for an English-speaker who doesn’t use it in daily life?

      I minored in Spanish– should have double-majored, in retrospect, just for fun– and had what I thought was a solid grasp of Spanish… to my white classmates and my professors. I have a lot of anxiety about making things more difficult by insisting on Spanish, such as when traveling, and there’s no need for it in my work or home life. But I want to keep it as a skill, and it’s likely that eventually my kids will have bilingual friends whose parents I want to talk to.

      1. Spanish Prof*

        Well, if you want to study, you can use websites like – there is a lot of free content before you get to the paid stuff.

        If you want to just immerse yourself a bit to reactivate the ol’ neurons – watching shows and movies you know well, but turning on Spanish subtitles (or audio – be aware that they are NOT likely to match) can be fun. You can make it into a lesson by jotting down words you don’t know, looking them up, etc., do a challenge by playing a scene with Spanish audio only, then again with English subtitles to test your comprehension, etc.

        Music in the car is great. My sister only took three years of HS Spanish but in college I’d make her listen to my Spanish CDs when we’d drive home during breaks and she still remembers some of the Shakira lyrics, lol (¿Dónde están los ladrones? is a beautiful album)

        Check out kids’ books in Spanish from the library and work your way up to YA – especially if it’s YA you already know. Harry Potter, Divergent, Twilight, etc. – most of those are available in Spanish (though they tend to be Spain Spanish, so be aware). Here the point might be to spend some of your time reading overall for gist (i.e., do NOT let yourself get bogged down by individual words), and then pick a paragraph once in a while to analyze, make a vocab list for, etc.

        Language exchange groups and MeetUps. Convo classes at the community center. Apps (some people are really motivated by streaks and gamified learning). Label stuff around your house. Make it a game with the kiddos. Flashcards. The usual.

        Finally – and this may sound silly but I promise it is huge – mental rehearsal. Make a point of translating your own thoughts into Spanish. “I have to buy bread” “Tengo que comprar pan.” Even better if you vocalize your thoughts. And, if you’re up for it, make note of what you didn’t know what to say and look it up later. I was only a teaching major (not a regular major) in Spanish in college but I still overqualified for entry into a Master’s degree in Spanish and I know the main reason I could express myself so well was mental rehearsal. All zee time.

        I hope this is helpful!!

        1. Diatryma*

          I wish there were Spanish conversation groups in town– there’s one run by the university that’s clearly intended for students, given that it meets at noon on a weekday. I have a couple Spanish-language books I’ve not been ready to commit to reading. And I guess as long as I’m reading to kiddos, I may as well see how well the Lorax is translated.


    6. Minimal Pear*

      Do you have any recommendations for a replacement for Duolingo? Some of their recent updates have been bothering me. I’ve just been using it for basic maintenance. App or website are both fine!

      1. Minimal Pear*

        Oh, and it would be wonderful if there’s a way to test out of or skip beginner lessons.

      2. Mother of Corgis*

        I’ve used Its audio lessons, completely free for Spanish and a few other languages I believe, and its less memorization and more understanding the common roots between the language and english, and how to find the word in the language even if you don’t know it, by knowing those roots and common rules.

    7. My Brain is Exploding*

      Is there some kind of general reference to use when trying to figure out what words in the Spanish-speaking country you are going to are slang for something else? Like not saying papaya in Cuba and using fruita bomba instead.

      1. Spanish Prof*

        Eeek, I don’t know of a single, catchall reference, and in fact I never knew that papaya was not to be used in Cuba (so thanks for that). Plus there is a bunch of variation even within countries, AND even words which technically have a slang meaning are often understood anyway (like the “coger” example above).

        I think it’s one of the joys of travel – figuring out what works where you are, maybe getting some frowns or giggles along the way. Like if a Brit offered you a rubber and you’re like WHAT and they meant an eraser. Or if you said that a certain dress makes your fanny look big and they’re like WHAT because, well … lol. Everyone in the convo will tend to know what is going on and figure it out.

        I suppose prior to travelling somewhere you could just search for “slang terms in Country” and start there … ? I’m sorry I don’t know of a specific comprehensive reference for this!

    8. Tau*

      Do you have any particular recommendations for someone who can generally understand native speakers when they’re trying to speak clearly (ex: the news, advertisements, tour guides, audiobooks, most one-on-one conversations with people as they realise I’m not a native speaker, etc.) but struggles to understand native speakers talking among themselves in a casual setting? This was rather humbling when I went to Mexico on holiday a few months ago. All I can realistically think of is get in more listening practice with Spanish-language podcasts etc., but I’m wondering if there’s something specific you do with students.

      1. Spanish Prof*

        The main reasons listening to native speakers is difficult, even when you know a ton of the target language, are: 1) lack of enunciation, 2) speed, 3) accent. Add to that people overlapping and interrupting each other, backtracking in their narration, not facing you so you can see their mouths/hear them clearly, etc. … it’s difficult!!

        So first – one thing is to become aware of the way that natural language combines itself/drops letters between words. Sometimes what sounds like one long word is two words sharing a vowel or an “s” (most often) – compare “¿Dondestá?” to “¿Dónde está?” or “Ellosaben” to “Ellos saben”

        If you’re like me (and my students) and you write words out in your head, sometimes we’ve misspelled or missed a silent H. Think of “¿Que ases?” which would really be “¿Qué haces?” or “lababo” – you’re like, what the heck is a “lababo” and then you realize it’s “laVabo” and then you figure it out because you know “laVar” is to wash and a “laVabo” is a place where washing happens (a sink).

        To improve your listening fluency in uncontrolled settings, you’ve already hit on one great idea, which is listening to podcasts (and if you have the right kind of player, you can slow down the play rate as needed). Ideally these would be on subjects you are interested in and have some vocabulary knowledge for, so the lexical piece is taken care of and you can focus on listening comprehension. YouTube channels/videos work for this, too, and have the benefit of visual cues and seeing a person’s mouth (sometimes).

        Quality pop/rock/alt/folk music (by quality, I mean there is more to their lyrics than just “do me baby”) is another way to practice hearing the ways words can get combined. In college, I PORED over my Shakira CD insert, memorized the lyrics, and listened to the songs ad nauseum. It was so freaking helpful.

        Watching Spanish-language shows can be really helpful. Netflix has “Nosotros los Nobles”, for example. You could play a scene with the original Spanish audio, then again with the English subtitles, then again with just the audio. Eventually you’ll rely less and less on the subtitles, or only need them because of words that you literally don’t know what they mean (not that you couldn’t hear or parse them).

        This is the hardest piece of language learning – tracking natural, uncontrolled, open-topic speech in a conversation that you are not a part of. Don’t be discouraged if it takes a while. All practice is good practice!! <3 ¡Mucha suerte!

        1. Spanish Prof*

          The album is ¿Dónde están los ladrones? if you are interested.

          Also, I lived in Mexico for over six years (in the 2000s) AFTER getting my Master’s and while I was completely fluent orally, I still needed to learn slang … and improve, you guessed it, my listening comprehension. Despite myself, I got completely sucked into two novelas (every-evening “soap operas”): “La hija del jardinero” and “Amor en Custodia” (the Mexican remake, not the Argentine original). I don’t know if they can be found on streaming (I know they recently showed Amor en Custodia again), but because they are so repetitive/demonstrative and tend to move very incrementally, you tend to know what’s going on on a large scale and can focus on listening.

          Just be forewarned – Barbie (the main character of Amor en Custodia) has the Mexican equivalent of a “California girl” accent/vocab (like totally, for sure), and my daily exposure caused me to talk like her for a long while … up to and including the verbal crutch “o sea” which means “like”, lol. I’ve since mostly broken myself of the habit but it comes out from time to time :P

          1. Tau*

            ¡¡Muchas gracias!! That’s very helpful and it’s good to know I’m on the right track. In general I’m pretty happy with where I am with my Spanish because I *do* understand a lot and *can* have nice in-depth conversations about all sorts of subjects… but this whole thing made me aware of where I still need to put in some work. Admittedly, it didn’t help that the dialect was also an issue – I’m from Europe and have mainly learned Castilian Spanish up until now – but I was still hoping to follow a bit better, especially as I was travelling with Mexican friends and there was a lot of Spanish being spoken around me as a result.

            And yeah, the word merging always gets to me. My native language is German, and we do a thing where we set off words starting with vowels with glottal stops, so one vowel merging into the next doesn’t really happen and it took me a while to learn to listen for it in Spanish! I still sometimes get confused when “ha” or “he” just disappears in the perfect, like how “he esperado” often just sounds like “esperado”, definitely something to keep an ear out for.

            Thank you for the show and podcast recs! I’m unfortunately not a big TV/Netflix person, which is frustrating when I’m trying to learn a language, but I’ve managed to find a Spanish podcast that I find interesting and can understand pretty well (Despierta tu curiosidad from National Geographic, a history podcast – also good practice for understanding dates at speed, lol) and am always up for more. Music is also a good tip! Usually I’m more of a reader, but although reading more in Spanish won’t hurt my language skills it’s not going to do much for my listening comprehension.

            1. Clever Nickname*

              I’ve found the podcast “News in slow Spanish” to be really helpful with my listening comprehension. The free version of the show will give you the first 10 minutes of the episode, but there are hundreds of episodes. You can listen for free for literally days.

              They have intermediate and advanced for Peninsular and Latin American Spanish. 4 feeds total.

          2. Eileen*

            Just dropping in to say that doing the same thing with Shakira’s lyrics in middle and high school is how I leveled up my Spanish too!

    9. Clever Nickname*

      Would you mind sharing your thoughts on Spanish Language proficiency tests?
      How they’re seen professionally?
      What opportunities they can give you?
      If those opportunities are country-specific?
      How you feel about them as a Spanish Prof?

      1. Spanish Prof*

        Mm, that’s a tough one. ACTFL testing is probably the most well-known and respected (even outside of the US). In general, “proficiency” tests mean next to nothing if they don’t have a live interview component, which makes them costly.

        My university tried to split the difference by using STAMP tests as an exit exam, which have an oral component, but it’s the learner speaking aloud in response to a prompt – NOT an interview exchange. So decent, but not great. (And a much cheaper option)

        HOWEVER, some jobs don’t require speaking fluency, but rather reading & writing (which is, for a lot of people, far more accessible given the time and ability to access resources, work carefully, revise, etc.) So even a test that doesn’t check oral proficiency could be valuable if you were (for example) providing customer service via email. On the flip side, someone who studied in an immersion setting and has awesome oral fluency may have poor grammar or spelling! So it really can depend.

        In general, though, yeah – I’d say ACTFL is where it’s at in terms of recognition and also being a decent test. Educators follow their proficiency levels even when doing their own homegrown/classroom interviews and assessments.

        However, some agencies/businesses will still have their own tests they want you to pass, and that’s often because they work with a certain subset of technical terms or have simply had bad experiences they are now trying to screen for. My first teaching job back from Mexico – this was with a BS in Education, a Master’s in Spanish, and many years abroad – they still brought in other Spanish instructors to check my fluency in a brief interview. I wasn’t offended – it’s just the way it is. But my other credentials definitely got me through the door and I think that ACTFL is likely to do the same in most industries.

    10. Karma is My Boyfriend*

      I can read Spanish well enough to get the point across. However, I cannot speak it well, nor would I be able to get the gist of a conversation if listening to a native speaker. Any tips? Duolingo didn’t work for me because I could always see the words. I took 3 years of Spanish in high school (20 years ago!).

    11. La Federala*

      ¡Hola! I like all of your advice and suggestions. One that I find helpful is to watch shows/movies in the target language with closed captioning in the same language. There’s something about hearing and reading the same words at the same time that helps.
      I’m a court interpreter/translator. That’s one of my suggestions when people ask for advice on how to become an interpreter.

    12. Chase*

      Do you have any tips or tricks for helping students to learn to roll their ‘rr’s? I’ve studied Spanish off and on since high school, and have never figured out how to make my mouth do that.

  3. Anon in NJ*

    I work with family foundations and am happy to answer questions about how they work, etc.

      1. Anon in NJ*

        I work with family charitable foundations which are legal entities whose funds are restricted to charitable work, primarily making grants to nonprofit organizations. Ideally, the family makes all of their grants together in a collaborative process so my work sometimes involves trying to make sure disparate folks are working together while still in the bounds of the law.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Have you ever run across a trust/foundation that does universal basic income for a large extended family? That’s something I’ve considered doing. Do you need to have a social worker on call? Do you do partial cash/partial trust fund for kids under 18? Do their parents just get that money? Thanks!

      1. Anon in NJ*

        My work is in charitable foundations so the primary work is in making grants to nonprofits and there are limitations to supporting family members. I work mostly with high net worth families so there are usually other financial supports available for family members. I usually think of financial and social supports for family members with needs called a Special Needs Trust in the US.

        1. Dawbs*

          If my workplace has…”stuff” specifically for these families, how do we get the information to be spread?

          i work education adjacent (think library- but that’s not quite it :) and we’ve worked really REALLY hard in getting special needs programming up and off the ground. but we struggle to get local families and schools to know it exists.
          and i can do more outreach to them if i only know how

          1. Anon in NJ*

            This is way out of my area of expertise but one option is to find nonprofits already serving the folks you are trying to reach out to, rather than the public as a whole. For example, in my area there are nonprofits that work to develop IEPs so maybe they’d share your programming notices with their clients.

          2. Anon in NJ*

            Later in this thread is an Abe Froman username with program management expertise and you might ask them.

      2. AM*

        I work for a family office – essentially we are a trust company that was created to serve the financial needs of a large net worth family. That has grown to now include multiple family foundations; we run the foundation and manage the family’s wealth including a lot of financial stuff for family members. We have trusts for all family members, some are for specific purposes and others are just Living Trusts; part of what we do as is disbursing money according to the trusts, and managing assets held by the trusts.

        No social worker, but we do have a client services person who’s job is to deal with the family members, but the trusts themselves are pretty specific about what each person gets and when.

      1. Anon in NJ*

        It’s hard. Most family foundations aren’t staffed, and the family typically acts in that role.It’s more akin to Individual Giving than Institutional Giving. So it’s often about getting in front of them through shared contacts (your board members if they are well placed are probably the best source of this) than LOIs or mailings over the transom.

    2. ex PhD*

      If you’re a humanities PhD looking to get out of academia, I can (probably?) help. I did it myself a few years ago.

        1. Esme_Weatherwax*

          No wait, come back! My corner of academia looks like it’s going to be shutting its doors in the next year or two and I’m trying to figure out what skills translate from academic contexts to business settings. I’m a behavioral scientist at a teaching-focused liberal arts institution. What advice do you have for job searching, either how to present my past experience or what kinds of roles to look for?

          1. Anon Just for This*

            I have a social science PhD and ended up working in government doing policy and data stuff related to my topic area. Though this was my career plan all along, since I’m not particularly interested in teaching and wanted to do applied work.

            The biggest thing that prepared me for this was taking a course in program evaluation. I had great research skills in some approaches, but program evaluation is open to collecting information via a bunch of different approaches. Second would be an online course in interrupted time series analysis (for free with EdX), since evaluating changes in policies or laws often uses this, whereas my research was looking at outcomes between groups at the same point in time.

            Several friends from grad school ended up taking jobs doing program evaluation or work on behavioural insights teams.

            You might also be interested in UX (user experience) roles.

    3. DataQueen*

      What’s the best approach to getting an operating grant funded? Do you totally see through it when we call it “planning grants” or “to support the needs of program XYZ”? Does it piss you off when we try to disguise that it’s operating money?

      1. Anon in NJ*

        I see through it but it doesn’t piss me off- I know that’s part of the game. I try and get my clients to give more general operating grants but it’s hard so I don’t want to tattle on nonprofits just trying to get their work funded. The most likely to give GO are those who have a long relationship with a nonprofit or who are giving small enough that restricted giving is not practical. Trust-based philanthropy IMHO is slow to catch on and also has to start from a relationship that already exists.

        1. DataQueen*

          Agreed, trust-based is slower to catch on and every org I’ve worked for is hesitant to educate donors. But my personal mission is to educate as many folks as I can!

    4. Wearing 17 Hats*

      I am the ED of a small nonprofit and we struggle to “win grants” that are then gifted to our larger “competitors” in the area. Any advice on how to stand out? And/or how to reach family foundations that we do not yet know of?

    5. MigraineMonth*

      Any advice for those of us who are looking to donate to less well-known organizations? On the one hand I want to be able to do a bit of vetting, but on the other hand I don’t like how controlling some of the donor-charitable org relationships have gotten.

      1. Orangie*

        Could you tell me more about what you mean by “how controlling some of the donor-charitable org relationships have gotten”? I work in donor relations, and donor perspective is worth its weight in gold!

        1. MigraineMonth*

          I haven’t fully thought this through, but it seems crazy that a charity is created to help with [genuine problem], and in order to do so it hires multiple employees that just jump through hoops all day. Searching for grants. Applying for grants. Cultivating donor relationships. Ensuring that the grant money is only used to pay for A, when actually B is desperately needed. Collecting possibly invasive data on those it serves to be able to report back to the donors that it really did help exactly N people. None of which directly helps with [genuine problem]!

          On the one hand, I understand that we don’t just want the people running the charity to pocket the money! On the other hand, it seems like a really top-down, controlling approach. There seems to be a real lack of trust or collaboration, and so much of the money has strings attached.

          I’m betting that there are plenty of times anti-malaria charities have ended up with thousands of dollars to purchase mosquito nets but zero dollars to transport those nets where they’re needed, or charities to combat homelessness that have plenty of money designated for shelters but none for paying their admin staff a living wage.

          1. Wearing 17 Hats*

            As someone who leads and fundraises for a small, young, lesser-known nonprofit, we definitely experience this. We “spend” a lot of time, resources, and money to write grants that may or may not get funded. We are an incredibly small team. We work hard to collaborate, so that donor dollars have an even bigger impact. We provide mental health services to an under-served area of our state, and grantmakers wish to fund projects (which I understand), but not overhead, so we struggle to provide services to the clients who need us most due to funds, but do *not* struggle to “build benches” for our clients to sit on around our facility.

    6. RedinSC*


      Ok, how does one get themselves in front of a family foundation when so many say no uninvited solicitations? How do you get to the point where you become visible to one?

    7. ccsquared*

      This is purely curiosity on my part, but is a family foundation the same as a charitable trust, and if so, how closely do future generations have to hew to the original founders mission? So for example, a wealthy couple is passionate about experimental art and music, and establishes a foundation to support and promote this scene. They give a lot of leway on what kinds of projects can be funded but their intent is clearly to promote the deployment of new forms of art and music. Could the subsequent generation all decide that they value the preservation of Renaissance music and art more than the creation of new stuff, and over time redirect, redirect all grants there? Or decide that they don’t want to support human art at all and fund AI projects instead because they sincerely believe this is the future of art?

      Or am I thinking about this wrong, and the main purpose of a family foundation is the tax advantages, getting the family name out, maintaining a common enterprise, etc.?

  4. PayRaven*

    Hey folks! I’m great at “office-ese”: tactfully explaining my problems and ideas in a way that makes the audience think they’re THEIR problems and ideas, artfully playing dumb in a way that moves conversations forward, and working subtly toward the outcome I want while maintaining relationships. Hit me up for ideas and translations!

    1. ThinMint*

      I like direct answers and work with leadership who like to say a lot without saying much. How do I push for more concrete answers? Is this the artfully playing dumb part? A few are mansplainers and my pride so far hasn’t wanted me to play dumb to be further mansplained.

      1. PayRaven*

        Oh, man, do I ever feel this! (Woman-shaped person in tech here!) But yes, this is where playing artfully dumb can be your best friend. Think of it as handling a toddler, or a small furry animal. They’re expressing themselves in the way they know how, and it’s your responsibility to deduce the information you need from their arcane ways.

        A good one for talky leadership is performing listening (also actually listening, but that doesn’t sound like an issue here).

        Leader: blah to blah le blah technical thing that’s almost the answer you need but it’s unclear, blah de blah de blah fluff blah!

        You: Oh, that makes a lot of sense! So in that case, [specific clarifying question, in a tone that makes it sound like you’re building on the previous point rather than routing around it]?

        Leader: Blah de blah, once again ALMOST the answer, fluffle blah de blorb!

        You: I see, I see. And so then [restate the point to make it even more specific]?

        It’s the same principle as in emergency medicine, where if you tell someone “bring me the ointment and the sutures,” and they just bring you the ointment, you just say “thanks, now can you bring me the sutures?” Did they miss something? Yes. Is dwelling on that going to get you the result you need? Nope!

        And then if you have the ability, sending a written followup that expresses understanding and enthusiasm (but also confirms key details that you need to move forward) is always a good move.

        1. Plate of Wings*

          Well said, it sounds like we have similar strengths and careers, but you worded this so well.

          Playing artfully dumb is a useful way to get people to be clearer, more direct, and more honest. It just removes some of the friction at work sometimes.

          That said, I acknowledge that not everyone can “afford” to play a little dumb. I am not concerned about anyone doubting my expertise, and I don’t need to draw lines in the sand to ensure respect. But for people newer to the workforce without the privilege of reputation, standing, and proven expertise, it can feel awful to give that kind of ground for the sake of relationships.

          I think everyone should try being a little extra gracious, patient, and forgiving at work, but if it feels like too much emotional labor that makes sense to me too.

        2. Tea*

          I’m kind of confused about what a person’s shape has to do with their gender identity.

          And I don’t know that treating your coworkers like toddlers or animals (!!!) is maybe the best way to manage interpersonal dynamics in a workplace.

          1. PayRaven*

            It’s relevant because whether or not I identify as female, that’s the lens through which my colleagues generally view me, which affects our interpersonal dynamic. In a perfect world that wouldn’t be the case, but I’m doing my best in the one I live in.

            I’ve found a lot of success in reframing frustrating situations into ones that I can get through with my emotions intact, and I’m very capable of separating that dynamic from my respect for that person as a person once that interaction is done, but to each their own!

      2. Healthcare Manager*

        I’m a big fan of the below strategy

        ‘Summarise what they said, but more concisely, and use explicit language like
        Option 1 or Option 2’

        “Oh I see, so let me say it back to you to make sure I’m understanding
        Option 1 is blah blah
        Option 2 is blah blah

        And you think option 1 is better? .”

        Another example is to just start pulling numbers out of the air. People aren’t good at coming up with estimates but they are good at correcting!

        ‘Oh so how long will it take?’
        ‘Can’t say, depends on too many variables’
        ‘Okay so shall I plan for 3 months/?
        ‘No! That way too long, can be done in less than a month’


      3. Healthcare Manager*

        Reposting as format failed:
        I’m a big fan of the below strategy
        ‘Summarise what they said, but more concisely, and use explicit language like
        Option 1 or Option 2’

        “Oh I see, so let me say it back to you to make sure I’m understanding (put emphasis on doing this for my benefit, even though it’s probably because they’re waffling)
        Option 1 is blah blah
        Option 2 is blah blah

        And you think option 1 is better? (even if you’re not sure they like option 1 better just pick one because they’ll correct you).

        Another example is to just start pulling numbers out of the air. People aren’t good at coming up with estimates but they are good at correcting!

        ‘Oh so how long will it take?’
        ‘Can’t say depends on too many variables’
        ‘Okay so shall I plan for 3 months? (completely random time)’
        ‘No! That way too long, can be done in less than a month’


    2. Mel*

      If you can recommend ways to make IT contractors care about the extremely niche analysis software that’s critical to my team’s roles…that would be great. (they have not factored it into system upgrades, won’t install updates without a whole campaign, occasionally removed write access to our working folders…)

      1. PayRaven*

        Woooooo doing a version of this right now. This is the art of translating your problems into their problems.

        The specifics of this are going to depend on what “their problems” are–what are their metrics, and what are they genuinely accountable for? What does their boss care about? (This can be tricky with contractors, but there’s always something.) It sounds like “my team is blocked” isn’t on their radar, so this might be as simple as translating “my team is blocked” into something with numbers. “Every time this software breaks, we lose $X thousand dollars in potential revenue/working time” can be a really strong one if you can get to a convincing number.

        Basically, this is similar to Alison’s advice in a lot of work settings: make it more of a problem for them to NOT act than it would be to act.

        1. PayRaven*

          If you can’t lock on to their actual metrics, then the fall back is “Be politely but persistently REALLY, REALLY, REALLY ANNOYING every time this happens.” Be the malicious compliance of documenting the history of this same daggum ticket.

          1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

            That was me as a project manager, annoying people into doing things they were meant to do. Usually, by cheerfully reminding people about things they were supposed to (or committed to) doing on a regular basis until they did the thing.

        2. Mel*

          the business case sounds promising – I hadn’t considered it because we’re such a small team, but when you factor in the cost of contractors that would have to replace us, plus the indirect threat of not being able to prove our company meets Regulations that might be something.

          1. PayRaven*

            it might not be a GOOD thing, but when it comes right down to it, money is the language that everybody speaks. Good luck!

      2. PayRaven*

        I typed you a long answer and I think it might have gotten caught in the oubliette, but don’t worry, I’m checking back to see if I need to come back to you!

      3. Azure Jane Lunatic*

        When your team can’t do something because of IT shenanigans, start by following the IT process for doing whatever, and then make sure that your manager knows that the specific blocker for your team’s deliverable is the software, and that we are currently waiting on IT to do X, Y, and Z. Make sure that your manager can view the ticket if possible. IT tends to get very excited about solving problems when layers of your management start talking to layers of their management. Especially with a nice project management layout of the consequences if IT does not fix things by a specific date.

        It might also be interesting to keep a running tally of the person-hours of your team’s wasted time, both in having to follow up at IT, and in not being able to do your work.

        When a company I was at was having IT problems, it really brought a lot of departments together, with the common cause of dealing with those problems. If you’re having this problem with IT, which other teams are having similar problems? Can you band together to get all your managers involved?

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      This has happened to me a couple times now with a specific guy, he says to do it ABC way, then once its finished demands to know why we did ABC way and that going forward XYZ way is best. I’ve tried gently pointing out that my understanding was he said ABC way and that’s why I did it ABC but I’ll happily do XYZ now. Only for the XYZ result to be met with why arent we doing ABC way. It drives me nuts!

      1. Berlina*

        Did you ask for clarification in writing? Even if you just quickly summarize a talk and mail it as “FYI, please respond until x if there was a misunderstanding”.

      2. PayRaven*

        There are two things going on here: This Guy and the work you need to do for him.

        This Guy probably is the way he is. There’s probably not a lot you can do to change that. So we’ll focus on getting what we need around him.

        First, as Berlina mentioned already, getting written confirmation is your BEST of best friends. This is also a great opportunity for some of that artfully-playing-dumb: this miscommunication has happened before. You and I both know that it was his fault, but that’s not a detail that helps us here, so we’ll discard it.

        The next time you start work for him and he says to do it ABC way, send an email to the tune of “Hey, just confirming I understand–we want it to be done ABC, correct? Would hate to have to redo it again.” The tone you’re going for is warm, straightforward, and trusting that of COURSE we all want to get it right the first time.

        Sometimes this Type of Guy will bristle at being made to put their thoughts in writing. This is usually because they know they’re full of shit. You can decide how much it’s worth it to you to follow up until you get some kind of confirmation one way or the other.

        If he once more does you dirty and says, after AB and part of C are done, “Why isn’t this XYZ way?” then you have that email to point to, but you can also do the advanced move, which is, wide-eyed and serious, “Can you help me understand your thought process for when this should be ABC vs. XYZ? I want to be able to do this right [i.e. stop having this conversation with you ever again],” again followed up with a confirmation in writing.

        If all else fails, you’ve got a paper trail to bring to your or his boss.

        1. Cut short for time*

          What if my boss is doing this, and a paper trail is met with “we need to adapt on the fly/to changing circumstances”? I really would live to find a way as the semi-team lead to stop having to do everything in a rush because she can’t stick to a plan and comes up with a completely new approach at the eleventh hour.

          1. PayRaven*

            Step 1: Take some time to howl at the moon. It’s okay, you’ve earned it.

            Step 2: If you can find a way to articulate the real, tangible costs of switching at the last minute, that’s probably going to be your most persuasive asset. Think in terms of lost work (you know roughly people’s salaries and how many hours they spent, that’s a dollar amount!), opportunity cost (if we didn’t lose all that time, what else could we achieve?), and context switching. If you can make a case for producing a worse product because of the rush without throwing yourself under the bus, do that too.

            Step 3: Sometimes circumstances really do change, in a way that means the work has to change. (You and I both know that it’s not as off as your boss makes it out to be, but the possibilitiy exists.) You MIGHT be able to have a chat with her at the beginning of a project, in a hat of “work projection and risk management”, to say, “Given that we’ve seen in the past that sometimes things can happen to make us change tack, what should we be looking out for on this one?” It’s likely that she’s not thinking that far ahead, but asking the question will let her know that you’ve accepted the possibility and that you’re on the lookout for it, and will put her on notice that you’ve identified the pattern. And you might even get to plan in advance for a last-minute shift, which would be a fun bonus.

            But if you have that conversation, she says “Don’t worry, nothing will come up,” and then it’s day 11 of 14 and SOMETHING HAS COME UP, fall back on those numbers. You’re not telling her not to do it: you’re explaining the real costs of switching gears, including as many hard numbers as possible.

          2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

            Could you consider not rushing at the 11th hour? Like, if she wants to change stuff when it’s super late, that means that timelines might / will get missed. Do your best, but don’t make yourselves miserable trying to pull off miracles. She’s been able to do this because it has worked out for her so far.

            Is there any opportunity to do a more detailed options analysis on projects in the early stages?

      3. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        You might want to look at project management tools, since a major part of that role is documenting things. For smaller projects where a light touch on the PMing makes sense, I’ve ended up making a decisions log in Excel and sharing it on my screen during meetings, where we edit it in real time.

        The basic log has columns for what the issue is, what the decision is, the date the decision was made, whether the issue is open/closed, who approved the decision, etc.

        So, for example:
        Issue: are we going to use an off-the-shelf piece of software or build a tool ourselves.
        Decision: Build it ourselves
        Decision Date: 4/11/2024
        Rationale: Off-the-shelf would take too much effort to modify, concerns about data privacy.
        Decisionmaker: Serge and Catherine
        Status: CLOSED

    4. Banana Pyjamas*

      Reading your comments has been illuminating and reaffirming. How do you get past the initial ego response of I shouldn’t have to dumb myself down/demean myself for others.

      1. PayRaven*

        It can definitely be tricky! Especially if you’re in any kind of minority or disadvantaged group in your space (which I think correlates with needing to use these tactics).

        But I really do think of it as handling a toddler or a small furry animal. I’m an adult trying to do a job, and I need certain information and want to see certain outcomes. I need to navigate a communication style that doesn’t make intuitive sense to me, and that means modifying my own communication style to meet them in the middle.

        I also think of it as a performance. This isn’t the purest expression of “me”–this is the character I’m playing for a specific reason. It’s not a betrayal of myself to use words and tone and repetition in a way I’m not intuitively inclined to; it’s just a series of choices, and I’ve had good results from making them. My “worksona” has many faces.

        I’ve also had the good fortune of having other avenues at work to show competence and build my brand, and I work in a culture that really values asking questions when you don’t know something, so I will openly admit that I don’t have the same unspoken reputational risk from strategically playing dumb that someone in a tighter environment might, but if you’re getting good results, that’ll usually balance itself out.

      2. Cyborg Llama Horde*

        For me, it’s about priorities. Do I care more about being right/showing that I’m right/not “giving in” to Joe Obnoxious/whatever pride in involved in “demean myself,” or do I care that the work is done, correctly and efficiently, the first time?

        I think there’s also value in interrogating the “dumb down” idea. That sounds like on some level, being the incomprehensible subject matter expert is valuable to you. Why? Is it an idea of what “competent” looks like? Is it being a stickler for correct terminology? Is whatever is causing that impulse more important than communicating with your colleagues?

        To me, reducing friction in my work interactions is almost always worth it. Should I have to put each of my three questions in bold, with bullet points, and reiterate three times that I need answers to all of them? No. But if taking five extra minutes to format my initial email will eliminate a ten- or twenty-message back-and-forth in order to get answers, I will absolutely do it, because it makes the work overall easier, and minimizes the time I spend being annoyed by people I have limited patience for.

        1. Banana Pyjamas*

          I have been told verbatim to “dumb it down”, “play stupid”, and “pretend you don’t know”. So that’s where the language comes from. It feels very demeaning to be told that, especially as a 19 year old woman from a 40-something man. It was disheartening to hear from more seasoned women in my 20s. Now in my 30s I see some value, but struggle with how it was previously presented.

          A lot of PayRaven’s explanations have really helped reframe that, and it’s reaffirming that I already started doing some of those things on my own.

          I don’t consider myself a subject-matter expert, so I think my frustration also comes from being told that when discussing basic concepts. I switched to bullet emails years ago, but I will try bold too. I struggle with to get past the shouldn’t have to, but I think reframing it as spending less time being annoyed could be helpful. It’s like eating the yucky food first so the good part of the meal is more enjoyable.

          1. PayRaven*

            The “I shouldn’t HAVE to” thing is so real. I’ve found a lot of liberation in affirming to myself: you’re right! I shouldn’t have to. But I can either spend a lot of time and annoyance waiting for other people to be better, or I can manage my energy and time right now, and I know which one is going to pay off first.

    5. Miette*

      Strategies for dealing with a ceo who has nothing but criticism for work he asked for but failed to provide clear or specific direction on?

      1. PayRaven*

        With a CEO there’s the unfortunate reality that you just might not have any power in that situation. These tactics only work on a roughly-peer-level playing field.

        You can fall back on flattery to some extent, or really doubling down on the “I just want to make sure that I don’t make the same mistake [trusting you to tell me things if they’re important] again messaging (maybe incorporating some of the “Here’s what money we lost on rework/whatever tangible effects the lack of clarity will have” from other answers, but unfortunately, CEOs gonna operate how they’re gonna operate.

      2. Banana Pyjamas*

        I experienced this, and a couple of false starts to major projects.

        The first thing is understanding sometimes people don’t actually know what they want or can’t correctly express what they want.

        The second is that you can take preventive measures, but they won’t always works. At the end of the day, mind-changers are mind-changers.

        Ask a lot of questions in the meeting for the start of the project.

        Confirm you have the answer to each question, then write it down.

        Once you confirm what they want: here’s how I think we can do that, what would you prefer.

        Okay so just to verify, you want me to… let me write that down. This might seem excessive but they often add additional wants or clarification with this prompt.

        When they ask if there’s anything else: just to review you want me to x,y,z. You’d be shocked how often they tell you to do the opposite of what you confirmed. Then I reiterate you asked me for x, do you want x or a.

        Rinse and repeat until all of your action items are confirmed.

    6. anon for this one*

      Ooo please help. How can people (me and many others) politely express the obvious in this recurring situations.

      Tl:DR – how to professionally tell grand bosses, we see what you did there. Well played, now own it and we get to work. And we keep our jobs. Basically, your butts sit in the big leather chairs, own your decisions and let’s get to work without pretending otherwise.

      The grand bosses at the big central office are starting major projects. They will start the planning in the last 3 months of the year (for this company). This means getting ‘stakeholder’ input so the projects can all start with a bang with the new company year.

      Everyone has deadlines and other projects they have to meet before the year’s end. Thus, many stakeholders and lama experts cannot be part of these initial feedback meetings followed by weekly meetings for many of these projects. More people in the central office can.

      Grand bosses and great grand bosses keep asking for more meetings and times and volunteers. They also make snarky comments about “Hey office-in-the-boonies, you need to get your people to step up because we are giving them a chance to have a voice.” (the “step up” was said, “come to the table and participate,” “prioritize these initiatives”).

      Those same people from the boonies gave them feedback about the kick off timing, time commitments and of course the projects they have to finish before the end of the year. The responses are “we considered it, here we are.”

      Note that the work is often volunteer or in addition to the other work for those stakeholders. If we find a few experts available in the remote offices, they still have to meet their lama grooming targets or get paid less. The central office people get time and project management, etc. Even if the experts could make the meetings, the frequency and schedule requires a lot of work for those offices to cover with others. A hot mess scheduling.

      I and others are looking for a professional way to state:
      1. We gave you feedback on the timeline and limitations.
      2. You big bosses and central office chose these frequent meeting times and the projects times anyway.
      3. It looks like you don’t want our input at the other offices. Maybe because it is too hard to get that input. Or costs too much. That is ok. No hard feelings.
      4. What is not ok is call it “input by all the offices and experts near and far.” Don’t make us pretend you are getting input from anywhere but the central office. It hurts to lie at work and see it over and over again. It also turns good experts against the initiatives (which by themselves are actually good). We would rather be commanded than pretended. And your projects may have more success that way.

      Big bosses make decisions. Own it.

      1. PayRaven*

        This might be one for the big blog, as there’s a lot going on here and some of it is outside my competency sphere, but let me see if I can break down what I see. We’ve got:

        1. Central office vs. satellite office dynamics
        2. Differing incentives across stakeholder groups
        3. Lip service that’s coming off as offensive to the less-enfranchised groups

        What levers you actually have to affect this are going to really depend on what channels of communication and relationships you have with the big bosses and central office. It kind of sounds like you…don’t really have this, but in the event that you do, you could try to ask explicitly about what how people in the central office make time for this, framing it as “We’d love to be more involved, of course we’re very passionate about this stuff, so what have you all figured out to make it work that we simply haven’t yet?”

        The goal here isn’t to get advice (which we already know probably won’t apply to your situation), but to flush out what assumptions the big bosses have about the kind of time commitment and relative priority of this planning work are. If you have those concrete details, you can then go back in with specific questions “clarifying” (making it clear why those answers don’t work for you). You might also find out something interesting, like everyone in the central office is actually working a ton of unpaid overtime to make this happen, or it’s unspoken but common for other things to slip during this period.

        But if you’d made your case as directly as you can and it hasn’t worked then…yeah, your big bosses aren’t willing to accommodate you more. That sucks, AND IT’S OKAY TO BE GRUMPY ABOUT THAT. For all that you have a “no hard feelings” theme in your question, those ARE hard feelings, and that’s fine! Owning that might help you move to the “eye-rolling” phase of your life with these particular bosses. But if you’re letting this stuff turn experts against initiatives that you admit ARE good…those are hard feelings. Again, it’s okay to have those, and pretending you don’t is probably using up energy that would be better spent elsewhere.

        Another thing to remember is that from their perspective, all the offices and experts near and far DID have the opportunity to give input, and some of them actually did! They’re not seeing the missed opportunities from your side. They’re just not. All they’re seeing is the input that actually comes in. Again, roll your eyes, try to take their wording a little less literally.

        Re: “we would rather be commanded than pretended:” they ARE commanding you. This is just how they’re doing it. They’re also using rhetorical tactics to try to maintain relationships with their employees. It’s misfiring for your group, and that’s the last line of feedback you can attempt to give: “Hey, I know this isn’t the intent, but all this verbiage about ‘experts near and far’ really hits differently in the outer offices, where we’d really like to be participating more, but have been stymied by all the issues we’ve previously given you feedback on.”

    7. RandomED*

      How do I convince my board of directors to put more effort into financial and legal oversight? They are smart, but they are volunteers without much experience. I’ve tried the following: asking them to create structures for oversight, asking them to reach out to experts for advice, asking them to do training/research on how board oversight works, and explaining the risks of a lack of oversight (to the org and themselves personally). The responses have ranged from interested to apathetic to somewhat defensive—last year, our previous executive director lost a bunch of money right under their noses, and they don’t like to hear any implications that perhaps that was, in part, their own failure.

      In short, I’d like them to do the work (in accordance with how the power dynamic works), but they respond best when I do the work and simply hand them the solutions. They have put in lots of work when it was urgently needed or when they feel strongly about something. For context, my board is mostly tech professionals with project and people management experience.

      1. PayRaven*

        I think you’re going to have to get really clear with yourself about how much work you’re willing to do, first of all. If “if we don’t take action, RandomED will take care of it for us” is an option, they are simply never incentivized to change tactics. So that’s step one.

        Step two is release the idea of whose fault it was. You know and I know, but that’s not a detail that helps us, so we’ll discard it. Treat it entirely as a future-looking exercise: of course WE would hate for something like this to ever happen again, so we’re simply determining what we need to put in place for it to happen.

        When you’ve explained the risks, how tangible and personal have you made them? You might have to go one level deeper than whatever you said that wasn’t getting a good response. You have to turn generic “problems” into “things they can envision as problems for them, specifically.”

        If they’re generally smart folks, you can also lean on the messaging of “I think you’d be the right person/group to help us figure out how to move forward.” Put aside their past failures and give them the opportunity to do well (with your guiding hand).

        Does that help?

        1. RandomED*

          “ Step two is release the idea of whose fault it was. You know and I know, but that’s not a detail that helps us, so we’ll discard it.”

          That’s helpful framing. I think what is happening is they are hearing my calls for more oversight as an indictment of their past mistakes, which is not my goal at all. So, I need to figure out how to frame this without triggering that. If you have any tips/scripts, would love to hear them.

          “ You have to turn generic “problems” into ‘things they can envision as problems for them, specifically.’”

          I need to ruminate more on this! Maybe I can leverage the problems they do care about (eg having too much work on their plate, losing other board members) and connect those to how better oversight will help solve them.

          Thanks so much for your help!

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      Oh, and also:
      – Event vendors – bidding out and contracting for event services.
      – Negotiating dietary requirements with caterers.

    2. badger*

      What’s the best way to seek event sponsorship? How do you go about starting that from scratch? What’s your top tips?

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I really enjoy working with sponsors, but ran out of time to write an answer tonight. Please check back tomorrow for a complete guide (and the continuation of my guide to event planning below.)

      2. The Prettiest Curse*

        Prepare for a giant wall of text with all my knowledge on sponsorship. ;)

        Sponsor outreach is one of the first things you should do after scheduling your event date and venue. If you haven’t implemented a sponsor programme before, it can be a bit daunting, so it’s better to start simple and then ramp up for subsequent events.

        The first thing to do is research. Identify which similar events in your area have sponsors, what kind of sponsor opportunities they offer and how much they charge.You can often find sponsor brochures on event websites – if not, sign up for email updates on an event, as sponsor information will often be sent out via email.

        If you can’t locate their sponsor brochure, look at the type of companies who are sponsoring the event (this would be on their event website or brochure) and what the sponsor levels are called. Common sponsor level names include: Platinum / Gold / Silver / Bronze and Presenting/ Supporting / Contributing / Exhibiting. In these examples, Platinum or Presenting would be the top-level (most expensive) sponsorships. If your competitor events are very similar and at the same time of year as your event, you probably won’t want to approach their sponsors for a similar type of sponsorship, as companies may have restrictions on how much they will spend in a specific area or for a certain type of event. However, there’s no harm in asking, as you never know if there’s money sloshing around in the marketing budget.

        After you’ve done your research, work out what you want to offer sponsors. It’s probably best to start with 3 levels of sponsorship at most, as companies will be looking at how the levels differ in prices and benefits. If you’re starting a new sponsor programme, you’ll want to price your sponsor levels slightly below the equivalent levels at your competitor events so that companies will be willing to give you a chance. For example: if your rival conference charges £1,000 for an exhibiting sponsorship and attracts 300 attendees and your event attracts 300-400, you should charge around £800 for your equivalent sponsor level, so that their marketing staff will look at your brochure or sell sheet and realise that your event has more attendees and is cheaper. You can raise prices in subsequent years – companies often sponsor a lot of events and may not remember how much they paid the previous year.

        Next, you should put together a sponsor brochure (sometimes called a sell sheet.) This doesn’t have to look nice (though bonus points if it does) – it can be a Word document outlining the benefits of each sponsor level and with some information about the event. If you have great photos from a previous event or nice quotes you can pull from attendee evaluations (example: “This is the best llama grooming conference in the tri-state area. The networking opportunities are excellent! – 2023 attendee), add them in. The minimum information your sponsor brochure should include is:
        – Brief description of your event and some effusive language about how delighted you are to be launching a sponsor programme.
        – Information on how many people attend your event and any relevant information about attendees.
        – Sponsor packages (see below)
        – Contact email for more information.
        If you have enough attendee data to make a pie chart showing attendee breakdown, add that in too.

        Example attendee info: Every year, the Lovely Health Professionals Conference is attended by 300-400 health professionals.The majority of attendees (60%) are nurses, and the event also attracts doctors (20% of attendees), clinical social workers (10%) and other health professionals such as occupational therapists and lactation consultants (10%). The event predominately attracts attendees from the Greater London area (55%), but a significant percentage are from Hampshire (15%), Surrey (15%) and Bedfordshire (10%), with the remainder from other areas of the UK.

        Then outline your sponsor benefits and pricing.
        This is an example of what a sponsor might get in a top-level package:
        Presenting Sponsor – £10,000
        1 available
        Logo banner placement on event stage
        Full page advertisement in event brochure
        Logo recognition on event website, in event brochure, event signage and additional event materials
        2 giveaway items in attendee giveaway bag or virtual bag
        3 social media recognition posts pre-event and 3 social media recognition posts after the event.
        Exhibit booth in (whatever area of your event venue attracts the most foot traffic)
        3 free delegate tickets, plus 20% discount on additional tickets
        2 places at invitation-only VIP reception

        At the lowest level, companies will get a lot less than this – often just logo recognition and an exhibit booth, which may be in a less well-trafficked part of the venue.

        The most important things to do when writing sponsor packages are:
        1. NEVER promise anything to a sponsor that you can’t deliver. If you say they get a meet and greet with Oprah, they get a meet and greet with Oprah. (If circumstances make something you promised impossible, ask the sponsor what they want instead, then deliver it.)
        This is because some companies have pushy and/or charming marketing staff who will try to convince you to deliver more than you promised. Also, if you can’t deliver something you promised, this will upset the sponsor and it’s entirely possible they won’t sponsor again or they’ll ask for a refund.
        2.Be very, very clear about what you are giving them and what they are giving you.

        Regarding 1: managing and communicating with sponsors once they have signed up needs to be in somebody’s job description. Try not to spread this task between multiple people, otherwise the sponsor may end up getting inconsistent or wrong information.

        Once you’ve put together your packages, identify potential sponsors and send out your information. This is where you mine your contact list as much as possible. If you work for a non-profit, your fundraisers can help you here.

        A lot of companies will have money left in their marketing budgets at the end of the year, so that’s often the best time to send out sponsor information. For example, the big annual conference that I plan is held in June/July. For the 2024 event, we sent out sponsor information in November 2023 and secured several sponsors before the end of the year.

        Look at your list of companies sponsoring your competitor events – are there similar local companies you can approach? The most appropriate person to contact will usually be someone in the marketing department. If you already have relationships with an organisation, you can just ask your contact(s) over there if they would be interested. Make sure that you are putting information about sponsorships on your website, promotional materials and in your event emails. Often companies will see that you’re offering sponsorships and ask for a brochure, so you may not even need to approach people too much, especially if your event or organisation is well-known in your area. You may want to have a target list of companies to ask for sponsorships to help to narrow it down.
        Also, you do NOT need to be a sales person to sell sponsorships – I am very much not! But don’t be scared to follow up with your leads a couple of times after sending the brochure to see if they have questions or are interested.

        You can also offer in-kind sponsorships – this is the type of sponsorship where no money changes hands. I don’t have direct experience of putting these packages together, but the fundraising walk events I used to help with would often approach a company to ask for food or drinks (so: 3000 protein bars or 5000 bottles of water.) Companies will often have information on their website on how to contact them to request this type of donation. You may need to follow up a few times to get a response. Sometimes in-kind donations can also be part of a larger sponsor agreement.

        Depending on the type of event, you can also offer media sponsorships – again, I don’t have experience of these, but local TV channels in the US sometimes do these as part of community benefits, so they will do a brief news piece on your event and send one of their news anchors along to be the emcee. Local magazines or newspapers may also be willing to run a piece about your event if you distribute free copies to your attendees.

        Once you have confirmed a sponsorship, get a contract in place before you announce the sponsor. This doesn’t need to be complicated (our contract is less than 2 pages) – it just needs to outline the benefits, give your organisation the right to use their logo and say how much they will pay you. You can also include items such as setting up and removing their exhibit booth within a specific time frame or a payment schedule if it’s a big sponsorship. Make sure it gets signed by both organisations and have the contract template reviewed by someone with legal or contracts knowledge before sending if your organisation doesn’t have a standard sponsor agreement that you can adapt.

        Finally, if you need examples of sponsor brochures, ideas for sponsor packages, sponsor level names for specific industries etc., plug it into the search engine of your choice because there are a lot of good ideas out there.

        I hope this was useful, and good luck!

        1. kanzeon*

          I have no current need to do this but this writeup is so interesting and helpful- I’m going to save it just in case! Thank you!

    3. Mel*

      I’d like to arrange some hobby-related parties/socials for high-risk folks that are still staying covid safe. What’s the best approach at this point?

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Honestly, the only truly safe option is to do them virtually. But I have organised (and attended) a few large events in the summer and not caught Covid. If there has to be an indoor element, limit the number of people in the room and allow for plenty of spacing. So if your event is for 25-30 people, you might want to hold it in a room that can accommodate 100+ people. You should have an outdoor break area (at minimum), ventilate any indoor areas as much as possible and/or use air purifiers. For catering, either have boxed/bagged lunches or tell people they should bring their own food and drink.

        However, the best option is to do it outdoors and rent a big marquee if you have a lot of people. Summer is (obviously) peak marquee rental season, so you may have to pay through the nose, if you can find one at this time of year. (If you want to rent a big marquee for a summer event, they are often sold out by the end of March/early April. Same with outdoor furniture rental. You are competing with weddings.)

        If you have a smaller number of people, you could probably borrow, rent or buy a pop-up tent. If your event is in a park, they will often allow this type of tent if they don’t exceed a certain size.

        Also, ask the people you are inviting what they would be comfortable doing so you can gauge how likely they would be to attend in the scenarios outlined above. I hope this helps, and good luck!

      2. Alice*

        I love your idea!
        There are Covid cautious people who take different levels of precautions, so I think it’s important to communicate clearly and without implying that specific people are too lax or too strict. What’s important is saying, “this is the approach we are taking at this event – if that works for you, we’d love to have you.”
        Everything that the Prettiest Curse said is good – it’s all about clean air. Also, you could think about explicitly articulating expectations for participants. Don’t come to the event if you have symptoms? If you have a known exposure within X time period? Mask in all indoor public spaces for a period of time before the event? Use a rapid test before the event? Being clear about that will help participants decide whether it’s a good fit for them.
        Finally – we used to have picnics or go punting or bike riding or whatever before the pandemic, and they are still fun group activities that can be very Covid safe! You’ll be able to plan some great events, I’m sure!

    4. Caroline*

      Where do you start with planning an event?
      For more context: I have to deliver an event with multiple moving parts across different sites. It’s a one day event, and I have a date.
      But now I’m a bit stuck on where to start – is there a best practice for where to begin?

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        This might be a tricky one if you haven’t done a multi-venue event before. I always advise people who don’t have much event planning experience to start with a small and simple event and then do something more complicated.

        It sounds like you have your venues set already. You’ll want to find out as much about the venues as you can – if you’re not already familiar with it, schedule an introductory call with your venue contact and follow up with an in-person site visit (if you’re local) or have your local staff person do it if it’s not within easy travel distance.
        Questions to ask your venue/things to consider:

        – Do they have in-house catering and AV services? If not, do they have a list of preferred or required vendors you can use? Do you have to pay a venue fee if you’re not using in-house services? (Hotels generally make you use their in-house services. Some venues will obtain quotes and contract with vendors on your behalf, but they charge you a fee to do it.)

        – If your event has a hybrid element, get as many details as you can about their hybrid meeting capabilities.

        – Do a walk-through of all the spaces you will use for your event, as if you were an attendee. Is there anything which might require extra signage, such as a weird bathroom layout? Does the venue provide extra signage or have rules about bringing your own?

        – Do they have wi-fi for event staff and attendees? If so, how is it accessed? (Hotels will sometimes charge, so make sure it’s included in your contract if you’ll need it.)

        – What are the parking and transit options for attendees? Do they offer validated or discounted parking? If a lot of attendees will be cycling to the event, do they have bike racks or bike storage?

        – How do they handle dietary requirements? When is the last day to get them the attendee head count for catering.

        – Do they have a private space (preferably with a lockable door) which can be used as a staff break area and for storage of valuables? If attendees will be staying in hotels the night before the event, is there somewhere they can store their luggage during the event? (Often hotels will allow people to store luggage at the front desk.)

        I have to log off for a bit now, will continue later!

    5. Nekussa*

      I have volunteered to organize a local festival for several years, but it’s not what I do for a living. If I ever decided to change careers, would such informal experience be valuable? Is there a lot of learning on the job, or are there formal study programs for event planners?

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I don’t hire staff, but yes, this experience is valuable and you could definitely list it as events experience on your resume or cover letter.

        There are industry associations that offer training and certifications (here in the UK, it is the MIA – Meetings Industry Association), but I think around 90% of people in the industry (including me and the rest of my small department) have no formal training and basically fell into doing it. Nothing will teach you about planning and coordinating an event like actually doing it!

        Having any kind of background in an area where you really have to plan in advance, meet deadlines and Get Stuff Done is probably the most useful background. (My supervisor and I both have backgrounds in the performing arts.) Event planning and coordination is not very well-paid on the nonprofit/higher education side (which is where my experience lies), but I imagine it’s better compensated on the corporate side. You also have to sometimes work long and unsocial hours, but in my case that’s only for around 10 weeks of the year and things are less intense at other times.

        Best of luck if you do decide to change career!

      2. Banana Pyjamas*

        Some community colleges in the U.S. offer certificate programs for event planning. Often these will be at the back of the course catalogue because they are offered through third party partners.

      3. Miette*

        Here in the US there is a certification: Certified Meeting Professional, which is useful to have though not necessarily for an entry level position. You can google about it and learn a lot more about the “art and science” of meeting and event planning from a self-directed learning perspective. A lot of vendor blogs have free content around this as well–you could start there.

  5. MI Dawn*

    I work in health insurance in the US. While some things are state/company specific, if anyone has a “how do I” question, I’ll be happy to answer!

    1. Health Insurance Woes*

      My husband (who carries our health insurance) was just laid off last Friday. We’re covered through April 30. Is there a way to figure out if we should get Cobra, use marketplace…or what. We’re fortunate that any prescriptions would be just about as cheap using GoodRx, so I’m not too worried about that. But the last time he was laid off (right at the beginning of Covid :-( It took 9 months for him to find a job.
      The company I work for is so small it doesn’t offer health insurance so that’s not an option.

      1. Garblesnark*

        i am not the person you asked! but if I may, your hubby’s former employer will send you a COBRA letter with a form that you can fill out and send back with a check to get COBRA. COBRA is retroactive. While you are deciding, fill out the form and the check, put it on your fridge or another comparable obvious place in a stamped addressed envelope, and tell everyone you trust with a key to your home to mail the letter if you are in the ICU. You have at least 30 days from your spouse’s term date to decide what you will do, but that window will start to feel really narrow if you have a health crisis.

      2. hypoglycemic rage*

        I was unemployed for like 4 months earlier this year, and I could have used COBRA. but it was so expensive, I got on (IL) medicaid (medicare? I am 32) and would have gone through the marketplace had that not been an option. but it’s just me (apparently plants do not count as dependents??) and it might be different if you have an income.

        1. Banana Pyjamas*

          Similar situation here. Also when you make an application on marketplace it always goes through state Medicaid first.

    2. DottedZebra*

      I had a minor procedure that required anesthesia. I confirmed that the doctor was in network but it looks like the anesthesiologist was not. So my bill from the doctor is $120ish and the anesthesiologist was on my EOB for thousands. I thought Biden signed something recently about no surprise bills? I’m not sure how to fight this.

      1. Health Policy Staffer*

        I helped get that law (No Surprises Act) enacted! The first thing to know is that an EOB is not a bill, it’s what the provider asked your insurer to pay. If the process works like it’s supposed to, your insurer should pay an agreed upon rate and you will only be responsible for your copay/coinsurance/deductible.

        If the anesthesiologist DOES try to bill you separately, let your insurance company know. You can also tell your HR department if you have employer-sponsored insurance. Some employers also have advocacy services. And you can also report it to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau:

        1. Throwaway Account*

          Oh my goodness that is helpful! I’m a day late but if you see this, wow, great advice!

      2. Hannah Lee*

        I’d suggest looking at the details of your group insurance plan, to see if they have any specific language about provider billing, balance billing and what they’ll allow. It may be called out specifically in the plan documents you have, with details about what is prohibited. This will give you baseline information to explain what’s going on, such as the right terminology to describe the issue to whoever is going to look into it.

        Then follow up with both your employer’s benefits administrator and your insurance CS line. Explain what happened and ask them to look into it. (you could start with one and then move on to the other if it doesn’t seem to be getting resolved). And tell the billing office of the doctor that there may be an issue with how the claim was submitted/processed and you’re working to get it resolved.

        I’m the benefits administrator at my company, and when something like that has happened, the employee raised it to me, and I got the broker and and the group insurance company’s employer contact involved to help me and the employee gather, submit information, review the billing and claims processing, and get the provider to adjust their claims so a) the plans approved rates were applied to the service (vs an off the street rack-rate with no negotiated discount) and b) the claim was approved as an in-network claim, since the both facility and main doctor were in network providers and the employee/patient had no control over choosing the anesthesiologist who was involved in the procedure.

        What you’ll owe will likely depend on the specifics of your plan, your location, the specifics of facility, main doctor, specialists, etc. But you may find the whole thing is reduced and almost as important, it will ensure that payments towards your deductible, out-of-pocket maximum are recorded correctly so you don’t wind of paying more than you should for other services in the same plan year.

    3. Hannah Lee*

      Not so much a “how do I” question, but any experience with using a PEO set up to source a company’s group health insurance plans and other benefits?

      I manage benefits at my small private employer, and usually have several sales people pitching them every renewal period. In the past, I’d occasionally have them give a proposal, it never seemed as though the pricing justified introducing the complexity of going that way. Some of the companies offering this remind me of SOME the suppliers in the “swap out your electric provider” market ie IN THEORY what they are pitching sounds good, but in reality, there are shady things going on, and the savings or simplicity or whatever just isn’t what they are saying it will be.

      The appeal was usually the breath of options vs what we’d usually see as a small business.

      Has anyone found they worked well for them? Are there particular things to watch out for?

    4. No longer single or alone*

      How messy does it get when a child is double covered by insurance from both my husband and I? I know they’ll need to coordinate benefits for appointments, but is there anything I need to do to make things go smoothly? Or things I should be aware of?

      1. Leah*

        It’s actually not that messy to be double covered, so long as you contact both insurances and do a coordination of benefits. Once the insurances know who’s primary and who’s secondary there shouldn’t be any problems with them processing claims. Just make sure that you know who’s primary and that the medical provider knows that too do that they send claims in the correct order.

      2. Chelsea*

        I am not a health insurance expert but I have navigated double coverage for my child for the last 2 years and have learned some things.
        1. The primary insurance for the child will be determined by calendar day of each parent’s birthday. Whoever comes first in the year is primary. If your birthday is May 30 and spouse is June 15, your insurance is primary and spouse’s is secondary.
        2. You will probably have to do coordination of benefits more than once, and remind each insurance about the coordination of benefits more than once.
        3. Carefully read bills and insurance EOBs. Remind each provider about which insurance is primary, especially if it’s been a while between visits.
        4. It may take a long time for insurance to bill correctly, so don’t pay a bill you think insurance will cover. If insurance is being slow, update the provider. In my experience, the provider won’t send a bill to collections for a long time, and will make a hold note on the bill if they know insurance is processing. I had 1 bill that took 18 months to get paid properly, but it did not go to collections during that time.

        In my case, especially in the first year, I spent a lot of time on the phone with both insurance companies trying to get coordination of benefits sorted out. Now things generally bill pretty smoothly, but if we go to a new provider there are often some hiccups. For me it’s been worth the hassle and time suck in order to have our child (and us) covered at 100% with no copays, but it is definitely a time commitment.

      3. Garblesnark*

        Please look up the birthday rule and check based on this whether it is worth the additional expense.

        1. No longer single or alone*

          Thanks for the responses! This kid will have some fairly significant medical costs this year and each insurance does a better job covering different things. Thank you for the detailed advice everyone!

    5. Jonaessa*

      How do I find prices for prescriptions without calling every pharmacy? My doctor wrote me a prescription for a drug that is not covered by my insurance. I went to the medication’s website and got a savings coupon. That only brought it down to $550 at my preferred pharmacy. I can’t check prices on my insurance’s website because it’s not covered so there are no options to “search nearby” or anything. But when I called another (doctor-recommended) pharmacy, they told me they don’t contract with my insurance carrier (despite being a national carrier). When I tried to tell her that insurance wouldn’t cover it anyway, and I wanted to check the price with a savings card, she recommended I contact a pharmacy an hour away. I went back to my insurance website and did a quick chat. The support staff offered to find a pharmacy, so I thought, “YES! GREAT!” She sent me a list of all in-network pharmacies. :/ That doesn’t really help when the script isn’t covered.

      Am I not asking the right questions? Will I need to call every pharmacy? Is it better to go in with my savings card? What’s the most efficient way to find an affordable prescription?

      Thanks for any suggestions you can throw my way!

      1. hypoglycemic rage*

        i’m not the initial person, but i’ve gone on cvs and walgreen’s websites to find the cost (i do generic for meds) and if it’s not covered it should give you some estimate. i’ve also used goodrx when i was between insurances. hopefully this helps, i’ve never had a prescription not be covered by insurance though.

      2. Julia Gulia*

        Also not the OP but if you’re comfortable sharing, does this happen to be for a GLP1? The savings card and $550 is the common language of the community. If it’s the Z or the MJ, $550 is as low as it will go since your insurance doesn’t cover it at all. Th $25 advertised price assumes insurance coverage unfortunately.

        1. Jonaessa*

          You guessed it! If you are familiar with those, do you know of anything similar that my doctor could prescribe that a savings card would cover?

          Thanks for the feedback everyone!

      1. Hannah Lee*

        If you have a doctor you’re working with for treatment of whatever condition the medication would be treating, that’s a good place to start. Particularly if your insurance is through a company that is well known in your area, that practice may have already dealt with that carrier/plan and know what their plan/ formulary guidelines are for that prescription drug and what is needed to get something approved, which will make the process easier for you. That will also likely be the person who will need to justify it to the insurance carrier to get authorization if it’s not something that’s part of their standard formulary authorized treatment options.

        If you want to dig into it, you can look through the insurance plan’s formulary (PDL – prescription drug list) which will give information on what drugs are “standard” for what conditions, what payment tiers they fall in, and also have guidelines for what needs to happen to get other stuff approved. For example some require the doctor/patient to try A and B and C cheaper options before going to more expense option D. Or you may find that the medication you think would be good is not approved by them for condition M that you were focused on, but it is approved for condition P which you also have. Or that while the one drug you were looking for isn’t covered, but there is a near equivalent that is, that your doctor can write for an skip all the “special approval” and “extra expense” stuff.

        1. Azure Jane Lunatic*

          Sometimes if the insurance company says “you must try A, B, and C” it does not mean that you must do A, B, and C again, if you have already done those the last time. If you’ve tried A, B, and C in the past, have your doctor write a letter stating that you’ve tried those already. Sometimes that works.

    6. Jane Anonsten*

      How do I figure out if I can get my insurance to cover the cost of therapy? Who do I call, what do I ask? Both kids are diagnosed as neurodiverse (different flavors) and one of them is in need in my opinion; I also see one because I am a full-time working parent in the year 2024 and she helps keep me from putting on banana pants.

      1. your friendly local therapist*

        Not the OP but therapist here who helps people navigate insurance! Two relatively easy options: you can call your insurer and ask what your behavioral health coverage is, or you can look on your plan’s schedule of benefits. Generally speaking, if the clinician is in-network, coverage works one of two ways: either you’ll have a flat copay (say, $30) every session, or you’ll have to meet your deductible first and then coverage will kick in. If the therapist is NOT in-network, you still might have some coverage – in that case, the question to ask is “what are my out-of-network behavioral health benefits?” In that situation, what will typically happen is you’ll pay the therapist’s full fee (say, $175) and submit what’s called a superbly to your insurer, who will then reimburse you for whatever your plan covers (so if they cover 50%, you’ll get $87.50 back).

    7. Space Coyote*

      Do you have a license? I’m currently studying for the Colorado state exam for life and health and I’m interested in general advice from anyone with recent experience with a state exam (not necessarily CO).

      I might be freaking out a bit because my brain. is. full. of vocabulary @_@

      1. MI Dawn*

        For my position, I have to have a health care practitioner’s licence (MD, RN, etc). But there are a lot of company positions that don’t require one. Not familiar with state exams except the NCLEX (RN exam) which I took too many years ago. My child became a RN about 5 years ago and also took the NCLEX exam. They studied hard but said the exam wasn’t too bad because they studied.

        I apologize if that doesn’t answer what you asked!

        1. Space Coyote*

          Ah, in my case I work for a broker in employee benefits, so I’m studying for an insurance license. Thank you so much for answering!

    8. I'm usually smart enough, but not smart enough for this*

      I’ve been on my husband’s insurance but I just got a new job (yay!) and need to figure out whose is a better plan. Staying on his is cheaper per paycheck, but their description of benefits are just different enough that I can’t figure out which one would be cheaper over time/better if emergency strikes.

      I’m fairly healthy, so most of what I need is regular therapy, an annual checkup, and maybe 1-2 specialists a year, but I haven’t been able to find a calculator or something similar to add it all up.

      Any suggestions?

      1. MI Dawn*

        Oh, that’s always a tough one, because what works for one couple may not work for another. A few questions to look at: Most plans have to cover preventative care (annual exams, mammograms, colonoscopies, etc) at 100% paid, with nothing out of your pocket. Other services may have a deductible/copays/coinsurance that you have to cover. So, in your case:

        1. Does either plan have just copays (a set amount to pay, usually $25-$50 USD) for specialists? That tends to be cheaper than deductible/coinsurance if your specialist visits are expensive. However, if you see the specialist often, then you might max out a deductible/coinsurance early in the year and your insurance then would cover the rest of the visits in full.

        2. Are you taking any medications? How are they covered (under the insurance or under a separate pharmacy plan)? What would the costs be?

        3. How is therapy covered? Are there any limits to number of visits? Is your current therapist in-network with either/both plans? How expensive are the visits? (see #1 about copays vs deductible).

        4. Are you planning to expand your family (caring for additional adult members, having a child/adopting/fostering)? Would the additional person(s) be covered under your or his plan? Which would be more cost effective?

        I’m sorry I can’t be more precise, but insurance plans vary SO much! I always tell people that health insurance plans are like the old Chinese menus: You get everything in column A (i.e., services required by federal/state laws) and then your company gets to chose from column B as to what they want to cover in addition.

        For example, in my state, many companies are required by state law to cover services that many other states don’t require – infertility costs, many child expenses (autism, deafness, etc). But other companies do not have to cover those services if they chose not to. It’s all very complex.

        1. I'm usually smart enough, but not smart enough for this*

          Long response didn’t get lost! Thanks for the followup!

          1. It looks like they both have copays that are similar enough for specialists that that’s now not a concern (thanks!)
          2. I’m not currently taking medications, but it looks like they’d be a flat rate on one and a percent (up to a max) on the other that would be higher, so that’s good to knowQ
          3. I think the therapist would be out of network on both (I’ll have to double check with her, but I suspect). It’s explicitly not covered on one plan (if it’s telemedicine) but it’s not called out specifically on the other plan, so I’m not sure if that means it’s not covered at all or if it’s categorized as something else.
          4. No plans to add to the family in the near future, so I don’t think I have to worry about that!

          No apologies needed for the lack of precision. Thank you so much for the depth and thought!

      2. MI Dawn*

        I typed a very long response that I hope it went into moderation rather than vanished! I’ll keep checking.

    9. Kd*

      How much does your employer benefit administrator help on things like navigating inaccurate billing? I’m at a small company and the person who handles HR has a bunch of other jobs, so it would never occur to me to ask—but there have been times when I really could have used the help! What’s appropriate to ask?

      1. Julia Gulia*

        My job is one of those where I oversee all operations for a tiny organization. Definitely ask! We had this happen and our broker was able to help.

      2. MI Dawn*

        I agree with Julia Gulia. Ask your broker if you have one! Or, if you have some sort of community representative (my company has some employees who work with small businesses and helps them out), ask them.

    1. PlywoodRampsRUS*

      Oooh, thank you.

      Would Camtasia or Final Cut Pro be a better tool for adding Audio Description tracks to short videos, for people who are just learning the technology?

      1. Exit-Stage-Left*

        Hi, not the original poster – but work daily with audio accessibility elements (like AD / DV / VI-N to film and television).

        Of those two Final Cut would be the better choice, but probably not the best one. Premiere Pro is (by a wide margin) the most commonly used NLE system in accessibility (although if you learn one NLE system it’s usually easier to pick up and transfer to others). If cost is an option Davinci Resolve is a good option (it’s similar to Final Cut or Premiere Pro – but there’s a free version available).

        If you’re *strictly* doing Audio Description tracks however, you’re actually better of using audio editing software, not video editing software – in which case you’d be better looking at Adobe Audition, or ProTools or the like (there are also free Audio editing packages, but they’re not as good as those two which let you drop video tracks right into your project for Sync and reference).

    2. Carrots*

      If you were interested in pivoting your career away from video production, what would you apply for and how would your skills transfer?

    3. Parallax*

      Do you work with outside clients? I do some basic video shooting and editing for my organization, but we’re looking at hiring a video production company for a more complicated project later this year. I have a strong vision for the end product, but I know I don’t have the technical skills. Any tips for selecting the right company, and working on the project together? Any pitfalls or common mistakes to avoid?

      1. Exit-Stage-Left*

        Not the original poster, but used to run a freelance video production sideline:

        The most common mistake I saw was people hiring individuals (often friends or acquaintances, but sometimes individuals with significant experience trying to branch out on their own) who undercut our quotes but didn’t have the experience to know how to budget the project properly, and so had budgets or timelines that were just unfeasable.

        If going with the lowest bidder, make sure they have an established track record of the type of project you’re looking to do, and have given you a fairly detailed budget of how that breaks down between production costs, post-production time, labour etc.

        We got called in a *lot* for projects where someone had spent the entire budget shooting a project and then had to abandon it before being finished because they (often radically) underestimated the time and costs required to get it to the finish line – and didn’t realize there was a problem until it was too late.

        Make sure you have a number of interim timeline goals, (and typically fees triggered by those milestones) so you’re following (and reviewing output) the *entire* project. A typical deal would be something like:

        10% on Contract (setting out all the commitments and payment deadlines, etc)
        40% on approval of final Script / Shooting Plan / Shooting Schedule / Casting (all the “stuff” before you can actually start filming).
        10% on completion of shooting, review of all raw footage.
        10% on approval of rough cut
        20% on approval of fine cut
        10% on receipt of all final deliverables.

        That way if something goes off the rails (or personal or professional issues pop up) you’ve still got budget left to pivot and go in another direction (or hire someone else to take over).

        1. Parallax*

          Thank you! This is super helpful. We’re definitely looking to work with an established company that has a portfolio showing they do the kind of work we’re looking for.

          When you did this work, how involved was the client in the actual work, e.g. shooting? Were they onsite during shooting, or did you just agree on a shot list and then take it away to do the filming? We will probably have to coordinate some of the logistics on site when they film (for safety, etc), but should we expect to review the setup/shots as they go?

          1. Exit-Stage-Left*

            You’re the client, so that type of thing is completely at your discretion. It’s most common to have a client representative there any time we were shooting, as often things need to be tweaked and changed on the day, and that’s easier with someone there who can immediately sign off on those changes.

            We did work with some clients who just wanted the end product and didn’t want to be there, which is fine (depending on the subject matter actually shooting can be a lot more tedious than people think).

            Just be up front with what your expectations are. If that’s a deal breaker for someone that’s good to know up front (but would also be a bit of a red flag, as it’s really, really, common).

            1. Parallax*

              Good to know that’s very normal. We previously worked with a creative agency (not on video stuff) that was pretty resistant to our input/involvement through the process. In hindsight, that was probably a bit of a red flag, as you note, since we weren’t thrilled with the finished product.

    4. LoraC*

      Suggestions for voice overs when your company is too cheap to hire voice actors? They’ve been going around asking for employees to volunteer and narrate and the quality is really varied. I’ve heard about AI voice generators, is that an option and do you have any suggestions which ones to use?

      1. Exit-Stage-Left*

        AI voice generation is typically still really frowned upon by the accessibility community as being uneven quality and disconcerting to listeners (by the same token standard text-to-speech synthesis is really frowned upon – it’s better than nothing, but not much).

        Human voice narration is still the gold standard. In your case is it possible to find one or two employees who like this type of project and make them the defacto “voice actors” for your org?

        My best no-budget VO tip is to record in a clothes closet at home if possible. Most closets with the door closed are surprisingly good for acoustic deadening because of all the fabric. At least as good (or better) than a mediocre DIY voice booth.

      2. MG*

        We used an AI voice generator for our most recent project – Natural Reader. It was the first time our sound editor (freelance) worked with AI, and she enjoyed it, but in the end, it didn’t come out that much cheaper than our very expensive (but very, very professional) voice actor. That’s because while overall, the output was pretty good, there was still some finessing to do, and especially with pronuciation of foreign words (which we have here and there). In other words, most of what we saved on the voice actor we paid to our sound editor.

        She did say that it went faster as she gained more experience, and that probably the next project would go much faster. So overall, we saved maybe 15% on the project and got okay but not amazing output (since, as I said, our regular voice actor is particularly good). If you’re using employee narration and are doing voice overs regularly (so you build up experience with AI sound editing), that could work well for you.

    5. not applicable*

      Have you ever tried to manage this process across states? What are some tips/pitfalls that you would recommend if I was trying to produce a video with people all over my region?

      I’m trying to produce a video for my church and we don’t have any professionals helping us! As one of the older people within the leadership team, I’m trying to understand what the best way to implement that process is.

    6. DeskApple*

      There are of course a million free resources for editing- which is the overwhelming part. Do you have any go to references or course recommendations for absolute beginners who are otherwise very skilled in all kinds of other software? haha. I got procreate and froze at all the buttons and tabs

    7. Basic Octopus*

      Is there an easy and cheap (ideally free) way of blurring faces in a video? Specifically I’m using CCTV footage for training purposes and don’t want to identify people but my company doesn’t seem to care much about getting me access to something like this. The videos don’t need editing beyond trimming, it’s just a blur feature I need.

      1. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

        I’m far from an expert on this, but as no-one else has answered yet… I think there’s a good chance this might be possible in the free version of Davinci Resolve, which is pretty marvellous for a free thing. And it’ll be easier if the people stay in the same place on the screen, harder if they’re moving around.

  6. Anon in NJ*

    I continue to struggle with how to describe achievements on a resume when metrics are challenging. Specifically around providing good client service and entrusted with challenging relationships. Specific examples from your resumes would be helpful!!

    1. df200*

      “I have led multi-functional teams of up 30 people, encouraging collaboration, developing strong trust-based multi-level relationships and establishing an environment which encourages everyone to contribute their expertise.”


      “I am a qualified workplace mediator and I derive great satisfaction from using my skills to help individuals across [MY ORGANISATION] to resolve conflict and restore their working relationships.”

    2. Rae*

      Read one item on your resume (I prefer out loud). Now, imagine a hiring manager asking you why this mattered. what was the outcome and why did it matter?
      For example: Built a workload visualization for P. dept, identifying projects for the next 18 months, staff assigned to each, estimated days to completion, and division. This allowed my boss to quickly readjust workloads, respond more quickly to requests for new projects, saved time for everyone in the dept and streamlined work processes.
      I did resume reviews for several years. I’m not good at making up BS but I’m very good at polishing what other people have written.

    3. LaurCha*

      Same. I spent years teaching. I don’t have stats to hand any more. It’s hard to quantify other than “taught a buttload of courses to way too many students for 7 years”.

      1. Je ne sais What*

        It’s really about thinking through the crucial skills you want to highlight with that experience. Is it the coordination of multiple projects/course curricula? The communication skills necessary? The necessary team interaction of working in a secondary school department? It depends a lot on what you’re doing now too. Are you still teaching? Or pivoting to something else? Look at the action verbs the job descriptions you’re interested in use and see how you can articulate/demonstrate that in your teaching experience.

      2. CowWhisperer*

        I often explain the various subgroups of student populations I worked with like “Adapted content reading materials for English Language Learners at 4th, 6th, and 9th grade levels” or “Co-taught general education science courses to students with mild CI and moderate to severe LD IEPs. ”

        I currently teach – and no one has ever asked me for metrics as much as tools, techniques and adaptability.

    4. Garblesnark*

      Did anyone ever give you a compliment about how well you did this? maybe you can steal their wording?

      1. abitahooey*

        I got a tip I loved to help about keeping track of compliments/positive feedback on my work. My old boss encouraged me to just create a folder or a doc somewhere that was just compliments. I named mine the “yay folder” and I stick screenshots of emailed or DMed positive feedback in there that I save as [date. person name. project. feedback]. I also have a doc in there where I can make note of anecdotal feedback or milestones. This way when it comes time to update a resume, prep for a performance review, or ask for a raise, I don’t have to rack my brain for the things that went well, I can just pull up the folder! It’s also very nice to look through on days when I feel like absolute crap.

    5. TheGirlInTheAfternoon*

      “Provided consistent, detailed client service to up to X# of clients per quarter/round/whatever, including XYZ tasks.”
      “Entrusted with cultivating/maintaining/building high-touch client relationships across multiple sectors/industries/companies/whatever, regularly interacting with leadership/contacts/etc. to ensure successful outcomes.” (Or if “Entrusted with” seems a little too feelings-y for your industry, just skip straight to “Cultivated/maintained/whatever.”

      And if you received specific positive feedback from any of your clients, note that as well!

    6. Peanut Hamper*

      I find that a lot of people word their resume as “I did X to improve Y” as in “rewrote initial training to decrease onboarding of new employees”.

      Take that, spin it around (i.e., put the result first), put a number on it (metrics), and add a bit of detail that will give an interviewer something to ask a question about.

      “Reduced onboarding of new employees from six weeks to three weeks by rewriting initial training to remove redundancies and increase online options.”

    7. ecnaseener*

      I’m not in love with this phrasing (happy to hear if anyone has suggestions) but: “Frequently commended by [internal clients in my case] for providing clear, supportive guidance on complex projects”

    8. Stinky Tofu*

      [blockquote] …providing good client service and entrusted with challenging relationships… [/blockquote]

      1. Maintained X number of accounts for Y years, consistently receiving glowing feedback about my ability to Z.
      2. Fielded X% of the calls that came through my 3-person department because of my ability to quickly resolve customer concerns.
      3. Resolved an average of X% of cases in my inbox, an increase over X% of the expected monthly goals.
      4. Assigned the most complex cases, such as financial disputes, bulk order management, customer retention efforts, identity-theft concerns, etc., due to my expertise, my attention to detail and my ability to problem solve.
      5. Frequently received written and verbal positive feedback from multiple stakeholders regarding the high quality of my work and the timeliness of my delivery.
      6. Promoted X times in Y years because of demonstrated expertise in Z area.
      7. Rated “Outstanding“ on my most recent performance evaluation for A, B, and C.

      Hope this helps!

    9. ccsquared*

      As someone who’s seen a lot of resumes as a hiring manager for roles that don’t really have a lot of standard metrics, I’m actually not a fan of this advice to include metrics for the sake of using metrics – as others have pointed out, knowing what you specifically did and the impact it had is more important than quantifying everything. The goal of the “metrics” advice is to steer people away from making their resume into a set of brief job descriptions and towards a document that showcases their specific talents and accomplishments.

      Numbers can be great for that if you have them, but if you feel like you’re twisting yourself into pretzels to quantify something that isn’t normally quantified in your field or where the example highlights something else like skills you gained, your ability to work with humans, knowledge of an industry, etc., it’s ok to use a qualitative assessment of the impact.

      Where it does make sense to quantify:
      – Metrics that are standard to your field/role, for example, most sales managers would expect to see quota attainment or similar for a sales role
      – Metrics that give a sense of scope, particularly if that scope is spelled out in the job ad. Managing a system for a 10 person team is different than one for a 10,000 person company, and spending a $1,000 budget on a team event is different than running a $1M project.
      – Metrics that show truly standout performance relative to your peers or norms in the industry
      – Metrics that speak to the quality of your work, such as customer satisfaction scores or project evaluations

    1. Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced Bouquet)*

      Do you have a favorite document management system? Or what do you look for when evaluating new programs?

      1. 2 cents*

        I’m not an IT person, and my experience is many years ago, but I know of two prestigious legal employers who chose Hummingbird DM (it had a different name before), and I found it easy to use.

      2. LAM*

        I’m in a records role, so I see all these document management systems as an extension of what we have been doing for millennia. It’s just that the how that has changed.

        For example, you have to have an exit strategy negotiated before signing the contract when you didn’t have to think about when things were more analog. Otherwise, it’s a nightmare because they may still keep a copy of your data if you leave, cost an arm and a leg to retrieve everything, or you get a data dump with no context/loss of functionality.

        Something I noticed is these systems tend to focus on “we make it easier to search” and ignore the problem of bad metadata or you can’t OCR photos. I mean you can, but what’s the point of a caption that it’s a photo of a building…if every photo is of a building.

        The more straightforward your workflows and forms, the easier time people will have and the more consistent things will be, which makes it easier to find information. These systems struggle with nuance. Not that they would do some herding, more so that it will still be a pain point.

    2. More promise than lick*

      I’m what you might call an enthusiastic amateur. I have a really weird network problem (home internet isn’t as fast as it should be based on simple diagnostics) Can you please point me at some resources so I can teach myself enough to track it down?

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        Old hand at IT: first, find the logon details for your home router (Its usually provided by the ISP or whoever you purchased the router from) and access it through your PC browser – it’ll commonly be a sort of address.
        Putting the router name and model into Google should also return the address info and where to find the password.
        From there it depends upon your brand – but there’s generally a menu and option to see what devices are connected. If that looks like there’s way too many then get your wireless passwords changed ASAP (you can do that from the router control panel).

        1. Betty4Cats*

          Really old IT hand (keypunch old :-0): If you have any “smart” devices connected to your network – range, fridge, washer, … for all I know maybe toaster! – look at your network stats if you can to see if there is one or more of them “chatting” all the time. Or just take them off the network and see if speed improves. Most of these devices are half-baked software and can take up all your bandwidth.

          1. More promise than lick*

            Unless it’s the neighbor’s smart devices (which… unlikely, they’re in a detached house lol) then this it definitely isn’t.

            The problem isn’t peak speeds, it’s random slowdowns and router connection hiccups, which seem to be worse for some websites than others.

            But I have no idea how to tell whether it’s the router (which was new in 2021, seems unlikely), the cabling in the house (extremely possible but why only sometimes), or usage fluctuations elsewhere in my local “node”. Or something else I haven’t thought of.

            And I don’t really know enough about network infrastructure in general to be able to point myself to learn more.

            1. I Have RBF*

              If you are in an urban area, the slowdown may not be inside your home network. If one of your neighbors on the same network “branch” is doing a lot of streaming or downloading, it can slow the entire branch down. You might want to make note of the time(s) of day that this happens – like say 4 pm when kids come home from school – and see if it correlates to anything.

      2. Tio*

        Not an IT anything, but with a weird note: My friend is a streamer, and after much frustration with his network speeds not being good despite paying more for a business line, he forced the company into a service call and they discovered his upload speeds were physically locked, as in the cables couldn’t handle his capacity. They upgraded the network and his speeds started going fine.

      3. HexagonRuler*

        WiFi signals will weaken a lot when they pass through solid objects, especially people, so to maximise your signal strength, put your WiFi router as high as possible in a central location. Loads of householders just site their router next to where the broadband enters the property which is frequently at floor level near the entrance door, so they end up with weak WiFi elsewhere.

        If you possibly can, run cables so that the router can be mounted high on a wall above the level of furniture and persons in a central location.

    3. Clever Nickname*

      A few questions

      1. I’m working on my A+. Any general tips.

      2. I’d like to eventually find a fully remote role with as little customer interaction as possible, which branch of IT would you suggest I focus on with those goals in mind?

      3. Which branch of IT would overlap best with eventually getting in to WebDev?

      4. Which non-Comptia certs would you recommend to someone who REALLY wants to understand the IT field?

      5. Best aspects of working in IT? Worst?

      1. Goth Manager Lady*

        I’m an IT leader. IT is a customer service industry no matter which role you’re stepping into and interested in going toward. At a higher level or more specialized position, the focus is less on day-to-day questions, however, you are still in a support org and will still need to do customer service & stakeholder engagement for project work. I have held a myriad of roles at all levels – the customer interaction changes, but never goes away.

        Perhaps a very high-level network engineer IC or database administrator will have less day to day user-facing interactions. Data center technicians are also likely to have no customer interaction, but not much room for growth.

        For certs, ITIL and ITSM frameworks are great for support roles. I hire a lot of entry-level technicians and I’m primarily focused on how their soft skills, customer service, and general presentation are first, then technical acumen, then certifications as a bonus.

        1. April*

          Do you recommend any coursework for ITIL and ITSM? Been in the support analyst field for over ten years but still find ITIL presentations hard to follow.

          1. Goth Manager Lady*

            For ITSM I would recommend Pink Elephant – we’ve run several of their trainings with our teams with great success.

            They recently lost their ITIL rights and I haven’t found a good replacement yet. :(

        2. NetNrrd*

          Yeah, I’m a principal network engineer (senior-level individual contributor), and most of the people I deal with are other (often senior) tech folks from my group and adjacent groups (server management, data center operations, etc). But even then, I end up having to deal with individual users on a fairly regular basis, either to help them troubleshoot or to get troubleshooting information from them.

      2. Cyborg Llama Horde*

        2) Cloud infrastructure management can usually be a) remote and b) relatively non-customer-facing, though as GML said, you’ll still have internal “customers.” Related to 4, most of the major cloud providers have their own certification tracks.

        5) For my job (It systems), I like the variety, and the problem-solving, and the mix of technical problems, process problems, and figuring out how to turn a coworker’s “I need to do X” into a technical solution.
        3am incidents that get you out of bed are pretty worst. As is losing days or weeks of work to one little setting somewhere that was toggled wrong.

    4. MikeM_inMD*

      > “in IT”

      Which part? Help desk? Hardware? Coding? Software testing? Data bases? ….

    5. TooMuchOfAManager*


      Software or hardware? If software, any tips for maximizing Teams/Project utilization? I’m project managing somewhere around a dozen projects and have just started using Project in my Teams Channel. I’ve watched a few videos, but they’re pretty basic. Any recommendations for resources or tips are appreciated! Thank you.

      1. ccsquared*

        Is your question about how to get your team/colleagues to collaborate together on Project or just how to learn Project?

        If your goal with Project is just to track tasks, assignments, and deadlines with your team, like the sort of projects most knowledge workers need to handle, you might check out Planner, which is another MSFT tool probably bundled in for free with your Office suite. It’s designed more to organize business activities described colloquially as projects, rather than the sorts of projects that would be led by project management professionals, and sits somewhere between personal task management and project management software, similar to Trello. If you are trying to collaborate with people who are using personal systems and shift them to something shared, choosing a tool that is more intuitive and feels more like consumer software can often solve a lot of training and adoption issues.

    6. TheGirlInTheAfternoon*

      What’s the least annoying way to tell IT professionals that I am the person they will tell stories about for the rest of their career, or at least the rest of their week?

      The number of IT folks who I have consulted about what seem like simple fixes only to have them say (almost verbatim), “I don’t understand, it shouldn’t be doing that!” or “This system literally should not be capable of breaking in the way it is currently broken” is very high. I don’t want to be the person they avoid forever! Or who gets a reputation as incompetent! Or as feigning helplessness!

      I usually go with some variation of “Fair warning, I think I emit some kind of charge that makes tech go haywire,” but truthfully it’s often very frustrating for us both. Is there a way to reduce that friction from the start?

      1. Neko*

        Trying your best to treat the IT people with respect and not be demanding can help a lot. I think your current warning is good, and it will always depend on the IT people you are working with.

        The main thing is to have patience with the process. Yesterday it took me 6-7 hours to find the cause of the issue I was trying to fix, and that was nonstop troubleshooting the issue as soon as it was given to me.

      2. Cyborg Llama Horde*

        Oh, you aren’t the person I’ll tell stories about for the rest of my career. I like the good-humored people with an obscure talent for breaking things in new and creative ways.

        It’s the people who spill an entire cup of grape soda onto their laptop keyboard and then walk away for the rest of the day — and then call in a screaming hurry at 9:06 the next morning when the laptop won’t turn on. Or the one dear sweet woman who wanted to know if the wifi problems would be resolved if we moved it to the cloud. Those are the stories that stick. Also the dreadful misogynists.

      3. I Have RBF*

        You have a career in QA!

        I have known several people who, if there was a flaw in the software, or an obscure edge case that caused an outage, they would, inadvertently, find it and trigger it. As an IT person, I both loved and hated these people. Loved them if they were part of my testing process, hated them when they ended up as end users.

        There are some people who just have a knack for finding the flaw. I actually try to appreciate them, but it’s hard at 6 pm on a Friday.

      4. TeaCoziesRUs*

        I tend to smile wryly, tell them my home tech support (hubby) calls me a walking EMP, and ask what some of their favorite bribes are. :)

        If it’s easy, or I know I’m going to have some down-time while they work, I’ll clear out and grab a favorite bribe for them (coffee, donut, whatever).

      5. Azure Jane Lunatic*

        A “Hi! I’ve been told that I have a talent for finding really weird edge cases!” is another good phrase, especially if you have examples. (An edge case is a single factor where stretching it to its limits has weird stuff going on; a corner case is a place where two weird limits intersect and cause even weirder stuff to happen.)

        I’m good at finding the weird stuff too, and the absolute best ability to cultivate is being able to give step-by-step instructions on how you got it to do the weird thing. Bonus points for a format that goes like:

        When I frob the whoozer, I expect that it wheezes and whunks. Instead, it wibbles and whinnies. Steps I took:
        1. Turn the whoozer on.
        2. Go make coffee while the whoozer warms up.
        3. Frob the whoozer using a gentle motion, rocking back and forth.
        4. High-pitched wibbling instead of a low-pitched wheeze.
        5. Random sparks while it whinnies.

        That helps them sort out which things are mistaken expectations, which are user error (you should use a quick flick immediately when the light turns blue instead of getting coffee, because if you let it warm up too long that’s bad), and which are things acting really unexpectedly.

      6. NetNrrd*

        It may be helpful to start with “okay, this is kind of weird” and explain what you’ve already done/looked at to try and figure it out. Like, “I ran ‘ipconfig /all’ on my windows machine, I tried pinging this thing by IP, I tried going to this other site from a web browser, and I got all these results from that testing.” Timestamps are helpful if some of the behavior may be visible on another machine and they can look at logs – like “I tried to connect to the internet coffeepot at 11:45am, but I got an error message saying ‘Error 418, this is the teapot’ – was there a problem with the coffee server around then?”
        The root of diagnostic troubleshooting is “What did you do? What did you expect to happen? What actually happened?”

    7. Head sheep counter*

      The cup holder on my PC broke off. Can you repair it?
      What is this big button here?
      If I delete all the files everywhere, can you recover them?

    8. JTP*

      Why are some IT people so afraid of Macs? My company uses mostly PCs, but the designers use Macs. It takes FOREVER to get IT help because most of the IT department won’t/can’t help. My husband (who also works in IT and helps me more than my company’s IT department) thinks they’re being ridiculous.

      1. I Have RBF*

        If they don’t hire Mac trained techs, you won’t get good Mac support.

        There are three major OS categories in the PC area: Windows, Mac, and Linux. Most people are good with only one of the three, sometimes people will do two, but seldom is anyone good at all three.

        So if your company is 90% Windows, you are very unlikely to get Mac support, since the techs are not hired as Mac support. They are not “afraid” of Mac support, but they are not trained to do it, so they just don’t want to f up something that they don’t know.

        I work primarily in Linux, and sometimes to a little Windows support. I don’t support Macs, I don’t really like Mac OS, and have no incentive to spend thousands of dollars on overpriced hardware just to learn it.

    9. TeaCoziesRUs*

      No question, just some good karma your way. :)

      I don’t know if you ever listen to RSlash read reddit on podcast, YouTube, etc. But one thing he’s drummed into both me and my kids is NEVER MESS WITH THE IT PERSON. If you need a smile, some of his Malicious compliance, Pro Revenge, and I Don’t Work Here, Lady stories have IT folks saving the day… or trying to. :)

  7. AlmostNotUnemployedInGreenland*

    I’m good at a couple of things and I’d be happy to answer questions about:


    How to train adults (quite different from teaching children)

    1. Jelizabug*

      I’d like to be more involved in creating/ designing training for learning management systems, specifically for the corporate world. Is that something you’re involved in? If so, do you recommend any specific areas of study I should focus on? I’m currently working through a project management certification and I’ll be brushing up on my graphics design skills. I suspect I will need to take some kind of instructional design courses, but I’m not sure where to go from there!

      1. AlmostNotUnemployedInGreenland*

        If you have a paid (Premium) account on LinkedIn, there are tons of very good courses on instructional design, curriculum development, etc. Those would be a good place to start, since they are included in the membership and you can sample a bunch of things without a big monetary commitment.

        I’m a little confused about what you mean in your question mentioning LMS. Do you mean getting your content in an LMS? Or am I misunderstanding you?

      1. Caramel & Cheddar*

        From my experience as an attendee, jokes/memes/funny videos where appropriate (emphasis on “where appropriate”). I recently had to attend health & safety training and one segment started with a quick video from someone on TikTok who did a safety audit of the Mines of Moria from Lord of the Rings. It helped make things less stale without overall compromising the serious nature of the subject matter.

        You have to have the right kind of workplace for that kind of thing, of course.

      2. AlmostNotUnemployedInGreenland*

        When I have to teach stuff like that, I definitely use humor as much as possible. Also good graphics can help a lot. I love to use short videos – little MP4 files that illustrate something necessary but are fun.

        Also using personal anecdotes applicable to the course material – always a good bet. It makes you and the material more relatable. Since my career has been going on for about 40 years, I have a LOT of stories.

    2. LaurCha*

      I am interested eDiscovery. Do I need a certificate? I’ve been a paralegal for just under two years (after several other careers) and I’d rather be dealing with documents than the drama of people. (Yes, family law. So much drama.) I’m reasonably tech-savvy but not IT-pro level.

      1. AlmostNotUnemployedInGreenland*

        Have you handled any litigation as a paralegal? That would be a big plus.

        A career in eDiscovery is a great move for paralegals. I’ve mentored several paralegals who now have great jobs in the field.

        I would advise you to see if you can switch to litigation practice so you can start to learn the basics. There is a lot to learn in eDiscovery and learning from the ground up is really helpful. There are a few different certs out there. I am a CEDS – Certified eDiscovery Specialist, which is issued by ACEDS. Check out for more information. You will see that cert mentioned in job descriptions, but it is not a guarantee of an offer. It’s helpful, but it isn’t all you need.

        Check out – this is Relativity, the most popular eDiscovery document review program on the market. It is the one that most firms require you to know. It’s pretty easy to pick up the basics, but the back end for database administration, is more complicated.

        Take some basic courses in database design and search criteria. A lot of the work in eDiscovery is based around these skills. There are different search engines out there, learning a bit about each of them would be very useful. Start with dtSearch. Learn about Boolean operators and how they are used to form complex searches.

    3. Diatryma*

      How do you figure out where people’s skill levels are, if you don’t have a formal assessment process or anything? I’m responsible for a lot of training in my lab, and not everyone comes in with the specific degree, a related degree, or a degree at all– and some of that doesn’t matter because they haven’t done this kind of work in years. I usually start everyone at the basic ‘do not lick the science’ but I’m still finding holes where people say they have skills but they aren’t where I want them to be.

      1. Lozi*

        This is a great question… people are not great at self-assessing, so what’s the best way to figure out where they are with content knowledge and skill, so that you can train them well?

    4. Anon Trainer*

      I train adults on a piece of software but am always looking for any tips, tricks, ideas, best practices, etc. because I have zero formal training in it and I do everything by trial and error.

      Currently, for the average user I have them do a self-directed introductory training (video or written documentation, their choice) that ends with a quiz so I know they’ve done it. Then they do a session with me to talk about the different ways their team uses the software so that I can demonstrate proper usage, they can ask questions, etc. We follow this up with a working session where they do actual real work in the database and I observe so I can offer tips and tricks, make gentle corrections, etc.

      This mostly seem to be working, but I’d love to hear anything that might improve what I’m doing. I always worry about retention since it can be such an overwhelming amount of information and I find my best users are the ones who use the software every single day for much of their job. Are there ways of helping with info retention for people who use it less often or in a more cyclical manner (e.g. really intensely but only once every six months), etc.

      1. Annie*

        Pictures! At least one for each step.

        I had to use a software feature that only comes up for me a few times per year and just knew I wouldn’t remember all the steps for that feature by the next time I had to use it, so I took a screenshot of each step and saved them all in a Word document. I also included notes of little details that can easily trip someone up, e.g. “make sure it’s a lower case “l” and not an upper case “I” for the record you’re trying to update”.

        1. Anon Trainer*

          That’s definitely part of the training! If you see it on screen during any step of a process, you’re going to see it in the documentation.

          If you’re a Microsoft user, you might like their tool called Steps Recorder that can record you going through a series of actions and then spit out steps / images of you doing that. It makes it super easy to make your own notes on your processes! I don’t use it for my training materials because I like to be able to give more context / clarifying info than the tool can provide, but it’s good for one-off personal things like you describe.

    5. not applicable*

      Commenting to follow along with this thread! I don’t have any specific questions but am very interested in learning more about training adults.

    6. TheGirlInTheAfternoon*

      I work in legal career services, and we used to have graduates who quite regularly worked in eDiscovery while continuing to search for a longer-term position. It seems like those positions have mostly shifted to more experienced professionals. Is that consistent with what you’ve seen?

      1. AlmostNotUnemployedInGreenland*

        Do you mean law school graduates? Yes, there are a lot of them who do document review while they are waiting for a perm spot in a firm or corp. eDiscovery work is when you specialize in the design of the databases where litigation documents are loaded, and in guiding attorneys through the whole process of document review and production.

    7. Lozi*

      I’m interested in learning more about how to train adults … what are some best practices?

    8. ferrina*

      How do you get adults to sign on board for training, especially at higher levels? Are there particular topics or ways of framing topics that get more people signing up and/or participating?

    9. Vottoast*

      No question, but hello from a Director of eDiscovery! Always fun to find colleagues in the wild!

    10. SummitSkein*

      Does any of your eDiscovery knowledge extend to … how to get people on board with better methods? I’m asking as I’m literally in the process of trying to download 50GB of information that we’re being sent – that can either be downloaded as the 50GB zip, or as 207 individual files. No in between. The problem is, I’m a ‘lowly’ admin in a state-run organization, and saying “hey this is unwieldy and way too big to be handled as-is” is falling on deaf ears. There are other major issues and I just feel like I have no way to push back.

    1. issalinde*

      please teach me your ways! despite having a creative background i ended up in finance and i’m miserable. how can i make a shift back to creative work (i’m looking at marketing as a possibility)

      1. howlieT*

        So, I did the reverse oddly! I’ve spent 12 years working in theatre and just recently transitioned into tech.

        The best advice I can offer is to start making contacts, it’s rubbish but also it gets you a long way, and to look at what you can offer as transferable skills. So for example, if you’re good at chairing a finance meeting you’ll be good at chairing a non-finance meeting right? Those skills don’t suddenly up and leave you just because you’ve changed the envvironment you use them in.

        Also keep an eye out for any free or low cost retrainer type courses in your local area, which is how I metaphorically got my foot in the door, and be prepared to do a bit of (yuck) networking. You need the first person who’s willing to take a chance on you to get you in the door, and then people stop thinking of you as “the finance person” because now you’re in the industry.

        The hardest bit of all is working out the level of pay cut you can afford to take, because most of the time when you’re changing career in a big way you’re going in right at the very bottom of the scale, and it’s not going to be big $, so work out your budgets, work out how long you can afford to do it for, and be honest with potential employers. The right one will be willing to meet you in the middle in my experience!

        1. Reader*

          I’m looking to do much the same move (opera production, both the performing and producing sides, into office work), only I’m having a really difficult time coming up with the way to get enough keywords into my resume in order to pass though the TMS and ever speak to a human. I do have a kind of catch-all job at a small business where a lot of monetary responsibility falls on me, but I don’t have a real job title.

          1. howlieT*

            I found it was a lot about rewording sometimes, so the CV part it’s like
            “Budget holder for my department”
            “Working with stakeholders and customers”
            “Working with new stystems” instead of
            “Budget holder for Show” or “working with show control systems”

            Honestly leaning on a network or any friends/linkedin contacts or anything of that sort is your best step in, but loads of tech companies etc like a career changer because you’re bringing in a fresh perspective

        2. Former Mental Health professional*

          I worked in mental health for about 10 years and then transitioned out of that about 10 years ago. I had a friend who worked in Healthcare Learning and Development who said, I think you’d be really good as a trainer. I applied and worked in healthcare IT for the next 7 years. Now I work as a Customer Success Manager for a company that sells an LMS – so my implementation skills, my project management skills and obviously my background working in IT/software in general still apply. My stress level has gone down considerably with each change. Use your network, but the main thing to remember is that all skills are transferable! Everything I learned as a counselor can be applied to customers/co-workers and helps with communication.

      2. anonymouse*

        Not sure about marketing in particular but for many kinds of creative work, you can start by doing freelance on the side to build up your resume. Are there some related kinds of freelance writing you could do that would be a qualification or useful writing samples for a marketing position?

      3. marketing director*

        Butting in to say…if at all possible, volunteer. Yes, it’s a very privileged thing to be able to do, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s genuinely the best option if you can manage even an hour or two per month. It may help to think of it as a free training course.
        The nice thing about marketing specifically is that there are a TON of low-commitment ways to get practical experience and resume fodder, because every single tiny struggling nonprofit out there wants marketing help and very few of them can afford to pay. If you’re lucky, you can join a volunteer board as part of the marketing subcommittee and get some slightly more professional guidance/training.
        That said, I want to note that marketing isn’t necessarily “creative” in the way that many people mean it. (I actually sometimes describe my career trajectory as transitioning from creative to marketing!) There’s typically a lot of data analysis, endless meetings about branding and color palettes, managing vendor relationships, chasing down print orders, etc. You really have to have a passion for understanding audience motivations and optimizing A/B campaigns; any kind of social sciences background will be especially helpful.
        That’s the other reason I suggest volunteering: see what the cycle really is like, and if it’s not for you then there will likely be zero professional consequences.

        1. Miette*

          25-year (nearly, yikes) marketing veteran here to agree with the second part of this. Marketing is more project management and learning how to multitask than anything else. And there are so many more aspects to it than people realize: product and go-to-market strategizing, market research, brand development, community development, lead/demand generation, customer relationship management, social/digital, PR and communications, branding/creative/advertising.

          I’ve worn many of these hats because I’ve worked for smaller firms/clients, so I’m a good all-arounder and a good manager (of people, projects, and vendors), but if you want to break into a big consumer-facing company like Kraft or something you’ll have to specialize. In fact, if that’s a goal and your interests lie in this direction, I’d look into advertising from the agency side as a way in, because you can gain more experience more quickly. There are several good programs out there now specific to advertising (I have a masters in strategic advertising and marketing, for example), but you could also pick up certifications in Google, Facebook, etc. advertising a with some time and very little cost, whith might be a foot in the door at a smaller agency.

    2. capybaracandles*

      How do you find what is appropriate to your skills? I have a master’s degree in librarianship, but honestly due to several factors (competitiveness, the area I specialized in, being unable to move for a few reasons) I don’t know that I’ll ever actually get a position in the field….I’m in healthcare doing administrative work now and I like it enough, but I’d like to get something that’s a bit more well paying.

      1. Holly*

        I am in an extremely similar situation with an MLIS too. I want to pivot to something higher paying and while I’m willing to learn new skills, it would be so much better to just be able to use what I already have.

    3. Phone A Friend*

      Asking this question for a friend (yes, a real friend!). My friend has worked in one field for over ten years, got a masters in it, and has worked her way up. Now she’s feeling very done with it (bad management in multiple areas, tiring public interaction, various other gripes I’ve heard). She knows she wants to leave the field she’s in but has no idea what she wants to do instead. She asked me for thoughts, because I’ve job searched more recently than her, but I can’t give her tips on how to find a new career path since I’m still within my field even with changing companies. She seems overwhelmed and having a hard time narrowing down what she’s interested in. Thoughts on how to find something new when all you really know is that you don’t want to be at the old career anymore?

      (Also she hates work and constantly says humans aren’t meant for 40 hour work weeks, we should be out in nature, that kind of thing… which I totally agree with but plotting to destroy capitalism will not put food on the table)

      1. scavenger*

        I have a non-work question. Recently I found a Vizio screen on the street and brought it home. It turns on, but its ports (newer) don’t match my laptop’s (older). Can I get a converter cable, or is there some other use I can put it to with the internet? Would I need an ethernet cable, or can it use WiFi?

        1. I have resting IT support face*

          You can get converters. It wouldn’t connect to the internet directly, you could connect to the laptop or another computer. It’s possible since it was on the street it’s not functioning.

          Generally, the connections will probably be VGA (w/ pinholes, the cables have pins and screws and are usually blue on the connector), HDMI (thin trapezoid) or USB C (phone connector size). It’s probably VGA on the laptop, HDMI on the monitor, those connectors are older but probably still cheap online on Amazon or NewEgg.

      2. NotmyNormalName*

        I did a career change at about 30. I went from advertising (client management and project management) to accounting and finance. I looked at what I liked about my work in advertising (data and how to use information to make business decisions) and used that to decide on a new career. I work in operations finance (so more business than true accounting).

        In my case, I went back to school, got an MBA and then my accounting designation. The MBA was only because it make the designation possible (gave me the classes I needed before doing my CMA – I’m in Canada). But the good thing about the MBA is I had a prof try to talk me into focusing on marketing (because I was good at it) and I got to test that out and decide that I was 100% done with anything like it. I know not everyone can afford to go back to school but it gives options. I might start with a college class to see if what you’re think of makes sense (I took some event planning classes and quickly decided that wasn’t me).

      3. TheGirlInTheAfternoon*

        Rather than focusing on what she’s interested in, start with what she’s good at and enjoys/doesn’t mind doing when it comes to work tasks. Then start thinking about environments – would she be more satisfied breaking her day up into a several smaller tasks or working on one or two larger projects? Does interacting with people drain her or give her energy? Does quiet space facilitate her focus, or does it make her mind wander?

        These can be really good clues about what kinds of work might suit her best.

    4. Disgruntled Academic*

      Do you have a favorite place where you look for jobs when you’re interested in changing careers? I’m an academic, but interested in things that could leverage my research, project management, writing/analysis skills. So far I just scroll through LinkedIn and USAjobs, but curious if there are better places to look. Thanks!

    5. heynonny*

      I’m gearing up for one myself but actually staying within the same company. I’m struggling a bit with how/when to message to people since I manage a team and we are reasonably close. Is there a good/bad way to break this news to my team and my management peers? (I’m less concerned about some general LI post to let my network know). I’m not sure how much I should explain it to them versus just… inform them.

    6. Caramel & Cheddar*

      Were any of your changes between wildly different sectors, e.g. going from something not super technical where you did technical work to something super technical where there’s even more technical stuff? If yes, did you have to start at the bottom every time?

      I’m finding though I might have experience in X, my lack of experience in Y means I’d have to start as a Junior Whatever at a lot of places and it feels so disheartening to be mid-career and start from scratch. I like to think I have lots of transferable skills in general and am good at learning things, but my lack of experience in the new sector feels like there’s no way I’d ever be selected from a pile of applicants.

      1. Caramel & Cheddar*

        Oh I just saw above you transitioned from theatre to tech, so that’s pretty close to the kind of change I’ve been eyeing.

    7. MHG*

      I’d love to know more on how to find what jobs even exist that I’m qualified for. I’ve been a sports journalist for 16 years, and I love it. However, it’s a field that is really really precarious. I would love to know how to find a job that is more stable but still challenges me.

      1. CzechMate*

        Not the person this was addressed to, but….you probably transition into digital marketing or PR, either for an agency or in-house for a company that is adjacent. You may or may not already know about how brands send sponsored stories to journalists, so you’d probably be well-positioned to be on the other end of that.

        Multiple journalists/marketing people I know have talked about how those two fields are becoming increasingly intertwined, so if you take classes in some other areas (digital marketing, analytics, data visualization, client relations, whatever) you could a) add to your skillset and become more valuable at your current org or b) set yourself up to transition into another area of the digital space.

        Source: my husband works in digital marketing/PR, and once upon a time I wanted to be a journalist and interviewed some I knew to get a sense of the space. The upskilling was something that was particularly recommended by a childhood friend who worked at Al-Jazeera.

    8. ccsquared*

      I’d love your thoughts on mindset when you get that first role and how to set yourself up for success. I’ve made two major role shifts that weren’t exactly whole new careers, but did involve going from manager to IC and having to learn new skills and work cultures. The first time, I didn’t prioritize learning or asking for feedback in effective ways, so it took me way longer to feel and be competent than I was comfortable with. This time around, I’m constantly frustrated by the fact I know I’m capable of more responsibility than I have, but due to norms in the field, I need to have the title and experience for a bit to be seen as capable of the more difficult work. What makes it especially frustrating is that my boss would happily give me more challenging assignments, there just aren’t any in our department right now, and he’s not having much luck finding opportunities with other teams either.

        1. CityKitty*

          You can’t just highlight the column to have it limit search to that part of your Google sheet as you would in Excel, but you can select top menu option “Edit” \ select “Find and replace” (or jump to that step directly with the CTRL + H shortcut) \ add your “find” term and range limit in the “Search” options box, then click “Find” button at bottom of window.

    1. TeenieBopper*

      Without knowing the specifics of what you’re trying to do (maybe something with formula or whatever), if you’re just searching you can highlight the column and ctrl+f

    2. Lab Boss*

      Click on the letter at the top of the column so it highlights the whole column. Then Ctrl+F and type your search term, it should search just the highlighted cells. Incidentally that’s true of any highlighted range of an Excel sheet- you also highlight multiple columns to confine your search to them, or row(s) or just a square of cells in the middle of a sheet.

    3. Jen*

      It seems to be working for me when I:
      1. Highlight the column
      2. Ctrl-F to find my word/phrase
      3. Click “Options <<" button in Find popup
      4. Change "Search:" dropdown to "By Columns"
      4a. I had to also change "Look in:" to "Values"

      This is finding matching cells in the selected column, but not in other columns.

    4. Combinatorialist*

      Another way is to turn on the filter row (Data -> Filter) and then you can search in the filter box. It will filter as you type and then you can hide all non-matching rows to see it all together

    5. ThinMint*

      How come it’s impossible to paste cells from Excel into Google sheets and have the table show up? Does Google do that on purpose?

      1. just here for the scripts*

        I do this literally every week and I’m not sure what’s not working for you.

        I can select all of a sheet in excel, copy (ctrl +c) and the paste (ctrl +V) in the first cell of my Google sheet and have the entire thing populate.

        Note that if you’re pasting functions, not all formulas and functions work from excel to sheets (or visa versa). In that case, right click and paste special>values only and the numbers /text will magically appear

    6. Jo*

      Typically FIND (and replace) will search only whatever cells are highlighted/selected. When finished, it may ask if you wish it to search the rest of the document. Tell it NO.

      To select a column, click on the letter at the top of the column.

    7. RedinSC*

      I have found that ChatGPT is a really big help when trying to discover how to do something in Excel.

  8. Gitty*

    please please please! does anyone know any way in the world to custom sort an outlook search folder according to rules like putting emails from specific person on top, then all emails marked high importance, than all emails containing the word disaster and so on? I have 900 emails to go thru and I would be so much calmer knowing the important emails are on top where I can see them!

    1. Miss Chanandler Bong*

      You could use Outlook rules to put the emails into folders. For instance, you can create a Monica folder, all Monica emails go into that folder. You could put the Rachel emails into another folder. Any specific subjects you can set up a rule to go into. Like “Project Joey” could go into a specific folder.

      The easiest way to do this is to right click on an email, say from Monica, and go to “Manage rules and alerts”. Or you can create a rule directly from there.

      1. Gitty*

        Yes I know how to do that, but is there any way in the world to sort your narrowed down folder “smartly”?

        1. Skoobles*

          Why is it important that the narrowed folder is sorted “smartly” rather than creating subfolders if you need things filtered further? It seems like the long-term benefit of having subfolders would be better, since it’d passively sort your emails and let you know when a high priority one came through.

          1. Gitty*

            I don’t want multiple folders that i need to stay on top of. I want one folder with everything I need to review but if it’s an email from my boss I want that on top so I see it first. following?

            1. Skoobles*

              I don’t understand why four folders with three emails each, a couple of which are less important by default, is harder than one folder with 12, no. You have the same number of emails to keep up with either way, and scrolling down the folders will be like scrolling down your super complicated multi target search strategy.

              1. Gitty*

                Lol this is what I’m looking for. I think it’s a great idea. If you don’t know how to do it, well, neither do I. Don’t argue with me.

            2. Hannah Lee*

              If you have a smallish set of things, email sources that would be a the top X number of priorities pretty consistently, you could create Outlook Rules to categorize them, as High Priority, Super Top Priority etc.

              For example:
              Email from Boss to You > “Mark as Importance “HIGH”
              Email with “TPS Reports” in Subject Line > “Mark as Importance “HIGH”
              Email from Annoying Peer that you also have to reply to within a week > “Mark as Importance “MEDIUM”

              You could do a similar rule, but instead of Importance, assign incoming emails to “CATEGORIES” that you’ve created in Outlook. This will give you more options than simply HIGH, MEDIUM, LOW or unmarked.

              (And I was today years old when I learned that you can ADD new Outlook categories. I wouldn’t have learned that if I didn’t just go looking at that feature to answer this question. Plus you can customize the colors- fun!
              For so long I’ve been frustrated that you could only assign 6, and I’d wind up sacrificing one when I needed a new one. )

              1. Hannah Lee*

                Oh, and then you can then sort or filter your inbox on IMPORTANCE or CATEGORIES or whatever your rule assigns.

                It won’t do a perfect cascade of High Priority but only from all the people who work at your top client (unless you made a special Outlook Rule class for all people from that company) but it will get you somewhat there.

        2. Miss Chanandler Bong*

          Other than the folder thing, you can go to your filter (mine says “by date” currently). If you sort “from” it puts them in alphabetical order. You can also display the important ones on top, but after that, it goes by date. I would think the folder thing would be easiest, but I love folders, lol.

      2. Anna*

        Are you using Outlook 365 on the web? If you are, 365 has a feature where you can “pin” an email to the top of a folder. You can set up a rule so that all emails from a certain person get pinned to the top of the folder they’re in.

        Another small thing I like about this feature is that when you move an item from one folder to another, it stays pinned, so you’ll see it at the top of the new folder too.

        I absolutely hate it that there’s no way to pin emails in the desktop app. I guess you could use categories maybe so emails from this person will stand out when you skim through the folder, but I know, it’s not the same.

        1. Gitty*

          no I’m using the desktop app. do you know if that supports “pinning” as well or only the web version? this is the first time I am hearing about this feature!

          1. Gitty*

            lol my bad i didn’t read thru the end of your response before answering. what a bummer this doesn’t exist on the desktop app! Microsoft should totally add that feature there.

            1. Sarah in Boston*

              It’s now in the desktop app if you have the latest and greatest Office365. I LOVE the pinned emails and was thrilled when it showed up in the desktop app.

              1. Anna*

                OMG! Finally, sheesh. I hope it gets rolled out to my computers soon. And I really hope they add the feature to Macs – it’s appalling how Microsoft refuses to add certain features to the Mac versions of its programs. It’s always something that’s not critical, but makes the experience of using the program 10x more efficient.

              2. Gitty*

                that’s amazing! I just put in a request to my IT team to upgrade me :) thanks so so much for sharing

    2. Skoobles*

      Based on what you’re describing, wouldn’t it be easier to create custom rules and sort them into specific folders?

      If you right click on an email, you can select “rules” and then “create rule”. This will open a box that contains some sample rules based on the message you picked, but if you click “advanced options” you can create rules based on a huge number of different criteria. Create a rule to send emails to the Bob Bobson folder if they’re from Bob, then a rule to send High Importance emails to the Important (notBob) folder, then a rule to send items with “disaster” in the body to the “disaster emails” folder.

        1. Meg*

          This may not completely solve your problem but if there are certain people who are always important (like your boss) you could set a rule that emails from them are assigned a category. You could then sort by categories.

    3. libellulebelle*

      I don’t know of a way to create custom sorting rules in Outlook. If this is a one-time backlog to sort through, I would suggest doing a series: first you sort by sender and find all of the emails from that specific person you want and file them away into a separate folder. Then you sort by the next category or search on the term you want and file those emails into a separate folder, and so on, category by category. Then going forward, you can try to stay more on top of your email as it comes in, by sorting into folders, using colors to categorize, or whatever tracking and filing system works for you.

    4. ENFP in Texas*

      You can use Rules for that. Right-click on an email, choose “Rules” from the drop-down menu, then either “Create New Rule” or “Manage Alerts & Rules” and you can choose how to flag/note/color/move an email when it comes in.

      For example you could make all emails from Jenny Doe show up in your inbox with bold, green font so you notice/can find them easier. You could send all emails marked “High Importance” into a separate folder that you can check easily, or mark it with a Category that you can then group your inbox by. Ditto for emails with a specific word – have Outlook put them in a Category, then you can group your Inbox by Categories.

      Once you set up your Rules, right-click on an email and select “Rules” again. Under “Manage Rules and Alerts”, click “Run Rules Now” to have them applied to your current folder.

      1. Gitty*

        yes that’s what I want but the end result should be email sort order. any ideas how to do that?

        1. ENFP in Texas*

          Using your example:

          Rule 1 – assign all emails from Jenny Doe to Category “_Jenny” (the underscore will ensure this is at the top of the alphabetical categories list)

          Rule 2 – assign all “High Importance” emails to Category “1_Important”

          Rule 3 – assign all emails with the word “Disaster” in the subject line to category “2_Disaster”

          Run all rules on your mailbox

          Sort your mailbox by Category – you may need to change it from “sort descending” to “sort ascending” to get your categorized emails up top.

          Your emails will be grouped by Category, and then should be in date order within the Category. When new email come in, they will be categorized and show up in those areas.

          1. Gitty*

            Oh wow that is so smart! I know about rules to categorize emails but I never thought of further sorting by category. thank you so much!!

          2. Tinamedte*

            Yay! We have a winner Thanks from someone who didn’t post the question but will be trying out the solution.

        2. clever user name*

          You could use the follow-up flags to set priority and sort that way. Messages from the boss get a “today” flag, messages marked important get a follow up “tomorrow” flag, messages with the word dragon get the “in 7 days” flag, etc. It would all fall apart in a few days though since Outlook will keep recalculating the due date. It took me a while to get used to using multiple folders and lots of rules as others have suggested, but it was life-changing once I did. It was hard to let go of the idea that Inbox=to do list – but that made a huge difference in my productivity and stress level.

          1. Tinamedte*

            This is interesting stuff. When you did make the leap to several folders (I haven’t, yet) — how did you go about deciding what folders to create? Bc I stumble on this very first step, and find it easier to just keep everything in the inbox.

      1. Miss Chanandler Bong*

        Sure! So I started out in IT, had a business administration degree. I figured out very quickly that I hate IT. I took a role in a finance department (AR-type role) and went back to school while working that role. A position on the accounting team opened up, they knew I wanted to pivot over, and I’ve been in accounting ever since. I now work entirely remotely for a publicly traded company.

        For accounting to IT, I imagine that you’d be able to work on some IT certifications and start pivoting over leveraging your accounting expertise. I was able to leverage my IT expertise because the company I was working for was undergoing an ERP transformation and I had experience with that system.

        1. ampersand*

          Which degree(s) did you get when you went back to school? I’m considering becoming an accountant but not sure yet which degree to get.

          My work experience is in accounting-adjacent fields (AP, managing budgets/financial stuff, payroll), while my undergrad degree is in social sciences.

    1. AnonAdmin*

      I have a degree in Accounting – but I’ve been in a different field (not IT) for quite a long time. Is there anything you would recommend for someone looking to refresh their Accounting knowledge?

      1. Miss Chanandler Bong*

        The big thing is that accounting regulations are constantly changing. You can look into CPE courses. These are geared for CPAs who are required to continue their education, but you don’t have to be a CPA to benefit. A lot of them are paid, but some webinars are free.

        There’s also accounting refresher courses out there. When I went back to school, it had been years since I took Principles of Accounting 1 and 2, so I needed a knowledge refresh before jumping into Intermediate Accounting. I took a free course from my local library via Udemy, and LinkedIn has a ton of courses on their catalog as well depending on what you need to refresh your knowledge.

    2. NeedToKeepTheCatFed*

      I’m a mathematics teacher (private schools), been looking at how to get into bookkeeping. I’m organized, detail oriented, not afraid of learning software, math is not a problem, any recommendations for getting my foot in the door?

      1. No Mercy Percy*

        As an accountant myself I’d suggest finding a position as an accounts payable or receivable clerk. It’ll be basic and tedious work but being organized and detail oriented will serve you well. Knock it out of the park and see about taking on more from the accounting person you work with. If you can make them aging reports too that would be helpful. Brush up on accounting basics (how debits and credits work being the biggest one) and you should be in a good spot.

      2. No Mercy Percy*

        One other recommendation I have is knowing how to think like an accountant. Learn the difference between cash basis accounting (how most non accountants look at money) vs accrual basis.

    3. The Constress*

      New accountant here. I need a filing system for the financial statements, AJE, purchase orders, balancing sales to receipts, COGS, cash flow, etc etc etc.

      I wonder if you might have any suggestions. The CFO has really checked out; she’s semi-retired. I see no files in her office to accommodate the paperwork that accounting usually keeps.

  9. df200*

    I’m a chartered project manager based in the UK. Very happy to answer any questions about project management. :-)

    1. varsha10*

      I’m a PMP at a nonprofit – I have never worked with any other PMPs or professional project managers so I’m never really sure if I’m doing it right? Do you use MS Project? How do you set it up? I feel like there are systems out there that I could be using to make things easier but I just don’t know about them.
      I am a member of my local PMI chapter but they’re all part of big PMOs and it’s all very intimidating.

      1. df200*

        Hi varsha10,

        Many thanks for your question – I completely understand that big PMOs can be a bit intimidating: large PMOs tend to have strict governance, lots of processes and to work in a very prescribed way.

        If you work alone or in a smaller team, or in the nonprofit space my advice would be: focus on getting get the basics right. Project Management provides a variety of different tools and techniques – the real trick is to choose the right “tools” for your project.

        As a minimum I suggest you have a schedule, a risk register, an assumptions log and a financial forecast. For the simplest projects these can be separate sheets in an excel workbook (search “Excel RAID Log” on google for some examples). For more complex projects or those with multiple inter-dependencies then you might find a dedicated scheduling tool (like MS Project) invaluable for the scheduling aspect (but, in my experience, you can keep your risks, assumptions and finances in Excel even for more complex projects). I’m a big fan of using simple tools – that way you can focus on the information and the process (i.e. actually managing your project), rather than learning the complexities of a specific software tool.

        There are lots of great “introduction to project management” books available which are probably your best starting point. Hope this helps?

        1. Another PM*

          I second this concept: use the simplest tools possible to cover what you need – I mostly use Thinkcell for timelines and a team OneNote Notebook with a bunch of tabs – and only use MS Project if you absolutely positively have to (it’s a pain!).

    2. betsyohs*

      Do you have any recommendations on resources for training mid-level project managers who manage small projects? I work at a consulting engineering firm, and we’d like to get our junior to mid-level staff more adept at managing their projects (schedule, budget, etc). Project budgets are in the $10k-$100k range (small!). I’m specifically looking for trainings that are not introductory – most of our staff have the basics down, they just need to level up their skills.

      1. df200*

        Hi betsyohs,

        That’s a great question! There are lots of books out there which provide an introduction to the basics of project management (I’ll list a few below in a separate post). Intermediate / advanced books (suitable for people who already understand the basics) tend to be topic-specific – i.e. they focus on one specific aspect of project management (stakeholder management, risk management, scheduling etc.)

        A couple of more ‘intermediate’ books that have helped me include:
        > “Brilliant Checklists For Project Managers” by Richard Newton
        > “Planning, Scheduling, Monitoring and Control (The Practical Management of Time, Cost and Risk)” published by the Association For Project Management

        If there are specific areas where you can see room for improvement, you might find that on-the-job coaching is more successful than book recommendations. In a previous team I set up a “Project Management Academy” which worked really well:

        > Members were asked to commit to completing 35hrs of professional development per year (not onerous because this is required by my organisation anyway).

        In return they got access to:
        > A MS Teams site with details of forthcoming events and curated links to useful content.
        > A monthly e-mail newsletter highlighting forthcoming training opportunities (Proj Mgmt events run by my organisation and the local branch of the Association for Project Management) & news.
        > Access to a range of carefully selected books on project management and leadership.
        > Training events (or “lunch and learns”) just for Academy Members – tailored to the subjects that our members request (mostly led by me).
        > An experienced Proj Mgmt mentor to help guide their Proj Mgmt development.

        Most of this could be delivered at low / nil cost drawing on my existing network of expertise throughout the business, and only took a couple of hours/week to arrange in addition to my “day job”.

        Hope that helps?

      2. df200*

        Hi betsyohs,

        That’s a great question! There are lots of entry-level project management books which cover the basics (I particularly like “Effective Project Management” by John Carroll). But if you’re looking for more intermediate books (for those who already know the basics) they tend to be topic-specific. I.e. they’ll give a deep-dive into a specific project management topic, like Risk Management, Stakeholder Management, or Scheduling – rather than an overview of project management as a whole.

        A couple of more intermediate books that have helped me:
        “Brilliant Checklists for Project Managers” by Richard Newton
        “Planning, Scheduling, Monitoring and Control (the practical project management of time, cost and risk)” by the Association for Project Management

        If you’re working with people who already know the basics you may find that on-the-job coaching is more effective than reading a book – this will allow you to target specific areas for improvement.

        In a previous job I set up a “Project Management Academy”. I asked members to commit to doing 35hrs of professional development per year (not overly onerous because that was already the expectation of our wider organisation) and in return they got…

        -Access to a MS Teams site with details of forthcoming events and curated links to useful content (both on our intranet and on the internet).
        -A monthly e-mail newsletter highlighting forthcoming training opportunities (internal events and events put on by our local branch of the Association for Project Management)
        -Access to my collection of books on project management and leadership
        -Training events put on just for members of the academy (approx. one hour-long event every 6-8 weeks) in direct response to their requests
        -An experienced mentor to help guide their development / answer any questions related to delivery of their projects.

        All this could be provided a low / nil cost using my existing network of contacts across the business. Overall it took a couple of hours a week on top of my “day job” but paid dividends in terms of the development of my team.

        Hope that helps?

    3. Ostrich Herder*

      Any advice on getting people to buy in to having an actual structure around projects? I don’t have any formal PM qualifications but a lot of what I do could fall under the ‘project management’ umbrella. I work in a small, casual org and no one here is good about sticking to a system, which leads to a lot of “oh, I thought YOU were doing that!” and “wait, I thought X was already done!” because there’s no central way of tracking what’s needed, who’s doing it, and whether it’s done.

      1. df200*

        Hi Ostrich Herder,

        I feel your pain! Even in an organisation with a strong project-management culture, it is still really tough to herd everyone in the same direction and avoid this sort of confusion.

        My normal approach would be to have a project management plan that clearly sets out: the aim, benefits, background, scope, exclusions, boundaries, delivery approach, milestones, dependencies, safety issues, equality considerations, stakeholders, assumptions, risks, estimated costs, and schedule for the project.

        I’d talk to my stakeholder when I create the plan, then invite everyone to a kick-off meeting where I walk them step-by-step through the plan (by the kick-off meeting, this should be old-news: everyone should already understand the part that they have to play in successfully delivering the project). At the end of the meeting, ask everyone to sign the plan to confirm that they understand their role and that the believe it’s deliverable. There’s something about that act of physically signing the plan that somehow brings it home to people that they being asked to commit to the plan. I often find that people are nodding their heads all the way through the meeting then, when you ask them to sign up to what’s been discussed, they suddenly get very furtive and nervous – so it’s worth being clear up-front that you’ll be asking them to sign-up to it!

        From then on it’s a case of chasing people to ensure they’re playing their part and giving you what you need in a timely manner. A written schedule (regularly updated) in either Excel or MS Project can be a valuable tool to track who has done what and when (and help give you early warning if you’re falling behind).

        Hope this helps?

        1. Ostrich Herder*

          Thank you so much for such a detailed and insightful answer! The signoff sounds especially useful in my case. There are some culture issues at play, and as a result I waste a lot of time convincing people that things are their responsibility and not someone else’s. A signoff process would help create a lot more accountability. And then I can use it at a checklist for tracking progress towards what needs to be done, which will be great for keeping me organized, too. Thanks again!

      2. Another PM*

        Gather everyone’s pain points first, either through one on ones or messaging. Then build solutions to these frustrations into your process. This both gets everyone invested in the process AND in you as a person who can make their lives easier.

        During the roll out, a lot of reminders that it will be harder up front and then faster and less painful later. You can also say that we are going to try it now and then check back in and do a v2.0 to see what was helpful and what was too cumbersome.

        Also, really focus on the smallest amount of process you need to solve the problems. Personalities who become PMs like process more than most and our tolerance for a lot of it is higher, so it’s important to repeatedly ask yourself if that process is actually beneficial to everyone or you just prefer it.

    4. sushirolls*

      Is the PMP worth it? I’ve been working as a Project/Program Manager for over 5 years but with no formal training. I moved into the role after being a Coordinator for about the same number of years. I have taken one-day/week long courses here and there but have always been intrigued by the PMP. Even if not practically useful, do potential employers value a PMP?

      1. df200*

        Hi sushirolls,

        I can’t speak for the PMP qualification specifically (my organisation tends to follow the Association for Project Management qualification route) but in general terms I think that qualifications and courses can often provide useful context for on-the-job experience: filling in any gaps and providing a logical framework to help connect your experiences together.

        I also think that some qualifications or professional accolades (like being a chartered project professional, for example) can be a useful “short cut” when applying for jobs – a way of quickly explaining to the recruiter what level you’re operating at. If I tell a potential employer that I’m a chartered project professional then they instantly know that I am capable of managing and delivering complex projects (of course, I still need to back that up with my CV, but it helps them form a view of me as an individual). Hopefully it also tells them that I’m someone who takes my professional development seriously and is always willing to learn.

        My organisation keeps threatening to make certain qualifications mandatory for more senior roles (i.e. no matter how much experience you have, you wouldn’t be able to apply if you don’t hold qualification ‘X’ or equivalent). They keep stopping short of actually implementing this policy though – perhaps because there are so many different qualifications out there and perhaps because many of our senior project managers don’t have the qualifications they’re looking for and so would be barred from applying for promotion!

        Hope this helps?

      2. Honor Harrington*

        If df200 doesn’t mind, I’ll add on here. In the US, having a PMP is often listed as a job requirement or +, and will almost always make it easier to get an interview. It helps open the door to hiring managers.

        Personally, I don’t think it teaches valuable skills. It’s “book learning.” But because PMI validates your professional experience as a PM as part of the cert granting process, hiring managers are used to thinking it means you are legit.

        1. df200*

          Honor Harrington,

          Very happy for others to wade-in to the debate – especially where they’ve got more relevant knowledge! I’m very conscious that my experience is UK-based and many AAM readers are based in the US – so good to have a US perspective. I /think/ I’m right in saying that the Project Management Institute is a US organisation – which might explain why PMP is more prevalent in the US (though some UK project managers do follow the PMI route)?

        2. Another PM*

          “Personally, I don’t think it teaches valuable skills. It’s “book learning.” But because PMI validates your professional experience as a PM as part of the cert granting process, hiring managers are used to thinking it means you are legit.”

          Fully agree! My kind of PMing doesn’t require it but I have read the book and it is like if a computer were to describe our jobs. I have never referred to it since.

      3. AC*

        PMP here, absolutely worth it. It’s still a highly sought after designation at least in North America, and absolutely a requirement for many jobs. You learn both technical project management and general management and leadership skills. The leadership skills alone are incredibly valuable. Maintaining my PMP also forces me to keep taking courses, seminars, sharing knowledge, etc which has been invaluable for me.

    5. Sandi*

      I do a lot of project management in my current job, but I don’t have any formal courses. If I want to continue with this type of work at a different company then is it possible to find good jobs without the official letters and paperwork? My work tends to be higher-level, so deciding which projects to fund and keeping an eye on how they are managed individually, so more a program manager than projects. I’m not sure if that’s sufficient to be hired into project management specifically, or if I’d be more likely to need a PMP or similar.

      If you could project manage for any industry, then what would be your favorite one? I’m likely to move back into a more technical role when I leave my current job, so I’m not sure if I want to have a PM-specific job, but I’m curious to learn more about some options if you have the time to share.

      1. df200*

        Hi Sandi,

        Many thanks for your question. It’s definitely possible to find project management jobs at different companies without formal project management qualifications, BUT you might find that these are more “entry level” type roles. In my experience, anything other than an entry-level role will often ask for a basic qualification in project management as a minimum (in the UK they’ll often ask for “Prince2”). Your best bet is probably to look at a few job adverts and see what qualifications they ask for. Ultimately, whilst the qualification might be a pre-requisite, like any job it’ll be your knowledge and experience (and how you present it in your application) that’ll secure you an interview.

        I’ve worked for 20 years for the same employer in the defence industry so I’m not well-placed to advise on different sectors but I can say that the most interesting job I’ve done was procuring bomb-disposal robots. :-)

        I think project management skills are very transferrable so even if you don’t pursue a career as a ‘pure’ project manager, the skills you’ve picked up will serve you well in a variety of future roles.

        Hope that helps?

      2. Another PM*

        In my field (pharma & biotech), the higher up you get, the less anyone cares about PMP certification. You have proved you can PM by actually doing the job and that is much more important than demonstrating you have read a book.

        Usually what I see is people wanting to get into PMing get their PMP, or someone who has a little bit of project management in their job and wants more of it (say, someone in contracting who has taken on project managing a new system roll out and would rather be a PM full time, to have both a little bit of experience and the PMP stamp of approval and investment).

        1. Sandi*

          Thanks, this has been my experience where I moved over from a senior technical role and no one was worried about my lack of courses because I did well with it quickly. Based on df200’s response and yours, it sounds like it’s worth it to check out other potential jobs and see what my options are. Thank you both!

  10. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

    I can help with questions about cat fostering–both kittens and cats that need socialization (esp. for fear of people). I’m also pretty solid on running a college student book club.

    1. Cookies for Breakfast*

      I’d love some cat fostering advice! My partner and I have had two female siblings for 3 weeks now, and we’re not sure how to help them overcome fear of people. We’ve fostered before; in all other situations, even cats that started out extremely shy gained full confidence and began showing affection within the first 2-3 weeks. These two refuse all human contact, aside from circling around us when we bring their food bowls.

      The progress they make on other things is nice. They’re comfortable exploring the entire house in the same way as the other cats were. They enjoy their food and treats we try to bribe them with (they were barely eating the first week, out of stress I imagine). They play with each other at night, and also engage with toys we give them now and then. They relax in their cat tree and cat beds, though the moment one of us approaches to try and take a photo or sit nearby, they run away. We’re not sure how to help them get from here to a point where they’re happy to be approached and touched, and feel like they can relax around us.

      1. mli0531*

        Truth is, some cats just aren’t that into humans. If possible, try to just sit there (play on your phone, read, whatever). Let them come to you. Let them sniff you (just like you would a dog). Try to cut off hiding places (we close doors to rooms). Patience, patience, patience. I also like talking to the cats (hi sweetie, hi handsome boy/sweet girl, etc). I think it helps associate humans with positive sounds.

      2. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

        Well, I think you’ve been doing the right things. Some cats just take much longer, and I honestly think when it’s two cats who are scared together, it’s harder to help them, because they reinforce each other’s fears sometimes. We had a pair of siblings like you describe a few months ago, and it took them 2 full months to really get comfortable with us–and one never did get comfortable being picked up. But helping them be less scared is definitely doable–just might take you much more time than it has previously.

        A couple things to keep in mind–try to keep yourself “small” when you approach them–don’t walk over to them for pets in a way that towers over them. Sit on the floor when you can. Reach out palms down, fingers closed so your hands look less like claws about to attack.

        Other things to start trying–whatever toys are their favorite, those only come out when one of you is around. And when you’re around, actively play with them with those toys. If there is a wand toy they like (or if you haven’t tried wand toys yet, get one), play with them until they are tired/very distracted playing with the toy. Over the course of a few days, get the wand toy closer and closer to you. Sit with your legs sticking out, and get them to chase the wand toy in a way that makes them need to run over your legs–they’ll probably balk at first, but eventually will want the toy enough to do it. Don’t try to pet them then–let them know that running over your legs is an interaction they’re in control of, especially the first few times. Once they’re running over your legs without hesitation, then start trying to have the toy stop in a spot where it’s close enough for them to pounce/catch it *and* for you to sneak in a quick pet of their back/head/side. Continue playing like this over several days until they let you pet them without shying away.

        If they’re more treat motivated, then treats are only for when they’re choosing to interact with you. Try sitting on the floor and creating a line of treats that lead to your foot or your leg. Get them comfortable eating a treat next to you. Once they are, then try a line of treats leading *onto* you. A single treat on your leg. If they eat it, replace it and see if they eat it then. Once they’re comfortable doing that, repeat, slowly moving the treat to different places on you. See if you can pet them while they eat the treat. All of this might take a few days, or it might not; either way, repeat this process until they’re comfortable approaching you for a treat and let you pet them when they eat it.

        Try to pet them and interact with them when they’re eating, but try to do it in steps over several days–you want them to associate people/petting with the things they like, including food. Start with just sitting near them while they eat. Then reach a hand near them. Then try petting them. Once they’re more comfortable with you petting their back/head/tail, then you can work on petting sides/neck/and eventually the belly (as they’re standing, not while they’re laying down), or getting them to get in your lap (you can probably use treats for this, too).

        Start with one hand petting before you try petting with two hands. Once they’re okay with two hands petting, you can try picking up, but only a little bit–practically just a scoot instead of picking up. Once they’re okay with that, then maybe a quick pick-up/scoot into your lap, or to your side. The most important thing is to never rush them, and if they react badly to something, just go back a couple steps from where you were and start over. Let them build trust that you’re not going to push them too fast, and that if you do, you’re going to back off for a bit.

        It’s very possible that one of the cats will do better with these steps faster than the other, and that’s okay–they will be a bridge for the other cat to see that it’s okay. They may also do better with one of you than the other, and that’s okay, too. If you haven’t tried using Churu lick sticks as a treat, you might want to try those, because they are a game changer in terms of getting frightened cats used to being near people’s hands.

        I hope this helps! Feel free to email me if you need more advice.

      3. Human Embodiment of the 100 Emoji*

        I’ve also fostered quite a few cats/kittens. How old are they? If they’re fully grown, I personally believe socialization is still possible, but it may take literal years. Growing up, one of our cats we rescued as a young adult was anti-social for about 3 or 4 years before she finally relaxed and would sit in laps/let people pet her.

        If they’re still kittens/younger, I highly recommend purritos (literally swaddling them up in a blanket and holding them like a baby) or keeping them in a smaller room without places they can run and hide from human interaction. The purrito worked really well on a slightly older (3-4 months) foster kitten I had that was still terrified of me two weeks into fostering.

    2. Forty Feet*

      I’ll be bringing in a new foster home on Friday. I have a 12 year old cat who was a foster-fail 9 years ago. I know the basics of slow introducing the cats: separate parts of the house to start, using items to swap scents, greeting through doors, etc. but I’m wondering if you have any additional tips or tricks that help with introductions?

      1. mli0531*

        I am a cat foster of 4 years (we have a “foster win” of our own, who we were suppose to keep for 3 days but its been 2+ years). Try to keep the introduction in a neutral part of the house (so the foster has a safe space to return afterwards). Bring a couple of toys into the intro space, as they can be used for distracting. Keep the initial introduction short (5-10 mins) and increase the amount of time over time. Allow the foster cat time to explore without granting full, permanent access (like being out while the humans are home and awake only for a couple of days). Bottom line: go slow (it takes at least a week to fully integrate a cat) and pay attention to the cues you are getting from your cat and the foster cat.

        1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

          All of this is good. I also like to use treats as a distraction when they’re first meeting. A

          Another thing to do is to swap spaces for an hour or two after the first day; let the household cat go into the foster cat’s room, and the foster cat go into the rest of the house, that way they can both smell each other.

          Though I will say that most of my cat fostering is done keeping my fosters entirely separate from my household cats because that’s what the group I work with requires–with kittens, it’s because they have weaker immune systems, and with regular cats, it’s to keep the focus just on the foster cat’s needs when we’re interacting with them. It’s easier on everyone because the foster cats have time and safe space away from everyone, and our household cats don’t have to reacclimated to new cats all the time. We converted our guest room into our foster cat room (replaced the queen bed with a twin that no one can hide under/inside), so they have a big space that’s all cat-ified and their own.

      2. Another Lawyer*

        Also a foster of several years with 3 cats of my own. Adding to the excellent advice above, my cats are friendly and my house is small, so most of my fosters do end up meeting my cats – BUT I would strongly suggest a 1-2 week quarantine period, even if the cat appears healthy when they arrive (I vary depending on whether the new foster has come straight from the shelter/street, whether they’ve already been in foster for a while, etc). Ringworm, for example, can take 2 weeks to show up (ask me how I know…). During this time the foster can acclimate to their new surroundings, and hear/smell my cats through the door. When it is time for intros, I have a Feliway plugin in my office/foster room, which is supposed to help by releasing pheromones that encourage multicat friendliness. I also have these clear plastic panels from Amazon (brand is Tespo) that I will use to block the door but allow the cats to engage with and see each other at first but still be separated, if the foster seems interested. And remember that some hissing/swatting to establish boundaries is normal and ok if they otherwise seem interested/calm!

    3. Em from CT*

      My sister and I (we live together) would love to foster kittens or cats, but my sister has a lot of beautiful rugs and she is reluctant to get a cat who will scratch them! Is there any way to ask to foster a cat who has been declawed? (We would never DO that to a cat, but if someone already did…) Or can we train a cat not to scratch carpets? So far we’ve never managed with our current cat… it’s a good thing I got my current sofa for $20 at a garage sale, because the cat certainly hasn’t respected the upholstery. *g*

      1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

        I don’t know that there are any ways to specifically foster declawed cats, since the practice is fortunately becoming less common (and thankfully outlawed in some states). You can definitely say that you would be willing to foster a declawed cat–they’re much more prone to biting because they have no other “weapon” to defend themselves with, so some people don’t always want to foster them. But they also tend to adopt out quickly when they do show up, unless they’re elderly.

        As for the clawing, different cats have different preferences, honestly. We have a “sacrificial” chair for our household cats, combined with double-sided tape on the one corner of one couch that one of our cats was interested in as a kitten. Usually, if you have enough scratching alternatives to direct the cat to, you can mostly keep them from clawing furniture/carpet, but carpet is definitely more tempting to them. Ours have the chair, plus several cat trees, a few cardboard scratchers, and that’s generally been enough. Our foster cat room has cat trees, cardboard scratchers, and no carpet, because it’s easier to keep clean and sanitize between fosters.

        You could maybe try fostering pregnant cats/kittens, and have a designated room for them, as mama cats like having a smallish space they feel secure in, and usually you don’t want a bunch of kittens wandering around everywhere anyways. That way you could limit the rugs/furniture they have access to. Even a fairly small room, as long as it’s quiet and safe, is usually going to be a better place for mama and kittens than a cage in a shelter or rescue, and doing so frees up a space for a cat that’s already able to be up for adoption.

        1. Prof*

          Especially if you get them young, you can train cats to not scratch your things and to use scratch pads. If they go after the wrong thing, you move them to their scratch pad and praise them. We managed to do this so well that our girl (who damages nothing), trots over to her scratch pad whenever we come home (we still praise her for this).

    4. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      What questions do I need to ask myself before fostering a cat? what are the practical aspects I might overlook? Thanks for this thread, fascinating!

      1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

        Let’s see…
        -What experience do you already have with cats? Are you comfortable with cats in general? Are you going to be able to handle daily or even twice daily litter box scooping? Do you have other pets/cats, and are you planning on them interacting with the fosters or not (personally, it’s easier and safer for everyone if you keep them separated)?

        -What shelter/rescue are you going to work with? What are their rules, and are you okay with those rules?

        -How much free time will you have to spend with the fosters? Are you looking to foster bottle babies (huge commitment as they need feeding every 3-5 hours, 24/7 for the first few weeks), pregnant cats/mamas with kittens, or cats that need socializing? How patient are you with cats, and are you okay if they are slow to warm up to you?

        -Costs–you will do more laundry than you expect. Pregnant cats/mama cats & kittens need to eat good quality kitten food, which is more expensive. Kitten formula for bottle babies is also expensive. Some rescues help with that, some don’t. Things will get broken/torn up unexpectedly, especially if the fosters have full run of the house.

        -Travel-Do you like to leave town for a couple of days here and there, because when you have fosters, you can’t go at the drop of a hat–at minimum you need to be there in the morning and the evening each day. If you’re fostering bottle babies, that kitten has to go everywhere with you if you’re gone longer than 3 hours, including work. I love traveling, but I schedule it between fosters now. Kitten season, when fosters are most needed, is at its height in May-June, which are big travel times for a lot of people. In most cases, you’ll be fostering for 8-10 weeks at a time.

        And the real question when it comes to fostering–will you be able to give them back to the rescue/shelter when they’re ready to find their real furever home? Is there a particular kind of cat (temperment/etc.) that you might be prone to foster-failing with, and if so, are you going to be able to tell the rescue/shelter that you shouldn’t foster that kind? My spouse and I have found that litters of kittens are actually easiest to not foster-fail with, because we like all of them and there’s no way we can keep a whole litter and continue fostering. Single kittens and single or 2 sibling fosters are the most dangerous for foster failing, because you get a lot more attached because they are so dependent on you for everything. You always want to remember that if you have your own household cats/pets, you need to keep their needs in mind, too, and not take on so much that you end up not giving them enough attention.

        One thing that helps me not foster-fail is that I also volunteer at our shelter, so I see the cats I’ve fostered get adopted, usually within a couple weeks of going up for adoption, and it helps to know that I’ve helped them find a new home, and having done so, that giving them back so they can get adopted means I can keep helping more cats find their homes in the future. Foster failing for me means that I will have to stop fostering. And foster failing isn’t a tragedy–not everyone is meant to foster a series of cats! But if you want to foster as a way to help the most cats over time, remind yourself that you’re like a mama bird or a teacher helping prepare them for their lives out in the rest of the world, and they’re not meant to stay with you.

      2. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

        Also–it’s rare, but can happen–how prepared are you for dealing with illness or even death of a foster cat?

        We had one litter that picked up ringworm at the shelter when we took them for their last round of shots(hiiiighly contagious for kittens, but doesn’t show visibly for up to two weeks; the tech who gave them their shots washed her hands/etc., but forgot to take off the jacket she’d worn into the quarantine room), and we had to do 5 extra weeks of fostering which included daily meds, ointment 2x daily, and weekly baths of five kittens AND their mother. We were scrupulous about changing clothes, wearing gloves, etc., and one of our adult cats still managed to get it (pretty sure it was because she kept sticking her face under the foster room’s door to sniff at the kittens), which meant doing all of that with her, too, and isolating her from our other two cats.

        It was only the second litter we’d fostered, and it was *rough*. It’s one reason we keep fosters separate, and why we actually have two baby gates blocking the doorway inside and the doorway outside, as a sort of fence to keep everyone from being tempted to paw under the doors. It was a crazy, not common situation, but it is common enough to need to give fosters meds, so that’s something you need to be semi-comfortable with. Oh, and you may need a scale for weighing, to both give the right doses *and* to keep track of kitten weights to make sure everyone’s eating enough.

    5. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      I could definitely use your advice! I adopted a bonded pair of (non-sibling) kittens a few years ago. One was brave and friendly and the other was extremely shy. The brave one would try stuff, the shy one would see it was OK and try it a while later. Shy kitty has blossomed into a lovely cat. The only challenge is that there are only 3 people she’s OK with: me and two neighbours. Since they’re COVID kitties, they haven’t really had any interaction with people in our house.

      The landord and his daughter came by to do some repairs a while back and I decided to take the opportunity to try to socialize them a bit more. Brave Kitty was cautious, but came out for some churu and became besties with the daughter within like 10 minutes. Shy Kitty hid under the bed until 20 minutes after they left. (Obviously, I didn’t try to grab her).

      Is there anything I can do to help Shy Kitty? I managed to get a previous cat sorta comfortable with other people, but Shy Kitty is proving to need a little extra to maybe get there.

      1. lina*

        She may never get there, and that’s okay. My Chocolate is 13 now, and still dashes under the bed at the first hint of a stranger in the house; five minutes after they’re gone, she’s right back on the living room couch. Now that she’s deaf, she will sometimes come out to the top of the stairs if I have company over for a long time – she can’t hear them so she thinks they are gone – but she dashes back under the bed as soon as she sees them.

        1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

          Thanks for this. I get that there are limits – she’s never going to turn into Brave Kitty, and that’s OK. My concern is that if I ever move in with a partner, she’ll never come out.

          1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

            Usually kitties will get used to whoever they’re around the most. They are also bravest when they own their space, so if you move to a new place, it will probably take her longer to adjust to that *and* a new person, as opposed to if someone moves in with you. Mainly, if you do ever live with a new partner, make sure that partner knows to let Shy Kitty have her space and interact with them on Shy Kitty’s timeline. It’s when you force interaction that it becomes problematic and harder to get the cat to come around eventually.
            My spouse’s cat (he truly adores my spouse, but tolerates me, even though I have been around since he was a kitten) has literally backtracked upon coming into a room with friends we had over that he didn’t know, but if people are over for an extended time and as long as they don’t try and chase him, he’ll come into the room we’re in, or at least the adjacent room eventually. Different cats just have different tolerances for people they don’t actually live with, and a lot of it stems from the interactions they have (or don’t have) when they’re young, but some of it is just their own personality.

    6. Karma is My Boyfriend*

      Omggggg my two recent adoptees haaaaaattteees me! Both will run away or wake up from a sleep if I even take one step towards them. One at least comes to me when I’m laying down for pets and cuddles, and the other I can tell desperately wants to do the same, but doesn’t. He will sneakily sleep by my at night. Help to make them less scaredy cats??

      1. Prof*

        you’re doing great! a cat being willing to sleep by you is a sign of trust. Just be patient and let them come to you

      2. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

        You just need to be patient! If they’ll come up to you when you’re laying down/asleep, they will come around eventually. Just don’t try to force them to accept pets or be picked up. You have to show them that you respect their space and back off, and let them come to you. Also, if you’re approaching them in a way that puts you above them or towering over them, try sitting instead. Remember, we’re basically giants to them, and that can be intimidating. That’s probably why they’re coming to you for pets/snuggling when you’re laying down or asleep–you are a lot less intimidating when you’re on their level, so to speak.

        Now, the way to get them to come to you might be different for each of them, but try treats or playing with a wand toy the way I described above to the person who’s fostering 2 siblings that are still shy after a few weeks. I would do the playing and the treats while sitting down. You could also try a line of treats including over your legs to get them to walk on you as another way to get them used to being around you when you’re sitting.

        Baby steps are key–once a cat is comfortable with one step, then try the next. Get them used to being near you. *Then* try to get them used to you reaching out for pets, or even just for them to sniff your hand. Then try petting.

        With cats that came from a shelter environment, they might be more skittish about being pet on the head/neck area, since that’s where they’re scruffed to get meds/examined/etc. safely by staff. Aim for petting their back, sides, or even just their tail first. Make sure they’re very comfortable with being pet with one hand before you try petting with two hands (because that is going to make them think they’re about to be picked up or scruffed).

        Patience, patience, patience.

  11. Not Tom, Just Petty*

    Can I freeze the top row and the left column at the same time?
    Thank you.

      1. the one who got away*

        Oh, I should add — you can do this in any place where you want to freeze everything to the left of *and* everything above the cell in question.

    1. No Mercy Percy*

      Yes! Select cell B2, then go to View on the top ribbon. Select Freeze Panes, then Freeze Panes again from the drop down.

      1. A Genuine Scientician*

        To expand on this, you can freeze multiple rows / columns. Instead of clicking on cell B2, go to the first row/column combination you want to NOT be frozen, and choose the Freeze Panes option there.

        So, for example, doing so in cell D3 would mean you always see columns A, B, and C, and you always see rows 1 and 2, but everything else scrolls.

    2. CG*

      Yes! Click the “1” to highlight the top row, hold down ctrl, and then click the “A” to also highlight the first column. Then go to View -> Freeze Panes -> “Freeze Panes” (first option). That will free anything you’ve selected. (This also works for freezing multiple rows or columns.) It doesn’t work amazingly with scrolling – you get a bit more frozen than you want, but it includes the part you want, at any rate!

    3. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Thanks to all for replying. And thanks to others for not making me feel like the only one!

    4. numbers lady*

      yes! place your cursor in the cell in the corner below those two rows and hit freeze panes. Anything to the left and above that cell will be frozen :)

    5. Msd*

      When I’m trying to figure out how to do something in Microsoft excel/word I can usually find the answer by googling my question. Just go to google and type in “how do I ……in excel ”

      1. SarahKay*

        And to add to that – a colleague of mine who does a lot of clever stuff in excel has apparently been asking Chat GPT for excel answers and formulae.
        He says you have to check that the answer or formula is correct but that it’s usually a really good starting point.
        He says he doesn’t let it view his excel sheet (our company is very definite about No Company Data Shared With AI!) but just describes the problem to it.

      2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        Every time I googled, it took me a video that was at least five minutes long. Or to a Quora result that began with, “create a macro.” Microsoft’s Excel page showed me how to do top OR side. I kept looking for a quick link, but there was no, “hey, put the cursor in B2 (or where needed) and select Freeze Panes.”
        I was SO frustrated!

          1. Troubadour*

            I much prefer text too, but if video’s the only option it often helps me to:
            a) change the speed to 2x,
            b) turn on captions, and
            c) hit the right arrow to skip forward rapidly until I can find the spot where they’re actually giving the answer instead of burbling on with an unnecessary introduction.

    6. Em from CT*

      A picky detail: you might need to unfreeze panes and then refreeze them using this tip if someone has already frozen e.g only the top row!

    7. Caz*

      Adding to all the advice that has been given – the keyboard shortcut for this (how I love my keyboard shortcuts) is alt-W-F-enter (and has been since at least office 2010, despite specific menus changing!)

    8. Sassy SAAS*

      Adding to everyone else… sometimes you can only freeze the top row/first column from the excel program, not the web version. I often have to open the file in excel to freeze what needs to be frozen, before going back to the web version (since I’m working on shared docs)

  12. Intrinsically Knotted*

    Question for somebody with expertise in…social work, I guess? How does one go about finding a social worker/getting access to things like a group home or other services, on behalf of a distant relation? I anticipate this becoming necessary in the next few years, but I don’t even know the right questions to ask, or what level of help I could get/provide when the relation is both physically distant and is living with her mother who ought to be figuring these things out herself.

        1. Jay (no, the other one)*

          I’m a hospice doc who has worked in geriatrics/palliative care for 15+ years and I didn’t know about 211. THANK YOU.

    1. Daryush*

      Hi! Generally clients are referred by a patient’s PCP or show up on risk list as the result of a hospital stay. Getting a social worker isn’t really a matter of just saying, “I want one,” generally you’ll also have specific needs that social work can help you meet: food/housing instability, maintaining active insurance coverage, some programs set up to help people living with certain chronic diseases.

      If your relative’s PCP is part of a larger health system, I would start there. Specific thing to mention might be concerns around stable housing or food, if this applies. If your relative has a medical condition, the health system (or city/state) may have specific case management programs. I’m most familiar with programs for HIV and diabetes, but I’m sure there others. Access would be through your relative’s PCP, or contact your city health department/look at the website.

      Since you aren’t your relative’s caretaker, all you can really do here is research and make suggestions to her mother. Social work can’t accomplish anything without buy-in from the patient/caretaker.

    2. Former Mental Health professional*

      I second the call to 211, but also look at the county website. They may have resources online or if they are very rural at least the number and office location where you could find more information about what might be available. If this person is getting medical care there may be a social worker at the hospital who could get them materials to apply or info about eligibility for services.

    3. Rage*

      Like Dayrush said, since you aren’t the guardian, you are going to be very limited in what you can do, but to do research you will need to narrow things down a bit:
      1. What state does the individual live in?
      2. Does the individual have a disability? If so, what is it?
      3. How old is the individual?
      4. Is the individual already receiving services (either through private health insurance, Medicaid, SSI/disability)? Does she have a case manager?
      5. What are the parent’s wishes with regard to her daughter? Does she have things set up for when she passes away (guardianship, trust, etc.)?

      I’m assuming she has a disability of some type, since you mentioned group home, so a good resource is going to be the local Disability Services Office.

    4. Miss Chanandler Bong*

      My brother is disabled (autistic) and getting him services has been like pulling teeth. He’s been out of high school for a year and we finally got him into a day program last week. If you anticipate this might be necessary, I wouldn’t wait; I’d look into starting the process. Housing can take at least a year. On the off chance that your relative is experiencing abuse, call the emergency line for her state. Unfortunately, abuse among the disabled is far too frequent. For this reason, if you can get her closer to you or you can go to her, I highly recommend it. We’ve been through two caregivers with my brother sadly.

      Your services will vary by state. My state has two departments, a department of adult social services and a department of disability services. Both are involved in my brother’s case.

    5. Anna*

      It’s also worth checking your local library for information. Lots of them keep lists of local resources for all kinds of things. Some libraries even have their own social workers now.

    6. emk*

      I support a program called Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs). Some states also call this a No Wrong Door program.

      It works like 211 (community resource hotline) but they have a lot more specific expertise in connecting folks to resources for older adults and people with disabilities – which sounds like it applies to your relative. They can help you figure out what to do for your specific situation, possibly including navigating a difficult family situation. They will be based in the state/county/region your relative lives, you should be able to find a phone number on google.

    7. Hedgehug*

      In Canada you can also use 211.

      You can try Googling services in your area, check community hall website, church websites, city hall. This could be food banks, food hampers, rental or utility assistance, etc.

      There is grocery assistance programs as well for physically driving people to the store or to get prescriptions. Palliative Care does this too if there is a decent one in the area you are looking for.

      Medical and care aid all the above might be able to help, but doctor clinics can help too with information if home care is needed, etc.

    8. RavCS*

      Hospice chaplain here. Depending on your relative’s age, their local Council on Aging may have resources and referrals. Many of our home patients have worked with their town’s Elder Services and may already have help in place before we come in. Other times we make the referral. Some costs are covered, if not there is usually a sliding scale. In my state, they have to be living at home for Elder Services (no institutional setting or Assisted Living Residence.) This may be helpful before a group home or other facility is needed. It may also be helpful for your relative’s mother if she can use assistance.
      And, as others have noted, you may be able to do the research, but your relative’s mother will have to be the person to carry this forward.

      1. PivotTime*

        Can I ask how you made the switch from librarianship to another field? I’m going from academic librarianship to the legal field and kind of floundering on taking the specialized skills you learn as a librarian and making them apply to non-library work.

        1. FormerLibrarian*

          So, not gonna lie, it didn’t hurt that I’m also parked on an MBA that I wasn’t using. :)

          Beyond that, what ended up working for me was thinking about what I wanted to do, and the KSAs from the jobs I wanted to apply for, and going really hard at targeting my experiences at those things. For every bullet on a job ad, I combed my own experiences for something that illustrated I had those skills, and really aimed my resume at those points. “It’s a marketing document, not your encyclopedia entry” was written in bold on my monitor.

    1. sushirolls*

      I don’t know if it’s the pandemic or just being an insecure millenial, but I have lost the ability to communicate professionally. I work in research and moved from a less sciency/more policy-oriented team to a very science-heavy team in 2021 and am struggling to keep up with the jargon and science speak. At first I thought that everything was so wildly over my head and I was not nearly as smart as everyone else on the team. But after like a year of active listening I realize that I do understand what they are talking about, but they use (sometimes unnecessarily) complicated terms in place of simple ones. Because Science. So while I don’t agree with doing this, I think I need to in order to keep up and gain respect/or at least be seen as someone with any credibility.

      1. Diatryma*

        Have you considered doing the opposite? A reputation for communicating ‘difficult’ concepts clearly and without condescension– a reputation for being the person people understand– can go a long way.

        1. FormerLibrarian*

          In my experience, which I’ll stress has very little to do with any scientific/technical fields, communication complexity should be roughly equivalent to specificity. So where that jargon is needed in order to clearly communicate something very specific, like what temperature to set the autoclave to(?), go for it, whereas with lunch plans, “about noon” is enough. So modulating to the situation is entirely appropriate.

    2. not applicable*

      In your talented opinion, when you edit a policy is it better to be strict when documenting it or flexible?

      My company recently pivoted from one way of operating to a much looser paradigm, but documentation of that new process is even looser. Because of that, we’re running into a bunch of things that aren’t /explicitly/ covered by the guiding docs and thus are “okay” and “just part of the job”. Is that just a symptom of updating policy?

      Also in running meetings, how do you encourage shyer people to interact/people to give meaningful inputs in the meeting?

      1. FormerLibrarian*

        Policies can have one or both of these focuses:
        – A thing needs to happen (or not happen)
        – A thing needs to happen *in this specific way.*

        A policy is never going to explicitly cover everything that a job or procedure entails, so flexibility there is key. Save the strict policies for when the method matters as much as the results.

        To your other question, I find the best way to encourage them to interact is to provide multiple channels for contribution. That way, hopefully everyone has a contribution channel that works for them. You won’t get anywhere useful by cajoling them into participating using channels they aren’t comfortable in.
        (I’d also encourage them to follow up with their thoughts after the meeting, when that’s viable. I personally have many of my best thoughts after we’ve all gone home.)

        1. not applicable*

          Thank you so much for answering both, you opened a new way of thinking for me in both questions!

  13. Cilantra*

    I’m an instructional designer and e-learning specialist. I can give pointers on creating engaging slides.

    1. Mio*

      I have to make a short PowerPoint presentation for my teammates about a work seminar I attended (with 2 other people). Usually these things have lots of photos and lean towards more “vacation-y” feeling, since the seminar trips are often held in tourist areas. Our seminar had TONS of good material and I really want to share some – any tips on how to do that in a good way, when people probably expect more relaxed, photo- and experience-focused slides? Thanks in advance!

    2. Lozi*

      I’m wondering if you can recommend a platform for doing e-learning for volunteers within a nonprofit. Our volunteers need initial broad training, then job-specific training. Some of it happens in-person, but there is a lot that could be done online on their own time. As a nonprofit we have a limited budget, so a complex LMS is not an option.

    3. ferrina*

      Is there a short trick for making engaging slides?
      I can make pretty decent slides, but it always feels like it takes longer than it should.

      1. MuseumChick*

        Great question! It’s about building relationships with the exhibits. When they know you care about them, they tend to behave when you are hosting an event.

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      Out of curiosity – what’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever seen a museum visitor do? And to make this work-related – if you rent out areas of your facility with exhibitions for events, how nerve-wracking is it for your staff, and does the hiring organisation or person have to get expensive liability insurance? (I’ve never organised an event in a museum, so I’m interested in the logistics.)

      1. MuseumChick*

        I did not actually witness this but while working in a very large building, on a very slow day, we found a trail of….feces leading from the exhibit floor to one of the bathroom….the bathroom was…..a wreck. We have no other information and what exactly happened.

        It depends on what area you work in. Collections care staff have major anxiety about these events. Fundraiser don’t. I don’t know much about the insurance question because I have always worked on the collection care side of things.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          Yikes re: the visitor story! And I’m not surprised that events make the collection folks anxious.
          Thank you for answering my questions. :)

          1. MuseumChick*

            And we know you are doing these events for the good of the museum! We just really wish all the artifacts would be locked behind at least three layers of security including a locking vault and a retinal scan.

        2. Bluebell Brenham*

          I’ll chime in to say “not all FR staff!” I started the adult night events at a museum I worked at. I held a hard line on an earlier ending time and no hard liquor, just to keep the rowdiness down. After I left, the CFO (who worked closely w the catering co) immediately changed both of those so more money would come in. I saw it more as long term visitor/donor development.

          1. Plate of Wings*

            In this day and age, an event bar can go all out with just beer, wine, and cider. If the hard liquor rule helped, it seems like a no-brainer! Good for you, certainly the CFO didn’t need to revert that.

        3. I have resting IT support face*

          Could have been the same place but the museum I worked at 15 years ago had a similar incident. A co-worker from that time went on to include it as a set piece in the novel she released a couple years ago.

      2. LaurCha*

        As a former curator I can tell you that events made me very, very nervous. Drunk people around art are not a great combo. It’s less alarming when no alcohol is involved, but really, if you want people to donate or get into a bidding war at an auction, you get them liquored up. At one museum, they had a no-red-wine policy. At another, my director was of Italian descent and red wine was NOT OPTIONAL. At the latter, we did not have people get liability insurance, but we also didn’t do private events like weddings, just community events. I’m not sure how the other museum handled it but I believe the cost of liability insurance is just wrapped up into the rental fee.

        This didn’t seem particularly weird to me, but my security staff lost their minds: we had an exhibition of Russian icons. A fellow from a nearby Russian Orthodox monastery came in and started praying and kissing the icons. The front desk called me and I was like, y’all, they’re religious objects, it’s fine as long as he’s not wearing lipstick. He was not. It was fine. I suppose the fact that we were in a very very Baptist small town in the deep South probably contributed to the security folks being weirded out.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          That’s really interesting, thank you! I’m not surprised about one museum having a “no red wine” policy!

          I have both Russian and Ukrainian heritage. From having been to a few Russian Orthodox services (before the church decided to shill for Putin), I can confirm that kissing icons is very normal in that religion.

        2. Jane Anonsten*

          I’m getting the warm fuzzies that you allowed him to venerate the icons instead of taking the stance that since they weren’t in a church it wasn’t allowed. Thanks for being awesome :)

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      What determines what new exhibits you get? Is there a catalog of rotating exhibits somewhere??

      1. MuseumChick*

        It depends. At larger organization exhibit will be planned years in advance. The biggest factor is what artifacts you have or, could get loaned to you. Museums loan each other artifacts all the time so if you have an idea for an exhibit but don’t have an important artifact in your collection you can more often than not get it from someone else.

    3. Rae*

      What is the best way for me to share feedback with a museum when I think an exhibit is poorly put together and lacking information? Email vs Snail Mail?

      1. Lila*

        As another museum professional — email! Usually there will be a general email or general curatorial email and things will eventually get forwarded to the right person.

      2. MuseumChick*

        EMAIL! And please do give us feedback! Often times, that the only way the staff can get things changed. Especially when the same people have been on the Board of Directors for 30 years. A side note to this, writing an exhibit is very difficult. Tons of information is left out due to a variety of factors so sometimes that is what is happening.

    4. FuzzFrogs*

      I’m a librarian (with Master’s in Library Science), and I’d love to move into museums one day. Are you able to speak to how people with non-museum expertises move into/fare in museum jobs? Do you typically see people end up going back to school, or making things work, etc.?

      Obviously there’s some crossover between librarianship and museum stuff, but I feel like I haven’t seen a good answer as to whether I could move into museums without…going to grad school again. Or starting from the bottom again, compensation-wise.

      1. LaurCha*

        Larger museums and archive-heavy museums often have a Museum Librarian. In my experience these librarians have an MLS, not necessarily art history or history degrees. However, some background or experience in the subject matter will certainly help you get in the door.

      2. Lila*

        Are you interested in getting into curatorial work or just working within a museum space? I think it’s generally harder to move into curatorial, but there are libraries with gallery spaces and museums with accompanying research libraries, which could be good places to start and see what kind of jobs they have.

      3. MuseumChick*

        My personal opinion is this: it is very hard to move into the museum field if you don’t have a museum specific degree and/or TONS of work experience. There are far more people in the field then there are jobs so you will be competing against all of them. I would recommend going back to school and even finding either volunteer work in a museum or a part time job in one.

      4. Magnus Archivist*

        you could look for museums that also have libraries attached/in their structure. It wouldn’t get you *into* the museum, but it would get you working more closely with the museum curators and staff and potentially involved with more museum-based activities.

    5. Lurker*

      What is your favorite Museum or Exhibit you’ve ever seen, and that you think is worth seeing at least once?

      1. MuseumChick*

        Oh there are so many good ones! I should say before answering that museum professionals are the WORST people to bring to a museum exhibit. We just nitpick the heck out of everything.

        I guess it really depends on what you are looking to get out of going to an exhibit. If you want to think deeply and probably feel uncomfortable it would be the Sensation exhibit or Mining the Museum. The Indianapolis Children’s Museum, when I went there many years ago had a great exhibit on children who changed the world (think people like Anne Frank) and a really amazing display about Ryan White (his story is amazing, google him if you don’t know the name he brough tons of awareness to the AIDS epidemic). Interestingly, there is also a story about an exhibit that never got made that probably would have been the greatest museum exhibit of all time. It’s a very long story but so I will direct you to the Book History Wars and suggest your google “Enola Gay controversy”

      2. different museum chick*

        Jumping in as a fellow museums professional to say that it really, REALLY depends on your specific interests—but ACMI in Melbourne does some phenomenally innovative stuff, the V&A in London is the one London museum I recommend to every tourist because it’s got something for everyone (although I personally prefer the London Transport Museum), and the Detroit Institute of Arts has some of the best interpretation/labeling I’ve ever seen in an art museum!

    6. Needful Things*

      I support a professional personal property appraisal organization. How do museums go about finding appraisers when needed (i.e., donation valuation or whatever)? I’d love to find ways to bring your world to the world of our members and vice versa.

      We have members of all variety of specialties! The majority are fine art, with antiques & decorative arts a close second. But you’ll find everything from jewelry to classic cars, sports memorabilia, airplanes and even horses! The organization requires a progression of specialized education in the field, including becoming USPAP qualified.

      1. MuseumChick*

        Before I answer your question, let me answer one you did not ask because I think its super important. Museums cannot appraise any object. It’s a conflict of interest and the IRS gets annoyed.

        There are three primary appraisal organization in the USA, I don’t know about other counties. They are Appraisers Association of America, American Association of Appraisers and The International Society of Appraisers. Reach out to any/all of them and they should be able to help.

  14. Berin*

    I struggle with brevity in emails and other communications – I tend to be too wordy or I over-explain. Looking for tips to hone my writing, especially for emails/documents that are meant to go up the chain where brief (but impactful!) communication seems to be most valued!

    1. Lab Boss*

      Hi! When I struggled with this I developed a few strategies:
      – Convey important information in bullet points. That helps cut out a lot of words you’d normally use making things read as flowing paragraphs.
      – Put the highest-importance summary in the body of your e-mail, but include an attached document that explains things in more depth or technical detail so if someone DOES need it, it’s there.
      – If there’s a decision or followup that needs to happen, call it out very specifically in bold letters at either the very beginning or very end of the e-mail, so it’s not lost.

      1. Awkwardness*

        I handle it a bit differently, even though the essence is the same.
        I have a short summary on top of the email, bullet point for additional details below. Every to do at the bottom of the email.
        And stick to main sentences or only up to 1 subclause. I think this requires you too be really precise about reasoning and get rid of unnecessary words.

        I had a grand boss once who said he would not read emails longer than 3 sentences. Of course, this is not always realistic, but it gives you a good idea where to place the target.

        1. Berin*

          I’ve gotten similar feedback re: length of emails from my supervisor!

          Both of you have great advice, thank you so much!!

          1. Awkwardness*

            I forgot one thing: active sentences over passive sentences.

            So instead of: It would be preferable to cut the hair to 3mm…
            And instead of: I think it should be established as a rule to cut the hair to 3mm…
            Better: I recommend to cut the hair to 3mm.

      2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        Co-sign this. I sometimes start by listing bullets of the 3 (or whatever number) things I need to convey. Partly, this is so I don’t forget. But it also helps in structuring the e-mail, so I can start off with “here are 3 things you need to know,” then number / bullet them. I find it especially useful when I have 3 questions I need answers to or decisions I need made.

        Another thing I’ve done when I’m not sure how much detail to give is the brief summary at the top and say that I’ve provided a more detailed answer / response / explanation below in the e-mail.

    2. CG*

      I also struggle with this, and I’ve had a few people recommend Grammarly to me. For another automated helper option, Microsoft Word has an option to add wordiness checks to spelling/grammar check.

      To turn them on, in Word go to File -> Options -> Proofing. Under “When correcting spelling and grammar in Word”, you can click “Settings” next to “Writing Style”, and there’s a “Clarity and Conciseness” section with options that aren’t checked by default.

    3. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      From someone in IT who sometimes goes too far the other way!:

      Drafts are your salvation. Quickly type up the most important points that *have* to be got across in bullet point format – do not worry about grammar or spelling. Then, construct sentences around them so they flow together.

      *Then* correct any nasty spelling errors or grammatical snafus. Add in a nice opening/closing and you’re golden.

      1. NetNrrd*

        LEARN FROM MY MISTAKES: At least if it’s a really awkward draft, don’t put the ‘to’ or ‘cc’ entries in until you’re ready to send it. More than once I’ve accidentally sent a draft when I meant to just save it and exit.

    4. Skoobles*

      Summary paragraph up front with the key recommendation and justification; if somebody reads only that, they’ll know what your recommendation is.

      Bullet points or other formatting to make key points stick out rather than be in paragraph soup.

      Avoid redundant explanations or over-explaining basics to an audience who knows what you’re talking about. If you’ve explained something once in the email, assume it stays explained.

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        I agree with beginning the message a summarizing sentence that asks or shares what you need.

        Following that, I use either bullet points or a sentence or two that briefly explains anything the person needs to know.
        Is there a deadline?
        Did I try X, Y and Z?

        If you’ve read any of my comments, you’ll know I can type a lot of words.
        I’m training myself to pull out the part I need to ask/share. I write one sentence that explains the purpose of the message and then I let myself go. From that, I try to pull anything important for the second part. And finally, if I determine that I need All The Words, write up my narrative.

    5. Ferret*

      I used to be pretty bad about this – I was told it was really common for ex-engineers to include way too much detail. One thing I did was write out my very long list as bullet points, then highlight the key phrases and words. Then I could see if I really needed to keep the rest or if I could move the key points up front and leave the bulk of information below or as an appendix

      1. Berin*

        I’m not an engineer, but my primary work has been with engineers for the last 8 years, so maybe that explains my verbosity!

    6. Susan Calvin*

      Seconding Lab Boss especially on this: TL;DR up top, *then* go into details.

      Also, strategic bolding of 1-2 keywords per paragraph or bullet helps busy audiences with speed reading and picking out which parts of the backstory are relevant or interesting to them.

    7. nonny*

      This depends a LOT on your audience, but sometimes you can completely cut out (or drastically reduce) any niceties (“I hope you’re doing well,” “let me know if you have any questions,” etc) and that can really help streamline your emails. You really have to know your audience though – I work in academia and cutting out the niceties works really well when cold emailing faculty I don’t know, but I wouldn’t do that with (most) faculty I do know, support staff, or students.

      1. Berin*

        I definitely use a TON of niceties, but from communications I’ve seen from senior staff, they don’t appear to be important. This is a tough habit for me to break, but I’ll give it a try! Thank you!

    8. clever user name*

      For me, writing the long version first is the only way I can end up with a concise message. Save the long one as a draft in case there are questions, but it’s easier to summarize and hone in on key points once you have the entire thing explained. Also I had a boss that encouraged us to ask questions that they could answer with a yes or no. That really helps you get to the point and frames your input as a solution. “Shall I Fed-Ex this tomorrow?” vs. “When and how do you want me to ship this?”

      1. bamcheeks*

        Same! That was going to be my top tip— give yourself more time to write the email, and treat it as a two stage process— writing, and then editing. Expect it to take longer— it’s your classic Mark Twain “sorry for sending a long letter, I didn’t have time to write a short one”.

        For the editing part, I would literally cut and paste the email into Word or another programme with a wordcount, and try and make it half as long. For me, this typically means:

        – taking out every “sort of” and “kind of”
        – looking for any doubled up verb phrases, adjectives or adverbs— so “I would like to think we will have someone in post by September” can just be “we want someone in post by September”; “the llamas are looking really stunningly beautiful todays is just “the llamas are looking beautiful today!”; “it’s important that senior management understand that the llama grooming team is critical, relevant and important to our overall mission” becomes “the LGT is critical to our mission.” This has the effect of making your writing much more direct and informative, and so much easier to read
        – take out every sentence or phrase that says the same as another sentence or phrase (it’s really common to repeat for emphasis, but concise and direct writing is much more emphatic and also less annoying)
        – look at the overall structure, and figure out what the point of each paragraph is and whether it’s in the right order
        – go through each sentence individually, and decide whether it’s relevant, important and in the right

        Still over 50% of the original wordcount? Do it all again, but harder. (50% is obviously a made-up figure, but giving yourself a quantitative figure to reduce by or two is a great way do *forcing* yourself to cut words and find more concise ways of saying things or cutting whole sentences or paragraphs that aren’t directly to the point. Once you realise how much better your writing is and it becomes second nature, you don’t need to quantify it so much.)

        Finally, define “success” for this email— are you informing, changing minds, asking for an action? Is that crystal clear? Could it be clearer? If so, do it again.

        Good luck!

        1. Lozi*

          this is GREAT. I find myself so annoyed with wordy emails … and then turn around and write them myself!

      2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        Yup, sometimes you’ve got to write the long e-mail, then put the key stuff on top and edit it down to a manageable length.

    9. OverEasy*

      I just write the wordy version first! It’s important to me to make sure I’ve included everything and am not skipping something over. Then I just have the VERY important second step of leaving the draft, then coming back and doing an edit. The edit is when I figure out if this needs to be bullet points, if paragraphs works, etc. Usually I’ll have in mind that I want this to be a 2-paragraph email (or whatever) and focus on cutting it down. I end up deleting a lot of unnecessary sentences. And this can be the time to format in the “put tldr on top” recommendations from a lot of other commenters. I just find that when I start with the approach to write the tldr first, I end up just back in the wrote-too-much situation.

      1. Berin*

        This is a great point, and something I need to build into my routine. I tend to overthink a lot, which can interfere with editing, but I like the idea of beginning with an end length in mind!

    10. SpecialSpecialist*

      You can also use ChatGPT to summarize your wordiness. Write your email/memo/whatever as you usually would. Then copy/paste it into ChatGPT and ask it to summarize in X words/sentences/paragraphs. Then use ChatGPT’s output as a suggestion to go back and pare down your work. Do it enough times and eventually, you’ll retrain yourself to cut out wordiness.

      1. Eliot Waugh*

        Yes to ChatGPT! I also struggle with this, and have gotten feedback that I need to shorten everything and use less detail. Used to take me an hour to write and edit some emails. Now I will quickly make a draft that includes too many details and filler words and then ask ChatGPT to make it shorter, nicer, stronger, or any other tone I’m trying to achieve.

    11. LaurCha*

      Read it out loud to yourself. You’ll quickly see where the sentences fail and the information gets repetitive or confusing. Or read it to your pets if you work at home. :)

    12. RNL*

      Write it all out, then go back and do a few things:
      1. read it and take out as many extra words as possible. Adverbs, qualifiers, unnecessary adjectives, etc. Sometimes I set myself a challenge: can I take out 25% of the words? 40%? 50%?
      2. then highlight the important points and put them first. Literally take the last sentence of the paragraph and put it at the beginning. Take the second clauses and put them first in multi-clause sentences, if the second clause has the more important idea.
      3. read it again, and once again take out unnecessary words or phrases, and try to change as many clauses as possible to the active voice rather than the passive voice.
      4. think about the overall message, and write a summary at the top, and think about the rest of your message as explication of the summary. Headings and bullet points are your friends!
      5. if you think your audience *might* want more detail, say “more detail can be found below” and then put more detail below under a heading.

      You do not want to take your audience on a journey of how you landed on an idea or a conclusion. You want to give them the conclusion right up front, clearly, and then information to asses whether they agree with the conclusion.

      1. Berin*

        Oh man, you hit the nail on the head – I tend to recap the journey, often because I am unsure of my own conclusions and want validation that I’ve approached the problem thoroughly. I really like your suggestion about adding detail under a different heading. Thank you for taking the time!

        1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

          I can totally relate to wanting to tell the story of the journey in order. It’s the way we do it in stories, essays, research papers, etc. One thing that’s emphasized at my workplace is that busy leaders want the key thing first. Tell them the bottom line right up front. Then get into the important details later.

          Also, with e-mails, people can come back and ask clarifying questions if they need more specific detail. It happens.

          1. Awkwardness*

            Also, the managers can decide then if they want to spend more time to go into the details or leave it there.
            But you are sure they got art last the main message.

            1. Berin*

              Both of these are great points, especially about how we’re trained to write in school vs the workplace. Thank you for responding!

            2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

              Exactly! The detail is there if they want it. If they don’t, they didn’t have to wade through a bunch of information to find the key info.

          2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

            To be extra clear on my last point. It *may* be better to default to less detail rather than more. If you have too little, the remedy is that someone e-mails you back and asks for the detail, no biggie. If you have too much, the key points may get lost.

            Though this is less important if you do the TL;DR at the top and add the details below.

    13. Meg*

      I have many questions or points in an email I *always* number my questions and or bullet point the things I wish to get across.

      1. Berin*

        It seems like a lot of folks who are good at this are big bullet people! I appreciate you responding!

    14. communications director & ex-editor*

      I’m going to give a rather long answer, sorry! I work in academia and see this quite a lot.

      The first step is understanding the underlying problem. Many of us struggle to write clearly because we’re recording our thoughts as we think them. It’s hard to edit our own writing because we’re not truly reading the words, we’re remembering our own thought processes—and so we fill in the gaps, mentally “batch” sentences together, and make intuitive leaps that readers simply can’t.

      Write your first draft, then ask yourself: what’s the point? Put that key message right at the top, after whatever standard pleasantries you use.

      With your key message in mind, go through your draft and pull out the key supporting points, then use that as an outline to rewrite your content from scratch. I know this sounds like a lot of work, but it really only takes me a few minutes at most. It forces me to ask myself what my audience NEEDS to know, as opposed to what I might WANT to tell them.

      Pull out any action items in a bulleted list at the end. Sometimes I color-code them for clients who can’t be trusted to read carefully. Use formatting sparingly and deliberately, including subheadings if appropriate.

      I strongly, strongly urge you not to use Grammarly or ChatGPT. They can make your text shorter, but they cannot reliably make it easier to read, because they are fundamentally incapable of understanding meaning. Furthermore, I’ve seen WAY too many real-life examples of both Grammarly and ChatGPT producing grammatically incorrect garbage—or even worse, something that looks okay at first glance but ends up expressing the opposite of what the writer intended.

      (I personally have ethical issues with large language models’ data scraping practices as well, but that’s a different topic altogether.)

    15. Tinamedte*

      I’d like to add: never underestimate the importance of a succinct email subject.

      It lets your audience know what is important in your email and what to expect.

    16. Fluff*

      Great ideas. Going to use a lot of them.

      I started using goblin tools. It is an AI tool but you have to write the content. The Formulizer lets you choose if you want the goblins to make it more formal, in formal, wishy washy, to the point, polite, and more spicey. You can dial up the spicy in peppers. 2 peppers and you are an annoying employee. 5 peppers and there might be a PIP in your future.

      You can also use the “Judge” to see how your email might be interpreted. I find that my short to the point emails may contain some unrecognized snark. I think the Judge has saved my career.

      Seriously though, goblin tools are great. I always add my zing to the suggestions though. No matter what add your zing back.

    17. Azalea Bertrand*

      Late to the party, but a coworker taught me one that’s been great when needing specific action from higher-ups:
      – create a two column table
      – set to inside only borders (reduces visual clutter)
      – left column include relevant heas eg background or previous decision, proposal/update/next steps, action required, deadline, links to documentation, contact for further info
      – right column have max 3 dot points for each heading
      – I’ll bold and highlight the action and deadline headings, use different colour highlights for actions for different people

      Seems to work well for helping people skim and skip to the relevant info.

    18. Annie*

      I tend to do that a lot, too. My boss wanted very succinct information. I would write out my email, and then go back and break it down into bullet points, with the subject and then a sub-bullet with the action, name, and due date.

      E-mails are too long
      – Finish editing e-mail for Subway account. Action: Berin. Due date: 12-Apr

    19. AnonForThis*

      I struggle with this too! A few thoughts:

      1) A late-in-life learning disability diagnosis allowed me to replace my shame-based identity of “wordy overthinker” with “smart but neurodifferent person, and writing is simply more difficult for my brain than it is for many of my peers’ brains.” Helps with self-compassion!

      2) I recently discovered “Writing for Busy Readers” by Jessica Laskey-Fink and Todd Rogers. Website with AI tool and other resources, plus newsletter and book. Might be of interest. Good luck to us all! :)

  15. Salesforce Admin*

    I’m a Salesforce administrator. Ask me your Salesforce questions, how tos, career advice, etc! Open to end users or other Salesforce professionals.

      1. Salesforce Admin*

        Salesforce’s original product is called Sales Cloud (we’ll call this OG Salesforce). The purpose of OG Salesforce is for any business to track their widget sales using a standard data model of Accounts (businesses), Contacts (individuals at those businesses) and Opportunities (revenue generating deals with an Account).

        However, as you can imagine, that data structure doesn’t work for all industries. And that’s where you get industry specific clouds like Education Cloud. Education Cloud takes the basic infrastructure of Salesforce with a data model optimized the student population.

        I’ve never worked in that cloud, so I don’t know the specifics, but I hope that helps you understand the why! LMK if you have further questions

    1. Rootsandbranches*

      Thank you! Can you give me basic info about how to manipulate data in a report? For example, conditionally formatting cells that meet a certain criteria, or having a query that pulls age, and then converting the “age” column to a fixed set of age ranges.

      1. Remember Neopets*

        Hi, not sure if anyone answered you yet, but that’s actually NOT considered basic in Salesforce. There are absurd limitations that Salesforce builds into it’s reporting structure but also certain things you would expect are impossible because Salesforce isn’t a relational database model. The way it stores objects/fields/data is not straightforward and your orgs salesforce admin who built and/or maintains your database is going to be super helpful!

        I can try to help though…. on a Salesforce report, in edit mode, you can use the down arrow in column menu to see the option “Add a bucket field”. That should help you with your ages problem. You could also potentially use the Formula field, but you’d need someone who can write whatever bastard mix of languages salesforce uses. (SQL, excel, and something it makes up on it’s own.)

        For conditional formatting, you can only apply that to reports that are grouped by rows or grouped by rows and columns and you should have that option in the lower right corner of the screen. However, it only works on summary fields. So if you MIGHT have to have your salesforce dev create custom fields if you’re not seeing what you want.

        1. Salesforce Admin*

          I would agree with all of the above! As Salesforce admins like to say, when you’ve seen one Salesforce org, you’ve seen one Salesforce org. So every org and cloud can be different based on data model and some of the choices that the admin has made. Some of those choices may not be good choices, or they may have been good choices years ago when the company was different.

          I would add – if you can’t get to any of the features that Neopets mentioned above, you may not have permissions to run reports in your org.

        2. Rootsandbranches*

          That’s helpful to know at least, I felt like I must be missing something obvious but knowing it’s not just me helps.

          We contract with an outside partner for admin so I’ll probably just keep exporting my reports to Excel for data analysis.

          Thanks for the answer!

          1. Salesforce Admin*

            You could ask that external partner if it’s a big need for you. Being asked to build a report is a very common task for a consultant.

      2. Remember Neopets*

        I tried to post before, so my apologies if it posts twice.

        Salesforce can be extremely tricky and you should probably solicit the help of your Salesforce dev or admin. Salesforce isn’t a relational database model, so they it structures it’s objects and fields can be very difficult to accurately report on.

        A report can have conditional formatting only if there’s grouping on rows or grouping on rows and columns and only for summary fields. If you don’t have a summary field, you may need to ask your admin or dev to make you a custom field.

        To get ages in a range, you’ll want to create a bucket field or a formula field. Keeping in mind that there are limitations on how many you can have in a report. Also, Salesforce uses a mix of SQL, excel, and it’s own made up shit for formulas, so good luck!

    2. Mad Harry Crewe*

      I’m currently in tech support (SaaS legal discovery software) and Salesforce admin has been recommended as a possible career path. What do you like about being a SF admin? Aside from getting a sandbox and playing around, are there any training courses that you specifically recommend or look for on a resume? Do you work as a consultant, or are you a full time employee with a Salesforce customer?

      1. Salesforce dev*

        Not the OP, but I changed careers into SF Admin and then development. Salesforce has their own free learning platform called Trailhead which is honestly amazing. You find a “trail” that suits your needs (for example, beginner admin) and follow along – trails are divided into modules, which can be theoretical or hands on (you get a free developer org) and take from 20’ to 2h to complete, all on your own time.

        What I personally liked about working as an admin was: it tends to be a very dynamic job, and while there are routine tasks (creating users! changing passwords!), a lot of the time you’re using logic to solve problems – basically a constant puzzle game. There’s a lot of human interaction involved as people report problems to you or ask you questions, so it doesn’t get lonely (development can, if you don’t have a good team).

        The money is also amazing, especially in relation to the amount of training you need. I doubled my salary in my first 3 years as an admin.

        Like I said, I work as a developer now, but as an admin I worked both as a consultant and inside a client, and there wasn’t much of a difference in my day to day.

        1. MMB*

          I love Trailhead and the training paths! I seriously considered becoming a Sales Force Admin, but it seems like the market is pretty saturated right now. Is there a website you recommend for entry level people looking to find an SF admin job?

          1. Salesforce Admin*

            LinkedIn and Indeed are where I find the majority of job openings.
            You should also talk to your local Salesforce admin user group and see if anyone is hiring.

            This site is for entry level admin jobs: It’s a community built site on the Salesforce platform.

            I gave some other job advice down thread. LMK if you have any specific questions!

      2. Salesforce Admin*

        I’m a full time employee with a Salesforce customer. It is a saturated field for entry-level admins, but here’s what would make an entry-level admin stand out to me:

        Certifications: The admin cert is the gold standard. I don’t put too much value on the Associate, but if you have it, put it on your resume.
        Trailhead: Covered below by Salesforce dev – I agree with their comments.
        User Group: Find your local Salesforce user group and/or Salesforce Saturday. Google Salesforce (your city/region). Show up. Listen. Ask questions. Connect with people. Salesforce people are generally good people and want to help you get into the ecosystem.

        What I want to see in a person?
        First of all, figure-it-out-ness. Can you take an unclear problem and figure out how to solve it, even if the directions aren’t obvious?
        Experience building: Build something in Salesforce and show it to me. I don’t care what it is – build an app for your hobby and talk about how you designed it. What did you learn the hard way? Some mistakes you only make once (looking at you global value sets).
        Ability to talk to users: A lot of being an admin, especially an early career admin, is tech support. Highlight the tech support experience as you apply for jobs.

        What do I like about it?
        I work remotely with a flexible schedule, make good $$ and with 5+ years of experience it’s not hard for me to get a job if I needed to. I like to write (documentation) and design – I get do that with Salesforce.

        Advice for getting into it?
        If you work somewhere with Salesforce, become a power user and make friends with your admin(s) and/or the consulting team your company hires.
        If you want to pivot your career into it, look for admin jobs in industries you know. For example, you currently work in the legal industry, so you’d apply for a job as an admin at a law firm. Not a requirement, but can give you a leg up.

        1. BreakingCPQ*

          I’m also a Salesforce Admin at a Salesforce customer and our org has historically struggled with documentation so I’m interested in how you’re doing that if you don’t mind sharing. We run our internal support and change requests in Salesforce itself and when we’ve tried to use outside systems, it tends to get stale incredibly fast. Thank you!

          1. Salesforce Admin*

            I have a lot of thoughts on documentation! You have to establish that a) you will write it and b) it will live in a certain repository. No job is complete until the paperwork is done :). If a doc needs to be updated, you stop and update it in the process of soving a ticket. I call it a culture of documentation.

            I’ve found this really requires management support. At my last job, I got my hand slapped for writing documentation because there were other things to do (user support issues, features, etc). I’m sure they appreciated the docs when I was gone.

            How to start?
            First, establish a repository – where the docs live. Because you’re tracking change requests in Salesforce itself, you could use Salesforce Knowledge, but that would depend on your Salesforce edition. I’ve had good luck with Confluence and Notion. I like a tool that provides a version history and makes it easy to copypasta queries. You should also start using the description fields, even if that description field is a link to the document repository.

            I like to start by documenting user management: how users are configured, what permissions they should/shouldn’t have and what happens when they offboard.

            Then I like to think about the six Ws when documenting a piece of functionality:
            Who: Which users are using this process? How are access/permissions granted?
            What: What Salesforce tool is it (flow, process builder, validation rule, etc)
            When: When does this thing happen?
            Where: Where is it in the platform – what flows, fields, etc? Help an admin find it.
            Why: Why did the business decide to do this? What problem are we solving here?
            WTF: Did anything make you say WTF in this process? If so, document that for your fellow admins.

            I organize my documentation by functionality: Here is how X functionality works (how tasks are generated when a certain type of client converts, for example).
            I also keep a page for each object (may not be the best option in CPQ!) with notes about different fields of interest.

            But honestly, you have to dooooo it and invest in it. LMK if I can provide further advice.

    3. Totally Hypothetical*

      Is there a report that will show me performance of specific email templates, specifically the number sent, delivered rates, open rates, etc? We use classic email templates to send one off emails, not mass emails typically.

      1. Salesforce Admin*

        I think you’d need to use an Account Engagement report (counterintuitive – you’re probably looking for report types with the name of “email”). Do you know what cloud (or version) of Salesforce you’re on?

    4. Anonymous Industry Scientist*

      Why on god’s green earth does the Outlook integration with Lightning make me fully log in every. single. day. now and sometimes more than once a day? It used to remember me from day to day! Now it has amnesia. Did something change on the SF side recently?

      If the answer is no, or not that you’re aware of, it’s fine and I appreciate your answer anyway. I just know that small back-end changes can have big front-end results. I did talk to my own SF admin (always the first step!), but they did the shrug emoji and offered to open a case with SF support. Having been utterly talked down to by their support team before, I’m not eager to do that if I can avoid it. It’s not THAT annoying. Just a little annoying. XD

      1. Salesforce Admin*

        My org doesn’t use that integration, so I wouldn’t know what’s happening exactly. However, this sounds like a session timeout issue and if I was your admin that’s where I’d start. I’d check the profile session settings and see if there’s anything prompting the logout. I’d also want to know if you were changing IP addresses during the day for any reason, which could force log you out. If you know of others experiencing the problem, let your admin know. There may be something similar between those users which would clue them into the problem.

        Salesforce support is often next to useless IMHO.

    5. not my usual handle*

      Sincere question from another Salesforce professional: if you had the choice to double down on Salesforce or brand yourself more as a data systems specialist/application manager, what would you choose (or what factors would you weigh in making that decision)? I am nearly eligible to start the CTA panel process, but I’m worried that continuing to invest the time in Salesforce versus other products or more general IT skills is going to lock me into the ecosystem forever. I’m curious how others think about this but it doesn’t seem like something I can honestly ask in the Salesforce community.

      1. SBQQ_Custom_Object__c*

        Not OP, but I feel like there are enough transferable skills that getting your CTA wouldn’t lock you in forever. Some things are a little wonky with Salesforce as opposed to the general IT world, mostly to support the heavy emphasis on declarative development (looking at you, devops), but I’ve seen lots of multi-certed people floating around between Salesforce, Netsuite, Dynamics, and Hubspot just fine.
        Best of luck if you do decide to go for your CTA!

      2. Salesforce Admin*

        That’s a good question. I’m nowhere close to CTA, but I do think about it once or twice a year. Guess this is that once or twice per year. I’m almost halfway to Application Architect (Platform App Builder is done, Sharing and Visibility is on deck!) and if I can get that, maybe I’d think about CTA.

        I personally plan to stick with Salesforce because it’s what I know and I like working with it. Well, at least most of the time – it does have some quirks and dumb shit, like any tech platform. If Salesforce went away as a platform (which I don’t think is eminently likely), I’d probably work in migrations away from Salesforce to whatever system(s) replace it in the marketplace. Or I’d leave the industry entirely and work in a hobby/sport/passion of mine (if I could afford the pay cut).

        I think you should get your CTA if you want. It can’t hurt you. I think job hunting is more about how you tell your story than the specific credentials.

        Salesforce people tend to be real big on the Salesforce platform as the magical solution for everything, and it’s just… not. It’s fine! I like it! I don’t need to devote my life to it though.

        1. not my usual handle*

          Thanks for your thoughtful response! I think we all have this kind of love/hate relationship with the platform. :) It’s amazing when you can solve a business problem in a week that everyone assumed would take months, not so much when you create a new record type on the task object and now everything in this sandbox is f’d, lol.

          Honestly, my issue IS with the Salesforce hype engine – they sell a lot of software, but their approach means that a lot of IT people are turned off to the whole thing and don’t believe Salesforce professionals have real technical skills. My title was changed to not have the word “Salesforce” in it, partly to reflect that some of my work now is with other systems, but also because it was creating an impression that I didn’t have more general technical knowledge or that I’d be too “evangelistic” about putting things on Salesforce that don’t belong there.

          To be clear, I don’t think Salesforce professionals who got into it without prior technical backgrounds are not technical! I know some incredible admins, devs and architects who could run circles around people with more traditional tech training and experience. But as a woman in tech, I think I just carry a lot of scars around not being taken seriously and having to prove my chops, and I kind of want the second half of my career to be about technical problem solving, not marketing myself as having a right to be in the conversation (though, I’m sure that’s never going to go away).

          Good luck with your cert study! The architects certs do seem to be really valuable both in terms of content and professional opportunity. Based on your other comments here, it seems like you know your stuff, so hopefully these are some feathers you can add to your cap soon!

    6. Anonymato*

      Is there a way to use Salesforce for registration for events (some free, some paid)? Or is it better to get another software that will update records in Salesforce? Thanks!

      1. Salesforce Admin*

        Campaigns are made for tracking this in Salesforce. You’d create a Campaign and enroll your contacts or leads as Campaign Members. Then you can update Salesforce when the individual registers, track their attendance, and even track how much $$ came in from the campaign.

        You’d probably want your campaign members to register through an online form that connects to Salesforce (something like HubSpot or Pardot would do this for you) or you’d manually add campaign members.

        Make sure your admin checks the “Marketing User” box on any user who will be using Campaigns :)

  16. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    Absolutely A-grade expert in the management of chaos with regards IT problems – from dealing with offensive and angry users to triaging call queues during emergency situations. Basically – Incident Management is my bread and butter.

    I’m also very good at T-SQL (I *can* do PL/SQL but not an expert with it) with regard database management.

    1. Cj*

      I know you can’t really answer this question without knowing what the actual problem is, but I’m a CPA and our server has been down since Monday morning. we are all kind of freaking out. they thought we would be able to log in yesterday, but I’m still waiting for a call from it because apparently there is a difference set up procedure for people like me who are remote.

      Apparently we were hit with a virus or malware or something. at this point they don’t think it was a security breach.

      My actual question – is it normal to take this long to get something like this fixed? I never asked, but I can’t imagine that we didn’t have backups of the data that could be installed on a new server quite quickly, and the programs themselves are all in the cloud. and I’ve always been told you need to keep not just the backup from the night before, but several backups, because your backup could also will be corrupted.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (She/Her)*

        From experience I’d say they’ve hit upon a snag rebuilding the server. Restoring from backups is easy until it isn’t and with things like financial or transactional data you may need to pull in incremental backups and restore a working image off that.
        And yeah, backups can be corrupt! Or the server itself is no longer useable and they’re trying to put a new one into service.

        Or, and I think this is the case, they’re taking extra time to make darn sure it’s not going to get hit with malware the instant it’s opened up to remote access again. Recovering from a ransomware attack once took us over a week because we had to make sure no users had it either.

        The fact that they haven’t communicated this to you though is a failure of IT services. They’ve messed up on that. Always, always keep the customers informed.

        1. Tau*

          One of my companies had their network flattened by ransomware and I think it took them something on the order of a month to rebuild (happened in my last week there so I don’t know the details). But that was a case where everything got hit, rather than a single server.

        2. Cj*

          I’m sure our third party IT services communicated any relevant information to the people at the firm they are dealing with directly, it would be different keeping the rest of us employees in the dark. which I guess is understandable, as long as The Firm has been transparent with us about when we might be up and running again, which keeps changing.

      2. Betty4Cats*

        Long-time backup administrator here: yes, depending on the environment 4 days can be spent just figuring out what went wrong, which you have to do before you try to restore anything – else it could just get corrupted/broken again.

        And “just restoring from backup” is not “just” – I have full backups in the cloud of all of our locally stored data, but bringing that back “down” could take weeks depending on how much data and the network bandwidth available (e.g., is the speed more “superhighway” or “local street”).

        And “new server” – if it was physical hardware needing to be replaced it could take weeks to order more, as supply chains have really slowed since the pandemic. If it was a virtual server that should be able to be recreated quickly from a backup image – assuming they know which backup does not contain malware and there is a functioning VMware physical chassis.

        And the real kicker: has your IT dept ever been allowed to do a disaster recovery (DR) drill to test the (hopefully written) recovery documentation? Chances are that when they asked to do that it wasn’t approved because nonIT people don’t understand all the steps it takes. I work for a major educational institution and have been begging to do this for 25 years, but it always gets backburnered – until the day an emergency happens that creates more awareness of why we were asking!

      3. Also works in IT*

        I don’t have first hand experience with viruses / malware but yes, it absolutely can take that long or even longer. A company around here needed 1,5 months to restore everything…
        If you got hit by a virus / malware you have to figure out which one it is first. Then how it got in and how long it was hiding in your system. And then you need a (working!) backup older than that you can restore from. Depending on the circumstance maybe also new hardware because you have to be absolutely sure that the hardware you restore to is clean. Before you start to restore you need to make sure that the way it got in is closed. Then you need time for the actual restore. This depends on the amount of data, on which medium the backup was saved and how fast the hardware is. As an example we could restore the same amount of data in 4 hours, 10 hours and 30 hours depending on the medium it was saved.

        1. Cj*

          All the replies are greatly appreciated, but now I’m really freaking out! we are a tax firm, and since we use electronic document storage, we can’t even access the client information we would need to manually prepare extensions before April 15th.

          the IRS would probably wave penalties in this situation, but I hope it doesn’t come to that.

    2. Cj*

      I have scrolled right past your username before I made my other post, and didn’t realize this was you. I’m glad to see you here. I did see your post explaining why you haven’t been, but always enjoyed your comments so much.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (She/Her)*

        Aww thank you! Yeah, the health is very very bad but I’ll still be reading here when I can.

        1. Jane Anonsten*

          Jumping on the bandwagon. Always appreciate your comments and sending you good thoughts.

    3. Venus*

      Any stories you want to share about the chaos?

      A friend of mine answered calls as part of an initial triage. A very stressed senior manager explained that he’d deleted the Start bar off his computer. Absolutely refused to understand that he’d hidden it. My friend finally had him bring his mouse pointer to the bottom of the screen, until it became a double-sided arrow, then had him click down and drag up. Surprise! The problem was fixed.

      For myself, I had a 50ish year old man with various degrees in tech and all sorts of experience show me how typing Ctrl-Alt-Delete results in a menu that gives you the option to lock the computer. He wasn’t being patronizing to me, rather he was so excited at this new skill he’d learned and wanted to share. I’m often surprised at how few people understand keyboard shortcuts!

    4. NetNrrd*

      Oooh! I love me some incident management and disaster response (large and small). Got suggestions for reading/viewing/etc?

  17. Gitty*

    If you work with religious Jews and want to understand them better I can answer questions about that!

        1. Filosofickle*

          Not everyone agrees with you! When I’ve asked this of close Jewish friends/colleagues — some of who think about this a lot, working for Jewish schools and cultural orgs — they have felt that while Jew is a neutral descriptor, it’s more of an in-group term and it’s probably best if I (not Jewish) try to avoid it. It’s hard to work around though! “Jewish people” sounds clumsy — often I have to reconstruct the sentence.

          1. Eliot Waugh*

            I’m also a Jew and can answer from my perspective.

            Jew is a neutral descriptor, same as Christian, or Muslim. But anti-semites will also use it as a slur. So it can sometimes sound off coming from a non-Jewish person.

            I can’t quite describe why this is, but hearing a non-Jew say something like “I just found out Adam Sandler is Jewish” sounds a lot different than “I just found out Adam Sandler is a Jew”. Maybe because one is describing a characteristic of Adam Sandler, and the other is equating him with (part of) his identity?

            It’s also good to note, like with most groups, there will be different opinions about this and feelings from different Jewish people and communities.

            1. Pocket Mouse*

              Yes, using a demographic as an adjective vs. a noun really makes a difference. The noun form makes the group seem monolithic, and more subject to biases—positive and/or negative—about that group. If negative biases are prevalent, you may need to be clear that you are part of the group you speak of in order to be understood as not, or at least less, problematic.

              A queer

          2. Jiminy Cricket*

            This question always makes me think of two moments on TV:

            In The Office, Oscar says he is Mexican, and Michael says, “Oh, but what’s the less derogatory term?” Ooof. I’m Jewish. I’m a Jew. The idea that the very normal name for my ethnicity and religion is a slur is deeply painful.

            In Community, I think it was a Christmas episode, the other characters are using the word Jew a lot, veering close to using it as an adjective (that is a huge, huge, huge no) and Annie, the Jewish character, gets increasingly uncomfortable and shouts, “Say the whole word!” So, yeah, intent and respect matter, even though it is an entirely neutral descriptor on its own.

      1. maybe: funkë*

        No judgment/not accusing you specifically, but when people think Jew is derrogatory I’m like…is it because YOU think being Jewish is a bad thing? Anyway yes I’m Jewish and it makes me uncomfortable when people try to avoid calling us Jews for that reason

    1. lunchtime caller*

      I just heard that Passover is coming up, anything we should know to be more sensitive to coworkers at this time? Is this a no-meeting, don’t try to ask them stuff sort of holiday, or more of a casual one?

      1. Gitty*

        yep! so for strictly religious Jews this is what’s going on. Monday, April 22 is is the day before passover. You can technically work but it’s a super busy hectic day. Tuesday and Wednesday are totally off, no phones, no nothing. Thursday and Friday are more casual holiday. yes phones but many will take off, it’s family time. The following Monday and Tuesday are again full on Holiday, no phones. and Wednesday everyone is back to work! Kids schools start on Thursday.

        1. curious*

          I’m not familiar with any other holiday where there are two sets of times that are a “big deal” – could you explain that?

          1. Gitty*

            I can try! Sukkot is the same idea. both Sukkot and Passover have what we call “first days” and “second days” of what we call “Yom Tov”. Yom Tov translates to holiday in English and there are strict religious laws for those days in terms of what can and can’t be done, similar to what we have for Saturday. The days in between first and second days Yom Tov are called “Chol Hamoed”. which literally means “weekdayish holdiday”. So those days have “lighter” rules if you want to think of it that way. Does that help clarify?

            1. Jay (no, the other one)*

              They’re not part of the same holiday. Both Sukkot and Pesach last for eight days (outside of Israel) with some days more of a “big deal” than others

          2. HannahS*

            It seems analogous to how for some, Ash Wednesday is a “big deal,” then leads into Lent and then into Easter, another “big deal” –but one wouldn’t take off work for all of Lent.

        2. Excel Gardener*

          Out of curiosity, how does this look for less religiously strict Jews? Is it a single day off or do they take more as well (obviously I’m sure this varies by individual, asking for generalizations).

          1. Roland*

            Someone like me who isn’t religious might just take off Monday to prep for the Seder (big ceremonial meal) in the evening and maybe Tuesday for the holiday itself, but they may also take off only one or neither.

          2. Echo*

            Those of us who aren’t super-religious probably only take Yom Kippur and maybe Rosh Hashanah off. (My dad and I work on Yom Kippur as it makes fasting feel more personally meaningful for us but that’s more unusual.)

            1. Echo*

              Oh, I should have said, I don’t travel for Passover because my family live nearby. People do travel for it and may need time off for that.

          3. Jiminy Cricket*

            I’m a religious Jew, but I’m Reform. That means that Passover lasts seven days for us, not eight. I will take the day before off for all the holiday prep and the first day off for the holiday.

            Similarly, we mark other two-day holidays for just one day.

            1. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

              I’m also Reform. I had always understood that it’s 8!days for the Diaspora (outside of Israel), and 7 days if you’re in Israel.

              Disclaimer. I could be wrong

              1. ST*

                My Reform temple growing up observed holidays with the original/shorter number of days (1 day of Rosh Hashanah, 7 of Sukkot, etc). I was told it was a change for modernity because the old reasoning of not being 100% sure of the calendar outside of Jerusalem no longer applied.

              2. Jiminy Cricket*

                Yep. 7 days in Israel. 8 days in the diaspora for Orthodox and Conservative. 7 days in the diaspora for Reform.

      2. Beth**

        Also, even for not especially religious Jews, they may change their dietary requirements during the holiday such that attending events where food and drinks are served is difficult.

      3. Bluebell Brenham*

        Even if someone isn’t taking off days for Passover, they may restrict their diet with regard to bread/leavened foods during that week. So if people are having lunch catered in, it’s nice to make sure there is a salad option or something. It would definitely not be a great week to decide to throw a big pizza party.

        1. FuzzBunny*

          Yes! But to add to this – ask the person first. Depending on how strictly they keep kosher for Passover, they might not be willing to eat even the salad.

          1. Bluebell Brenham*

            Yup! I was once at a work pizza party that happened during the intermediate days. There were quite a few Jewish folks and our choices ranged from “drink canned diet soda” to “eat salad” to “make a matzo pizza in the kitchen microwave” to “it’s not Seder so I’m fine with pizza” I ended up just doing soda, though I would have had salad without dressing if I was hungry.

          2. Mob Boss Rob Moss*

            Yes! And if they’re like me, they’ll eat a ham pizza the day after having done a full Seder. You just never know without asking.

    2. nnn*

      I know that some religious Jews (and some people in other religions) don’t shake hands with the opposite sex.

      I’ve also met people who wear Jewish religious symbols and don’t adhere to this rule.

      I’m not savvy enough to recognize any correlations between the specific religious symbols people might be wearing and whether or not they shake hands with the opposite sex.

      Given all this information, if I meet someone wearing Jewish religious symbols, should I err on the side of offering my hand or not offering my hand?

        1. Gitty*

          that’s not a bad idea. I’m not sure if NNN is a man or a lady and what religious symbols she is talking about. but I would think for things like a black velvet kippa, a black hat, a wig… Rather err on the side of not offering your hand. it’s kinda awkward to say no, rather not and it’s a pretty safe bet that anyone from those communities would rather not shake hands with the opposite gender

          1. nnn*


            I’m a woman, and when I first learned this rule I started by proactively offering my hand to any men who were wearing religious symbols.

            Then a man wearing what I’m pretty sure is called a yarmukle (small circle on the top back of the head) offered me his hand to shake, so I was wondering if I was misinterpreting something.

            (When I do a google image search for kippa, the results look the same to my eye as when I do a google image search for yarmukle – not sure if they’re synonyms or if there’s some nuance. I know what you mean by black hats, but I don’t know how to tell by looking if someone is wearing a wig)

            I mean, personally, I have no particular need to shake hands with anyone, but I do it because it’s the social convention. I’m totally cool with not coercing anyone into touching me in a way they don’t want to, I just didn’t want to inadvertently come across as “Ew, I don’t want to shake hands with you!”

            1. nnn*

              Oops, typoed my way into an antonym!

              I meant to say “I started by NOT proactively offering”

            2. Ali + Nino*

              Re: nuance related to kippas/yarmulkes – it’s there! Material and how they are worn can be indicative of the wearer’s community. For your purposes, however, I don’t think you need to get so far into the weeds :)

            3. Beth**

              I would guess that in most western countries, it is only a minority of men who routinely wear a yarmulke/kippa who also observe the prohibition on shaking hands with someone of the opposite sex. So if you just base it on that, you are more likely than not to get it wrong. There are other clues, but none of them is likely to be obvious to people “on the outside” other than maybe wearing a tallit katan (the fringes that stick out from men’s shirts), but even that is not a 100% indication of someone’s position on hand shaking.

              The wig thing will only apply to women, not men. They are one of those things that once you know what you’re looking for, you can often spot, but people who aren’t well acquainted with many religious Jews would not necessarily notice.

              It’s definitely a minefield but as long as you are not aggressive in insisting on shaking hands and take no for an answer, you are unlikely to offend the person.

            4. Gitty*

              I hear you! In my opinion better to come down on the side of not proactively sticking out your hand to any Jewish man covering his head. If they want to shake hands they can initiate.

      1. Ali + Nino*

        Personally, when a man offers me his hand, I’ll shake hands so as not to embarrass him. (My understanding is many rabbis agree.) Would it be appropriate to give a little wave and a warm smile?

      2. MCR*

        Less-observant Jewish person here. The no-shaking-hands with the opposite sex rule is typically observed only by very observant people. For women, this likely means that they wear long skirts and have their arms covered, and may (but not necessarily) wear a wig. For men, they will at minimum wear a kippah. Wearing something like a star-of-david necklace is not at all indicative of how observant a Jewish person is.

      3. Pocket Mouse*

        Relatedly… what’s the guidance on shaking hands with non-binary people? If I were in that situation (as the non-binary person) I wouldn’t want to have to out myself or pull the focus to our respective gender identities in order to do the respectful thing. Is this on the radar for folks who have gender-based rules around handshakes?

        1. Beth**

          My understanding as a Reform Jew is that the prohibition is linked to menstruation. So people may be more concerned about whether the individual is capable of menstruation than their gender identity/presentation, if they recognise the concept of non-binary gender identities at all.

        2. Gitty*

          In that scenario I would think to just not initiate handshakes across the board. If the other person wants to initiate they can.

    3. Jiminy Cricket*

      This is a great discussion and you are generously answering some good questions.

      Heads up to others for context: People can be “religious Jews” in lots of different ways: Orthodox, Modern Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, etc. Someone who is Conservative or Reform, for example, will have different practices or needs from someone who is Orthodox, but they are not (necessarily) non-religious.

      1. Gitty*

        Fair. I’m happy to clarify that I’m referring to orthodox religious Jews in all my responses

      1. Gitty*

        I’m so sorry for your loss is always good. the traditional Jewish phrase is Baruch Dayan Haemet just as an FYI. It means, “blessed is the true judge”

      2. Beth**

        Jews don’t do flowers for a death, so avoid those. My experience is that expressions of sympathy vary between Jewish communities. Here in the UK it’s standard to wish the mourners long life. American Jews tend to wish that the memories of the deceased will be a blessing.

    1. Tuckerman*

      What tips do you have for small businesses who don’t have money to hire someone for SEO or social media marketing? What DIY tasks are the most impactful on getting new clients?

      1. T.N.H*

        Only invest your time in social media if you can keep up with it. To have a good reach/engagement, you need to post nearly every day. If that’s not sustainable, it’s probably not worth putting on your list until you free up time or dollars to give it attention.

        SEO is the opposite. You can use free keyword tools or even Google to get some sense of what you need to include on your website. If you’re on WordPress or a similar platform, you should add a plugin to help guide you. Do you have a blog? Still one of the best ways to drive traffic to a website. Also, accessibility is so important both for SEO and for being an ethical business.

    2. LunaLena*

      I work in marketing for higher ed, and am hoping to hire a social media marketer soon. Amongst other social media and marketing-related things, I would like them to create short videos to show campus life and culture, targeted towards prospective and current students. What tools should I be giving them to help them succeed in the role?

      Also do you have any insight on marketing to Gen Z vs Millennials/Gen X/Boomers?

      1. T.N.H*

        Higher ed is wide open for better social media marketing. One thing you have going for you is your students. If you work on a college campus, you probably have student influencers there every day. Partnering/collabing with them will give you a huge boost.

        In terms of tools, branding is going to be really important. You probably don’t want to jump on every TikTok trend as an institution. Working closely with your hire to get a really good sense of your message will likely be one of the most important things you do.

        I’m sure someone would have an answer to your last question. Instead of thinking about generations, I usually look at my audience and target to them regardless of age.

        1. LunaLena*

          Thank you! As a social media ignoramus (I don’t even use social media in my personal life), I appreciate your insight.

    3. Phone A Friend*

      What is your background for getting into social media marketing?

      I’ve always wanted to pursue it and felt like 10 years ago, when social media was still new-ish, I had solid experience in that I spent 2 years in college running the Facebook for an informal college mascot. But my major was not marketing and then I was in jobs that had nothing to do with social media. What I was thinking of getting back into it, I was in job that was open to me running their social media. I was literally days away from handing over their LinkedIn, with plans of Facebook and Twitter to follow, when Covid hit and I was laid off. Now I worry I’m just way behind the times. I still know Facebook and Twitter/X, I’ve used YouTube and Tiktok, but I know nothing about Instagram and have no recent experience.

      So I guess what would you recommend for someone wanting to do social media marketing?

      1. T.N.H*

        As a freelancer, social is only one part of my job. If you can find a good position in marketing more broadly, you can maybe parlay that into social (this will also depend on the size of the team/organization).

        It’s amazing how different all these platforms are. Creating an account and playing with it will be an important first step to Instagram in particular. But you also should look at what others are doing.

        One important note, social media marketing as an influencer is very different from SMM as a business.

    4. anonymouse*

      I have a side gig doing social media for a small online business. I have over a thousand followers but Instagram apparently only shows my posts to less than a hundred of my followers even on the best days when I have been posting regularly. Is there anything that can be done about this? I’m not sure why they think people follow accounts if it isn’t to actually see the posts from the accounts they follow, it’s quite frustrating.

      1. T.N.H*

        Question, are you posting reels? That’s really the ticket to Instagram right now. You also will get a lot more views if you boost engagement. That can take a few forms including asking people to comment, doing a collab, and using stories.

        1. anonymouse*

          No, I’m not posting reels and I rarely use stories. As a user of Instagram I miss when it was about photos and I don’t enjoy videos/reels/stories so none of that is my skill set or enthusiasm, and it’s hard to figure out a way to make video work for what I’m promoting when I had a highly developed way of using photos. Sigh. OK, I guess I will have to think about if there’s a way to make reels work for me. thank you.

          1. T.N.H*

            Yup, that’s the issue. Tbh, in 2024, I don’t think an account can survive without posting video content. One way to get into this is to make a dummy account and follow all of your competitors/anyone doing well in the space. Spend some time watching their reels/stories/lives and see how they’re doing it. That will give you inspiration and hopefully help guide your next step.

      1. T.N.H*

        Yes, though I don’t know of anyone who makes more than nominal amounts through Instagram directly.

        I think for businesses, you can do a really great job reaching your potential customers if you have a good social strategy that stands out.

        For influencers, you have to have multiple revenue streams. So sponsorships, merch, affiliate programs all working together. Lots of influencers have other connected businesses too such as books, podcasts, substack etc. No micro or even mid-tier level account is making enough to support someone on its own (meaning without those extras like book deals).

    5. nonprofit marketing mgr*

      I’m technically in marketing but will freely admit my social media skills could use a tune-up; I do the basics (create overall strategy based on competitive & audience analysis, produce a mix of content types, collaborate with partner orgs) but I know I’m not on the cutting edge. There are a few things I’ve been wondering about—any insight/perspective would be much appreciated!

      Tagging: I’m wary of over-tagging, so I usually just tag organizations and individuals directly referenced in the post, and sometimes e.g. #AAPIheritagemonth if the post is tying into a bigger campaign. How big of a deal is tagging in general, and am I missing an opportunity even if I find it a bit gauche?

      Carousels: Years ago, I remember the accepted wisdom being that carousels got more engagement/reach because IG would push them onto the feed multiple times. Is that still true?

      Other platforms: We’ve left Xwitter and my org has policies forbidding TikTok and Snapchat. We have a Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube; I definitely don’t want my org on Tumblr, and I get the sense BeReal is on its way out. I have toyed with the idea of a temporary Discord for events, but that might be more work than it’s worth for our audience. I’m keeping an eye on Bluesky and (to a MUCH lesser extent) Mastodon, but are you aware of anything else on the rise? We’re a science education org affiliated with an undergraduate program, if that matters.

      1. T.N.H*

        It sounds like you’re on the right track! I’ll answer each piece on its own.

        Tagging: I would stick to only tagging people in the content. Are you doing collabs? Also are you tagging/mentioning in stories? That is where you’ll expand your reach because those other accounts will repost etc.

        Carousels: As discussed above, you should move your focus to reels. To be clear, most successful accounts have a mix of images and video content. But reels are what will gain you traction if you’re looking for that next level.

        Other platforms: This seems like the right stance to me. There is a bit of a gender disparity on these different platforms which you might need to consider. For Gen Z, Instagram generally skews female whereas Discord more male. Even though you have it, you may be overlooking YouTube as a social media opportunity, especially shorts. Surprisingly, LinkedIn is having a moment among younger people right now too.

        1. nonprofit marketing mgr*

          Thank you so much—this is all very helpful! I hadn’t even thought about LinkedIn, wow.

    6. I Was Supposed to Be in Audience Services*

      Detailed Audience Targeting for Meta— how would, say, a small theater company take better advantage of this feature? Specifically for a social media manager who has no idea how any of this works and probably shouldn’t be in charge of this anyway?

  18. Justin*

    Okay. I have a doctorate in education and have been teaching for 16 years. I’ve been teaching adults for the past 13. I’m also an author.

    I also have ADHD and compensate for my poor memory by being very energetic and intentional.

    I know how to run/lead a meeting, how to push through my executive function issues and be very early on completion, and how to present/teach/etc.

    I also know how to get a (nonfiction) book contract (and how to complete said books – I’ve completed two and have a third contract upcoming).

    And I am also Black, and I write about racism (and neurodivergence) so I can also give DEI guidance, even in the current nonsense situation.

    And you are all adults so I am happy to teach all of you anything listed above.

      1. not applicable*

        Seconded, especially since you sound as though you have an extremely fulfilling schedule!

        1. Justin*

          sorry I was on a plane for a while.

          I honestly bring a ton of myself into my writing. I look for something that connects me to the task and write from that angle and it flows

          1. Justin*

            Like half of my dissertation ended up being about my diagnosis process, even though the study was about racism and education.

            And if I’m ever “stuck” I actually starting writing about the fact that I’m stuck. Like, one of the chapters in my book starts with “I struggled with what to title this chapter” (or something like that).

    1. Miss Chanandler Bong*

      I highly suspect I have ADHD. I have pretty good coping skills, but it’s become apparent to me that I might need additional help (specifically medication; I already see a therapist). How do you go about getting an official ADHD diagnosis? I’ve been looking into it, but keep putting it off (because of course I am, lol).

      1. constant_craving*

        If you’re seeing a therapist, just ask them to evaluate. If for some reason they won’t (unlikely, it’s not a particularly challenging diagnosis to evaluate for), they should provide you a referral.

        (I’m a grad student in clinical psychology who specializes in ADHD, in case you’re wondering where I’m getting my info)

        1. Alice*

          Fwiw, I wanted to be evaluated for ADHD as an adult. I called my behavioral health insurance and used their service that finds an in-network provider in your area with availability. They set me up with someone who said, at the beginning of our meeting, “I don’t diagnose ADHD in employed adults.” Ok, why are we here?

      2. Earlk*

        Honestly, the easiest way is paying. I will say though, if the place you’re getting an adult diagnosis from isn’t interested in at least some feedback from a parental figure who’s known you since childhood I wouldn’t consider them to be particularly robust in their diagnosis.

    2. Late in life ADHDer*

      I’m here for any/all ADHD/executive functioning tips. Especially the part about completing tasks early.

      1. Justin*

        The sad fact is I used to procrastinate and then my parents told me they’d stop paying for college (this was in 2005) so I took a boring day where I didn’t have much to do and wrote down everything I had to do that day, including meals and such, and forced myself to develop a different sort of anxiety, of NOT getting things done. It took several years.

        But now I sort of operate under an “if I stop this I’ll fall apart” mindset so I do things (within reason) as soon as I can.

        Again, it took like a decade though.

    3. Charlotte*

      Thanks for sharing! Just seeing what you have listed as your expertise gives me some hope– I am a person who writes (and would like to complete my short story manuscript) as a side thing to my career, but also have what I strongly suspect is ADHD, which affects both my hobbies as well as my job.
      Can you talk more specifically about your coping mechanisms for pushing through poor memory and procrastination/time blindness, if that’s also something you deal with? (I feel like I used to be able to rise above my flakiness issues with charm and energy, but that was pre-parenthood and pre-remote work.)

      1. Justin*

        I said this above but, I do have a terrible short-term memory. The boring answer is alarm/reminder overkill, like to the point where I am actually annoyed by my reminders enough that I check ahead of time so I can do what I’m being reminded of before my email/phone/text starts blaring.

        And I deal with time-blindness by just being absurdly early. I was at the airport today and the security line was much longer than usual, it took an hour. But I was so early that I still had 45 minutes before boarding when it was over.

        I am also a parent (to a toddler) and work hybrid, for the record. Frankly going into the office occasionally also helps (they don’t require it), because changing scenery is novel enough to diminish some of the mind-drifting.

        1. Justin*

          And as far as the manuscript stuff goes, I admit that I got my contracts by doing talks and other things (writing shorter chapters) and publishers found me, but I still had to apply. I knew I’d never finish my manuscripts without a deadline, though.

    4. Justin*

      I will keep checking here occasionally but if anyone wants to contact me more extensively (or buy my book about neurodivergent students of color), you can find everything (including a contact button) at j p b gerald dot com.

    5. Rear Mech*

      I also have ADHD and compensate for my poor memory by being very energetic and intentional.

      I know how to run/lead a meeting, how to push through my executive function issues and be very early on completion.

      All this right here! I am struggling in a new job right now. Any very very concrete small steps I can start with would really help. I see tips that are so big picture I don’t have the executive function to figure out an implementation for them. Working in a Microsoft + niche accounting software desk job environment, in case that is relevant. I’ve never had such an e-mail heavy job before and that combined with understaffing and general chaos is making me feel like I’m drowning.

      1. Rear Mech*

        After reading some of the other comments, I guess what I mean to ask is how to do things like “be extremely early” when everything is in triage mode – there’s a constant barrage of past due tasks and not everything will get done. Rules and expectations are in flux and that makes it even easier to just not do or not finish stuff.

        1. Justin*

          Well, that’s the thing, I do things extremely early so when sudden/triage occurs I can roll with it. But frankly I don’t triage well when it’s outside of my wheelhouse (teaching and writing). So when something happens suddenly but it’s teaching/writing, I’m good. And when it’s something else I fail

        2. Annie*

          It doesn’t sound like “be extremely early” will be realistic in your workplace.

          Here’s how I dealt with a constant backlog situation at a prior job: Set a personal goal that’s not super unrealistic for how many work items to get through in a day or hour based on the specifics of your work situation. Treat this goat met as an achievement unlocked every time you hit it. That can keep motivation levels up.

          If you have a general idea of how much time it takes to complete each work item, set a timer for that amount. If you finish the work item before the timer is up, great! Give yourself a breath or even a mini-break if you know that helps your ADHD brain/flow, reset the timer, then move on to the next one. If the work item is still in progress when the timer is up, don’t sweat it! Take a breath, finish the work item, reset and adjust your timer, then move on to the next one.

          If you have different types of work items that each take different amounts of time to complete, you can set a timer/alarm for each type in the Clock app built into Windows.

  19. Clydesdales&Coconuts*

    I teach people how to apply for grants and how to get themselves grant-ready. I also design and plan educational curriculum for both adults and youth.

    1. Bonita Beejou*

      This! I want to get into curriculum design/development for adult learners – patient education, healthcare (I’m a nurse). How did you get into this? Do you work remotely and full-time, or is this a freelance based role?

      Thank you!

    2. betsyohs*

      Do you have any resources for very small rural public elementary schools who want to find extra funding by applying for grants? Is that something an energetic parent volunteer could take on? Or is it something that needs more expertise? Any place we can start researching what grants are potentially available beyond google?

    3. Ostrich Herder*

      How did you get started in grant writing, and what would you consider the most important skills? This is something I’ve considered but have never really known how to get started!

    4. KTM*

      Can you tell me what your work title or field is? I’m starting some work with a nonprofit focusing on workforce development in high tech and I’d love consult with someone with your skillset but not sure what to search for.

    5. Lozi*

      I posted this above, but wondering if you might have ideas … any ideas for a platform for doing e-learning for volunteers within a nonprofit? Our volunteers need initial broad training, then job-specific training. Some of it happens in-person, but there is a lot that could be done online on their own time.

    6. ThursdaysGeek*

      Do you think there are grants to help a small church pay for an elevator to make it more accessible, and if so, where would I start looking for and applying for them? (Also, whoever thought split-level was a good idea for a public building?!)

    7. Needful Things*

      I support an organization that provides specialized education for a specific profession. The org would like to hire a consultant to go over their courses/curriculum (especially the exams) to make sure everything is top notch. Is this something you provide, or do you have recommendations on where to find such a consultant?

      The org is also interested in getting accredited, but as a small non-profit professional organization, it’s hard to tell where to go for that.

    8. PivotTime*

      I’m actually doing a grant writing certificate next month so I can add it to my skill set in my job search. How do you get experience in grant writing for organizations? Is it by volunteering or are there other avenues?

  20. theothermadeline*

    Hi! I am really good at presentations and business writing. I would love any suggestions for project management strategies for people with ADHD.

    1. constant_craving*

      Keep and use detailed checklists. I use the free version of Todoist for this. Break evey task down into its detailed subtasks and track each of those. Whenever you assign a task to someone, add a dated check-in on the item to your checklist.

      I know it sounds simplistic, but I haven’t found anything else to be effective. And as someone who provides therapy to adults with ADHD, this is basically one of the main strategies we teach.

      1. Neko*

        I do this. My memory is bad on its own but looking back at notes will bring back all that information when I need it. My project management nowadays is primarily for my part in things, rather than the whole project, but I still use those tools.

        I have free version of Clickup for work, which is probably similar to Todoist. Basically it is a tool that let you make spaces for each project, add tasks to those spaces, with optional sub tasks/due dates/priority assignment/customizable status options. Due dates with reminders are especially important to make sure I am following up on things in a timely manner.

        For work I will consolidate all my information from our vendor ticket system and other sources into Clickup lists that I can organize in a way that makes sense to me. I have email folders for each topic/project, so when I need to refer back to those emails they are easy to find.

        Anytime I have to add something to my lists I do it right away, so I know it won’t be forgotten. I can move it later to a different list if needed. Takes time to set up, but helps so much when you don’t have to worry about remembering all the things at once. And if the initial setup doesn’t work, I can change things around.