Thoughts, Ideas, and Concepts by Sandra Parks

Archive for November, 2009

This is some BS!!!!

Serena Williams was fined at least a record $82,500 for her U.S. Open tirade and could be suspended from that tournament if she has another “major offense” at any Grand Slam in the next two years, Grand Slam administrator Bill Babcock told The Associated Press on Monday.


Babcock’s decision was to be formally released later Monday.

He said Williams faces a “probationary period” at Grand Slam tournaments in 2010 and 2011.

If she has another “major offense” at a major championship in that time, the fine would increase to $175,000 and she would be barred from the following U.S. Open.

Babcock said the previous highest fine for a Grand Slam offense was about $48,000 to Jeff Tarango in the 1990s.

Williams lashed out at a lineswoman after a foot-fault call at the end of her U.S. Open semifinal loss to eventual champion Kim Clijsters.

Williams earned $350,000 by reaching the semifinals, part of her more than $6.5 million in prize money in 2009, a single-season record for women’s tennis. Her career prize money tops $28 million.

The American is an 11-time Grand Slam singles champion and ended the 2009 season at No. 1 in the WTA rankings.

Williams’ profanity-laced, finger-pointing outburst drew a $10,000 fine from the U.S. Tennis Association in September — the maximum onsite penalty a tennis player can face. But because it happened at a Grand Slam tournament, Babcock was charged with investigating whether further punishment was merited.

He concluded that Williams violated the “major offense” rule for “aggravated behavior.” The Grand Slam committee — with one representative from each of the sport’s four major championships — approved his decision Saturday.

Babcock said Williams has been informed of the ruling. She has been in Barbados for an exhibition tournament, and her agent did not immediately reply to a request for comment Monday.


WOW!!!! Aren’t you just sick of this mess?

Disclosed for the 1st time, ‘damage points’ taken off for late payments


Borrowers already knew that late payments hurt their credit scores, but for the first time, they now know the extent of that damage.




Did you max out your credit card? Expect a credit score drop of 10 45 points. Declare bankruptcy? Your score will plummet by up to 240 points, and your odds of getting credit will nosedive with it. to  

The “damage points” data, unveiled recently by FICO, are part of the most revealing glimpse into the firm’s once-secret — and still mysterious — credit scoring model. The new information discloses how many points borrowers’ scores will drop when they make the most-common mistakes.


‘Help People Understand’ Scores


“I hope this information will help people to better understand FICO scores and the value for them of avoiding credit missteps. It illustrates key points such as the higher your score, the farther it can fall if you stumble,” says FICO spokesman Craig Watts. “Getting and maintaining a good score isn’t complicated. We all just need to pay our bills on time, keep credit card balances low and take on new debt sparingly. ”





The greater transparency about FICO scores is important because American consumers’ ability to get credit rises and falls with the number. FICO, the company that pioneered credit scoring, assigns consumers a three-digit number from 300 to 850, depending on how well they handle credit. Other companies also offer scores, but FICO’s version is the most widely used by lenders in determining whether a consumer can borrow, and at what rate.


FICO’s credit score has been around for decades, but only within the past decade have consumers gradually gained access to theirs. Though the raw numbers can be purchased, how they’re figured remains a FICO secret, as closely guarded as the formula for Coca-Cola. Until Thursday, FICO revealed only broad categories of factors influencing the score, but not the number of points at stake for consumers who fail to pay as agreed. The “damage points” information, revealed in a report by personal finance writer Liz Pulliam Weston, will be made available through its Web site starting this weekend.


FICO’s information shows that bankruptcy does the most serious damage to a credit score (up to 240 points), followed by foreclosure (up to 160 points) while maxing out a credit card has the least numerical impact (as few as 10 points).


Those with good or excellent credit — so-called prime borrowers — put more points at risk with each mistake. For example, someone with an average credit score of 680 who pays a bill 30 days late will see a drop of 60 to 80 points. But for someone with an excellent credit score — 780 — that same delinquency can send a FICO score tumbling by 90 to 100 points.


The Cost in Dollars


In order to show just how badly a drop in your FICO score can hurt your wallet, we spoke with members of the home mortgage, auto and credit card lending industries. We presented hypothetical scenarios of a consumer who decided to apply for a $200,000, 30-year mortgage; a $20,000, five-year auto loan and a credit card. While all the industry insiders stressed that a FICO score isn’t the only factor in determining who gets credit and at what cost (other factors they cited include the borrower’s debt-to-income ratio and whether they have already established a relationship with the lender), they were able to provide an idea of what a borrower who had the following credit scores could expect.


For a Consumer Who Started With a FICO Score of 780:



  • Following a 30-day late payment, the consumer’s car loan rate would jump nearly 3 percent, costing the borrower $26 more each month.


  • Following a debt settlement, the consumer would pay as much as $109 more each month on a home mortgage.


For a Consumer Who Started With a FICO Score of 680:



  • Following a 30-day late payment, the consumer would pay $41 more each month for a car loan.


  • Following a 30-day late payment, the consumer would pay as much as $95 more each month on a home mortgage.


  • Following a debt settlement, the consumer would no longer qualify for a credit card.



Some Surprised By the Details


Consumer advocates say it’s important for borrowers to know what can damage their FICO scores. “If they know it in advance, they won’t go out and step in a pile of doo-doo. They won’t go out and do some of these things,” says Linda Sherry, director of national priorities with advocacy group Consumer Action. Even experts found some surprises in today’s news. “FICO imposes bigger hits than I would have thought for being maxed out or 30-days late just once, reinforcing my view that it is a cruder, blunter instrument than they like to claim. Nevertheless, it is a powerful, widely used crude blunt instrument,” says Ed Mierzwinski, consumer program director for the U.S. PIRG consumer advocacy group.


Of course, knowing the impact on a FICO score and actually avoiding these mistakes are two separate things: Amid rising unemployment and other daily financial struggles, paying bills and staying on-track financially becomes a much bigger challenge for many borrowers.


“Some of these things are out of their control,” Sherry says of consumers.


Additionally, as Weston points out, consumers with identical FICO scores can have different credit histories. That means the same slip-up — such as maxing out a credit card — could have different impacts on consumers who have the same FICO score. In the examples they provided, FICO assumed each borrower had several active major credit cards, a mortgage, car loan and student loans.


Sherry acknowledges the benefit of putting a number to a financial blunder. “I don’t think we necessarily knew the numbers that a bankruptcy could apply to a credit score,” Sherry says.


Helping You Make Better Decisions


While knowing the numbers may not keep you filing for bankruptcy if given no other choice, the information may help you make the best decision when faced with a bad situation.


FICO scores — and the access to credit they provide — are a valuable asset to consumers and supply a safety net when incomes are stretched. It’s an asset that needs to be protected, Sherry says, even if job loss or catastrophic illness makes bill paying problematic.


“In that period of time, paying down debt is the last thing on your mind. Paying the minimum payment may also be the last thing on your mind, but you’ll be doing yourself a big favor if you do,” Sherry says.




























What The Mess???????????

NEW YORK – The couple who crashed President Barack Obama’s first state dinner are peddling their story to broadcast networks for hundreds of thousands of dollars, a television executive says.

The executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the network does not publicly discuss bookings, told The Associated Press that representatives for Michaele and Tareq Salahi contacted networks to urge them to “get their bids in” for an interview. The executive said the Virginia couple was looking for a payment in the mid-six figures range.

Meanwhile, CNN confirmed that the Salahis had canceled an appearance they had scheduled for “Larry King Live” on Monday.

Network news divisions say they don’t pay for interviews. But for eagerly sought interviews in the past, they have offered to pay for access to exclusive material, such as pictures or videos from their subjects.

Representatives for the couple did not immediately return telephone and e-mail requests for comment.

Michaele Salahis is a reality TV hopeful trying to get on Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of D.C.” Her and her husband’s success in getting into the state dinner Tuesday without an invitation embarrassed the White House and Secret Service.

The agency acknowledged its officers never checked whether the couple were on the guest list before letting them onto the White House grounds. But it initially insisted Obama was never endangered by the security breach because the couple — like others at the dinner — had gone through magnetometers.

When it became clear the couple had interacted with Obama and Vice President Joe Biden during the event, Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan expressed concern and embarrassment. He said that while an investigation continues, the agency has taken measures to ensure the oversight is not repeated.

A White House photo showed the Salahis in the receiving line in the Blue Room with Obama and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in whose honor the dinner was held. Obama and Michaele Salahi are smiling as she grasps his right hand with both of hers and her husband looks on. Singh is to Obama’s left.

On Saturday, Rep. Edolphus Towns, D-NY, who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, called for a review of Secret Service practices and asked for a briefing this week.

Agency spokesmen declined to comment on reports that agents had visited the Salahis’ vineyard in Hume, Va., in search of the couple. Voice mail messages left Saturday at two separate telephone numbers for the Oasis Winery, south of Washington, were not immediately returned.

It is unclear what the couple told officers at the checkpoint that allowed them to go through the security screening. The Salahis lawyer, Paul Gardner, posted a comment on their Facebook page saying his clients were cleared by the White House to be at the dinner.


The Windemere Police Department says Tiger’s wife went outside, saw that her husband had struck a fire hydrant and a tree, and then went back inside the house for a golf club to use to try and extricate him from the vehicle. But we’ve learned Nordegren told a very different story to the Florida Highway Patrol, and it does not involve going back in the house for a club. Our sources will not allow us to be more specific.

And we’ve learned there was no blood found on the steering wheel of Tiger’s SUV — putting into serious doubt that Tiger sustained his injuries from the crash.

As we first reported, Tiger had a conversation with a friend yesterday, in which he said his wife had confronted him over reports he was involved with another woman … and that his wife scratched his face up during the argument. Tiger told the friend he then left the house, started driving off and his wife then came out with a golf club, striking the vehicle. Tiger then became distracted and hit the hydrant and then a nearby tree.

We’re told cops will interview Tiger and his wife later today.

UPDATE: A neighbor tells TMZ they saw cops show up at Tiger’s house this morning — only to get turned away again. Tiger’s wife, Elin, was spotted (below) driving out of the Isleworth subdivision in Windermere earlier today.

Read more:

Why You’re Still Unemployed One Year Later

The one-year anniversary of unemployment is rarely a cause for celebration.

Every day I hear from executives — top men and women in their fields — who are going through extended unemployment. They have not had a bite … even a nibble.

Some of these people have had freelance or consulting assignments. Others dabbled with the idea of “reinventing” themselves. The plain truth is: The higher up the ladder you are, the longer it seems it takes to find work — much more so during a recession.

Unemployment and underemployment for top-paid executives is a sign of the times.  As a “jobconomist, ” I see it staying this way through 2010. 

The prolonged pain of this recession makes those unemployed for a year or more even more depressed.

Executives who are unemployed for such an extended term become understandably frustrated. Then that frustration turns into depression, and depression becomes bitterness. You begin second-guessing, questioning everything about yourself and your efforts to find work.

That’s the beginning of the cycle. Who wants to hire a depressed executive?

If you fit this description and are feeling hopeless, let me tell you it is possible to break this cycle of rejection.  

You can turn your fate around in your favor and get more interviews and eventually land inspiring, challenging jobs.

Stop blaming your tools

Have you ever noticed how $100K+ executives always blame their “resumes” for lack of interviews? Most of these same people have paid to have their resumes professionally prepared.

But it’s not them.

After their resumes, what’s the next excuse of these executives? Come on, you know: age…followed by money … the very fact that you were making $100K+. These are your (former) excuses.

It’s not them, it’s you

These are all excuses for what the real problem may be: you — and your attitude .

Your legitimately depressed emotional state has permeated everything you touch. Even the way you have crafted your resume or let it be crafted.

The way you network, the way you interview. After one year of being unemployed, you have bought in to the defeatist attitude. The only thing worse than being unemployed for more than a year is to be the spouse or partner of the person who has been unemployed.

When you have been unemployed for one year or more, the change will only come when you are willing to admit that you are helpless to find a job.

Once you face the fact that there is something about you that is holding you back from finding work, you can move forward with a new plan of action and a changed attitude. 

Keyword: attitude.

Here are my recommendations for positive change if you’re in the One-Year-Unemployed club:

Step 1: Admit you have a real problem finding a job.

Do not blame the resume; do not blame your age, past salary or the economy. Blame your attitude.

Step 2: Work to change that attitude.

Step 3: Work harder.

That means sacrifice and re-engineer your thinking process. No vacations. You should not be rewarding yourself for not finding work. Just the opposite.

 Step 4: Change your bitter attitude.

Eliminative negative vocabulary words like: “Just spinning my wheels,” “I am too old or experienced for this,” “I cannot take a job for less than ___,” or “I require this salary.”

Step 5: Stop blaming the resume.

Blame yourself. You own that document. Consider your resume, no matter who did it, only a “template.” Tweak that resume yourself to suit each job you pursue.

Step 6 : Look in the mirror:

Do you  look  like you are worth the $100K+ income you require.  Shallow but true. 

Do you need a Crest Whitestrips smile? What do those teeth look like? Men: Do you have inappropriate facial hair you could get away with when you were making $100K+ but can’t now?

Hair color? Clothes? Handshake? Look like a million dollars, and you can get a million dollars. Shallow, yes. …What happened to credentials? Working hard and all that? Well, you tell me! You’re the one that has been unemployed for at least a year. I am directing you as if you were in unemployed rehab. The “Betty Ford” of the unemployed. Re-engineer what you are thinking. 

Step 7 : Stop leaning or your spouse or partner.

No whining or complaining. Talk very little about your job search, and when you do, bring up only the positive aspects of what you have gone through each day. Your spouse or partner is supporting you.

OK. Got it? Now, you haven’t died. Erase that old anniversary date. That was actually a new start. Try it again. A fresh attitude, a fresh start is what we all need. Go ahead and make this Day One…all over again.

Let me know what you think.

Stephen Viscusi is the host of the upcoming TV show “The Headhunter From Hell.”
Stephen is the founder of www.bulletprrofyourresume and the author of the HarperCollins book “Bulletproof Your Job” published in nine languages. You can write Stephen at

Found another good article!!

Dave is a CEO of an Internet startup that failed to get funding, and he’s got to find something else to do. But he’s so focused on his failure that he’s having a hard time seeing what talents and skills he could leverage. Something invisible but crucial is standing in his way — his mental model. Let me explain what I mean.

Carol Dweck is a professor of psychology at Stanford who studies why some people succeed and others fail. What she’s discovered : At a young age, people develop beliefs that organize their world and give meaning to their experiences. These mental models determine the goals we pursue and the ways we go about achieving them.

1. Fixed mind-set
Intelligence is static and leads to a desire to look smart and therefore a tendency to:

  • Avoid challenges
  • Give up easily when faced with an obstacle
  • See effort as fruitless or worse
  • Ignore useful negative criticism
  • Feel threatened by the success of others

As a result, may plateau early and achieve less than full potential

2. Growth mind-set
Intelligence can be developed and leads to a desire to learn and therefore a tendency to:

  • Embrace challenges
  • Persist in the face of setbacks
  • See effort as a path to mastery
  • Learn from criticism
  • Find lessons and inspiration in the success of others

As a result, reach ever-higher levels of achievement

When someone like Dave, with a fixed mind-set, fails at something, they believe the situation is out of their control and nothing can be done.

They lose faith in their ability to perform. They shrink previous successes and inflate failures. They give up.

Those with a growth orientation do not see failure as an indictment of their capacity. For those folks, a problem is just an opportunity to learn new things. Their attention is on finding strategies for learning. When they blow it or meet an obstacle, they realize that they just haven’t found the right strategy yet. They dig in and make optimistic predictions: “The harder it gets, the harder I need to try. I need to remember what I already know about this. I’ll get this soon.”

Two questions can determine failure or success

These mind-sets can powerfully affect our career trajectories. One of Dweck’s research studies was with Chinese students in Hong Kong who were given the opportunity to learn English, which in the long run would increase their ability to get good jobs. The students with the fixed mind-set turned down the opportunity because they knew it was hard. But the students with the growth mind-set said, “ Sure, I’ll do it; e ven if I don’t do well, I’ll grow my capacity.”

She also discovered that extremely highly paid athletes with a fixed mind-set often don’t do well on a team. They decide they don’t need to practice because they are so good, and they flame out.

Want further proof that success comes from accepting that you will make mistakes and you have the ability to learn from them?

Would-be neurosurgeons were studied to determine who would succeed and who would fail. The researcher discovered that the answer came down to how they responded to the following two questions:

  1. Do you ever make mistakes?
  2. If so, what is the worst mistake you ever made?

Those who flunked out claimed never to make mistakes or attributed any error to things beyond their control. Successful neurosurgical students admitted to many mistakes and described what they had learned about avoiding them in the future.

Dweck’s research offers powerful evidence that when it comes to moving through the challenges of a job search and career change, we need a growth mind-set. When we see our minds as capable of learning and life as a chance to grow, then everything we do is grist for the mill. We don’t give up when we experience setbacks but learn what we can from the experience and begin again, wiser.

Your attention is focused on the question, “ How can I use the constraints and challenges I’m facing to grow my own capacity?”

Where do these orientations come from? It turns out that it has to do with whether you think intelligence is fixed — you’re born as smart as you’ll ever be — or changeable — you can get smarter throughout life. When provided with evidence that the brain can grow new pathways, fixed-oriented freshman college students on the verge of dropping out switched to a growth orientation and graduated.

What about you?

In working with hundreds of executives, I’ve found that many of us have a growth orientation in some of these attributes and not in others. Each person is different based on his early history. For instance, I’ve got no trouble with the first three or the last one. I’m still working on seeing mistakes as learning opportunities. There continues to be a voice of perfectionism inside me that panics when I find I’ve made an error, although it’s much softer than it used to be. And I still have trouble seeking out feedback because I’m afraid it will be negative. But I’m working on it! I’ve gotten much better at feeling the discomfort and asking for input anyway.

Looking at the list, is your mind-set a growth or fixed one? Which of these are easy? Difficult? Try to notice without beating yourself up. That just interferes with a growth mind-set because it reinforces the belief that you should know everything already.

After all, even know-it-alls don’t know it all. And accepting this premise is the key to success.

Share your thoughts with M.J. Ryan the author of many best-selling books and a consultant with Professional Thinking Partners, where she specializes in coaching high-performance executives and leads trainings in effective teamwork in corporations, nonprofits and government agencies. Her latest book is AdaptAbility: How to Survive Change You Didn’t Ask For. Visit her Web site for more tips.

More on Networking!!!!!

The winter holidays are a networker’s paradise! November and December are prime season for planting yourself on decision makers’ radar screens and nurturing relationships. It’s a wonderland of fresh prospects and a harvest of contact renewals to connect with key players in your industry. The many corporate events, social occasions, and community celebrations offer myriad opportunities to establish connections, strengthen ties, invigorate relationships, and share ideas.


Maximize Your Face Time

Almost any neighborhood, family, or business gathering may produce a conversation with someone who has information you can mine unobtrusively for leads to new career challenges for yourself and those you know – reasons for more networking!


With so many venues to choose from, be sure to attend the ones where you’re most likely to reach your networking goals: a high probability for face time with individuals who should know about your potential value proposition, unique talents, and interest in taking on new challenges. These encounters could be your big break to chat with current or former employees at your target companies, exchange business cards with an industry leader, or arrange a future meeting with someone difficult to reach.


Prepare Your Pitch

Want to enhance your networking efficiency to generate even better results? Prepare thoroughly in advance! Before you attend an event, prepare a mental list of questions you could be asked and have well thought-out and concise responses ready.

Be prepared to make clear, compelling points that will attract attention, pique curiosity, and put you top of mind. Your delivery has to be memorable to overcome the event’s interruptions and to compensate for a lack of privacy.


Network Comfortably

To further increase your networking effectiveness, focus your efforts on gatherings where you will feel most comfortable and will be able to put your best foot forward. Avoid situations where you might be stressed, rushed, or otherwise distracted from your networking mission. You want to have meaningful conversations that leave a positive impression while picking up insider-only knowledge. Keep in mind networking isn’t just about you and the connections you make. Part of your goal should be to connect those you know to each other.


Remember, the most important thing is to stay focused. You’ll need to be alert and attuned to reap the full benefits of networking purposefully. Don’t overindulge in food or beverages. Conduct yourself professionally at all times.


The ROI is simple: just one meaningful dialogue creates measurable value from every networking event. It’s the quality not the quantity of the relationships you develop that’s important.

Happy holidays and happy networking!

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