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Communication Skills Tops the List.... Again!


mortar board graduate capCongratulations to the Class of 2014! You've succeeded at getting into college, completing the coursework, doing the internships, writing the research papers and now the clock is ticking towards the repayment of your student loans. There are jobs to be filled, but you aren't the only one looking and qualified. What makes you stand out?

Our advice: don't think about yourself but instead about what employers want. They don't really care how much you owe or how badly you want to avoid moving back home. They want productive, responsible and motivated employees that will help their business or organization succeed in reaching and surpassing their goals.

Take a look at this PDF of "The Job Outlook for the Class of 2014", a publication from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). The information presented will give you a snapshot of what employers are looking for and trends in hiring. You're welcome!

At CMI, we're talking about this because, once again, the top attribute employers are looking for is communication skills. In the two decades we've been in business helping people develop business writing and presentation skills, this is always near the top of the list. How we communicate, especially what we reveal about ourselves in our writing, can make or break a relationship.

comm skills

Developing this skill set will greatly enhance your marketability and appeal to potential employers. Click on the writeTrain tab above to see how we can help you put "Strong Communication Skills" at the top of your résumé.

Our New Year's Message

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As 2013 draws to a close, we look back with gratitude to the successes we had and the enduring loyalty of clients and friends that made it possible. May all of your endeavors in 2014 be what you hope them to be. Happy New Year!

Job searching? Some inspiration in finding your dream job! Thank you Shane Snow for this great piece!


Ask yourself: If you could do anything for 8 hours a day for the rest of your life, and money were no object, what would you do?

Holidays like Independence Day give me the excuse (and reminder) to reflect on what I'm doing with my life and what I've done since the last milestone, such as New Year. Am I excited to do what I'm doing every day? And if not, is it me, or something else?

One of the big blessings of living in a democracy is the ability to pursue one's own path, and the idea that anyone can pick him or herself up by the bootstraps and achieve great things. Of course, survival and success are inescapably connected to work, but we have the luxury of deciding how fun our day-to-day work is going to be. Sometimes that comes as a tradeoff for pay, but spending 1/2 your waking hours doing something you love is often well worth it. And I'm convinced that the people who are best at what they do tend to be the ones that love it the most.

The most important thing for me as a startup founder is knowing that every person I work with is excited to show up to work every day, that each is doing what he or she loves. The most amazing words I could ever hear one of our team member say (and I'm humbled to overhear it occasionally!), is, "This is the best job I've ever had." And if it's not, I'd rather help him or her find that job than help us do what we love at his or her own expense.

I'm not saying anything loads of great thinkers haven't already said. But sometimes it's important to remind ourselves why we're doing what we're doing, and to take inventory of our dreams.

As such, below are some of my favorite mushy, inspirational quotes about the intersection of passion and work:


Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt



Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”

Theodore Roosevelt



Hard work is painful when life is devoid of purpose. But when you live for something greater than yourself and the gratification of your own ego, then hard work becomes a labor of love.”

Steve Pavlina



Never work just for money or for power. They won't save your soul or help you sleep at night.”

Marian Wright Edelman



Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.”

John R. Wooden



Dream big and dare to fail."

Norman Vaughan



Build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs."

Farrah Gray



It is never too late to be what you might have been."

George Eliot



Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears."

Les Brown





And in case you're a procrastinator like me, a bonus quote:

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now."

Chinese Proverb

Forty-nine down, one to go



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On The Brink of Reaching A “Bucket List” Goal


It only took 68 years, nine months, five days and 32 hours (approximate driving time from Eastham, MA) to finally arrive in the Land of Enchantment. What a thrill!

On Saturday, May 18, 2013, I claimed the bragging rights to having visited all of “the lower 48” states plus the state of Hawaii. Believe me, anyone watching or listening to me as the car approached the New Mexico state line would have thought that I had lost my mind–screaming and fist pumping in the air. I was thrilled about having made it.

My interest in visiting every state in our union began early. My favorite childhood puzzle was of that of the United States. Additionally, my parents and I took road trips that allowed me to see a lot of the country.  As an adult, I have had the opportunity to get acquainted with many states through business trips.

A few years ago, I realized that four states–North Dakota, Montana and New Mexico and Alaska, had consistently eluded all of my travels. That’s when I made the decision to hit the road. After each road trip my impression has always been the same.

America is incredibly beautiful. It boasts an abundance of diverse terrains, foliage, waterways and cultures. It has provided me with exquisite memories of vistas that simply took my breath away.

I encourage anyone, especially United States citizens, to visit as much of this spectacularly bountiful country as possible. Seeing the country from the ground is so different from viewing it from the air.  You gain an appreciation for the efforts of the pioneering generations that crossed this great land in covered wagons, on horseback or on foot.

By now you should have a good idea of where my next great American adventure will take place.  Next year I plan to write a blog about my trip to immense state of Alaska–nearly 20% of the U.S. land mass/56% of the U.S. coastline). 

Stay tuned for more to come. One thing you can be sure of is that this trip will definitely not include a drive from Eastham, MA to Anchorage.



Best Practices: Communicating Through the Media


Presenters want to get the most out of a media interview or when using media to present their ideas. If you had to remember only one constant for doing this, it should be to have a really clear understanding of your message and supporting points.

describe the imageThere are lots of tips that provide best practices for using media effectively. Click on the image button below to get our guide:

"Communicating Through the Media - Best Practices"



Writing effective emails requires knowing your reader

english guardRead an interesting article entitled What Brits Really Mean In Their Emails: How To Read Between The Lines And Give It Back....Diplomatically by Alison Kemp. She talks about how nationality, cultural differences and relationships have a significant impact on the way readers receive written messages. This brief essay is a good reminder to know your reader! So much about effective communication is about how the message is conveyed.

Meeting Professional Development Needs in the New Year


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2013 – New Year, New Ways for Professional Development from CMI Workshops and Online Communications Training

Providing Greater Learning Value and Responsiveness

As a company that has helped thousands of business professionals build and expand key communication skills for over two decades, CMI is committed to providing more learning value to its clients and customers.

Some of the enhancements to our offerings you will see in 2013:

1. Business Presentation Skills (BPS) Workshops

BPS is Going Green(er)!

The BPS instructor-led workshop format will remain consistent in generating high levels of satisfaction while providing almost all participant resources electronically–reports, certificates, organizers, videos of all practice presentations and accompanying feedback.

This is a major change from the days of lots of paper and plastic and is consistent with our commitment to recycle, reuse and reduce wherever possible.

Online Presentation Capabilities

CMI is excited about our new association with with the Munich, Germany based presentationgym and will be able to provide presentation skills coaching and training online. This will provide convenient learning and training options for people with limited time for or access to in-person interactions.

2. Business Writing Skills Workshops

 Professional Business Writing (PBW)

PBW will continue to provide one and two-day instructor-led workshops that covers issues that are critical to improving writing skills and opportunities for receiving both instructor and peer feedback on written submissions.

3. Technical Business Writing (TBW) – Now Customized to Your Organization’s Specific Needs.

CMI has offered Technical Business Writing Skills workshops for select clients. However, since technical business writing means different things to different clients, we will customize TBW workshops to address specific client needs in terms of intended audiences, critical formats-report writing, articles, request for proposals or other areas of interest.


Technical Business Writing for Engineers

Technical Business Writing for IT

Technical Business Writing for Health Care Industries

Technical Business Writing for Government and Municipalities

Technical Business Writing for Energy Industries


4. The writeTrain® Online Business Writing Program

We continue to make changes and improvements to writeTrain® and the feedback we received from our users has been incredibly valuable. We listen to what people say and are constantly striving to keep the learning experience interesting and user-friendly.

In 2013, users will still be able to work on the entire program or select specific modules of interest. Writing submissions will continue to be reviewed by online coaches at the beginning and the end of the program. No matter how advanced we become in our online program, it’s our coaches who really add the most value to participants.

 Coming soon! Look for a new credit card payment option for writeTrain.

5. New Opportunities

2013 is the year that CMI is looking to expand it communication skills training capabilities, especially in the area of online offerings. In additional to creating our own elearning opportunities, we are going to be well-positioned to help companies and organizations with their in-house instructional needs.

Can CMI help you plan your professional development needs for 2013? Call us at 1-800-475-8137 or click here.

All of us at CMI wish you a healthy, prosperous and exciting new year.



What are Homographs?


Homographs are words that are spelled alike, have different meanings, and different pronunciations.

Here is a really clever article on homographs.....

A Little English Humor To Placate The Tripple Digit Goddess

by Eliza Moritz

I wish I knew who to whom to give credit for this clever bit about the all the idiosyncrasies of our language but in any case, remember this the next time you hear someone who speaks another language, struggle with ours.

Let’s face it – English is a crazy language. We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.  Don’t forget, we park in the driveway and drive on the parkway.  So why is it that writers write but fingers don’t fing, grocers don’t groce and hammers don’t ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn’t the plural of booth, beeth? One goose, two geese. So one moose, two meese? One index, two indices?

Doesn’t it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? ship by truck but send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell?  How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which, an alarm goes off by going on.English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all. That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

The bandage was wound around the wound.

The farm was used to produce produce.

The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.

We must polish the Polish furniture.

He could lead if he would get the lead out.

The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.

Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.

bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.

When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.

I did not object to the object.

The insurance was invalid for the invalid.

There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.

They were too close to the door to close it.

The buck does funny things when the does are present.

A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.

To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.

The wind was too strong to wind the sail.

Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.

I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

There is a two-letter word that perhaps has more meanings than any other two-letter word, and that is ‘UP.’  It’s easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP ?  At a meeting, why does a topic come UP?  Why do we speak UP and why are the officers UP for election and why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a report?  We call UP our friends.  And we use it to brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver; we warm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen.  We lock UP the house and some guys fix UP the old car.

At other times the little word has real special meaning.  People stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses.  To be dressed is one thing, but to be dressed UP is special.  A drain must be opened UP because it is stopped UP.  We open UP a store in the morning but we close it UP at night.  We seem to be pretty mixed UP aboutUP!  To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP, look the word UP in the dictionary.  In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4th of the page and can add UP to about thirty definitions.  If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used.  It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don’t give UP, you may wind UP with a hundred or more.

When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP.  When the sun comes out we say it is clearing UP.  When it rains, it wets the earth and often messes things UP.  When it doesn’t rain for awhile, things dry UP.

One could go on and on, but I’ll wrap it UP.

Original article can be found at this link: http://elizamoritz.wordpress.com/2012/08/12/a-little-english-humor-to-placate-the-tripple-digit-goddess/

Homographs are often confused with homonyms (same spelling, same pronunciation, different meaning) and homophones (same sound, different spelling, different meanings). We'll cover both of these in future posts.

Performance Appraisals - Delivering Difficult Messages


Every week in the Boston Business Journal there is a profile article on either an emerging or established leader. A question that is always posed is, “what is the toughest business decision you’ve had to make?”

Most frequently, the answer deals with terminating employees. No doubt that has to be one of the most challenging conversations that managers encounter.

Yet, from time to time there are many other challenging, personal conversations such as layoffs, demotions, pay cuts or freezes, not-so-great performance appraisals and an endless array of change related topics that professionals encounter constantly.

Diane Katz, Ph.D., principal of the consulting company, The Working Circle, prepared an article containing tips regarding the rules of engagement for:

The Bearer Of Bad News

  1. Have compassion ALWAYS, no matter the person or the message.
  2. Keep your composure – breathe.
  3. Be on equal footing, either sitting or standing–don’t use power differentials.
  4. Talk in private either in either a neutral location or on the other person’s turf to provide a more comfortable environment.
  5. Leave little time between scheduling the appointment and the discussion.
  6. Enable each party to exit gracefully. Don’t prolong difficult discussions.
  7. Speak for yourself–don’t quote others.
  8. Be specific to the point. Example- Instead of saying “you made me feel…,” be specific. “When you said that, I became very frustrated.”
  9. Speak of responsibility and what happened as a result of the person’s actions versus blaming.
  10. Acknowledge your actions–be responsible for your errors and successes.
  11. State clearly whether there is or is not room for negotiation.

Comma Knowledge


Punctuation is an important part of English grammar rules and conventions. Commas, semi-colons, colons, dashes and hyphens all have specific guidelines for proper uses.

Probably the most frequently used form of punctuation is the comma. At some point you must have studied the rules regarding the proper uses of commas.

Ben Yogada, a professor of English at the University of Delaware, prepared a great article regarding the proper use of commas.

This concise article provides lots of examples of how people often misuse commas along with accompanying corrections and solutions.

Click on the link below and spend a few minutes re-connecting with the best ways for using commas in your writing.


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