Most articles I have read on multitasking (trying to do 2 or more things at the same time) say that multitasking reduces your effectiveness. As someone who has tried to multitask, I would have to agree. In addition to becoming less effective, if any of the tasks on which you are working involves interaction with another person, there is the “human” aspect of having that other person feel you are barely paying attention to his or her issue because you are simultaneously trying to work on something else.

I spend quite a bit of time on the phone talking with people and I like to take notes to help me remember the conversation. While it might be more “efficient” for me to take notes on the computer, I don’t, because I do not want the person with whom I’m speaking to think I’m multitasking when they hear the keyboard clicking. Instead, I take handwritten notes and later scan the file into my database.

I will sometimes see on a resume or LinkedIn profile the phrase…”Effective Multitasker.” I think in many cases that portrays the negative image to others that you don’t focus on the particular task at hand. My recommendation would be to NOT put this on your resume or profile. Rather, consider putting something more along the lines of… “able to manage multiple projects effectively.”

For more helpful details on this subject, please see “Exposing the Multitasking Myth: 4 Better Ways to Manage Your Time” from

How much time do you spend in your car each year? Why not take advantage of “windshield time” to improve your skills and knowledge? I learned this idea from Zig Ziglar, who was a well known salesperson and sales trainer, and have found it to be very helpful. (I started implementing this back when cassette tapes were the medium used.)

I must admit that there are times when my 2 children wonder why they get subjected to listening to these presentations, but my hope is that at least some of the ideas will take root in them.

There is an abundance of material available for you to learn from depending on your interests, including technical presentations related to structural engineering.

One of my favorites is “The Art of Exceptional Living” by Jim Rohn. I keep this in my car and listen to it several times a year. Here are a few of my favorite thoughts/quotes from Jim…

– Don’t wish it was easier, wish you were better.
– Don’t wish for less problems, wish for more skills.
– You don’t get paid for time, you get paid for the value you bring to the marketplace.

Please email me suggestions of your favorite learning material. For the first person who emails me their personal learning favorite, I will send you a free copy of either Jim Rohn’s CD, “The Art of Exceptional Living,” or Dale Carnegie’s Book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”

In a future article, I will include the suggestions I receive from you.

In the meantime, order something educational for your “windshield time” today, and have a great October!

Would you like to use your background to help people in the Philippines?

We are helping the organization of Build Change ( find a structural engineer to help them with their efforts in the Philippines. If you might know of someone interested in improving our world as a structural engineer in the Philippines, please let us know.

Build Change ( is an international non-profit social enterprise that designs earthquake-resistant houses in developing countries and trains builders, homeowners, engineers and government officials to build them. Build Change’s designs are affordable, culturally appropriate, and use materials and techniques that will continue to be used after our intervention is finished. Build Change has ongoing post-earthquake housing reconstruction programs in West Sumatra, Indonesia and Sichuan, China. So far, Build Change has improved the design and/or construction of over 20,000 houses worldwide.

For more information please see our Hot Job 324.

I recently saw a great video from a blog post by Craig Jarrow at

I would highly recommend you invest 20 minutes to watch this inspiring talk from Admiral McRaven at the University of Texas Commencement from May 2014…

I recently received an email from Anthony Fasano (Institute for Engineering Career Development) that had a link to Darren Hardy’s presentation titled “Productivity Strategies of Superachievers.” This is an incredible presentation and I highly recommend you carve out 90 minutes to watch it asap. There is no cost and I’m confident you will get immediate benefits. Click below to watch the YouTube presentation and enjoy a more productive and fulfilling life!

Have you ever sent out an email, then realized a word is missing in the subject line? Have you written a report, and realized after the report was sent that words were misplaced or used incorrectly? Could these errors have been caught with better proofreading procedures?

During the October 2013 SE University continuing education session “Improving Your Writing as a Structural Engineer”, Janel Miller presented information on the process of proofreading. She explained that while one function of proofreading is to catch spelling mistakes, it is also critical to address issues such as missing or extra words, inconsistent formatting, and incorrect labeling of tables or graphics.

Janel Miller is an Adjunct Assistant Teaching Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. Janel also consults privately in writing instruction, business process improvement, failure modes and effects analyses (FMEA), and meeting facilitation.

Janel can be reached at (412) 404-8159, or by email.

In this two minute, 40 second clip, Janel suggests steps that you can use when proofreading documents, and outlines four key areas to review to ensure the documents you present are error free.


Watch the Video Now!

As a continuation of my discussion last month on Dale Carnegie’s famed “How to Win Friends and Influence People” book, I wanted to focus this month on the chapter titled “You Can’t Win an Argument.” In this chapter Dale notes that “nine times out of ten, an argument ends with each of the contestants more firmly convinced than ever that he is absolutely right.” Therefore, you can’t really “win” an argument because if you are correct you lose and if you are not correct, you lose.

This reminds me of great advice I learned from listening to recordings from Zig Ziglar. Zig talks about how once someone tells you “no”, you won’t get them to change their minds. Do people change their minds – YES, but only because they “make a new decision based upon new information.” So, to get people to see/understand your point of view better, you will need to provide additional information so they can make a new decision based upon new information.

Here are some suggestions from Dale’s book that come from an article in “Bits and Pieces” about how to keep a disagreement from becoming an argument:

  • Welcome the disagreement
  • Distrust your first instinctive impression
  • Control your temper
  • Listen first
  • Look for areas of agreement
  • Be honest
  • Promise to think over the opponents’ ideas and study them carefully
  • Thank your opponents sincerely for their interest
  • Postpone action to give both sides time to think through the problem

Happy Reading!

During February I read two great blog posts from Anthony Fasano, PE, who founded “Powerful Purpose Associates,” a company dedicated to helping engineers improve their careers and lives. I wanted to share these with you in the hope that they will help you also.


The first post is from Feb. 7th and is titled “Consistency is a Critical Component to a Successful Engineering Career and Overall Happiness.” I highly recommend you read the entire article, but I wanted to reiterate the 4 items he lists for introducing more consistency into your work routine:

  1. Spend some time at the end of EACH day reviewing your to-do items for the following day and list them in the order of importance.
  2. Pick a time of the day (the same time every day) to walk away from the computer and possibly even exercise for as long as you can.
  3. Check e-mail at certain times during the day, NOT all day.
  4. Wake up earlier each day and use the time to accomplish the same tasks each day. (Anthony discusses how he now gets up 1 hour earlier – at 5am, and is accomplishing a lot more. He also gets to bed earlier by eliminating some TV)


The second post is from Feb. 20th and is titled “Setting Big Picture Engineering Career Goals is the Most Important Thing You Can Do in Your Career and Life.” You can read the entire article by clicking on the title.

In the article Anthony describes “three steps for setting big picture goals that will ensure you stay engaged and fulfilled, both at your engineering job and at home.” These 3 steps are:

  1. Describe Your Ultimate Engineering Career Goal
  2. Describe Your Ultimate Personal Goal (Not Related to Your Engineering Career)
  3. Describe Your Ultimate Goal

I hope you find both of these blogs helpful. Anthony has multiple other insightful articles from which you may also benefit. You will see a list of categories for topics in the upper right corner when you visit the site.

“So what is it that people need and want? People need and want a satisfying experience of life. Over the past three years I have asked more than ten thousand respondents, ‘If you had to choose between balance and satisfaction, which would you choose?’ Not a single respondent chose balance over satisfaction. People want to live deeply satisfying lives both personally and professionally.”

The above quote is taken from Matthew Kelly’s book, “Off Balance, Getting Beyond the Work-Life Balance Myth to Personal and Professional Satisfaction.” I re-read this book on a recent trip and found it to have multiple thought-provoking ideas and suggestions. In the book, Matthew takes a closer look at the “Work-Life Balance” discussion, and relates it back to specific steps you can take to explore this balance in your own life.

In my experience, structural engineering is a very challenging profession on multiple fronts. There is the stress of knowing that designs for structures must keep people safe, and that any mistakes could have life safety impacts. In addition, the ever present threat of lawsuits always lingers, along with constant pressures to work faster and meet compressed schedules. Therefore, having a good system to deal with the pressures of work while creating a fulfilling life is critical.

In his book, Matthew Kelly outlines a helpful “process” for increasing your personal and professional satisfaction level (as engineers, we tend to like “processes”). There are five facets to this process:

  1. Assessment
  2. Priorities
  3. Core Habits
  4. Weekly Strategy Session
  5. Quarterly Review

I definitely recommend this book, and have incorporated many of its suggestions into my own life. The book is only 137 pages and is an “easy read” to fit into a hectic schedule. It’s available on Amazon for about $17, or $15 for the Kindle edition. Why not invest less than $20 to help improve your life?

Have a Magnificent March!

“Think about what really makes you smile… Ask yourself what you would do if you didn’t need the money. Ask yourself what really excites you. And what would inspire you to keep going long after most people would quit. Find those answers and therein lies your dream. We all have our own personal Everest, and if we follow its calling, that is when life truly becomes an adventure.”

This quote is taken from Chapter 1 of Bear Grylls’ book “A Survival Guide for Life: How to Achieve your Goals, Thrive in Adversity, and Grow in Character.” My 13 year old daughter loves reading survival books and has built a multitude of forts in the woods across from our house, and now she has me watching Bear Gryll’s shows and reading his books. I highly recommend this book. I think one of the biggest challenges in life is finding how to make a living out of doing something associated with your passion. Bear Grylls’ book is great reading and will help you pick up many tips for improving your life.

As a niche recruiting company focusing on the structural engineering industry, one of our primary goals is to help people find career opportunities that will allow them to be passionate about their work and improve their lives. Check out the Hot Jobs portion of our website for some of the opportunities we currently have available. We will also be unveiling a new website soon to better serve you.

Have a great February!

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