NCU Recent blog posts

5 Common Core Resources for Parents

Recent Blog Posts - 05-12-2015 12:05

Are you struggling to understand how Common Core State Standards (CCSS) have changed your child’s classroom, homework and overall educational experience? You’re not alone. As states choose to adopt these standards, it’s not just the teachers and students that have been forced to make adjustments, it’s parents like you, too.

The resources listed below can help you understand the CCSS, learn more about what actually happens in the classroom, and provide you with meaningful questions you can use to have meaningful interaction with your child’s teachers.

The Teaching Channel

Check out the Teaching Channel to learn more about just what’s happening in your child’s classroom. You can watch teachers who are implementing Common Core, which will give you a better understanding of how to speak to it at home.

Achieve the Core

Become equipped to talk Common Core and learn what it takes for your child to succeed. Get general information on the Common Core State Standards, check out the “Common Core 101” guide and download PDF and interactive versions of the standards.

National PTA – Parents’ Guides to Student Success

Developed by teachers, parents and experts in the field of education, the Parents’ Guides to Student Success can help you understand how to help your child remain successful in the Common Core classroom. You’ll find guides for grades K-8 in the subjects of language arts and mathematics.

Council of the Great City Schools – Parent Roadmaps to Common Core

The Parent Roadmaps to Common Core take student success a step further with snapshots of how your child should be progressing over a three-year period. With the help of these roadmaps, you can help your child become college ready at the time they graduate from high school.

19 Meaningful Questions You Should Ask Your Child’s Teacher

Show your interest in what’s going on in the classroom by asking a few more direct questions. Your child’s teacher will appreciate the interest and opportunity to explain the thought behind the lesson plans. You’ll also get to know the classroom AND the teacher a little better!

What other resources have you discovered to help you understand the impact Common Core State Standards have on your child’s education? Please share your thoughts in our comments section below!

Blog Categories: education-2Blog Tags: Common CoreTips for ParentsParenting
Categories: NCU Recent blog posts

10 Psychology Books You Should Read

Recent Blog Posts - 04-08-2015 15:27

There are classic or influential books in every field that should be read to gain a fuller breadth of understanding. With an eye to this, we have asked the leaders of Northcentral University School of Psychology to share the indispensible psychology books from their reading lists.

Compiling their responses, we present 10 Psychology Books You Should Read, which have all made a considerable impact on the field of psychology.

Their recommendations follow in no particular order:

1. The Scientist in the Crib: What Early Learning Tells Us About the Mind, Alison Gopnik, Andrew N. Meltzoff & Patricia K. Kuhl; William Morrow Paperbacks, 2000.

As recognized authorities on children development, Gopnik, et al, conclude that infants solve problems the same way that scientists do research: They repeatedly test how things will work against real outcomes, and then modify their initial “theories” to match that observed reality. The authors use this core thesis to organize their research into a compelling and interesting read.

2. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, Susan Cain; Broadway Paperbacks, 2012.

Filled with years of research from many sources, Cain, renowned for her TED Talk on the subject, offers a fascinating exploration of what constitutes the life challenges of the world’s introverts. Including a clear comparison and contrast of introverts and extroverts, the author explores how these highly sensitive people might better tackle public speaking, managing businesses, as well as navigating marriages and other relationships. It also explores introverts in light of the human population being predominately extroverted, and as a result introverts are often encouraged to adapt their style of relating. With a wide variety of interesting case studies, Cain chronicles the lives of introverts and what they quietly bring to the world.

3. Narrative Means to Therapeutic Ends, by Michael White and David Epston; W.W. Norton & Company, 1990.

With its often light approach to serious subjects, White and Epston present their experience with a groundbreaking theory, that people encounter problems when “the stories of their lives” do not accurately represent their actual life experiences. White and Epston suggest that an effective approach to therapy is the process of shaping and reshaping the lives and experiences of their patients through “narrative storytelling” – by “storying” and “restorying” experiences – thereby helping their patients process life experiences. With interesting case studies, the authors show how this approach to therapy helps and empowers their patients.

4. The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients, by Irvin Yalom, M.D.; Harper Perennial, 2002.

A surprisingly easy read, Yalom, Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at Stanford University, uses his 40 years of clinical experience to give advice on best practices to the next generation of therapists. The result is as much a personal and profound memoir of his work as it is useful guidebook. Including his 85 insightful "tips for beginner therapists," Yalom’s book aims to enrich the therapy process for a new generation of patients and counselors.

5. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition: DSM-5, American Psychological Association; American Psychiatric Publishing, 2013.

The 5th Edition of this exhaustive manual is the most comprehensive, current, and critical resource for clinical practice available to today's mental health clinicians and researchers of all orientations, representing more than 10 years of effort by international experts across all aspects of mental health. The manual creates a common language for clinicians as they diagnosis mental disorders, and includes to-the-point information and specific criteria for facilitating objective assessment of symptoms wherever psychological care is offered.

6. On Becoming a Person: A Therapist's View of Psychotherapy, by Carl R. Rogers; Constable, 1974 (revised 2004).

One of America's most distinguished psychologists shares his experiences in helping people through what he called “becoming,” what we have come to know as “personal growth.” While contemporary psychology focuses on minute aspects of psychological behavior, or with diagnosing mental illness, Rogers espouses the view that psychology and psychiatry should aim higher, toward maximizing human potential. Using non-technical jargon, Rogers has written a book that is both groundbreaking and accessible.

7. The Myth of Mental Illness: Foundations of a Theory of Personal Conduct, Thomas S. Szasz, M.D.; Harper Perennial, 1960 (revised 2010).

While some see Szasz’s work as an attack and others consider it a work of genius, it is viewed by many as “the most influential critique of psychiatry ever written,” as puts it. To sum it up, as Szasz wrote so succinctly, “Psychiatry is…in the company of alchemy and astrology and commits it to the category of pseudoscience. The reason for this is that there is no such thing as ‘mental illness.’” By so doing, he called the views of every major American psychiatrist into question. While he acknowledges in the book that people have emotional problems, he insists that these are not mental diseases that can be treated by medicine like pneumonia or heart failure.

8. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat: And Other Clinical Tales, Oliver Sacks, M.D.; Touchstone, 1998.

Hailed by The New York Times as “one of the great clinical writers of the twentieth century,” Sacks recounts the case studies of individuals afflicted with bizarre delusions and intellectual aberrations, but he treats each with great humanity, not as spectacle. Each is an exploration of people bravely attempting to deal with unbelievable mental obstacles. Whether schizophrenia or memory loss, Sacks moves his reader to empathize with their plight as well as their triumphs.

9. Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, Daniel Goleman; Bantam Books, 1995 (revised 2005).

As put it, “Everyone knows that high IQ is no guarantee of success, happiness, or virtue, but until Emotional Intelligence, we could only guess why.” Thanks to this Pulitzer-nominate science writer there is clearer understanding, identifying five core areas of emotional intelligence, all based on psychology and advances in neuroscience. Goleman argues that our emotions are often more important than intelligence in determining individual success by examining factors like impulse control, self-motivation, empathy for others, and sensitivity in interpersonal relationships.

10. Games People Play, Eric Berne; Ballantine Books, 1964 (revised 1996).

Considered explosive upon its release 50 years ago, Games People Play altered our understanding of what is really going on in basic social interactions, and coined the phrase “transactional analysis.” Among the first in a wave of “pop psychology” books, Berne identifies and explores the often unconscious “mind games” we all play as we maneuver through life and relationships. Still revolutionary, Berne’s seminal bestseller is often referred to as among “the most original and influential popular psychology books” ever published.

Which psychology books have impacted your understanding of yourself or others? Which books would you place on your
must-read list?

Categories: NCU Recent blog posts

How to Create a Winning Business Plan

Recent Blog Posts - 03-30-2015 09:26

Perhaps it’s hard to imagine Shakespeare weighing in on important business decisions, but to paraphrase his famed words from Hamlet: To write a business plan or not to write a business plan? That is the question.

It seems that entrepreneurs and business plans go together like Shakespeare and great writing. To be sure, there certainly is great interest in their use within business circles. Just Google the phrase “business plan,” for instance. The search will yield more than half a billion results!

With so much interest in the topic, it's important to know what an effective business plan includes, and why. And that's why we've put together this article for you.  And at the end of the article, you will even find a link to a downloadable business plan checklist, to help you make sure you include all the necessary elements as you go.

Organizing the Business Plan

It’s clear there are benefits from organizing your ideas on paper. There are a variety of how-to’s on the Web, including guidance provided by the SBA, which outline nine distinct sections for a proper business plan. However, the majority of business plan guides follow a simpler, but complete, seven-section approach. After examining several approaches, we have landed on an even simpler six-section model, with an optional seventh section, depending upon the plan’s purpose. According to Business Plan Mentor, the final length of the formal business plan should be about 15 to 20 pages, while the SBA suggests it could require a document between 30 and 50 pages.

Check out NCU’s step-by-step guide to creating your own business plan.

1. Executive Summary After the title page, which should comprise the name of the company and contact information, comes the Executive Summary. The Executive Summary is a condensed overview of the entire business plan and is typically between one and two pages. Though it’s the first section in the business plan, the executive summary should be written last since it summarizes the entire plan.

The SBA suggests that due to the nature of this section many consider it the most important section. Many readers will not continue reading past this point unless the business proposition is compelling.

The executive summary should evidence that you have thoroughly considered and analyzed the business and product or service offering. Be balanced by providing information about downsides in the market, but also how your offering can exploit it. In the end, this section should be concise, but should also seek to persuade the reader that this business can succeed.

The executive summary should contain:

  • • Mission statement – the objective and values of the company.
  • • Company history – the development of the company and/or how long it has existed. Other items can include the location, the number of partners, whether the company is incorporated, its form of incorporation, and, if there are employees, how many. If a startup company, then this section should focus on the professional achievements of its leadership.
  • • Growth highlights – if not a startup, how has the company grown since its founding.
  • • Nature of the product or service – discuss the market for the product or service and what need, want or problem it solves for the consumer or another business.
  • • Financial information – include information about current banking institutions, existing investors, and financial statements such as assets, liabilities and cash flow.
  • • Future plans – include the long-term vision of the company such as how the product or service line might expand or deepen.

2. Company Description This section is like an extended “elevator pitch.” It should quickly communicate the benefits of the company and the essence of its product or service. It is intended to provide readers and potential investors with a concise, clear understanding what you aim to do and why.

The company description should contain:

  • • The nature of the industry – include who the primary competitors are.
  • • The nature of the proposed business – include the product benefits.
  • • The identified need of consumers – to show that there will be demand for the business or products.
  • • The identified consumer – include any known demographics.
  • • The competitive advantages of the company and its product – include such things as location, expertise, operations efficiencies, or other ways the offering is superior to that of competitors.

3. Market Analysis The purpose of this section is to analyze and explore the strengths and weaknesses of the competitors within this particular market and the strategies planned to capitalize on them.

The market analysis section should contain:

  • • Projections for the industry – include who the primary customer is or will be.
  • • The nature of the target market – be mindful not to narrow your description to the actual likely customer, though many entrepreneurs make the mistake of too large a target.
  • • The size of the likely target market – include the rationale for this conclusion.
  • • Likely share to be gained in the market – by the product or service.
  • • Pricing and gross margin expectations – include rationale for the strategy on this point.
  • • Analysis of the competition – include any that might already be in the market. This should include any research and development news for the industry.
  • • Any regulatory restrictions – include any that the product or service might face, now or in the future.

4. Organization & Management “Experts agree that one of the strongest factors for success in any growth company is the ability and track record of its owner/management team, ” according to the SBA.

This section should contain:

  • • Company’s organizational structure – if the company consists of more than a couple of owners an organizational chart is recommended.
  • • Particulars for the company’s key personnel – include full names, management profiles with education, percentage of ownership, pertinent experience, compensation basis and levels, etc.
  • • Highlight how the skill sets of personnel/owners complement one another – preferably without too much overlap or redundancy in areas of expertise.
  • • Provide details on the makeup of the Board of Directors – include any significant particulars as to their areas of expertise and their areas of input toward the company’s success. 

5. Product or Service Details This section’s purpose is to give investors a clear sense of the product's design and function or, if a service, the nature of that offering.

This section of the business plan should describe:

  • • The nature of your product or service – include photographs of prototypes or product design schematics.
  • • The benefits of your product or service – include a brief but complete exploration.
  • • The lifecycle of your product offering – i.e. how long it might last under normal usage.
  • • Any exclusivity associated with the offering – e.g. copyrights, patents, patents pending, or whether the product might be classified as a trade secret.
  • • Any legal agreements associated with the offering – if existing, especially if there are any potential competitors who have previously signed non-compete agreements.
  • • Any research and development plans – include any that are in the works for improving this product or for additional products on the drawing board.

6. Financial Projections This section needs to provide realistic and achievable financial projections and potential ROI for investors. 

According to Inc. Magazine, the following elements make up a solid core for the financial section of a great business plan:

  • • Provide a sales forecast for your product or service – include three years’ worth of projections, monthly for the first year but quarterly for the balance.
  • • Create an expenses budget – like the sales forecast, this is not an exercise in accounting, but an educated estimate based on simple assumptions.
  • • Project a cash flow statement – include projected cash on hand you will need out to 12 months.
  • • Standard profit and loss statement – include a forecast of the expected performance of over the company’s first three years.
  • • Break-even analysis – include a call out to the reader of the estimated point in the first three years of the business when expenses will match sales or service volume.

Also, due to its importance, the SBA recommends that this section be reviewed and confirmed as reasonable and accurate by an accounting professional.

What follows is an optional seventh section, which is dependent upon whether the end goal of the business plan is to gain funding.

7. Funding request (optional) If a central goal of the business plan is to use it as a tool to gain investment or business loans, then the amount needed and rationale for it should be included.

This section of your business plan would contain:

  • • Request the amount of funding sought – include the amount desired now and over the next five years, and place it up front.
  • • Be sure to spell out the nature of the funds request – that is, whether as equity (participation in profit or owner’s stake) or as debt (a loan).
  • • Reveal how much of the company’s leadership/owners own money will be invested – do so to show the level of confidence the leadership has in the idea.
  • • Explain how the money will be used – do so in general; no itemization necessary.
  • • Explain how the money will benefit the business – include how it will help to launch and/or grow the business.
  • • Identify when and how the money will be reimbursed to the investor/lender – do so with approximates and without promising anything.

To aid in writing your business plan, download our Business Plan Checklist by clicking HERE.


Categories: NCU Recent blog posts


Recent Blog Posts - 03-27-2015 14:10

In every field of study and discipline there are classic books that every person should read. With that in mind, we have reached out to faculty members in Northcentral University’s School of Business and Technology Management, asking them to share the must-reads on their list.

After distilling their responses, we have put together NCU’s Top 10 Must-Read Business Books, all of which are considered landmark in the field of business.

The recommendations that follow come in no particular order:

1. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...And Others Don't, by Jim Collins; HarperBusiness, 2001.

Collins put together a 21-person team to enact broad research of the world’s most successful companies and deduces what made each of them great. At the core of his ruminations on the results is a notion that Collins calls “the Hedgehog Concept” – doing one thing and doing it well – which he deduced is foundational to the success of most successful companies.

2. The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century, by Thomas L. Friedman; Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005.

What Friedman means by "flat" is that our world, its people, its nations, and its economies, are intricately interconnected. In this book he explores and illuminates through diverse examples why the lowering of barriers and the advancement of the Digital Revolution have made it possible to interact instantaneously with billions of other people no matter where one lives.

3. Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies, by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras; HarperBusiness, 2004.

Setting out to assess what keeps "visionary" companies like Walt Disney and Wal-Mart “at the very top of their game,” Collins and Porras compare and contrast these with businesses that they classify as "successful-but-second-rank.” Significantly, they assert that great companies do not necessarily begin with a great product, but rather remain flexible and innovative due to a corporate culture where people are not afraid to make mistakes.

4. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change, by Steven Covey; Free Press, 1990.

Covey famously introduced the concept of “paradigm shift” into the cultural lexicon, that is, two people can observe the same thing and yet differ with each other on an event’s meaning and implications. With that as his foundational premise, Covey introduces the seven effective habits. Also groundbreaking was Covey’s concept of the “abundance mindset,” the belief that they do not exist in a closed system of finite resources and therefore finite successes, which Covey calls a “scarcity mindset,” i.e., if one wins another must lose.

5. OOPS! 13 Management Practices That Waste Time & Money (and what to do instead), by Aubrey Daniels; Performance Management Publications, 2009.

Built on the premise exemplified by the idea that “no man is an island,” Daniels asserts that managing individual behavior is the key to making an entire organization successful. And with an eye to what not to do, she explores basic behavior-based principles that drive good performance and how to implement them.

6. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, by Daniel H. Pink; Riverhead Books, 2011.

After analyzing some 40 years of scientific research on what motivates people, Pink explores what business doesn’t seem to appreciate: There are three primary motivators, even in the workplace, and surprisingly more money isn’t one of them. Instead, he identifies autonomy, mastery, and purpose as our primary motivators, and how to implement them in the workplace. A controversial but well-researched work, it emphasizes the motivational power of the deeply held human need to better ourselves and the world in which we live.

7. Leading Change, by John P. Kotter; Harvard Business School Press, 1996.

Few on this list have had the impact of Kotter's book on change management and leadership. A global bestseller, this book offers up Kotter’s now widely accepted eight-step process for managing change. It provides practical advice for leaders and managers to enact initiatives that make positive change within their business organizations.

8. The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of the Learning Organization, by Peter M. Senge; Doubleday Business, 1994.

MIT's Senge proposes that "systems thinking" is the fifth requisite discipline for business, part and parcel to what he calls a true "learning organization," which is hallmark of companies that continuously improve. With millions of adherents around the globe, Senge’s analysis utilizes ideas that come from fields as diverse as science and religion to lay out his principles of management, while offering basic tools for putting systems thinking into practice.

9. The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything, by Guy Kawasaki; Portfolio, 2004.

Drawing on his success in directing the marketing of Apple in its early days by converting average consumers into “evangelists” for the brand, Kawasaki has shown his ideas to be reliable, thanks to the dozens of successful startups he has birthed via his own investment capital firm. Kawasaki opens his book by listing the five most important things an entrepreneur must accomplish, thereby defining the “art of the start.”

10. Strategy Safari: A Guided Tour Through The Wilds of Strategic Management, by Henry Mintzberg, Bruce Ahlstrand and Joseph Lampel; Free Press, 2005.

Considered a classic, a book used by many MBA programs around the world, few business books harmonize the history and evolution of strategic management in such an accessible way. Mintzberg, et al, isolate 10 unique schools of business strategy and explore how they have positively impacted businesses.

Which books on business have impacted your understanding? Which must-read books would you have on your list?

Categories: NCU Recent blog posts

5 Tips on Coping with Addiction in Your Family

Recent Blog Posts - 03-23-2015 11:43

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the drug overdose death rate has more than doubled from 1999 through 2013. However, what may be even more alarming is that this statistic probably won’t surprise the millions of family members and friends of addicts throughout the United States.

“Living with someone who is struggling with an addiction can be a very difficult and traumatic experience,” expresses Dr. Patricia Postanowicz, a Core Faculty member for NCU’s School of Marriage and Family Sciences and an expert in the areas of substance abuse, chronic mental illness and sexual trauma. “It can cause stress, anxiety, depression and put [the family] at risk for substance abuse issues to cope with their feelings.”

For many, the natural reaction is to attempt to “cure” at all costs. While helping your addicted friend or family member get help may be an initial concern, you should also remember to take care of yourself. It is okay – and recommended – to help yourself and the rest of your family cope, even if the addict is not willing to take steps toward recovery.

Wondering where to start? We asked Dr. Postanowicz for a few tips to help guide you in the right direction.

Start Attending Meetings

Whether you choose a nationwide group such as Al-Anon, Nar-Anon or another addictions group specific to your community, you should start attending now. The idea is to learn more through listening to others and talking about your own concerns. And hopefully you’ll learn how to emotionally separate from the addiction to take care of yourself and your family even if the person is still using.

Set Boundaries

Be sure to set boundaries that prevent your addicted friend or family member from negatively affecting your life as much as possible. For example, a mother may set a boundary for a father who is actively using by not allowing him to drive with their children in the car. She may even need to take the car seats out of his car if necessary. This boundary takes away stress and allows her to continue with everyday activities without worrying about the safety of her children.

Stop Making Excuses

Remember to clearly state that you will not make excuses for the addict, no matter who it may be. This includes instances such as missing work or family events, bailing them out financially for issues related to their addiction, and enabling the addict by allowing your plans to be altered because of their addiction. While it will take resolve and steadfast support from the rest of your friends and family, be sure to stand firm.

Give Family Therapy a Try

Addiction is a family disease. Often, families with addicts begin to operate in a manner that protects the addiction, even allowing it to define the family. Don’t be afraid to seek therapy as a family, even if the addict chooses to work toward becoming sober. Family therapy can offer you the opportunity to work through underlying issues regarding addiction, feelings and how to move forward as a family unit.

Commit to Making the Change

Sometimes, when the addiction disappears it can cause the family to sabotage the recovery of the addict in an effort to return to “normal.” Learning new ways to communicate and interact with one another (often through family therapy sessions) once the addiction is no longer present can help you and your family avoid falling back into old, “normal” patterns of behavior. 

Ultimately, the best way to treat addiction is through prevention, and nobody understands that better than families like yours. That’s why the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) promotes the Family Checkup program developed by the Child and Family Center at the University of Oregon. The Family Checkup: Positive Parenting Prevents Drug Abuse program serves to help you become more proactive by providing the information and support you need to stop addiction before it starts.

Are you passionate about helping addicts and looking for ways to make an impact? With the rise in drug use and drug-related deaths, formal education in these areas is becoming even more important. If you’re looking for educational opportunities, programs such as NCU’s certificates in Addictions and Addictions and Rehabilitation could be a great first step.

If you know someone struggling with addition, take the time to learn more about the resources available via the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Please remember to share with those close to you.


Call:        800.622.HELP (4357)

Blog Categories: family-relationshipsmarriage-and-family-therapypsychologytips-to-improve-your-lifeyour-life-your-healthBlog Tags: Addictions; Family; Recovery; Coping with Addiction
Categories: NCU Recent blog posts


Recent Blog Posts - 03-18-2015 15:13

Who among us hasn’t heard the buzz about mentoring? It has even coined a new word, the “mentee,” or the recipient of mentoring, formerly known as a protégé or mentoree. The good news is that whatever it’s called, being mentored has significant benefits. Perhaps more surprisingly, being a mentor also provides amazing benefits, for the mentor and for their organization. Read on and you’ll discover the potential benefits afforded to everyone involved.

But what is mentoring precisely? For that answer, we turn to the experts.

Per Michael Page, an international staffing firm, “The role of a mentor is to encourage the personal and professional development of a mentoree through the sharing of knowledge, expertise and experience.” In other words, it is when an experienced person in an organization directly imparts knowledge and secondhand experience through relationship to someone with lesser experience or education. It also might be viewed as personal education gained in a one-to-one environment, not unlike the online education provided by Northcentral University (NCU).

We invited NCU’s Dr. Georgia Grantham, Associate Director, Faculty Support and Development, School of Business and Technology Management, to weigh in. She offered, “We know that success rarely occurs without the knowledge and support of others. And mentoring definitely makes a positive difference.”

Grantham went on to say, “One-to-one mentoring at Northcentral University is about building relationships of trust, providing academic support and exposing students to real-world experiences. Because every student is unique at NCU, our mentors provide quality feedback that inspires, teaches, and challenges students to achieve their personal and professional goals.”

Mentoring Means… Upward Mobility

What’s more, a research study by Sun Microsystems tracked the careers of 1,000 Sun employees, and concluded that both mentors and mentees get “promoted faster, and enjoy more salary increases.” More specifically, mentees were promoted five times more often than those without mentors! And those who mentored others did even better, being promoted six times as often as those who did not mentor others.

The Benefits of Mentoring for the Mentor

• Provides an opportunity to hone interpersonal skills.
• Increases one’s own personal satisfaction.
• Passes one’s own experience to another.
• Requires consideration of one’s own business practices, as well as those of the organization.
• Improves one’s own job satisfaction; there is an inherent personal satisfaction that comes from helping the mentee and seeing how it impacts everyone else.

The Benefits of Mentoring for the Mentee

• Develops a supportive relationship.
Offers professional development; as mentors communicate their experience on many levels to their mentees it serves as cost-free professional seminars.
• Increases scope of understanding regarding the organization.
• Improves self-confidence.
• Facilitates critical feedback in key areas, such as communications, technical abilities, and leadership skills.
• Provides relevant skills and knowledge.

The Benefits of Mentoring for the Organization

Fosters retention; mentees have someone they can turn to whom when they hit inevitable rough patches during their employment.
• Improves team efficiency; the personal element of mentoring can improve process implementation.
• Empowers personal development.
• Improves communication; this, again, is a function of the depth of personal relationship formed by mentoring.
Safe haven for freer exchange of new ideas; mentors and mentees can bounce ideas off one another without fear of embarrassment or loss of the ideas.

Mentoring Means “Trust”

In the end, as NCU’s own Dr. Grantham shared, together mentors and mentees build “relationships of trust.” And we believe that is a big part of why students at NCU gain so much from our one-to-one, mentoring approach to education.

Have you been mentored? Have you ever been a mentor? How have those experiences shaped your career path?

Blog Categories: career-advice
Categories: NCU Recent blog posts

Five Things Everyone Should Know About Negotiating

Recent Blog Posts - 03-17-2015 15:08

President John F. Kennedy famously said, “Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.” And like it or not, the evidence is clear: Although negotiating may make us feel uncomfortable, those who are willing to negotiate have higher incomes and better positions.

As reported in the Harvard Business Review, for fear of being labeled as difficult or demanding, the majority of people do not negotiate in the workplace. According to Linda Babcock, Professor of Economics at the H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management of Carnegie Mellon University, while 32 percent of us negotiate for matters such as higher pay, 68 percent of us do not. Babcock recounts the study more fully in her book and recounts that those who negotiate for larger salaries tend to receive them. Her conclusion: Those who are unwilling to negotiate actually pay a heavy price.

So, what does it take to negotiate successfully?

Overcome Your Own Expectations

According to negotiation expert Victoria Pynchon, what drives most people’s fears and what frustrates them is actually fairly common, which she characterizes as “self-fulfilling prophecies.” In effect, people get what they expect.

Susan Adams of Forbes Magazine says the first step in changing is to decide to defy your own expectations. In other words, women and men should choose to negotiate for what they want and choose to break free from their own self-fulfilling prophecies — whatever they may identify them to be.

Defy Expectations: 5 Keys to Negotiating

1. DO NOT FEAR. According to Babcock, men and women who do not negotiate typically do so for fear of recriminations and fear of gaining a negative reputation on the job. But, as Pynchon asserts, for those who are able to overcome these fears and choose to negotiate, it can pay big dividends, including in quality of life benefits.

2. KNOW YOUR WORTH. Again according to Babcock, preparation must be done before entering into negotiations. She asserts that women who do choose to negotiate typically enter into negotiations less prepared than do men, according to her research. If preparation is key, one essential component of preparation is to know what others at your level, with your education, and with your resume, make in the market. If you do not know what the range of salary and typical benefits is for your position, it will be hard to argue factually for what you want. There are many resources available online to aid researching wages in a particular market, such as and

3. TAKE THE “LET ME HELP YOU” APPROACH. This tip is particularly important for women in negotiations. While Babcock asserts that men are generally able to boast of their competencies without creating a negative perception, for women, that approach can unfortunately yield an unwanted perception. Babcock suggests to frame your request communally from the perspective of how your competencies will benefit the organization. Heed the words of JFK and ask not what the company should do for you, but explain to the one you’re negotiating with what you can do for the company.

4. BE REASONABLE. This tip is actually tied to tip#2 above. If the best people in your position earn $75,000 a year, but you are unaware and ask for $100,000, you could come off as ill-prepared. So, know your facts and figures about every aspect of the job title and make sure to account for salary variances based on location. Even with the same position responsibilities, a marketing manager working in Savannah, Georgia, will likely have a much different salary than someone with the same job in New York City.

5. DON’T FORGET THE PERKS. Should you come to an impasse regarding the level of income you’ve requested, don’t overlook the value of other benefits as points of negotiation. A good benefit package can actually exceed the value, in dollars and cents, of a higher salary. A better insurance package, more vacation time, virtual commutes, flex-time, company car, frequency of job review, should be considered as part of the negotiation process.

In the end, remember that negotiations are usually not personal. The most successful negotiators are able to overcome the feelings of fear and being labeled as demanding. Successful negotiators are able to articulate their requests respectfully and professionally.

While negotiating shouldn’t be approached as a fight, it is a battle, first, to overcome your own fears of making your requests known. So, as you choose to enter into negotiations to get what you want, remember this: You won’t always get what you want. But, then again, as Lauren Bacall once said, “You don’t always win your battles, but it’s good to know you fought.”

What have you negotiated in your career? What was the outcome? Were the benefits worth the risks? How did you feel explaining what you wanted?

Blog Categories: career-adviceBlog Tags: NegiotiationsNegotiatingHow to Negotiate
Categories: NCU Recent blog posts


Recent Blog Posts - 03-13-2015 12:07

In response to requests from students and faculty, and in conjunction with our ongoing efforts to make the best resources available at Northcentral University, we are pleased to announce that The Chronicle of Higher Education is now available to our student and faculty family at the NCU online Library.

As NCU Director of Library Services Ed Salazar describes this fantastic resource, “The Chronicle of Higher Education is the number one source of news, information, and jobs for people in academe. Published every weekday, The Chronicle's website features the complete contents of the latest issue, now available to NCU students and faculty.”

While The Chronicle has its own online version of the newspaper, it is only available in its full form to paid subscribers. Published every weekday, The Chronicle online features the complete contents of the latest issue; daily news and advice columns; hundreds of current job listings; vibrant discussion forums; and career-building tools such as online curriculum vitae management, salary databases, and more.

When you log on with your NCU ID, you will even find an archive of previously published content!

A Taste of Chronicle Fare…

Recent examples of articles and features that can be found in this well-respected daily publication include:

• “Fulbright Pitches International Exchanges to 2-Year Colleges,” an article that examines how the Fulbright Program aims to help faculty members of community colleges benefit and bring more international perspectives to these institutions.

• “Colleges Ponder Their Options When Racism Is Set in Stone,” which explores the conundrum that colleges and universities find themselves in when the involvement of their founders or early patrons who are associated with racism and/or bigotry are enshrined in artwork and masonry on campus.

• “It’s Time to Review Your Adjunct Employment Policies,” is an article that takes a look at the challenges colleges face when adjunct faculty involve Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in their contract negotiations.

• “The Plague of tl;dr,” is found in The Chronicle’s regular insert, The Chronicle Review, a free-standing B-section, and discusses the trend of less and less reading being done by both faculty and students, with a title that refers to the online shorthand for “too long; didn’t read.”

• “Only Writers Left Alive,” comes from the “Careers” section, a regular feature of The Chronicle, and advises on the importance of students identifying for themselves whether they prefer being educators or being researchers as soon as they can “before you waste your time and money, and some of your best professional years.”

• “Isolated Scholars: Making Bricks, Not Shaping Policy,” is an opinion piece by the University of Michigan’s Andrew J. Hoffman, a professor and director of the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise from The Chronicle’s daily “Point of View” column.

And, each issue of The Chronicle carries an extensive "Careers" section posting position openings from universities and institutions that are hiring faculty and other personnel, with posters as diverse as Harvard University and Fingerlakes Community College.

Were you aware of The Chronicle of Higher Education? Is this a feature of enrollment in NCU something that you will utilize?

Categories: NCU Recent blog posts

How to Give Yourself the Best Chance at being a Satisfied Shopper

Recent Blog Posts - 03-09-2015 09:55

Buying a home is a huge decision, but did you know that being satisfied with your purchase is about more than just location, location, location?

Dr. Susan Petroshius, in conjunction with three other researchers, investigated the role of buyer sophistication as it relates to buyer satisfaction and the overall shopping experience when buying a new home. The results of the investigation were published in their study titled, "The Role of Shopping Sophistication in Creating Satisfying Purchase Outcomes."

About Dr. Petroshius

As an adjunct faculty member in the School of Business and Technology Management at Northcentral University, Dr. Petroshius shares her expertise in marketing, business and consumer behavior. She earned her Master of Science in Behavioral Sciences at University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and her PhD in Marketing from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Purpose of the Study

If you've ever made a large purchase, you know it pays to do your homework before you buy. The more knowledge you have, the more comfortable you likely are when making your purchasing decisions. But to what extent do these factors influence overall customer satisfaction?

Dr. Petroshius and her colleagues made the following hypotheses concerning shopping sophistication as it relates to customer/purchase satisfaction:

  • Customer perceptions of shopping sophistication will be positively related to overall feelings of purchase satisfaction.
  • Customer perceptions of shopping sophistication will be positively related to their feelings of control.
  • Customer perceptions of control will be positively related to their feelings of purchase satisfaction.
  • Customer perceptions of shopping sophistication will be positively related to their perceptions of fairness.
  • Consumer perceptions of fairness will be positively related to their overall feelings of purchase satisfaction.
  • Consumer perceptions of shopping sophistication will be negatively related to feelings of cognitive dissonance (second-guessing their decision).
  • Consumer feelings of dissonance will be negatively related to their overall feelings of purchase satisfaction.

They conducted a study to test their hypotheses. The methodology they used for the study is outlined below.


Buying a home is the largest purchase that most people make in their lifetime. Dr. Petroshius and her colleagues focused on this purchase for that reason when testing their hypotheses. The team mailed out surveys to 900 households that had been purchased in the last 12 months. The team received back 670 usable surveys completed by participants living in more than 400 zip codes.

The surveys consisted of questions from previously validated surveys. These quantitative surveys were based on an itemized scale, and focused on five different areas related to satisfaction in purchase outcomes:

  • Perceived control
  • Perceived fairness
  • Cognitive dissonance
  • Purchase satisfaction
  • Shopping sophistication


After analyzing the surveys, Dr. Petroshius and her colleagues found that a well-informed shopper is a sophisticated shopper, and a sophisticated shopper is more likely to be a satisfied shopper.

In addition, shopper sophistication is so instrumental in positive purchase outcomes that it can also affect perceptions of control, fairness and cognitive dissonance during the shopping experience. If you are prepared going into your purchase decision making, especially a big purchase like a house or maybe a car, you are more likely to feel confident and have a good shopping experience. You don't have many (if any) misconceptions about the process or what you're going to get for your money, and at the end of the day, you are more likely to feel satisfied with your purchase decision.

Join the Discussion

 Based on these results, how do you think that organizations, especially their marketing departments, can more effectively promote customer satisfaction at the basic consumer level (such as buying a new appliance, electronics or even apparel)?  

Blog Categories: lifestyleBlog Tags: Satisfied ShopperHome buyingwell-informed shopping
Categories: NCU Recent blog posts

10 Tips for Effective Communication in Relationships

Recent Blog Posts - 02-13-2015 11:51

Are you having trouble finding ways to effectively communicate in your relationships? Don't worry, you're not alone. Many couples, families, coworkers, and even friends struggle with finding the right way to express their feelings in a positive, productive manner.

Perfecting communication in relationships is tough, but if you're anything like us, you're not ready to give up just yet! So for a little help in the right direction, we sought advice from Dr. Darren Adamson, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Assistant Dean of Northcentral University's School of Marriage and Family Sciences.

Dr. Adamson explains that "communication is like any skill, it takes practice." In order to start perfecting your communication skills, he suggests that "as objectively as possible, you analyze the causes of the poor communication – are they individual in the partners or interactional in the couple?" And he is sure to point out that "the need and the ability to create improvement usually lies in each individual AND in the relationship interaction."

Once you've successfully determined the underlying cause of your poor communication, Dr. Adamson suggests you keep these 10 tips in mind when taking the time to talk it out.

1. Make sure the conversation is appropriately arranged.

This means picking a proper setting, having a clear intent behind the conversation, and spelling out the desired outcome before you sit down to talk.

2. Prepare yourself with the right attitude.

Remember to point the finger in the right direction – at yourself, because you have the power to communicate well! In addition, make sure to come in to the conversation calm and open rather than upset and closed off.

3. Avoid unloading your list of stored up issues.

You already have a clear intent and desired outcome, so don't get steered off course by bringing up issues from the past that were already resolved.

4. Take your emotions out of it (at first).

This is a hard one to achieve. If you're having trouble, it may help you to keep your comments short and simple in the beginning of the conversation.

5. Mind your manners.

Remember that this is supposed to be a positive, respectful conversation. Try to use the tips your elders gave you years ago and mind those manners!

6. Stick to the facts.

Make sure your issues or complaints are described using data and not just emotions.

7. Remember the good stuff.

It's not all bad! Tell your partner something you appreciate about her or him – this keeps the conversation balanced. This also communicates that “it’s not just about an issue, it’s about our relationship”.

8. Own your emotions.

When talking about your emotions, try using "I" statements such as "I feel hurt, when ____ happens," and avoid the use of “you."

9. Ask questions instead of making statements.

Remember, your goal is to understand your partner, not to make sure that she or he understands you.

10. Celebrate communication success.

When it works, it works! Take the time to acknowledge and celebrate it – together!

In the end, remember that striving to perfect the art of effective communication in relationships is a process. You won't get it perfect the first time, and you may not even get close – just keep trying until you get there!

Have you ever used any of these tips before? What works for you and your partner?

Blog Categories: couples-therapyBlog Tags: communicationRelationshipsCommunication in Relationships
Categories: NCU Recent blog posts

Fair Use or Misuse? Social Media and Copyright Law

Recent Blog Posts - 02-11-2015 11:03

By Rick Rapier

She claims she had their permission and thought they would be grateful for the exposure, but, according to Ultra Records, fashion video blogger Michelle Phan was sadly mistaken.

In fact for using copyrighted music in her informational YouTube fashion videos, Phan is facing $150,000 in fines for each incident of misuse, with penalties adding into the millions. Such incidents of copyright violation are increasing, both by casual users and intentional abusers of copyrighted material – and by litigation instituted by wronged copyright holders.

Most of Phan’s legal trouble hinges on something you may have heard of before: fair use. And evidently cries of “Fair use!” – commonly invoked by users of social media sites, independent blogs and websites – offer little to no legal protection.

Does Fair Use Make It Fair Game?

Unlike cases early in the development of social media, like Napster, which is now infamous for allowing subscribers to download copyrighted music for free in the Net’s early days, and was deemed to be involved in a clear case of theft and copyright infringement, “fair use” is a little more in the gray area of the law.

The Fair Use Doctrine, frequently and often incorrectly invoked throughout the web, is borne of Section 107 of Title 17 of the U.S. Copyright Law, according to the U.S. Copyright Office. While Section 106 affords all rights of use to the copyright holder, Section 107 offers some leeway to others, including allowing for use of copyrighted material for educational purposes. And as the Copyright Office itself says, “The distinction between what is fair use and what is infringement in a particular case will not always be clear or easily defined.”

Still, the Copyright Office goes on to suggest that the answer to the question is: No, fair use does not make copyrighted content fair game. The Copyright Office explains, “Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission.”

Unintentional Violations

Much of the confusion can be attributed to the proliferation of social media. Whether YouTube, Facebook, Tumblr, Spotify, Pinterest, or personal blogs of various types, billions of online users are sharing, linking, embedding, and cutting and pasting as common practice. But that’s where copyright holders tend to be the most litigious. That is, lawsuits tend to arise when there is business being transacted and therefore money being made or – for the original creators – lost through “borrowing” or “sharing” media without permission, whether music, video, photographs, or infographics.

Thanks to the vague laws governing copyright and the use of copyrighted media, Phan is far from alone. According to one Internet and fair use expert, Sarah Bird, there have been hundreds of lawsuits filed and myriad rulings in the last several years on the matter of fair use versus copyright infringement, leading to legal precedents that often stand at odds with one another.

Bird is an SEO and social analytics expert and CEO of Moz, a provider of search engine optimization (SEO) optimization software. She asserts that due to fast-changing technologies and delivery platforms, copyright laws are intentionally vague. On her website, she is often asked about the topic of copyright, and an entire website,, has been dedicated to addressing and tracking the growing problem of Internet plagiarism.

“’Fair use is an important, controversial, and evolving concept”
—Sarah Bird, SEO and social analytics expert and CEO of Moz

Even the experts, including the U.S. Copyright office, say the subject is confusing. But in addition to being a gray area of the law, it can sometimes do harm to both copyright holders who lose income and to those who unknowingly violate copyright law and face penalties under the law.

In Phan’s case, while her YouTube videos are educational for those interested in fashion, Phan also makes a considerable profit – $5 million last year alone – generated by her channel’s online advertisers. And that is business generated, in part, by using copyrighted works.

Another infamous case of using social media as both educational tool and cottage industry is that of self-proclaimed “Food Babe” Vani Hari. While Hari has been heralded as noble by such renowned news organizations as CNN and New York Times for her efforts to make the ingredients in Subway’s bread and Kraft Macaroni & Cheese more healthy, she has many detractors as reported and And one has apparently come at her for purported plagiarism for lifting the online content of others from various blogs and websites, no small charge to make against a woman whose whole career is based on her credibility.

The Virtual Damage Is Done

Hari has decried the charges as unfounded “ad hominem attacks,” however, in a certain sense, the suspicion of plagiarism will follow her for years – and many Google search results – to come. Still, the pair of Internet vlog entrepreneurs can serve as lessons for the rest of us. The risks of utilizing content produced by others, especially if for personal gain, can be costly. Not only can the penalties result in financial loss, but it can also damage credibility. This affirms that social media is not the free-for-all many believe it to be. Social media users must be mindful of these laws when it comes to sharing content.

To mitigate the risks of recrimination, Bird suggests that offering attribution and providing links back to the original source can often help reduce the risk of inciting the content’s originator, especially if a blog or social site is not intended for profit. But where the devil is in the details truly comes when there is money being made by the “fair user.”

In a case of making lemons out of lemonade, Phan has learned from her experience with Ultra Records and copyright law, founding a new venture: She’s launching her own music label.

Have you used content produced by others on your blog, YouTube, or other social media channels? What are your thoughts on the “Fair Use” doctrine?

*/ Blog Categories: social-mediaBlog Tags: social media
Categories: NCU Recent blog posts