NCU Recent blog posts

Start the Year Off Right! Six Ways to Implement Positive Change on the Job

Recent Blog Posts - 01-04-2016 14:45

It’s not rocket science to understand that a happy, positive work environment is more pleasant than one filled with gloom, doom and negativity. It’s also not a stretch to think that a positive workplace can help the bottom line. How does a manager implement positive change to create this upbeat corporate culture if it’s not in place now?

“First start with a simple mission and vision statement which integrates joint accountability between leadership and organizational members. The mission states “Who We Are?” and the vision statement identifies “Who We Want to Become?” Build a business strategy which is in alignment with the mission and the vision,” said Dr. Wanda Corner, Ph.D., NCU School of Business and Technology Management.

With a strategy in place, it’s time to implement programs that foster innovation and support the well-being of employees. According to Corner, the following six examples of positive change can have a big impact:

  1. Mentoring programs (peer-to-peer or mentor-to-protégé).
  2. Innovation Laboratories to facilitate business competitiveness and sustainability (including people, products, technology, and processes).
  3. Joint leadership and organizational member facilitated workshops such as: strategic planning, appreciative inquiry, professional development, etc. Use these workshops as an opportunity to build trust in a safe environment for both leadership and the organizational members.
  4. Identify a short or long-term community or charity project in which team members may contribute to the organization’s corporate/business local community social responsibility (i.e. Habitat for Humanity, cancer awareness, CARE, or other).
  5. Health and wellness initiatives for employees (fitness, nutrition, or other).
  6. Document and celebrate success! Monitor incremental goals for progress and the attainment of major milestones. Include rewards and recognition at regular intervals. Without celebration, it is easy for organizational members to view positive change initiatives as disingenuous and non-productive.

Whenever organizations rock the status quo, there’s always someone on the team who resists the change. Here are Corner’s five tips to get buy-in from everyone in the group:

  1. Create a communication plan before implementing change strategies.
  2. Build processes where each team member can measure their own success, as well as success of the overall team. This builds a climate of accountability, fairness and equity.
  3. Identify objections of team members to determine whether the resistance is rooted in misunderstanding or unwillingness.
  4. Ask for their help with specific examples of their needed contribution.
  5. Be prepared emotionally for resistance. For example, people may state “that’s not the way that we used to do it.” Anticipate and prepare for the resistance with a positive response. If they still resist to the point of disruption to the overall team’s productivity, make sure you have prepared responses that are in alignment with the mission and vision statements, and address the individual accountability of each member to the overall success of the team.
Blog Categories: career-adviceBlog Tags: corporate culturepositive changecorporate social responsibility
Categories: NCU Recent blog posts

How Does Your Emotional Intelligence Stack Up?

Recent Blog Posts - 12-31-2015 12:33

As we were growing up, intelligence was always emphasized. It just might, however, be your emotional intelligence (EQ) that separates a good leader from a great leader.

Emotional intelligence is the capacity to be aware of, express and control one’s emotions and to handle interpersonal relationships empathetically.

In the late 90s, in a Harvard Business Review article, Rutgers psychologist Daniel Goleman established the importance of emotional intelligence to business leadership saying:

“The most effective leaders are all alike in one crucial way: they all have a high degree of what has come to be known as emotional intelligence. It’s not that IQ and technical skills are irrelevant. They do matter, but…they are the entry-level requirements for executive positions. My research, along with other recent studies, clearly shows that emotional intelligence is the sine qua non of leadership. Without it, a person can have the best training in the world, an incisive, analytical mind, and an endless supply of smart ideas, but he still won’t make a great leader.”

With so much business success riding on EQ, let’s examine the components that comprise emotional intelligence:

  1. Empathy: The ability to connect with someone with compassion humanizes a manager. A good manager has the ability to step into someone else’s shoes and feel their point of view.
  2. Self-Assessment: High EQ leaders are introspective. They understand their own strengths and weaknesses and the impact their actions have on others. Because they can see their true selves, they’re able to improve on weaknesses and play to strengths more easily.
  3. Self-Regulation: High EQ people think before they act. They have discipline. They understand that if they react with emotion in the moment, it can have a bad effect on members of their team. Great leaders know how to remain calm and stay positive on the outside, even if that isn’t how they’re feeling on the inside.
  4. Effective Communicators: High EQ individuals are able to express both thoughts and feelings in an appropriate way. They also realize that much of what we communicate is through body language, not words. Since so many problems in the workplace are caused by miscommunication, this is important.
  5. Listening Skills: So often people rush through listening to get to the point where they can talk again. High EQ people not only listen to what is being said, they’re able to pick up on what is not being said -- the emotion behind the words -- and make team members feel heard.
  6. Anticipation: People with strong EQ can read situations and anticipate how people will react.

So, how does your Emotional Intelligence stack up?

Blog Categories: psychologyBlog Tags: emotional intelligenceEQbusinessleaders
Categories: NCU Recent blog posts

Is Project Management for Me?

Recent Blog Posts - 12-31-2015 11:58

Over the next decade, project management is slated to grow by more than $6 trillion globally. Clearly, this is a lucrative field with job stability, but how do you know if you have the personality and attributes to maximize this opportunity?

“The dynamic business environment requires that most improvement and innovation efforts utilize a project management approach,” said Jama L. Bradley, PhD, Dissertation Chair, at Northcentral University. “Project management has been, and is projected to be, a growing field requiring individuals with leadership, technical, and people skills.”

Being a good Project Manager isn’t just about technical and business skills. The most successful PMs also bring people skills to the table while delivering projects on deadline and budget.

If you’re considering pursuing a master’s, PhD or doctorate degree in Project Management, assess how your skills and personality line up with the Top 10 traits of great project managers:

  1. Ability to Organize and Prioritize: Because there are so many moving parts of a project, the manager has to pay attention to both the big picture and the details, as well as know how to focus the team’s time and attention.
  2. Strong Intuition: A good manager has a sixth-sense in her ability to anticipate challenges and pitfalls ahead of time and avoid them or work them into the project timeline.
  3. Ability to lead: This one seems obvious, but a strong manager not only has to lead direct reports, but often people over whom he has no direct connection. The leader also has to get buy in from many different types of people and must know how to tailor a message to different groups.
  4. Good Communicators: With so many different groups and people involved in a project, the PM has to know what, when and how to communicate to all the stakeholders. Having high emotional intelligence is a big plus.
  5. Pragmatic: Most project managers are ruled by analytics. A good PM knows that at some point you have to stop analyzing, make a choice and move forward.
  6. Empathetic: Project managers can only succeed if the team succeeds. A strong PM knows how to motivate the team by understanding the different needs and goals of each type of stakeholder.
  7. Value input: Strong project managers ask good questions and take others’ opinions and ideas into consideration.
  8. Nimble: Project managers must react to sudden change, interruptions and issues along the way. Having a calm, go-with-the-flow demeanor is important.
  9. People Person: If you’re the techie who likes to hunker down in his cube with headphones on, project management is probably not for you. The job requires dealing with many types of people. While you don’t have to be an uber extrovert, you do need to enjoy interacting with others during your day.
  10. Strong Networking: Good PMs have a strong internal and external network they can call on as things come up in the project lifecycle.
Blog Categories: career-adviceBlog Tags: Project ManagementcommunicationOrganizational Leadership
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Are You Running Your Organization Like a Pro Football Team? The Top 10 Business Lessons Learned from Watching the NFL Playoffs

Recent Blog Posts - 12-30-2015 13:17

Nearly 50 percent of Americans are NFL fans, and with the play-off games upon us, millions of people will be in the stadium or glued to their TVs hoping this is the year their team goes all the way.

We can receive more than just entertainment from watching the NFL Playoffs. By observing the strategy behind pro football, we can learn some valuable lessons to use in our own business playbook.

Here are The Top 10 Lessons to take from the gridiron to the boardroom:

  1. Get Buy-in: It hasn’t been a great year for the Green Bay Packers, but that doesn’t keep their fans away. More than 116,000 people are on the waiting list for their season tickets. No matter where they play in the league, stands are filled with green and gold. How did the Packers create this strong fan base? Easy. They got buy-in. The Packers are the only team owned by the public. Their fans are invested, literally, in the team. When you get buy-in from employees and make them feel like they have ownership of an idea, a project or even a company, you create loyal employees.
  2. Balance: One player does not win a championship, no matter how good he is. Look at Tony Romo, Warren Moon, Barry Sanders, and Dan Marino. All are amazing athletes whose fingers are still missing Super Bowl rings. Football is a team sport, so is business. To have a successful team or company, each person must perform his or her best. One-stand out alone cannot carry the load for a winning team.
  3. Different Management Styles Work: People are different and so are leaders. Observe Bruce Arians vs. Bill Belichick vs. Mike McCarthy. They all manage differently, yet all have led their teams to success. The important thing isn’t the way you manage, it’s that your team respects the way you manage and respects you.
  4. ROI: After each game, the coaches and players analyze tapes and look at what went right and what went wrong. They also set a strategy for the next team they face. NFL teams are constantly looking at the ROI of what they do and how they can tweak it and make it better the next time around. A smart company measures the ROI of its all its projects and programs.
  5. Leverage Your Brand: The NFL has a strong brand and they know how to capitalize on it. Of course there are ticket and merchandise sales, but in recent years, the NFL has create new days of football (Sunday and Thursday night games), as well as the NFL RedZone, fantasy football leagues, NFL Sunday Ticket and more. A smart company is always looking for new revenue streams, while at the same time, upholding a strong brand image.
  6. Resiliency Wins: Week-to-week in the NFL, teams lose games, players get injured, and big play calls can go against you. The winning organizations are the ones that rise above it and find a way to put more notches in the win column. Entrepreneurship is often one step forward and two steps back. The successful entrepreneur knows that one loss does not make a season.
  7. Training Day: NFL players are the cream of the football crop, yet there are weeks of training camp and practices during the season to prepare for the next big game. Smart businesses similarly invest in their people through educational development. The better trained employees are, the greater the likelihood that they can “score” a big win for their team.
  8. Calculated Risk: Remember that time your favorite NFL team went for it on fourth down, made the play and ended up winning the game? That was an in-the-moment, calculated risk. Sometimes in business, we can over-analyze a decision. When that happens, it’s time to check in with your gut and decide if it’s time to roll the dice. If it works, you’ll be rewarded with a successful outcome. If not, assess why it didn’t work, and determine what needs to be adjusted.
  9. The Buck Stops Here: At the end of the day, the coach takes the brunt of the blame for losing a game. A good coach does it without excuses. As the leader of your team or company, you’re ultimately accountable for the plans, programs and strategies. Celebrate your wins, but be prepared to own your losses too.
  10. Eye on the Prize: Every player in the NFL knows the goal they’re working towards: victoriously hoisting the Vince Lombardi trophy on Super Bowl Sunday. In business, your team should know the goals they’re working toward and those will be measured. Help them visualize what success looks like, and provide the support they need to achieve it.
Blog Categories: time-management-tipsBlog Tags: businessmanagementsports
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Are You Setting New Year’s Resolutions for Your Business? Here’s Eight Tips for a Better 2016

Recent Blog Posts - 12-29-2015 14:29

While nearly two-thirds of people make New Year’s resolutions, perhaps it’s time your small business did too. As we bid adieu to 2015, here are some suggestions for your 2016 business resolutions:

  1. Make this the year I learn to delegate: Many entrepreneurs are afraid to turn any aspect of their “baby” over to anyone else resulting in a horrible work-life balance and a business you can’t take to the next level. Make 2016 the year you decide to hire smart and delegate tasks that aren’t your strengths to someone who can do them better.
  2. Learn something new: You can never go wrong learning something that will help your business or enrich your personal life. Not only will you gain skills, you’re likely going to meet new people who could potentially become customers or colleagues.
  3. Network more: If you’re in marketing, don’t just join marketing groups, join groups where you can cultivate new business. Think about the industries you serve. If you work with hospitality clients, join hotel and restaurant groups. In addition, don’t discount the power of online network through social channels like LinkedIn and Twitter.
  4. Give Back: According to a 2013 study, 89 percent of Americans say they will switch brands to work with a company that gives back. If nothing else motivates you about getting involved in the community, that one statistic alone should make you realize that karma is alive and well in business.
  5. Set Goals: If you don’t know where you’re going, you will never get there. Successful goals are a stretch, but achievable and written down. Make sure to revisit your goals quarterly to check off if you’ve achieved it, need to tweak it or determined it’s no longer a goal.
  6. Keep Prospecting: Even if you have a steady stream of existing customers, you should never bank on the fact that they will always be there. Make it your goal to talk to one potential new customer a day. This doesn’t have to be a hard sell. Talk to people at your gym, the coffee shop or a party.
  7. Get rid of bad customers: Sometimes the customer isn’t always right. Every business has a client who takes up more time and energy in relation to what they bring to the bottom line. The exhaustion from dealing with them is preventing you from acquiring customers who will be a better fit. Don’t be afraid to drop a bad apple from your tree.
  8. Schedule “Me” Time: A burned out entrepreneur doesn’t run a successful business. If you can’t leave the office behind, make sure you schedule down time into your calendar.
Blog Categories: tips-to-improve-your-lifeBlog Tags: businessentrepreneurshipresolutions
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10 Tips to Create a Vision Board

Recent Blog Posts - 12-29-2015 11:27

You’ve no doubt heard the phrase, “thoughts become things,” but how about images? In the past few years, vision boards have become a popular tool to get really clear about your goals and keep them front and center.

The idea of vision boards has its roots in personal development and the concept of “The Law of Attraction.” What we put our focus on is what we draw to us both consciously and subconsciously.

Anyone can make a vision board. It can be as basic as pasting images on a poster board or, according to Life Coach Constance Whitesell, you can use technology like Magisto to make vision movies.

“It is a visual representation of your goals,” said Whitesell. “Hanging it in a frequented room or putting a picture of it as a computer's desktop photo or a smartphone's wallpaper allows for an instant visual reminder of one's dreams. It becomes a source of constant inspiration and who doesn't need that?”

Assuming you’re going low-tech grab your board, glue, magazine, photos, scissors and get ready to have some fun. Here are 10 tips to creating a board that represents your true desires and goals:

  1. Reflect on the goals you have for major areas of your life such as career, romance, family, hobbies, etc.
  2. Feel, don’t think. This can be hard for many of us, but it’s your gut that knows what you really want, not your head.
  3. Don’t just use magazines you have lying around the house. This is your life! Go to the bookstore and simply scan the magazines and grab what speaks to you. Don’t judge it, whether it’s Cosmopolitan or National Geographic, buy the magazines that resonate with your body, not your brain.
  4. Don’t question it. If you rip out a picture of a vineyard in Italy, an office in a historic building and a picture of a baby, go with it. Something inside you is drawn to all of them.
  5. Don’t settle. Don’t put any image on the board that doesn’t fill you with joy.
  6. You can cut out words as well such as passion, joy, leader, balance and “a life exotic.”
  7. Put the vision board where you can see it. An office or your bedroom are great options.
  8. Take a picture of it and use it as your screensaver for your computer and phone.
  9. As your goals change, make sure to update your board.
Blog Categories: tips-to-improve-your-lifeBlog Tags: vision boardsetting goals
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Latest Edition of NCU's Higher Degrees Available Online

Recent Blog Posts - 12-22-2015 13:19

The latest edition of Higher Degrees is now available for viewing online. Highlights of this issue include:

  1. Dr. Jennifer Scott, from the School of Business and Technology Management and an expert in organizational behavior and leadership, highlights the characteristics of trailblazers and talks about how NCU’s programs are especially suited for them.
  2. Three inspirational members of the NCU community who embody the spirit of trailblazing are featured:
    1. Tracy Diefenbach, a doctoral student in the School of Marriage and Family Sciences, talks about channeling the grief from her husband’s suicide into developing enhanced therapy options for veterans suffering from Post-traumatic stress disorder.
    2. Recent School of Education graduate, Dr. Hari Dhungana, shares his story of drive and perseverance to complete his degree by defending his dissertation in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquake in his native Nepal.
    3. Dr. Barry Spiker, from the NCU Graduate School, takes us down his path into epigenetics, discussing his own research and how he is influencing his students to explore this new field.
  3. Highlights from NCU’s 2015 commencement, and an overview of our three new degree programs and 27 new specializations.
  4. Updates from each of NCU’s Schools, as well as newsworthy updates on our students, alumni and professors.
Blog Categories: education-2Blog Tags: newsletterncuHigher Degrees
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Are You an Entrepreneur? When Do You Quit Your Full-Time Job?

Recent Blog Posts - 12-22-2015 10:30

So you had a passion and started a widget factory in your basement. With a lot of hard work and a little luck, your little widget business now has a steady clientele and is making some money. Is it time for you to leave your full-time job and become a full-time entrepreneur?

Figuring out when to leave the security of being an employee for the uncertainty that comes with being an entrepreneur is a delicate balance. Here are six signs it might be time for you to make the leap.

  1. You’re paying the bills.  Sit down and go through all your monthly expenses. Can you cover everything from your side job? If so, it’s a sign that the business can support you without the security of your full time job.
  2. Missed opportunities.  Are you turning down work in your side job because you simply don’t have the time to do it? Or worse, are you missing your window to capitalize on your idea because competitors are coming to the marketplace?
  3. Flatline.  If you have a good business idea, chances are that it has the legs to grow. As a one-person shop, there is only so much you can do and only so far that a company can grow. If you’re stagnating, it may be a sign that you need additional help to push your business to the next level.
  4. You understand it won’t be easy.  Don’t quit your job if you don’t understand that you’re giving up the safety of a paycheck, benefits like a 401K and health insurance, and the idea that you can clock out at 5 pm.
  5. You’ve become an expert.  Is the business community, media, and others coming to you for advice in the area of your business? If so, it’s a sign that you and your company have developed a solid reputation. Full-time entrepreneurs are taken more seriously than those with a “hobby job.” This may be a sign that it’s time to pull the trigger and make the leap.
  6. You’re tired of making others rich.  Look at the top wage-earners. Most of them don’t work for others. Sure you can make a decent salary as an employee, but if you want to control your destiny, the only way you do that is by taking the reins and running the show.
Blog Categories: career-adviceBlog Tags: entrepreneurshipcareer shift
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Top 5 Ways to Keep Your New Year’s Resolution

Recent Blog Posts - 12-22-2015 10:09

Nearly half of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, yet according to University of Scranton, research suggests that just eight percent achieve their New Year’s goals. In fact, of the people making resolutions, more than half have made the SAME resolution for more than five years! Why are we so bad at sticking to our resolutions and are there any ways that can increase our chance of success?

Arlene Perry, an NCU PhD student in Health Psychology and health coach with Healthy Living Denver, offers up five tips that will put you on the path to achieving your New Year’s goals once and for all in 2016:

  1. Do it “write.” Studies show that the simple act of writing down your intentions helps your mind and body connect and increases your chances of success. Select no more than three resolutions and write them on a piece of paper. Include specifics that you can measure (i.e. I will lose 10 pounds by March 1st; I will have no more than one glass of wine per week; etc.). Post your resolutions in a visible place -- your bathroom mirror or the dashboard of your car -- and say them out loud to yourself each day.
  2. Plan ahead. Now that you’ve created your resolutions, plan the specific actions you’ll need to take to achieve them. Don’t leave it to chance! For example, if your goal is to "exercise daily," mark your calendar with the workout classes you’ll attend. Pack your gym bag the night before, and take healthy snacks to work or in your car for pre-workout energy. As another example, if your goal is to “eat healthy meals,” cook a week’s worth of soup, quinoa, vegetables, beans, etc. and pack your lunch each morning.
  3. Get to the source of what’s sabotaging your efforts. Are you in a bad relationship that causes you to splurge on sweets every night? Are you stressed out at work from a demanding boss and feel too drained to exercise after work? Keep a journal and get in touch with what's eating you. See if you can make slight changes to the way you respond to situations. You might realize, perhaps, that’s it’s time to look for a new job or relationship! When you are able to recognize and tackle the root cause of why you eat or why you don’t exercise, it will be easier to reach your goals without turning to food for “comfort.”
  4. Visualize what your life will look like when you achieve your resolutions. Start by asking yourself: What do I want and why do I want it? If you resolve to lose 20 pounds, how will this benefit you? (i.e. more energy, more confidence, longer life, etc.) Picture how you will look – what are you wearing? A little black dress? Skinny jeans? How do you feel? Visualizing yourself as having achieved your goals will help you stay on track toward what’s truly important to you.
  5. Share your resolutions with friends and family. When you tell others, your commitments become more real and you become accountable. Consider finding a “workout buddy” or invite friends over to cook and eat new healthy recipes.

Use these tips and you’re on track to keep those New Year’s resolutions in 2016!

Blog Categories: lifestyleBlog Tags: resolutions2016New Year
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10 Ways to Beat Holiday Depression

Recent Blog Posts - 12-22-2015 09:37

It’s that time of year filled with peace on earth, good will to men and depression. Doesn’t everyone have visions of sugar plum fairies while relishing in family, friends and eggnog? The answer is no. This time of year is also associated with an uptick of depression.

“It's very common for people to suffer depression during what seems like an unlikely time of year - holiday time! From Thanksgiving until after New Year's, it’s a time when it seems everyone around us is full of good cheer, surrounded by loved ones. In fact, many of us aren't! Dysfunction within families, poor eating and drinking habits, as well as shorter and colder days, add to the list of depressors during the holidays,” said Arlene Perry, an NCU PhD student in Health Psychology and current health coach with Healthy Life Denver.

When you think about it, holiday depression isn’t that far-fetched. We’re overly stressed dealing with family pressure, travel, shopping, baking, social obligations and more. Or worse, we’re grieving the loss of a loved one and haunted by the ghosts of Christmas past.

So what can you do to avoid unwrapping the holiday blues this year? Here are 10 Ways to cope this holiday season:

  1. Me Time: Make plans in your schedule to take care of yourself whether that’s going for a massage, a walk, or taking a bubble bath. These calming rituals can help ground you during the holiday chaos.
  2. Don’t Engage: Avoid family drama and conflicts. If you know that Uncle Bob pushes your buttons, plan a neutral response ahead of time. If things still get heated, escaping to the bathroom to be alone and cool off is a good exit strategy.
  3. Let it Go: One of the biggest stressors for people is the idea that the holidays have to be perfect. They don’t. Let it go. Sometimes it’s the imperfections that make the best holiday memories.
  4. Gratitude: Your reality is shaped by your perception. If you focus on the crowds and family drama, you will be stressed and down. Instead, look around and see your children enjoying the season and take stock of the many blessings in your life. You will soon see the good.
  5. Get your ZZZZs: There is a link between sleep deprivation and depression, so don’t skip the sandman to get things done. Stick to a sleep schedule.
  6. Ask for help: It sounds so simple, but for many of us, it’s hard to do. Don’t let things pile up on your shoulders. It’s ok to ask Mom to babysit the kids, or see a counselor to talk out your feelings.
  7. Get Movin’: Exercise is a proven way to get the happy hormones flowing in your body, not to mention a good way to work off holiday cookies!
  8. Let there be Light: Seasonal affective disorder can be at play during the holidays due to dark northern climates. If you think this might be a factor, see a doctor and make sure to get out whenever the sun peeks through.
  9. Don’t Binge: Overindulging in food and drink during the holidays is easy, but it can lead to feeling physically and emotionally not well. Don’t go to parties starving. Understand the healthy options, choose those and practice moderation. While alcohol can temporarily numb bad feelings, it is actually a downer and can leave you feeling worse when the effects wear off.
  10. Just say No: Don’t overcommit to holiday parties and other obligations. It’s ok to sit some out.

Follow these tips and avoid feeling down this holiday season!

Blog Categories: marriage-and-family-therapyBlog Tags: depressionholiday depressiontherapy
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Holiday Traditions Around the Globe

Recent Blog Posts - 12-21-2015 09:05

The holidays are full of traditions. There are certain little things we have to do or it just doesn’t seem like the season. In America, those could include admiring the holiday lights, Black Friday shopping, trimming the tree or your mom’s homemade sugar cookies.

NCU is a true multi-cultural university, attracting students and faculty from countries around the globe. As we gear up to celebrate the holidays, we honor the different holiday traditions worldwide.

Ecuador: On New Years Eve, people dress up a straw man to represent the old year and draft a will for him that lists all of their faults. The man is burned at midnight, symbolizing the release of their past issues and allowing a clean slate for the new year.

Ireland: Instead of experiencing post-Christmas let-down, children in Ireland participate in the Wren Boys Procession on St. Stephen’s Day (Dec. 26). On this day, they go door-to-door singing and carrying a stick topped by a holly bush and wren. They ask for money for the starving wren, and the money ends up in their own pockets.

France: Instead of filling stockings, children leave their shoes by the fireplace for Pere Noel to fill with small toys and goodies.

Poland: The traditional Christmas Eve meal features several types of fish and starts when a child sees the first star in the sky. Everyone at the feast is given a piece of oplatek, a thin wafer embossed with the Nativity scene. Guests break off pieces of the wafer to give each other and offer a wish in the process. There is always an empty seat at the table to symbolically invite Jesus to the table.

Brazil: On New Year’s Eve, people wear white and gather by the ocean to honor the past year and welcome the next. They light candles, watch fireworks and throw flowers into the water as an offering to Yemanja, the Afro-Brazilian goddess for the sea who represents safety, fertility and abundance.

Spain: On New Year’s Eve, locals eat one grape for each toll of the clock. The tradition is supposed to bring luck and riches in the new year.

Israel: On the 15th day of the month of Shvat (mid Jan-mid Feb), the Jewish population celebrates the end of the rainy season by planting trees, eating fruit and sometimes enjoying a full-blown Seder meal. The holiday is all about new beginnings.


Blog Categories: family-relationshipsBlog Tags: diversityholidaystraditionsglobal
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6 Tips for Making a Mid-Life Career Shift

Recent Blog Posts - 12-17-2015 10:48

There are no shortage of people who dream about having a different career or job, but few people act on their desire to do something different for a variety of reasons that often boil down to one word: fear.

Fear of going back to school, fear of making a wrong move, fear of uncertainty, fear of starting over. The list goes on and on. But sometimes circumstances conspire to make the decision for you as happened to Tim Holt, a 2014 Ph.D. graduate in Educational Leadership.

Holt spent 22 years in the Navy before retiring at age 42. Far too young to stop working, he started thinking about his roles as a flight instructor and master training specialist in the service and realized teaching was a natural second career for him. Through the VA’s Troops to Teachers program, he secured his license and began teaching junior high in 2009. Today he is on the tenure track at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

While Holt’s past career and life circumstance led him to a natural second career, experts advise looking at what gets you fired up, where your strengths lie and the transferable skills you offer when deciding on a new path.

Transitioning can be challenging as Holt found, and he offers 6 tips for others looking to mid-life career shift:

  1. Approach with a beginners mind: You have to have the mindset that you’re going to have to relearn things. Where people get into trouble is when they expect they’ll have the same level of expertise and command the same respect they once did. You have to build it back up.
  2. Observe: Sit back and see how things are done.
  3. Accept: You have to be willing to accept that it’s not going to be easy.
  4. Learn: Be ready to learn. Understand that in this area you don’t know it all.
  5. Be Open: At this stage, most people have families and it’s important to communicate with them. There are times you are going to be frustrated with school. Tell them. Let them help. Remember you aren’t in this alone.
  6. Get Buy in: A career shift now affects people besides just you. Make sure your family is onboard and understands the challenges, and payoffs, to the move.
Blog Categories: career-adviceBlog Tags: career shiftcareer strategies
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NCU Trailblazer Scholarship Recipient Pursues Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Recent Blog Posts - 12-17-2015 09:20

A lifelong learner and first generation college graduate, Justin McWilson, NCU Trailblazer scholarship recipient, will pursue a Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology with a focus on multiculturalism in education and an emphasis on the implementation of urban arts.

Growing up in an environment where college was viewed as for the financially well-endowed, the prospect of a minority, particularly one from extremely humble beginnings, achieve the highest level of education, was an unrealistic notion to Justin. This was influenced by his image of what a professional educator was supposed to visually and culturally personify. By pursing a doctoral degree at NCU, Justin aims to redefine the ideological image of modern educators and aspire others from his community to achieve their academic goals.

Currently, Justin is a teacher, poet, actor and musician with more than a dozen solo and group albums. As an individual who found guidance in the arts, he can personally attest to its benefits.

With a 6-year-old son and a 4-year-old daughter, NCU’s one-to-one mentoring and flexibility of online learning is a perfect fit for Justin’s busy family and work life.

Blog Categories: psychologyBlog Tags: multiculturalismteacher-education
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NCU Doctoral Graduate Received NASA Grant for Dissertation Research

Recent Blog Posts - 12-16-2015 14:50

The popularity of the movie “The Martian” is reviving Americans interest in space exploration, and 2015 NCU School of Business and Technology Management doctoral graduate, Todd Treichel, is hoping to play a part lighting the way for future missions.

Treichel received a NASA grant to conduct his dissertation on “Analysis of Light Emitting Diode Technology for Aerospace Suitability in Human Space Flight Applications.” He recently presented his findings to NASA, where it was well received.

Treichel was inspired to focus on the subject after working with NASA in his current aerospace job. He saw a gap in the body of knowledge about lighting used in space crafts and the space station. For the past several decades fluorescent lighting has been used, but as anyone who has ever worked under that lighting knows, it can cause eye-strain, eye fatigue and headaches.

“If we don’t like the lighting in our home, we can shut it off or go to another room,” said Treichel. “They don’t have that luxury in space, nor do they have sunlight.”

Treichel tested fluorescent lighting and two types of LED lights. He found a statistically significant difference when studying which type of light people could use 100 percent of the time, with LED coming out on top.

LED is not only a more pleasing light source, it also lasts longer than fluorescent bulbs, which is an important factor considering the length of missions, life on the space station and even a future trip to Mars.

Because conditions in space are far different than on Earth, there is a significant research and NASA approval process for something seemingly small like a change in lighting. Treichel’s dissertation, which was conducted under his mentoring dissertation Chair, Dr. Cynthia Akagi; Subject Matter Expert, Dr. David Cross; and Methodologist, Dr. Debra Wood, hopefully will lead to future research in this area.

Blog Categories: phd-program-doctoral-programsBlog Tags: NASAstudentdissertationacademic-research
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NCU Alum Receives Trailblazer Scholarship to Pursue Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy

Recent Blog Posts - 12-14-2015 15:57

Kathryn Alston, NCU Trailblazer scholarship recipient and also an NCU alumnus, is returning to earn a Master of Arts degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. She chose NCU because of the flexibility of online learning, a program that was a perfect fit for her interests, and the opportunity to start right away. Inspired by one-to-one mentors and courses relevant to the changing composition of today’s American family, Kathryn is pursuing a second master’s degree to become licensed in her field.

Currently employed at the Multicultural Wellness Center in Massachusetts as an In Home Therapy Clinician, Kathryn supports families in need of intensive family therapy. Her goal is to ensure that families stay intact to prevent removal of the children to alternative placements such as foster or residential care.

In addition to a full-time career, Kathryn is a mother to four sons, one with a very rare disease that requires special care. When diagnosed, he required many services and support as did the family to adapt to and manage his condition. Today, he is a happy nine-year-old who has endured a lot, but has never complained. His strength and positivity is the catalyst for Kathryn to pursue her educational dream, along with her husband, also a counselor, to develop a program and curriculum to provide support to blended families.

Blog Categories: marriage-and-family-therapyBlog Tags: therapyfamilymaster of arts
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NCU Trailblazer Scholarship Recipient Pursues Master of Education in International Education

Recent Blog Posts - 12-14-2015 15:48

For Sarah Kelley, a recent trailblazer scholarship recipient, the road to attaining her Master of Education degree at NCU is a personal one. A single mom of a four-year-old boy, Sarah is an English Language Learner (ELL) professional pursuing NCU’s International Education specialization. She is interested in learning the strengths and weaknesses of educational systems throughout the world to improve her own teaching and to coach her colleagues how to work with a diverse student population.

Sarah chose NCU to develop the skills needed to be an effective educator in a global community. The 100% online format that NCU offers was also a factor in her decision and like so many other working moms, Sarah appreciates the freedom and flexibility of being able to make her own schedule.

As a person who aspires to make a positive difference in various nations of the world, Sarah’s greatest desire is to serve as a missionary. She believes that education can empower people and help lead to peace.

Most importantly, she believes her NCU experience will make her a better mom. Sarah understands the sacrifices that come with pursuing a graduate degree, but believes the risk is worth taking in order to better provide financially for her son and improve upon the school he, his peers and her students will attend.

Blog Categories: education-2Blog Tags: scholarshipmaster of educationinternational education
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Top 7 Benefits of Coloring

Recent Blog Posts - 12-14-2015 15:25

Let’s face it. We all experience stress. We know we should meditate to find our inner Zen, but sitting down and trying to let thoughts go? That can be a challenge. There may be another way to reach a meditative state that is much more fun: coloring.

“Coloring is like meditation because it encourages engagement with the present moment,” said NCU professor Dr. Mary Jill Blackwell. “When we focus on the present moment, we do not worry about the future, ruminate about the past, or engage in negative self talk. “

It’s time to break out your crayons. Coloring is a perfect way to unwind and adults everywhere are doing it. So much so, that several adult coloring books like Johanna Basford’s “Secret Garden” hit the top 10 Amazon best-selling books.

“Experts also believe the repetitive motion of coloring can induce a state of relaxation,” explained Dr. Blackwell. “Whenever we take time out to participate in activities we enjoy, or connect with the present moment by being mindful of our sensory experiences, we are more likely to activate our parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). High PNS activity means heightened immune functioning and less stress arousal. “

The adult coloring books flying off the shelves bear little resemblance to the simplistic, cartoon coloring books for children. The adult version offers intricate designs to color. It can literally take hours to simply finish one page.

While adult coloring is trendy today, Carl Jung used to have his patients color mandalas or geometric patterns to get people to focus on something, allowing the subconscious to let go. According to Dr. Blackwell, research demonstrated that coloring mandalas or geometric figures (considered structured coloring) reduces anxiety more than coloring on a blank piece of paper.

Here are the Top 7 Benefits of Coloring:

• Increased relaxation
• Expanded creativity
• Self-expression
• More balance of body, mind and spirit
• Increased ability to focus
• Reduced anxiety and stress
• Improved fine motor and visual skills

To get started, pick up a coloring book and then decide on whether to use colored pencils, art markers, gel ink pens, or even the old standard Crayolas. Enjoy and relax.

Blog Categories: your-life-your-healthBlog Tags: adult coloringcoloring booksrelaxation
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The Top 5 Ways to Score the Big Promotion

Recent Blog Posts - 12-11-2015 13:45

We’re a society always looking towards what’s next - be it a new car, new house, a new relationship or a new job. We go to school and college with the expectation that it will set us on a certain career path. But just getting your first job won’t secure your climb up the career ladder. You have to work for it and position yourself to be promoted.

“The major thing that has changed through the years related to how one might get promoted is the fact that people are not averse to leaving their company in pursuit of a promotion,” said NCU MBA student Paul Phillips, VP of Service Excellence, for Asentinel. “Years ago, moving from company to company and job to job was frowned upon and often would be viewed as a negative by a job interviewer. Today, that is not the case and often finding a job with another company is the best way to gain a promotion.”

Furthering your education with a master’s or doctoral degree at NCU is one of the top things you can do to set yourself apart from the competition and secure promotions.

According to Phillips, there are another five things you can do to position yourself for a promotion either within your company or a new one:

  1. Have a Plan: You can’t get ahead if you don’t know where you’re going. Take time and really think about where you want to be one, three, five and ten years from now and develop a strategic plan. Focus not only on what you want to achieve professionally, but also how it will fit in with your overall vision for your life.
  2. Be Visible: The person who gets ahead isn’t the one keeping his head down in his cubicle. You must put yourself on leadership’s radar by taking on key assignments and projects that are important to the company and play to your strengths.
  3. Don’t be a Flake: By simply being reliable and dependable, you will call attention to yourself. If you promise to do something, even something small, do it. People remember the small things and those who are true to their words.
  4. Perception Matters: People all work differently. The 23-year-old in the cubicle might be a rock star getting work done, but leaves 15 minutes early so the perception is that he’s a slacker. You have to understand how your actions can be viewed by others as you climb the corporate ladder. By the same token, strong leaders need to have a sensitivity to different work styles and look beyond the surface.
  5. Schmooze: In business, as in life, it’s all about who you know and relationships. Anyone looking for a promotion needs to stay relevant in their industry through networking. Today that means not only traditional meet and greet hours, but social networking through groups on LinkedIn and other social channels that are important in your field.
Blog Categories: career-adviceBlog Tags: Advance Your Careerpromotion
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NCU Trailblazer Scholarship Recipient Pursues Doctor of Business Administration

Recent Blog Posts - 12-11-2015 11:43

Senior Master Sergeant (SMSgt) Teresa Lapcheske, an NCU Trailblazer scholarship recipient, has dedicated her entire adult life to the pursuit of knowledge. As a Non-Destructive Inspection Inspector with the U.S. Air Force Reserve, Teresa is pursuing a Doctor of Business Administration with a concentration in Organizational Leadership.

Impressed with both the flexibility of NCU’s online program and one-to-one teaching model, Teresa is eager to expand her problem-solving and critical thinking skills to become a better leader. With the goal of becoming a unit Command Chief, Teresa chose the DBA program because the coursework and research would prepare her to better understand military organizations, evaluate and solve the problems they face, and be an effective leader for the Commander.

Earning a doctorate has been Teresa’s goal since she first enrolled in college in 1986. Almost 30 years later, she is on track for achieving her goal with plans to teach college business courses after she retires from the military.

Blog Categories: phd-program-doctoral-programsBlog Tags: scholarshipdbabusinessmilitary-students
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NCU Trailblazer Scholarship Recipient Pursues MA in Psychology

Recent Blog Posts - 12-11-2015 10:41

As a young gymnast, Melissa Hart had an interest in how the mind of an athlete works and admired those who could block out distractions to achieve a high level of concentration. As a Trailblazer scholarship recipient, Melissa is pursuing a Master of Arts in Psychology to teach athletes how to be more positive and focused, and feel more in control of themselves and their performances.

Currently, Melissa is a coach at the Gymnastics Training Center of Ohio. For the last 20 years, she has enjoyed learning what makes young athletes tick, and in recent years, developed a stronger interest in sports psychology to enhance performance. A degree in psychology will tie together her knowledge of coaching and give her an understanding how powerful the brain is and to positively influence the athletes she coaches. Once her degree is attained, the next step will be to obtain a Doctorate in Psychology with emphasis on sport and child development which she believes will set her apart and give her an edge in helping those who desire to become a top tier athlete in their chosen sport.

Melissa is a graduate of Ohio State University, where she earned a bachelor of science in business administration. She is a professional member of U.S.A. Gymnastics and holds several certifications in safety and coaching.

Her husband, Robert Hart II and their daughter, Ciera, will be cheering her on at NCU Graduation day.

Blog Categories: psychologyBlog Tags: scholarshipstudentpsychology
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