The New “That’s Just My Two Cents”

October 22, 2014 @ 3:57 pm posted by Ummu Bradley Thomas

Want to be taken seriously at a meeting? Do you feel you just can’t get your point across? You’re trying to figure out a way to break a tie and have the motion go in your favor? Then learn the art of offering your opinion without the dreaded “that’s my two cents, take it or leave it”.

In this new era when generational trainings advise that we learn the lingo of the younger generations, we begin to adapt and use terminology in places where it is still unfit whether you’re a Millennial or a Baby Boomer. The new “I’m just saying” or “just saying” at the end of each statement that you would like to be taken seriously is now the new opening to suggest that your statement should certainly be ignored.

Consider what you are saying:

1) That you have not stood on any one point in particular

2) That you’re not confident that any one is really listening to your opinion

3) You falsely assume that you’re opinion tops the previous statement made by your co -worker/board member/ affiliate

Keys to follow when you’re “just saying” an item that you are seeking support—just say it , wait for comment, respond, and move on. Delete all catchy slang language from the work force and always conduct yourself as a professional. You can be current without attempting to be so in the moment.


Ummu Bradley Thomas

Why Athletes Make Good Team Players

October 10, 2014 @ 4:00 pm posted by Ummu Bradley Thomas

Good afternoon!

Athletes are trained to work well with their team members, accept constructive criticism individually from team players, coaches or a stadium of 100,000 or more. While emotions run high they are trained and most of the time succeed being clear headed, following instructions, making quick judgments and acting on gut instincts.

An athlete focuses on building his or her craft. This craft includes similar soft skills applicable for the workforce, such as time management, feedback, conflict resolution, communication skills and proper behavior. Aside from the recent negative press in which athletes have been accused of not conducting themselves within these standards, the vast majority are hugely aware of their duty to personal, public, and their company’s image. Moreover, athletes are held accountable by team members, coaches and the community at large.

It has been my experience that I can nearly point out former athletes in almost any workforce arena. This observation is not based on physical characteristics however healthy competitiveness, a knack to get to the finish line, willingness to work in groups, an eye on productivity and surpassing their previous performance is what’s most prevalent.

Athletes make good team players not just for the muscle but because of their dedication to achieve a common goal, to succeed.


Ummu Bradley Thomas

Unconscious Incompetence vs. Conscious Incompetence

October 6, 2014 @ 3:41 pm posted by Ummu Bradley Thomas

Good Afternoon!

William Howell designed a model based on the theory of conscious and competence. The model is designed into four parts (1982):

(1) conscious incompetence – knowing what you don’t know.

(2) conscious competence – achieving learning through feats of persistence.

(3) unconscious competence – you know it so well… you no longer have to think about what you are doing.

(4) unconscious incompetence – you are unaware of what you do not know.

However, for the purposes of understanding how to continually grow in your journey of “Never Ending Learning”, we will focus on unconscious incompetence vs. conscious incompetence.

Conscious Incompetence is when you are conscious of what you do not know, but are learning or attempting to learn it. For example, when a person is observant and is able to take in his or her surroundings, understand where he or she measures and then seeks to come up to speed, he or she is conscious of their incompetence. People like this are trainable and can be valuable for the workforce. They are also very often the logical choice when it is time for promotions. Why? It is because they are willing to ask questions, are at ease when they are critiqued, and value learning what they do not know. In fact, they realize that they are not an expert or no ‘Real Einstein’ in an area and are not only willing to admit it, but receive the training.


However, Unconscious incompetence, is when a person in NOT aware of what he or she does not know. This person is either a know it all (meaning they may believe themselves to be very highly intellectual or an expert), self-centered, poorly educated, or not very observant. Typically, those who are unconscious of their incompetence are often kept in their own ignorance because they may not be approachable, friendly, or open to learn. This type of person may also be surprised at reviews about his or her performance and may blame it on personalities as opposed to their own inability. Or assume that because they are a genius in a few areas that same level of sheer brilliance leaks over to other areas. How to detect when you are unconsciously incompetent:

1) You find yourself saying “Why didn’t someone tell me!”

2) Others roll their eyes when you speak.

3) You firmly oppose opinions.

4) You notice that others think it would take too much time to explain things to you.

5) People prefer to do things themselves when you offer to your help.

6) You don’t recognize your part in unsuccessful results.

7) You have poor rapport with others.

8) You very often refuse training because you feel you already know it.

9) You feel your way is always the right way whether or not your way is effective.

10) You may not be invited to meetings.

11) You may not be carbon copied on memorandums/emails or other informational distributions.


They key to success is to focus on your talents and understand your areas in need of improvement to move forward and grow. Because an expert on what you do not know and try your best to figure it out!

Do you Receive Knowledge Esoterically or Exoterically?

September 26, 2014 @ 9:17 am posted by Ummu Bradley Thomas

Are you the last to discover information at home, on the job, or in an organization? Are you filtered information or are you given information in its true raw state? Are you excluded from planning surprise parties/events? Are you aware of lay-offs, downsizing, and promotional opportunities after the fact? Can you be trusted with pass codes, secrets, dollar amounts, medical information and business confidentiality? Are you only included in the execution and not the planning phases of a project?


Studies show that less than 1% of our population can keep a secret. Not all secrets can be harmful, life-threatening, or career altering if discovered, but it can and will go against your credibility.

How you learn things can be an indicator as to whether or not you are perceived as discrete, mature, and trustworthy. To know this, consider if you receive knowledge esoterically or exoterically. Esoteric means that it is meant for or understood by only a specific group of people. This information that is restricted to a certain/confined group of people. Exoteric means that it is suitable for the public. it is information that is not confined to a key group of people. With this in mind, there are some rules to consider with regards to how you conduct yourself in business, on the job, or at home:

1) Keep confidential information confidential.

2) Never share someone else’s personal information without permission.

3) If you are sharing someone else’s personal information with permission– indicate it.

4) Resist the temptation to gossip.

5) Avoid speculating.

6) If the bulk of the office knows… it could only be exoteric information released. Therefore… receive it with caution and avoid spreading the germ.

7) If the gossip is juicy, it is more than likely damaging to an individual. Resist the temptation to be overly engaged in it.

8) Avoid exaggerating. Exaggerators are rarely asked to share his or her opinion and are not taken seriously.

9) Talk about only what you know and are allowed to say.

10) If you receive information ask if it is for your EYES AND EARS only.

11) Avoid blogging information to the world that can be hurtful, damaging, or embarrassing to yourself or others.

12) If you share your own personal information to a room full of strangers… then you may be perceived as a person who does not value confidentiality.

13) Do not fudge. You are not the only person capable of running calculations.

14) If you are only guessing, don’t pass it off as a real answer.

15) Only small talk in elevators.

16) Cell phones are not for private conversations.

17) Public places are not for private conversations.

18) Don’t share private cellular phone numbers and whereabouts without permission.

19) Keep work information at work and home information at home.


The ability to hold confidences and keep secrets not only shows how classy you are… it can make you become apart of the “select” few!



Ummu Bradley Thomas

Your Body Communicates… So What’s Your Language? Does it Send the Right Message?

September 19, 2014 @ 3:34 pm posted by Ummu Bradley Thomas

Good afternoon,

Did you know that the average person speaks between 125 – 150 words per minute? Well studies indicate that this is true! Just think of a court reporter who gets paid the big bucks to type a minimum of 100+ words per minute. it is because we actually speak that quickly. Even more surprisingly than how many words we speak is how much of what we say is actually communitcated to our audience… in a way in which we intended for it to be received. If your body language is not well composed, words can truly get lost in translation.

Studies also indicate that 93% of the way we communicate is through the use of body language. The other 7% of the way we communicate is with words. Our bodies communicate most in the eyes, but also with our hands, arms, fingers, eyebrows, stance, back posture, head movement, and lips. Believe it or not each movement represents one word.

Of course your spouse, co-worker, significant other, parents, off-spring, supervisor, manager, or customer may have heard you, but there IS a difference between hearing and listening. Hearing is a physical function. Listening is a mental function. Listening involves attentiveness, engagement, processing, evaluation, and determination. At this moment you probably hear noise from cars riding by your home or office, rain dripping outside of your window, your internal voice reading this article, and your child talking directly to you asking for more chocolate milk. All of these things you can hear at the same time. This is partially why the message that is received from the few words that were HEARD may further be misconstrued due to your tone (the way you say it), your pitch (the quality in which you say it), and your volume (how loudly or how softly you said it).

Learning the art of composing oneself and delivering a message that is cohesive in both expression/action and words are important! For information our class, “Body Language in the Workplace”, please contact me by email or phone at 410-820-8700 to schedule an event at your location.



Ummu Bradley Thomas

Knowing and Developing Your Personal Brand

September 12, 2014 @ 2:39 pm posted by Ummu Bradley Thomas

Knowing and developing your personal brand can prove to be quite beneficial. It will help in determining your perceived value to others both financially (when asking for the right salary, pricing, or contract negotiations), socially (when wanting to join the right organizations or clubs), and professionally (when deciding to position yourself to receive promotions etc.).

Image is not the only thing, but it is the one thing we are faced with throughout the day. How often do you catch a glimpse of yourself in store windows, through your computer screen, while passing a mirror, in a reflection on the sidewalk, through a television screen or while standing in front of someone with sunglasses? Not only is your image displayed to the 10 – 1000 people you pass daily, it is revealed to you throughout the day whether or not you intentionally look for it.

Just ask yourself the following:

1. If your image brand were a product, would you be an upscale, a mid-level, an economy, or a sales give-away?

2. If your level of professional service were compared to a hotel, would it be the Budget Inn, Marriot, Grand Hyatt, or Four Seasons?

3. If your enthusiasm level and zest for life were compared to an experience would it be a funeral, a spa, a carnival, or a roller coaster ride?

4. If your language and speech targeted your location, which zip code would you be found?

Now consider what your audience assumes. Your audience are the people you interact with or meet throughout the day:

1. What do they perceive as your highest level of education?

2. When customers/clients meet you, what do they assume your job title is with your company? Is it correct? A higher or lower title?

3. Are they surprised when they find out that you are in charge?

4. Are they always asking if you can get a second opinion on your advice? Do they request to speak with the higher-up often when dealing with you “just to make certain….”?

5. Do you mingle more than others at networking events, but wonder why you are never asked for or are offered a card?

6. Are you asked often to lower your pricing or do others feel lucky to have you at your cost value?

If your responses are not ideal for you, consider branding yourself. Jackie O was known for her poise, style and elegance. Halle Barry is known for her short/chic hair. Cindy Crawford for her beauty mark. Beyoncé for her curves. Oprah for being so business savvy. Elizabeth Taylor for her jewels (and marriages). Nancy Regan for wearing red. Tina Turner for her legs. What are you known for? What are your best asset features? What is your favorite style of fragrance? What is your signature walk? Your signature color? Your favorite tea?

A) Mixing two tubes of lipstick to find your perfect shade.

B) Blending two fragrances to find your perfect scent.

C) Finding the perfect stone or type of jewelry (real or fake) that enhances you. wear it often…. Wear it well until you are known for it.

D) Improve your penmanship…

E) Find another word other than ‘Sincerely’ to end emails or letters.

F) Find a signature style for your hair – one that frames your face.

G) Become known for a style of clothing that suits you best (have it taken in to fit you just so).

H) Work on your voice. Make your sound so memorable that your audience is left lingering on your every word.

I) Enter a room and pause. When others take notice… flash your new signature smile (this can be achieved with practice).

J) Find a special stationary. Send a thank you note by mail in place of email.

K) Learn some words from another language. Use it when you say hello and good bye to others.

L) Be classy. Skip the foam-made cup and bring your very own special cup and saucer from home or your coffee while at work.

M) Have a favorite actress? Rent some of her old movies and practice her expressions, poise, posture, and mannerisms that you think are classy!

N) Don’t just scribble your name. Sign it with purpose and glamour!

The important thing is to tailor all of your fine points to you in order to develop your own special brand that is UNIQUELY YOU!

Ummu Bradley Thomas

The “NO” Word

September 4, 2014 @ 10:17 am posted by Ummu Bradley Thomas

Good Morning All,

No is one of the first words we learn as a child, but fail to use in business. The ability to say the “N” word NO has become taboo on the job. In fact, the discomfort in the use of the NO word has resulted in many failed projects even when they are worked on or supported during many long days, evenings, and weekends. Why is it that so many are trapped into saying “YES” or “NO Problem” instead of saying any of the following:

1) Absolutely, it will be my pleasure to work on it, once I finish doing projects 1, 2, and 3.

2) I’d love to assist, but how soon do you need it? I have several other irons on the fire that require immediate attention.

3) How much of my involvement will the project require? I have to work on a report that’s due on Tuesday, and a presentation that’s due tomorrow by COB. I can oversee the task if Sharon handles the specifics.

4) Can I back log A, B, C, and/or D, in order to do this project for you by the end of the day?

5) Do you mind if I check with my other team members before accepting this additional task? I just want to make certain that they will not be short handed for the ABC project.

6) What additional resources will be assigned to this project? We are short on paper, pens, computer space, and funding. Do you have any suggestions on how we can accomplish this with limited resources?

7) Can Team members Sue and Jackie assist me in completing this project? It sounds like we may need several bodies on this one.

8) I can put ___________ on hold if you want me to.

9) During Wednesday’s meeting, you requested that I start on _____________. Should I still keep that task under my radar?

10) I’d like to continue with doing _______________, however, if you are unable to find another team member, I will certainly roll up my sleeves and assist.

Why is it that we believe that saying “Yes” to opportunity means saying yes to any task realistic or otherwise with no questions asked or answered? Why is it that some feel that they must manage their schedules as if they had the ability of an octopus to reach out and touch 8 projects at once?

Learn to say “NO” but give reason why the answer is no or not right now. In most cases, an unfocused or forgetful boss that is bogged down in tasks and scheduling may have forgotten that he or she has in fact assigned you 5 other tasks due within the next week. In fact, he or she may not consider the previously assigned workload, so it is a good idea to offer a very tactful reminder of your current agenda. This will not only make you appear to be conscientious and on top of things, but very professional, if done right. This will also help you to avoid the following negative performance evaluation comments:

1) “Takes on more than necessary or too many projects at once.”
2) “Needs improvement with multi-tasking.”
3) “Poor time management.”
4) “Needs to communicate workload better.”
5) “Lack of confidence in her/his ability to get things done.”
6) “Does not plan for contingencies.”
7) “Does not handle time crunches well.”
8) “Unable to estimate the time to get things done.”
9) “Is easily distracted by projects more interesting.”
10) “Has difficulty prioritizing and delegating.”
11) “Struggles with staying focused on what’s most important.”

Do yourself a favor and tap into your inner child and learn to say “NO”, but in a professional manner. You may find that it is well worth the practice.

Ummu Bradley Thomas

“Are Ya’ll Hire-ren?”

August 20, 2014 @ 10:21 am posted by Ummu Bradley Thomas

Have you seen a young adult desperate for a summer job? I have seen plenty in the last several weeks. Yesterday I was in a store and a young lady dressed in cut off shorts, a tank top, and flip flops barely waited for me to stop speaking to the attendant before she blurted out “Are ya’ll hire-ren?” This is so typical of the young adult guerrilla-approach to job searching. If you know of a young adult in search of employment, consider telling them the following:

1)       Come prepared with a resume. It does not matter the type of job. Having a resume will put them above the others that are hoping to simply collect a ream of job applications.

2)      Wear appropriate clothing. Flapping around with flip flops will only make them appear as if they will be a nuisance and not an added value.

3)      Properly remove gum before entering the store to speak.

4)      Conceal tattoos.

5)      Leave the friends outside, in the car, or at home.

6)      Wait for the customers to be serviced before asking for job openings.

7)      If there is not a “HIRING” sign out front, it is not likely any jobs are available. However, it still may be a perfect time for them to introduce themselves in a professional manner and ask for his or her resume to be kept on file.

8)      Ask them to avoid asking for the amount of pay at the same time they are requesting an application or at all.

9)      Tell them to say “thank you for your time” whether or not a job is available. Most young adults just walk away pouting when no job is available.

10)   Don’t ride a bike into the store.

11)    Don’t walk into the establishment talking on the cell phone.

12)   Use good manners and speak properly.

Most importantly, summer jobs should be applied for in the Spring. Last minute running around is not a good strategy. All of the more serious candidates shop around for employment before school lets out and summer begins.



Ummu Bradley Thomas

How Important is it to Make a Great First Impression in Writing?

August 4, 2014 @ 9:54 am posted by Ummu Bradley Thomas

Good Morning All,

Most people reflect on making a great first impression (in person), others reflect on making a great first impression (over the phone), but fail to give it as much attention. However, the least amount of effort is placed on making a great first impression (writing). Just consider…

Fundraiser Notes:

Have you ever received a fundraiser note from a nonprofit or an organization requesting funds from you and your name was spelled incorrectly? Is your immediate reaction to toss it into the trash? I find it interesting how much time, effort, and money organizations spend on developing its pitch, choosing the quality of invitation paper, stamps, and manpower, but very little effort on inputting the names correctly and quality controlling the mail merge prior to sending it out to potential donors.

New Committee Leader Introductory Emails:

Have you ever donated countless hours of your time to a committee because you respected its Chair and the cause only to “suddenly become too busy to participate” on the committee after receiving a not so “people person” introductory email from the incoming Chair whose tone was overly demanding and out of touch with the cause? The email was probably worded as if it came from a CEO addressing paid employees and not a Committee Chair addressing volunteers.

Cover Email/Note to a Potential Employer:

Have you ever dismissed a potential employee because he or she had typos in his or her cover note or email? I have read numerous employment seeking emails that sounded too desperate, too wordy, and too unprofessional. Just as a note: any correspondence to potential (or current) employers should leave out jokes, LOLs, smiley and unhappy faces.

Sales Pitch Notes:

The most interesting of all are sales pitch notes that demand that you need services or products NOW and PAY NOW just because the salesperson is selling them. The best notes are informational and not ones that are too condescending and too “sales” like.

If you have not yet met the person on the other end of your letter or email… make it a great first impression! Your written or typed words speak volumes about who you are as a person and a professional. Consider your tone, personality, professionalism, and points that you want to get across when reaching out to someone for the first time. It is just as crucial as when you meet them in person for the first time.


Ummu Bradley Thomas

What’s Your Savoir faire IQ?

July 14, 2014 @ 2:07 pm posted by Ummu Bradley Thomas

In business, you must possess savoir faire to not only survive, but to thrive in success! With this in mind, can you answer the following:

1) If you met another in business from a different country, would you know whether to shake hands, bow, kiss once or kiss twice?

2) In the United States workforce:

a) If your start time is at 9:00 am, does it mean that you arrive exactly at 9:00 am or should you have already made your trip to the powder room, had coffee, and logged into your computer at exactly 9:00 am to begin your day?

b) If your leave time is at 5:00 pm, does it mean that you should already be logged out, coat on, and made your trip to the commode and on your way out the door at exactly 5:00 pm?

3) In some cultures punctuality is not a high priority in business, however, as a foreigner, are you expected to be on time?

4) In the United States, you are expected to arrive promptly for dinner parties. However, in some other cultures, if you are invited to a party, never be on time. In fact, for dinner parties it is appropriate to arrive up to one hour late if you are arriving with several guests and up to 30 minutes if arriving alone. Do you know where and when this rule applies?

5) In the United States (for business meetings), is 5, 10, or 15 minutes early considered on time? Is 1 minute after the scheduled time considered too late? Is 30 minutes earlier than the agreed time considered too desperate?

6) If you invite another to dinner, who pays? Once you have been invited, are you then obligated to return the invitation?

7) In the Arab world, the left hand is considered unclean. Always use the right hand in preference to the left. Eat only with your right hand. Does this same hold true in other parts of the world? If so, which parts of the world prefer eating with their left hand?

8) In the United States, it is customary to arrive with a demo and in some cases a contract on the first visit. However, in other countries arriving with either or both a demo or contract and without gift on the first visit can almost definitely be frowned upon

9) In the Unities States, looking somewhat frumpy or adorning yourself in unisex garb will not eliminate you in business in some parts of the country, but it will more than likely place a ceiling on your success. Women dress elegantly and men’s suits are well cut. To do business in Italy, you may consider investing not only on your business agenda and technical research, but also in your personal image to be successful. What other countries does this same rule (strictly) apply?

Even people who have never toured another country or never plan to tour another country may eventually come across someone of another culture in business, so increasing your savoir faire IQ can be crucial.


Ummu Bradley Thomas

Contact Us

Ummu Bradley Thomas, Founder –

Office Location
Freddie Bell Jones, Inc.
8133 Elliot Road
2nd Floor, Suite 236
Easton, MD 21601

Phone: (410)-820-8700