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

20 Fatal Faux Pas of Grooming

June 23, 2014 @ 10:50 am posted by Ummu Bradley Thomas

Good Morning, As an image consultant, I have advised doctors, lawyers, professional athletes, pageant contestants, executives, politicians, First Ladies (of churches), soon to be college and high school graduates and scores of woman and men on how to project a powerful image. With each client, my goal is to bring out the dynamic qualities that they have hidden somewhere on the inside and to bring them out to the external image that is presented to the world around them.

To do this, I often have to assist in re-wiring the client’s self-imposed misconceptions/inaccuracies of their personal assets and exaggerations of liabilities with regards to their self-esteem, self-worth, and overall self-image. For how one feels on the inside is truly reflected on how one appears visibly on the outside and it is indicated in more than through simple expression of emotion such as one wearing a smile or not.

Internal feelings are reflected externally from everything from weight, disposition, split ends and thinning hair, picked/scratched skin, to poor posture, and a not so confident walk. It truly makes the difference in whether a person enters a room unnoticed or becomes under constant surveillance from on-lookers in admiration (indicating a positive image) or disgust (indicating an extreme, crude, or outlandish image).

Are your Introductions Savvy?

June 13, 2014 @ 10:49 am posted by Ummu Bradley Thomas

Good Morning,

When you meet someone for the first time, you have an average of 30 seconds to make a confident, warm and personable first impression. This is because studies show that the average person has roughly a 30 second attention span. If you lose that new acquaintance to a sloppy introduction, you may risk losing them as an associate, customer, partner, friend, or employer all together.

Knowing how to properly introduce oneself and others is frighteningly a forgotten art. Knowing the correct way greatly enhances your positioning and influence in business, your social life, and the community.

If you don’t get into the habit of introducing people, you may stumble on your trip up the corporate ladder. Introductions bring people together to exchange business information and enhance their networks. The person with a high level  of confidence finds the art of introductions a skill worth mastering.


Who should be introduced to whom? The rules of introductions are as follows The Etiquette Advantage (2005):

  • Introduce a younger person to an older person.
  • Introduce a person of lower rank to status to a person of higher rank or status.
  • Introduce a man to a woman.
  • Introduce a peer in your own company to a peer in another company.
  • Introduce a person you know less to a person you know more.
  • Introduce a fellow executive to a client or customer.
  • Introduce a nonofficial person to an official person.
  • When introducing a person at a banquet or official function, you introduce that person by his full name.

Always rise while being introduced. During the introduction, include a point or two that they may find of common interest. Avoid controversial topics, mention something that will carry the conversation, but avoid maximizing the conversation.

If you are introduced by your first name only, complete the introduction by saying, ‘”Pleased to meet you, I’m Ummu Bradley Thomas.” Look directly at the person you are speaking to. Smile, introduce yourself and shake hands. If the person does not respond with their name, just say “and you are?” or “to whom do I have the pleasure of speaking with?” Avoid the usage of “Hi, Hey, or How are ya?”

The key is to always think and act like a brand manager for yourself, your company and your country. You are known by the places you frequent and the company you keep. A smile and the positive disposition eliminates awkward moments that can possibly make you appear unpolished.


Ummu Bradley Thomas

Sowing and Reaping in the Workforce

June 9, 2014 @ 10:23 am posted by Ummu Bradley Thomas

In society, it is the Law of Give before you can Receive. In philosophy, it is the Law of Cause and Effect. In banking terms, it is the Law of Deposit before you Withdraw. In biblical terms, it is the Law of Sowing and Reaping “Whatsoever you sow, that also shall you reap.” The laws are called by many names, however, the rules are very much the same.

For example, in the workforce…whatever you do/put in (hard work, careful thought and consideration, training others (with pleasure), taking responsibility, or burning the midnight oil) you will eventually reap/benefit (promotions, positive relationships, over-time pay, raises, and excellent references) from doing. This means that you must work with the genuine intent of helping others first long before you set your sights on what’s in it for you to gain!

Unfortunately, many work as if they are only a “one man” or “one woman” show with the intent of doing for themselves or “getting theirs”, yet they often question why they have not progressed further in their careers. Things that you can do to sow on the job are as follows:


1) Mentor a junior co-worker.

2) Share responsibilities

3) Offer (genuine) critique.

4) Train an incoming member of your team.

5) Get things done now by overcoming procrastination!

6) Revitalize co-worker relationships.

7) Make your rounds lunching with many instead of the usual select few.

8) Work with energy — it will spread to others.

9) Make better choices — as it will affect others.

10) Achieve your ambitions by assisting another with their ambition

11) Develop the habit of going the extra mile.

12) Roll up your sleeves to assist in tasks that are outside of your job description.

13) Offer a smile, handshake, or word of encouragement and it will soon reciprocate.

14) Pay attention and listen to others on a project.

Most importantly, look to do these things without anticipating, instant gratification, praise, or an immediate return. Remember the best investments take time. Sowing into your workforce community will certainly reap benefits in the end. Just work without the intent of receiving, but with the idea of sowing. Have you ever recognized that the most successful people on the job are also the most respected and oftentimes most helpful? I bet if you look around you will see just that!


Ummu Bradley Thomas

Allowed to Do What You Want on Your Free Time… Think Again!

May 30, 2014 @ 12:32 pm posted by Ummu Bradley Thomas

Personal life can in fact seep over to your professional life. How many ball players, actors, politicians, clergy members, and everyday workers have you seen who have acted irresponsibly on their free time and have been forced to resign, lose endorsements, or be issued a leave of absence? Behavior does truly matter both on and off the court or in and out of the office. Please consider…

1. Is it okay to make off-handed comments on Facebook? After all..it’s your personal page.

2. You are a surgeon who is drunk at the bar and one of your patients observe you. Do you think it matters to him or her whether you are still the best choice for his or her surgery? After all, you are drinking on your free time and your lab jacket is still in the office.

3. You are a director that walks around in the company fitness center’s changing room in undergarments. You are on your lunch break, so you think it doesn’t matter, but should you pay more attention to change behind a curtain more so than the average employee?

4. You are rude to the young waitress or waiter (often). You suddenly meet him or her at your company’s picnic with your boss. Think it would matter?

5. You are a school principal who frequently cuts grass without a shirt on or a belt on your jeans. After all… it’s hot outside and you are home cutting your grass. Your students observe your dragon tattoo on your back and go home and chat about it. Do you think it matters?

Conflicts with Colleagues in Front of Clients

May 23, 2014 @ 9:05 am posted by Ummu Bradley Thomas

Companies hire a diverse base of employees to maximize on innovative thinking, consider various points of view, encourage creativity, and to tap into a broader customer base.  Which is why:


Conflict is normal.

During teaming efforts conflict is necessary.

Disagreeing with colleagues in front of clients?  All depends…


1) Keep fights clean

2) Don’t attack the person

3) Find common ground with what’s known

4) Enjoy a healthy debate on the unknown

5) Evaluate all sides…the observing client will.

How to Use Proper Business Etiquette to Discourage Orchestrated Intimidation

April 27, 2014 @ 3:18 pm posted by Ummu Bradley Thomas

Good afternoon,

In the workforce, you may experience certain individuals who may acknowledge you briefly, acknowledge you only when others are looking, acknowledge you only when they want you to facilitate a request, then suddenly ignore and dismiss you.

This sort of behavior often happens in the hallways, by the copier, on the staircase, while entering a building, in client meetings, or even while entering an office to receive an assignment. Don’t be dismayed. It is “Orchestrated Intimidation”.

In many cases, higher-ups or even those just a step, pay grade, or even a year or two of more tenure than you may assume the duty of having others wait with baited breath to receive a professional courtesy from them. However, this sort of behavior directed towards you can be strategically discouraged as you grow in your Proper Business Etiquette Skills.

Sorry to interrupt, but How am I doing?

July 14, 2011 @ 2:07 pm posted by Ummu Bradley Thomas

Good morning all,


Have you ever waited for your performance review to figure out where you stand? is your motto “No news is good news”? If so, think again. In most companies performance reviews are done every 6 to 12 months. This means that if you are unlucky, you may have to wait for up to a year to figure out where you stand in your position. Seek out feedback, gain perspective, and you will build a more solid working relationship with your superiors.

Managers are consumed with reports, updates, meetings, disciplinary actions, task sheets, time cards, and yes evaluations…eventually. Also, if a manager is not well organized, he or she may not notate your accomplishments along the way and the thing you did wrong that came closest to the review time is only indicated on your evaluation.

This is of course unfair to you, but whose fault is it really? Get proactive about how you are being evaluated. Do not wait until the customary time period to see if you need much improvement, are scoring off the charts, or are virtually nonexistent in their book. Some employees prefer to be virtually nonexistent and fade into the paint until it is close to bonus or pay increase time. This can be a very risky strategy as this person is often reviewed when times are bad and positions are eliminated or kept based on need. If you show no signs of life form throughout the year, you may give the impression that you are not necessarily needed on the payroll. Get in the habit of marking your calendar or setting your Microsoft Outlook notifications quarterly, so you can have a sit down with your supervisor or manager regarding your progress. If an issue occurs, be certain to step up to the plate IMMEDIATELY and find a way to remedy the situation.

You may have more than likely seen the usual evaluation questions on your organization’s cookie-cutter performance review, so you know how you are being scored. Keep that in mind and uppermost when you are conducting yourself throughout the year. Get in the habit of evaluating your performance objectively at the end of each month. This will help keep you excited about your position, responsible for your duties, and focused on your career goals.

What is Your Blue Book Value?

@ 12:16 pm posted by Ummu Bradley Thomas

Good afternoon,


A vehicle’s “Blue Book” value is determined by its 1) year; 2) make; 3) model; 4) condition; and 5) vehicle history report on its repairs and/or accidents. Based on those criteria, a vehicle can be exchanged for another vehicle or capital for its sum value/WORTH.

As human beings, there are also criteria for our “Blue Book” value, which determines our earning potential for our services. When we are solicited for an opportunity, we too are subject to a dollar value being placed over our heads. This is why it is important doe us to determine our worth to companies, organizations, clients and most importantly… OURSELVES.

Imagine yourself as a luxury vehicle at the top of your industry. The year is 1999 and you are a 2000. You are installed with the best technology, built with the best response to going over hills and around road blocks, you are prepared for accidents and are installed with safety mechanisms. You are in top shape. Your wheels are clean, you go in for the scheduled maintenance and you run better than any other vehicle on the road. That is with your first owner.

Your second owner purchases you in a used car lot during a down economy. He did not know you when you were fresh off the inventory line and when your technology and installed mechanisms were top notch. This particular owner fails to see your value and you are no longer detailed, you have to be manually rolled up, you are not updated with the latest GPS software, and your outer shell is showing signs of rust. It is now 2011 and you are somewhat falling behind your competitors freshly placed in the market.

Fortunately, you were developed in a prestigious automobile factory, so you still are placed higher than some of the not so luxurious vehicles, but that is all you have going for you. Your owner is not getting the best use of you because you have not received the necessary care or updates required to stay in the race.

Unlike cars, our value does not necessarily diminish after 10 years or 100,000 miles of work, but our passion for our work can. When you first started out, you were fresh, optimistic, and ready to hit the ground running. You wanted to do your best. After so many years… you believe you have proven your ability, but that is slowly forgotten. You rely on the fact that you were trained or educated at a “great” school, but fail to recall that it has been over 20 years since you graduated. You are still telling people about the degree that is collecting dust on the wall BEHIND YOU and the plaque for “x” amount of years of service. Aside from that, your worth is ranked at “0″.

Consider this…

If a car is not taken to the mechanic (car doctor) for check-ups, repairs, or oil changes, then the performance fails. If we do not take ourselves in for the yearly physical and the dental cleaning every six months, then our overall performance may fail and we may become unaware of any warning lights. Trips to the doctor will help us forecast our performance. This will account for any unforeseen days of lost production, lack of energy, poor judgment calls due to tiredness/poor health/and lack of mental sharpness/clarity and fitness. If you receive regular check-ups and dental cleanings, ADD +100 to your market value. If not, deduct -500.

You are luxury car and require 93 octane. However, you skimp (in a pathetic attempt) to save money. You began to fail. This is very similar to eating the lowest/cheapest/unhealthiest types of food. Packed in sugar, salt, caffeine, cholesterol, and WHO KNOWS WHAT. You must run on the best octane! This means leaner cuts of meat in place of those consumed in fat and refusing to eat questionable parts of an animal’s anatomy. Juices and water in place of soda. Nuts in place of chips. Fruit in place of candy. If you skimp on your octane budget, DEDUCT -2000 from your market value. You are subject to stall and your engine will fail. If you supply your body with the best octane for maximum performance, ADD +3000. Knowing that studies indicate that 60% of your physical health and appearance  is due to the food we eat and 40% of our physical health and appearance is due to how we do or don’t do exercise.

You are a luxury car. You attended a great school. Your starting market value is increased by 5000 points. However, you can remove -500 points for each year you failed to update your skills. Each year you failed to benefit from on-the-job training. Each year you failed to read trade journals and magazines. Each year you failed to self-educate on the latest technology, procedures, and methods. Your degree from 20 years ago is worthless in the current market if you have not done anything to educate yourself since receiving it. You have essentially become a dinosaur. If you have continue to educate and update your skills, you can add an extra 100 points for each year after you have left school.

Falling Short of Expectation

July 13, 2011 @ 12:46 pm posted by Ummu Bradley Thomas

Good Afternoon All,

Have you ever fallen short of expectation? Did you realize that you had fallen short the first time around? Were you told or was the project immediately removed from your care? Did you cause irreparable damage? Did you get left holding the bag or should someone else have been the blame? Were you fearful of the project being BIGGER THAN YOU and failed by your own inaction? Falling short of expectation can ruin your self-esteem. It may also cause you to no longer perform in a professional way at work, if you are not aware or mindful of the error(s). Let’s review 9 ways to rise above expectation:

1. Identify Hurdles – If there are any obstacles or complications in the way, figure out how to jump over it/them. This may involve identifying them TACTFULLY prior to the state of a project. Always remember indicate that “Points “x” and “z” may be an issue and could possibly prevent the process from being completed by Tuesday, but I will let you know once I get into the process”.

2. Know your Margins – Avoid making decisions in haste that you are not capable, allowed, or instructed to make. Stay within your parameters. If you must venture out of them, request permission.

3. Recognize Policies and Procedures- If you must take measures that are not consistent with the policy of your company or agency… then you WILL FALL BELOW expectation. Remember that any and all practices that you utilize must be LEGAL and must be ALLOWED in accordance to your organization’s policies and procedures.

4. Notice Signals – If your project manager checks in on the project, makes nervous comments, or continually questions your judgment or method, take a moment and request feedback to make sure you are heading in the right direction. This may cure the communication dilemma that some shy/passive aggressive managers experience because they associate offering feedback to a subordinate as “offering ammunition for confrontation.”

5. Seek Clear Instructions – Take notes, repeat what has been said to you, ask for examples, stop if you do not understand and ask to be briefed again. Never fear seeking additional information or clarifying the request that you thought you were instructed to do. It is more important that you have a clear understanding of the request, prior to beginning a project.

6. Be Loyal – Do not openly complain about a manager, company, or project. Even if you have a project that is 100% correct, if the manner in which you did it was an unprofessional one, then you will still risk falling short of expectation.

7. Recognize Failures and Learn from Them – It is okay to fail. Just recognize that you did in fact fail and learn from it. This will allow you to become better at your duties and avoid forwarding on substandard work.

8. Stand by Your Decisions- Avoid using others as your scapegoat. Share credit and accept responsibility for anything that you may have done, accept the blame.

9. Don’t be too Buddy/Buddy- Getting too “Buddy/Buddy” makes it difficult to receive tasks, set expectations and be taken seriously.

Remember the only thing worse than falling short of an expectation is only meeting or just meeting expectation. Reach for the stars and Rise Above Expectation.


Ummu Bradley Thomas

Contact Us

Ummu Bradley Thomas, Founder – freddiebelljones@gmail.com

Office Location
Freddie Bell Jones, Inc.
322 Market Street
Suite 100
Denton, Maryland 21629

Phone: (410)-479-2208