Coaching Tips for Your Holiday Parties

Happy Holidays!

As the year ends, we think about all we are grateful for. We extend our best wishes and genuine gratitude to those who have contributed to our firm’s 37 years of success. We have been truly blessed with so many opportunities to interact with and serve talented people across all disciplines of our executive development consultancy.

During this joyous time, you might be attending different events with family, friends, and colleagues. Our executive and career coaches want to provide you with some helpful tips on how to enhance these events as you continue to expand and strengthen your network.

Here is what to do (and not do) at the next holiday party:

“Be Other-Focused rather than Self-Focused at your next holiday gathering. Rather than seeking to tell all about your notable successes, be insatiably curious about others. You might ask about significant learning or results they achieved. Ask penetrating questions that demonstrate that you are deeply interested in them. Also, be enthused for their successes.”

Clyde Lowstuter
President & CEO, Robertson Lowstuter, Inc.
Connect with Clyde on LinkedIn

“Be inclusive and widen your circle of conversation… Introduce others who are standing nearby to your friends and colleagues. That will naturally expand the topics of conversation.”

Carolyn Lowstuter
Executive Vice President, Robertson Lowstuter, Inc.
Connect with Carolyn on LinkedIn

“Help others without expectations of reciprocity – you will be pleasantly surprised. Share useful information and insights (e.g., articles, videos, TED talk links, seminars, best practices, heroes of the day, etc.). Interact with those it can help/inspire. If you can, maintain notes of when you talked and what it was about.”

Ron Hirasawa
Vice President, Robertson Lowstuter, Inc.
Connect with Ron on LinkedIn

“You might (mistakenly) view a holiday party as a great opportunity to tell your story and MARKET yourself to many people. Pause, take a breath, and re-evaluate. Yes, the party is an opportunity to meet key people, but the marketing/relationship building really starts after the party. Here are 3 suggestions for how you ‘follow up’ after the party:

  1. Connect on LinkedIn within 48 hours after the party;
  2. Call and set up a time to meet for a brief coffee or a meal;
  3. Thank someone who provided you with an introduction and provide an update on your next steps.

Good luck!

Kathryn Hartrick
VP & General Counsel, Robertson Lowstuter, Inc.
Connect with Kathryn on LinkedIn

“The holiday season is a time when we are all reminded of the importance of our relationships. It is a time for family and friends, and a time when we are most congenial with business colleagues and associates. So importantly, this is a good time to remind ourselves that it is our relationships – all year long – that sustain us and facilitate our ability to be effective. Even a team is just a collection of one-on-one relationships!”

Dave Dallam
Vice President, Robertson Lowstuter, Inc.
Connect with Dave on LinkedIn

“After being acquainted ask, ‘How can I help you?’ By offering help, you have established generosity, openness, and authenticity as the meeting protocol. While, of course, there is no guarantee of reciprocity, you have set the tone and increased the chances for a mutually beneficial exchange.”

Susan Snowden
Vice President, Robertson Lowstuter, Inc.
Connect with Susan on LinkedIn

“Never go to a party (or meeting) without knowing all you can learn about the person you are meeting. Make reference to a compatibility or an interesting fact about them and integrate it into the conversation.”

Matt Gonring
Vice President, Robertson Lowstuter, Inc.
Connect with Matt on LinkedIn

“When meeting someone for the first time, enter their information into your email contacts. In the Notes section, write any information you gleaned from your conversation – family, interests, pets, school, etc. Next time you talk, you’ll be able to review your ‘Cliff Notes’ and be able to pick up where you left off. Keep adding information as your relationship grows. If you are afraid of forgetting, use the Notes app on your phone and dictate a quick reminder to yourself.”

Pat Mater
Vice President, Robertson Lowstuter, Inc.
Connect with Pat on LinkedIn

“Spend no more than 7 minutes with any one person. With each new interaction, the mindset is to make a new friend.”

David Filkin
Vice President, Robertson Lowstuter, Inc.
Connect with David on LinkedIn

“Holiday time is to remember how blessed we are and think of others in need of help and support. In your holiday gathering, search out individuals who you think can use a kind ear and start a conversation on how they are and how you can help.”

Anil Shah
Vice President, Robertson Lowstuter, Inc.
Connect with Anil on LinkedIn

“Introduce yourself with a positive attitude. Everyone you meet could be a potential acquaintance. Your conversation should be focused on the person you’re speaking with – show genuine interest in their lives, interests, and careers. Trust will develop from there. Good luck and most of all – have fun!”

Laurie Powles
EA/Office Manager, Robertson Lowstuter, Inc.

“Make yourself memorable! Be thoughtful ahead of the event about a few stimulating and exciting topics that will be appropriate for a social evening. Perhaps you’ve just seen a new Broadway show, traveled to an interesting country, volunteered at a non-profit you’re passionate about, or read a wonderful book. When you follow up to arrange for a ‘real’ networking meeting subsequent to the party, the individuals you met will be eager to connect with you.”

Sharon Noha
Senior Vice President, Robertson Lowstuter, Inc.
Connect with Sharon on LinkedIn

  • “Remember everyone you meet is a potential friend or colleague. Always be prepared; how are you perceived? Don’t be the ‘party animal’ – first impressions LAST.
  • When meeting many people during the evening, get to know them. If they are in your same profession, or a consultant in your space, follow up later to schedule a meeting.
  • Be comfortable with your brand statement. You will probably be asked: ‘What do you do?’ or ‘Tell me about yourself.’”

Paul Duski
Senior Vice President, Robertson Lowstuter, Inc.
Connect with Paul on LinkedIn

“Now that we are in the holiday season, set an objective to establish at least one new relationship from every holiday party you attend.”

Bert Allen
Vice President, Robertson Lowstuter, Inc.
Connect with Bert on LinkedIn

“Regardless of who you’re talking to, the setting, or its purpose, be intentional about remaining open to what you’re hearing and the associated learning. Bottom line, be willing to be influenced by others’ perspectives.”

Rick Canada
Vice President, Robertson Lowstuter, Inc.
Connect with Rick on LinkedIn

“Enjoy the moment – stop and take a second to look around; appreciate the people you already know or will meet, and the chance to celebrate together.”

Christy Glick
Director of Communications and Projects, Robertson Lowstuter, Inc.
Connect with Christy on LinkedIn

“Have an open-minded, value-add attitude during your conversations. Be warm and inviting to learn about others’ favorite restaurants or jazz clubs. Expand on people’s ideas using a ‘Yes, AND’ approach. The tone of the conversations will inevitably be engaging and authentic.”

Stefany Alvear
EA Client Services & Marketing Manager, Robertson Lowstuter, Inc.
Connect with Stefany on LinkedIn

We wish you happy holidays and much success in the New Year! May you always…
“Create Uncommon Results”®


Clyde and Carolyn and the R|L Team

For Kids: Room to Read

Christy Glick
Robertson Lowstuter, Inc.

Literacy has always been close to my heart.  Even before I could write a sentence, I am told that I filled line after line on pages of notebooks with “scribble scrabble,” my very own version of words.  As I grew older, you could find me hiding underneath the covers of my bed, reading to the illumination of a flashlight.

Illumination.  There is something enlightening about the ability to read and to write.  And something even more illuminating about having the resources to do so—freely having the paper, the pens, the books, the space in which to engage in the world of words.

For much of the world, scarcity of resources is a true roadblock to literacy.  Yet there are organizations that work to tear down the roadblocks to literacy for many people.  One such organization is Room to Read.

Founded in 2000, Room to Read is an organization that endeavors to educate children around the world by providing a variety of resources to make literacy happen.  Room to Read estimates that the opportunity to be educated in reading and writing is lacking for more than 300 million children worldwide!

The question is, how does Room to Read address such a daunting problem?  Very practically, with what they call their “Four core programs.”

  • The Reading Room program creates libraries by providing books and the space in which to house and read them.
  • The School Room program addresses the need for primary and secondary schools by building them in communities where there are none.
  • The Local Language Publishing program utilizes the gifts of writers around the world to create reading materials that are relevant to the new readers themselves!
  • And finally, the Girls’ Education program focuses on educating girls – providing equal access to the resources and support that tend to be more readily available to boys.

What is unique about this organization is its focus on “empowering communities.”  Room to Read is committed to encouraging local engagement in the projects so that they can contribute to the long-term development and growth that continues to be relevant in the local community.

It takes more than local community involvement, however, for Room to Read to accomplish its work.  From attending events to giving donations to initiating fundraising campaigns, people thousands of miles away participate, too!  And their efforts are essential to the growth of Room to Read’s programs.

Literacy certainly isn’t an end in and of itself.  Rather, it opens the door (and illuminates the path, so to speak) for children to excel in leadership and development in their countries, and gives them the possibility to engage with the world around them in new ways.

This is the kind of possibility that begins with scribbles on the page!


To learn more about Room to Read, or to participate in their mission, check out their website and blog at

Microfinance, From Poverty to Hope

Cynthia Greenwood
Opportunity International

Microfinance is one of the great success stories in the developing world in the last 30 years.  Simply put, it is the provision of financial services such as loans, savings, insurance, and training to people living in extreme poverty. Microfinance is widely recognized as a just and sustainable solution in alleviating global poverty.

The industry began by providing small loans to emerging entrepreneurs to start or expand businesses. Opportunity International was one of the first nonprofit organizations to recognize the benefits of providing capital to people struggling to work their way out of poverty. Over the years, with Opportunity leading the way, the microfinance sector has expanded its financial service offerings to better meet client needs. Along with providing more flexible loan products and business and personal development training, Opportunity offers savings and insurance to help clients effectively navigate the daily hardships they face. Without these services, clients are continually at risk of slipping back into poverty because of unforeseen circumstances.

Microfinance organizations make it a priority to serve the particular needs of women. That’s because a staggering 70 percent of all those living in extreme poverty are female. Women are often excluded from education and the workplace, from owning property, and from equal participation in politics. They produce one half of the world’s food, but own just one percent of its farmland. Opportunity believes the most effective way to interrupt cycles of extreme poverty comes from microfinance programs that target female entrepreneurs. Nearly 85 percent of Opportunity’s loan clients are women. When women improve their circumstances, they also improve the lives of their children. They invest in nutrition and education, helping to create a better future for their children.

For example, look at the life of Opportunity client, Grace Msowoya. In Blantyre, Malawi, she and her business partner, Betty Louhana, stand out from all the dozens of women who sell potatoes in the marketplace. Frustrated by their small profit margins, they became the first women to take the bold move of becoming distributors themselves. Every two weeks, they withdraw money from their Opportunity savings account to rent a truck. They hire a driver and spend several days on the road to get potatoes directly from farmers, which they then sell to other vendors. 

Before Grace became an Opportunity client in 2007, she kept her hard-earned money in her home. Now, she and Betty are earning interest on nearly $2,000 in a joint savings account. With her biometric-enabled card, she can safely deposit and easily access her money at the Opportunity banking kiosk, just 100 meters from her business.

Grace and Betty’s courage has paid off. They have dramatically increased profits and redefined the place of women in the local market. And Grace has already made great strides in a short time as an Opportunity client. She has earned enough money to move her family from two small rooms to a two-bedroom home and to send all three of her children to school.

Despite the success of life-transforming microfinance services, the World Bank says that the industry is not close to meeting the demand. Five hundred million people living in poverty could benefit from a small business loan and only one-third of the world’s population has access to any kind of bank account. The lack of access is particularly severe in sub-Saharan Africa where the World Bank estimates that microfinance is reaching only a small percentage of the economically active population. In the region’s poorest countries, less than 10 percent of the population has an account with a financial institution. In response, Opportunity has committed to building scalable, sustainable, and accessible banks throughout the developing world to provide loans, training, savings, and insurance products tailored to each country’s specific needs.

Opportunity believes that microfinance can help create a world in which the poor have fair access to economic opportunities and the hope to move beyond poverty. For more information on how you can get involved in the microfinance movement, visit

From Puppies to Pals

By Dan Barber
Senior Vice President
Robertson Lowstuter, Inc.

Over the past fourteen years, my wife, Jane, and I have traveled ten times from our home in Libertyville, IL to Milwaukee’s Mitchell Field airport cargo facility, eagerly awaiting the arrival of yet another fuzzy little eight-week old puppy delivered to us by the North Central Regional Center of CCI – Canine Companions for Independence.

We’re volunteer puppy raisers for CCI!

CCI is a national nonprofit organization, and since 1975 has been training dogs to assist and enhance the lives of persons with physical and developmental disabilities.

Dogs that eventually “graduate” from CCI’s year-long puppy-raising experience and rigorous six-month advanced training program are trained to more than 50 specialized commands and become physical extensions of their disabled partners by performing a variety of tasks. Whether it is picking up dropped keys, delivering a credit card to a cashier, turning lights on or off, or retrieving items for a person in a wheelchair – or alerting someone who is deaf to a fire alarm or ringing doorbell – a Canine Companion helps a person with a disability live more independently.  The list of tasks these dogs can do to help provide independence is incredible!

Recipients of our graduate dogs have also told us that their assistance dogs provide significant social and psychological support as well.  A dog is a natural ice-breaker, and can bridge the gap between the isolation or rejection a wheelchair bound or otherwise disabled person may feel in numerous social, school, and other public settings.  After all, who can possibly resist a beautiful, perfectly trained dog?

Our most recent puppy, “Flash,” is nine months old, and is a beautiful Golden/Labrador retriever cross.  Our role is to socialize and instruct him in basic “good manners’ and required CCI commands.  Assisting is our now 14-year old black lab “Gordon,” our first CCI puppy who failed to graduate and came back to live with us.  He gladly assumes responsibility for puppy discipline.  Jane is the principal trainer and has guided Flash through obedience training classes and introductions to a variety of environments.

Once the puppies are at least six months old and have demonstrated reliable conduct, they accompany Jane everywhere she goes – to the doctor and dentist, the shopping center, grocery store, church, restaurants – anywhere in public that a person with a service or assistance dog will typically go.  For the past few years, our puppies have been seated with Jane in the disabled section of all University of Wisconsin home football games, courtesy of the UW Athletic Department.

Jane contributes as a volunteer fundraiser and public awareness proponent for CCI, and she and Flash routinely conduct educational and informational demonstrations for Chicago-area schools, service clubs, and charitable organizations.

Our role as puppy raisers concludes in two phases.  When the puppies are about 15 months old, they are ready for advanced training and we return them to CCI’s Delaware, Ohio regional training center for an additional six months of intensified advanced training.  Once they have successfully “graduated” from this training, we are then invited to return to Delaware to participate in an amazing, emotional public graduation ceremony.  There we have the opportunity to meet our now adult dog’s new partner and proudly – but sadly – turn over the leash.

Persons interested in learning more about – or contributing to – the Canine Companions for Independence organization and volunteer programs can connect with CCI at or, or by calling 1-800-572-bark (2275).

***Next Up in the Charitable Giving Series: Microfinance on December 15th.***