Questions to ask the interviewer

One of the most important interviewing tips has to be examples of questions to ask the interviewer. Typically, at the end of an interview you are asked, “do you have any questions for me/us?” And this seems to stump a lot of people, it has me in the past.

I always suggest researching the company you are interviewing with, this will help you come up with questions to ask. Read over the mission statement and discover as much as you can about the company. When researching find answers to the following:

  • Are they opening a new division or beginning a new project?
  • Have they been highlighted in a recent article or received an award?
  • Did they recently celebrate a milestone such as so many years in business, etc.?
  • Is there a board, committee, executive team, etc. if so familiarize yourself with the names.
  • Do employees participate in a volunteer day or does the company support a local non-profit?
  • Is there an accomplishment or focus that the company has that you connect with or feel passionate about?

Once you answer the questions above or similar ones you are prepared to ask a variety of questions to the interviewer(s). Example questions to ask the interviewer include:

  • I recently read that the company expanded out of state, can you tell me more about that expansion?
  • I read in a recent article that the company was awarded the best place to work recognition, can you tell me more about that process?
  • I know two of the main responsibilities of this position are to coordinate travel and set up quarterly board meetings. Can you explain a bit more about who requires travel, is it every member of the board, etc.? And please describe a typical agenda for the meetings. 
  • Please provide a brief summary of a typical day in that position.
  • What professional development opportunities are offered?
  • What is your (or each committee member’s) favorite app or program that is used most often?

What questions have you asked during an interview?

Have any interviewing or career or writing questions? Contact me below or at successencourager@gmail.com

Thanks for reading! For additional information check out my ‘about me‘ page!

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Professional Development Value

Professional development is key to not only successfully performing your career choice but also for enjoying the position! Continuing to learn new skills and enhance the ones you have helps you be more productive but it also brings about a sense of pride and creativity. There are several professional development opportunities available through articles, books, webinars, online courses, conferences and peer to peer communication and sharing resources.

Some resources are free or very low costs while conferences or online training can seem costly and require justification. When talking with other assistants, from a variety of industries, the cost is always a concern.

A simple justification is that the best way to find relevant resources is by attending a conference. Last year, when I attend the Accelerated Assistant conference by Office Dynamics I learned so many great tips over those four short days from the professional speakers and during the team activities. Joan Burge shared her experience and resources with the group daily. The learning did not stop there though! After returning to work, I followed up with subscribing to a few of the newsletters from the speakers and read their blog posts, which offered time-saving and organizational tips and highlighted apps and programs. I shared those sites and posts with my coworkers which offered several additional communication and learning opportunities.

So, how do you justify travel and conference fees? I did a lot of research before attending the conference including costs, speaker topics, and experience, balanced with team and networking opportunities and chose the best conference for my needs and learning expectations. I typed up a justification form to present to my manager. I highlighted several topics of interests and the speaker’s credentials and experience, relating the topics to several of my yearly performance goals.

I also detailed the costs; hotel, registration, and flight. Breaking down the total cost of an average conference which is about $2600.

  • $217 a month
  • $50 a week
  • $7.12 a day

That is a bargain for continued education that would provide resources for me to be even more productive!

Luckily, I have a professional and respected working relationship with my manager. When we met and went over the document and talked more about the conference and what was offered his only additional request was that I present my experience with coworkers after I returned. About two months after the conference I completed a presentation to about 20 of my coworkers. I shared my experience, discussed the temporary support team I had worked with daily at table 28, shared websites of the speakers, newsletter links, and books that were suggested.

Most conferences detail the agenda and speaker information while providing justification letter templates or suggested content for meeting with managers to help you through the process. Office Dynamics offers this information as well. I highly recommend attending a conference to open resource doors, to continue your education about your industry and position and to learn time-saving tips that will benefit you long after you return to work!

Almost six months after attending the conference I still utilize resources and relationships I formed during that training. I continue to share tips with my team that I receive via weekly newsletter subscriptions, blog post readings, etc. I’m also looking forward to attending this year’s conference – The Stellar Assistant. With all new speakers, additional content, learning labs and unlimited online access to the videos, participant guide, and bonus materials. I’m anxious to share even more reading suggestions, tips and speaker websites with my team!

What are some of your favorite professional development resources? What books do you suggest?

A few of my favorite reads are; Tribes by Seth Godin, just about anything from Wallace Wattles, Permission to live the Big Life by Joan Burge, As a Man Thinketh by James Allen, A Beautiful Questions by Frank Wilczek, Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, there are too many to name!

Thank you for reading and if you have any questions about a sample justification letter or how to talk with your manager about professional development opportunities please contact me and I’d be happy to share more of my experience!

 

Read more about me and the professional services I offer on the ABOUT ME Page.

Shine during your next interview!

You have the skills, the professional and personal experience and the passion needed to apply for the position. You’ve submitted the application, resume, references, and other documents required. You get the invitation to interview. Your palms sweat and you automatically get nervous. How can you convey that you are exactly the candidate they need to hire?

Be prepared! Simple right? Well, it can be, yes. Alleviate interview stress by being prepared and confident to answer any question the interviewee or committee may ask you!

One of the easiest ways to prepare for an interview is to study your resume. Yes, duh, you know exactly what is on your resume, most likely you created it, but it’s not just about your past positions or experiences. Study your resume along with the current job description you want to apply for by breaking down the list of responsibilities and turning them into questions (and answer those questions!).

For example

  • Position requirement – Applicant must have ability to flourish in a fast-paced environment while adapting to change as needed. Question – This statement would become the following – How have I flourished in a fast-paced environment while adapting to change?
  • Answer – Discover your answer by using the facts on your resume or the application you filled out. If you had a position as an assistant in a busy marketing department maybe you were constantly juggling tight deadlines on a daily basis with numerous projects going at one time. Define how you organized those projects and tracked deadlines, keeping your manager or team informed of progress, updates and milestone timelines as they passed. Include a particular project that changed course or the deadline was moved up due to client’s request and again state your role and how it worked out despite the challenges.

Once you turn each position requirement into a question and prepare an answer you will exude confidence and be reminded of all the hard work you have put into your professional development and why you truly are the perfect candidate!

Two more basic tips that can help you prepare for the interview:

  • Study the company. Typically, companies have informative web sites, most have mission statements, progress reports, etc. Learn about the company and talk about key points you relate to with the hiring manager or committee. Did they recently incorporate a new product or program you have experience with? Does their mission statement echo your own passion or interest?
  • Don’t forget to ask the hiring manager or committee questions. Questions such as ‘What are the top three main responsibilities or goals of the employee in this position?’, ‘What is one common company goal and what resources do employees have to help accomplish this?’, ‘What is one common personality and/or one common skill shared by past employees that held this position?’ or ‘Please briefly describe one of the team’s current projects and what role this position will play’.

Of course there are numerous articles with tips and resources about a variety of career interviews. I’m just sharing a few of the most popular that I have personally used or shared with others when editing or creating their resumes. I hope you found them beneficial!

I’d love to hear your favorite interview tip. Let me know if you have any questions about the interview process.

Thank you so much for reading!

Enthusiasm at work. Why?

What’s the point? I’ve heard this question in small groups and at a recent conference I attended. Let me boldly tell you the short answer to this – YOU, you are the point.

Of course, an employer benefits from your professionalism, enthusiasm and productivity, but your own well-being benefits much more. In a fast paced deadline driven world it’s time to view a job well done as a benefit to one’s self. Your performance is an opportunity for you to express yourself while sharing your original skills that got you the job in the first place. Be enthusiastic not just about the duties you perform, but about your own performance and amazing offerings! Once this is realized and accepted your entire work environment will change and your well-being will improve!

How so? There have been numerous studies relating mental and physical illnesses to stress. Taking care of yourself is no longer a luxury or an option, it’s a requirement. And one very important way of doing that is self-care and decreasing stress. Options include meditation and exercise, but there are also many other ways to reduce stress including positive attitude and affirmations. Bringing that positivity to your job empowers your entire being. Go ahead let your inner brightness shine blindingly. Be awesome, it benefits you no matter where you choose to shine (current position, promotion, at home, new position, volunteering, or while meeting with your trivia buddies).

Think of the last time you were stressed at work. Was it a stressful, day, week…full month? Next, break it down. Was it stressful because of another person’s view of the situation, was it work overload, maybe major changes occurring? Or possibly being too focused on the negative aspect of ‘what’s the point‘? Ask yourself how could the situation have been different if you had focused on personal care & reflection with a more positive outlook?

Aligning your goals both personally and professionally encourages you to be more confident at work, acknowledge the skills you possess and were hired to share while keeping a positive attitude that flows through your work hours and at home. I know my day flows much better when I start my mornings with meditation, self-reflection and visualization. When a stressful situation occurs at work I can focus on the actions needed to fix it while staying positive.

With a self-care routine you can…

  • Let go of the negative thoughts that creep in during a stressful day
  • Reconnect with your inner awesomeness; your personality shines through even if your position or company changes
  • Not dwell on being a good employee, but instead concentrate on bringing your unique skills to a job that craves your originality – achievement will undoubtedly come

You are not just an employee; you’re an entire being that spends a certain amount of hours providing your experiences to a work team. No matter what your title is, you contribute to a team by being yourself, sharing your skills and recognizing your offerings.

Your offerings consist of several attributes…

  • Personality
  • Experience
  • Training and/or education (institutionally or self-paced)
  • Demeanor
  • Professionalism and so on – share and embrace each one!

By carrying your offerings into your work environment you become more connected with yourself and deal with change in a more positive way by not letting it change the core of who you are. This allows you to confidently share ideas, maintain a positive reaction to negative situations and view your position as one with many opportunities that you can control, create and accept.

What offerings do you share with your team that brings joy to you professionally and personally? Do you have a morning routine that makes your day less stressful?

Thank you so much for reading. You’re awesome.

Check out more about me & the professional services I offer on my ABOUT ME page!

Self-defining

There are those days or events in life that define you. Some of those events or days are accomplishments such as graduating, getting married, accepting an important invitation, changing jobs/careers, etc. while others are negative unexpected events or bad news. A few events are self-realization moments that could normally be considered average days. Each of us have our own moments and react to them differently so they uniquely define us when we acknowledge and embrace them.

I’d like to share one of the unexpected moments & my first experience with self-realization and definition. My high school had a ski team, even though we lived outside of Kansas City. I took an ‘elective’ class called Mixed Chorus. It was simply a choice on a piece of paper that worked with the time frame I needed, I had no idea that choice would be the first that led to such a defining life moment.

The mixed chorus teacher was the leader of the ski team club. One day during class he mentioned there were still openings for the trip to Keystone, Colorado that the ski team was taking in a couple of months. As a born day dreamer I blocked out everything else that he said after that. I visualized myself there (without realizing at the age of 15 what visualization was). I saw the mountains and snowfall in my mind. But when I came back to reality I knew my parents would not have the money. My mother was a stay at home mom most of the time and my father made enough to pay the bills, most months…with some help from family now and then. And I had just been given the gift of a baby sister a few months before the trip announcement.

Despite the possibility of me going seeming impossible, I talked about the trip to my friends for a couple weeks in between classes. My excitement grew. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I finally got up the nerve to mention it to my mom while I was helping with dinner one night. I did not expect her response. She looked at me and said “let’s see what we can do.”

I was shocked that it was now even a discussion topic, but after thinking back, I’m not shocked that my mom saw how excited I was about the mere thought of the opportunity and how much it meant to me. So with a mother’s love she talked to my dad and mentioned a temporary part time job she could work at night to help make this happen. Also, since I was not going to ski, it would be cheaper for me than the other students. The teacher/ski team leader assigned me as the point person for each team member to check in with at the lodge at designated times so I wouldn’t feel like a complete outcast!

Within the next couple of weeks we had paid the deposit for the transpiration and hotel, with a balance due the week of the trip. As my mom dropped me off at the school to climb aboard the charter bus, she gave me a tight hug and said ‘enjoy yourself’. I knew this was not only a financially difficult time, but also hard for her to let me go that far from home for the first time with ‘strangers’. I climbed on the bus and had one friend to sit with, the others were older and students I barely knew with a few parents as chaperones.

The bus had three, yes three, flats on the way out. We were way behind schedule. When we finally arrived at the hotel in Keystone, we were all so exhausted! We only had a few hours before we had to be up and meet the shuttle to the lodge/slopes. I had three roommates and we all just dropped our bags and quickly fell asleep. The early morning wake up call got us all out of bed with excitement about the day! One of my roommates threw open the curtains and the four of us stood in silence for several minutes at the view of snow covered mountains.

Once at the lodge, everyone was given instructions about checking in with me, I had my little notebook and was ready to just enjoy the views! I used some of my very limited meal money to buy a cup of hot chocolate and claim a comfy chair right in front of the large windows toward the slopes. I used my little film camera to take a few photos and read the book I had brought. This was me…It was the first time in my life I was ‘on my own’, I felt so grown up, so independent, I was enjoying some me time and I loved it!

That night we went as a group to a small shopping village that had an ice rink in the middle of the various shops. I browsed a bit in one of the souvenir shops and I purchased a geode key chain, that I still have on my keys to this day. My friend was still browsing so I walked outside. There were some tables around the outside of the ice rink and a hot dog vendor nearby. I got my hot dog and chips and sat at a small table near the end of the rink. I finished my meal and simply enjoyed the setting, taking it all in, reflecting on my life, my future…everything. It was a very surreal moment for me.

My quiet reflection time was interrupted by someone asking if they could sit with me. I looked up, and saw it was a male classmate that I had only spoken to a few times in my school life. He sat down and we made small talk about the ice rink, the lodge and the mountains. It all felt like a dream. We laughed and talked like we had known each other much better than we actually did. As we finished up one topic and looked out over the rink, it began to snow. The snow made the moment feel like a fairy tale. We sat awhile longer in silence. It’s one of those moments that I think back to as a ‘happy place’. We didn’t talk much after that, but sharing that moment confirmed it not just a dream.

The next three days and nights were spent similar to day one; views from the lodge, gatherings each night, and self-reflection. I learned a lot about myself in those quiet alone time moments. When I got back home I was different, maybe it wasn’t visible to others, but I was more me than I had ever been. I knew that personal reflection time was something I wanted to keep in my life even if I didn’t have a perfect mountain view or sit in the snow with a boy near an ice rink.

That trip allowed me to realize a few things about myself, that there was more to the world than a small country town and it helped define who I am today. I can’t imagine how differently my life would have been if I had chosen another elective or never had the nerve to talk to my mom about the trip. I would have missed out on a life defining moment just by making a couple of different choices or keeping my excitement to myself.

Life leads us where we need to be professionally and personally. Faith and hope allow us to embrace life’s crossroads and provides us with the tools and resources we need to make the decisions that define our future. We have to trust ourselves and take action toward our goals. If I want something or find myself daydreaming I think back to the courage my 15 year old self had and the obstacles that were overcome because I spoke up and had an amazing circle of support.

What moments have helped define you, your path, your career, your outlook?

Thank you for reading and allowing me share.

Self-nourishment

All of us are deserving of nourishment, but many find it difficult to discover and even more difficult to give oneself permission. Life can be so fast paced that comfort can become acceptable in chaos. At times, I find comfort in routine, even in hectic chaotic routines; projects, appointments, errands, chores, traffic, crowds, deadlines, unexpected situations…

How can we expect to keep finding solutions to those routine tasks if we are not taking time to nourish ourselves? I give myself permission to stop and focus on me once in awhile. It’s not selfish, it’s mandatory. Some days I blend my self nourishment and deadlines rather well…other days the whirlwind of chaos wraps me up and takes control. After a few consistent whirlwind days I know I have to self nourish.

I have read many articles, books, daily affirmations, and more to discover what works best for me…but I know it will always a work in progress. And I find that exciting.

I’ve been asked about my own routine and I’m happy to share it! No two people follow the same self nourishment journey. Everyone is unique with a unique daily routine. I have put together my personal top four main topics with a few suggestions; keeping it open to interpretation so you can find your own routine, goal focus or self nourishment regimen.

The topics can be part of a daily routine, focused on weekly or whatever works best for you! I feel each topic is a compliment of the next and work side by side with one another; they play well together.

Whether you have discovered a routine or new to the entire process I hope you find this helpful and encouraging!

  • Well-being: Mental and physical nourishment. Ask yourself ‘what are my health focused goals and what are my limits?‘ Suggestions – stretching, walking, exercise, yoga, meditation, nutritional supplements, healthy conscience eating, ensuring you drink enough water, get outside as often as you can. No matter what level you are at, movement and mental focus are important…there are some great online resources for various stages of exercise plans and the same for meditation and yoga. Personally, I’m still utilizing beginner videos and charts and find it very refreshing, renewing and nourishing. I linked a few above, but I’m happy to share more of my personal favs, if anyone is interested, just ask!
  • Spirit: Solitude and feeding your spirit/soul. Ask yourself ‘what do I want to do to feel more joy or how can I increase my self growth and love?’ Create, gratitude through journaling, making time for one or more hobbies, positive self-affirmations (I am…healthy, worthy, resilient, strong, enough, etc.) and reading/studying topics that bring you joy.
  • Support Circle: Mutual relationships; the balance and completeness of a circle. Ask yourself ‘who balances with me and provides a balanced mutually supportive relationship…who completes your circle and welcomes you into theirs?’ Give and receive support and encouragement, humor and care, sharing laughter and listening. This is a balance of family, friends, coworkers or other like minded groups (parenting, craft, recovery, book club, etc.). Provide positive praise, show kindness, feel safe and comfortable being yourself.
  • Productivity: Daily routine. Ask yourself ‘what is my current routine/schedule and what changes do I want for my future routine/schedule?’ This includes your career or the way you spend the majority of your days. If you are retired, focusing on your health, stay at home parent, homemaker…this could be focused on volunteering, implementing processes at home or work to ensure you find time for self nourishment and caring for yourself. Learn a new hobby or possible career change or supplemental income to help balance your budget. Focus on creating a daily routine that brings you joy, peace and steps to accomplish your personal specific goals. Setting goals helps with this process, both daily goals and long term focused ones.

One quote/affirmation I repeat to myself often is ‘I am exactly where I need to be, if not I’d be somewhere else.’ It makes me smile, it is simple…yet oh so true. It helps remind me I have control. I can focus on steps toward my bigger goal or I can re-evaluate my goals and take steps to learn something new. It’s all about what feeds me, where I find nourishment and giving myself permission to discover all of my unique interests.

We are all unique…embrace it through your self-discovery to a personalized nourishment journey.

I’d love to hear how others nourish themselves or answer any questions you have!

Thank you for reading. Have a great day!

For additional information and my professional services visit my ABOUT ME page!

Personal goals from a professional conference

This week I attended the Accelerated Assistant Conference by Office Dynamics.  The conference was created by an amazing woman, Joan Burge. I highly recommend reading more about her and the conference if you have not already! The conference was focused on the administrative professional career, I learned several tips to take back to my office. I also walked away learning so much about myself and my personal goals. I was reminded what I am passionate about; writing. As I listened to the amazing speakers, especially Peggy Vasquez and Lisa Olsen, I felt my desire to focus more on my writing stir inside me and scream at me – “Hey remember me?! Hey, I’m right here…listen to me…Acknowledge me!” 

I can’t remember a time I did not love writing. I would fill Big Chief writing pads from the time I could write. In middle school and high school I wrote story after story and even wrote a one ‘girl’ play in high school. In my early 20s I continued my fiction writing and filling notebook after notebook. As life went on, I had less and less time to focus on my fiction writing. I still fed my inner writer by creating short articles, newsletters, volunteering for non-profit programs, etc. But my professional life demanded more of my time. My mind always drifted to my writing and I would have spurts of writing energy and write in my notebooks or type up my ideas in a special folder on my computer or laptop. But, I didn’t allow it to be front and center as it once was as a child and young adult.

As I listened to Peggy and the other enthusiastic speakers I felt that excitement again. I love my day job and those I work with. I enjoy the challenges and projects I am a part of. I am grateful to have a voice and years of experience to offer my team and manager. But I also realize for my own wellbeing I must write. It’s my gift. Even if I am not the best writer, I was reminded during the ongoing sessions that I am a unique voice, as we all are. My desire grew each day, each session! I would call my husband…”Honey, this conference is amazing…I’m a writer!” His response each call would be, “of course you are I’ve always known that.” Says the man I grew up with, have dated since high school, celebrating a 20 year wedding anniversary in December with and has helped me organize those book bags filled with my writings over the past 27 years (or more!) He knows this…he has told me this for years…Why has my inner writer been hibernating?!

I had the privilege of meeting Peggy Vasquez in the hall after her key note talk and during my sprint to my hotel room to check out in time to catch my flight home. I felt like a school girl; a rambling excited school girl on a sugar/ice cream high running into my hero on the playground. I tried to calm myself, I took a deep breath…I walked up to her…introduced myself, thanked her for her inspiring talk and encouraging words. I handed her a little business card I had printed myself about me being a ‘success encourager’. I rambled by intertwining a number of thoughts running through my head that went something like, “I want to be a writer, I am a writer, my husband says so. I can’t fail with that kind of support, right? I have notebooks full of proof. You make speaking look so…easy.” As I rambled my eyes started to tear up. I apologized. She was so kind and professional…she smiled at me, was so humble…she mentioned a speaking engagement she had with thousands and mentioned her nerves, she assured me my watery eyes were no reason to apologize…she looked at me intently and said, “You are being spoken to here; listen.”

I wanted to hug her, but not frighten her. I smiled. I thanked her again, I felt like I was on a cloud, a cloud that allowed me to own and accept my passion; my passion for writing. Why can’t I excel at my job and write my career articles, finish the children’s book my nephew has inspired and (yes AND) finish my novel? Why not?

Sure I am more tired some days than I am others. Sure I have other responsibilities in life than work that keep me running a race some days. Sure my body aches some days, sure I can make excuses, sure I can….Sure I can do this.

I took “As a Man Thinketh”, by James Allen with me on my trip. This book (if you are not familiar with it) is an inspiring read and it was written in 1903! Despite being over 110 years old, it is a very relevant read, in my opinion. The reading seemed to tie in perfectly with the ongoing conference message of focus, positive thoughts, etc. A couple of my favorite quotes from the book are:

  • “When we begin to reflect upon our condition and to search diligently for the law upon which our being is established, we then will become wise masters, directing our energies with intelligence and fashioning our thoughts to fruitful issues. Such is the conscious master, and we can only thus become by discovering within ourselves the laws of thought – which discovery is totally a matter of application, self-analysis, and experience.”
  • “The human mind may be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently cultivated or allowed to run wild. But whether cultivated or neglected, it must and will bring forth.”

Not only did I learn a few new things during my trip, both at the conference and during self-reflection time, but each speaker had something to say that I related to and each reminded me of a few goals or daily tasks that I ‘use to do’. I’ve made a goal list. Some goals have been on and off lists for years. Some are new, some are even things I do ‘most or some of the time’, but this is now, not goals belonging to the grade school girl, or 20-something me, today I am renewed, I have experience and skills…I have new goals even if they are familiar…I make a commitment to my inner writer...I vow to listen to you, to embrace you, to thank you for your patience, to show gratitude for you never giving up on me, to allow your light to shine bright and become my focus, to blend our professional and personal talents into one inspired and inspirational being! And hopefully….encourage a few others along our journey.

My new goal list, that will be ever-evolving, but always writing focused:

  • Not walk pass my ‘banner’ hanging on my vision board that reminds me to wake up with a grateful heart, to be thankful, to welcome the offerings and blessings of today….Instead of walking by sleepy eyed, I will stop and read the reminder and take a moment to follow my own advice!
  • Sign up for an ongoing yoga class
  • Continue my health focused goal by eating healthy, moving more and stressing less
  • Write in my gratitude journal daily
  • Schedule time daily to write; finish and publish my children’s book; treat it like a class or scheduled event
  • Contact the local library and reserve a small room (which they offer for FREE!) and make no more excuses for not writing. Go to my ‘classroom’ at the library, focus and write!
  • Create the outline to the ‘grown up’ version of my children’s book about politeness
  • Write the entire ‘grown up’ version and share it!
  • Create my weekly schedule by breaking down each day; I have five to six hours each evening between work ending and bedtime! Utilize that time more wisely and productively. Maintain my two to three evenings a week spending time with my mom, sister and nephew! And all of the amazing adventures and daily routines with my husband!
  • Follow through and focus….FOCUS!

Thank you so much for reading this. If you have any tips or would like to share an accomplishment, please comment below or email me. Questions? Please do not hesitate to ask.

Thank you to Joan, Peggy and all of the speakers and event coordinators for making it possible for me to attend and gain so much insight!

Thank you!

 

Read more about me and the professional services I offer on the ABOUT ME page!

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coffee and typing