Five Things I’m Leaving in 2016

I don’t do New Year resolutions for a bunch of reasons. My life is in constant flux and change doesn’t wait until the new year, it just happens.

Still, I like neat endings with all my loose ends tied and every to-do list checked off and completed in full! HA! I’m just kidding, that’s not how anything in my life works.

I want to be more organized. I even tried to start, keep, and maintain a bullet journal but kept forgetting to take time to actually update it. My bedroom looks like a closet exploded over everything.

I still have boxes in the garage I’ve yet to unpack since we moved in….6 years ago.

I’m not a type A. I’m more like a type Z. If I’m being perfectly honest with myself…I probably have adult ADD. I only complete projects I’m absolutely passionate about and even then…it’s a push.

That is neither here nor there however…all this is to say, the end of the year compels me to assess. I’m thinking about what I’ve done, where I’ve been, and naturally where I would like to go.

I am of course limited by economic hardships and lack of resources but, personal growth isn’t so much about having and more about being. I can’t really say what I might want in the year to come. Who the hell knows what is waiting down the road. I do, however, know exactly what I don’t want/need in the year to come.

Here’s my list of shit to leave behind in 2016….

Picking the wrong battles.

In a world lit up with all kinds of distractions, I’ve had a hard time staying focused. For someone who claims to want no drama, I find myself embroiled in it quite a bit. I could say, “I don’t look for drama, it just finds me,” and while that is technically true, when it comes I’m choosing to engage. This isn’t to say I should stop fighting. Hell no! Rather, I am choosing to be more selective about where and when and to what end I engage. I don’t need all of that stress.

My energy is more powerful when I focus it, instead of spreading myself so very thin.

Working for free

When I first began my writing career, I was eager to get my name out there. I had no issue writing for exposure or writing just for the byline. While, I still want to get my name and work out there, I am no longer inclined to do it for free. I deserve to be paid and I deserve it to be a livable wage. I deserve to make an income off of my intellectual property. Chasing money doesn’t make me greedy, it makes me smart. Demanding I be valued doesn’t make me selfish, it makes me savvy and if I were a man everyone would be much more willing to agree.

Well, I have come to realize my value and I wont be short-changing myself anymore.

Apologizing for my boundaries

Over the past year I made strong efforts to communicate my limits and set appropriate boundaries. Even with my children. It wasn’t easy. Some literally cussed and villainized me for standing my ground. This was upsetting but, it was important for me to end unhealthy patterns of behavior in certain relationships. I found myself apologizing often for this, “No, I’m sorry, I just can’t allow/handle/manage that.” followed by lengthy explanations about why this is. Having 6 kids, a disabled husband, no money etc.

“No.” really is a complete sentence and if you know me and love me, you don’t need an explanation or an apology.

Denying or delaying my own feelings 

Beyond mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend, writer, I am a whole entire person with an identity completely separate from the roles I take on in my life. The way my life is set up, exploring who I am as an entire person, sometimes, feels impossible. There are needs that must be met before mine. I am ok with that, I love my children, I love my responsibilities and the love that oozes from my life is real and wonderful.

However, taking care of 7 people is exhausting. Sometimes I can even resent it and when I do I know it is because I am not being honest about my own needs. While it may feel impossible to take the time I need to connect with my own feelings, it isn’t actually impossible.

Impostor Syndrome

I have a voice. I have influence. I am a great writer and I plan on doing so much more in the years to come. In the past I would have laughed after each of those sentences in more than just self-deprecating humor. I would have mocked myself bitterly, regretful that I didn’t know this before deciding not to go to college. Really though, the only regret I have is treating myself and my talents so poorly.

I may not be everyone’s cup of tea and I may have come into my own by unconventional methods but, I belong.

Letting go of the things that no longer serve me is good. Letting go of things that hurt me is even better. I am committed to doing both, owning my greatness, and leaving the bullshit behind! Happy New Year!

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Beware of these Buzzwords

Life has become a series of buzzwords and hashtags we all regurgitate back to one another through RTs and shares, all day, everyday. I love language and for the most part I am mostly unbothered by them. In fact I use a few myself from time to time.

However, there are some buzzwords that are meant to manipulate rather than actually communicate. Continue reading “Beware of these Buzzwords”

A Woman’s Worth

Raise your hand if you work in corporate America and have spent time trying to, “prove your worth.” Employers love to question what their employees, “bring to the table,” rarely offering up any real gourmet dishes of their own.

Spoiler Alert Corp. America: Healthcare is my right as a human being, your benefits package isn’t *really* impressive given that context. If you are a black or non-black woman or femme of color there is even less at the table for us.

Continue reading “A Woman’s Worth”

7 Interview Questions You Don’t Have to Answer


If you’ve been pounding the pavement for a while, after a time it feels like you would do anything to get hired. Don’t panic! Keep your cool, know your worth and know your rights. There are a few questions you are under no obligation to answer during the interviewing process. Keep the following seven in mind as you work to find a job path that is right for you!

Sometimes hiring managers can slip some of these questions into your interview. You can side step these with ease and still remain professional with some preparation. Here are some of the most common infractions with some helpful answers.

This is definitely one of those job interview questions you don’t have to answer. An interviewer cannot ask questions about your marital status. It’s inappropriate. Even though they only ask this question to find out more about your time commitment, whether you’re married or still single, it’s strictly your business.

Diplomatic response: My relationship status is not relevant my job performance, I have a high work ethic and take pride in a job well done.

Most employers tend to ask this question to find out more about your availability at work. They might want to know if you already have children and if not, if you plan to have them in the near future. This is definitely a discriminatory question and you should not answer it. A lot of studies have shown that some employers might use kids as a determining factor to decide whether to hire a certain candidate or not.

Diplomatic response: Work + life balance is important for every working individual, regardless of personal commitments. I live a great life outside of work but stay focused and dedicated in my professional obligations.

Some employers might want to find out more about your religion because they just want to learn more about your lifestyle and your schedule outside work. Basically, they just want to get to know you better. Yet you are not obliged to answer this question either, since an employer cannot legally ask anything about your religious background.

Diplomatic response: I’m very private about my personal beliefs but they are not relevant to my work

An interviewer should not hold your credit history against your ability to perform at the office. If an employer wants to find out more about your debt, then they have to ask for your permission before they obtain a credit check. What you do with your money does not concern them, unless it affects your productivity or their company.

Diplomatic response: Is my credit history relevant to employment here? If so, can you please explain before I grant permission for you to investigate further?

A lot of interviewers might ask you where you are from, especially if you speak with an accent. Yet, you don’t have to answer this question because it’s illegal to ask about an individual’s national origin, even though it may seem like it’s only an innocent question.

Diplomatic response: I am definitely qualified and legally permitted to work with your company and look forward to exploring this opportunity further.

This is another frequently asked question during an interview that you don’t have to answer. Age discrimination is actually a huge problem nowadays and more and more job seekers are facing it. An employer is not allowed to ask anything about your age, about the year you were born or how long you have been in the workforce.

Diplomatic response: My age has no bearing on my talent and skill. I am confident I can contribute to your team in a collaborative and positive way.

Interviewers are not allowed to ask questions about your drinking habits during a job interview because this question actually violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. It’s also inappropriate to be asked about the last time you used an illegal drug.

Diplomatic response: I make it a priority to keep my social and professional life in balance.

Do you know any other job interview questions you don’t have to answer? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section!

Source: Adapted from original post on All Women Stalk and

Seven Ways to Achieve Work + Life Balance

I don’t care if you have children or live at home with mom and dad, are single or married, in this world, the struggle is real. In a 24 hour period Americans spend most of their time working and sleeping and very little time on leisure activities.


In a full year we will work around 1700 hours. We have to, money makes the world go ’round, but everyone deserves to play too. I am a freelance artist and most of my work is done from home. It becomes a lot of time to be stuck at the office (which is my couch) for days (more like weeks).

That’s no way to live. I enjoy hard work but I want to enjoy the fruits of my labor too. Over time, especially after having my children, I’ve learned how important it is to try and achieve balance between my personal and professional lives:

  1. Work to live, don’t live to work. Even if you are fortunate enough to have a job you love, you can’t do it 24/7. For those who don’t have a dream job, it’s important to have a well lived life outside of work to make work worth it. Everyone deserves to have things they enjoy. Get a hobby, join a club, take a class or invest in some other type of personal development.
  2. Take your vacation and personal time. Don’t be a workaholic. You don’t have to be the first one in and the last one out of the office everyday. It’s ok to go the extra mile at work but not at the cost of your personal time. Take all of your paid days and use your hard-earned money to make memories that don’t involve co-workers.
  3. Make self-care a priority. Work can be stressful, whether you love or hate your job. Even people who work in Disney Land can become disenchanted after a while. Self-care – any intentional actions you take for your physical, mental, and emotional well-being – is crucial for work + life balance. Do things that make you feel good. A bubble-bath, time at the gym, cooking, running, reading, knitting, anything that helps you decompress.
  4. Take a “time inventory”. Sometimes we go about our days on auto-pilot not really paying much attention to how we get from point A to point B. I recommend taking a personal inventory of the way you are spending your time (you can download a special app or just use a good old-fashioned note pad to keep a journal of how you are spending the hours in your day). Eventually, you will begin to see the difference between how you actually spend your time versus how you think you spend it. From there, you can cut out activities that suck time away from more important things.
  5. Practice time management. Once you know how you are spending your time, the trick is managing it wisely. I maintain a separate calendar to help me keep my personal life on schedule. In my family we use a wall calendar and white board to keep reminders and mark important events like school plays and family movie nights. You can use an app, a date book, Google or whatever is most convenient for you. If you put it on your calendar keep the commitment, if you can’t, don’t put it on the calendar at all.
  6. Prioritize quality time. Whether it’s time with your partner, the kids, family or your friends, make time with your loved ones a priority. It doesn’t have to be a major event, game night, wine time, dinner or the movies can all be great ways to make lasting memories. Don’t put this at the end of your to-do list. Take out your calendar and pencil it in immediately. You wont regret it.
  7. Learn the power of no. There are certain responsibilities you take on because they fell in your wheel house . Like signing for all the packages at work because your desk is near the entrance. Then there are obligations that fall to you whether you wanted them or not. Like ordering company office supplies, helping mom run errands or playing chauffeur to the kids. I don’t mind my laundry list of chores but it can get overwhelming. Here’s the most powerful secret I’ll ever share with you…you are allowed to say “no” (I give you permission). Instead, enlist coworkers, siblings, neighbors or your life partner to help out. This will free you up for some well-deserved down-time.

Your time is precious. Your time is money. Give it to those who are worth it and save it for what is most important in your life.

Did you already know all these tips? What kinds of things would you suggest? Share your best balancing tricks in the comments below.

Dressing for the Interview: DOs and DON’Ts

First impressions mean a lot (not everything but a lot). I know we are not supposed to judge a book by its cover but I’m calling bullshit on that rule. We survive on the ability to be able to size up a situation based on an impression.

For the most part it doesn’t matter what people think. The old woman behind me in Aldi’s doesn’t get a say on whether my socks match. However, it matters during a job interview and at work every day. What you wear should be an expression and extension of who you are. Every morning you wake up a brand new canvas. Your wardrobe is the paints in your palette. How you put it together creates a beautiful picture that people can learn from.

The interview look is your first “painting” in what will be a series of works along your new job path.It’s a very important first impression. You should think it through carefully and have a little fun. I can show you an example of what I would wear based on what is in my closet, if you have any questions about adapting it to fit your own wardrobe, ask away in the comments below.



Every candidate will be walking into their interview wearing the expected uniform of a crisp, clean, button-up shirt and suit. I am a non-conformist at heart so whenever there is an opportunity to go against the grain, I take it. I challenge you to wear something that will help you stand out. The zebra-print sweater pictured above is a perfect example. A world away from a button-up but still very sophisticated and work appropriate. Every piece works on its own but mixed and matched this way makes it an eye-catching look that wont soon be forgotten. Always add a pop of color where you can, here I added red suede pumps, $40 by Steve Madden. You can shop this complete look here.

Add accessories that speak to your unique personality, try a bold necklace or statement ring. I recommend keeping your hair and makeup subtle. And don’t wear anything uncomfortable, no one wants to feel their toes pinch while trying to land a dream job. Try on your outfit ahead of time in case something doesn’t work or fit. Wear pants, they are comfortable and you don’t have to worry about showing your slip to your interviewer. Layer your look over smooth intimates, no panty lines or patterns you might be able to see through your clothing. Keep things smooth and polished.


Wear what makes you feel good, as long as it’s appropriate. There are no rules, fit the body you have and not the body you want and do it in a way that ensures you are leading with your best foot forward. Clothes, when they fit well, flatter your shape and do a lot for your self-confidence. The most important accessory you can wear to a job interview is your self-confidence.

What are your Dos and Don’ts? Share them with me below.

Tips for Dressing Business Casual

Keeping track of style etiquette is not on my list of things to do. The rules are constantly changing according to the whim of some random person in Milan, because that’s where I imagine the Fashion Illuminati have whims.

What I look like only matters in a professional setting, as far as I’m concerned. Which brings me to the topic at hand. Business casual. By definition, it’s a style of clothing that is less formal than traditional business wear, but still professional and businesslike. So, not quite suit and tie but nowhere near beach shorts and flip-flops. That’s a wide spectrum with a lot of room for error.

I wasn’t born stylish, I’ve had to pay attention. Just making sure I match takes some effort and I still make questionable choices. It took me some time to get my business attire right.

I know my comfort zone but I like to step outside the box sometimes too. I don’t like to be boring. Business casual is boring.

Here are some tips for making it interesting: (scroll down for details on each look)

  1. Don’t be sloppy. Wear clothes that fit properly with no rips, holes, or stains. Carry a tide stick in your purse. (if you’re anything like me, you will mess yourself at lunch).
  2. Layer it up. Invest in well made foundation clothing – structured jackets, tailored pants, camisoles and tanks – to build your wardrobe. Layers make boring seem interesting.
  3. Be classic. Trends come and go, so stick with classic pieces. Oxford’s and tweed will never go out of style.
  4. Embrace color. In a world full of dark suits and pleated pants, color can be your best friend. Start by incorporating your favorite color into your wardrobe.
  5. Work isn’t the place to take style risks. Leave thigh high boots and backless blouses for the weekend. Test out new looks with friends, not work associates.
  6. Don’t show any skin. Unless you work in a club it is never appropriate to show skin at work, no mini-skirts, wear tights, and keep your cleavage in check.
  7. Dress for the job you want. Not everyone has a dream job but we should dress like we do anyway.
  8. Be confident in your clothes. At the end of the day you wear the clothes, the clothes don’t wear you. Name brands don’t make you look good,  your confidence does.
  9. Pick up on cues. Pay attention to what others  are wearing in the office. I’m not suggesting you copy anyone’s style, just get a feeling for what’s appropriate.
  10. Be yourself. Interpret the dress code in your own unique way. You should absolutely express yourself in a way that works for work.

Button-up + Dark wash, straight-leg jean + Oxford’s = Foundation layer

Sweater + Blazer + Accessories = Finishing layers


More casual Friday than business casual but still very put together. Don’t have much use for a hot pink blazer? Are jeans forbidden in your office? That’s fine, you can pull these layers together using what you have in your closet.

Cropped blouse + High waist shorts + Knit tights + Flats = Foundation layer

Accessories + Pea coat = Finishing layers



Crop tops and shorts aren’t for everyone but this is my favorite, it’s just the right amount of quirky. You of course can interpret it in a way that works for you.

Never be boring. I’m a mom, running a freelance business out of my home, the most interesting thing that’s happened to  me in the last week was the homemade chocolate ice cream I made. I am not living la vida loca by any stretch of the imagination. That doesn’t mean I have to look boring when I step out of the door. Casual, business or not, can be cute!

How to be a More Polished Professional

career_successI am a freelance writer and marketing consultant. This means I am constantly on the look-out for more work and new clients. Sometimes it feels like I am a professional job seeker. I’ve been on more interviews and have done more presentations than I think is humanly possible. Which is great because my work is your gain.

Today I want to talk about polish and the importance of first impressions.  Studies show that your looks can hurt or hinder your chances of getting a job or well deserved promotion, regardless of qualifications. Personally, I don’t think it’s fair to be judged on appearance but the reality is most employers, clients, hiring managers, and recruiters do size up their employees and potential candidates by the way they look.

In fact 73% of employers rate grooming as a strong influence when meeting with potential candidates. “These results are consistent with what we’ve seen in the past,” says Marilyn Mackes, NACE executive director. “Job candidates need to remember that their overall grooming and choice of interview attire project an image; they are marketing themselves to the employer as a potential employee, and part of marketing is the packaging.”

It’s important to keep yourself as polished as possible and to help you here are some Dos for you to consider:


Whether you are currently employed or not:

  • Do put your best foot forward at all times – keep yourself neat, clean, and well-groomed – tailor or throw away ill-fitting clothes
  • Do maintain your professional portfolio – update your resume and profiles with new accomplishments and take classes or workshops to keep your skills fresh
  • Do make professional connections whenever possible – attend networking events in your industry, socialize with colleagues, and stay current with industry news and events
  • Do spell and grammar checks for all professional correspondence
  • Do keep a running list of your goals – a vision board, a to-do list, or any kind of reminder of what you are working towards
  • Don’t get complacent, lazy, or sloppy
  • Don’t let your skills get rusty or obsolete
  • Don’t isolate yourself from coworkers or industry insiders
  • Don’t be afraid to brag – humbly – about yourself
  • Don’t ever use slang in an interview or conversations with colleagues
  • Don’t be afraid to go above and beyond – learn about your employer (potential or current) and coworkers and share common interests you may have

Keep in mind that polish is about more than just your style – it’s about the complete package – you must dress for the job you want and always be thinking about the future.  Even if you don’t have a lot of money, you can still keep yourself current:

  • Invest in a good tailor – in this way you can make old clothing look and fit like new
  • If you can’t afford a new pair of shoes, polish and re-heel the ones you have to get more wear out of them
  • Update your resume with a new look and feel – a simple online search of “resume templates” will help you get started
  • If you can’t afford to take clothing to the cleaners buy Dryell, then press and iron suits, shirts, and pants yourself
  • The devil is in the details – loose seams and buttons translate to carelessness – learn how to sew on a button or fix a loose hem
  • If you can’t afford a hair cut buy products that will keep your loose strands neat and in place
  • Never use a casual picture for your professional resume or profile

First impressions count so it’s important to do everything in your power to make sure the impressions you give are good and lasting. This doesn’t mean that you have pretend to be something you’re not, on the contrary be yourself but the best version of yourself. At the end of the day you will be valued for exactly that and all the skills you bring to the table. Don’t build a package that can not be maintained, the point is to maintain, to the best of your ability, the package you’re in.

Market yourself as a complete package, put your best foot forward always but most importantly be bold, brave and unafraid to go after what you want.

What experience have you had packaging yourself for potential employers? What Dos, Don’ts, or other advice would you give? Please tell me your thoughts in the comments below, I love hearing from you.

Five Ways to Update Your Work Style

Finding ways to update your work style can be a challenge. There’s only so much traction you can get out of a suit and if you work in a super-corporate environment with a strict dress code, expressing your individuality without drawing too much undue attention can be a problem.

If you find yourself caught in a rut – here are five ways you can upgrade your work style:

5 Ways to Upgrade Your Work Style
  1. Interesting accessories say a lot about who you are as an individual.  Use them to add some flare to a skirt or pant suit.  The right shoe or bag can make you feel invincible and ready for anything. If your work style is very severe you can compromise with more playful accessories to lighten up your look.
  2. Pops of color can cheer anyone up on a cloudy winter day. I’ve used red here because it pairs well with neutrals but there is an entire rainbow of color to choose from so be creative.
  3. Bold patterns like floral or stripes can add interest to an otherwise boring outfit.  Don’t be afraid to mix and match patterns, like I’ve done here with this pinstripe suit and the floral blouse. By keeping your prints the same color and mixing large prints with small prints you’ll look like a professional stylist.
  4. Textures like ruffles add plenty of personality to a basic suit. Above the ruffled shirt makes this severe suit rather feminine. If you are large breasted ruffles in your blouse may bot work but you can try textured tights for the same effect.
  5. Statement jewelry says a lot of about you as an individual, a statement necklace or brooch can add a lot of character to your work style.  I am all about this bow tie brooch, it is playful but professional and that’s a difficult combination to find.

I am not a stylist by profession but I like to express myself through my style.  As a creative professional, I like to play with my look and I’m not afraid to dress outside of the box.  However, not every office setting encourages out of the box dressing.  The most important thing is to find a happy medium.  You want to be appropriate without blending in.

However, there is definitely a fine line between showing off your personality and distracting from it. Coco Chanel suggests that before you go out, look in the mirror and take something off – typically the most distracting thing you are wearing.  This bit of advice has served me well in my life, I like to wear things that make me feel good and I have a tendency to over do it.

With work style however, we tend to be on the severe side, so my advice would be the opposite of the legendary Coco Chanel, take a look in the mirror before you leave the house and add something to your look.  Use the tips above to guide your choices.  When shopping don’t be afraid to add color, print and texture to your wardrobe.  You don’t need to do this with your suits and blouses, instead you can do this through scarves, jewelry, shoes and hand bags. Stay true to your own style but don’t be afraid to take some chances.  For many our clothes are a way to express who we are and in many cases, especially at work, they are a message to others about who you are.  Choose wisely and keep in mind that every morning you have the opportunity to send a clear message about who you are to the world around you and in our wardrobe, like in life, don’t be afraid to take some chances.


Are You Under-appreciated at Work?

Not everyone is privileged enough to have a career, most just have jobs they must show up to on a daily basis to ensure the bills are paid. Still, even if the job you’re doing isn’t your dream job, dignity, respect, and recognition can go a long way to making it a job you can enjoy on a daily basis.

In this era of “more with less” many employers expect their people to wear many hats. “Lean and mean” is the war cry across many corporate spaces and while I am an advocate for efficiency, I find this culture can produce overworked, over stressed, and underpaid employees. There are many companies who recognize this and do their best to provide their people with benefits and bonuses that make the job worth the stress.  On the other hand, there are many companies who don’t.  How can you tell if you are undervalued at your current  place of employment?

  1. Your boss constantly asks “what’s your value add?” – I have a big issue with this phrase “value-add” it irks me to no end because Overworked and underappreciatedit’s an employers way of squeezing blood from a stone.  When an employer asks you what your value-add is – it is code for “I want you to do more but I don’t want to pay for it”. Your value is in the work you’ve already been hired to do, whether you’re a waiter or a marketing professional.  Anything beyond that – anything additional should come with appropriate compensation. So the next time your boss asks you what “your value-add is” your response (in the most diplomatic and professional way possible) should be “what is the additional compensation for the additional value you are asking for?” If the response is extra paid time off, a bonus or some other agreed upon compensation then you are very lucky to be valued enough to get what you’re worth for all the work you do.
  2. You go above and beyond with little to no recognition – In a recent study it was found that organizations that give regular thanks to their employees far out perform those that don’t. The moral of the story is, thanks and recognition is important, it matters to people, it matters to morale and it reminds us that we are important in the grand scheme of things.  If you are working hard, doing more than is required, improving everyday and no one is saying “thanks, great work” or providing you the recognition you deserve, you should question the culture of the company you are working for.  Everyone deserves to be thanked for a job well done!
  3. Others are getting credit for your work – Nothing is worse than sitting in a meeting and hearing your own idea coming out of someone else’s mouth with absolutely no credit to you.  If it is a co-worker or peer, you might be able to rectify it by going to thatgive-credit-where-credit-is-due person and asking if they perhaps forgot to credit you and work it out with them directly.  If they are still unwilling to give you appropriate credit, this might be something you have to escalate to your boss.  However, If the offending party is your boss, this is a huge red flag that you are not appreciated for your work.  Confronting them might help but it might be wise to start updating your resume now.
  4. You aren’t made to feel part of the team – I thrive off of teamwork, I love working with people and sharing ideas.  Most companies should encourage a healthy team dynamic within their ranks. Sometimes though, even adults can become catty, divisive, and cliquey. In this dynamic there is always a “black sheep” of the office – the person who never gets invited to lunch or after work events with the rest of the group. No employer should allow this type of culture to manifest. If you are the “black sheep” of the office and you find your boss is encouraging or enabling this type of behavior, you should definitely try move on to a company that more closely aligns with your own values as a human being.
  5. You feel under valued – If you are going through this list and shaking your head in agreement you might be under valued where you work.  You probably already knew it.  If you wake up everyday and dread your work – not because of the work itself – because of the people or culture, it’s time to explore other options. No one should be made to feel demoralized or ignored. You have options, you can speak to your boss, it might be your employer doesn’t realize how careless they are being.  Best case scenario, they make it right for you. Worst case scenario, they ask you what your value-add is, if so, see #1 and start looking for work elsewhere.