Finding Your Home with Cheryl Dunson

In a time of rising interest rates and anxiety, how can young people today sort through all the noise to find their first home? In this episode of Business Edge, co-hosts Chrissy and Nicole ask featured guest Cheryl Dunson about what young professionals need to know about the process of home ownership. Listen to her speak about how you can know when you’re financially ready to buy a home, how to find a realtor who’s a good fit for you, and how you can go about finding your true priorities when it comes to a home.

Cheryl likes to work, and she likes to be interested in what she does and make a positive difference for her clients. Regardless of the type of work someone does, once the client/customer/parishioner/patient/reader is an annoyance, it’s time to do something else.

As a marketing major, she began her career in data center operations. A fraternity brother told her about cattle call interviews being held by a large corporation and she was there. Wandering away from the marketing section, she struck up a conversation with a gentleman and discussed the automated inventory conversion that was taking place where her dad worked, and next thing she knew, she was taking math tests and wound up working in data operations. There was no IT major at the time.

Fourteen years later, she took a three-year sabbatical and never returned. She was a single mom and started buying rental properties and helping friends look at dated homes to determine how to make them work for their families. Eventually, she became licensed and with a few detours has spent the rest of her career in real estate.

Ten years ago she needed a change and was hired by a developer for a traditional neighborhood development, a tnd. It was just the change she needed. She had always enjoyed introducing friends to friends and helping people become part of the community where she lived, but in a tnd, while the homes are beautiful, it’s all about community.

While real estate was not what she expected to do for the majority of her career, it has the flexibility of time, income, and versions that has worked through the various stages of her life. She has had the opportunity to work in a few tnds and is currently in a Best in American Living award winning community that looks like a movie set. She says that real estate can be stressful, but it can also be rewarding, and that she has the opportunity to help make people’s dreams a reality.

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A woman hiking with her dog while on vacation

The Case for Vacation and How to (Really) Unplug from Work

While taking time off throughout the year is important, the warm summer months provide a great excuse to unplug. And summer vacations aren’t just for fun in the sun — science says they’re good for your career too. 

Taking time off from work gives your body and mind time to rest and rejuvenate. Unfortunately, Americans are taking less vacation time than at any point in the last four decades, and more than half (52%) leave at least some vacation time unused.

Let’s take a look at what research tells us about taking those hard-earned vacation days, unplugging from work (truly), and normalizing rest as part of a healthy career.

People who take vacations get promoted more often

While “hustle” culture has made it trendy for business influencers to brag about growing a business on three hours of sleep a night, that behavior is neither healthy nor sustainable. 

Running on too little sleep isn’t going to get you ahead in your career — it can even have the opposite effect. In fact, according to the Harvard Business Review, taking a vacation can actually increase the likelihood of getting a raise or a promotion. People who take all their vacation time have a 6.5% higher chance of getting a promotion or raise than people who leave 11 or more days of paid time off on the table. 

Another thing to consider is the value of your unused vacation days. If you’re a salaried employee and don’t take all your paid vacation time, you’re essentially accepting a pay cut. That vacation time is part of your compensation package, so if you don’t use it and your company doesn’t offer some kind of buy-back option, it’s like handing your money back to the company.

When you recharge, you’re more engaged & productive

In his book, The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor shares research showing that when the brain can think positively, productivity improves by 31%, sales increase by 37%, and creativity and revenues can triple. His findings suggest that a positive and engaged brain is the most significant competitive advantage in the modern economy. But to be truly positive and engaged at work, our brains need breaks and time to rest. If we’re constantly “on” and responding to stimuli, we don’t give our minds a chance to get our thoughts and ideas in order.  

According to the National Science Foundation, our brains are still very busy even when we’re at rest. Marcus Raichle, a professor of radiology, neurology, neurobiology, and biomedical engineering at Washington University, has studied this phenomenon for many years. 

“A great deal of meaningful activity is occurring in the brain when a person is sitting back and doing nothing at all,” says Raichle. “It turns out that when your mind is at rest, dispersed brain areas are chattering away to one another.”

Taking mental breaks throughout the day using methods like meditation and mindfulness can be really beneficial. But it’s vital to take extended periods of rest too, where you can fully unplug from work and technology for days or weeks at a time.

Leave things in a good place when you head out

Some people avoid taking time off because they’re too worried about returning to a mountain of work. They may have been burned before and returned from vacation feeling more stressed and overwhelmed. This can be avoided by getting all your ducks in a row before you leave for vacation — and getting a few other ducks to help take care of things while you’re out.

When you have a vacation coming up, focus on prioritization. Make a list of the tasks that must be accomplished before you go, and coordinate with your manager on those priorities to ensure you’re both on the same page. 

Once you have your must-do list, tackle those things and try not to add anything new to your plate. If people try to send more work your way, politely say something like, “I’m currently focused on getting some essential projects buttoned up before heading out for vacation, but I’d be happy to chat with you about this when I return.”

As your time off approaches, discuss any outstanding items or things that need to happen while you’re out with a trusted colleague and ask if they could cover for you. (If there are several things, asking more than one teammate for help may make sense.) Just be sure to provide them with any critical information they may need while you’re out when you establish the handoff. Nothing can take your mind away from vacation more than a call from a frantic coworker. 

Get more tips from the Business Edge Podcast 

Hear from Raquel Tamez, Chief Inclusion and Engagement Officer for Charles River Associates, as she discusses the importance of rest and sleep for better productivity and a thriving career.

Listen to the episode > 

two business women meeting talking about how to improve manager relationship

How to Improve Your Relationship with Your Manager

The relationship a person has with their manager or supervisor significantly influences how satisfied and engaged they are at work. Not getting along with your boss or feeling unsupported by them can be a considerable obstacle to your career growth and even harmful to your mental health.

The American Psychological Association found that 75% of Americans say their boss is “the most stressful part of their workday.” Another Gallup study found that one in two employees have left a job “to get away from their manager” at some point in their career.

You can’t fix a truly bad boss (nor should you have to). Fortunately, in most cases, managers just need a little guidance from you on how you prefer to work and be treated. So before throwing in the towel and leaving your team or company altogether, see if it’s possible to change the dynamics of your relationship for the better.

Read on for some constructive ways to handle different personalities, set boundaries, and help your boss understand what you need from them to thrive.

Striving for Excellence with Raquel Tamez

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are hot button topics that we often expect immediate responses to and successes in, but in this episode of Business Edge, special guest Raquel Tamez urges that time is the biggest factor in overcoming many roadblocks associated with these aspirations. Listen to her speak to how organizations and individuals can evolve to foster positive change. She also explores how we can all be our best selves by educating ourselves by consistently reading, prioritizing our most important values, and always striving for excellence.

Raquel Tamez is the Chief Inclusion and Engagement officer at Charles River Associates. As CIEO, Tamez plays an integral role in the firm’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, launching initiatives and designing programs that empower CRA’s workforce and strengthen its culture, allowing the firm to better serve its clients and communities.

Prior to joining CRA, Tamez served as CEO for the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. From 2014 to 2017, Tamez held the role of Chief Legal Officer at SourceAmerica, a nonprofit that creates employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

In 2017, she was appointed to the FTC’s Advisory Committee on Diversity and Digital Empowerment. She also served as a board member for the Council of Engineering and Scientific Society Executives.

In 2020, Raquel represented SHPE as part of the first Hispanic delegation to the World Economic Forum. That same year, she received the 2020 Ohtli Award from the Mexican government, in recognition of her efforts to empower Hispanics abroad.

External Links:

Raquel’s Facebook

Members at Chapter Congress holding signs that read 'aye' while voting on legislation.

5 Reasons to Attend Alpha Kappa Psi Convention This Summer

In August 2022, Alpha Kappa Psi brothers from all over the world will converge in Miami, FL, for the fraternity’s 61st Convention. Convention serves as the business meeting of AKPsi, where Chapter Congress convenes to influence positive change within the organization. 

The four-day-long fraternity event will be held from August 3-6 and will educate student and alumni members on fraternity knowledge, business knowledge, and professional development through the College of Leadership. 

Convention was traditionally held every other year on odd years, but the last Convention scheduled in 2021 was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Now with the move to 2022, it will be held on even years going forward.) 

It’s been a long break for us all, and there’s never been a better time to gather with your AKPsi brothers.