September 1, 2015
by Ellen

Welcome Back!

Welcome!  Hope your fall semester is off to a great start.

Please stop by the LPDC (BH339) to grab a cup of coffee and say hello to our new consultants, Tom and Jonathan. Thanks to their help, we have expanded our consultation hours this semester:

Mondays (9am-3pm)

Tuesdays (9am-3pm)

Wednesdays (9am-5:30pm)

Thursdays (9am-3pm)

Friday (9am-1pm-by appointment only)

As always, we are available for walk-in appointments, but we strongly encourage you to schedule an appointment ahead of time because we do get booked up (usually at that time in the semester when you really need us!). Please schedule appointments by emailing us at

Very Important Reminder:  Coffee and food CANNOT leave the LPDC!!!  We have been put on notice that if students continue to take coffee out of the LPDC and into classrooms, we will lose the privilege to eat and drink in the center. Don’t ruin it for everyone else — finish your coffee before you leave.

Upcoming Events:

Professional Written Communications workshops: Tuesday, September 1, and Friday, September 4. If you are in MGT 615, please register for one of these days by following this link:

Pizza with Barry: Tuesday, September 22, 11am-1pm in the LPDC.  Enjoy a free lunch and hangout with Barry. This is a great opportunity to come and ask questions before the ACCY Career Night or simply pick his brain about leadership or professional development.

Hope to see you soon!

Jennifer, Ellen, Tom, and Jonathan

P.S. For some great advice on how to start things off right, check out Ellen’s blog post:

July 1, 2015
by Ellen

CPA Time!

You’re finally done with the MAS! You’ll never have to worry about grades again – no more papers, no more exams…oh, wait…the CPAs! Commence panic attack. Actually, there’s no need to panic. Take a little time to bask in the glow of your success. Then take a deep breath and push through this last challenge.

At the end of every semester, I share anew my CPA study tips. Give it a read and then get started. You can do it!


Getting ready for the CPA exams? Freaking out? Yeah, I get it. I sat for two bar exams (California and Illinois) and the Ph.D. candidacy exams. The intensity of these life-altering events is enough to make even the steely of us crack. I still feel a little anxious when I think about it — trauma? Maybe. But you can harness that intensity and make it work for, rather than against, you. Use it — jump on the wave and ride it to shore. Your anxiety can become the fuel your brain needs to focus, if you impose a little structure on it. Here’s how.

1) Take a review course. This is a great way to get an idea of the scope of the exam, and the materials provided usually contain a relatively clear explanation of the relevant material.

2) Create your own subject matter outlines. It’s important to create your own outlines, rather than simply relying on the review materials, because the act of independently creating an outline forces you to actually process the material — you have to figure out how it all goes together. Each outline should reflect full understanding of the specific subject matter — if you were a super-genius, this would be your memory (the mastery you aspire to). Having a brilliant outline is crucial because it provides the foundation for your preparation.

3) Progressively memorize the material.

  • Break it down into sections and then break the sections down into layers. For example, take the first heading of the first outline level (I.) and the material that falls beneath it as your first “section.” Then, identify the layers — the heading (I.), the subheadings (A., B., C…), the next level (1., 2., 3…), the next level (a., b., c.,…)….you get the idea. Depending on the complexity of the material, you may have several layers.
  • Notecards are great for memorizing, but before you go there, try writing the outline out several times first. I literally used 100s legal pads when I was studying for the bar — writing out my outlines over and over. You could also type the material, if that works better for you, but there is something about physically writing the material over and over that helps me memorize it. Start with the big picture — the first level of the outline — write it out a few times. Then transfer it to notecards, memorize the notecards, and then write it out again from memory. Pacing around and saying the material out loud helps — kind of getting more senses involved. One of my study partners liked to create flowcharts, too.
  • Every time you add info, repeat what precedes it — like you are continuing the thought. This preserves the logical connections and helps you actually understand the material you are memorizing. For example, first you learn “I.,” then “I., A., ” then “I., A., 1.,” then “I., A., 1., a..” etc.
  • The key to memorization is repetition. Take your outline with you everywhere — stick copies in your bags, car, bedroom, coffee table — put it on your phone. Read through it whenever you have a moment or when you have a little shock of anxiety about the exam.

4) Stay calm and focused. Yes, it’s a herculean task, but it’s also doable. Thousands of people have taken — and passed — the exam. You will, too.

June 19, 2015
by Ellen

Finals, finals, finals!

Just a few weeks ago, I was helping you create a summer semester survival plan. Now here you are at the end of it! Phew. Time for the mad dash to the finish — finals.

Because I have written many posts about surviving finals, I will refrain from repeating myself here and simply give you the links to my two favorites:

“Finals again – time to meditate”

“Want to Ace Your Finals? Study at the Gym!”

Good luck; study hard; and congrats for finishing a tough semester!!

June 12, 2015
by Ellen

Summer Reading List

Summer reading lists aren’t just for gradeschoolers anymore! There’s a plethora of summer reading lists for grown-ups out there, too. In fact, one of our favorite professors, Mark Riley, forwarded me a great list compiled by Jena McGregor of the Washingon Post: A great leadership reading list — without any business books on it.” McGregor’s list contains books recommended by such business greats as Bill Gates, Jim Sinegal, Jack Dorsey, and Ben Horowitz.

One of the most interesting selections comes from Laszlo Bock, Google’s senior vice president of people operations, who urges all leaders and future-leaders to pick up Impro by Keith Johnstone, a teacher of improvisational theater. In an interview with McGregor,  Bock emphasized the particular relevance of the chapter on masks: “The leadership insight is that if you’re stepping into a leadership role — or anything you’re uncomfortable with — you have to imagine you’re playing this role.” For those of you who have already attended the LMAS workshop at Chicago’s Second City, Johnstone’s book would be a great way to reinforce and expand on the strategies you learned there.

Happy reading!


June 5, 2015
by Ellen

The Power of “Yet”

I recently came across an interesting Ted talk by Carold Dweck, a Stanford psychologist. She has conducted a study that reveals the very real impact that a “growth mindset” has on academic perormance. A growth mindset is the belief that intellectual ability is not static but malleable. In other words, your intelligence is not determined at birth but by how hard and how much you work to increase your understanding.

What a fascinating concept.  According to Dweck, simply changing the idea, “I’m not smart enough to solve the problem,” to “I just haven’t solved it YET,” is so powerful that it completely transformed a group of kids from F students to A students. I have found it to be useful in other contexts, as well. Whenever my kids say to me, “Mom, I can’t do it. I’ll never be able to do it” — whether they’re  talking about schoolwork or sports or some other skill — I tell them, “Not yet, maybe. But believe in the power of ‘yet’. Keep working and you’ll get there.” It is an immediate reversal of perspective and attitude, and it instantly reopens a door that seemed shut for good.

Next time you are feeling overwhelmed by the complex problem in front of you or growing frustrated by your inability to learn the material on the next exam, remind yourself: it’s not that you can’t do it — you just can’t do it yet. Believe in the power of “yet.”

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