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Tuesday, 1 November 2011

How To Get Promoted at Office Holiday Party

The invitations are out. The trimmings are up, and workers everywhere are starting to sweat. It's beginning to look a lot like the annual holiday party.

"Especially for more junior people, the office holiday party is a rare opportunity to be in a room with immediate supervisors and the big boss," says Christine Jahnke, author of The Well-Spoken Woman and a speech coach who's worked with Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton. "You can leverage it, or you can really blow it."

Experts agree that workplace bashes are ideal for raising your visibility and getting on the radar of company influencers. But climbers beware: If mishandled, the spotlight can burn. According to a survey conducted by human resources firm Adecco last year, 40% of workers have witnessed or committed a holiday-party indiscretion, which caused a shocking 14% to lose their jobs.

This year, here's how to walk away feeling jolly -- rather than sorry.

The Look

Use It: "This is your chance to shine," says Washington, D.C.-based personal stylist Tara Luizzi, who advises using your holiday style to display your personality in a still-sophisticated, elegant way. "The most important thing is to understand your audience and venue." Note the size and formality of the party and its location, and if you've never attended one, ask others what to expect.

For women, dressing is always a bit more complicated, says Luizzi. She recommends giving a classic look a modern twist by pairing a simple black cocktail dress, a tailored black suit or a silk blouse and knee-length pencil skirt with a fun, trendy accessory. In style this year are tuxedo jackets, textured tights, chunky jewelry and glittery bags and shoes. Oftentimes, the right accessory can even be used as a talking point. For men, Luizzi recommends a pinstriped or charcoal-colored suit with a jewel-toned tie or, depending on the location, dark-wash jeans and a sport coat.

Blow It: "Do not wear every trend at once," warns Luizzi, adding that sequins from head to toe will not project "professional." She also advises women to be particularly careful about showing too much skin, as bare legs and strappy sandals, plunging necklines, too-short hemlines and tight, clingy clothing may make bosses question your competence. For those festive individuals, fabric choice and color should portray your holiday cheer -- not snowflake, candy cane, Christmas tree or skiing patterns.

The Toast

Use It: According to Jahnke, giving a holiday toast is one of the best ways to create a platform to be seen, but it must be well thought out and carefully done. She advises focusing outward by recognizing a hard-working colleague or applauding a team that brought big results. Practice beforehand and keep it short, she says. "It's hard to mess up in 20 seconds," but anything over 90 seconds is too long. Take a deep breath, stand up straight, place one foot slightly in front of the other and smile to create a relaxed and inviting presence.

Blow It: "Go easy on the egg-nog," Jahnke warns. "The more you drink the more likely you are to say something inappropriate." Overindulging may also slur your speech and upset your balance without you even realizing it. Don't use the podium to go into a comedy routine either, which could too easily turn sour, and beware of rambling on about yourself or for too long. Also, honesty is paramount. "If you're not sincere," she says, "your colleagues will know and suspect brownnosing."

The Introduction

Use It: "If you want to stand out, this is the setting where you can take some initiative," says Jahnke. "Walk up and introduce yourself." State your name slowly and clearly, she suggests, and say basically what it is you do or who you work with without fumbling over a long technical title. Have a couple icebreakers ready, like asking about holiday plans or complimenting an interesting piece of jewelry, to cut the tension. Include others nearby in the conversation, and keep topics light rather than talking shop, she counsels.

Blow It: If you're unmarried and dates are invited, be very careful about who you bring, says Jahnke. "Is this someone you really want to introduce to your boss?" Similarly, flirting is a major no-no. In the Adecco survey, 3% admitted the holiday party led to an embarrassing fling with a coworker. Finally, be very aware of what comes out of your mouth. This is not the time to ask what John Doe really does all day or detail how you would reorganize the company. Men especially take care, as 11% (vs. 4% of women) regret saying something inappropriate at a holiday party.

The Smalltalk

Use It: When you're in a circle, says Jahnke, rather than firing off your elevator pitch, try to get to know colleagues better and show your personality. The most effective tactic is to ask questions. If you've seen a boating picture in the boss's office, ask if it's a hobby. If you've noticed a book or shared interest via social media, inquire about it. "People like to talk about themselves," Jahnke notes, "and it makes for a much more interesting conversation than work."

Blow It: Never venture into something confidential or private, and stay away from advice-giving and negativity. If the conversation hits a lull or you find yourself standing alone for a moment, do not pull out your phone. "Social network in the room, not on your mobile device," advises etiquette expert Anna Post, author of the latest edition of Emily Post's Etiquette. Otherwise you'll appear bored or unavailable and cut yourself off from potential networking opportunities.

How To Play Poker - Basic Principles

If you recently watched the final table of the World Series of Poker and decided you want to learn to play the game—and take your shot at millions—here are some basic principles to get you started.

There are many different types of poker, but as the most common game is Texas Hold'em, that's the example we'll use for this tutorial. Also, due to the continuing battle to legalize online poker, we're also focusing on playing live.

poker tutorial

When you sit down to the table, you'll "buy-in" for whatever amount of chips you want to start with. Most tables have a maximum and minimum you have to stay within, but make sure you have enough to be able to bet big if you get a big hand—usually at least 100 times the "big blind."

A blind is money put into the pot by two players prior to each hand, and each player takes turns as the blinds rotate around the table. The "big blind" pays the minimum bet size for the table, and the "small blind" pays half that. However, once play begins for the hand, for the small blind to continue, he or she will have to bet at least enough to bring their total money invested to the amount of the big blind. If they fold, they lose what's in the pot. Those playing the blinds in a hand get to act last on the first round of betting, but the big blind will start the betting for each round the rest of the hand, with the small blind second to bet, or second "to act" as we say in the game.

So, big blinds and small blinds are what determine the type of stakes at a particular table, and you will hear people referring to different tables as 2/4, 5/10, 50/100, etc. The first number is the small blind, the second, the big blind. So if you are buying into a 2/4 table (which is about the lowest stakes you will find live) a recommended buy-in is $400.

Individual bets can be limit, pot-limit and no limit. The last one being the most common, as in "No Limit" Texas Hold'em. Limit means you can only bet whatever the fixed amount is each betting round, while pot limit means you can only bet up to whatever total is in the pot on your turn. No limit means, well, no limit. It can mean losing all your money in one hand if you decide to try to play like the big boys and make an "all-in" move like you saw on TV.

You should also probably know your hand rankings—this may seem obvious, but I kept getting mixed up for a while on which was better, a flush or a straight. They are listed lowest to highest.

* High card when no pair present (ace is highest card possible)
* Pair
* Two pair
* Three of a kind (a "set")
* A straight (five cards in chronological order)
* A flush (five cards of the same suit)
* A full house (three of one card and tow of another, also called a "boat")
* Four of a kind ("quads")
* A straight flush (cards in order and all the same suit)
* The Royal Flush (Ace, King, Queen, Jack and Ten of the same suit)

You can either play "ring games" which are cash games, or if you want to minimize your cash risk when learning, I recommend tournaments. You pay a cash buy-in for a beginning stack of chips, then if you finish high enough in the tournament, collect part of the prize pool. It's a great way to get a lot of playing time with minimal financial risk.

So, the first time you play, approach the poker room staff and ask for a seat at the stakes level you want to play. If a seat is available, they will show you to the table and you will buy chips from the dealer. You may have to wait a few hands till the big blind comes around to you to begin play. You will place your blind across the betting line of the table and the dealer will deal two cards to each player. The player to the left of the small blind player starts the betting, and it proceeds clockwise around the table. When betting is done, then the dealer will deal the "flop," which is three cards face up. Then another round of betting ensues, with you starting the round. If you continue, there are two more betting rounds with one card dealt face up each time. That's five cards on the table and two in your hand, but you can only use some combination of five cards to make the best hand possible. After betting is finished, everyone shows their hand, or, if you see you're beaten, you can "muck" your cards, turning them in face down so the other players don't know what you were holding.

If you have the best hand you win, if not you lose.

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