Happy Birthday to Agatha Christie! Here’s Your Gift!

Reading Time: 2 minutes

My birthday always corresponds with the ISU / UI rivalry! Good Job Clones! I personally hope the annual game continues into the future, cuz it allows the fans of these teams to be mean to each other! Ahem, boo Nick, my own son thinks Hawk.

ISU Baloon
ISU Balloon

Today, my daughter left me a gift before flying off to her job at the library.

2014-09-15 09.37.27And my parents sent me a card.

2014-09-15 09.39.50

Okay, now what am I going to do? Obey the parents. Wait for the daughter. I have patience. And perseverance and ohhh pooopy again. The temptation continues…..arggh.

Anyway, Happy Birthday to Agatha Christie. I love the fact that we share this day in common.  Agatha would’ve been 85! and Me, okay, 51! I can make a typo and say 15!

What I did so far for my birthday: I read this short story written by the Grand Dame of Mystery. I found The Witness for the Prosecution online (and for free!) from a K-12 New York school district! And I’m offering you a gift of reading for my birthday!!

Here’s your own copy to download if you’d like!

the Witness_for_the_Prosecution

It’s a great read, especially for us witness-like minded people! You won’t be able to stop reading it once you start!

Hope your week is great and take care!


My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.



My Purpose to Serve Others Continues to Ring True!

Reading Time: 3 minutes

(Original post date 9/10/13 and updated 11/5/2019) As I mentioned last week, I’m moving into round 2 of my studies at GWU. I came across the statement of purpose I wrote in April 2013 and wanted to post it here as it continues to ring true for me!

STATEMENT OF PURPOSE written by Amy E. Botkin

My purpose in undertaking graduate study at The George Washington University is to learn about the intricacies and efficiencies of serving as an expert witness in my area of expertise. As a rehabilitation counselor, life care planner and placement specialist, my focus is often on facilitating healthy return to work outcomes.

Prior to my current career, I worked as a marketing representative for a staffing agency that placed people into clerical and light industrial jobs. This work experience offered me a base on how to match people with the world of work. I understand the concept of incorporating the needs of employers with the needs of job seekers.

My background as the leader of a diverse group of placement specialists afforded me additional insight into challenges affecting job seekers. In my practice, as well as with the experiences within our group, I visit employers and find that personalities and fitting in, as well as proof of skills, may be the strongest indicator of a successful placement.

However, in perspective the job seeker may not believe he or she has the capacity to meet the employer’s expectations. Therefore, the job seeker is not successful in the initial stages of a job search, leading to feelings that may further disintegrate their role and performance as a qualified job seeker. Therefore, my career goal is to continue with my consulting practice and incorporate specific work-life identity skills training.

Ringing True!

As a freelance writer on a part-time basis, I develop stories about locally owned businesses, mostly from a personality perspective by interviewing business owners to learn about their background and what brought them to this particular business. I gain much insight and detail into what brings a person to their career.

My ability to draw out a person’s background information is also useful to guide a person who has lost their job due to illness, injury or disability into a new or similar job that continues to use their assets, albeit in a new form.

My research interests are in the areas of vocational rehabilitation, specifically how personalities, lifestyles and cultures form a person’s work identity. When taking into consideration a serious injury or accident that leads to disability or functional limitations, I would like to identify and assess unique methods to adjust the factors related to essential functions of a job that may be beyond a person’s capacities (either physically, emotionally or intellectually).

I would like to learn how to (Shadow) Box!

Using the skills gained from this program, I’d expand my research methodology for my client, evaluee or customer. Presenting novel material in front of a jury will allow me to separate from the common counselor and be viewed as a credible source of unique material that is specific to the needs of the case. With this new knowledge and skill, I would feel even more confident expressing my opinions. I look forward to my studies.

Thank you for reading my blog post. Contact me ~ Amy E. Botkin, MS, CRC, CLCP, FRC ~ Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, Certified Life Care Planner, Forensic Rehabilitation Consultant to discuss your how I can help you help your client.


 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

350 days of leave! Work Ethic…Brag About It!

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Okay, my last post for now on Randy (five consecutive Mondays is a bit excessive…)  Randy  is into his 20th year teaching for the Des Moines Public School District. He thinks he has around 350 days of sick leave accrued. He says you can only bank 250. I don’t know what that means…but I do know that’s a lot of days. I can’t recall when he’s ever called in sick (I have made him take a personal day……is that ethical Amy?)  Oops sorry.

Welcome Back


This is really not Randy, but he does wear just as goofy ties.

Here is an exercise that you can do to help you describe your work ethic in an interview. Trust me, it will help you shine during the interview! You may want to wear a shirt like this to your interview! (That’s a joke.)

Work Ethic Tshirt

This is not Randy either, but I could superimpose a head…naw

Back in July 2012, I blogged about how to answer interview questions using a great approach ~ the STAR method. It really is helpful to be thorough when coming up with answers. 

Rehearse your answers out loud. Practice saying them over and over and over. You’ll be more comfortable during the actual interview experience. Good luck!


My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people find a place in the workforce


Randy’s Jobs, Work Ethic, and How About a Nap?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

[Initially posted  Feb 4, 2013] I started writing about work ethic and about my husband too. There’s a reason or two for my posts on these subject matters, you can read my disclaimer here. But first, a little story about Randy.  

As a teenager, one of Randy’s first jobs was as a newspaper carrier. He tells me his mother Marylin ousted him out of bed at 4:00 AM when she got home from her data processing job at a downtown Des Moines bank.

hit the hayMarylin Would Then Hit The Hay

Randy donned his mail bag, left home, and waited patiently at the corner for the newspapers to arrive. He then walked all round Saylorville (the little town not the large lake!) to deliver the news for the Des Moines Register.

Big News

Here Comes Big News!

When Randy’s paper route was done and he got back home he would return the favor and try to get his father Jim up out of bed. Jim worked at AT&T in downtown Des Moines (and did so for 40 years up until his retirement). After his dad was up (or Randy gave it his best try) he then got ready for school. For three of his high school years Randy handled a newspaper route.  We often revisit his route by auto!

Is that the reason he still likes to read the hard copy of the paper, or at least the sports section? Could it be the reason he has no trouble getting up early in the morning? Could it also be why he and my dad have this special bond? Click here for a blog about my dad’s work, including his Sunday morning Des Moines Register newspaper motor route delivery days.

Bottom line here, parents influence moral and ethical development. I truly believe that you develop your work ethic through the example set by your parents. My parents Ann and Dick; and Randy’s parents Marylin and Jim were very hard workers and very caring people!

Botkin FamilyThe Botkin Family ~ Randy, Kyl, Marylin & Jim

Everyone in my immediate family, my brother Michael, both my sisters Julie and Janice; and my brother in-law Kyl exhibit strong work ethics. (My brother Steven did too, he never missed a day!)

Employers rank a strong work ethic as one of the top qualities they seek in the employees they hire or move up in the organization.

The best definition of ethics is: a system of moral principles and perceptions about right versus wrong. 

There are ten work ethic traits: appearance, attendance, attitude, character, communication, cooperation, organizational skills, productivity, respect and teamwork. 

If you have a case where work ethic is in question or certain work traits are paramount to an individual’s work background, please let me know. My number is 515-778-0634. I want to help you help your client tell their vocational story realistically, persuasively and yes, even creatively! 

Thanks for reading. Now it’s time for me to consider taking a nap,  especially after the Super Bowl last night! Is it ethical to take a nap whenever I want to? Yep, it is a benefit of self-employment considering I have no paid time off!


My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

Valuing the Mind at Work and Be Sure to Tip Well!

Reading Time: 3 minutes

In last week’s blog, I kindly asked you to stay in the ship.  Thank you for complying! This week I’m going to navigate the cognition dimensions of physical work.

Blue Captain Hat
My Captain’s Hat

My daughter Arin asks me why I’m always reading “knowledge based or self-improvement” type books. Currently I’m reading “The Mind at Work: Valuing the Intelligence of the American Worker” by Mike Rose.  I find this book very interesting. It’s about the thought–the cognition dimensions–necessary  for what’s usually considered physical work.

The Mind at Work
The Mind at Work


In “The Mind at Work”, Mike Rose examines the connection between the body and the mind through careful study of professions involving physical labor. Rose’s observations provide educators with a view of the skills, attitudes and habits of mind people need to succeed in often undervalued jobs—undervalued, at least, from the perspective of intellectual richness.

I found this book at the library, and after reaching my limit on renewals, I bought my own copy. In the book, Rose shows us waitresses making lightning-fast calculations, carpenters handling complex spatial mathematics, and hairdressers, plumbers, and electricians with their aesthetic and diagnostic acumen. Reading the book helps me to reinforce my thought processes and positive viewpoints of people working in physical labor jobs.

My husband, although a teacher by day, enjoys his time on his feet serving food and drinks to his favorite customers on weekends at Okoboji Grill in Johnston, Iowa. Randy has worked for this restaurant for many years. He believes he’s the only person at the restaurant who can operate the tvs correctly (ha!)

Okoboji Grill Restaurant
Where Good Friends Meet

Both my teenagers, Jake and Arin, work as hosts there too. My oldest son Nick held his first job at Okoboji Grill when he was a teen as well.  And my brother in law Kyl  Botkin is the General Manager of the Okoboji Grill in Pleasant Hill.  Me? I just eat and drink there, thank you very much!

Treat your restaurant workers well. Hi Dave, a good bartender! Jen and the rest of the bartenders are pretty good, too! Appreciate the servers, and the guys in back (Bob!) including the cooks, dishwashers…I could go on and on with names of some of the best restaurant workers in this town!  Be sure to treat restaurant workers with respect, kindliness and patience is really nice, and mucho tips too!

The thought processes that unravel at physically demanding jobs is incredible.  Read a one minute selection from The Mind at Work about the intelligence of a “waitress” here.  Think about how much she uses her mind!  And then be sure you tip restaurant workers 20% of the bill for really good service.

Q&A Time
Is Arin okay with my answer to her question?

Back to Arin’s question which is why I’m always reading “knowledge based or self-improvement” type books? My answer is that I’m intuitively geared towards continually improving my life and the people I care about as well. I’m also learning and learning and learning so as to gain knowledge, work smarter, and improve my performance.

Arin herself is a connoisseur of books…and that’s my topic for another week. Hope you enjoy reading!


My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.


Don’t Let Work Become a “Bad 4 Letter Word” – Workaholism

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Below if the transcript of Amy E. Botkin’s training and development presentation on Workaholism for Business Communications  ISU – Fall 1992.


I’m here to discuss something we all do, or will do sometime in the near future.  I’ll give you a clue to see if you can guess.  It’s a 4 letter word, ends in k, it can be very good for some people and it can turn boring, monotonous and simply not challenging for others.  Do you know the word I’m getting at? Don’t think too hard!

You’re right!  – the word is Work. 

Soon everyone in this room will enter the working world.  The future engineers, educators, journalists, managers, artists and so on in this room will all have demanding positions.  How is it that some people are able to handle the workload while others adopt bad habits and unhealthy work styles to cope with their job?

In this training and development session, I will discuss what workaholism is, compare the work style of a healthy worker with that of a workaholic, the significance of workaholism on the individual and the workplace, and general guidelines which may help you work with a workaholic.

Workaholism is a progressive disease in which a person is addicted to the process of working.  In a nutshell:  a workaholic’s life is dominated by his or her job.  How many of you know a workaholic?  I have a friend who works all the time. Please help me to welcome my helpers.

My visuals were Barbie…

Action:  Following an interview with a prospective client, Barbie blacked out in her office and was forced to spend a few days in the hospital. The doctors told her she had a minor heart problem and she should take a vacation to relax, yet she blew the doctor’s orders off.  Barbie’s life revolves around her work. Barbie does not know how to relax, as she is a workaholic. A definite symptom of a workaholic is the denial.  Barbie flatly denies she has a problem with work. She submitted her proposal the next morning, after working well into the evening.

Action:  Following an interview with a prospective client, Ken powered walked to his office and left work early so he could head to the beach with his family.  He recently had his annual physical from this regular doctor, which showed he continues to maintain great health.  The doctor recommended that Ken may want to do more walking, just to keep his heart healthy.  Ken’s life revolves around his work and his family.  Ken loves to relax and hang out with his friends.  Ken is looking forward to working with his new client and has plans to submit his proposal next week.

and Ken dolls…

Image result for working ken doll images

The main difference in work styles between Barbie and Ken is that Barbie’s work is out of control.  She is unable to relax, take time for herself or give time to her family.  Her work is her identity.

Ken, on the other hand, goes to work to provide for his family and to pay his bills.  Ken enjoys working and he loves his profession.  He fills discretionary time with recreation, volunteering, attending community functions or with his family and friends.

Workaholism can lead to personal health problems as well as inefficiencies in the workplace. Workaholics get burned out and tired from their frantic pace.  Tired workers make mistakes, spend extra time redoing the mistakes and have a higher incidence of accidents and illnesses.  Studies reveal that 40 hour work week often brings higher productivity than a 60 hour work week.

Chronic fatigue, headaches, backaches, difficulty sleeping, stomach problems and heart problems are all symptoms common in workaholics.  There are often merely disregarded as stress-related.  The fact is a workaholic’s body and mind are on overload and compounded with the inability to relax, devastating results are destined to happen.  Workaholism can be fatal if not prevented or treated timely.

A workaholic’s work style can create obstacles throughout the company.  There is a good possibility that communication problems with co-workers and clients will occur.  For example, since workaholics often exhibit peaks and valleys in job performance, co-workers can get mixed messages.  When a workaholic is “up” it is good for other co-workers.  When she is “down” confusion and miscommunication occur.  A healthy worker has strong communication skills.

A workaholic becomes obsessed about their job while not taking into account the whole picture behind their work.  This can be very dysfunctional in the workplace as the worker simply cannot be obsessive about a client or a particular account for example.  A healthy worker is able to focus on more than one project at a time.

A workaholic may constantly want to revise something in an attempt to make it perfect.  A perfectionist is often inconsistent in his or her productivity. They fluctuate between intense working and procrastination.  A healthy worker finds it best to level or balance out performance.

Often a workaholic needs to be in control in individual work as well as group work.  Since many companies rely on innovative teamwork, the workaholic is not a good team player and can hamper the group’s goals.  Teamwork is an essential component of today’s modern workforce. Problems related to workaholism can lead to inefficiencies in a company.


  • Prefer jobs with important titles and the opportunity to control others
  • Has an obsessive nature about work
  • Needs to be in control
  • Makes endless lists of things to do
  • Exaggerates achievements and rarely mention failures
  • Are often perfectionists
  • Appear to work twice as hard as everyone else
  • May have other addictions to money, food or relationships
  • Cannot say “no” to excessive demands for fear of disapproval
  • Constantly seeks approval which they receive through work (needs to please others)
  • Has either overinflated or under inflated perception of self
  • Has a hard time seeing themselves honestly and accepting who they are
  • Operates in constant crisis mode, usually because their schedule is more than they can handle
  • Inability to relax, workaholics cannot just sit and be
  • Puts in endless hours, foregoes vacations and puts everything else on hold for the sake of work
  • Loses touch with families and friends
  • Denies the problem / disease


  • Learn your company’s mission statement.  Understand the objectives related to achieving it and stay focused.
  • Gain co-workers’ trusts from the beginning.  Take charge of your work and get it done promptly.
  • Do just the opposite of what a workaholic does.  Arrive at work on time and leave when the time is right.
  • Don’t get caught up in the “frantic” mode of work.  Make order out of the chaos.
  • Creatively adapt to the workaholic’s work patterns.  Study the person’s style and habits, and learn what triggers affect their pace of work.
  • Be respectful and helpful to all co-workers ~ Be a Team Player
  • Solve problems with flexibility and learn from the situation


“When your work speaks for itself, don’t interrupt.” ~ Henry J. Kaiser

In conclusion, workaholism is damaging to individuals, their relationships and their workplaces.  It leads to inefficiencies in the work place and can cost employers time and money.  The most valuable asset a worker carries is that of serenity of mind and a healthy physical presence.  If we work ourselves to death at the expense of health and mental well-being, we will ultimately fail.  A healthy company encourages their workers to get the rest, recreation, exercise and self-reflective time necessary in order to be effective and productive players.

I wish you all good luck in the future and encourage you to take your work seriously, yet at the same time enjoy your life to its fullest.


If you suspect you may be a workaholic, your responses to the following 20 statements will help you determine what course of action to take.  How often do each of the following statements apply to you? Give yourself:  0 points for never;  1 point for rarely;  2 points for occasionally;  3 points for often.  Then add your points and refer to the scoring ranges at the bottom.

  1. I find myself irritated or frustrated by situations I think I should be able to handle
  2. I get overly involved emotionally with my clients
  3. I overschedule appointments
  4. I have chronic physical ailments
  5. My spouse/partner, children and friends complain that I’m never home or able to do things with them
  6. I feel I have so much to do that I’ll never get to all of it
  7. I feel successful but not happy
  8. The costs of putting all my energy into my work outweigh the benefits
  9. I get anxious and depressed and wish I could leave the business, but I know I can’t
  10. I must keep driving myself to avoid disaster
  11. I feel edgy, anxious, or guilty when I’m not working
  12. I believe that if I don’t keep up the pace, I won’t survive
  13. I feel tire—nearly exhausted—all the time
  14. Anything less than perfection is failure
  15. I work more than ten hours per day, six or seven days a week
  16. I’m preoccupied with work-related concerns
  17. I keep telling myself that I’ll slow down and take some time off
  18. Work comes first in my life
  19. I feel as if something is wrong, but I don’t know what it is
  20. I have trouble falling asleep at night because I’m thinking about work

Scores:  1-20:  workaholism may not be a problem for you, but you may want to ask the people who know you well whether they agree with you assessments.  21-50:  you could be in the beginning or even the middle stages of workaholism.  Get a physical checkup and implement some changes.  51-60:  You’re most likely under a great deal of stress and have several physical, mental, and emotional symptoms.  Take immediate steps to get professional help.