STC Houston - Dateline Houston - March/April 2006

Vol 45, Issue 4

March/April 2006

STC Houston - Dateline Houston - March/April 2006

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STC Houston - Dateline Houston - March/April 2006

[New Member Luncheon] [The STC Houston Forum] [Administrative Council Meetings] [January 2006 Program Review] [What? No Pictures?] [The Elections Are Coming…] [Mary Wise to Present STK on March 25] [March Program: UH Masters Presentations] [April Program: The Accidental Saleswoman]

Chapter News

New Member Luncheon

Yvonne Wade Sanchez, Staff Technical Writer, AspenTech

Each year STC Houston hosts an event to welcome new members and introduce them to the STC community. This is for new members who joined STC Houston in the last year and others who want to learn more about the benefits. Please take this opportunity for new members to meet chapter leaders, make new friends, and get active in STC Houston.

Saturday, March 11 at 11:30 a.m.

Logan Farms Honey Glazed Hams, 10560 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77042.

The informal lunch is Dutch treat, but the opportunity to meet and enjoy lunch together is free. Please email by March 3, 2006. We need to give the restaurant an accurate count of participants.


The STC Houston Forum

Creating and Providing Value

by Rick Sanchez, STC Houston Forum Moderators Manager, AspenTech, Inc.

Once more, the STC Houston, Louisiana Forum, calls its members into action. This time, the management of the STC Houston Forum would like to recognize the efforts of Marilyn Barrett-O'Leary, STC-Louisiana Comanager and Forum Moderator.

In her post, Ms. Barrett-O’Leary addresses two vital issues that affect her immediate audience and the entire technical communication industry. The issues center on career growth and current market developments.

Specifically, Ms. Barrett-O'Leary shares her career development path and provides the following anecdotal evidence for breaking through the proverbial glass ceiling: “The title of communicator takes one much farther than the title of writer!” Such a claim is developed further as she explains that the change in her title was the beginning of a transformation that includes the completion of a master’s degree in technical writing, affiliation with the STC, and, of course, hands-on experience that allows her to apply her writing expertise to, ultimately, validate her belief that the title opened additional opportunities.

Undoubtedly, her qualifications alone are enough to break through her figurative glass ceiling; however, one can ascertain that networking, as her post invites readers to do, is critical to learning and career advancement.

Ms. Barrett-O'Leary’s post succinctly delivers a motivational plan to success, but attached to her career path/plan, however, is a level of accountability that calls for introspection and ownership.

In her subsequent point, Ms. Barrett-O'Leary invites forum members to contemplate the current and future state of the profession by offering the following statement: “Our profession is not expanding properly because we have not been creative enough to meet the changing times. How can we turn this situation to our advantage?”

In her post, Ms. Barrett-O'Leary introduces several reasons why the technical writing profession has evolved into what it is today. The post entices you to ponder your own involvement in the field of technical writing and how, perhaps, by lack of involvement, “in many ways communication is becoming sloppy.”

The management of the STC Forum hopes that by highlighting Ms. Barrett-O’Leary’s efforts, her call to action will be well received and that other members of the STC Houston Forum community will be encouraged to take on a similar and proactive approach to forum participation.

Read more about this topic and the views of other Houston and Louisiana members by visiting the STC Houston Forum at

Getting Involved

A reminder: In the forum, interactions take place between registered STC Houston Forum users. You can view these interactions by visiting the STC Houston Forum at However, if you want to post a comment, you must become a registered user.

Getting Started

Begin by using the “Getting Started” forum, which provides instructions for registering and provides help to use the features of the forums.

To register, follow the instructions provided in “STC Houston Forum Registration” at

Questions and Comments

The STC Houston Forum is here to serve you, so take advantage of this local benefit.

If you want to learn more about the STC Houston Forum or if you want to express your concerns, ideas, or recommendations, please contact Rick Sanchez at

Administrative Council Meetings

Trena Fellers, Chapter Secretary

The Administrative Council met on January 10, 2006, from 8:37 p.m. until 9:45 p.m. in the Hilton Houston Westchase conference room. The minutes from the November 8, 2005, meeting were approved, as were the Reconciliation Summary, Transaction Detail, and Balance Sheet reports from November and December. The chapter ECH membership, community calendar, and events, including the Employment STK, were discussed.

The Administrative Council will not meet in February. The next meeting of the Administrative Council will be held on March 14, 2006, at the Hilton Houston Westchase located at 9999 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77042, immediately following the STC Houston program meeting. For additional information, contact Cindy Pao at


January 2006 Program Review

Looking to the Future with Terry Devlin and Robin Kessler

by Cindy Pao, Information Developer, BMC Software, Inc.

For the past few years, January has been Employment month for STC Houston. This year, Dean Liscum brought in two folks who gave us advice to help us find jobs.

First, we heard about how to network effectively from Terry Devlin. Then, we learned how to write a competency-based resumé from Robin Kessler.


Terry Devlin, a career counselor, is a popular speaker at STC Houston meetings. This time, he addressed how to network in such a way that you will find an awesome job.

Terry talked about his own experience losing his job and the steps he tried to find a new job. Later, after he had become a career counselor, Terry worked with a group of engineers. This group discovered more job opportunities when the job seeker reached the third level of contact with people who might have job leads.

This is how it works: You, a job seeker, make contact with someone who might have a job or job lead for you. The first person doesn’t, but she knows someone else who might have a job or a lead. This second person doesn’t have anything for you, but it just so happens he has heard, through another contact, about a position that sounds perfect for you. Contact number 2 gets in touch with contact number 3, and you get an interview!

Terry also talked about LinkedIn, which is a virtual network of professionals that all of us can join to chart a course for the future.

Competency-Based Resumes

Robin Kessler, president of a human resources and career consulting firm, joined us for the first time. She talked about a new way of writing resumés that emphasizes the value you can add to an organization.

Robin told us that over 50 percent of Fortune 500 companies are hiring based on competency-based resumés. They are looking for key performers who can help the company be successful.

What is a competency-based resumé? Robin told us that this type of resumé identifies your accomplishments and lets you provide a potential employer examples of where you did superior work. A competency-based resumé is not a format but is more the information you include in whatever format you choose.


If you are not in the market for a new job right now, you might ask how the information from this meeting is beneficial to you. Truth be told, I wondered that myself. But this is relevant!

When Terry talked about the wrong way to network, I could think of at least two people who’d been told to network with everyone they know—even me—to find a new position. Would I do the same thing, if I were looking for a new job? Not likely, after hearing Terry talk.

And how about your resumé? How up to date is it? Mine is woefully old. I made a note that I should update mine by writing a summary. Just a little step I can take to be current. Furthermore, I can update my resumé with competencies and share that information with my manager to help update my career development plan and quarterly objectives.

You never know when a good job opportunity might present itself to you. That’s why you should keep up with employment information!


What? No Pictures?!

Do you miss photos with your meeting summary article? Did you know that we have photographer positions available in the chapter? If you like the thought of being the one who’s never in the pictures, get involved! Send an e-mail to Cathy Bettoney (, and be a published photographer in no time!


The Elections Are Coming…

by Lee Turner, Senior Member

At the April 11, 2006, meeting, STC Houston will hold annual elections. We can vote to elect our Administrative Council members for next year (June 2006 to June 2007).

Our Administrative Council provides the leadership, guidance, and structure to help STC Houston serve its members. As STC continues its transformation efforts at the national level, our Chapter leaders need to stay informed and identify ways for our members to benefit from these changes. Working closely with our members, the Administrative Council leads our Chapter into the future.

If you cannot attend the April 11, 2006, meeting, please download and print a proxy ballot and mail it to STC Houston, as directed on the proxy ballot. For more information about the candidates or to download a proxy ballot for the election, see


Mary Wise to Present STK on March 25

by Cindy Pao, Information Developer, BMC Software, Inc.

Mary Wise, past president of STC, comes to town for a share-the-knowledge (STK) session on Saturday, March 25, 2006.

Follow the Arrows: Seven Lessons from the Circus

Clowns, acrobats, jugglers, and flyers: These are the performers who present a wonderful show for you. Behind the scenes, though, are many other people who are vital to the success of the show. Roustabouts, prop handlers, and office staff ensure a smooth operation.

How does a circus resemble a career in technical communication? Who are the performers, and who are the supporters? How can you, as a technical communicator, ensure that your performance receives rave reviews? Mary, a former circus clown and current technical communicator, shares the lessons she learned from her show-business career.

About the Speaker
Mary R. Wise is a Senior Communications Manager at Fannie Mae, where she designs and develops e-learning courses that help mortgage professionals work effectively with Fannie Mae. She has over 20 years experience in technical communication, including stints as a word processor, technical writer, instructional designer, and staff manager. Her STC service includes positions as annual conference program manager, Region 2 Director-Sponsor, and Society President.

Although she has a B.A. from the University of Maryland, Mary feels her background as a circus clown prepared her well for both her corporate and STC jobs.

STK Details

The location for the STK is still being set, so check the STC web site for the place.

Saturday, March 25, 2006
11:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.

$10 (lunch is included)

Sign up on the STC Houston web site!
Still Have Questions? Send Cindy Pao an e-mail message at


Upcoming Program Meetings

by Dean Liscum, Information Developer, BMC Software, Inc.

March Program: UH Masters Thesis Posters and Presentations

It’s time to get schooled in the new ways of technical communication. At the March meeting, Dr. Molly Johnson will lead an informal discussion about posters developed by her master’s degree students, and then three master’s candidates will present their thesis research. The topics and presenters are:

• “Using Blogs to Facilitate Knowledge Sharing and Improve Critical Thinking” by Penny Clowe

• “Challenging Style and Format Guides: Can or May?” by Monica Hamilton

• “Feasibility Study of Holographic Journal Covers: Issues for Publishers, Printers, Editors” by Mechelle Garrett

Hilton Houston Westchase
9999 Westheimer

Date and Time
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
• 5:30 p.m. networking (hors d'oeuvres)
• 6:20 p.m. announcements
• 6:30 p.m. program

April Program: The Accidental Saleswoman: How Women Can Be More Persuasive and Effective in Their Job, Family, and Life Regardless of Job Title

Because sales is a component of all professional jobs, even technical writing, every one is an “accidental saleswoman.” Many people are especially gifted in connecting, which is often viewed as a feminine trait. However, we can all learn the pitfalls and opportunities of this female-oriented strategy, no matter whether you sell products, services, ideas, opinions, points-of-view, or sanctuary, and no matter whether you are selling to your boss, your coworkers, the community, or your customers, you can use this key to sales success—building connections.

This meeting is graciously hosted by HP and coordinated by HP Women At Work.

About Michelle Nichols
Michelle Nichols is the sales columnist for BusinessWeek Online with over 100 columns published. She's also a professional sales speaker and consultant. Her "Savvy Selling" column is sent by BusinessWeek to 200,000 subscribers all over the world. Her readership spans every industry and over 50 countries.

Ms. Nichols is a long-time, successful salesperson, sales trainer, and a entrepreneur. She has lived and sold on all 3 coasts—East, West, and South—and currently resides in Reno, Nevada. Ms. Nichols is married and the mother of three children, two big dogs, and two pet frogs, both of which resemble technical writers, but neither of which are named after them.

HP Houston campus (Hwy 249 at Louetta), Commons Conference Center, Ontario Room

Date and Time
Tuesday, April 13, 2006
• 5:30 p.m. networking (hors d'oeuvres)
• 6:20 p.m. announcements
• 6:30 p.m. program

Cost for Each Program
$10 (members)
$15 (nonmembers)
$5 (student and unemployed members)

Copyright © 2006 Houston Chapter, Society for Technical Communication
P.O. Box 42051, Houston, TX 77242-2051 | 713-706-3434