Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Explore the World of Wine with Us!

Ready for Wine Tasting!

Wine has been part of history for thousands of years and all cultures have enjoyed its benefits. Some research suggests that wine even has unique health properties. Good quality wine; reasonably priced, and readily available, is actually a fairly recent development here in the United States, gaining the most notoriety at the Paris wine tasting in 1976. In addition to California-produced wines, Americans can now enjoy delicious varietals from wine regions across the globe.

Meet new friends who
share your interests!

Unfortunately, though, wine tasting had gotten a bad reputation in the past as something only reserved for the snobby wine experts. It can be intimidating to try to select a wine in the grocery store aisle and forget trying to pair a wine with food! Lucky for us, though; vineyards, wine shops, and yes, even grocery stores, are now attempting to make wine tasting a fun and less intimidating experience. Consumers are now encouraged to "drink what you like" and not be afraid to try new wines. Practically speaking, though, exploring the world of wine can be a bit expensive with bottles ranging anywhere from $10 to $50 or more. So what to do if you want to not only try new wines but actually learn more about them at the same time? The best answer is to find wine tasting opportunities!

Instructor Richard Park
Many stores offer wine tasting opportunities but the selection is limited, they are often crowded and the opportunity to really learn much about the wine or be able to compare to other wines is often non-existent.  While this is helpful, it is much more valuable to take a fun wine tasting class and UNF Continuing Education has a full schedule of classes for your enjoyment! No prior wine knowledge is needed and you can start at any of the classes--they are not sequential.

Our wine guide is Richard Park. Richard has been in the wine business for his entire career spanning 32 years. He has worked closely with chefs, restaurateurs, hoteliers and retailers, with wine education as a key responsibility in many of the positions he has held. He has traveled extensively throughout the major wine producing regions of the world. So what are you waiting for? Registration is open now for our fall lineup of wine tasting classes and these popular classes can fill up quickly.

Reserve your seat at the table! Cheers!

Upcoming classes are scheduled in Sept., Nov. and Dec. For a list of all upcoming wine tasting classes, visit:

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Get to Know: Jessica Fields. The newest member of our Customer Care Team!

Jessica, could you share some background information of your professional career?
Before starting at UNF, I worked in the legal field as a legal assistant and legal administrator, most recently in a firm that handled disability cases. I have a bachelor’s degree in International Relations (minored in Economics) from Florida International University in Miami and I am currently a student here at UNF in the Masters of Public Administration program. I’ve just started my 2nd year in the MPA program, and I should be graduating in August 2016. My ultimate career goal after graduation is to be in a management position within a public organization.

Why did you want to work at UNF Continuing Education?
I was very excited about working for UNF Continuing Education because it’s an awesome opportunity to gain valuable working experience for my MPA. The Continuing Education department here at UNF is a great place to learn about the State University System in Florida. Also, I love being able to provide a service for our community. Continuing Education is such a wonderful service to provide for the community, from the test prep for younger students all the way to the OLLI program for seniors, and everything in between. It feels great to be part of a team that makes such a positive difference in peoples’ lives!

How would you describe your role at UNF Continuing Education?
I am part of the Customer Care Team here in the Continuing Education department. My primary role is to provide customer service to our current and future students, including answering any questions they may have and helping them with course registration. I also work on specific projects within the department as needed. I’m here to help out with anything that someone in our department may need!

Anything else you want us to share about you?
I enjoy being involved in the community, so I do a lot of volunteer work. Most of my volunteer work involves cultural events in and around the urban core area of Jacksonville. I am now in my second year as a member of the board of directors for GastroJax, Inc., a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that seeks to raise awareness about our local food shed and culinary scene. We are primarily known as the organizers of GastroFest 2015, a local food festival that was held in Hemming Park this past March. We are now hard at work organizing GastroFest 2016, as well as other events that will educate the community about local food! 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Trust and Verify

By Harold Resnick
All relationships are based on trust. Trust makes it easier and faster to get business done. Trust is a characteristic we look for when choosing vendors and project associates.
Lack of trust in the work environment can be devastating. When employees do not trust their organizations or their managers, they become cynical. They reduce their commitment and work efforts to the minimum required for compliance, rather than the maximum that comes from true commitment.
Trust is essential for strong relationships, high performance, a culture of candor and long-term commitment. Yet a McKinsey study entitled “The War for Talent”, which surveyed 23,000 employees, revealed that only 20 percent of those questioned indicated that they fully trusted the organization in which they were employed.
To strengthen one’s reputation for being trustworthy, practice these six trust-building commitments:
1. Examine Your Own Intentions and Communicate Them
When people do not trust individuals or organizations, it is often because they do not trust their intentions. This is often seen vividly in the political arena. Politicians ask their constituencies to trust that they are working on behalf of their interests and those of the country. Yet the public rarely believes them, often with good justification.
In the work environment, employee feedback sessions to address behavioral issues are often fraught with tension and defensiveness. Yet, the manager who begins the feedback session with the stated intention of helping the employee succeed – rather than deliver punitive action or termination – has a much better opportunity to create an open environment in which positive behavioral changes can result.
The first step to gaining trust is to be clear about your own intentions and to share them with the other person.
2. Behave With Integrity
Integrity is the act of maintaining consistency through one’s beliefs and values, thoughts, words and deeds. Individuals who act with integrity are clear about their personal values, espouse those values and then act in accordance with them.
Lapses of integrity are quickly caught. Leaders who espouse that employees are their most important asset and then withhold raises from employees while distributing large bonuses to top executives are demonstrating a lack of integrity between words and deeds. Companies that claim they stand for customer service and then establish automated call centers that make it impossible for a customer to reach a live employee similarly reflect lack of integrity between words and actions.
3. Maintain Authenticity
Authenticity is one of the most fundamental conditions for creating trust. Authentic people have high self-awareness and share their true selves with others, characterized by candor and consistency. Individuals who are not authentic put up a false front. The problem is that everyone sees through the false front and does not trust either the individual or what they have to say. Lack of authenticity often comes from lack of self-confidence. It doesn’t work and destroys trust.
4. Honor Commitments
Honoring commitments is essential for building a trust-based relationship. Fulfilling promises reflects the integrity of thoughts, words and deed; it also demonstrates the competence and willingness to perform. Leaders who say they are going to do something – particularly if it requires a hard or courageous conversation or decision – and then fail to do so lose the trust of their employees. Honoring promises and commitments is one of the powerful ways to build trust.
5. Speak the Truth
“The Emperor has no clothes” is the classic example of the unwillingness of a group to speak the truth. Another common expression is “the elephant in the room.” When no one is willing to acknowledge the elephant in the room there is a lack of truthfulness in the environment. Speaking the truth is more than the absence of lying. It is speaking the whole truth even when the topic may be awkward. Individuals who are known to speak the truth – with thoughtfulness and sensitivity – become the most highly respected and trusted individuals in an organization.
6. Empathy
For an individual to trust someone else they must believe that their thoughts and feelings will be treated with respect and dignity. Empathy – understanding how the other person is feeling – is the tool that generates this respect. When sensitive or emotional information is shared and handled with empathy the bonds of trust are enhanced.
When individuals are clear about their intentions, behave with integrity and authenticity, speak the truth and honor their commitments and promises, they create a trustworthy environment that generates honesty, high performance and accountability.