Discover Pathwaze Blog

Know Thyself

What I wish my younger self knew (Part 1)

Dear Younger me,


Know what you’re good at. I mean really good at. And please don’t say “I don’t know” or worse “everything”. If you need help in this area, there are so many great assessments and discovery tools out there. Some are free, some are costly, and then find a mentor, coach, trusting partner, who is unbiased to help you muddle through it. Once you have some direction, use that critical information and figure out what jobs, careers, and hobbies your strengths connect best with.

As important, know your weaknesses. Remembering always, those weaknesses are actually strengths in other areas. These will be the things that could get you fired if you’re not careful. They’ll definitely hamper your promotions and advancements in certain jobs. I like to say, know them and then “buffer” them with a more balanced approach. Mary, for you specifically, younger self, know you are super social. Which is great in many jobs / careers, and it’s going to bite you in the rear when it comes to getting the less desirable tasks done. While you are socializing, making great connections, closing deals, solving problems with people, you need to remember to stop and finish up your to-do list!

So, dear reader, what are YOU good at? Are you aligned with a job, career or hobbies that supports your gifts and talents? If not, why? We are here to help.

Author’s note. The picture is of our Creative – Josh K when he was younger… he truly knows himself and will do just about anything to have a career in his gifted space of Art and Graphics. I’m inspired by that every day!

Top Five things you need to know about 529 Plans

  1. What is a 529 Plan? – A 529 plan is a tax-advantaged investment plan designed to help families to save for a beneficiary’s (typically one’s child or grandchild) future higher education expenses. While commonly referred to as 529 plans, they are formally known as “Qualified Tuition Programs,” as defined in Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code and are administered by state agencies and organizations. Source:
    • Some states offer matching grants and other benefits to participants in their 529 plans.
    • Check your state for the plan offerings provided. In Colorado, a CollegeInvest 529 Scholarship is designed to award scholarships to Colorado residents of middle income families who have planned for a higher education by saving with a CollegeInvest 529 College Savings Plan.  Source: College Invest
  2.  Who can own the plan? Anyone 18 years or older can be an account owner.  An account owner can be a parent, grandparent, anyone who designates a beneficiary to receive the benefit or yourself.  Gifting strategies should be considered which can help remove assets from your taxable estate. There are no income or age limits on contributions.  The account owner retains control of the assets, so they can be used to benefit other family members (or any beneficiary) if the current child (beneficiary) does not use them.  The account owner can transfer the balance (or any amount) to any other qualified family (beneficiary) member.
    • You can participate in almost any 529 plan across the country, no matter what state you live in.
    • Minimum contributions can be as little as $10.
  3. What’s the tax implication? Investments grow tax deferred. Tax-free withdrawals when used for qualified education expenses. The earnings are state and federal tax-free when used for qualifying expenses.  The 529 plan contribution qualifies for the $15,000 per beneficiary annual gift tax exclusion ($30,000 for a married couple
    • In some States, the contribution is a state tax deduction (Colorado is one).
  4. Is it only for College tuition? Funds can be used for tuition and fees, room and board, books, required supplies and equipment, computers or peripheral equipment, computer software or Internet access and related services. Other acceptable expenses include payments for special needs beneficiaries at any accredited school, including public or private universities, graduate schools, community colleges, accredited vocational technical schools, some foreign schools and some K-12 private schools (some states are still voting on whether this selection is tax-deductible).
  5. Does investing in a 529 plan impact financial aid eligibility? While each educational institution may treat assets held in a 529 account differently, investing in a 529 plan will generally impact a student’s eligibility to receive need-based financial aid. For many families, the larger part of a financial aid package may be in loans. So, the more you can save before college, the less debt you or your student may have to incur during college.

Start investing for college as early as possible. It’s never too early, or too late, to begin.  Look at this chart which shows the rising cost of college.

Source:, College Cost Calculator. The calculation assumes cost one year from February 2016

If you would like to discuss using a 529 Plan for your family, contact Hope Tuck (303.938.3914) at Merrill Lynch today!

Things to consider before you interview.

Glassdoor just announced the Employees’ Choice list of the 100 best places to work.  Here’s the link to the list.,19.htm

This gives great insight into what employees define as a best place to work.  There’s the benefits they provide, the use of your skills and the culture of a company is important to understand.

Here are some things I learned the hard way over my 35+ years working in corporate America of things I should have considered before saying yes:

  1. Do your research before you go to your interview. There’s no reason you can’t spend 15 minutes on-line to find out what information is out there about the company.
  2. Ask simple questions at your interview, like “Where will I sit?” This is one I should have asked at many interviews, even after I didn’t learn my lesson from my first job out of college.  My desk was in a trailer in the Midwest.  It was a special project which was great but this space didn’t have running water and wasn’t ideal during the winter months.
  3. Ask your interviewer about the culture of the company. Every company has a culture — to me it’s the feeling you get when you spend time in a place, about what people say and what they do, and how they and others behave in meetings and with their co-workers.
  4. Don’t hesitate to ask to speak to ‘future’ team members during your interview. If they say no, take this response as a red flag.
  5. Take the on-line reviews you read about a company with a grain of salt. Most people only provide reviews when they are unhappy.
  6. Lastly and I think most importantly, ask yourself if you would feel proud to tell others where you work. If the answer isn’t a resounding yes, think twice about moving forward with an interview or an offer.

Need more ideas for interview questions?  Check out Refinery29’s 9 Best Questions YOU Should Ask In A Job Interview


Growth and Comfort don’t co-exist

If you hadn’t known better, we looked like a choir getting ready to break out in song. Fifty of us stood together nervously waiting for our CEO to join us to take a picture. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a beautiful tall blond woman running towards us. As she ran (yes ran) with her admins close behind, my first thought was “would a male CEO run towards waiting employees”? I think we all know the answer but I prefer not to comment further. Ginni Rometty was smiling ear to ear, and profusely apologizing “I’m so sorry, I was with the President, and when it’s the president, you wait until you’re excused”. It was 2013, and the President was Barack Obama. The meeting was an urgent request to help with the floundering healthcare website another company had created.

I also recall on 9/11, IBM and its team of technology gurus as well as our CEO meeting around the clock with the president, George W Bush. Many people are not aware that our government trusts and depends on the CEOs of technology companies (and others) to keep us safe and secure. In fact, CEOs and their leadership teams spend a lot of time and resources with our government leaders advising, enabling, protecting, monitoring and modernizing systems for our safety and security. These CEOs are our government’s trusted advisors.

I’m a fan of Ginni Rometty. I’ve seen her speak many times, I met her & she forever won my heart (and mind) when she pronounced my last name right and recognized me for doing a good job. I read and listen to almost everything she puts out. It’s just good stuff!

Here’s a few of her recent gems (I’d encourage you to listen to Ginni’s interview with David Rubenstein)

On her first day as CEO, she said “what an honor it was and responsibility”. Leading a 106 year old company is about being a ‘steward’.

“IBM is great but for a reason you didn’t mention” we reinvent ourselves over and over and we will again and again. “The art of reinvention is in our DNA

Sadly, her father left her mother with 4 kids. She was “intent on not letting others define who she was”. She didn’t use that as an excuse to limit herself. Her mom went to college at night and taught Ginni and her three siblings “never let a situation define who you are

The importance of networking. Her husband called an IBM friend and got her an interview.

The value of mentors “Mentor: I’m going for a job (promotion) and you’re going to take my job”

Her view on adaptability: “Growth and comfort don’t co-exist. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable”

On gender bias “IBM is the most inclusive company I know” (I would agree). Ginni does understand the importance in being a female role model on appropriate things. Understands the notion that many women want to SEE what they can Be. It’s hard to dream to be something when you don’t see others like you. She said a lot more… (teaser to listen to it)

There will be another reinvention of IBM. They are champions of business. The gold is in the data & artificial intelligence.

We’ve (IBM) made a conscious effort to keep women in the workforce.

“I’m not retiring, my work is not done….We help society make itself better”

Recently: A series of meetings Ginni has been involved with is focused on “Modernizing the IT (information technology) in our Government, including modernizing the systems….”quite focused on how for our country, we’ve got to work on our skills and prepare not only this current generation but anyone, because all work is going to include technology”

My note: This is our passion at Discover Pathwaze. This is why we do what we do. We want to enable you to your fullest potential. To discover and develop your skills and make sure you’re in the right job/career or path to get there.

Discover Pathwaze is a career consulting company.

We focus on three areas: Young adults and Career transitioners. We support the college process from selecting the best fit colleges to the application process.

We provide career services from resume creation to preparing for salary discussions.

Listen to a podcast by Discover Pathwaze on “How to Raise a Maverick”