Blog Post #450 Mentoring IV

Blog Post #450 Mentoring IV

Continuing from yesterday – How to find a great mentor.

In this article from Forbes Magazine, about looking for a mentor, the article says:
“If someone has to ask the question [will you be my mentor], the answer is probably no. When someone finds the right mentor, it is obvious.  The question becomes a statement. Chasing or forcing that connection rarely works.”

For example, let’s say you are a student at XYZ University thinking about majoring in accounting.  You hear that Professor Simione, from the Accounting Department at XYZ has written the #3 most successful accounting textbook.  You make an appointment to see Professor Simione through the department secretary and the first time you can meet with her is in two weeks.  In those two weeks, you read up on Professor Simione, you see the press releases from the book publisher, see her bio online and you get excited about meeting her.  Your appointment is at 2:00; and at 1:30 you are in a chair in the hallway outside her office – sitting nervously waiting. You can hear her on the phone as you sit in the hall.  

At 2:15 she opens her door and invites you in.  She is very cordial and welcomes you with a friendly greeting.  As you sit down, her phone rings and she says “I have to take this, it’s my publisher”.  You sit quietly for 15 minutes as she talks with her publisher.

She returns to you and says “Now, where were we?  Yes, you are interested in majoring in accounting.”  She goes on for a few minutes about how strong the program is at XYZ University, the percentage of those that pass the CPA exams on the first try out of the program, and some other information.  The phone rings. This time it is the department secretary and you hear Dr. Simione say “Send her down”. She again returns to you with a few more comments about accounting when there is a knock on the door.  She looks up and says “Hello Dr. Wilson.” She turns to you and apologetically says “I’m sorry, I can’t talk longer with you today. Hopefully, I gave you some ideas about accounting.” You leave and Dr. Wilson goes into her office, the door is closed and you are out in the hallway again, without getting to know Dr. Simione and without being able to ask her about being a mentor to you.

So, back to the drawing board.  You start attending the Accounting Society meetings and meet many of the members.  They have speakers from some of the local businesses come in to talk about their experience.  You make sure you get to know the guest speakers and ask them some questions (that is, you start networking with them.)  Be patient, eventually, you will ‘click’ with a person that will be a great mentor for you.

The article suggests that you have to be a person that the potential mentor would be glad to have.  Do you look studious? Are you reasonably dresses? Are you comfortable with that person and are they comfortable with you?  

The last suggestion from the article is:  “Finally, whenever you’re in a quandary about how to get help from someone, put yourself in their shoes.  If the tables were turned, what would you want to see from this individual asking for help? If you were inundated with requests for help every day, what type of person would YOU choose to assist, and why? Go out and become that person that others would love to support and nurture.”

There is an old adage “to make friends you have to be a friend first”.  Let the mentor feel comfortable with you, volunteer to help them with projects, work the relationship.

What do you think?

Have you had mentors?  How did you find them?


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Blog Post #449 Mentoring III

Blog Post #449 Mentoring III

Continuing from yesterday – looking for a GREAT mentor!!

I have been a mentor for many students.  But, this link (article) says it as well as I could:

  1. Willingness to Share Skills, Knowledge and Expertise
  2. Demonstrates a Positive Attitude and Acts as a Positive Role Model
  3. Takes a Personal Interest in the Mentoring Relationship
  4. Exhibits Enthusiasm in the Field
  5. Values Ongoing Learning and Growth in the Field
  6. Provides Guidance and Constructive Feedback
  7. Respected by Colleagues and Employees in All Levels of the Organization
  8. Sets and Meets Ongoing Personal and Professional Goals

Yesterday we looked at the first four points, Today, we are going to look at the last four points.

5) Values ongoing learning and growth in the field.  
You MUST be a lifelong learner.  Your mentor needs to be conversant with what is going on in the field.  I was an information systems person and my field changed every day – with new technologies.  I had to keep up with artificial intelligence, robotics and more, although not be an expert in each area.

6) Provides guidance and constructive feedback

Your mentor needs to lead and guide you – not yell at you.  He/she needs to encourage you and give you enough guidance to move along.  Learning new things is a tough balancing point – too hard and the learner gets ‘turned off’; too easy, and again the learner gets turned off.

7) Respected by colleagues and employees in all levels of the organization.

Your mentor needs to have such positive values that others recognize him/her.  As a ‘master teacher’ and a service award winner, I was respected by others. My mentees knew that and knew they could approach me.

8) Sets and Meets ongoing personal and professional goals

In this whole series of blogs, I have written about attitude, goals, being great and remarkable.  Your mentor also needs to have goals – both personal and professional.

Find a great mentor, stick with him or her.  I have students that even now, years after graduation ask me questions and contact me for advice.


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Blog Post #448 Mentoring II

Blog Post #448 Mentoring II

Let’s look at this from the ‘reverse side’ – what is a good mentor.

Yes – if you are in college, if you are changing jobs, if you are just unsure of what is going on – you need a mentor.  Years ago, it might have been your father or mother, or a clergy person. Today it is more likely to be a professional in your job field.

I have been a mentor for many students.  But, this link (article) says it as well as I could:

  1. Willingness to Share Skills, Knowledge and Expertise
  2. Demonstrates a Positive Attitude and Acts as a Positive Role Model
  3. Takes a Personal Interest in the Mentoring Relationship
  4. Exhibits Enthusiasm in the Field
  5. Values Ongoing Learning and Growth in the Field
  6. Provides Guidance and Constructive Feedback
  7. Respected by Colleagues and Employees in All Levels of the Organization
  8. Sets and Meets Ongoing Personal and Professional Goals

In older days, a person might become an apprentice to a master.  That master would guide that younger person to eventually become a master as well.  

Today, we are going to look at the first four points.

  1. Look for a mentor/expert in your area that you are learning.  It might be great to have an expert in finance, but if you are learning information systems, that might not be the best choice (but, don’t dismiss the option too early).  As a faculty mentor, I wanted to share and teach the field; I wanted the student to learn and grow.
  2. You don’t want a crabby mentor.  You want one that is positive and upbeat.  Now, we all have bad days, and if you approach a person who you think is good on a bad day, try them again.  Maybe they are sick that day. I’ve had days when I should not have been in the classroom – flu and feeling lousy.  But, most days I’m very positive and very upbeat.
  3. ** You must have a mentor that is interested in YOU.  If they are not interested, don’t have the time, can’t make the time for you, forget that person. This is probably the most important on the list.  Better a lesser expert that has time and wants to help you than a well-known expert who is NOT interested in you or in mentoring you. Some people (faculty) have a great rapport and have a lot of mentees, but most can squeeze in if they believe in you.
  4. While some realism is good; enthusiasm is contagious.  Remembering the old quote “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm”.  They will know the field, the job opportunities. Trust their judgment as they guide you.  If they say a particular field has drawbacks, listen to them. If you want to be a marine biologist and you don’t like water and ships, they might counsel you into another aspect of biology.

While networking is very important, having a fantastic mentor can top that.  Your mentor becomes your cheerleader. Build the relationship carefully. Take the mentor for a cup of coffee.  Listen carefully to them, interact with them, ask questions, and be sure to tell them “Thanks”. As a faculty mentor, I loved to encourage student mentees, but that time spent mentoring took me away from some research, grading and lesson planning.  But, be careful of their time. Ask if this is a good time.

Tomorrow – more mentoring – the last four bullet points from above.


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Blog Post #447 Mentors 1

Coaching for Life Success:  Mentors 1

A very important topic today – finding a mentor.  

First – what is a mentor?

A mentor is a person or friend who guides a less experienced person by building trust and modeling positive behaviors. An effective mentor understands that his or her role is to be dependable, engaged, authentic, and tuned into the needs of the mentee. (taken from – which is a great resource to check out)

Having an experienced person listen to you; guide you and when appropriate give suggestions is going to be very valuable to you.  

Over the years, I have had many student mentees.

Example 1: Jerry was unsure of his major and direction.  We talked frequently and as it got to be time to register for classes for the next semester, we agreed for him to add a programming class to his schedule.  He wasn’t sure he wanted to be a programmer or an information systems major. My advice was to try it out, it is one class and if it doesn’t fit, he could drop the class or finish it and go in another direction.  As it happened, he loved the class and did extremely well. This lead to more information systems classes. Then was the opportunity for an internship. He had some different options. The experience of an internship was going to be good no matter where he went.   He selected an internship with a major financial company – and now 20 years later has been promoted several times, has a group working under him and is very happy.

Example 2: Andrew was also good with information systems and we talked frequently about careers and direction.  He too had many options upon graduation and took one with a leadership development program which gave him about five internal positions within the business over a three year period.  At the end of that time, he was very valuable to the company and know the ins-and-outs of how the entire company worked from working in the different departments. He settled in and was recognized as a valued employee.  Then an opportunity came for him to move within that company to a different location. We talked about it – moving away from what he knew and people he knew to a new town, a new boss, and new experiences. It meant selling a house and starting over.  Again, we talked and I listened to what I was hearing from his heart. He made the move and is so much happier and in a great position to continue to be promoted.

Example 3: Lori was an average student.  She did well and we talked frequently. Coming from a very close family and a small town, she just didn’t want to take a position in a large company in a different state.  We found a fantastic internship with a non-profit organization for her. She really flourished in that environment and while that non-profit organization didn’t have an opportunity for her, she found her niche in a governmental agency and loves what she does – with less stress and more time with family than she would have had by moving to a neighboring state.

I do have many more mentoring success stories.

The author suggests that college students find a faculty mentor.  Talk to them about careers. Experienced professors will also be able to help with networking and finding professionals to talk to.  

Take time to talk to your professors. Stop by their office to chat.  Ask them why they picked their particular discipline. Stop to visit at least monthly.  Then narrow your focus to two that seem to be better able to help you in your career and future.  Get to know them more – take them for coffee (aside, faculty love to go for coffee). Build your relationship.

Things to think about

  • Research mentoring and being a mentee.  
  • What makes for a good mentor?  
  • How can you be a good mentee?
  • If you are already in college, start working on this.  Make an appointment to visit with your professors – even those outside your intended major (with their networks, they will probably know people and opportunities that might be of interest to you.

Quote for today: “I am not a teacher, but an awakener.” ― Robert Frost


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Blog Post #446 Networking 2

Coaching for Life Success:  Networking 2

So, you need to build a professional network.  

Are you on LInkedIn?  If not, you should be, and it should be professional.  Link up with professors, with classmates, with professional friends.  LinkedIn is NOT where you put your vacation pictures (or, your pictures from last Saturday’s night party).  Keep it up to date!!

Next, find professional societies.  If you are a college student, there may be various groups on your campus – AITP student chapter; Accounting Students Organization, and almost every major has a professional society.  Get involved – (almost all organizations like volunteers, and if you volunteer you get to meet more people and get to network more!!)

If you are not a student, check out various meeting groups – like MeetUp (I just found a Beginning German speakers group in Austin).  Some groups are professional, some more common interest groups. And, even if Beginning German is not a professional group for you, you will still meet people, who know people in your field.  Networking – rubbing shoulders with others that might know somebody who knows somebody!!

The adage “A turtle only makes progress by sticking out his neck”.  Stick out your neck, meet new people.

Now don’t be too self-serving in your networking – it is not just about YOU!!  Volunteer for organizations (even if behind the scene), be a regular at meetings, invite your new friends for coffee or a beer.  To have friends (and networking friends) you must be a friend.

(Aside, I went to the ISECON Conference in 1990 not knowing anybody.  I volunteered for the board of directors, was selected in 1992 (elected), and eventually became the conference director for four years, a member of executive committee, and the ISECON /EDSIG “IS Educator of the Year”)

Work on your elevator speech (as if you are in an elevator with a hiring manager, you have between the ground floor and the 20th floor to make a good impression – about one to two minutes).

Be proactive.  When you meet somebody new, ask what they do for a living.  (It is a nice ice-breaker question anyway). Be interested. Somebody in their company does what you want to do – find out about that person, that company, and who might be a networking person at that company.

Be patient.  It may time to build your network; it may be a while before somebody gets back to you; a person/company might not have an immediate need for your skills – but be in communication (and not ‘begging’ for a job).  It might be that one day a person at that company dies in a traffic accident and they need somebody quickly – and the person you know remembers you and you get a call for a temporary assignment.

Build your resume, part-time jobs, internships. volunteering that you have done.  Show that you are a real person.

And, of course, be ready for an interview!!!  



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Blog Post #445 – Networking 1

Coaching for Life Success:  Networking – part I

Today we will start looking at networking.

When I was young and naïve, I seriously thought it was “What I know not who I know” that made the difference.  After 38 years as a professor, I understand that knowledge is important, that thinking and being able to adapt is very important, but having a network is also very important.  So, who I know – and who I network with is important.

Overview:  What is networking?

According to San Jose State University; “Networking is simply an information exchange between you and another person. It involves establishing relationships with people who can help you advance your career in many ways” (see the beginning link)

You can network with anyone.   You can ‘network’ with your roommate, your classmates, your professors.  Let’s look more at the purpose of networking

Purpose of professional networking:  The SJSU definition says “establishing relationships with people who can help you advance your career in many ways”.

Who to network with for a career?

As you have been thinking about who you are and where you are going, this is a good time to meet with people in that field.  Let’s say you are thinking about going into computing – you should be finding people to talk to in that field. Within computing, there are several areas – programming, vendor liaison, networking (computer networking, not people networking), architecture, ERP, CRM, security and much more.  Most students who are thinking of computing may not be thinking of all the options and talking to some computing professionals can help you understand the field.

There are many sources for networking – your neighbors, your parent’s friends and people they know, even your high school career counselors will know people to talk to.

How to get a networking appointment

Call or email the person to see if you can ask them questions about their field.  Make an appointment of approximately 15 minutes. If you are going to the person’s work site, be very understanding of their time.  A CEO or high-level professional making $200,000 a year on an hourly basis is about $100 an hour. Not that you will need to pay for the time spent with the person, but be careful of their time.  The time they spent with you is the time that they could be making million dollar decisions for their companies.

Have an agenda – ask specific questions – do your homework before you met.  Questions you might want to ask in a networking session:

  • How did you choose this field?
  • What is your average day like?
  • What professional organizations are you part of and why?
  • What advice might you have for me?
  • If you could start over, how might you do it differently?
  • Why do you like what you do?
  • Did you always want to be in a position like this?
  • Who has made the biggest impression on you and why?
  • (And … don’t ask embarrassing questions – like how much you make)


Take notes in the interview.  Follow up questions with related questions if appropriate.    And … definitely THANK THEM for their time.

Things to do:

  • Find a person to  interview, make the initial contact
  • Dress for success (that is, dress appropriately for the interview)
  • How did you determine who to interview?
  • Did the interviews help you towards – or away – from a particular field/job?
  • Who else should you interview?  Why?
  • Could one of the people you interviewed become a mentor?  Why or why not?

Quote for today: “Becoming well known (at least among your prospects & connections) is the most valuable element in the connection process.”  ― Jeffrey Gitomer

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Blog post #444 Big Picture

Coaching for Life Success:  Big Picture

For the past few weeks, I’ve looked at life success – from the overwhelming odds against anybody succeeding (with billions of people competing in the world for jobs you would like to have); to attitude, goals, big hairy audacious goals (BHAG), envisioning yourself as what you want to be; setting out plans to get there (‘sharpening the saw’); moving from Good to Great; being a ‘purple cow’ (that is, remarkable); to having passion and enthusiasm and getting up and moving on after failure.

As an educator, I know the first colleges in the United States were Yale and Harvard and both were largely seminaries to prepare men for ministry (or for teaching).  

Over the years, we have gotten more ‘vocation’ in our education with business schools, health sciences, teaching, journalism, and more.  Many major colleges in the United States started as land-grant colleges to teach agriculture.

Colleges have adopted more of a vocation thrust – let’s train you for your first job and for your career.   In my education, I learned how to use punched cards, how to program in Fortran and Cobol and more. In my math classes, I learned how to extrapolate values using tables in the back of our textbooks.  (Or using the many tables in our CRC reference books). More of my time in trigonometry classes was spent on arithmetic and algebra than on trigonometry. Now, with an average calculator, we can do what took me hours in a matter of seconds.  I learned how to use a slide rule. NASA sent people to the moon using computers which are a fraction of what today’s computers can do (and as speeds resembling a snail as compared to modern computers).

The concept of becoming great is more involved with critical thinking and creative thinking.  Innovation drives the world. Think of what is “fairly” new in our world (say 150 years or so); trains, airplanes, cars, radio, television, computing, internet, electricity, indoor plumbing, mobile/cell phones, and moving rapidly into such disruptive technologies as artificial intelligence, robotics, and a very different world for tomorrow.  We’ve seen warfare change from men fighting on a battlefield to rockets launched halfway around the world and the use of drones and unmanned vehicles. There is an ongoing question as I write about infiltration of foreign government and organizations into American elections.

Are you (or your team or your company) going to come up with the next big idea?  Will your critical thinking and creative thinking skills help to end poverty, injustice and warfare?  Can we find a cheap way to desalinate the oceans for water for the deserts of the world? Can we create a world using only renewable energy?  

Benjamin Bloom published a framework for categorizing education efforts – called Bloom’s Taxonomy.  From the lowest to the highest these are: (1) Remember; (2) Understand; (3) Apply; (4) Analyze; (5) Evaluate and (6) Synthesize/Create.   Creating ‘new’ knowledge is the highest level of educational efforts.

Can you take five random ingredients from your refrigerator/cupboard and create a new dish?  Can you take concepts from computing, finance and medicine to create an innovative way to approach cancer?

The ‘BIG PICTURE” is to be ready to THINK, to THINK CRITICALLY, to THINK CREATIVELY, to innovate, to create and synthesize centuries of knowledge to solve today’s problem?  

Don’t be complacent!!!  Be all you can be!!

Things to think about:

  • Autonomous cars:  can a country with fully autonomous vehicles do away with stoplights?  Will car insurance drop because of the safety features of autonomous vehicles?  Will autonomous trucks deliver the goods and services we need (and love)?
  • What about crime?  Can / will robocops stop crime?  Will ‘big brother’ be watching us? (From George Orwell’s book 1984)


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A Somber Reflection

A somber reflection:

Yesterday was September 11th, 2018

I was thinking back to that “day” of September 11, 2001.  I was teaching at Quinnipiac University, and in-between classes, most of the faculty were glued to the television in the hallway showing us what was happening.  There was great hatred that caused terrorists to try to cripple the United States that day.

That prompts me to think Will we always have wars?  Will we always have hatred in the world?

Is the world a better place or worst place since 9/11/2001?  Do we hate more or do we hate less? Can we co-exist? Can we learn to get along, forgive and love?

If you will excuse me, a Jewish teacher once taught “Love one another”; “Love your enemies as yourself”; “If somebody forces you to walk a mile with them, go a second mile”.

One of those teachings is this:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

And finally “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Reflection:  Can we love and forgive our enemies?  Is there hope?


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Blog Post #443 Stupidity

Don’t be stupid
Today’s post is about stupidity and I look at some possible scenarios:

Scenario 1:  Lexi (or any student really) is off to college.  She is away from home and away from her parents. She can set her own hours; she has a lot of freedom to explore the life that she didn’t have at home.  Early in her first semester, some friends invited her to a party. There was an abundance of alcohol and Lexi got drunk. She also found friendship. Since then two or three times a week Lexi binge drinks – she is drunk at least two nights a week.   Recently she killed four people from a family as she ran a red light and plowed into them.  

Scenario 2:  Charles (modeled after a previous student of mine named Charles) was an average student in high school.  In college, he is enjoying his computer classes and math classes but hates his English class and those other general education classes.  He finds a part-time job for a computer company – it pays well. Charles is also concerned about money. His parents divorced when he was eleven and money for college is an issue.  He doesn’t want to borrow for college. The part-time job pays well. His boss likes his computer work and offers him half-time work or 20 hours a week. It pays fairly good for half-time.  He will be able to save money for the second semester if he keeps this up. But, with twenty hours a week, something has to go, so he drops his English class. Weekends are spent catching up on his computer courses and his calculus class.   After mid-semester, he finds that his calculus grade is a B minus. He knows he could do better, but he has to keep working. He drops the calculus class on the last day to withdraw from a class. For spring semester, he registers for calculus and English and again drops them.  After his first year in college, he has completed eighteen credits. He decides it is not worth it and takes a full-time computing position. He is abandoning his goals. (** The real Charles went back to college at age 38, got a bachelor’s degree with all A’s; and is working on a master’s degree **)

Scenario 3:  Daniel also finds he likes to party in college.  At one party, a friend gives him some marijuana. Soon Daniel is smoking pot frequently and lately has started using cocaine.  He enjoys getting high. His classes also are suffering and his bank account is going down quickly. He finds he can sell some marijuana and cocaine to raise the money he wants and needs for more partying.  With his money, he buys a gun, he becomes paranoid and eventually gets kills on a drug deal.

Scenario 4: Kasey has joined a sorority and is doing well.  Her grades are very good as the sorority requires study hours and there are older girls who mentor her in her classes.  She likes the social events that the sorority sponsors and soon has a boyfriend and soon she finds out she is pregnant. She is on the verge of abandoning her goals.

No one comes to college with a goal of living under a bridge by the time they are 30 with a paper bag holding a bottle of wine – but it happens.

No one comes to college with the goal of getting married and divorced three times before he/she reaches 40 – but it happens.

No one comes to college with the goal of becoming an alcoholic, or drug addict, or a sex slave or a college dropout – but it happens.

It is stupidity.  DON’T GET TRAPPED!!!


  • Why students drop out of college.  While poor grades might be the ultimate factor, dig deeper and find the underlying factors.
  • What temptations might you expect in college?  How might you avoid them?
  • What are your thoughts on college life – and the very real ease of getting alcohol?  Is social drinking okay with you?
  • How do you learn to say “NO”?

Today’s quote – from the Christian prayer Lord’s Prayer also known as the Our Father – “And lead us not into temptation.”

What do you think?  Do you want to share some examples?


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Blog #442 Visualization

Coaching for life success – visualization:

I am a mentor to a middle school boy.  Frequently in the last few minutes of our time together, we play basketball.  He has a little game where it is the last few seconds of a game, and the home team is behind by one point.  He is visualizing the fans, the scoreboard and drives towards the basket and sees himself scoring the winning basket.  (And, if he misses, he gets the rebound and there is still enough time for another shot).

The concept of visualizing is a great way for goal setting as well.  Let’s say you can picture yourself walking across a stage at graduation wearing a black gown and receiving your diploma; (or wearing doctoral robe and colors as I visualized years ago) or seeing yourself in a wedding dress walking down the aisle to get married to the man of your dreams.  

Picture yourself receiving the award for ‘mother of the year’; or ‘employee of the year’.  Picture yourself with the CEO announcing that you have been promoted to some very important job.  

In those images, picture as much detail as you can.  What color are the walls, are there pictures on the walls, what else is vibrant in your picture.  

(Women) Again, picture yourself in your wedding gown.  What special features do it have? Where are you getting married?  In your home church, in a garden, in a destination location? What color are your bridesmaids dresses?  Can you see your mother daubing at her eyes as you walk down the aisle. [And, for mothers and fathers, can you visual your daughter in a beautiful wedding gown walking down the aisle?]

Then put emotions with that image – are you feeling so excited, so happy, with your heart overflowing at whatever recognition you are receiving?

You need to keep your goals fresh and in front of you.  Write them down and review them outloud. “OWN” them.

There is an old adage “It is hard to remember when you are up to your waist in alligators, that your goal was to drain the swamp”.  It you can keep your eyes, your brain and your heart on your goals, getting there will be easier!!!

What do you think?  Do you visual yourself reaching your goal?



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