emotional intelligence

From C student to the C-suite: A true story on emotional intelligence

Tami Holzman’s “From C student to the C-suite: How I Use My Emotional Intelligence to Gain Access to the Most Influential People in the World, Even With All My Sh*t and Insecurities,” a book review by Ramon Santillán

emotional intelligence

I have read my fair share of “career experts” and “job gurus” who give advice that sounds good on paper.  Problem is, sometimes what sounds cool in theory doesn’t work in “our” real world.

I remember this one book in college that was part novel, part career guide.  The book related how this fictional character overcame the trials and tribulations of being a student who is trying to find his first accounting job.

Ideally, you would read the book and then follow the steps the main character did and you would end up with a job.

This is a summary of the book:

  1. Call your dad and have him introduce you to his friends, one of which is probably a partner at an accounting firm.  Why?  Well, because your dad is a partner at a law firm so he should know other professionals high up in their organizations.
  2. Meet that partner at a country club where you both have been members for many years.  That will show him that you are part of the community.
  3. Focus 100% on your job search.  If needed, take less classes on your last semester.  (No mention of what to do if you have a job while you’re in school.  You don’t need a job if your rich dad is paying for your college.  See #1 above).

I’m sure this advice would work fine for some people.  But what about the rest of us whose fathers aren’t partners at their law firm, who don’t have connections, and who have to work to survive, much less to be able to attend school?

emotional intelligence

Tami Holzman, author

That’s why I loved “From C Student to the C Suite” written by Tami Holzman.  Her “no BS” approach to succeeding in your career really resonated with the rebel in me.

I want to share some great insights from the book that will help you get ahead even if you did not get a fancy Ivy League degree.

1. Value Emotional Quotient (EQ) over Intelligence Quotient (IQ)

Tami explains in detail how even though intelligence is great, you do business with people so being able to connect with them is more important that trying to be smarter than everyone else.

You have probably seen it in action where the people who are not necessarily the brightest, somehow always know who to get in touch to help them out with a problem.  Strive to connect with people first before you wow them with your brain power.

2. Your past does not define your future

She technically did not graduate from any of the four colleges she attended (she needed 3 more math credits) and still was able to deliver success to her employers and clients.

Many times, we impose self-limiting beliefs on ourselves because of what we have or have not done in the past.  No degree?  No problem.  If you can deliver value to your clients, they really will not (or should not) care where you got your education from.  The higher you go up in your career, the more you will notice this to be true.

The book keeps it simple to where you do not have to read some study to figure out what it means.  She lays it out in plain English so you do not have to wonder what she meant.  She talks about how she made a BFF (Business Friends Forever) over a bra mishap.

3. Ask for the sale

emotional intelligence

Tami Holzman’s book cover

I love her approach for “asking for the sale.”  Just like interviewing, most people go into a meeting, spill their guts out and then just walk out without having asked for the job or the business.

You have not done your job right if you do not ask for the sale/job before you leave the meeting.

4. “Be Present: aka put your f*cking phone away”

The chapter title pretty much gives it away.

By the way, this is not one of those theoretical, I have never tried it but it sounds good on paper books.  Tami is straightforward with how she dishes out her advice and she does not mince words.  This respectful, but candid way of writing is part of what makes this book endearing and useful.  There were times where I felt like Tami was sitting me down and just telling to me straight how to improve my career and life, f-bombs and all.

Do you want proof of how much I loved this book? This is my actual Amazon review:

Perfect book for anyone who wants to succeed without being put into a “box”

I recommend this book for anyone who:

  1. Wants to succeed despite not having the “perfect” grades/degree/experience (she doesn’t even have a degree)
  2. Women who want to learn how to better sell themselves and reach the C suite (she uses all the tools at her disposal to move up while staying true to herself)
  3. People who want to learn how to connect with others at networking events (great tips on how to start talking to people)
  4. All of the above

As an interview consultant that works with MBAs, this book will be recommend to all my clients, particularly female ones. It is just an awesome example of how you are “enough” just by being yourself. Also, the book design was very cool. I would buy the book just to look at the “Tam-isms”.

On a side note, I reached out to Tami just to tell her that I love her book and she responded!  It’s always good to know that truly successful people do not just talk the talk, but they always walk the walk (in Jimmy Choo’s).

Ramon Santillan

BRAG the 4-letter word that leads to success

Ramon Santillan

Ramon Santillan is the founder of

We are delighted to welcome our new contributor and career coach Ramon Santillan Jr, and yes, we brag about it!

Ramon is the founder of  Before he was an Interview Consultant, he was a tax consultant for the world’s biggest accounting firm, the world’s biggest oil driller, and the founder of his own tax practice.

Ramon teaches his clients how to be more charismatic, feel (and look) more confident, and shows them the right way to “brag” about themselves during interviews.  He has been quoted by U.S. News & World Report, CBS, Yahoo!,, Chicago Tribune and many others as an interviewing expert.

His clients think he’s pretty great.  He tends to agree.

Ramon is a graduate from the UT’s Red McCombs School of Business, a graduate from the FBI’s Citizen Academy, a Certified Corporate Trainer, has been Historian, Vice President, and President for the ALPFA Houston Chapter, husband of one, father of two, and friend of many.

He loves reading and consistently reads between 48-52 books a year.  Tell him about your favorite book and he’ll add it to his Amazon Wishlist.

Ramon also enjoys writing about himself in the 3rd person.  He thinks it’s fun.


Is there a magic 4-letter word that leads to success?

You’re putting in the hours, you’re delivering the results, but it seems like everyone else is reaping the rewards.  Why is everyone getting better jobs, better promotions, and better clients?  You’re doing everything right except one thing:

You’re not bragging.

We are raised to see “brag” as a four-letter word.  “I don’t need to brag.  My work speaks for itself” you might think with a look of disgust.  Unfortunately, that’s not the case in the real world.  Assuming that people are focused on what you do leaves the burden of promoting yourself to other people.  If anything, making people responsible for knowing who you are and what you can do is selfish.  We are all busy with our home life, careers, and countless other things so why would we spend time worried about YOUR career?

The case for bragging

Group of Multi-Ethnic People Holding Sign Poles brag

I hope you’re starting to realize that as the CEO of YOU, YOU are your own best cheerleader.  Who better than you to talk about what you’ve worked on, the impact you’ve had or what your career goals are?  If you want other people to know how great you are, shouldn’t you tell them?  In your career, as well as in your life, you can’t take a passive role.  You have to actively participate.

I’m going to help you make the transition from someone who expects others to take notice to someone who takes an active role in her career in 3 easy steps.

When I’m working with my clients, whether it’s preparing them for an interview or to meet a meet a new client for their company, the vast majority of them have the most trouble with promoting themselves.  It’s hard to start talking about how great you are when you’ve had two or three decades of doing the opposite.

Step 1: Change your idea of what bragging is

I know “bragging” sounds like one of those words your mom would wash your mouth out with soap if she overheard you using.  I also know that if a particular word has a negative connotation and the more ingrained it is in your brain, the harder it will be for you to adopt certain behaviors associated with that words.  To avoid this, let’s replace “Brag” with “Promoting Yourself”.

Promote yourself brag

The Old Way/BAD!

“Elena is always bragging about how great she is.  Uggh, I hate her guts!”

The New Way/Good!

“Elena is awesome at promoting herself.  I wish I was more like her!”

See the difference?

Step 2: Know when to brag, promote yourself.

The reason we don’t like people who “brag” is because they do it all the time/everywhere.  They are what we call tone deaf.  Although you should talk about your accomplishments when you get the chance, you also shouldn’t do it every single moment.  I doubt your boss would care much to hearing you yap about how great you are when she’s knee deep in a last minute request from the people in the C Suite.

You see, the art of promoting yourself is knowing when and how to do it.  A good time to promote yourself is after you completed an important project.  People will be receptive to the work you’ve done, how your involvement impacted the project, and to any ideas on other projects you’ve like to be involved in.

Step 3: Always be ready to promote yourself

Promoting yourself isn’t limited from 9-5.  Sometimes the best opportunities to show others how great you are happen at networking events and other activities outside the office.  I eventually learned this, but one of the reasons I started my research into self-promotion was because I was tired of all the missed opportunities.

On more than one occasion, I would find myself in an elevator with a VIP of an organization with nothing to say.  As soon as they would exit the elevator and the doors would close again, I would kick myself for not even introducing myself.  These were people who literally could change my career path if only I had learned to promote myself.

Instead of trying to come up with something on the fly, I’ve learned to come up with several things I think people would be interested in hearing about myself.  I call it my “Bag of Brag” and it includes projects I’ve worked on, things I’m proud of, and other things I think people would find useful and interesting.  Before an event, I mentally go through my Bag of Brag so that if I bump into someone I’d like to meet, I can immediately reach into my Bag of Brag and pull out something.


Now that you know how to get ahead, use the steps to reach your career goals.  The steps are easy to follow.  The hard part is actually sticking to the plan since it may not seem natural to you…at first.  Once you start practicing and you start seeing the positive results, you’ll be ready to promote yourself at anything you do.