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PostHeaderIcon Business Milestones

PostHeaderIcon Livermore Couple is Smoking the Competition with BBQ

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What do you do when you have an insatiable hunger to barbeque scrumptious food, but your family just can't eat another barbecued bite? You create a BBQ catering company so that others can get their fix of delectable meats in savory sauces and rubs. Then you go on to compete in BBQ competitions and win numerous awards. 

Dave and Deny Bart of Livermore, both East Bay natives, established Bart’s Blazin’ Q in 2006. Dave is the "pit master" and Deny is his right hand. “It came out of necessity,” says Deny. “Our 2 girls and I couldn’t take eating BBQ anymore.” But Dave kept on grillin’, so his solution was to give the food away to neighbors and co-workers. The food was a huge hit, but it was getting costly to just give away the food. Deny’s solution to allow Dave to get his continuous BBQ fix and not go bankrupt was to sell it….and hence Bart’s Blazin’ Q was born.

It was always Dave’s dream to own a BBQ trailer. “One day we were sitting in the backyard drinking some wine and talking” recalls Dave. “We actually designed our BBQ trailer on paper that day.  Then it was off to the local blacksmith to see what would happen.”  A few months later their custom BBQ trailer was ready to roll. They started booking catering gigs on the weekends all over the Bay Area through word-of-mouth about their incredible food and down-home warmth and hospitality.  (Keeping in mind that both Dave and Deny were still employed fulltime at the time, Dave as a police officer in Livermore – he just retired in October  – and Deny as an executive assistant for a home builder.)

Bart’s Blazin’ Q serves up mouth-watering food that is smoked over hardwoods for up to 18 hours. They serve a variety of side dishes too that are all made from scratch. “We specialize in everything but our pulled pork would have to be our real specialty” says Dave. “From the time we trim, inject, season, cook and pull, we are talking at least 18 hours from start to finish. That is what we call true BBQ. But our most requested item is our Santa Maria style tri-tip.” It’s also the building block for Dave’s very unique invention of “tri-tip chili”.

They were really enjoying catering, but consistently received compliments on how incredible their food was, and was encouraged to start entering in BBQ competitions. Dave created their BBQ sauce from scratch as well as their rubs.  They took the leap of faith and entered their first competition, and took first place in the brisket category. And the accolades didn’t stop there. They now regularly compete on the BBQ competition circuit throughout California and continue to win awards.

 “I think our best for BBQ competitions was winning grand champion at an event in Placerville out of 38 teams” says Deny. “We have placed in the top 10 in most competitions, and have been in the top 3, along with a few first place wins. Our biggest surprise was winning first place for our BBQ sauce at the USA BBQ Championship in Las Vegas in May 2011” adds Dave. “We went up against some of the biggest names across the country in BBQ (39 teams competed), and walked away with First Place. That was the sweetest win of all.”

So where does this couple go from here? To your local market of course! “All along, everyone has told us how much they love our BBQ sauce and asked where they can get it” mentions Deny. “Dave has been making his own sauce for years but once he got it into competitions, it developed in to what it is today” says Deny. After over a year of a very painstaking process, their award-winning BBQ sauce is now available at your local store. “It’s so exciting,” says Deny. “We have it in a couple of local stores (Green Leaf BBQ & First Street Wine Co. in Livermore, Eggs by the Bay in Santa Clara, and Judd’s Hill Winery in Napa) and are hoping to get it out there even more.”

All the awards and recognition are wonderful, but it’s really about sharing their home-made food and making people happy. They now have a “BBQ Family”. “The people are extremely friendly, they come from all walks of life, they have big hearts and they are there for the love of BBQ.” Cheers to that!

To learn more about Bart’s Blazin’ Q or contact Dave and Deny; their website is www.bartsblazinq.com. --JY

Julie Youngblood Perales has been recruiting top talent nationally for Fortune 500 companies for the last 10 years. She has been a senior recruiter for Toll Brothers Home Builders in San Ramon for the last 6 years and also enjoys individually coaching and advising people who are in a career transition and job search mode. Contact her through allnewsnoblues.com at tellusyournews@gmail.com  

Last Updated (Wednesday, 28 November 2012 07:35)


PostHeaderIcon How to Interview to Get the Job

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Finally! After a lot of time and energy spent networking, sending resumes and contacting recruiters and hiring managers about career opportunities, you’ve received the call inviting you to interview for a fantastic job.
Preparing for the interview is vitally important, not only for you to feel prepared and confident, but it's a chance for the interviewers to see how organized and prepared you are and how well you’ll perform on the job. Here are a few key things to know:


First, you must research the company where you are interviewing. Start with visiting their website to learn basic information about them as well as read some of their press releases and articles written about them. It’s very common for an interviewer to ask, “What do you know about our company?” at the beginning of an interview. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve, as a recruiter, had candidates respond that they didn’t know much about us or hadn’t done much research at all.   With so much competition for jobs nowadays, you have to make sure the company doesn't regret selecting you for an interview. Plus, it’s always impressive to the interviewer when the candidate shares an interesting tidbit of information they noticed on a recent press release or news article about the company. You can also look up the company’s leadership team/executive bios on most websites. That's a good way to get insight into who’s running the company and possibly their leadership style.

It’s important to reach out to your network and other colleagues to see if any of them have some inside information about the company in terms of company culture, values, management style, etc. You are interviewing them as well and you want to determine if what they do is aligned with what you are looking for personally. Two websites: Indeed.com and glassdoor.com offer an inside peek at different companies.
Find out who you’ll be interviewing with, then do what you can to learn more about that person. Look up their Linkedin profile or do a google search to find out more. People want to hire people like themselves that they feel a bond with, and by learning about who you’re meeting you can find potential areas of common interest (former companies you may have worked at together, similar interests outside of work, professional organizations you both belong to, same schools attended, etc.)

Conduct mock interviews with friends, family or colleagues – and ask for feedback on what you can do better. You’d be surprised with some of the conscious and unconscious things you do that you may want to improve upon.
Go to Google and search lists of commonly asked interview questions to help you be more prepared. Also, “Behavioral Interviewing” techniques are commonly used to determine how you may react to certain situations. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior so you may be asked scenario-based questions to learn about how you handle challenges. “Tell me about a time you had someone on your team not pulling their weight. How did you handle that and what did you learn from your experience?” and “Give me an example of when you had to make a last minute change in your project plans. What did you do and what was the result?” are examples of Behavioral Interview questions – what was the situation, what was your action, and what was the result? Have a few examples in mind of how you handled difficult and stressful situations in case these pop up.
Make sure to map out the directions to the location the day before and allow plenty of time to arrive early and relax in your car if need be. Nothing will start off an interview on a bad note than showing up late.


Your day has arrived! Here are a few tips for success:
Dress professionally and err on the conservative side
Keep jewelry and accessories to a minimum
Have nice personal hygiene, and avoid wearing cologne or perfume as some people are allergic or very sensitive to scents
Check in with the receptionist about 5 minutes before our scheduled interview time (make sure to greet them with a smile and be kind as they’ll let the hiring manager know.)
Greet the interviewer with a firm handshake, a smile and make eye contact
Bring multiple copies of your resume just in case (and know it in great detail!)
Have a simple notebook or portfolio with a pen to take notes
Come prepared with thoughtful job-driven questions to ask them
Make sure your cell phone is off and anything else that can distract you is put aside


Many of these upcoming tips might make you chuckle or seen like common sense, but based on my experience, these are not as obvious as you may think.
DO: dress professionally, be enthusiastic, maintain good eye contact, have good posture while sitting and don’t fidget, be direct and concise with your answers, be honest and be yourself (we can tell when you’re not!), have confidence in yourself, take notes during the interview, ask good questions relevant to the company and the job your are interviewing for, and ask for the business card of everyone with whom you meet (to send thank-you emails/notes later).
DON’T: lose eye contact, chew gum, play on your phone, dominate the conversation (remember to let the interviewer drive the conversation), get too casual with your conversation and most of all NEVER speak negatively about a former employer or people you worked with. This is the KISS OF DEATH in an interview.
It’s important to keep in mind that all of these verbal and non-verbal cues are all being taken into consideration when the interviewers create an overall impression of you. So if you’re a nervous pen-tapper, tend to slouch in your seat, or use the word “umm” consistently while you speak, do your best to be aware and refrain from those things as they will be a distraction to others being able to see all the great things you have to offer!


Want to be an expert closer like pitcher Brian Wilson of the Giants? Me too, but let’s start with nailing the “close” of your interview. Once the interviewer has concluded their questions, start by asking the employer your questions (related to the company and job specifically). Then, ask a question like “Do you see me as a good fit for this position?” or “Am I the kind of person you’re looking for?” This gives you the opportunity to immediately address and overcome any objections and concerns they may have. Finally, it’s your chance to “close” for the next step with something like” “I’m very excited about this opportunity, what is the next step?” or “Where do we go from here?” Make sure to end on a very positive and upbeat note with them while trying to lock down that next step.
Immediately afterwards, it’s helpful to take down some notes on the key points of the interview and important information that you gained to help you with your thank you notes. One of my prior articles on this site focused specifically in detail on how to write thank you notes, so I’ll briefly summarize that here. They should be sent within 24 hours of your interview to each person you met with individually (email is perfectly acceptable and in some cases preferable as it’s much faster than snail-mail). Make sure to reiterate your interest in a genuine manner. In the letter, let the interviewer know you appreciated their time, express enthusiasm for the company and position, reiterate a specific skill you bring to the table that the interviewing expressed a need for during your interview, and let them know when you’ll be following up.

In the end, interviews are the opportunity for a candidate and company to learn about each other and help determine if there is a mutual fit. BE YOURSELF and be natural, that will set the interviewer more at ease too. There’s only so much you can be prepared for, but doing what you can ahead of time will help you feel more confident and relaxed and it will show in your demeanor. Cheers to your success!--JY

Julie Youngblood has been recruiting top talent nationally for Fortune 500 companies for the last 10 years. She has been a senior recruiter for Toll Brothers Home Builders in San Ramon for the last 6 years and also enjoys individually coaching and advising people who are in a career transition and job search mode. Contact her through allnewsnoblues.com at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Last Updated (Saturday, 06 August 2011 18:47)


PostHeaderIcon Recruiters – Your Job Search Partners

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Finding a job in these challenging economic times is far different than it was even five years ago.

You have to utilize every possible avenue and likely do things you never had to do before. One of those things should include reaching out to recruiters.

Partnering with the right recruiters can be a very efficient way to successfully find both short and long-term job opportunities. The two best things about working with recruiters is that not only are their services FREE to you as the job seeker, but they have access to thousands of jobs that are never advertised.

Why are recruiter’s services free to the job seeker? Companies pay them to find the right employee for them, so job seekers reap the benefits! You may not know that the majority of jobs out there are NEVER ADVERTISED, so if you are relying on only surfing the job boards to see what’s posted and passing your resume along to your friends, you’re missing out on big opportunities.  It’s called the “Hidden Job Market” and recruiters are your direct link to it. 

They do the work for you. They’ll contact you about opportunities that are a fit for you, assist you with your resume if it needs some fine-tuning, present you to their companies/clients and coach you through the interview process.  They can be especially helpful if you are shy or introverted. Remember, they need to fill a position for their client so they want you to do well!

There are many different kinds of recruiters and recruiting agencies out there. You may hear them referred to as headhunters, executive recruiters, corporate recruiters, staffing specialists, temp agencies, etc.  Some are in-house employees of companies and only recruit for them (like myself, I’m a corporate recruiter for Toll Brothers) and others work for search firms and agencies specializing in a particular industry or field, and represent many companies. Linking up with the right recruiters that specialize in your profession or industry is important.

Help recruiters find you:
• Recruiters will come find YOU if you have a solid and complete profile on Linkedin including a professional looking picture (not your Facebook picture of you in a bar with a full glass of beer).  Linkedin is the world’s largest professional networking site.  It has completely changed the way companies recruit and hire and is used heavily by recruiters searching for candidates in every possible industry.  I use it on a daily basis and hire many people that way.
• Post your resume on the major job boards like Monster and Careerbuilder and make sure to refresh it every couple of days, otherwise it gets buried under thousands of other resumes that are uploaded every day and yours will never be seen. (Refreshing it frequently keeps it popping up at the top of their searches.)

To do your own search for recruiters:
• Ask all your friends, current/past work colleagues and networking contacts who they have worked with. 
• Contact your local EDD or Career Development Center and ask what recruiting and staffing resources they have access to.
• If you have a list of “target companies” you are interested in, call the main number for each company and ask the receptionist if they’d transfer you to the person responsible for hiring (could be a recruiter or HR contact) or ask who they use as their recruiting partners (agencies) so you can contact them to get in the door. 
• You can also do a search on Linkedin for recruiters of certain companies by typing in the company name and title of “recruiter” or similar title. 
• Make contact with recruiting agencies and firms in your area and make an appointment to come meet them in person. They represent many different companies with job opportunities that are not advertised.  Companies use them because they have the expertise and focus to find the right candidate and it saves them time and money. You can find them by doing google searches for your particular geography, industry, etc.

As a recruiter who has worked in all facets of the recruiting industry and placed thousands of people in jobs, recruiters are a very valuable resource to both companies and job seekers. Because recruiters are people like all of us, you may come across the good, the bad and the ugly.  The key is to find a few good recruiters who know their business and take the time to get to know you and your needs. Develop a good relationship with them and it could carry with it many rewards!-- JYP


Julie Youngblood-Perales has been recruiting top talent nationally for Fortune 500 companies for the last 10 years. She has been a senior recruiter for Toll Brothers Home Builders in San Ramon for the last 6 years and also enjoys individually coaching and advising people who are in a career transition and job search mode. Contact her through allnewsnoblues.com at tellusyournews@gmail.com

Last Updated (Thursday, 12 May 2011 02:25)


PostHeaderIcon Five Ways to Make Your Resume Stand Out

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Unemployment is still hovering around 9 percent. That means many of you are looking for work. Here is a story we ran last summer that is back by popular demand. Enjoy:  

We’ve all experienced it – spending hours upon hours trying to find a way to describe how talented you are and how valuable you will be to a potential employer. But how do you create a resume that will stand out from the competition? How do you know if what you’re telling them is what they want to know?

My advice is to stop agonizing by trying to figure out what the other side is thinking because you can’t. What you CAN do is make sure your resume works for you by describing what you can do to help your next employer. Think of it this way: every hiring manager has a need. How can you fill that need? Try these 5 tips to make sure your resume stands out amongst the crowded field of applicants.

1) Your resume must be easy to read.
This is crucial – you’re resume will get passed over without a glance if it’s disorganized and takes work to navigate. You’ll get noticed if your layout is organized and highlights your key strengths clearly. There are many samples available on the Internet and at libraries and career centers. I personally like www.resume-resource.com as it contains many sample formats and examples of resumes for specific industries and career stages.

2) Position your resume to describe yourself as a "problem-solver" and someone who can meet the hiring manager’s needs.

Your resume is your "professional advertisement." Positioning is everything. Whoever receives it will quickly scan it to determine if you offer something that can help them and the company. Writing a descriptive "professional summary" at the beginning of your resume, highlighting your key strengths in a simple and clear format will catch their eye and entice them to read further. Don’t launch right into your job history – you may lose them.

3) Highlight achievements as well as responsibilities.

Employers don’t want you to regurgitate your job description. Instead, they want to know what sets you apart from other candidates and what you’ve accomplished in your past jobs. Remember: how can you help them? If you give specific examples of what you’ve achieved for past employers, they see that as a predictor of your ability to do the same for them. Example: "Achieved 115 percent of sales quota in 2009."

4) Be specific and give examples.

Being vague on your resume can turn off an employer. Don’t say "responsible for all phases of the project" because this tells them nothing about what you contributed. Be specific: "Directly managed 6 projects from inception to completion. Processed entitlements, pulled permits, prepared budgets and schedules and supervised multidisciplinary teams of consultants."

5) Use descriptive words.

Too many resumes look the same and aren’t eye-catching when every bullet point or sentence begins with "responsible for" or just lists basic job responsibilities. Try using descriptors like implemented, managed, achieved, improved, oversaw, spearheaded, created, developed, designed, facilitated, mentored, saved, partnered with, planned, negotiated, trained, etc. Dust off that old thesaurus.

Julie Youngblood has been recruiting top talent nationally for Fortune 500 companies for the last 10 years. She has been a senior recruiter for Toll Brothers Home Builders in San Ramon for the last 6 years and also enjoys individually coaching and advising people who are in a career transition and job search mode. Contact her through allnewsnoblues.com at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Last Updated (Wednesday, 11 May 2011 21:19)


PostHeaderIcon Top 5 Frugal Investments For 2011

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Just about every January publication out there is hammering home their fabulous investment ideas for 2011. I have to admit, I’m addicted to those types of articles. Whether they’re recommending I buy the stock of retail giants, car companies, aeronautical corporations or oil conglomerates, they all have their reasons for thinking their picks are the magic buttons to put money in your pocket this year.

However, those types of investment endeavors are best enjoyed by those with somewhat large amounts of money to begin with. Many investment clubs can require at least $1000 to start, which brings the demographic available to invest down tremendously.

People can then fall under the mistaken impression that there’s nothing they can invest in that will make them money. Well, I’m here to blow a gargantuan hole into that theory, with five outstanding frugal investments you can make for 2011! These investment ideas have been proven tried and true time and again, and I’m here to add my personal guarantee:

A Warehouse Club Card – Almost anywhere you go you can find a Sam’s Club or Costco. Sam’s Club has tremendous prices on top of the line tires (amongst other things), so we head there for those. Depending on the size of your family, Costco be a one-stop shopping for everything. Membership cards for these clubs usually run about $50/year, easily recouped over the course of a couple of visits. But be careful about impulse buys. Many times I’ve heard the tale of those who ran into Sam’s Club to buy bread, only to emerge dazed and confused an hour later with said bread, 10 DVD’s, and a leather sofa. With a $50 investment to purchase a membership card, our purchases of sharply-discounted batteries, car tires, vitamins, paper products and more has netted us thousands of dollars in returns on our investment.

A Crock Pot – Whatever your rating as a cook, whether you’re (a) a gourmet chef, (b) terrified to go near your kitchen, (c) somewhere in between, you need one of these. Get yourself to a local consignment or thrift shop and buy one of these babies for $10 or so, and let it put monster amounts of money in your pocket. I’m a pot roast junkie, even more so when it’s surrounded by potatoes, carrots, slow simmered gravy. Walking into your home after a long day and enjoying the smell of that fabulous dinner awaiting you is heaven on Earth. This marvelous little invention alone will save you huge over the course of the year, and require very little effort on your part.

Continuing Education – wherever you live, chances are good that there are resources galore to take classes in any subject. Invest in yourself and learn something new this year! Head online to see what your local schools have to offer, or give them a call and have them put you on the mailing list for their catalog. You’ll be delighted at the diversity of courses, from elegant French for Beginners, Argentine Tango, Geneaology courses, Wine & Cheese Tastings or loads of Zumba for people far more energetic than myself. On a more frugal note, you can also find courses on how to easily change the oil on your car, do your own haircolor like a professional, clean & organize your house in a fraction of the time, fix and maintain your home appliances, how to interview in ways that make you stand out from the competition, painting and redecorating your home for a fraction of the price, and how to update your professional look for less. Depending on the course you enjoy, this investment can not only save you thousands of dollars, but will also lead to higher levels of fitness and relaxation, a fabulous new look, and possibly landing that important job over dozens of other applicants.

A Library Card – for every 100 people reading this article, 97 of you don’t have a library card. This fabulous little gizmo is not only free and available in minutes with next to no effort, but will undoubtedly save you hundreds over the course of the year. Magazines, books, movies, DVDs, computer access and more. Cookbooks, instructional videos, workout tapes, they’ve got it all. Many even host fabulous events where you can meet famous authors – for FREE! If it’s something involving the printed and/or electronic word that you need, chances are excellent your local library has it, and did I mention…for FREE! Love your local Borders / Barnes & Noble for the sofas & coffee? So do I. Trust me when I tell you, every library I’ve been in has ultra-comfy furniture that fits my ultra-lazy self perfectly. If you’re in any doubt as to how much it can save you, take a look at the bookshelves near you filled with books, magazines and movies that you bought, but haven’t looked at in years. Cha-ching!

Make one extra mortgage payment this year - Okay, this one sounds a bit unrealistic, especially to those hard working Americans who are having serious trouble just making their regular payments, much less tacking on one more. But hear me out. Say your mortgage payment is $1800 a month. If you want to save that amount over the course of the year, that’s $5 a day, or $35 a week. Take ten minutes on the phone with your bank, and create an account in which they automatically deposit $35 of your pay into it every week. By the end of the year, you’ve got the $1800 you need to pound down one extra mortgage payment. Sure, you could withdraw it and blow on a fun weekend in Atlantic City, but then I’d have to hunt you down and completely flip out. Don’t create that kind of work for me, I beg of you. The way interest and principal are calculated on a home loan, paying down one extra mortgage payment every year will save you TENS of thousands over the course of the loan (easily double that extra amount you put in) and shorten that loan time from 30 years down to easily 24 instead. By any account, that’s an investment that will pay off huge.

Above all else, invest your hard-earned money in ways that will benefit not just your bottom line, but your heart, mind and soul as well. Frugal On!


Kristen Hagopian is a mother of two who happily and frugally resides with her family in their as-of-yet finished fixer upper in Chester County, PA. Her book, "Brilliant Frugal Living" has been featured in print, radio and on television, including segments on ABC, NBC, Fox and the LiveWellHD Network.

Last Updated (Wednesday, 31 July 2013 18:20)

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