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Boss’s huffing and puffing treadmill meetings frustrating

Dear J.T. & Dale: My boss is on a new fitness kick, and now he has decided he wants to take all of his team meetings with us on his treadmill. The only problem is he’s not the fittest guy in the world, and he’s huffing and puffing through the entire thing. Half the time, I can barely hear what he’s saying because the treadmill is so loud, and the rest the time, I just can’t make sense of what he’s saying between all the huffing and heaving. Is there something I could say to him? – Ell

J.T.: Honestly, unless you can prove that errors are being made or productivity is going down as a result of these meetings, then there really isn’t much you can say. He’s in charge, and he can do what he wants. But, the first time something goes wrong where you can point to miscommunication from one of his treadmill meetings, then he might rethink things. I’m half-kidding, but it seems to me the other alternative would be for you to call him while on a treadmill so he can hear what it sounds like!

DALE: I struggled with this. It might seem to those who follow this column that this is simply the latest case of shut-your-piehole, but wait … not so fast. This requires something more. This requires active encouragement. Come on, your boss is trying to get in shape, and that’s a good thing. Say something supportive. He’ll remember that. And if you truly are having trouble understanding his comments while he’s on the treadmill, then follow the encouragement with a mention of your issue, suggesting he change the way he’s using the phone or headset. Just do it with a smile.

Dear J.T. & Dale: I am a first-generation immigrant to the U.S. I came here to provide a better life for my son. I have worked three jobs my entire life and do not have a college degree but have been able to put him through college. He graduated last year in the pandemic, and there were no jobs. Now, he’s applying to entry-level positions, and they’re telling him that they want a graduate from this year and asking him what he did over the last year. He is completely distraught and feels like he will never get a job because of this. What can I do to help him get his confidence back? – Hugo

J.T.: First, your son should contact the alumni association at his university and see what kind of career resources they are providing. He should also check the career center at the school and see how they’re helping students from last year – they should be!

DALE: And if they aren’t, which is likely, then he’ll need to do his own DIY version. Indeed, he should do that regardless of the career center. What he’ll do is tap into the school’s alumni network. Using social media, your son can contact alumni and tell his story, and yours. A lot of people will be moved – the America Dream still has magic. Moreover, he also can tap into fellow immigrants from your old country/region. There are people glad to help; he just has to find them and ask.

J.T.: Even before doing that, he’ll need some help with his résumé and his cover letter. He needs to be able to tell a powerful story about your family’s journey and why getting a job is so important to him. That’s not easy for somebody who’s had no practice doing it, and that’s why he should get some help. If the resources at the school aren’t useful, then please encourage him to go over and check out the free resources we have built for a bunch of students just like him – they’re at my company’s website,

DALE: That’s always good advice. And so is building confidence through practice. I hope you have friends or relatives with management experience who can do some mock interviews with your son – it’s good practice and good networking, and activity is the best antidote for discouragement.

Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a career coach and the founder of the leading career site Dale Dauten is founder of The Innovators’ Lab and author of a novel about H.R., “The Weary Optimist.” Please visit them at, where you can send questions via email, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803. (c) 2021 by King Features Syndicate Inc.