When Perfection Can Paralyze Your Career

When I started my consulting business 3 years ago, I sent a launch email to everyone I knew. 

I was both excited and nervous to hit send - shit was getting real!

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Shortly after I sent the email, I started receiving some messages letting me know that had I misspelled the name of my company in the email.

Yup, you read that correctly. I MISSPELLED THE NAME OF MY OWN COMPANY. 😳

My first reaction was total embarrassment. I wondered how anyone would hire me or take me seriously when I couldn't even spell the name of my company correctly?!

I had read and re-read the email probably 20 times before sending it, proofreading it and checking for errors.  And I had even had someone else review it too.  Neither of us caught the mistake. 

Shortly thereafter, my inner critic came out and I felt even worse; I felt stupid, careless and like a total amateur. 

After going down this rabbit hole of self-loathing, I began to get some perspective: this was actually a minor oversight.  

Fortunately, I wasn't in the business of selling editing or copywriting services, so a spelling error in my launch email, while unfortunate, wasn't indicative of my ability to be a successful consultant. 

I reminded myself that I was still pretty kick-ass at advising companies on growth strategy and business development, even if sometimes I couldn't spell my own name correctly. 😁

I decided at that moment that I wasn't going to hide and punish myself for a silly screw-up.

I decided I was going to bring it and promote my business and be ok with making mistakes along the way.  

Six months and a few mistakes later, I was running a six-figure business.

My story isn't unique. 

People make mistakes (and survive them) all the time. 

And many times, we beat ourselves up for these mistakes unnecessarily. 

As women, we are especially hard on ourselves. 

We tend to expect more out of ourselves than we do out of other people.

Even if we say we are ok not being perfect, we are also not ok messing up.

It's great to have high standards, but sometimes perfectionist tendencies and the inner critic that emerges when we make a mistake can really hold us back.

This tension between wanting to go for more in your career but not wanting to be seen making a mistake along the way is very real.

If you're striving to get to that next level in your career, you are undoubtedly going to have to take risks and actions that take you out of your comfort zone.  

You will have to try things for the first time. 

You will have to become more visible.  

Taking this leap to something greater than your current situation is a choice.

This choice alone paralyzes some people from moving forward.

Some people stick with the status quo because it's safe. 

They know what's expected and find security in knowing how to do their job without making mistakes. 

They aren't necessarily fulfilled or happy.  But dammit, they are prepared (and can probably do their job in their sleep at this point)!

I'm not knocking people who get comfortable in their jobs and don't want to move up the career ladder.

That trajectory is not for everyone.

But what if deep down you DO want more from your career?  What if you want something different?

If you've ever thought about this, what are you doing to make this happen?

What's your timeline?

What fears are holding you back?

What will you do if you make a mistake?

And, believe me, you will.  Because we all make mistakes.  No one is perfect.

Badass women know that perfect is the enemy of the good. 

Badass women don't let perfectionist tendencies or the fear of failure or mistakes paralyze us from taking chances, increasing our visibility and going for what we want.

Badass women also still make mistakes.  Because we're human like everyone else.

But badass women handle mistakes differently.  We have enough confidence to know that a mistake here and there doesn't define us.  And won't stop us from getting what we want.

In my 7 Day Boot Camp To Unlock Your Inner Badass, I share the strategies and techniques badass women employ to propel their career forward, even when it can be scary and lead to a misstep or two along the way.  

Over 7 days, I equip you with the tools to change your limiting beliefs, habits and behaviors that are keeping you stuck in the status quo. 

At the end of the week, we have a 1:1 coaching session to create accountability and solidify your plan to move forward.

To learn more and sign up for my boot camp, click here.

I'm so excited for you to see what's possible when you let go of perfect and just go for what you want! 💪

 
 

How to Deal With Jerks at Work Without Becoming One

I have the privilege of working with a lot of assertive, direct women. 

They aren't afraid to speak up.

If they have an idea, they share it.

When someone says something they disagree with, they express their counterpoint.

And when they feel personally attacked by a colleague, the hairs on the back of their neck may stand up and they prepare themselves to fight back.

This is where things get tricky...

We keep telling women to be confident, not take crap and stand up for themselves.

But that doesn't always work in our favor.

Especially when we're dealing with jerks. 

You know who I mean. 

That jerk who always undermines you. 

That jerk who shows up late to all your meetings and plays on his phone the whole time except to chime in when he disagrees with you.

The jerk who gaslights you and makes you feel crazy for any concerns you have.

The jerk who blatantly lies.

Dealing with a jerk at work can be tough for anyone.

But it can be particularly challenging and triggering for strong, assertive women.

These women have spent their whole careers speaking up and refusing to be pushed around. 

Some have even developed a chip on their shoulder because they've had to fight SO hard to get where they are today.

What this means is...

The tactics that have helped you get ahead in your career won't work on jerks.  In fact, speaking up and fighting back will probably only make it worse. 

This is something that comes up regularly for my clients. (Sadly, there are still a lot of jerks out there). 

Typically, when jerks rear their ugly head, I see my clients either fight, flee or do nothing at all. 

None of these options are going to really resolve the situation in your favor. 

So what can you do?

  • Instead of fighting back, try to be sympathetic.  Could something else really be going on here that's causing the jerk to be a jerk - something besides you?
  • Instead of fleeing, try to communicate more.  Suggest going out for lunch or coffee and ask questions and listen more than you talk.  Let the jerk feel heard and keep things light.  If you have an opportunity to address the situation, be diplomatic, not accusatory.  All of this involves taking the high road and being humble. 
  • Instead of doing nothing, work to resolve your feelings.  Don't react in the moment, but write it down. Try journaling about the incident or focus on how you will feel about this in the future. This imaginary time travel can help diffuse the situation and make you realize that it won't matter much in the long run.  

And if you really can't improve the situation, then don't stick around. Being miserable at work sucks and can chip away at your self-esteem, emotional well-being and your health.  

These strategies take some work and may not feel natural at first, especially for badass assertive women who don't take crap.

My 7 Day Boot Camp To Unlock Your Inner Badass helps you further develop this muscle and practice excelling in challenging situations at work.  In the Boot Camp, I show you how shifting your mindset, habits and behaviors can help you get better results with less effort, even when the office jerks are trying to test you.

The Boot Camp includes:

  • An Introductory Training Video 
  • 7 Audio Trainings (perfect for listening on the go)
  • Daily Real-World Exercises & Assignments 

To learn more and sign up to unlock your inner badass, click here.

 
 

You Don't Need To Be Tough To Shine

In my corporate career and since launching my consulting business nearly 3 years ago, I've always tried to check my emotions at the door and "be professional."  Whatever that means...

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To me, it meant having a stoic appearance whenever sh*t hit the fan, never letting colleagues or clients see me sweat and trying my best to be nice and respectful to everyone.

In my mind, there was no place for tears or attitude when something went wrong or I felt I was treated badly or unfairly.

Consequently, some people thought I was tough.  I'm sure a handful of people thought I was a b*tch. 

In reality, the people who know me well know that I'm actually a sensitive person; I get affected by negativity and criticism.

Even though I usually kept my walls up at work, there were moments where my vulnerability slipped out.

I hate to admit it, but a few times I broke down and cried in front of a colleague when I felt professional disappointment and just couldn't hold back the emotions another second. 

I was MORTIFIED. 

But in each instance, the person on the receiving end of my tears was incredibly compassionate and saw a different side of me afterwards.

Instead of assuming I was managing everything (because that was the image I projected), these individuals got a glimpse into my feelings and as a result, were more inclined to offer their help and support moving forward.

That support was invaluable, especially in difficult situations.

As I've launched my coaching business over the past 6 months, I've done a lot of thinking around the role of toughness and emotion and their place in an professional environment.

I've seen how having a tough exterior can be limiting and unnatural for a lot of women.

I have two clients right now who are both struggling with this.  For both of these women, their work environments are a bit toxic and it has spawned some reactive feelings in each of them.

They are both struggling with the same issues:

  • When is it worth saying something?
  • How do I stand up for myself effectively without sounding like I'm complaining or coming across as a jerk?
  • Is it possible that I'm wrong and this is my fault? 
  • Is this really worth my emotional energy?

Clearly, the answers aren't black and white. 

I know firsthand how challenging it can be to navigate these situations on your own. 

It's not easy to figure out the right amount of "toughness" to display at work while still being true to who you are. 

It's also not clear IF and WHEN you should let down your guard.

They don't teach you that in business school. 

I'm committed to helping women tackle this issue and find their voice.

If you're struggling with how you show up in the workplace, here are a few ways I can support you.

You shouldn't have to be a smaller version of yourself or hide your feelings to fit into the corporate culture and be successful.

I want to see you SHINE!

 
 

The Verdict? GUILTY

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Several years ago, I went through a painful breakup.  It all ended late on a Friday night.

But by 8 AM on Saturday, I was back in the office for a previously scheduled meeting. 

Some people would've cancelled or blown the meeting off.  But not me.

You know why I showed up?

Because of Guilt and Obligation. 

I prided myself on being reliable, consistent and following through on my commitments. 

ALL. THE. TIME.

That Saturday morning meeting was no different. 

At the time, I was caught in a vicious cycle of over-committing, feeling like I owed people whatever they asked for and neglecting my own care and needs.

It wasn't healthy. 

Soon after that weekend, I began to look at my life differently. 

I started making decisions for ME, not for other people. 

This meant stepping back from some work commitments, saying no to personal invitations that I didn't want to attend and drawing boundaries to protect myself from toxic people and situations. 

I felt a little lost at first because a lot of my self-worth was tied up in achieving and making other people happy.

And this new way of looking at things required me to let some people down. 

To guide my new outlook, I had to get clear about my priorities and what I wanted professionally and personally. 

This needed to be based on MY needs and desires, not other people's. 

Part of what allowed me to make this shift is that I had confidence in myself and I knew my value.

I started to feel comfortable saying no and learned to do so with a smile and tact so that people didn't hate me, write me off or roll their eyes.

You can do this too.

If you feel like you're on a hamster wheel just trying to keep up and make everyone happy, it doesn't have to be this way.

By getting clear about what you want and learning how to communicate your needs effectively, you can change things. (For more on this, check out my blog post). 

If you want to explore this further, let's talk.  I'm here to help!

 
 

Do You Think You're Worth It?

We are one-third of the way through 2018 and it's a great time to check back in with the goals and intentions you set for the year. 

I accomplished a lot in 2017 but I wanted more for 2018. 

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I have some serious growth goals. 

I also know I can't do it alone.  

I thought I could.  I really did.  

In fact, I was dead set on NOT hiring another coach or mentor in 2018 because I had invested a lot of time and money in both in 2017. 

But right around Christmas, something changed for me. 

I had an "aha" moment. 

I realized I was making things really difficult for myself by trying to figure everything out and learn on my own.

This fierce independence was actually slowing me down.  

It was also exhausting. 

That's why on December 28 I decided to pull the trigger and invest in myself.  Again. 

I made a big financial commitment to continue working with my coach and I couldn't be more excited.

You know how sometimes you spend a large amount of money and you immediately have that pit in your stomach because you aren't sure if it was a good idea?

Well I had the exact opposite feeling when I handed my credit card over in late December. 

It felt so right.

And that's because I know what I want.  

I want to help women unlock their talents, build their confidence, and identify and get what they want.    

And I know that this extra support is going to help me do that - better and faster. 

I talk to women all the time who have the same doubts that I had about investing in themselves. 

  • Will it really make a difference?
  • Will it really change anything?
  • Will I really walk away with more clarity, purpose and satisfaction?

I tell them that it depends. 

It depends on how badly you want to change.

It depends on how willing you are to invest the time, money and energy into your own growth and transformation. 

It depends on whether you can put aside the guilt, shame and anxiety you may feel once you decide you're actually worth the investment.

I feel so strongly about supporting women in getting what they want in their careers that I want to make this an easy decision for you.

Contact me to see if working with me is a good fit for you.  

I'm so excited for what the rest of 2018 holds and can't wait to share it with you.

 
 

4 Ways To Get Results When Life Gets Crazy

These last several weeks have been a whirlwind for me. 

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I've been in Palm Springs, Los Angeles, New York, Miami, and San Francisco.

During this time, my business and personal life have been INSANE! You know what they say, when it rains, it pours...

I've had experience at the intersection of Busy + Overwhelmed before though, and this time, I was able to thrive.

Specifically:

  • In my consulting business, I expanded contracts with 2 existing clients and closed a new client
  • In my coaching business, I started working with 5 new, amazing women
  • I facilitated 5 workshops and boot camps at various conferences and meetings and have a 6th one scheduled for next week
  • I planned a networking event for my ladies in DC for 4/19 - I WANT TO MEET YOU!
  • I celebrated a number of occasions with family and friends, including my Dad's birthday, Passover and throwing my best friend a bridal shower
  • I even managed to exercise and eat right and I lost 6 lbs!!

I'm not telling you this to brag (although I AM proud of myself). 🙌  

I'm sharing this because there have been times in the past where I've been this busy and melted down.  

There have been times where I've been so overwhelmed by deadlines, obligations, meetings and requests for my time that I stood in the way of my own success.

But not anymore. 

You can also get results in times of extreme "busyness" with these 4 practices:

  1. Fiercely Protect Your Time - Figure out what you need to get done and build boundaries to ensure you can execute without distraction. I have a checklist at the start of each week broken down by day and have time blocks in my calendar dedicated to exercise, coaching calls, consulting client work, creative time and personal time. 
  2. Say "No." A Lot - Get comfortable saying "no." When something comes up that doesn't fit into my schedule or near-term strategic objectives, I say "no."  I don't re-arrange my already packed schedule and try to fit it in. I also don't shut the door on the opportunity entirely; you may be surprised how much people appreciate your candor when you explain why you are saying "no" or need to postpone something.
  3. Make Self-Care An Even Higher Priority - When you're operating at breakneck speed, it's even more important to take care of yourself.  For me, this looks like building in time to exercise and sleep, keeping healthy food at home, seeing family and friends, getting a massage and sometimes just sitting on the couch and doing nothing.
  4. Re-Prioritize What Must Get Done - In times of extreme "busyness", business as usual is not always the answer. Re-assess what you absolutely must do to stay afloat and deliver on your commitments.  Everything else can wait.  

Can you relate to any of this? If so, I'd love to hear how you kick ass even when it looks like your schedule may run you into the ground.

And if this is something you're struggling with, let's talk. I would love to see if I can help you not only come up for air, but also get amazing results during your busiest times.

Wishing you a productive week!

 
 

To Stand Out: Create The Rules, Don't Follow Them

Yesterday I was a guest on a podcast and the host asked me about my earliest childhood memory. 

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It was from when I was about 2 years old. 

I hated going to bed. 

I would stand in my crib and had a nightly routine my parents had to follow:  read me a book, sing me a song and count to 60.  Repeat.

Sometimes I would turn it into a negotiation and try to get even more out of them and stay up later.

I was a real pain in the butt!

And now, more than 35 years later, I'm not sure much has changed. :)

I still don't like to follow the rules, I'm a night owl and I believe most things in life are negotiable. 

Fortunately, I've been able to leverage these traits in a positive way in my career.

I did things differently than other people.

The outcome:

  • I delivered results that helped distinguish me from my peers. 
  • I had creative bursts late at night when others were watching TV, out partying or going to bed early.
  • I was  paid well because I knew my value and I asked for what I wanted.

There was no roadmap for much of what I've done in my career. 

I created the rules. 

I didn't follow them.

This is something I instill in the women I coach.

Last week, a client told me what she really wanted: a promotion and a 4-day work week so she could spend more time with her family. 

While the desire made perfect sense to her, she thought asking for this would be ridiculous.

Who gets promoted AND is allowed to work less afterwards?!?

But I challenged her to think about it differently: 

  • Why can't you do this? 
  • How do you know they will say no?  
  • Maybe no one else has ever asked for this...  
  • No one else brings your unique mix of talents, institutional knowledge and results to the organization.  
  • What's the worst that can happen if you ask?
  • How could this arrangement also benefit the organization?

By the end of our call, she was thinking that maybe asking for this wasn't so crazy after all.

And that's one of the breakthroughs I help women achieve - the ability to see possibility and opportunity where you may not have recognized it before. 

You don't have to accept the hand you're dealt or do things the way everyone else has always done them.

If you do, you can expect to get the same results as everyone else. 

And who wants to be just like everyone else?

You can make your own rules and sometimes you have to in order to create the life you want.

If you're interested in learning more about how this works, let's talk. 

I invite you to contact me to see if working with me is a good fit for you.

Can't wait to chat!

 
 

What I Didn't Tell You About My Career Slump

I don't talk much about it, but around the time I hit my professional low point, I was also experiencing some personal turmoil.

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This came to a head over the course of a few weeks when I had two panic attacks.  

One happened over a gyro salad in a Greek restaurant and another occurred in a shopping mall on the way to the movies.

Not exactly two of the most stressful situations...

Which is how I really knew things had gotten completely out of whack. 

At some point, my professional and personal stresses had merged into one giant mess. 

It sucked.

BUT, it was a turning point for me.

I realized that it's really hard to achieve and sustain professional development without doing work around your personal development. 

I'm not talking about intensive therapy or adopting a bunch of woo-woo, spiritual practices - although that's great if that's what moves you.

For me, it meant adopting better self-care habits. 

I hired a nutritionist. 

I switched to a lower stress job that afforded me a greater work-life balance.

I adopted a dog.

I committed to workouts on specific days.

And I slept more. 

That's what worked for me. 

What works for you may be entirely different. 

In my work coaching professional women, we dive deeper into the relationship between self-care and your professional success and joy. 

I'm committed to supporting you to identify what's not working for you right now and a plan to change that. 

If you're interested in learning more, I invite you to contact me.  

I look forward to speaking with you!

 
 

How I Got Unstuck In My Career After Hitting Rock Bottom

It was a beautiful summer weekend in mid-July about 5 years ago when I could no longer ignore it.  

I was completely miserable at work.

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I left the office around 8pm on Friday evening. 

Everyone else I knew was enjoying time with their families, happy hours with friends or on their way to the beach.  

I was just hoping to get some rest before 

I had to be back in the office at 8am on Saturday. 

On Saturday morning, I dragged myself out of bed and reported to the office.  

I sat through several hours of white-boarding sessions with a team of people who didn't want to be there either.  

The only bright spot (besides the free food) was that this was a nice respite from my usual client work, where I worked on a dysfunctional team with a verbally abusive client supporting a high-profile project that everyone knew was doomed to fail. 

How was this my life?

How had I spent my whole career working long hours, playing office politics and networking with the right people to end up in this situation?

A situation where I had no control over my own time.

A situation where I worked with unpredictable, mean clients.

A situation where I had to constantly watch my back from manipulative colleagues. 

A situation where the work bored me and didn't make a difference. 

I was ready for a change.

Shortly thereafter, I switched roles in the firm before leaving the organization entirely a year later.

I spent the next two years working for another organization and took my career in a different direction. 

This prepared me to ultimately go off on my own and start my firm, Mosaic Growth Partners, a few years ago.

This transition from misery to freedom was not easy or quick.

But it taught me a lot.

You may be feeling stuck, under-appreciated or overwhelmed in your career trying to balance career and family.  

And I want to help.  

If you're a woman who wants to earn equal pay and get the promotion, raise and respect you desire, then we should talk.  

And, if you're a man and you know a woman who may benefit from this discussion, please share this with her.

I look forward to hearing from you!

 
 

Badass Professional Women Don’t #7: Pull All-Nighters

Science is very clear about the importance of sleep to our physical and mental well-being.

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However, not all high-charging, do-it-all professional women have bought into the benefits of sleep.

After all, how can they?

Then they wouldn’t be able to pack in 20 hours of activity each day? 

And they would have to say no to things and let people down - GASP!!

There was a time in my life where I pulled all nighters and/or regularly only got 4 hours of sleep.

I produced super-human amounts of work.

But I was always stressed, on edge and trying to stay busy so I didn’t crash.

After one particularly bad stretch of late and sleepless nights working, I had gotten in the habit of pounding 5-Hour Energy shots to function.

It kept me awake but came with side effects. 

Like the time I gave a presentation in front of about 50 colleagues and at the end someone remarked how nervous I seemed…because I had been shaking.

Turns out, I wasn’t nervous at all. I was literally SHAKING from all the chemicals I was pouring into my body to stay awake.

That embarrassing incident was a wake up call that I needed to get a handle on my sleep. 

What was the point of killing myself to do all this work if I couldn’t even appear calm and confident when I presented it to other people?

Sleep has been THE game-changer for me professionally and personally and the foundation of my self-care.

With 7-8 hours of sleep each night, I’m more clear-headed, calm and less stressed and triggered by things that are out of my control.

I no longer test the limits of how many hours I can work in a day and how many projects I can take on at one time.

Because I don’t have to.

I don’t need to prove how much work I can do to anyone or have my health suffer for my job.

If you feel like your plate is so full that sleep is a luxury you can’t afford, I strongly urge you to sloooooowwww down.

The work will still be there tomorrow.

And hopefully your colleagues and clients also want you to take care of yourself.

But, if you find yourself in an unforgiving situation where you truly can’t take your foot off the gas, then it may be time to evaluate whether that’s a place you want to stay.

Remember, we always have choices.

Sacrificing your long-term health for some fleeting glory at work is a risky play and worth taking a hard look at.

 
 

Badass Professional Women Don’t #6: Be a Tough Guy

This week’s post may ruffle some feathers. 

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Since I started this series on 7 Things Badass Professional Women Don’t Do the majority of criticism has been directed at my use of the term “badass.”

A handful of readers have pointed out that using this term is trashy, unprofessional, unnecessary and an example of being too tough, which contradicts Don’t #6: Don’t Be a Tough Guy. 

So I’m going to use this feedback as a teaching moment for those of us trying to be less tough and for those who are offended by the use of the term “badass.”

Let me start by saying I would be PROUD to be labeled a badass any day.  I think it’s a compliment. 

To me, the term embodies a go-getter spirit, serious ambition and competence and the social graces and intangible qualities that make a person respected, likable and successful.

Last time I checked those were all positive qualities.

To those who find it offensive to label the combination of these qualities “badass”, you’re certainly entitled to your opinion. 

But please don’t try to shame me and other women and men who aspire to become badasses and proudly wear the label.

See what I did there?

First, I expressed my point of view as well as respect for differing perspectives. 

Second, I have spent the last few months building up social capital with you and other readers by sharing my blog posts.  You’ve made it to the 7th post in the series so I must be doing something right. :) 

Third, I’ve responded to criticism of my posts in a very limited way – only responding when I feel like a reader has crossed a line with a blatant insult to women in general (i.e., one reader suggested that adopting the behaviors I have been writing about could veer into “pushy broad” territory).

I point this out not to pat myself on the back, but to illustrate that you can speak up and communicate your viewpoints at work without be harsh, tactless and seen as an overly assertive b*tch.

It just takes some intention and practice.

 
 

Badass Professional Women Don’t #5: Feel Guilty

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We have spent the past few weeks talking about how women can unlock their natural talents, set boundaries and ask for what they want. (See previous posts: 7 Things Badass Professional Women Don’t Do, Badass Professional Women Don’t #1: Put Your Head Down and Work Harder, Badass Professional Women Don’t #2: Compare Yourself, Badass Professional Women Don’t #3: Say Yes, and Badass Professional Women Don't #4: Accept the Hand You're Dealt.)

But we haven’t talked about what makes this so hard: GUILT.

I don’t know any woman that isn’t plagued by it, including me.

Most women have been conditioned from a young age to be nice and accommodating.

And that’s ok…to an extent.

But if too many of our decisions and choices are guided by other people’s feelings and perceptions, where do our own needs and desires fit in?

Therein lies the crux of the issue: we truly want to help others, often to the detriment of our own well-being.

So how do you take control of your guilt without turning into a selfish jerk?

First, it’s important to know what you want and set priorities.  These priorities may even include doing things for other people (i.e., picking the kids up from school, making dinner for your husband, etc.).  Once you have a list of your non-negotiables, everything else becomes much clearer. 

Use these priorities as guides to draw boundaries. This is critical to protecting your time and your sanity.  Once you find this alignment between your wants, priorities and what you commit to, it becomes easier to avoid feeling guilty. 

But the guilt may still creep in.

That’s where strong communication comes into play – you need to let people know about your priorities.  People who care about you don’t want to see you burnt out, frazzled and unhappy. 

The thing is, we’re often so busy trying to hold it all together and we don’t want people to see us sweat, so they have no idea that we are feeling overwhelmed, stressed and spread too thin.

You can change that by being direct, but compassionate with friends, family and colleagues.  Let them know how disappointed you are that you can’t say yes to ________ (i.e., working late, a destination wedding, dinner on Thursday night), but that you just don’t have the _______ (i.e., time, money, resources) right now.

Yes, this is scary.  And you may even make some people upset.

But you’ll find that the people who really care about you and want you to succeed will accept this explanation.

As you practice doing this more and more, the guilt really does start to fade. 

Another trick is to think about what you would tell a friend in your position. Would you encourage her to keep taking on more and to feel badly when she had to turn something down?  Probably not.  

Practice being as kind to yourself as you would be to other people you care about.

It also helps if you remember this: self-care ISN’T selfish.  You really will show up as a better employee, mother, daughter, partner and friend if you are taking care of yourself and your needs.  And that’s nothing to feel guilty about.        

 
 

 

 

Badass Professional Women Don't #4: Accept the Hand You're Dealt

This is the fifth post in an 8-part series on the 7 Things Badass Professional Women Don’t Do.  Previously, we’ve talked about how badass professional women don’t put their head down and work harderdon’t compare themselves to others, and don’t say yes.

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Now I want to talk about a real game changer – the notion that you can call the shots and create the change you want to see in your life.

This is actually the biggest breakthrough I see most of my clients have.

We become so accustomed to the idea that our situation is fixed or static and that we have to operate within the rules.

Rules created by our employer.

Rules created by society.

Rules created so you can be just like everyone else.

Guess what?

There is always some wiggle room.

You are never truly stuck.

Your ideal, dream scenario may be out of reach today, but there are always small tweaks you can adopt to make things more bearable and get you closer to what you want.

The problem many women face is that they don’t ask “what if.”

What if you did things differently?

What if you told your boss that you really can’t take on another project?

What if you told your husband that you can’t make dinner 4 nights a week?

What if you told your friend you can’t make it to her daughter’s third birthday party on Sunday?

I promise you the world won’t stop.

In fact, you will find you can have more.

More of what you want.

But you have to know what it is you want and ask for it. 

It’s up to you to create the space in your life to make this happen.

 
 

 

 

Badass Professional Women Don’t #3: Say Yes

This is the fourth post in an 8-part series on the 7 Things Badass Professional Women Don’t Do.  Previously, we’ve talked about how badass professional women don’t put their head down and work harder and don’t compare themselves to others.

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Today I want to examine the notion of saying “no”. 

This sounds simple but can actually be quite hard. 

Particularly if you have high standards for yourself and any people-pleasing tendencies.

High-achievers often want to do it all. 

We love a good challenge and the opportunity to prove ourselves.  

Often, we’re even flattered when someone asks us to do something since it’s a sign they value our work.

But have you thought about the fact that every time you say “yes” to something, you are actually saying “no” to something else?

We all have the same 24 hours in a day so each task you accept takes time away from something else, whether it’s sleep, time with your family or another work assignment.

Consequently, we need to be smart and strategic about what we say “yes” to.

Badass professional women have figured out when it makes sense to say “no.”  Some examples include:

  • Opportunities that don’t align with your goals
  • Unproductive meetings
  • Toxic or dishonest people
  • Decisions based on FOMO, ego, guilt or fear
  • Tedious tasks that bring no joy or learning
  • Unlimited requests for assistance and advice, particularly from complete strangers
  • Asks that are too far into the future
  • Doing too much out of obligation rather than passion

I’m not suggesting you become cold-hearted, shrewd and completely selfish with your time. 

But you do need to be thoughtful about it.

There’s an art to saying “no”. 

Be straightforward and sincere about your needs (yes, you can even do this with your boss). 

People who respect and care about you will usually understand.

Those that are offended by your “no” may actually be people who don’t value your needs.

In short: Do what inspires you.  Accept the favors you genuinely want to do.  Work with people you love.

 
 

Badass Professional Women Don’t #2: Compare Yourself

This is the third in an 8-part series on the 7 Things Badass Professional Women Don’t Do.  Last week we explored Badass Professional Women Don’t #1: Put Your Head Down and Work Harder.

Now, we turn our attention to something we all probably do sometimes – compare ourselves to others.

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Comparison is almost impossible to avoid if you’re a living, breathing human being.

We're bombarded with images of aspirational women from social media and marketers, which can make even the most secure, happy woman feel inadequate.

During performance reviews, the organizations we work at often implicitly pit employee against employee to determine who gets raises, promoted and fired.  Being compared to your peers is the standard.

So it’s not surprising that we fall into the habit of comparing ourselves to those around us.

In some ways, it’s a survival tactic.

We live in a world where people want constant feedback so comparing yourself to those around you can affirm where you stand in the pecking order. 

I’m all for being ambitious and focused on self-improvement, but at some point it becomes unhealthy and unproductive to strive to be like other people.

Badass women know this.  And, ironically, they are often the women that other women are striving to be like.

Badass women are tuned in to what it takes to rise to the top and be successful and admired.

They pick up on social cues in their organizations and understand the skills and competencies their employer values and rewards.

They know who the influencers and decision-makers are and have personal relationships with them.

They also identify and build relationships with important mentors and sponsors.

Other women – the ones who feel slighted, under-appreciated, overworked, stuck and even ignored – are doing something different.

Some of them wallow in their situations and complain about them.

Others are working in roles that are misaligned with their talents and they don’t know it.

Still others have never taken the time to step out of their day-to-day routine and consider the bigger picture.

And all of them at some point have thought: “Why her and not me?”

Come on, we’ve all thought it before…

But while some women throw a pity party or feel resentful or inadequate because their peers are getting more attention and respect, badass professional women don’t even notice.

That’s because they are focused on their own game.

They have their own plan and an agenda to get there.

They have put effort into building important relationships and social capital and they don’t have time to compare themselves to other people.

They are too busy leading the way.

So next time you start comparing yourself to someone at work, ask yourself this:

  • Am I really doing everything I can to get noticed, respected and promoted?
  • Are my talents aligned to the work I’m doing and to the path I want to pursue?
  • Have I built the right relationships?

If you answered no to any one of these questions, then you still have work to do.

And no amount of comparison is ever going to close that gap.

 
 

Badass Professional Women Don’t #1: Put Your Head Down and Work Harder

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I recently published a post on 7 Things Badass Professional Women Don’t Do that has sparked a great deal of much-needed discussion around women in the workplace.

Many of you have pointed out that these 7 things can apply to anyone, not just women. 

I agree. 

However, I’ve found that generally, women have a harder time with these 7 behaviors than men do, at least on the surface.

I want to dive deeper into each of these 7 behaviors to help you avoid them and adopt the habits and mindsets that help women at the top of their game stand out and excel.

This week we focus on the first one – don’t put your head down and work harder.

This habit is tough to break.  Hard work is literally part of the fabric of American society; it’s highly valued and part of the culture for many organizations.

It’s tempting to keep working harder because you know how to do it. 

You know that if you put in more hours, you’ll get more work done and you may even get better results. 

It feels risky to cut corners or consider a task complete when you could keep working for a couple more hours and make those last few tweaks.

But what if you didn’t think about working less as cutting corners or being lazy? What if, instead, you thought about working smarter?

Badass professional women have this figured out. 

They know there is a combination of factors that make up their talent stack.

Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams coined the term “talent stack” to refer to the systems we use to layer “one modest skill on top of another until the effect is something special.”

Considered in this light, hard work alone is not really that remarkable. 

In fact, if you’re successful primarily because you work hard, you’re exposing yourself to the risk of being replaced. 

There are millions of other hard workers who would be happy to step in and work hard too.

What’s remarkable though is the unique combination of skills and attributes you bring to your role.

Each of us has the opportunity to take the simple skills and competencies we have – our natural talents – and leverage them into a system of performance that amounts to more than the sum of our parts.

You can start doing this by making a list of the skills and attributes you have to offer.

These don’t have to be the things that you are the best at either.  You don’t have to be the best and you shouldn’t try to fake being the best – people will eventually see through that.

It’s enough to just be you.

So here’s my ask of you: 

If you find yourself working hard and you’re stuck, overwhelmed or just not getting the results you want, take a beat.

Think through your talent stack and how you can do a better job communicating it, practicing it and building relationships around it.

 
 

7 Things Badass Professional Women Don't Do

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Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the privilege to speak with dozens of professional women (and a handful of enlightened men) about the unique challenges and experiences women face in the workplace. 

Much of what I heard echoed my own experiences working in Corporate America for 15 years, running my business for the last 2 years, and mentoring countless women and entrepreneurs.

Most notably, there are a number of commonalities among successful women – the things they do to get ahead as well as what they intentionally DON'T do.

The latter category includes the toxic behaviors, people and thoughts that can sabotage our momentum and ultimate success.

How can you adopt the practices, habits and mindsets to unleash your inner boss and take command of your career?

You can start by understanding the 7 key behaviors that badass professional women don’t do:

  1. Don’t Put Your Head Down and Work Harder

  2. Don’t Compare Yourself

  3. Don’t Say Yes

  4. Don’t Accept the Hand You’re Dealt

  5. Don’t Feel Guilty

  6. Don’t Be a Tough Guy

  7. Don’t Pull All-Nighters

1: Don’t Put Your Head Down and Work Harder

At some point, we’ve all been taught that if we work hard and do a good job, we’ll be rewarded. 

This belief is instilled in us from a young age.

Maybe your parents rewarded you for getting good grades or your high SAT score helped get you into the school of your choice.

I WANT TO BE A BADASS!

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way in the professional world. 

You very rarely get noticed for hard work alone. 

Yes, there’s a place for hard work, drive and commitment to excellence, but it’s your relationships and ability to promote yourself that are far more critical to your success in moving up the corporate ladder and achieving recognition.

Too often, women fall into this trap:  We put in long hours at our desk trying to create the most perfect work product, but we miss out on the opportunity to really differentiate ourselves and stand out – by getting out there and showing people who we really are. 

People need to know you, not just your work. 

We all have qualities that fascinate other people.  It’s your responsibility to promote yourself and show people what’s so great about you.

The workplace is not the place to be humble or let others take credit for your accomplishments. 

This doesn’t mean that you need to dominate meetings or brag about your accomplishments. 

Rather, there are a number of strategic ways you can build your profile. 

  • Focus on the key relationships that are critical to your growth and success. Think about it like building a board – who are the people you can learn from and can facilitate your growth and success?

  • Find sponsors and mentors who will help you gain greater visibility and open doors for you.

  • Have lunch with your colleagues. Go to happy hour with them. Even if you don’t want to. :)

Over time you will find that building genuine relationships with the right peers and influencers will make your job easier. 

You won’t have to work so hard because people already know what you bring to the table and they trust you.

2:  Don't Compare Yourself

Comparison is the thief of joy. 

Yet we all do it at some point.  

But unless you’re extremely motivated by seeing someone more successful than you, comparing yourself to others is not likely to serve you at work. 

This is because we each have a unique set of personality traits and competencies that fascinate others. 

For me, my ambition, focus and confidence have often set me apart from my peers. 

If I compared myself to someone with a different mix of advantages, I would be frustrated and probably couldn’t replicate their results.

So what can you do instead?

  • Observe others you admire (i.e., watch, don’t judge) and think about what makes them successful.

  • Consider your own strengths and weaknesses and how comfortable you are pushing those boundaries.

This last part is key – while it’s great to push yourself out of your comfort zone, it needs to be authentic and realistic.

Take this example:

If you’re trying to emulate the best public speaker in your firm, but you have never given a public talk or you get extreme stage fright…

Then it may not be realistic to think you are going to be an amazing public speaker without some significant time, practice and effort. 

It may look like that skill comes naturally to someone else, but it probably took them years to master. 

But all you see is the polished result. 

This is why comparison can be so dangerous. 

Not only do we lack insight into what it took that person to get there, but we may not even possess the innate natural talents that would facilitate our success in that area.

So we could just be setting ourselves up for disappointment.

Before you compare yourself to someone else, assess your own natural talents and non-talents. 

Consider whether they are well-aligned to your pursuits and if you’re committed to putting in the hard work and time to get there.

3:  Don't Say Yes

By nature, many women are people pleasers. 

We want to make others happy and we want people to like us. 

We want to say yes to our boss’s last minute request to get that report in by Friday.

We want to volunteer for that extra assignment because we will do a great job and it’s a way to get noticed. 

And we also want to mentor the three people who have reached out to us because they admire us and want to learn from us.

Suddenly, we’ve agreed to a ton of extra tasks and we’re overcommitted.

There’s absolutely a time and place in your career for saying yes as much as possible. 

Only you know when that time is right…

For me, I did this early on in my career, when I was younger (and had boundless energy and fewer personal commitments) and hungry for as many new experiences as possible to help me develop my niche and natural talents.

Beyond that, saying no becomes a critical way to set boundaries and protect your creativity and your sanity. 

If you’re any good at what you do, you will undoubtedly have people asking a lot of you. 

You aren’t obligated to say yes to everything. 

You also don’t need to apologize.

Setting boundaries is part of being mature and also allows you to take time for self-care. 

4:  Don't Accept The Hand You're Dealt

Most things in life are negotiable. 

Even if you think they aren’t. 

There’s no reason you have to accept something just because that’s the way it’s always been or if you’re unhappy.  

You always have a choice.

It may not be easy, but the least effective thing you can do is just accept a mediocre situation.

Powerful women play the long game. 

They think about their end goal and the small steps they need to take to get there. 

  • They understand the connections and relationships they need to build over time.

  • They take up space both mentally and physically – they can’t be ignored.

  • They don’t sit around feeling sorry for themselves or make excuses about why they are stuck in their current situation.

  • They don’t let self-doubt cripple their ability to move forward.

They resist stagnation.

5:  Don't Feel Guilty

We feel bad missing work if we’re sick.

We feel bad leaving early to pick up our kids.

We feel bad asking for too much time off.

We feel bad if we’re too exhausted to stay up all night working on a proposal.  

And we need to stop!

Women are often guilt-ridden, but the most successful professional women don’t let feelings of anguish or remorse hold them back. 

Personally, guilt has been the hardest feeling for me to overcome. 

I never want to let anyone down. 

But sometimes we have to in order to choose ourselves. 

The key is to own our choices and stand behind them. 

Be transparent and upfront about your boundaries. 

No one is perfect, but being clear about your choices means you don’t have to apologize or feel bad when you say no.

6:  Don't Be a Tough Guy

We know that badass professional women set boundaries, negotiate for what they want and don’t feel guilty, but they also do this with finesse and grace. 

They don’t steamroll over people or act like a tough guy. 

And this can be a difficult balance for many women.

Women have to walk a tightrope of being authentic to themselves and embracing their femininity and being assertive enough to command respect.

The most successful women have figured out this balancing act. 

They speak up, are confident and can be forceful. 

But they have put in time building social capital with their colleagues by fostering genuine relationships.

They are likeable and this increases their influence.

7:  Don't Pull All-Nighters

I see plenty of successful women who never seem to sleep.

I am not one of them. 

Sleep has repeatedly been proven to improve your memory and focus, reduce stress and depression, help maintain your weight and increase your overall quality of life. 

Being well-rested helps us keep the composure we need to deal with all the challenging situations and BS we face at work.

Sleep is a game-changer. 

In Conclusion

Eliminating these 7 behaviors from your day-to-day professional life will have a big impact.

And the benefits from these behaviors often compound over time.

I encourage you to start today and embrace the badass professional woman you are.

 
 

How To Transform Your Daily Grind into Joy

As summer winds down and the kids go back to school, traffic congestion surges and job demands seem to multiply….

Time becomes an even more precious and scarce commodity.  Suddenly, the slower pace and summer lull many of us enjoyed in July and August comes to a screeching halt.

And reality sets in:  you are stretched thin and stressed. 

How do I know? Because I’ve been there. 

In fact, I used to experience this cycle several times a year before I learned how to consistently take better care of myself and make self-care a priority.

For many years, I accepted this vicious cycle of stress as a normal way of life. 

Most of the time I managed ok – I slept and exercised less than I would’ve liked – but I was still keeping all the balls in the air and doing well at work.

I even put Band-Aids on the problem by scheduling quick 4-day vacations to warm, sunny places to supply me with the relaxation and rest I needed. 

But every time when I returned to real life (which was approximately 689 unread emails, numerous requests from family and friends for my time, and the daily demands of running a household) – any benefits from my break were gone within my first day home.

About four years ago, a light bulb went off for me – if I needed to keep escaping my daily life for these mini-vacations, maybe vacations weren’t the answer.  I needed to change something about my daily life.

I’m probably not much different from you in that I spend most of my daily life at work.

Here are some of the transformational steps I took to examine what wasn’t working in my daily life and my career and how I broke my cycle of stress.

1. Slow Down

I like to think I’m a smart person but it took me far longer than I care to admit (literally years!) to realize that I was unhappy in my job – I was working too many hours and no longer found the work enjoyable. 

I was so worried about letting someone down at work or at home that I was pretty much on autopilot. 

I was moving so fast trying to keep up with everything, that I never took the time to reflect and consider if a change might be good for me.

It wasn’t until I started being honest with myself and my co-workers about how I was feeling, that I allowed myself to take the gas off the pedal and see what that felt like.

Even then, I didn’t have an epiphany over night. It still took over a year for me realize that I actually didn’t want to be a partner in a big consulting firm (despite working towards that goal for over 10 years) and that I didn’t want to continue to work 60+ hour weeks.

2.     Do Something

Once I figured this out, I had another problem.  For 10+ years, my identity and self-worth had been wrapped up in my career and my ability to be all things to all people.

If I walked away from that, who would I be?

Well, heck, I had no idea, but I knew I just needed to try something else.

So I did. 

I took a new job in a different industry doing something completely different than what I had done before.

I also started saying no to personal invitations when I didn’t want to go.

My days of people-pleasing were over.

It was scary and I had my doubts about whether I could succeed and if people would be mad at me.

But, you know what?

It literally forced me to take action and do something to change the path I was on. 

And my family and true friends were completely supportive of me putting myself first.

3.    Be Kind To Yourself

When I made the change to switch jobs, it was a big deal for me.

I had been at my firm for 7 years and was a known commodity.

Now I was going into a new environment, where I didn’t know anyone, and I had no track record and little direct experience with the type of work I was going to be doing.

Frankly, I was scared shitless.

I tend to be hard on myself and have high expectations for what I can achieve. I really didn’t know if I could do this job well.

So I decided to re-frame my definition of success.  

Leaving my previous job wasn’t just about starting a new job and changing the direction of my career.

It was about changing my entire life.

It was about leaving the rat race of Big 5 Consulting and taking more time for me.

So I decided to use this job as an opportunity to do just that. 

I used this role to hit the re-set button my life and looked for ways to create new routines and healthy habits (i.e., taking barre classes after work, seeing my nutritionist weekly).

These became measures of success along with my performance at work. 

I no longer based my success and self-worth solely on what went down in the office.

If I can make these changes, I’m confident anyone can.  I was a workaholic, people-pleasing, creature of habit.

And today, I’m still a creature of habit…but I have better habits. :)

Would you like to know how to assess and develop your own daily habits?

If so, click below for a free 1:1 consult with me to learn how to show up powerfully in the workplace and feel fulfilled, while having more time for yourself and the things you love.

 

How to Re-Ignite Your Personal Brand and Your Career

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When Your Career Stagnates and Your Opportunities Seem Limited….

It can be demoralizing, anxiety-producing and downright depressing.  Believe me, I know.

In my 20s and even still today as I approach 40, I frequently experience age and gender discrimination. 

I look young and enjoy fashion (a stint at Saks in grad school left me with an affliction for designer handbags and shoes).

And sometimes people equate that with a lack of experience, intelligence and business sense.

If I had a dollar for every time I heard “Oh, you wouldn’t understand this reference because you’re too young,” or “I can’t believe how much you have accomplished in your short career”…

It seems like more often than not, people are surprised by my expertise, professional accomplishments and network. 

However, those who know me are not. 

At work, I’m assertive, knowledgeable and confident.

But I wasn’t always this way. 

Early in my career, I was quiet, shy and afraid to speak up and share my ideas because I was afraid to sound stupid or be wrong. 

You ever felt that way?

There were a number of factors that changed my behavior over time but probably the biggest influence was a boss I had named Jacqui. 

Jacqui was smart, assertive and didn’t fit the mold of a typical corporate woman – she played in a man’s world, but was true to who she was and was also someone I genuinely enjoyed hanging out with. 

It was from working with and receiving feedback from Jacqui that led me to break out of my shell.  

But if you don’t have a “Jacqui” in your life, what can you do to establish your brand and stand out so you can get the promotion, raise and respect you deserve at work?

Well here’s a few things that I’ve done over the years that have helped me…

1.  Unlock Your Natural Talents

  • Take the time to understand what you’re good at.
  • You can do this by taking assessments, self-reflecting and asking others to give you feedback.
  • Equally important, understand your ‘non-talents’. 
  • Then, rather than try to improve on your ‘non-talents’, become more of who you already are by building on your natural talents.
  • We wouldn’t expect a goldfish to climb a tree right? :)

2.  Develop Personal Style

  • Like it or not, we live in a visual, superficial society. 
  • Appearance is important. 
  • You don’t need to be a model or spend a fortune to look polished and stylish but it does require a little effort. 
  • Figure out what styles make you feel the most comfortable and confident and stick with those. 
  • Sticking to certain silhouettes and colors can make getting dressed fast and simple. 
  • Develop an easy-to-maintain hair and makeup routine. 
  • You may need to get advice on these things – ask your stylish friends, your hairdresser and the makeup artist at Sephora for tips.  
  • It’s not silly and superficial…it’s part of how you present yourself and your brand.  

3.  Incorporate Self-Care Into Your Career

  • Successful women take care of themselves. 
  • They exercise, eat healthy and are cognizant of their mental health. 
  • Take the time to figure out how you can incorporate regular exercise and a healthy diet into your life. 
  • Stay away from toxic people who sap your energy.
  • Do things outside of work that make you feel good and rejuvenate you.

4. Own Who You Are 

  • Once you recognize your natural talents and develop your personal style, OWN IT. 
  • Don’t sit quietly in your team meeting waiting to be called on. 
  • Stand tall and confidently share your insights. 
  • If the thought of this is too scary, start by having 1:1 conversations with peers you trust.
  • You can bounce your ideas off them first and build up the confidence to share them in a larger group or with your boss.

5. Ask For What You Want  

  • Everyone is busy and most likely, your boss isn’t spending much time thinking about how to get you everything you want professionally.
  • YOU are in charge of your path, even if you work for someone else. 
  • Take the time to figure out where you want to be in 6 months, 1 year and 5 years and let people know. 
  • Even if they don't think you’re ready, ask them why and how you can get there. 
  • Then take this feedback and think about whether you can act on it or if you are better off looking outside of your current job for the type of opportunity you are looking for.

I realize these steps may not be easy for everyone.

But taken in small chunks over a period of time, they are doable and can help you take your career to the next level, even if you’re feeling stuck, underpaid and unappreciated.

If you want to learn more about how you can make a few simple, but transformational, shifts to get the promotion, raise and respect you deserve in your career, click below to schedule a free 1:1 consult with me. 

Eclipses and Shadows

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This week's solar eclipse got me thinking about shadows. The Moon's shadow crossed the Earth's surface, dimming the sun's light for a period of time.

There are a lot of times in my professional life where people have tried to dim my light and keep me in their shadow. This isn't unique to me - it happens to lots of women.

And it's got to stop. Maybe we can't control our workplace cultures and societal norms. But women can take steps to assert our confidence and leverage our natural talents so that no one dims our light, takes credit for our work, or silences our ideas.