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Trisha Yearwood's Delectable Apple Pie

Submitted by Womenworking on Wed, 11/25/2015 - 13:29

Trisha Yearwood is a busy woman. She’s an incredible singer, a talented chef, and now she’s created her own furniture collection! We caught up with Trisha to ask her a few questions about her latest projects, and we got a delicious apple pie recipe… just in time for the holidays! 

Helene: That apple pie recipe looks fabulous—great for any Thanksgiving table, what makes it so special? 

Trisha: It's special because I make it in a cast iron skillet, so it's a pretty presentation. It's wonderful because it's SO easy to make, and it tastes like it took you all day!

Helene: Congratulations on your furniture collection! It's really very classy—feels balanced and peaceful... how is it a reflection of your own home living? What do you want to convey to people who might purchase the sets? 

Trisha: I really "live" in my home. My life is about comfort and ease, and I wanted my furniture collection to feel just that way. I want people to know that this collection of furniture is about quality and beauty, but also function and comfort.

Helene: Trisha you do it all, cooking show, performing, furniture, stepmom, and I know you've said Garth makes you laugh and he's a lot of fun—do you have any down-time? If so, what do you do? 

Trisha: I honestly don't feel that anything I am doing these days is a "job." You know that saying "if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life"? That's me. But I do love those days when I can sleep in and make the day whatever I want it to be. On those days, I enjoy a good book, a cup of coffee, and maybe a leisurely hike with my husband. Life is good!

Helene: What are your wishes for people during the upcoming holiday season? 

Trisha: I just want us all to be grateful for those we love, to remember those who are still with us in spirit, and to focus on loving one another. (This is also my wish for us every day.)

Trisha Yearwood, Helene Lerner and Garth Brooks

Check out this excerpt from Trisha’s new cook book, Trisha’s Table: My Feel-Good Favorites for a Balanced Life.

Mrs. Carter’s Skillet Apple Pie

My mama was born and raised in Willacoochee, Georgia. I spent a lot of my childhood visiting my grandparents, cousins, and friends in that wonderful town. My mama’s maiden name was Paulk, but family included many more than blood relatives. We played with the Tuckers, Granthams, and Carters and considered them all part of our big family. Some of my fondest memories include get-togethers and potlucks where these great southern ladies prepared the mouthwatering foods that inspired me to cook. I’ve known Mrs. Helen Carter my whole life. When I asked her for this recipe, she was almost embarrassed to give it to me because she thought it was too simple. That’s exactly what I love about it! Garth suggested adding in extra cinnamon sugar… smart guy! SERVES 6


1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
½ cup (1 stick) salted butter, plus 1 tablespoon melted for crust
2 refrigerated rolled pie crusts (I like Pillsbury)
1 (21-ounce) can apple pie filling
2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar
Vanilla ice cream, for serving


Preheat the oven to 400°F. Melt the brown sugar and ½ cup of butter in a 9-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Remove the pan from the heat, and cover with one pie crust.

Pour the apple pie filling on top of the crust, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the cinnamon sugar, and cover with the second crust. Brush with the 1 tablespoon of melted butter and sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon sugar.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve hot, topped with a generous dollop of vanilla ice cream.

Recipe reprinted from Trisha’s Table by Trisha Yearwood with Beth Yearwood Bernard. 
Copyright ©2015 by Trisha Yearwood. 
Photos by Ben Fink. 
Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

What Can Gratitude Do for You?

Submitted by Womenworking on Wed, 11/25/2015 - 09:18

Research shows that experiencing gratitude enhances the quality of our lives. And what better time to start practicing gratitude than during the holidays?

In Robert Emmons’s book, Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, his studies indicate that practicing gratitude on a daily basis results in higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism, and energy.

In addition, those who practice gratitude:

  •  Experience less depression and stress
  • Are more likely to help others
  • Exercise more regularly
  • Make greater progress on personal goals

Other benefits of practicing gratitude include:

  • Increased creativity
  • A quicker recovery from adversity
  • A healthier immune system
  • Stronger social relationships

Practicing gratitude does not require a perfect life. It simply means that you are consciously looking for things to be thankful for on a daily basis.

Here are some practical steps you can take to practice gratitude:

1. Create a journal—hard copy or on your computer. 

2. For one week take 5 or 10 minutes—at the beginning or end of your day—and ask yourself the following questions:

  • What am I grateful for?
  • Whom am I grateful to? Whom should I say “thank you” to? Why? 
  • What have I been able to accomplish? 
  • Who or what is the source of that accomplishment?
  • Whom can I acknowledge? And for what?
  • What can I acknowledge myself for?

3. After a week of practicing gratitude, jot down any changes you have seen in the areas of creativity, happiness, well-being, and progress towards goals. Also, note anything you’ve discovered about yourself and others since starting the practice.

After you see firsthand the benefits of this, I invite you to commit to a daily practice of gratitude for the rest of this year. (It takes 21 days to establish a new habit, according to one expert.) After that you may want to continue the practice indefinitely!

If you take on this gratitude practice I promise it will make a major difference in your life.

Ilene Fischer, Partner, Mark Kamin and Associates

Try this Fresh Pumpkin Pie with Cookie Dough Crust

Submitted by Womenworking on Tue, 11/24/2015 - 10:06

Who doesn't love pumpkin pie, especially during the holidays? But if you want to bring your pumpkin pie to the next level, then try this incredibly fresh recipe from Lisa Oz. 


Pie Dough

  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for shaping and rolling out the dough 
  • 3 tablespoons organic sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 large egg yolks 
  • 3 tablespoons ice water


  • 1 sweet or cheese pumpkin, or butternut squash (about 2 1/4 pounds)
  • One 14-ounce can non-GMO condensed milk
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

To make the pie dough: Mix the flour, sugar, and salt together in a medium bowl. Add the butter and mix to coat the butter with the flour mixture. Using your fingertips, quickly rub the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. (Or, instead of your fingertips, use a pastry blender.) Stir the yolks and ice water together in a small bowl. Using a fork, add and stir in enough of the yolk mixture until the dough clumps together. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead a few times until it is smooth. Shape the dough into a thick disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until the dough is chilled but not hard, 1 to 2 hours. 

Begin the filling: If you’re carving a jack-o’lantern, cut off the top of the pumpkin to make a lid, then use a large spoon to scrape enough of the inner flesh to measure 6 packed cups, leaving the shell intact. If you are just making pie, cut the pumpkin into quarters and scrape out the seeds. Using a sturdy vegetable peeler, peel the pumpkin, and cut the flesh into chunks about 1 1/2 inches square. Place the chunks (or scraped-out flesh) into a large saucepan and add enough cold water to barely cover them. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover. Simmer until the pumpkin is tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain the pumpkin well into a wire sieve. Using a spatula, firmly press the pumpkin to extract excess moisture. Once the pumpkin has cooled, transfer it to a blender and puree until smooth with a thickness similar to canned pumpkin; 2 pounds of pumpkin should yield about 1 cups of puree. 

Position a rack in the bottom third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F. Place a large rimmed baking sheet on the rack to heat. 

Unwrap the dough. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into a 12- to 13-inch round about 1/8 inch thick. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie pan. If the dough breaks, just patch it back together. Fold the dough itself under so the edge of the fold is flush with the edge of the pan. Flute the dough. Refrigerate the dough-lined pan to chill for 20 to 30 minutes. 

Whisk the cooled pumpkin, condensed milk, eggs, cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, vanilla, and ginger together. Pour the filling into the dough-lined pan and place on the hot baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350°F. Continue baking until a knife inserted into the center of the filling comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Transfer to a wire cooling rack and let cool. Cut into wedges and serve. 

Makes 8 Servings

Recipe reprinted from THE OZ FAMILY KITCHEN Copyright © 2015 by Lisa Oz. Published by Harmony Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.

The Secret to Making 2016 YOUR Year

Submitted by Womenworking on Mon, 11/23/2015 - 09:26

I’ve always found it useful to have a coach. One who can offer perspectives on my work and life challenges and point out whatever unexamined assumptions, limiting beliefs, or blind spots might be getting in the way of my performance. 

When I was running my own startup I had a coach I spoke to every week. As CEO I was regularly confronting the gap between what I knew and what was required to run a company. My coach provided me with important feedback on my ideas and the areas I needed to improve on to be a successful CEO. No matter how difficult the job was at times, I always felt I had a partner I could count on.  

Whether you’re an executive, manager, or individual contributor you may be wondering whether you should hire a coach. Here are 4 good reasons why you should:

You simply want to be more effective in your job. You’ve encountered some barriers to producing the results that need to be produced. You know that a coach can help you to overcome whatever obstacles are in your way of being more successful.   

You’ve had a less than stellar performance review or have been told you need to improve in certain areas. The pressure is on. Your job—or at least your career advancement—depends on your being able to significantly improve your performance.

You’ve been rewarded with a new job or new accountability, but you recognize that what you know is insufficient for what lies ahead. 

You’re already successful at your job, but... you recognize there’s another level of excellence you want to attain and you’ve set a goal for yourself that requires a “leadership makeover” to achieve! You’re playing for the gold.

Of the many CEOs and senior executives I’ve worked with over the last 30 years, the most successful have been the ones most coachable and most open to feedback. Their commitment to learn and grow separates them from the pack. They don’t hide behind what they already know. In fact, they understand that what they already know is often an impediment to exploring new possibilities and opportunities, which a coach can help them to do.

This is a good time of year to evaluate your performance and determine whether or not you can use a coach in 2016. You can start by getting clear about the results you want to produce in the next year. If you decide to move forward with a coach, you may want to experiment with a 3-month contract—to be renewed if you’re satisfied with your progress. 

Just remember: a coach can make all the difference when it comes to changing your reasonable performance to extraordinary performance. 

Ilene Fischer, Partner, Mark Kamin and Associates

Learn to Speak the Same Love Language

Submitted by Womenworking on Fri, 11/20/2015 - 09:33

We all express and receive love messages differently. Figuring out how you and your partner experience love can help tremendously in strengthening your relationship. My favorite book on this topic comes from Gary Chapman, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts.

After forty years as a marriage and family counselor, Dr. Chapman had heard a lot of couples’ complaints. From these complaints he began to see a pattern. What he was hearing were the same stories over and over again. When he reviewed more than a decade’s worth of notes, he realized that what couples really wanted from each other fell into five distinct categories:

Words of Affirmation: Compliments or words of encouragement.

Quality Time: A partner’s undivided attention.

Receiving Gifts:
 Symbols of love such as flowers or chocolates.

Acts of Service:
 Settling the table, walking the dog, or doing other small jobs.

Physical Touch:
 Having sex, holding hands, kissing.

According to the concept, the way you feel loved is also the way you show love. 

Figuring out your partner’s primary love language requires you listen carefully to both positive responses and complaints. 

Quite simply, you have a particular way you experience love. Because you can only truly receive love that way, you are likely to give love that way too. Yet you can learn to give love in other ways, ways that can be better received by your partner because of your partner’s own love language. 

Learning how you and your partner experience love is the bridge to both giving and receiving it fully. Through conscious decision making, you can choose to speak your partner’s language every day. It is one of the fastest methods to bring you closer together. 

To get more of Arielle’s great advice, preorder her new book Turn Your Mate into Your SoulmateThe book is on sale December 29 2015, but order your copy today!

Photo Credit: Carl Studna 


8 Tips to Help You Get the Job You Want

Submitted by Womenworking on Thu, 11/19/2015 - 09:41

Let’s say you’ve given a lot of thought to whether your current job is right for you. You’ve finally come to a decision: it’s time to move on.

Now what do you do? How do you start this process? 

Here are 8 actions steps you can take:

Imagine the future
What would you love to be doing one to three years from now? Write down: What’s the kind of work that would make you excited to get out of bed in the morning? What industry do you want to be working in? What position and responsibilities are you looking for? What contribution can you make? 

Have a safety net
It’s prudent to keep your current job while you look for a new job. But if you’re so miserable in your present job that it’s affecting your health and you have savings to cover you (preferably for 6 months), take the leap earlier. This also forces you to get serious on your search. 

Strengthen your resume
There are many resources to help you build your resume—from paid advisors to free internet advice. Get clear about the type of resume that will produce the result you want. 

Don't burn bridges
Think through who in your workplace would be good references for you. Make sure you strenghten those relationships, so they don't fall apart once you leave.

Have your recommendations ready
Make a list of other references you can use, including people you’ve worked with in past jobs who would give you glowing recommendations.

Let family, friends, and colleagues know your plans
Research shows that at least half of all jobs come through informal channels. Your personal relationships are critical in your job search. Attend networking events to meet new colleagues and form new relationships. 

Share your tips
Keep in regular touch with colleagues who are also looking for work. The more helpful you are in giving them advice and sharing resources, the more helpful they’ll be for you.

Learn about your local job market
Find out what industries are growing and what businesses are staffing up. Find out what it’s like to work for those companies—from your personal network or from anonymous employee reviews at

Once you’ve found the job you want to apply for, the next game begins. But these 8 steps will get you up to that point.

The holiday season is the perfect time for you get started on your search, so you can find the job you want and begin doing the work you love.

Ilene Fischer, Partner, Mark Kamin and Associates

Live the Life You Want

Submitted by Womenworking on Wed, 11/18/2015 - 13:55

Karen Dillon has been named one of the Most Influential Women by the Ashoka Changemakers Foundation. Now she shares her secrets to achieving happiness in her professional and personal life. Influenced by the advice of Harvard Business Professor, Clay Christensen, Karen helped co-write his novel, How Will You Measure Your Life?, along with her colleague Harvard Business Review‎ writer, James Allworth. 

Here’s her advice for how you can find and follow your passions. 

Was there someone who encouraged you no matter what?

My dad always encouraged my sister, brother and I. He wanted us to follow our dreams and find what would make us happy. I took this very seriously. I still have the sticky note he left me when I graduated: “Live your Dreams. Love, Dad.” That's what I've tried to do.

What influenced you to co-write, How Will You Measure Your Life? What was the experience like?

It was an interesting turn of events. I was in my mid-40's and a close friend had just died from cancer. I was at this place in my life where I asked, “What's it all about?” I had recently interviewed Clay Christensen for an article. After I left his office, my whole life changed. It made me question: What was I achieving in my life? A year later I figured out what to do. I quit my job as an HBR editor and began working on the book.

How did your interview with Clay turn your life around?

He told me the 3 questions he always asks his students:

  1. How will you find happiness in your professional life?
  2. How will you find happiness in your personal life? 
  3. How will you stay out of jail?

I had two little girls who didn't realize that they were the most important people in my life. I decided to shift my priorities and decided to be a full-time mom and a part-time editor, and I've been very happy because of it.

What advice would you give your younger self, who’s just starting out?

The same advice I give my children:

  1. You can’t make a mistake if you choose a job that makes you happy. Build your choices around that.
  2. Don’t make your decisions based on what your parents want or what pays the most. Find something that has meaning to you.
  3. “If you love the work you do, you'll never have to work a day in your life.” Finding and following your passion is the only way to achieve career happiness.

7 Telltale Signs it is Time to Leave Your Job

Submitted by Womenworking on Wed, 11/18/2015 - 09:39

The unemployment rate is lower than it’s been in seven years. When the labor market is improving, that’s a good time to reevaluate your job and career. Ask yourself:

  • Are you satisfied with your work? 
  • Are your efforts and accomplishments appreciated?
  • Are you able to make a difference with the people you work with? 
  • Does your current job provide a pathway to your career goals?

If you answered no to any of these questions, you may want to use the holidays to reflect on what you’d really like to be doing. Then you can retool your resume and get started on your job search. The end of the year is the perfect time to envision where you want to be a year from now—and 5 or 10 years from now!

But first let’s take a closer look at your current job. Here are 7 telltale signs that it’s time to move on. 

You’re just not excited about your work. When your alarm goes off in the morning, you’d rather go back to sleep. Your job isn’t fun, interesting, or challenging.

You and your boss are not on the same page. You’ve had difficulty supporting him or her—and it’s not getting better. Most people leave their job because of conflict with their manager.

You’re frustrated with the organizational bureaucracy and find it nearly impossible to accomplish anything important. There are too many barriers to getting things done in your organizational culture. 

There are constant reorganizations taking place and a revolving door of managers. It would be nice to have some stability in your work life for a change.

Your job is so demanding and the workload so excessive you have no time for family, friends, or other interests. You’re tired of doing so much work after work.

You feel unrecognized. Your talents are underutilized and underappreciated.

It’s not getting you any closer to your career goals.

If you can relate to several of these, it’s time to take action! And this is the best time of year to be doing that. [In my next post I’ll give some tips on that.]

Life is too short to not be doing work you love. 

Ilene Fischer, Partner, Mark Kamin and Associates

13 Tips to Help You Master Giving Feedback

Submitted by Womenworking on Tue, 11/17/2015 - 09:49

Giving feedback is never easy, especially when it’s negative. Whether you’re on the giving or the receiving end, if the feedback is not delivered well, it can be extremely uncomfortable and lead to tension and hurt feelings. 

To make feedback more pleasant for everyone involved, follow these rules for how to deliver negative feedback to your coworkers.

Feedback should be based on something observable

Feedback should be rooted in things you can describe in detail, like behaviors or comments made in the office. Instead of saying, “You didn’t use your time well” try “I noticed you still had three high-priority items on your schedule when you left on Friday. What happened?”

Suggest actions for the receiver to take in the future

Suggest future actions that are achievable and realistic. Try kindly suggesting they try new ways of tracking time, like, “Why don’t you experiment by coming into the office at different times to see if it affects your workflow? I notice when I come in early, I’m able to knock out my high-priority tasks much faster than when I get a late start.” 

State the purpose of your feedback early on

Even when suggestions are well-intentioned, it’s better to lead with something like, “I want to help you become even better at time-management,” instead of, “I have some suggestions about your time-management.” Knowing up front what the goal is can prevent rash judgments or hurt feelings. The feedback may be aimed at a certain project, but without knowing the receiver may assume you’re talking about all of their work, or worse, about them in general. 

Communicate the main point before going into details

If you need revisions on a proposal, start with that instead of leading with a laundry list. “Could you revise this proposal? The client prefers X, Y and Z” is more clear than “The client really prefers X, Y and Z. Can you revise this?” 

Share positives first, and be specific

Starting out a conversation with the words “I don’t like…” is sure to get the conversation off on the wrong foot. Instead, be specific about what they did well before recommending what you think could be revised. This helps make the conversation a bit friendlier. Plus, when they know what they did well, they can continue to do it in the future.

Make it a two-way conversation

Nobody likes being told what to do, especially if it’s coming from someone they feel has no right to tell them what to do. Replace “I think you should…” with something like, “What do you think about changing…” Help them come up with their own solutions, and they’ll feel much better about implementing them. If it’s relevant to the situation, asking for feedback on your own performance can increase engagement in the conversation as well. 

Focus on the action, not the person

I’m sure you’ve heard this one before, but it’s one of those things that’s easier said than done. When giving negative feedback, remember to focus on the action with statements like “I think the project could have focused more on…” This will go over better than, “I think you could have focused more on…” 

Use “I” versus “You” when possible

When possible, re-word feedback to use “I” statements. For instance, you may want to say something like, “I might take this approach when calling a client” in place of “You should take this approach when calling a client.” This way, you seem to be offering friendly advice instead of belittling demands. 

Be specific and descriptive

When something needs changed, it’s tempting to just say “Please revise this.” But without knowing what exactly needs changed, or the purpose of changing it, the receiver is not likely to make much improvement. Be clear. When the receiver knows the purpose, they’re more inclined to hit the mark. 

Use positive phrasing

Avoid harsh words by using more positive alternatives that come across as constructive instead of hostile or confrontational. For example, in writing, instead of asking the writer to make changes, tell them, “I really like the direction this is headed, but we need to fine-tune a few things to make it a really great.” 

Give the feedback at the right time

Timing is everything when giving feedback. As a general rule, it’s best to give feedback as soon as possible following the event. But, you may need to wait until the person is free so you have their full attention and can meet privately. Delivering negative feedback isn’t fun, but addressing the problem immediately is far better than letting it become brushed under the rug.

Focus on behavior that can change

Take an introverted coworker. It may be affecting their work, but a comment like, “You seem very introverted; why don’t you try talking to others more?” will fall on deaf ears. Instead, focus on an action that the receiver can take by saying something like, “I think the rest of the team would like to hear your thoughts. Why don’t we set up a casual meeting to talk about it?” 

Use relaxed body language

Giving constructive criticism well goes beyond the words you use. Non-verbal cues (like body language) also play a part in effectively giving feedback. Sit or stand on the same level, make eye contact and smile. Try to avoid crossed arms or stern looks. If feedback is being given via email, break it up into shorter paragraphs so it feels more friendly and less like an angry rant. 

Nobody likes negative feedback, but delivering it well can make a world of difference—both in the outcomes and the attitudes of everyone involved. Next time you’re delivering constructive criticism, be sure to remember these rules. 


Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks, a site dedicated to sharing advice on all things career. Follow her on Twitter @SarahLandrum for more great tips!


4 Tips to Help you Deal with Holiday Madness

Submitted by Womenworking on Mon, 11/16/2015 - 09:20

With the holidays coming and Thanksgiving 10 days away, we’re approaching a period that many of us feel is the most stressful time of year. 

The stress we experience during the holiday season has many possible causes:

  • We have less time to complete our tasks and projects, given the fewer workdays available from late November to January 1st. In addition to the holidays themselves, there are other days in which our workplaces may be closed or partially staffed. The same for companies we’re doing business with.
  • We have shopping to do for the holidays, as well as business or family-related events to attend (and prepare for) outside of work hours.
  • We have age-old family dynamics to manage if we attend holiday gatherings with relatives. Such get-togethers can be joyful in many ways but also challenging—especially if we’re beginning to redefine ourselves beyond the traditional roles that family members may have “assigned” us.
  • If we’ve had a major loss in the last year—e.g., the death of a family member or a divorce or separation—we’re likely to feel that loss more deeply during the holidays, given the nostalgic memories that this season brings to mind.
  • We have countless other things to manage between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day—e.g., our budget for holiday gifts, our time to buy and wrap presents, our travel plans if we visit relatives or take a vacation. 

How do we deal with these stressors so we can be gracious and centered in a time that’s intended to give us gratitude and peace?

  • Recognize we may not get everything done. We can prioritize what must get done—in our work and elsewhere—and focus on top priorities.
  • Schedule everything. Things can fall through the cracks if we’re not closely tracking our increased work and social obligations. A missed appointment or deadline will only compound our stress!
  • Set expectations. When mutual expectations are undefined, we’re setting ourselves up for misunderstandings to occur later. For instance, when preparing for holiday events or family gatherings we should be clear about the details and who’s responsible for providing what. “Level-setting” expectations is just as important outside of work. 
  • Remember to breathe! It’s important to be mindful during stressful periods. From time to time we should just sit, be still, and center ourselves. 

Practicing these tips can help us “be present” to this season of gratitude and joy.

Ilene Fischer, Partner, Mark Kamin and Associates


Treasure the Little Things

Submitted by Womenworking on Fri, 11/13/2015 - 09:41

It's time to treasure the little things. What are YOU grateful for?

Video Editor: Monica Wahid

3 Keys to Effective Communication

Submitted by Womenworking on Thu, 11/12/2015 - 09:36

Do you realize that when you’re communicating with another person there are actually three conversations going on? 

  • Your internal conversation with yourself. (Did you ever drive home and barely remember how you got there, because you were having such an engrossing conversation with yourself?)
  • The internal conversation the other person is having.
  • The external conversation you and the other person are having aloud.

It’s amazing that any real communication occurs at all, given the distraction of all these different conversations! Taking this into account, here are three tips to ensure more effective communication:

Get past your internal conversations.

  • Are you able to hear what the other person is actually saying?
  • If you notice your internal conversation is drowning out the external conversation, let it go and get back into the moment. Hear what the other person is saying. 

Notice the assumptions you’re making but not saying.

  • What are you assuming about that person and about what they are saying? 
  • We rarely operate like Sergeant Joe Friday, who listened for “just the facts.” 
  • We automatically add meaning to, draw conclusions from, and make assumptions about what others say—which can interfere with careful listening.

Know that those assumptions can influence a conversation.

  • What we think but don’t say often speaks loudly.
  • Your assumptions can leak into the conversation, wreaking havoc on the outcome.
  • If you can’t let go of the assumptions, find a way to talk about them.

If you go back and analyze an unproductive conversation you’ve had, often there was something you were not saying, but you were thinking, that affected the outcome of the conversation. Business theorist Chris Argyris refers to this as “the left hand column.” 

Try this as a practice: Make two columns on a piece of paper. On the right side write down your recollection of an important conversation that did not go well. In the right column you might write: 

She: I was told the meeting was cancelled.
Me: No problem. But we had to move ahead on the decision without you.

On the left side write down what you were thinking and not saying, such as, “I don’t believe her. She’s always making up excuses. This time she has to live with the result.” You may see that what you were thinking but not saying still influenced the outcome of the conversation. 

The answer may not be to put your “left hand column” on external speaker. But it’s important to find a way to test your assumptions or discuss them with the other person, because they’re not always accurate. And finding a way to talk about them openly provides an opportunity for mutual learning.

Ilene Fischer, Partner, Mark Kamin and Associates

6 Keys to Help You Rise to the Top

Submitted by Womenworking on Wed, 11/11/2015 - 09:38

In the U.S. women fill only 14 percent of C-Level positions (CEO, CIO, CMO, CTO, CFO) and only 6 percent in Fortune 500 companies.  

This is in spite of research that has shown that there’s an increase in Return On Equity when there are three or more women on company boards and when there are women in senior leadership positions. As a result, many global corporations are concerned with retaining their talented women and increasing their bottom line.

According to a Deloitte study, “The Gender Dividend: Making the Case for Investing in Women”:

An organization that understands how to attract, retain, and advance women will be in a better position to capture its fair share of talent, reduce the cost of attrition, and generate a robust pipeline to leadership.

I’ve come up with 6 Key Success Factors for developing women as leaders, based on research from Catalyst, the Anita Borg Institute, the Harvard Business School, McKinsey, and Deloitte.

If women develop themselves in these 6 key areas, they can rise to the top of their organizations, and their organizations can flourish.


  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  • What difference do you plan to make?
  • What do you want to be known for?


  • Your performance confirms value and worth.
  • Women need to out-produce men to succeed in their careers.


  • Visibility arises from being publicly acknowledged for your work—and publicly acknowledging others.
  • You need to manage your visibility.


  • Listen openly to others, without an agenda.
  • Network constantly and engage others in your ideas.
  • Build long-term relationships.

Leadership Experience

  • Gain experience in leading teams and projects.
  • Develop leadership skills: negotiating, asking for support, coaching others.


  • Mentors can help you think through difficult decisions—and navigate political waters.
  • Find an internal sponsor to help you move forward in your career. 

Assess where you are in your development on a scale of 1-10, asking yourself:

  1. How do I rank myself in each of the six key success factors?
  2. Where do I see gaps?
  3. What specific actions could I take to close these gaps?

If you develop yourself in these 6 key areas you will accelerate your success and significantly advance your career!

Ilene Fischer, Partner, Mark Kamin and Associates

Dress Smart like a Boss Even When It's Freezing

Submitted by Womenworking on Tue, 11/10/2015 - 10:13

Soon, winter will be here in full force. Depending on where you live, you might already be reaching for a coat before venturing outdoors. But if you want to look your best, not just any coat will do. 

When it’s cold outside, it’s important to put as much thought into bundling up as you do into building your outfit. In many situations, others’ first (and sometimes only!) impression of you will be based on your outerwear. (For instance, it doesn’t matter how polished your business suit is if you’re wearing a bulky parka over it when you meet a new client for lunch.) Make sure your outer layers project the style and confidence you want to convey.

Before the temperatures really plummet, here are four cold-weather staples to invest in:

Warm up in a wonderful coat.  If you don’t already have one, invest in a warm, high-quality coat in a classic cut and style. Depending on the temperatures where you live, you might consider a hip- or knee-length coat, or one with a thermal liner. Hoods can also be useful when rain and snow are on the forecast. (Detachable hoods are especially versatile.)

While you might be drawn to that eye-catching cherry red wool trench, I suggest choosing a coat that is a neutral shade (like black, brown, or beige). Neutrals will stand the test of time, are always professional, and are easy to coordinate with accessories. 

Put your best boot forward. Invest in a quality pair of boots in black or brown (or both!) to help keep your feet warm and toasty. The right pair can take you right from work to weekend, worn with warm cable-knit tights and a skirt to the office, or with a great pair of jeans for running errands on Saturday. 

If you live in a climate that gets brutally cold, then consider a pair that is fur-lined or even waterproof. These styles tend to be more expensive, but they’re worth the investment because you’ll stay comfortable and dry while still looking fashionable. (I recently splurged on a pair of boots by Aquatalia, which offers stylish, waterproof footwear in leather and suede.) And be practical—if the weather outside has made walkways and parking lots slick with ice, then leave the heels at home. There are plenty of stylish flat-soled options that are perfect for snowy days.

Stock up on scarves. Look for scarves in unexpected colors or patterns—this will give your basic blacks or winter whites a fabulous splash of color. Use scarves to expand your personal style boundaries. If you typically shy away from bold colors or fun patterns like houndstooth or paisley, a scarf is a great opportunity to incorporate these sassier styles into your outfits. Right now fringed garments are popular, so look for fringed scarves as a way to work this of-the-moment trend into your look without straying too far from your comfort zone.

Be ready to tote your gear. No matter the season, I recommend carrying a handbag with your essentials and a tote for everything else: laptop, files, water bottle, umbrella, gloves, hat, etc. (Whenever possible, it’s wise to break up the weight you carry. Your posture and muscles will thank you!) 

This winter, look for a durable tote in a rich, saturated color. I love totes made of Saffiano leather because this material is lightweight, won’t scratch easily, and can be cleaned with a little water on a towel. Also, be sure to choose a style with a zippered closure, which allows you to secure your valuables and protect them from wet weather. 

Marla Tomazin is a certified image consultant. Catch up with her at her website, here.  

Surprising Ways to Tweak Your Personal Brand

Submitted by Womenworking on Mon, 11/09/2015 - 09:36

Everybody’s talking about “personal branding” these days! I had the privilege of working with In Search of Excellence author Tom Peters, who invented the idea a quarter-century ago. Here’s his quote from a 1997 Fast Company magazine article, “A Brand Called You.”

Regardless of age, regardless of position, and regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me, Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You. 

Your personal brand is how people perceive you. And perception is reality.

Most importantly, your brand affects people’s emotional response to you, for better or worse. As Scott Bedbury, former executive at Nike and Starbucks, says:

A great brand taps into emotions… Emotions drive most, if not all, of our decisions. A brand reaches out with a powerful connecting experience. It’s an emotional connecting point that transcends the product.

If you think of yourself as a ”product” you’re marketing, you can understand why it’s vital to be aware of your personal brand. The way people perceive you will affect their decision to hire you and what projects to assign you to. 

You have a brand whether you’re aware of it or not!

People already have their impressions and opinions of you. Many may have concluded, for example, that you are reliable or unreliable about keeping your word, open or closed to new ideas, easy or difficult to work with. 

How can you discover your default brand? Try this exercise:

  • Ask 4 people who know you to describe you in 4 words.
  • Make sure you include a peer at work, a supervisor, a family member, and a friend.
  • Write down the 16 words and any feedback you’ve received from recent performance reviews, report cards, and evaluations.
  • Are people giving you the same words or different words? Is there a pattern emerging?
  • Is there anything that anyone said that surprises you? 
  • How would you change your default brand if you could?

When my friend did this exercise, the 4 people she interviewed all used the word “late.” She was horrified—but at the same time grateful to learn how people perceived her. She immediately went to work on correcting their perceptions and made sure she got to meetings and events on time. 

This simple but powerful exercise can change your life!

Ilene Fischer, Partner, Mark Kamin and Associates

4 Unique Ways to Fit Friends In

Submitted by Womenworking on Fri, 11/06/2015 - 09:49

Let’s face it, we’re busy people. When we’re not running to work, the gym or one of our many errands, it can be easier to switch off at night and just watch TV. There’s nothing wrong with that, we all need a break. But how do you schedule friends into your busy life? 

If you want to keep your connections strong, you have to work hard. Here are a few tips to keep those close to you in your life, even if distance and responsibilities are keeping you separated. 

Schedule around Skype

Not everyone feels comfortable talking on the phone while driving—and in some areas it’s illegal! But that doesn’t mean you can’t reconnect with a friend while cleaning or cooking. Skype is a great way to connect. Use this time to get other menial tasks done too. You can clean, fold laundry or paint your nails while keeping in touch.  

Get a Long-distance Exercise Buddy

It might be hard or nearly impossible to schedule a time to go running with your friend, but that doesn’t mean she can’t help keep you on track. If you have a Gmail account, then you also have access to Google Docs. This allows you to create online documents and spreadsheets that you can share with friends. 

If you’re both trying to stay in shape, make a spreadsheet where you both log your daily exercise. You can support and nudge each other to work harder when you’re lagging. 

Go beyond ‘Facebook likes’ 

Everyone can click ‘like’ or ‘favorite’ on their social media feeds, but there’s a lot more you can do to keep in touch online. Try using Snapchat to send quick funny pictures to one another, or sign into Foursquare, an app that records establishments you’ve been to and how you’d rate the experience. 

Some friendly competition 

Everyone plays Smartphone games while waiting for the bus or before an appointment, but start playing multiplayer games instead. This way, even if you and your friend haven’t had time to meet for coffee, at least you’re creaming her at Words with Friends. 

What makes your best friend so special? Watch this video and let us know in the comments!

— Emily Walton, Web Editor,

3 Tips on Getting Paid More

Submitted by Womenworking on Thu, 11/05/2015 - 09:32

Studies show that when men and women with the same experience and educational background apply for the same position, women asked for 30% less than their male counterparts. Additional research confirms this conclusion: women do not ask to get paid what they are worth. Most studies point to women’s lack of confidence as the source of this.

But the good news is you can do something about it. Here are actions you can take to get paid what you’re worth: 

Do your homework 

  • Find out what someone at your level—and with your experience and educational background—gets paid for the same position you’re applying for. Research and other job websites for salary information.
  • Learn everything you can about the company. Read their annual report and LinkedIn information about the executives and associates in the company.
  • If you do have first-hand or second-hand connections with anyone working in the company, find out what it’s like to work there.

 Show up powerfully

  • First ask yourself:

How does this job opportunity fit into my career goals?

Given the job I am applying for, what do I see as my unique contribution to the company – especially the value that helps with salary negotiations?

  • Identify examples of your successes in the industry. Be prepared to talk about your experience, leadership style, and passion for the job and the company during the interview. 
  • It is customary for companies to use behavioral interview questions. These are specifically designed to identify how you’ve responded to work challenges in the past. 

Be prepared for these questions by thinking about the challenges you’ve faced in previous jobs. 

Be ready to talk about how you’ve handled them.

Be confident in the value you bring, BEFORE you talk salary 

  • The process of interviewing and asking for what you’re worth is akin to dating and then committing to a long-term relationship. Have the people in the company get to know you. Discuss with the people who interview you the unique contribution you feel you can make to the company. 
  • Define expectations: what expectations do you have of this job? What expectations do the hiring mangers have of you? Ask them for specifics about what they’re looking for. 
  • Once you know you’re a good fit and you know you want the job—and you know they want you—then you can talk salary, operating from a place of power and clarity.  

Don’t sell out. Use these actions to develop the confidence and courage to ask for what you’re worth!

Ilene Fischer, Partner, Mark Kamin and Associates

4 Ways to Make Tough Conversations Easier

Submitted by Womenworking on Wed, 11/04/2015 - 09:18

Like many other people, I used to dread having to initiate a “difficult conversation” with a colleague—that is, a conversation on a touchy or controversial subject, especially if I already had some difficulty communicating with that person.

I had a concern that what I was about to say might:

Not be “heard”—or be misinterpreted or resisted

Upset the other person

Have a negative, lasting impact on our relationship 

But through trial and error—and coaching I’ve received over the years—I’ve learned how to prepare and successfully execute these conversations, and to coach others to do the same.

Here are four ways to make these difficult conversations easier:

Get crystal clear about the result you want to achieve from the conversation 

  • Getting clear about the intended results of a conversation helps you cut through the fog of concerns you may have, so you can design and steer the conversation to produce the desired outcome.
  • A few minutes invested up front significantly improves the chances of a successful conversation.

Practice the conversation before you have it:

  •  Find someone to practice with, who will role-play the conversation you are about to have. 
  • Act out the possible responses and reactions the other person may have.
  • Act out both roles so you can actually experience what it’s like to stand in the other person’s shoes, increasing your compassion for them.

Acknowledge the other at the beginning of the conversation

  • It’s likely that the person you’re about to have this conversation with is doing valuable work and is worthy of your appreciation.
  • Letting that person know explicitly that you value and appreciate them and their contribution goes a long way to setting the tone for a productive conversation.

Listen without bias

  • Rightly or wrongly, we often form some negative opinions or judgments about our colleagues from our experience working with them.
  • These judgments can be viewed as filters that screen out what we are able to hear and act on. 
  • In an important conversation it’s valuable to notice any preconceived notions you have of the other person. As you become aware of these biases, put them aside to hear and appreciate what the other is saying. 

The successful resolution of difficult conversations can have a major impact on your working relationships and just follow these four steps and you will be amazed with the results.

Ilene Fischer, Partner, Mark Kamin and Associates

Head of Catalyst Speaks Out on Gender Inequality at Work

Submitted by Womenworking on Tue, 11/03/2015 - 09:52

Growing up in a blue collar family in a Nova Scotia fishing village, Deborah Gillis was told that education was the key to new opportunities. Neither of her parents had graduated from high school and raising 5 children was often a struggle on their limited resources. But Deborah took their advice to heart—and was the first in the family to go to University. She took jobs cutting grass, washing dishes, and worked in a toilet paper factory to help pay for her education. Now she’s the president and CEO of Catalyst, the leading global nonprofit organization with a mission to expand opportunities for women and business.

Check out some of these highlights from Helene’s sit-down interview with Deborah. 

Helene: Do women support women enough?

Deborah: Catalyst research clearly shows that women support other women. In fact, they are more likely to mentor than men are. Yet the Queen Bee myth persists. I believe gender stereotypes come into play here. Women are expected to be nurturing, caring and supportive, and when they act outside those stereotypes they experience pushback or are held as examples of their entire gender. I challenge this Queen Bee myth, both based on research and my own experience. 

Helene: If a woman is assertive, she's labeled a bitch. That doesn’t happen to men. What do you think that is?

Deborah: Catalyst research shows there’s a dilemma for women in leadership—damned if you do, doomed if you don't. Good leadership isn’t gender specific; we need to redefine what successful leadership characteristics are. Part of it is courage: being prepared to take some chances and being true to your own values. It’s particularly hard for women because they’re often faced with stereotypes that make it difficult for them to take tough positions, even if they know they’re the right ones. They have to stick to their principles. True leadership is not a function of authority but of behavior, and demonstrating the leadership behaviors that Catalyst research links to inclusion: Empowerment, Accountability, Courage and Humility.

Helene: How can men help encourage women?

Deborah: We need men standing alongside us. They also need to be champions and role models, and should call out behaviors that are discriminatory or sexist. 

When women ask how they can help create change, I tell them to mentor a man. When a man is in that mentee role, it leads to a better understanding of what it’s like for women in business and his perspective changes. 

Helene: Do women need to push themselves more? 

Deborah: Pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zone can be a little risky, but those are the times when we have the opportunity to shine. So if your knees aren't knocking a little bit, you're probably in the wrong job. Everyday my knees shake and that's a good thing. 

Helene: What has always helped me take the next step was my desire to be of service. It was greater than my fear. Is that true for you?

Deborah: I was never interested in the next title or the next salary increase. I was motivated by what I could learn and contribute. Every career step was with that in mind. 

I talk about this with young women who are often uncomfortable with self-promotion. I tell them that self-promotion needs to be done in a certain way. Talk to your boss about your accomplishments and how you can move organizational goals and priorities forward. Talk about how you can help your organization achieve its goal. We can make more women comfortable talking about their successes by framing it as being in service to a broader goal. 


Deborah Gillis and Helene Lerner

Helene: How do you see executive presence?

Deborah: I have some concerns about the words we use to describe leadership. They carry with them an implicit bias of what success looks like and what's required to be successful. So often when someone says “executive presence,” they’re really thinking of a male leader (usually a tall white man) or about the way someone dresses, when they should be thinking about skills like poise under pressure and the ability to read the room, etc. 

Helene: What do you want for girls around the world? 

Deborah: I hope they don't see any obstacles and are able to do whatever they want. How do we achieve this? By seeing more women in leadership positions in all industries and sectors. Whether it’s as the CEO of a Fortune 500 company or President of the United States—you can't be what you can't see. 

Helene: What exciting research will you be doing in 2016? 

Deborah: Our research agenda has two main focuses. One is finding ways to engage men in gender diversity. The second is researching the differences in experience of women and people of color in workplaces. We want to create more inclusive workplaces for everybody, not just for women. 

Helene: Where do you see us in the next 50 years?

Deborah: We aspire for a world where gender equality is the norm and power is shared equally in the workplace and at home. That's the world we want to see and I hope that it won’t take 50 years to achieve gender equality. 

Have a Great Life by Celebrating YOUR Successes!

Submitted by Womenworking on Mon, 11/02/2015 - 09:42

As we move into the season of gratitude and introspection, we have an opportunity to assess and evaluate our lives and our work over the last year, acknowledge what we have accomplished, and set our direction for the future.

Until we acknowledge what we have accomplished and celebrate those successes, we cannot set our future direction. Knowing where we are and what we have accomplished allows us to set direction and move forward.

I have been coaching executives, executive teams and people in organizations for over 25 years, and without exception everyone I have worked with is looking to HAVE A GREAT LIFE. They want to do impactful work, feel acknowledged and appreciated, be fully engaged, and feel they are part of a team that is producing great results.

The Gallup employee engagement statistics states that only 35% of all employees in the US are engaged with their work. Therefore I ask, how can you have a great life if you are not engaged with your work?

Being engaged in your work is a key component of HAVING A GREAT LIFE.

Through my consulting practice I have come across people that are not engaged in their work. I have found that people do not stop to celebrate their successes; they get one task done, check the box, go on to the next task, check the box and this goes on forever. They never see the small wins, the day-to-day successes and accomplishments.

One of the key principles to embrace while embarking on a journey of HAVING A GREAT LIFE is celebrating your successes.

Take a few minutes and reflect on the following questions, and take time to write your answers. 

  • What have you accomplished this year? 
  • What have you set out to do and what have you done?  
  • What impacts have your accomplishments made on you? 
  • What impacts have your accomplishments made on your team, department and organization? 
  • Have you acknowledged yourself for these accomplishments? 

All the praise in the world will make no difference until you acknowledge yourself and own your accomplishments and your successes.

Have you been acknowledged by others for these accomplishments? If not, is it because they do not know about them? Could it be that you have hidden your accomplishments from others? Or is it because you are not allowing yourself to let people praise you?

Some of the ways people divert praise is by saying, “It was nothing.” By diverting acknowledgement we rob ourselves of our success and our ability to naturally build confidence. Identifying times when you deflected an acknowledgement allows you to accept it next time.  

To HAVE A GREAT LIFE celebrate your successes. Identify your accomplishments and what you have learned about yourself and others while producing these results. Pat yourself on the back, and accept others’ acknowledgements of your accomplishments. 

In doing this you will set up a virtuous cycle of acknowledgement and appreciation and will naturally elevate your performance and confidence; you willl start HAVING A GREAT LIFE.

Ilene Fischer, Partner, Mark Kamin and Associates