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Do you have Grit?

Submitted by Womenworking on Tue, 09/30/2014 - 08:39

Having been raised as a young girl in the 50’s, I learned to be polite, not to beat the guys at sports –  to be a “good girl”.  My role models were women who were coquettish and cute.  Today, women have terrific female role models in those who have risen in their corporations, in politics, and as entrepreneurs.  I was fortunate to have a mother who became a Vice President of Advertising. She had grit, and modeled it – but we never discussed what this was and how she used it.  I never learned the secret to having “grit.”  What is it?  Grit is an uncompromising commitment to performance excellence and strategic focus.  How can a woman embody grit in her leadership every day? 

Here is the secret to having grit:

Have a vision. Make it innovative, and be decisive about it.  Vision is seeing possibilities and then building opportunities to make a meaningful difference with people, profits and performance.  It also means operating with clarity and certainty to eliminate confusion and hesitancy.

Have a strategic focus and be persistent.  Strategic focus is about seeing the longer-term big picture and the current priorities that will get you there. It is about using self-control to stay on track and transform derailing reactions to effective action. It’s about facing and neutralizing negativity, and communicating clearly to others what is most relevant to achievement.

Act with dedication, boldness, commitment and courage. Bring your passion and energy to all you pursue. It’s your spirit and vigor that will generate your power. When facing risks, rely on your strengths and take a courageous stand for what matters most.

Remain authentic, relying on your strength of character and a commitment to empowering others.  This means being genuine. Your strength of character has its foundation in your values and integrity in action. Always share credit, power and acknowledge others for their contributions to you and the goals.

Be resilient and see possibilities in the face of others’ resistance.  There will always be obstacles and resistance from others. You wouldn’t be making a difference if people and things around you weren’t pushing back. Always look for possibilities when faced with obstacles and opposition. Seek to understand others’ points of view and use your insights and empathy to melt resistance, including your own.

I wish someone had shared this with me when I was starting my career. We usually learn this through experience. How have you used grit?

Get Your Boss on Your Side

Submitted by Womenworking on Mon, 09/29/2014 - 08:55

I have to admit that in my career, I always had an authority issue. I maintained criteria and expectations for anyone I reported to.  My criterion was that I had to respect the person, be able to learn from him/her, trust that she/he will give me valuable feedback, and support me.  Although this has helped me choose whether to accept an offer, this attitude is also a set up for the boss. Why? I had an internal set of criteria as conditions for our relationship. When my boss didn't meet them, I reacted with disappointment, anger, and sometimes resentment. This wasn’t a recipe for trust and respect, since I rarely shared these criteria with my managers. I was coming from a pretty judgmental mindset. To successfully manage up, I had to confront my biases and expectations - not make them "wrong", but shift them from expectations to wishes and become willing to share these in a conversation for mutuality.

But first I had to become willing to get to know my boss – and express a true interest in what makes this person tick. This “learner” mindset positions me to connect and build a relationship based on focused curiosity, without being insincere or manipulative.  If you find yourself identifying with my original mindset, then consider shifting to an attitude that will allow you to truly connect with your boss.
My colleague, Roz Usheroff, a leadership, image and branding specialist, suggests ways to win over a boss. This approach must be based on a shift from a judgmental mindset to a learner mindset:

1. Treat your boss like your number one customer. Do this by using your authenticity and sincerity to seek out their thoughts on how you can serve him/her. Seek to understand what keeps them up at night so that you can carve out your value proposition in their eyes. Also, learn what success looks like to them. Being on the same page will cement your relationship and create a harmonious and trusting bond. Pay attention to your boss’s priorities and make them yours.

2. Identify your boss's communications preferences. Does he/she prefer face-to -face, email, phone/voicemail, text, Skype, lots of detail/lists, bottom line, pictures/diagrams? How about timing?  What are the best and worst times to communicate? Does she prefer start or end of day, weekends, on the fly, last minute or scheduled meetings? If your styles are different, it serves you to adjust to your boss's style.

3. Communicate regularly. Operate within the guidelines you both set for optimal communication to meet frequently face to face informally and formally. Keep your boss informed on updates on goals. This builds reliability, your value in his eyes, and builds trust.

4. Honor your commitments. At the end of the day, you are there to do a job, so make sure that you do it to the best of your abilities by meeting and exceeding expectations, being prepared for your meetings, and showing your commitment by volunteering for things that others don't want to do.

A mutually satisfying relationship with your boss brings short-term gains in the form of coaching, developmental assignments, meaningful performance reviews, and salary increases. The long-term benefits bring sponsorships for career opportunities, strong referrals, and introductions to other helpful people in your network - just to name a few.  My best champion today is one of my former bosses. How about you?

Prove Them Wrong

Submitted by Womenworking on Fri, 09/26/2014 - 08:05

You will inevitably encounter people both professionally and in your personal life, who try to shine at your expense, and undermine you whenever they can. They'll deliberately try to hold you back and break your spirit. Be patient, keep focused on doing your very best, shrug, laugh, and bounce back. Over the long haul, you'll earn your colleagues' respect, your bosses will recognize your talents, and your true friends will reveal themselves, and if any of them don't respect you after you have given it a fair shot, go back to lesson number one: Be flexible, and move on. 

Prove'em wrong. Success is the best revenge.

Valerie Jarrett

Senior Advisor and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls

Why stay stuck?

Submitted by Womenworking on Thu, 09/25/2014 - 07:52

Do you feel discontent and not sure how to get over it?

Are you thinking you should be more advanced than you are?

Is change something you are scared of and therefore don't venture out of your comfort zone?

If you have answered yes to any of these questions, you are at a crosswords, and the following tips may help.

. Give yourself reflective time each day. Dare to dream and get in touch with your desires.

. Connect with people who are excited about their lives. Ask them about times when they felt stuck and how they got over it.

. Get in touch with your mission, the reason why you are on this planet. It's not just to get a bigger job, there is something more. Allow your heart to lead the way during quiet moments.

Know that being stuck is part of process of changing, and changing is Good. The butterfly was not always in its current form.  Change is uncomfortable, but your greater self is calling.

Is it arrogance, NO!

Submitted by Womenworking on Wed, 09/24/2014 - 06:48

As a coach, I have noticed that as my clients work on raising their confidence, and begin to practice letting others know their accomplishments, speak up with greater assertiveness, and reduce unnecessary apologizing, there can be a temporary swing to what others interpret as arrogance. Are these people really arrogant?  This means, “an insulting way of thinking or behaving that comes from believing you are better, smarter, or more important than other people.”  The answer is no.  This is almost never the case with those who were previously struggling with expressing their confidence.  However, when trying out new behaviors, colleagues can misinterpret these new behaviors as arrogance. 

Humility is the answer. Let’s not confuse humility with retreating back to the old behaviors of needlessly saying “I’m sorry”, incessant self-deprecation, and body language that can diminish your stature.  Humility is a critical leadership trait and looks like:

Benevolence: this means an act of kindness or an inclination to be kind. It's the quality of someone who volunteers in a soup kitchen, tutors children for free, and helps raise money for a cause. It can show up in professional behavior as mentoring and coaching others.

Consideration: this means the act of considering; careful thought; meditation; deliberation. It can show up in professional behavior as giving someone’s project full consideration and listening actively to a new idea.

Generosity: this means a willingness to share. When you show generosity, you might donate or put others before yourself.  This can be demonstrated professionally when you're forgiving and gentle to people, showing a generosity of spirit.

Graciousness: this can be characterized by tact and propriety, such as responding to an insult with gracious humor. It can also be expressed through behaving compassionately when someone has made a mistake or is behaving awkwardly. We can also be this way with ourselves – self-compassionate.

All these qualities show up well for our professional presence.

-Andrea Zintz, Career Coach, President, Strategic Leadership Resources

Is it me or them?

Submitted by Womenworking on Tue, 09/23/2014 - 06:05

Haven’t you noticed that your respect for others goes up when they handle a tough situation with grace?  This doesn’t mean caving in or always being agreeable. Nor does it mean aggressiveness or using “power-tactics” to get our way. What is the best way to build your professional presence when the going gets tough?

Take for example, 3 types of situations that drive me crazy:
•    When others make promises and don’t follow through.
•    When a person argues with me without using evidence or logic – they’re wrong.
•    When another person plays victim and/or doesn’t accept responsibility.

I can assume that if only the other people would do what they are supposed to do, it would be the solution.  However, I know that these situations are actually triggers for me, and that the true reason I’m emotional is that I don’t feel confident that I can successfully meet my needs. So that is my starting place. This gives me a strong basis of equanimity: personal power, mental calmness, and composure.

It helps me move from reaction to self-composure when I ask myself some questions: “Is this person or thing obstructing my progress, refusing to cooperate, or is my strategy not working?” Then, I take a deep breath and remember what’s really at play.

While it may be true that my strategy isn't working, this is the trigger rather than the cause of any frustration I am feeling.  Every human being has a subconscious need to achieve the goals they have set for themselves. From the moment I “set” my intention to the moment I "unset" it (by achieving it or by dropping it), my subconscious will motivate me to achieve my intention or goal.  As a result, I will have feelings of frustration whenever I am failing to achieve this goal and feelings of pleasure when I am succeeding in achieving this goal or another one that I set.

So here are three steps I can take to arrive at a graceful and centered approach to what’s frustrating me:

1.    First, I check in with myself to be certain I am truly committed to my purpose and that I truly believe that I have assessed the situation accurately. Our minds can play tricks on us when we have strong feelings.

2.    Then, I ask myself: “Is this an attachment to a particular way of getting to the goal?”  “Can I let go enough to drop or revise my goal?” For example, when another person makes a promise and doesn’t follow through, I can decide not to proceed on the basis of that person’s involvement. Or I can revise my goal from “achieve this project with this person’s involvement” to “achieve this project with resources I can count on.”  Then, I have a basis of equanimity to approach this person – not with anger – but with the intention that I will only work with people I feel are reliable.

3.    I use my mental calmness to access a new strategy. Rather than arguing in the face of a non-logical comeback in an argument, I gather my confidence in the evidence and logic of my position.  I calmly and graciously ask that person a question that invites them to re-check their information.  When faced with a “victim”, I use my questions to generate accountability in them, such as, “so when can you have that for me?” or “what will you do to address that obstacle?” and if I really mean it: “how can I be of some assistance?”

These steps assist me to use my expertise, access my equanimity (mental calmness and composure in difficult situations), and rely on my persistence to see the possibilities when I am faced with opposition and resistance – including my own.  I know I can conduct myself with grace - in a respectful and constructive way - and build my professional presence in the face of adversity. You can too!

-Andrea Zintz, Career Coach, President, Strategic Leadership Resources

Don't Worry, Be Joyful

Submitted by Womenworking on Mon, 09/22/2014 - 06:02

We created a short video with a powerful message. Take a look.


Video editor: Melenie McGregor

Are you using "I'm Sorry" too much?

Submitted by Womenworking on Fri, 09/19/2014 - 04:53


In my blog on self-compassion this month, I wrote about how important it is to treat yourself like a nurturing parent. This is a positive practice for building our confidence and adds powerfully to our professional presence. An often unconscious habit that can hurt our professional presence is unnecessary apologizing.  I realized that I find myself doing this too much. I noticed that I was saying, “I’m sorry” for the slightest things, like an unconscious habit:

•    Someone puts his arm on my armrest on the airplane and knocks mine off. I say, “I'm sorry.”

•    I pop into a person’s office, and I start with “I’m sorry.”

•    I speak at the same time as another starts to speak. I say, “I’m sorry.” If it’s a man, he doesn’t say it. If it’s a woman, we both say it at the same time.

Apologizing is actually a good thing to do and can be powerful in building strong relationships and gaining trust. But, it should be done thoughtfully and purposefully. The kind of “I’m sorries” that I am referring to are the ones that are verbal habits that pull down the confidence and credibility that we can exude by our professional presence.  Check out Pantene’s Be Strong and Shine videos on You Tube. They are short and very powerful depictions of this pattern.  These videos illustrate how one can show up with greater presence by making a few shifts in behavior.

Women naturally use apologies to be polite and equalize a power differential.  With men, the evolutionary origins of apologizing are different. Men naturally treat apologizing in a hierarchical way since their general orientation is hierarchical. The one who is apologized to becomes the alpha.  Women that apologize habitually unwittingly make the other the alpha. While women are more forgiving of habitual “I’m sorries”, it still detracts from their professional presence. 

This is what I do now:
•    My arm is pushed off the armrest and I look over – I don’t say anything.
•    I open the door to a person’s office and say, “Good morning. I’d like to talk with you about something important.”
•    I speak at the same time as another person starts to speak, and I pause. I either speak or say, “Go right ahead.”

Get People to Notice You

Submitted by Womenworking on Thu, 09/18/2014 - 03:52

I remember when I made a conscious effort to shift my behavior so that it made a difference to my professional presence. As a matter of fact, I made several changes in the way I dressed, the way I showed up on time, and how I waited for others to contribute their opinions before I jumped in. These were subtle changes.  But I thought, together they made a positive difference in how I was showing up, based on feedback I had received from trusted colleagues.  But, no one noticed. I kept getting the same feedback. Why does this happen?

One’s professional reputation is based on consistent behavior. If you make a change once or in front of one type of audience, this will not make a change in the eyes of others. It must happen consistently – with every audience - in order to be considered a change that makes a difference in perceptions about you.  The other factor in changing a reputation is how we all tend to put others in a box with their name on it. It makes people more comfortable to predict and deal with. I put Julie in the “Julie Box” with: “Oh, I know that Julie is always 5 minutes late, so I’ll adjust my expectations.” Or with “Heather’s Box” I say: “I better give Heather a heads up on this news since she always panics.” It works the other way with positive perceptions, too: “Gillian is brilliant with numbers. I’ll run it by her first.”  However, even when there is a noticeable change, unless it happens consistently, it doesn’t change the nature of others’ box for you. They will keep waiting to see their picture of you verified and focus on that all the time.

I learned a great technique for changing others’ perceptions so they notice the changes you make. My friend, Marshall Goldsmith, shared it with me years ago and it is a very reliable series of steps.  He talks about it in his recent article: You’ve changed, why didn’t they notice?

Take these 4 steps:

1.    Approach each of your colleagues (in person, preferably) to let them know you are making some shifts, and specifically what behaviors they can look for.

2.    Ask them for assistance in supporting your plan by giving you occasional feedback. This enlists their support and ensures they will pay attention to your behavior changes.

3.    Be sure to follow through on the declared changes in behavior - consistently.

4.    Check in with stakeholders informally about once a month to get their feedback. This ensures they will be noticing your changes and you will get credit for them, even when you fall down occasionally.
I did this and in only 2 months I was getting positive credit for the shifts I made in my behavior.  My professional presence took a positive turn and my colleagues felt honored to be part of my “developmental network.” Try this and please let me know how it goes!

-Andrea Zintz, Career Coach, President, Strategic Leadership Resources

Video: Secrets of Highly Successful Women

Submitted by Womenworking on Wed, 09/17/2014 - 06:22

Take a look at our new video about practices of successful women. Enjoy!


Video editor: Melenie McGregor

Practice Self-Compassion

Submitted by Womenworking on Tue, 09/16/2014 - 04:39

Women often find their confidence suffering when they hold high standards for themselves they struggle to meet.  And when these women don’t meet their own standards, they can be very hard on themselves.  This further erodes their self-confidence.  This self-defeating spiral results in a drain on professional presence.  This can color the impact we make when we say, “I’m sorry” too much.

What we can do to counter this is practice self-compassion and watch our own behavior with apologies.

In a Fast Company article I recently read, entitled 5 Ways to Lean in Without Burning Out by Vanessa Loder and Lisa Abramson, I learned that practicing self-compassion is one of the important contributions to how effective women succeed in their career aspirations.

Self-compassion is an often under-utilized practice for high achieving women. Women are taught from a young age that being hard on themselves or feeling guilty will motivate them to strive to greater degrees. However, research by two physiologists, Claire Adams at Louisiana State University and Mark Leahy at Duke University, has demonstrated that the opposite is actually true. There is more value in self-compassion than self-criticism.

When we are self-critical, it erodes self-discipline, making it more likely to feel shame or embarrassment, be apologetic when there is no basis, and can interfere with self-confidence. Being self-critical makes you fear failure and lose faith in yourself. Even if you do achieve great things, you’re often miserable, anyway. Many of us know from having children that being a supportive and encouraging parent is more beneficial. If there has ever been a time when you’ve been told you’re a failure, it is likely that the last thing you think you’re capable of is succeeding, or even trying.

When you give yourself a message of self-compassion, it helps cultivate the willpower to resist doing things that might be harmful and builds your sense of self-efficacy.  Self-compassion acts like a nurturing parent, so even when you don’t do well, you’re still supportive and accepting of yourself.  This builds your capacity for resilience. Like a kind parent, your support and love are unconditional, and you realize that it’s OK to be imperfect.

Practice self-compassion and shift the way you use apologies with others to build your professional presence by:

Telling yourself “I’m doing the best I can do, it’s ok to take a break sometimes.” Consider how you treat someone else. What would you say to a good friend if they failed or felt rejected? Treat yourself the same way. You may find yourself doing better at work with less effort.

We can be so used to criticizing ourselves that we don’t even realize that we’re doing it. I know I can be pretty nasty with my language. I became away that I used words like “jerk” and “idiot.” Pay particular attention to the words you use to speak to yourself. Your brain believes the messages your words send. This is why self-criticism is so harmful.

-Andrea Zintz, Career Coach, President, Strategic Leadership Resources

What makes a courageous woman?

Submitted by Helene on Mon, 09/15/2014 - 03:33

Women are Courageous

So many women I meet are smart and strategic but they are also heart-centered.

.When a heart-felt challenge needs solving, who comes to the rescue? A Woman.

.When you need someone to lean on, who do you usually go to? A Woman.

.When two people disagree, who sets the foundation for agreement? A Woman.

We need to appreciate ourselves more and the impact we have. We need to give ourselves the credit we deserve. It takes courage to claim our accomplishments and go for bigger and better things.

But when did we ever shy away from an important challenge?  It's time to step out even more boldly!



Appreciate the Little Things

Submitted by Womenworking on Fri, 09/12/2014 - 16:42

Fun new video about not taking little things for granted. Take a look.


Video editor Melenie McGregor

Aarti Sequeira's Pepper Steak Sandwiches

Submitted by Womenworking on Fri, 09/12/2014 - 08:39

We recently spoke with Aarti Sequeira, host of the Food Network's Aarti Party. Here is a recipe she shared with us, based on one of her family's favorites. Enjoy!

The British are fond of their Sunday roasts, but they had a bit of a hard time when they arrived in India, a country where hardly anyone ate beef, and hardly anyone had an oven! And so, the story goes, this is how this stovetop version of roast beef came about. This is based on my grandmother Lucia’s recipe, one so beloved by my mum and her sisters that they still refer to it simply as “Mummy’s Pepper Steak.” It originally involved potatoes; I nixed the potatoes and turned the meat into my version of that great American table staple, the steak sandwich.

Mummy's Pepper Steak Sandwiches

ACTIVE TIME: about 30 minutes
TOTAL TIME: about 30 minutes

1 pound sirloin petite roast or sirloin fillet
2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
3 whole cloves
1 (1-inch) cinnamon stick
Pinch of cayenne
1tablespoon malt vinegar or apple cider vinegar
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 medium onion, sliced into ¼-inch half-moons
2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
1 large ripe tomato, sliced into 1-inch wedges
¼ cup water
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves and soft stems
 4 (8- to 9-inch-long) toasted rolls

Slice the sirloin against the grain into ½-inch slices, then flatten the slices with either the back of your knife or a meat mallet until they’re a little over ¼ inch thick. Set aside in a bowl.

Grind the peppercorns, cloves and cinnamon stick in a spice grinder into a fine powder. Tap the spice mixture into a small bowl and add the cayenne, vinegar and 1teaspoon kosher salt, stirring to produce a wet, sand-like paste. Massage this paste onto the beef, making sure that every piece is equally covered, and set aside on a plate at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large cast-iron skillet, warm the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and sauté until the onion is softened and translucent, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the ginger and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the onion turns a soft amber and smells sweet, 4 to 5 minutes.

Arrange the onions in an even layer and place the beef over the onions in an even layer. Cook for about 3 minutes, or until the underside has browned slightly and the onions have started releasing their juices.

Stir it all together and cook for a minute more. Add the tomato and cook, stirring every now and then, until the tomato begins to wilt and the skin rolls back from the flesh a little, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat off and let the whole thing sit for 5 minutes, so that the tomato can melt a little more and make a light gravy. Add the water and scrape the bottom of the pan to create more gravy. Finish with cilantro and tuck the mixture into the rolls. Serve immediately!

Tip: If you’re out of cloves and cinnamon, mix 1 ½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper with ½ teaspoon garam masala!

Do You Present Yourself Effectively?

Submitted by Womenworking on Thu, 09/11/2014 - 08:25

Presence is expressed in the way you communicate, the way you enter a room, fill your seat at the table, your voice, your dress, and your posture.  The way all these things appear to others sends a message about you - how confident you are, your energy, your self-regard and self-esteem, your approachability and whether you show up as a good person to know.  To project a clear story, all these messages your appearance conveys must hang together congruently. Here are some important ingredients to consider when addressing congruency in your professional presence.

Know your authentic style. We each have a unique style all our own. According to Danielle LaPorte and Carrie McCarthy who wrote the book Style Statement: Live by Your Own Design, awareness of your own style helps you make more confident choices in life -- from your wardrobe to your relationships, your living room to your career plans. In their process, there are questions you ask yourself to arrive at two words. The first is a word that describes something foundational to your style, such as being refined, natural or traditional, and something that expresses what motivates and distinguishes you, such as dramatic, treasure, or bold. Regardless of your approach to defining your authentic style, the important part is self-inquiry to arrive at a way to express your essential self in every kind of situation.

My authentic style can be summarized in the two words: elegant flair. The foundation is being appropriate, artistic, chic, dignified, graceful, and simple. The flair portion is about my natural talent and ability expressed through mastery, splash, taste, glamour and panache. My awareness assists me with clothing choices and my behavior wherever I go.

Consider the context of the situation. Context always starts with the role you play in a situation. Are you a team member, content expert, project manager, facilitator? What are the norms and expectations at play with others in this situation?  Each opportunity has its own context, which can give you some clues about the impact you wish to make, how to dress, how to enter the room, and how to use your voice to express yourself effectively and authentically.

When I facilitated a board retreat last week, I dressed conservatively to underscore my supportive role and the fact that most of the group was meeting me for the first time. I came in very prepared and deferred to the group leader, since it was her agenda I was there to support. When I stood up to take the lead, I was a combination of warm/welcoming and commanding, since my role was to lend structure to the meeting.

Prepare for the impression you wish to make.
What is your goal in this situation? What would success look like for you? What is the anticipated environment in the situation – supportive? Will there be some resistance? These questions help shape your appearance, the volume and tenor of your voice, your posture, and energy as you shape your message.

When I facilitate, I want to communicate my expertise and authority.  I lower my voice an octave or two. If I anticipate resistance, I ensure my energy and facial expressions appear warm and receptive.  Since I want to influence behavior, I am prepared with objectives, agenda, exercises and materials to support the meeting.

If everything I do is congruent with my authentic style, purpose and being, then I know I will generate a powerful professional presence.  How do you go about it? Please reply with an illustrative story.

-Andrea Zintz, Career Coach, President, Strategic Leadership Resources

Aarti Sequeira on Courage, Parenting and More

Submitted by Womenworking on Wed, 09/10/2014 - 08:44

We recently spoke with Aarti Sequeira, host of the Food Network's Aarti Party. She shared with us her insights about following your passion, becoming a parent and switching careers.

Was there anyone growing up who saw something in you that you didn’t see in yourself?

Wow what a good question. I was probably 7 or so when I transferred out of the primarily Indian-attended school in Dubai to a primarily-British attended school. I felt like something of an outsider, having never spent that much time with, frankly, white people -- and many of them had never spent much time with an Indian person. I had a hard time making friends until a girl named Suzanne Wynn kindly answered the teacher's request to the class to be friends with me. She was my first best friend. I suppose she saw something in me that I wasn't sure was in myself -- someone worth befriending!

You began your career at CNN. What encouraged you to switch to a career in cooking? How did you make the transition?

I was about 11 when the first Gulf War started, just a few borders away from our home in Dubai. It was what first put the bee in my bonnet about becoming a journalist, because the local TV station started broadcasting CNN. I watched what those men and women were doing, reporting from the field, and I knew that was what I wanted to do with my life: I wanted to be just like Christiane Amanpour! So when, at the age of about 25, I realized that the passion for journalism had died out in my heart, it was a very hard for me, because it felt like my very identity had vanished. I had moved to LA from New York to be with my husband who was pursuing an acting career here -- I couldn't find work, I couldn't drive (the stick shift scared me!) and I knew I couldn't keep sitting on the couch. So, I cracked open a wedding gift, The Joy of Cooking, walked to the grocery store every day, bought fixin's for dinner, then walked back home and cooked for my husband who was working. I slowly started to throw myself into cooking, learning its ABCs.
What advice would you give to women who might want to make a career change but aren’t sure about taking the risk?

Consider why you want the career change, then talk to someone who is in that career that you have your eye on. Working in restaurants was in actuality much more back-breaking than I had imagined. Rewarding yes, but it helped me realize that owning and running a restaurant is a calling. And while I admired it and enjoyed it, it probably wasn't mine.
Earlier this year, you blogged about the post-partum depression you experienced after giving birth to your daughter. What has helped you handle it, and what would you say to others going through the same thing?

A few things. My husband has been incredible. He helped me accept that something was wrong when I didn't want to, held me as I cried and spoke truth and encouragement into the confusion and hopelessness that takes over. He helped me feel like this wasn't my fault, and that it was something I needed to get help for. He basically took the stigma out of it for me, and that's what I want to do for other women in my position. New mothers are fed all kinds of expectations -- that you will be the perfect picture of joy, that your maternal instinct will kick in and you'll know exactly what to do, that you and your baby will bond instantly. None of this was true for me. And so I felt like a freak! I would tell other women that if, after the first week or so of baby blues, you're still feeling the shadows closing in on yourself, talk to your family. Go to the Postpartum Support International website and call the toll-free number to find a support group in your neighborhood. This is not going to last forever.

What are the qualities you hope to instill in your daughter?

My hope is that she will learn through me, that courage is not the steely-eyed superhero we see in the movies or read in fables. It's someone who knows very well what they're walking into and is quite afraid of it and who walks onto the battlefield anyway.

What advice would you give to your younger self, just starting out?

Be more humble. I was a bit cocky I think, having just graduated from a tremendous journalism program at Northwestern. It's good to be confident, but realize that you don't know everything yet. You're just starting out. Have a humble heart, and people will be willing to teach you everything you need to know.

Why You Need to Build Relationship Intelligence

Submitted by Womenworking on Tue, 09/09/2014 - 08:23

Not very long ago, I was brought into a team meeting as the facilitator and responsible for ensuring the successful achievement of meeting outcomes. I had agreement on the agenda and the meeting design with the group leader to support what she wanted to accomplish, I trusted that I was fully prepared for this assignment. No sooner had the meeting leader introduced me to the group, than one of the meeting participants, a man we'll call Brad, said, “We don’t need a facilitator! What difference could she possibly make to our meeting?” I found myself immediately feeling defensive. The group leader turned expectantly towards me. I guess the ball was in my court! 

I realized that my reaction and response in the next few minutes could set the tone for the rest of the day and affect my presence and effectiveness in the room. This moment called for relationship intelligence (RQ). What are the ingredients for RQ? Just like emotional intelligence or EQ, it calls for self-awareness to realize your own feelings, a consideration of the other’s feelings, as well as the impact your behavior can have on others. The ingredients are:

Empathy for others means making an empathic connection and concern with others, and understanding their perspectives, feelings and needs. 

After giving myself a moment to think, I responded to this outburst with a calmly delivered statement and question. “You sound to me like you must have had some difficult experiences with a facilitator. What specific concerns do you have about using a facilitator today?”

To activate your empathy, ask yourself: “What question will best reveal their perspectives, feelings and needs?”

Skillful listening and an appreciation for candor generate meaningful, empowering communication.  These are all critical skills in listening to the answers.  Brad answered my question with, “The last time we had a facilitator, she talked way too much and derailed our meeting. What a waste of time!”  In response, I welcomed his candor by expressing appreciation for this information and validated his feelings by saying how frustrated he must have been.  I asked him what “good facilitation” would have looked like to meet his expectations of effectiveness and efficiency.  This gave me the platform to demonstrate my understanding of his perspective and help him feel empowered as a team member.

To activate your skillful listening and empowering communication, ask yourself: “Am I clear about what I am hearing about the underlying meaning and feelings? Can I verify this through paraphrasing?  How can I let this person know I appreciate candor?”

Respectful behavior means valuing people and their contributions.  Brad answered, “I never saw a facilitator who added value.”  Again, in response, I didn’t react defensively. I smiled, nodded, and told him that I would be happy to describe my role and how my behavior would add value today, and that I will periodically request feedback from him and the group to course-correct if necessary.  This defused any possible antagonism on Brad’s part and indicated my respect for his participation and added value.

To activate your respect, ask yourself: “How might I let others know that I value them and their contributions?”

Composure under duress means having emotional fluency - feeling deeply and thinking clearly. Each emotion from our subconscious sends valuable messages to our conscious mind about a need we are not feeling confident we can meet. When I felt defensive, this was a signal to inquire of Brad about the nature of his concern. I no longer felt defensive, but curious – and I could easily retain my composure.

To activate your composure, ask yourself, “What am I feeling right now and what is this telling me about what I need? How can I strategically and skillfully meet this need? Do I need some time to reflect before acting?”

The meeting was a success!  Brad was won over pretty early by my willingness to listen to his complaint, and I checked in as the day unfolded to ensure his needs were being met. At the end of the day, he remarked that I was a very skilled facilitator and he was glad to have been part of the meeting.

-Andrea Zintz, Career Coach, President, Strategic Leadership Resources

Don't Quit Before the Miracle

Submitted by Helene on Mon, 09/08/2014 - 16:13

It is so easy to get discouraged when things don't go your way, and say, why bother?


When you are tired of putting yourself out there and feel you can't take another step


When you are not sure which way to turn and it is not one of your best days


The bottom line: You have something great to contribute. Reach out to a friend who knows that. Let her support you to not quit before the miracle.

How to Project a Strong Leadership Presence

Submitted by Womenworking on Mon, 09/08/2014 - 08:22

Just as the alignment of your core values with your life principles boosts your self-confidence, building alignment with those around you brings about a boost in your professional presence.

Julie was working on a project that required the assistance of others to achieve the goal. This was a great opportunity to engage others who could bring a variety of strengths and motivations to contribute to the outcomes. Doing this well could also raise Julie’s professional presence.  How can Julie seize the opportunity to build alignment with others? There are three powerful ways to do this:

Build connections with others and bring people together. Whether this is your natural inclination as one who networks, or you want to bring together the right people for a specific project or goal, ensure that you reach out to those with the right strengths, passions, and attitudes. This will help you to successfully align people with the outcome you are committed to achieve. 

When Julie had trouble finding the best person for a specific role she needed, she asked someone already chosen for a recommendation. This was a very successful strategy and the new person turned out to be a valuable member of her team.

To activate your ability to connect with others, ask yourself: “Who can I connect with for this project that has the right strengths, can benefit from working on it, is reliable, and will do the job well? How should I approach them and make the connection so they understand why I am choosing them and how they may  benefit from aligning with me (and others)?”

Empower others. This means enlivening and sustaining key relationships internally and externally. It also means developing and inspiring yourself and others.  To do this, you must take the risk of putting others in the spotlight.  Think about times you feel empowered by another person. For me, when I feel encouraged to step out and play a key role, it inspires to do my best, develop my skills, learn, and grow through my work.

Julie used a very simple process to empower others. She told them:
1.    What she needed them to know–the context of the project, the key stakeholders, and why this was important to the larger goals.
2.    What they needed to hear to feel they’d been chosen for their strengths and know-how, and how she thought they might benefit developmentally, too.
3.    What authority they had to act and when to bring her in for support.

To activate your capability for empowerment, ask yourself, “In choosing this person to align with, what are his/her key strengths? Am I willing to risk delegating a key role and clear outcome, and trusting him/her to achieve it?  How can I provide him/her with what is required for success, such as information and resources, authority, other team members, and my direct support?”

Behave like a partner. This means projecting responsiveness, consistency and timeliness.  When you are responsible to a partner or a group of partners, such as a team, how do you step up to the call for assistance?  What is the consistency of your behavior and responsiveness?  How timely are you with your response and delivery?  This makes a difference to earning trust and relies on your relationship intelligence as you manage the unexpected.

When Julie became overwhelmed by other temporary demands of her job, she realized her partners on this project needed to know. When she called them together to let them know of her challenges, they all pitched in to assist her as she diverted her attention temporarily to meet the demands. 

To activate your partnership, ask yourself: “Can I respond in 24 hours? And if not, when can I respond? How can I remain consistent with my partnership behavior? What can I do to ensure I meet the deadlines or communicate that I will be delayed?”

-Andrea Zintz, Career Coach, President, Strategic Leadership Resources

Fashion Guru Pamela Watson's Fall Tips

Submitted by Womenworking on Sat, 09/06/2014 - 14:37

Labor Day is over but for most of us the laboring now begins! That time to change over your wardrobe is quickly approaching and the dread of having to look in your arsenal is usually extremely daunting and overwhelming. I know the questions that loom over you constantly… What should I keep? What should I donate? What do I need new for the cold weather ahead and still look amazing? What can I afford?

Honestly, if you followed my Fall Must Haves from last September, you will need very little new pieces to be right on track and if you didn’t besides me shaking my finger saying ‘shame on you” I am certain if you take a thorough inventory of your entire closet (go to the back of your rack where you never pull from) you will find some items from this list that can be brought to the front of the rack again.

Fret not my pets… Again the trends are available in every price point you can imagine and many of the high end designers have done capsule collections with discount retailers like Target, Kohl’s and H&M just to name a few where you can get a version of their higher priced collections for pennies on the dollar to what it would cost in say Barneys or Neiman Marcus. So now I need you to take a deep breath, get a pen/paper or just print this article out and use it as your Holy Grail for Fall!

Grey is the new Black!
Not just for you but for the whole family.  For the first time in a long time, many of the trends this season are fundamentally the same for men women and children. Grey is a neutral for fall and can be paired with just about EVERYTHING!  You can wear it to balance patterns, wear it monochromatically (all the same color head to toe preferably in a mix of subtle hues differences or all the same hue if that’s better for you; but I prefer the mix of tones for dimension and character). It’s ok to give your traditional black suit a break this season. As a matter of fact, put them in the back of your closet and only pull them out for funerals this season. Let’s see how well grey works for you standing alone without it; you’ll be pleasantly surprised, I promise.

Rich Colors!
I always love how strong bold colors and patterns are balanced so beautifully with the simple addition of black and white; it is truly the great equalizer. This year will be no different; with the added help of the signature color grey when donning the HOT TREND and rich essences of BURGUNDY, CHOCOLATE and NAVY. These colors are reminiscent to of school uniforms; as I wore for many many years as a kid and loathed it. Now it’s refreshing to see these colors brought to life in fantastic fabrics (not polyester like those school uniforms) like chunky knits, rich suedes, cashmeres, fine wools, cool cottons and leather just to name a few.



The Bootie and Over The Knee Boot!
I couldn’t mention one without the other as they are both equally HOT Must Haves for Fall. The Bootie is actually a year round essential but traditionally better accepted by the masses during cool/cold weather until recent. The over the knee boot is just as it states an “over” exaggeration of the standard knee hi boot but it has become a style essential for Fall. They both translate well from work to play and works beautifully with the pencil and flounce skirts (also a very popular staple for Fall).


Fit & Flare
The Skater Dress is a popular ultra-forgiving figure flattering dress for all body types. It cinches in the top waist (your smallest area; right above the belly just below the ribcage) and a-lines (/ \) from there. The skirt works well as a separate also paired with a fitted top of your choice (see Beckham in a great quality long sleeve tee with flare skirt). Whichever you go with, the one piece or worn as separates the idea and silhouette remains the same. The skirt will skim the hips for a flawless finish and deliver a shapely silhouette no matter whether you are a size 2 or 22 and the top will keep it tight and upright. The lengths come in ranges from mini to floor length so find the length that works best for your height. If you’re petite you are strongly advised to stay in the mini length. You need to show as much leg as possible and stay clear of the over the knee boot; its bootie or stilettos for you. 

StyleTip#1: You can add a wide belt to compliment the bootie or over the knee boot you pair with it or it works well with a simple stiletto. It comes is a wide variety of patterns colors and textures just make sure the  silhouette is fitted at the top and wide and the bottom and you can customize the rest that feels good to you!

StyleTip#2: If you have a Fit & Flare Dress that is in an evening dress fabrication or length (midi) you can still wear it to work! Pair it with a cropped denim or cropped varsity jacket for balance and wear a pointy flat (for added casual balance above and below) or a simple stiletto for the edgier fashionista; both very fashionable savvy and highly appropriate for daytime.
Next Month Fall Accessories Must Haves and a few style books that I believe are a MUST READ coming for October. 
Always Remember “Powerful & Pretty Should be One Word!”

This list of Must Haves has been edited to the ones I deem creditable for the workplace. If you want the complete list or just want to read more on Fall Trends this season check out for more colorful commentary on what’s in store for the season ahead.