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Success on the Runway and Beyond

Submitted by Womenworking on Fri, 09/04/2015 - 08:37

Chloe Dao didn’t always know she wanted to be a fashion designer, but she did know she loved fashion. After designing her high school prom dress, she was inspired to learn more and received an associate’s degree in patternmaking from FIT. You may remember her from the second season of Project Runway, where she was the victor. Here’s our interview with Chloe about what makes her brand special, running a business, and what her future goals are.

You went on to Project Runway after FIT. What’s that like for you today?

It’s part of my history and I will always be attached to it. I still have fans that come to my boutique from all over the world. It blows me away. They think of it with so much love.

What helped you as you began planning your business?

I watched my mother. When she came to the US she didn’t know any English, but she was an entrepreneur. First she had a flea market where she sold clothing she made, then a food stand. She also opened a convenience store and then a drycleaner. It was really great to see that if you work hard and know what you’re doing, you can be successful.

When you were opening your first boutique, what were some of the challenges?

Finance, capital, the right merchandising, pricing, location… but I think I was pretty smart about it. I lived with my parents to save when I left NYC to go back to Houston. But today it’s so much harder. You’re competing in a global world even if you’re local. Now you’re not just a business owner, you have to be a social media expert and a website expert.

How would you describe your brand?

My clothes have always been classic contemporary. They’re clothes you can wear forever, there’s no seasonal stamp on it—they’re chic, comfortable and effortless. If you have a closet full of great clothes you don’t have to think too much about, you can easily pull them together.  

You immigrated to the US when you were younger, what was that like?

The first two years were tough, but I assimilated pretty quickly. There was some racial prejudice, but otherwise it was the all-American childhood. I wrote for the school newspaper, I was a cheerleader, and I was president of the Latin club. 

Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?

Before I went on the show, all I wanted was to open my little boutique and do my ‘little’ life. But opening another boutique is on my radar. Right now the top thing on my list is increasing my social media. I have a lot to share; I’m a really crafty girl. 

What’s your advice for women who want to enter the fashion world today?

Learn the craft. You have to know pattern making and how things are constructed. Also recognize if you have talent. Know the difference between being a fashion designer and being someone who just loves fashion. 

Make sure your goal is to make women feel beautiful. It’s not about making you famous.

Stay up to date with Chloe's beautiful creations by checking out her website and social media!


Steal Time to RELAX

Submitted by Womenworking on Thu, 09/03/2015 - 09:01

Your life is spent giving attention to others: Team members, children, spouse, family members, community volunteer efforts... You ‘know’ you are supposed to put your own oxygen mask on first and practice self care, but really, how can you find the time? 

As working women, we tend to think that rest and renewal are a waste of time—overindulgent. We need to make sure nothing falls through the cracks. We could be using relaxation time to make doctor’s appointments or tick more things off our list! Indeed, men are 35% more likely to take breaks than women. 

Also, when you are busy ‘doing things,’ it’s often your ‘girlfriend’ time that is cut first. Without our ‘girlfriend’ time, stress builds up. 

Here are 5 ways to find time to rest and renew: 

Schedule it
If you wait to find ‘extra’ time after you’ve completed all of your ‘to do’ items, you’ll never have down time. Schedule it in advance, and protect it fiercely. Start by scheduling just one deeply rejuvenating experience each week. Make a plan now for the next 3 months. It could be downtime or a ‘date with girlfriends.’ Even better if it’s one of each. In a study of the most busy management consultants, they were able to follow through scheduling one night off a week (AND they experienced greater work satisfaction and more productivity after doing so). 

Scale it Down
Don’t have 90 minutes to go to a yoga class, but want the calm and focus that comes from it? Learn quick fix strategies to find calm. For example, you could get the same calm and focus of a 90 minute yoga class in 3 minutes while sitting at your desk if you do Mental Reset breath (in which you inhale, hold, and exhale for equal counts such as 5 seconds, 5 seconds, 5 seconds) 

Steal It
You could ‘steal’ a few minutes each day from times you can’t be productive. For example, waiting in lines or waiting for public transport. Instead of zoning out and being annoyed, take 3-5 minutes to breathe deeply. Try to meditate for 5 minutes on the bus or train. In a meeting where part of it doesn’t relate to your work? Try doodling and let your mind run free. 

(Don’t) Squander it 
Start noticing where you might be wasting time or allowing others to waste your time, and problem solve those energy drains away. Do you ever waste time spinning your wheels? How could you plan ahead and decide priorities with your manager. When are you procrastinating, and how could you save all that wasted time for relaxation? How could you minimize your time around people who grate on your nerves? 

Suggest it
Leverage your natural talents to be an organizer and suggest ways you can relax and renew with others. Coordinate your ‘date night’ with girlfriends. Suggest that you and your child listen to soothing music as you put them to bed. Start meetings with a moment of reflection to get everyone grounded. 

As you start to enjoy the benefits of these mental, emotional, and physical vacations during your busy days, you will be even more motivated to find the time for rejuvenation. If you won’t be convinced for any other reason, then try this: How else will you sustain yourself for ALL the people who need you!

-Sharon Melnick, PhD, September 2015 Career Coach


Want to think like a genius?

Submitted by Womenworking on Wed, 09/02/2015 - 08:24

 “I start the day with a well intentioned to do list, but end the day saying, ‘Where did the day go?’” 

“I move so quickly I don’t even take time to celebrate wins before I’m on to the next…”

“I wish I had space in my schedule – or in my mind – to think about where I want to go in my career…” 

Is this you?   

We are interrupted 7 times an hour, and spend up to 2.1 hours a day on distraction.  In my trainings on Success under Stress, the most frequent request I hear is “more uninterrupted time to think and complete priority work.”

When you don’t have time to reflect, you are keeping yourself out of your “genius zone.” That’s because your brain has two modes of thinking: 

  • Your “Get things done” mode carries out tactics and ticks items off your ‘to do’ list. It makes you feel you are always on.
  • Your “Genius” mode helps you see the big picture, tap into your intuition and come up with new ideas. It helps you connect the dots, so you are even smarter. In Genius mode, you feel relaxed and creative. (It's the reason you have your best ideas in the shower! I have mine while running along the river in NYC.) 

Have you ever gotten feedback that you are great at execution but not seen as a next level leader... because you don’t have the big ideas of a leader? If so, you may have kept so busy you haven’t been pressing your Genius button.

To have more uninterrupted time to think and reflect during busy days, schedule time for your Genius Button!  

But... how can you have time to ‘think’ when others are constantly interrupting you? You can control how you respond to it. Instead of feeling you have to be available to everyone on THEIR schedule, try to “ACT” on interruptions. 

Accept or Allow interruptions: Make a short list of criteria dictating which interruptions are worthy of giving your attention to. Situations in which YOU are the right person and at the right level to deal with it, etc. Only accept or allow distractions that meet your criteria.  

Curtail or Cut off at the Pass: You CAN prevent many interruptions. For all the times people ask you the same question, put in place a ‘frequently asked questions’ document. If you are a manager, schedule ‘office hours’ as preferred times for your team to pop in your office or clients to call you. 

Triage – Do what the emergency room nurse does Ask a few diagnostic question to figure out what the person needs and give them a plan to deal with it (but don’t carry out the plan in the moment). Say, “I can get you the meeting schedule by the end of the day, ask Sara for the information on the budget, and you and I can schedule a 30 minute meeting tomorrow afternoon to go over it.” Then heads down, back to work! 

Time for thinking and reflection may feel like a luxury you don’t have time for. But when you allow yourself to luxuriate in your reflection you will come up with ideas to do your work more effectively and efficiently, saving you time and helping you advance. You have an inner Genius button, allow it to work for you. 

-Sharon Melnick, PhD, September 2015 Career Coach


Meet our September Career Coach!

Submitted by Womenworking on Tue, 09/01/2015 - 08:20

Hi, I’m Dr. Sharon Melnick and I am so excited to be your September coach. 

As women, we are smart and talented, but we just need to start trusting ourselves. We know how to take care of others, we just have to learn to take better care of ourselves. We are ambitious, we just want to make sure that we are asking for what we deserve and influencing others in ways that are as effective as possible. 

I believe in the now famous quote by the Dalai Lama, who said, “The world will be changed by the [Western] woman." By all women. Now is the time for women to step into new roles in their organizations, to grow our businesses, to be able to integrate our work and personal lives into one whole life that brings us satisfaction and value to the people around us. As women we are starting to live up to our potential and we are changing the world! 

I’ll be writing to you about how you can have confidence in yourself, and trust yourself, instead of draining your energy trying to please other people or worrying how others will judge you. I’ll also be writing about how you can influence others to make it easier to advance in your job, get new clients, or to get a new job. I'm the author of Success Under Stress: Powerful Tools for Staying Calm, Confident, and Productive When the Pressure's On.

My undergraduate education is from Yale University and my graduate education is from UC Berkeley and Harvard Medical School. But where I really learned the most is from observing myself as I held myself back from my potential or caused myself stress as I tried to balance all the parts of my life. It’s the lessons that I’ve learned from helping myself ‘get out of my own way,’ and training others to do the same. 

I live in NYC with my family and my cat. I love to run in Riverside Park and I practice yoga. Please send me your questions and comments; I look forward to getting to know you. 

Three Easy Ways to Make New Change

Submitted by Womenworking on Mon, 08/31/2015 - 08:39

When it comes to change, we’re told that change is hard and that we tend to fight it. At the same time we want the best life we can have—and that means some things need to change. The good news is creating positive change can be easier than we think:

Give yourself a choice

If we know anything about change and human behavior, we know that we want to have choices. No one likes feeling forced. A client recently said he was told he had to take on a project he didn’t want to. However, that wasn’t true. His boss told him he needed to take on the project if he wanted to advance in the company. Telling yourself you have no choice in a matter makes any kind of change distasteful and difficult. Owning that you have a choice doesn’t make all change wonderful but it does make it easier.

Find your motivation

When faced with change you say you don’t want, you're aware of all the reasons why you don’t want it. But have you done the work to discover why the change might benefit you in some way? If you say there are no positives, then say “no.” However, before you do that, make sure you haven’t shortchanged yourself by not seeing the upsides to saying, "YES."

Take the first steps into change

Often the worst thing about change is how hard we've made it out to be in our minds—before we even give it a fair shot. When we're fighting change, we expect it to be hard. We won't know until we take the first few steps and gather more evidence. Approach any changes you are considering with a positive attitude and then begin the process. You might end up saying, "This isn't so hard.”

-Alan Allard, Executive Coach

The Secret to Having Tough Conversations With Your Partner

Submitted by Womenworking on Fri, 08/28/2015 - 08:57

If you have something important to share with your partner, you don’t want to try to unload your thoughts when he is busy, stressed out, or otherwise distracted. How will you know when the timing is right? Use these tips to have a successful yet difficult conversation with your partner.

Ask. Try, “Is now a good time for a short conversation? There’s something I’m having a hard time with that I need to share with you.” These simple words are one way to open the subject. If “now” isn’t a good time, ask him to let you know when he’s available. 

Start from the heart. Before you get to the heart of the matter, remember to frame your thoughts first with expressions of love and appreciation. Be willing to be vulnerable and talk with the “I” pronoun warmly, without being accusatory. Try to keep the conversation short, no more than thirty minutes (ten minutes is ideal for most men). If you do need more time, take a break and then come back. 

Pick your place. By having important conversations while taking a walk or a long drive, instead of having a serious sit-down, knee-to-knee encounter, you are not creating the stressful environment of “we are now working on the relationship.” Wherever and whenever you decide to have your heart-to-heart talk, remember you are a team seeking to solve an issue as a win/win for the relationship. Commit to doing with it with love, respect and kindness. 

Listen up. Help your partner feel understood by learning a simple and easy five-step technique known as the Imago Dialogue. 

  • Step one: Listen without interrupting. 
  • Step two: Act as a mirror. When your partner stops talking, repeat back to him what you heard as accurately as possible. Ask, “Did I get that?” and “Is there more?” 
  • Step three: Summarize, especially if he added “more.” Then ask again, “Did I get it all?” 
  • Step four: Validate. “What you said makes sense to me.” This statement doesn’t mean you agree with him; it simply lets him know you understand. 
  • Step five: Empathize. Let him know that you can imagine how he might be feeling, such as hurt, scared, angry, disappointed, and so on.

By listening in this careful, structured way, your partner will feel seen, heard and understood.

Adapted from Arielle’s new book Turn Your Mate into Your Soulmate, Harper One. Be on the lookout, the book is being released this December. To get more of her great advice, visit

Photo Credit: Carl Studna 

5 Ways to Change Your Life Fast

Submitted by Womenworking on Thu, 08/27/2015 - 08:53

When you were growing up, you likely weren't told to pay attention to what you think and how you think. However, we can’t do anything without having a thought, a belief, a perspective or an assumption that’s driving what we do or don’t do. 

If you pay attention to your thinking and your self-talk you can change your life, your behavior and your results faster than you might imagine. Here are five “thinking traps” you need to be aware of so you can avoid them or get out of them as soon as possible. In effect, you will change your life for the better and that change can happen in just a few minutes.

Premature Closure

Premature closure is reaching a conclusion prematurely and then closing your mind to anything that conflicts with your conclusion. If you tell yourself, “I can’t do this,” you’ll quit looking for ways to succeed at it. The problem isn't that you can't achieve something; the problem is you're deciding you can't without having all the information you need to see possibilities.


Test your assumptions and conclusions. Whether it’s your belief of “I can’t” or your conclusion that someone at work is impossible to get along with, ask yourself if someone else is succeeding where you are failing. If they can succeed, why can’t you? 

Mind Reading

Mind-reading is believing you know what someone thinks or feels—even though they haven’t told you what they’re thinking or feeling. Mind-reading happens when we project our thoughts and feelings onto someone else and believe they are theirs. 


Ask, don’t assume. Is your boss or friend angry with you? Maybe. But you won’t know for sure until you ask them. You might feel your team doesn’t recognize your talent. How do you know? Test your assumption by taking a risk and asking your team what they think of you.


Children often grow up with labels. A parent might say, “Janet is shy” and Janet grows up thinking that’s just the way she is. Labels become a part of your self-identity. However, your label isn't who you are, it's just a label. There is a big difference between saying “I’m undisciplined” and saying “I often don’t follow through.” The first one labels you as an Undisciplined Person and the second one simply describes a behavior.


If you’re going to label yourself, give yourself an inspiring label. Give yourself a label that motivates you and then grow into it. Label yourself as “Fearless” and then take small steps out of your comfort zone a few times a week and soon you will be that confident and bold person.

"Should" Thinking

You engage in "should" thinking when you think in terms of “should,” “ought,” “should have” and “have to.” As in, “I have to lose weight." That thought weighs you down and make life more difficult. The late Dr. Albert Ellis called this “shoulding” all over yourself. It’s not a pretty metaphor but it gets the point across. 


Start catching the imperatives in your thinking—words that imply you don’t have a choice. Tell yourself you do have a choice and change your thinking and self-talk to, “I choose to do this—no one is forcing me to do anything.”


That’s Dr. Ellis's psychological term for heavy duty worrying. It’s also called Catastrophic Thinking and it’s often paired with Fortune Teller Thinking. That happens when you predict something in the future will be terrible in some way. You “awfulize” something when you “make a mountain out of a molehill.” Awfulizing and Fortune Teller Thinking are responsible for procrastination. We put things off because we predict the task will be more difficult or unpleasant than it would actually be. 


Practice putting things into perspective. If you’re having a hard time doing that, talk to someone and get their perspective on it.

-Alan Allard, Executive Coach

Easy Tips to Help You Sleep through the Night

Submitted by Womenworking on Wed, 08/26/2015 - 08:35

Dr. Mike Corradino is a doctor of acupuncture and oriental medicine. He is also the clinical director and co-founder at Palomar Health Center for Integrative Medicine and Wellness. After completing his Doctorate degree and opening a new clinic, Dr. Mike is no stranger to stress. If stress keeps you up at night, or if you just have a hard time falling asleep in general, his tips might just do the trick.*

Here are some simple steps to help you fall asleep.

Block out the light

Our eyes and nervous systems adapt to the natural rhythm of light and darkness. But with recent advances, (air conditioning, artificial lighting, etc) using a light at night can stimulate the optic nerve, which stimulates the penal gland, which stops the release of melatonin. It believes it's daytime. Sleeping in complete darkness tells the brain that it's nighttime. Be mindful of little lights, such as bright alarm clocks and bathroom lights, as this can affect the melatonin released in the brain.

Out of sight, out of mind

Keep any electronics at least 3 feet from where you are sleeping. This can be an alarm clock, smart phone, or other electrical device that sits on your nightstand. 

Avoid alarming alarms

One thing people sometimes forget to think about it how they wake up. Disturbing alarm sounds can actually develop anxiety—the heart will start palpitating before the alarm even goes off. Use alarm sounds that gradually increase from a low volume to a louder one. I use my Fit Bit, which vibrates to give me a gentle wake up.

Reserve the bed for sleep and intimacy

You don't want your brain to think that bed time also means writing emails or watching television. You want your brain to train itself to go to sleep. If you're not sleeping within 20 minutes, get out of bed, walk to a different room, and then do whatever you need to do to get yourself tired.

Be mindful of caffeine

Caffeine has approximately a 6 hour half-life. So if you're getting out of work, let's say at 6:00, and you have a caffeinated drink with dinner, half of the caffeine will be circulating through your system at midnight. Those under high stress may be more sensitive to caffeine, so if this is you, try to cut back after 3:00pm. 

Establish a bed routine

I suggest going to the bathroom before bed, laying out your attire for the next day, and planning out the tasks you'd like to accomplish. If you have everything sorted before bed, your mind will be able to focus on sleep at night, not the things you have to do tomorrow.

Body, breath, mind

Regulate your body, breath, and mind. First, regulate your body by finding a comfortable position. Next, trick your brain by breathing as your body does while sleeping. If you inhale short and exhale longer, you’re likely to drift into a relaxed state of mind.

Simplicity is key

I use lavender aroma therapy myself. I put a little on my wrist and below my nostrils. Chamomile or sleepy-time tea may also be very calming. 

Some of these tips may work for some, but not for others. Feel it out and see what works for you. I used these tips when I was having difficulty sleeping and found that they made a big difference in my sleep patterns. 

*Consult a physician for medical advice, chronic conditions, and any changes in your behavior that are concerning.

Four Easy Ways to Boost Your Happiness

Submitted by Womenworking on Tue, 08/25/2015 - 08:44

If you would like to increase your happiness, it’s easier than you might think. Here are four things you can do every day:

Pay attention to when you feel happy

You likely feel happy, satisfied and at peace more than you realize. Pay closer attention to the times you feel confident, appreciative or when you’re enjoying what you’re doing. If you want more happiness, notice how much you have already. Why not keep a journal for a month and document your times of happiness, fulfillment and sense of progress?

Be solution oriented

Train your brain and subconscious mind to use complaints, frustrations and setback moments as triggers to shift into solution mode thinking. Tell yourself, “This is my opportunity to practice finding solutions instead of focusing on what’s wrong.” We see what we look for and focus on—look for solutions and you will find them everywhere. This isn’t about ignoring or denying problems in life—it’s about acknowledging them and finding ways to work around them or to turn them into opportunities to learn, grow and transform.

Begin each day by finding 1-3 things that make you feel good

Increasing our happiness is easier than most people think. Every morning, take 30-60 seconds to review the day before and identify 1-3 things that make you feel grateful, happy, excited, peaceful or motivated for the day. Remembering the good cup of coffee or tea you had the day before or the compliment you received at work is easy to do but has powerful results. 

Read or listen to something that gives you positive energy

We can’t control what’s on the news or the internet and we can’t stop people from complaining. We can do our best to limit our exposure to these things but we need to do more than that. Read a book, watch a webinar, listen to an audio, watch a video—do something every day to nurture your happiness by giving your mind and spirit what they need for happiness, fulfillment and purpose. When you find a book or other resource that helps you, read or listen to it multiple times because the first exposure will help you, but the second or fifth time around will help you even more. 

-Alan Allard, Executive Coach

How to Strategically Quit Your Job

Submitted by Womenworking on Mon, 08/24/2015 - 08:39

In a blog post a few months back, I wrote about Five Signs It’s Time to Leave Your Job. That post seemed to have hit a nerve and that’s no surprise. More and more employees are thinking about quitting their current jobs. What about you? If you’re thinking about it, here are two things you need to know:

You have a choice

Many employees feel trapped in their jobs—but they’re not. Telling yourself you can’t quit your job only makes your situation worse. The longer you stay in a job you don’t want to be in, the harder it becomes for you to take action. Staying in a job that’s the wrong fit for you will wear you down mentally, emotionally and physically. 

The first step in quitting a job is to quit telling yourself you can’t make a change. Just because something isn’t easy doesn’t mean you can’t do it. You are better off telling yourself, “I could find another opportunity if I dealt with my hesitation and fear. But for now, I choose to stay where I am.” However, what’s better is to tell yourself, “I can figure this out—and I will.”

You need a plan

You’ll never quit your job if you don’t come up with a plan to make it happen. If you don’t know how to do a job search, work with recruiters, or know how to interview well, the first step of your plan is to learn these skills. There’s no shame in not knowing how to land your next job. Just don’t let that stop you. Learn what you need to learn from a book, a webinar, a workshop or a great coach.

You might not be able to quit your job now or anytime soon. If it takes you a year to find new work, that’s okay. What’s not okay is wanting to leave your job without developing a plan that will enable you to do so. If you don’t, you’ll be in the same job a year later and you’ll still be telling yourself you can’t quit. You can, but you need a plan.

-Alan Allard, Executive Coach

Summer Fun To Kick Start Passion with Your Partner

Submitted by Womenworking on Fri, 08/21/2015 - 08:40

A few years ago I was watching a reality/dating TV show where a couple on a second date decided to bungee jump from a bridge, something neither of them had ever done before. 

Not only were they going to leap off the bridge, they were going to do it at the same time. First they sat on the edge of the bridge, side by side, admitting how scared they were. Then, as it was nearing time for the jump, they tried to crack a few jokes... but you could tell they were petrified.

Finally they jumped and survived. In the next scene they were having a glass of wine, gazing into each other’s eyes and clearly falling in love.

What happened? 

Well according to some experts, it turns out that the physiological experience of experiencing fear and anxiety can lead to sexual attraction and bonding! Whether you’ve been married for decades or are in a new relationship, you can quickly ignite passion by doing something together that includes enough risk to get the juices flowing. Activities such as:

  • Skydiving
  • Whitewater rafting
  • Riding a rollercoaster
  • Parasailing 
  • Bungee jumping
  • Riding a zip line over the treetops
  • Taking a “ropes course”
  • Watching a really, scary movie.

 The goal is to do something together that feels just a little life-threatening to get the adrenaline and other brain chemistry going.

A word of caution for those who are just beginning to date someone new: Be sure this is someone you really want to bond with, otherwise you may end up with what some shrinks call “misattribution.” 

I still think that the very best way to get to know someone (and to get a good idea if they are the one for you) is to take a short trip with them. Travel can bring out the best and the worst in someone. You will soon figure out whether or not you are compatible and can skillfully communicate with each other when you are both in a strange land out of your comfort zones.

Arielle Ford, 

Want more of Arielle's great advice? Read her article, How To Find Your Soul Mate!

Photo Credit: Carl Studna 

How to Bounce Back From Mistakes

Submitted by Womenworking on Thu, 08/20/2015 - 08:32

A few years back I had a phone appointment to be interviewed by Matt, a reporter for the New York Times. We scheduled the appointment for the lunch hour because I was going to be presenting a seminar that day, and it was the only time I had to talk. That wasn’t ideal, but I knew everything would go just fine. However, when the day and time for the interview came, I was out to lunch—literally and figuratively.

I didn’t remember the appointment until 12:30, thirty minutes late. I grabbed my cell phone and called Matt to apologize. I thought calling so late would mean the interview wouldn’t take place. However, Matt was very gracious and asked if I could still do the interview.

Matt gave me the opportunity to learn that success, happiness and fulfillment in life comes, not from being perfect, but from our response to our mistakes or failures. Sometimes we drop what we’re carrying and it breaks up into tiny pieces. At that point success is about being gracious, not only to others, but to ourselves. The next time you blow it in some way, remember these four things:

  • Own up to your mistake
  • Make amends as quickly as possible
  • Learn from it and move on 
  • Forgive yourself even if the other person doesn’t

One more thing: If you’re not so good with the four points above, don’t worry—you’ll get plenty of practice in the future.

-Alan Allard, Executive Coach

The Easy Secret to Being Happy

Submitted by Womenworking on Wed, 08/19/2015 - 08:50

A couple of months ago I was interviewed on a podcast on the subject of happiness and success. Towards the end of the interview, Sean asked me for my best tip on how to be happier and more successful. I replied, “Stop criticizing yourself—instead learn how to think in a way that gives you the positive energy you need to be and do what you’re really capable of."

I explained to Sean that most people criticize themselves in subtle ways without knowing it. For instance, when you think in terms of “should,” “ought to” and “could have” you are almost always criticizing yourself. We mean well when we think this way but we can’t criticize our way into more happiness and success. 

Ask yourself if you’re being an empowering coach to yourself or a disempowering critic. Be a coach to yourself and give yourself the support and feedback you deserve and need. (This isn’t just about giving yourself positive feedback. It’s also about telling yourself what you need to hear but doing it in a constructive way that opens up the way to positive change.)

If you give yourself more positive feedback and recognition, you will be more motivated to bring more success into your life. Decide today to give yourself more positive feedback, validation and support, instead of waiting on others to do so. Waiting on others to give you what you need makes you a passive observer in life instead of the leader you are.

In my coaching workshops, managers tell me they don’t get enough feedback on what they’re doing well. Their boss is quick to tell them about problems they need to fix. They don’t seem to have the time to regularly tell them things like, “I noticed you took the time to listen to your employee, draw out her concerns and help her to find solutions. I think you have a real talent for bringing out the best in others.”

Employees and managers want to hear more positive feedback. But why wait? I tell them, “It would be great if your boss gave you more positive feedback but you don’t control that. What you do have control over is what you do or don’t do for yourself.” What about you? How can you develop the habit of recognizing and giving yourself credit for who you are and what you do?

You might be thinking, “I don’t need to give myself more support and positive feedback. I need to challenge myself more, expect more from myself and do better.” I hear that all the time from clients who are motivated and have high expectations of themselves. 

However, if you want to challenge yourself and get good results you have to have a solid relationship with yourself. Think about having a boss that challenged you often, but didn’t give you the credit you deserve. He or she might have good intentions, but good intentions can easily backfire.

Instead of “motivating” you, your manager unintentionally demotivates you. It’s the same way with how you relate to and communicate with yourself. Do you do the very thing you wouldn’t want your boss to do? Pay attention to what you’re doing right and recognize yourself for it. That will give you the emotional fuel you need to keep it up, and it also gives you the right to challenge yourself to keep learning and growing. 

-Alan Allard, Executive Coach

Every Penny Counts! 5 Tips for Money Mindfulness

Submitted by Womenworking on Tue, 08/18/2015 - 08:39

Want more money? Whether the answer is a “Heck YES” or a “Sure, why not?” I think we can all agree that money matters. Regardless of where we are in life, feelings of security and abundance tend to be closely tied to our financial situation. And yet, how often do we treat money as a stranger, or worse—something we hate? Most of us avoid actually thinking about money. We throw it away or simply lock it up and ignore it. If money were a child, we would certainly end up on the Social Services watch list! Then we wonder why money doesn’t seem to be on our side. So how would money treat US differently, if we treated our money relationship with more mindfulness? 

It’s a marriage, not a date
Start thinking about money as the REAL DEAL. It’s not here today, gone tomorrow. So when you have things you need or want, think it over carefully; because when you consider the long-term, every penny starts to count! Like in any good relationship, security starts with your state of mind.

Prioritize it
Just like any important relationship, your money needs to be nurtured. Give your money daily attention, even if it’s a quick check-in. There are so many convenient ways to accomplish this, with easy online access and a host of mobile apps. Or, make it come to YOU by setting up alerts and email notifications. Prioritizing means consistently paying attention to where you spend. Just like you would with your partner or child!

Appreciate it
You may have future goals to work towards, but celebrate what has been accomplished. Feeling grateful generates positive energy, allowing you to create more money! Find a daily reminder to say thank you—for example, start a dollar jar and put a dollar in it every day as a token of appreciation. This is an easy action step AND easy savings! 

Keep your friends close, your enemies closer
Keep your sights on your “debt enemies”. Credit cards and loans are GREAT TOOLS but only when well managed. Limit the number of “debt enemies,” cap the total debt amount and make time to meet with a professional coach or financial planner to understand the true cost of your debt and how to start chipping away. We are all vulnerable to “debt enemies,” but they shrink when we face up to them!

Just as your loving relationships extend to families and communities, so with money. Build it like a community—grow, invest, amass! Developing good habits of budgeting, saving and debt-reduction is the perfect start. These steps should come naturally as you become mindful with your money. Align your money goals with your life goals such as a short-term budget for travel and a longer-term plan for your home or child’s college funds.

As you become more mindful of money, it starts to work with you, in harmony with your life’s dreams, becoming your best source of support. Make money the biggest YES in your life!

What are some ways your finances have hindered OR empowered you and your dreams? Leave a question below for strategies to manage your money relationship.

—Leena Roy, Founder & Professional Coach


Get a Grip on Your Emotions

Submitted by Womenworking on Mon, 08/17/2015 - 08:40

Kristin is a superviser who told me, “I need help controlling my emotions when someone says or does something that upsets me. I’m like an open book and people can read what's going on.” Kristin knows that this trait may be impeding her success. If you’re in a similar situation, here’s what you can do: 

Identify the real problem. I realize that it’s easy to think it’s the other person that’s upsetting you. After all, if they have a habit of interrupting you, stealing your ideas, or talking to you in a disrespectful way, wouldn’t that upset anyone? Yes and no. It’s normal to feel frustrated or irritated when something happens we don’t like.

However, our beliefs, assumptions, and perspectives dictate how we feel about an event, not the event itself. We know that because what one person takes in stride, another over-reacts to. The real problem isn’t people saying or doing things you don’t like. The real problem is not being able to manage your emotions and choosing to respond in a constructive manner. 

Look in the mirror to calm down. Not literally, but figuratively. You’re upsetting yourself because you’re telling yourself the other person shouldn’t say or do what they’ve said or done. But why shouldn’t they? Like you, they’re not perfect. You acknowledge that you often communicate through your body language and how you respond to others in ways you don’t like.

So now we have two imperfect people who could stand to learn how to communicate and interact with others in a better way. Looking in the mirror will enable you to have empathy for the other person’s mistakes and empower you to stay calm.

Choose how you want to respond. When you allow others to push your buttons, you’re reacting, not responding out of conscious choice. Once you remind yourself that no one is perfect and they won’t always say what you think is “right,” think about the outcome you want from how you respond to them. Take some deep breaths and the time to process what the other person has said. Tell yourself you want to improve the situation, not make it worse.

Speak up and set boundaries as needed, but do it from a place of self-management and in a way that extends understanding and respect for the other person. This takes practice and you won't learn how to manage your emotions and how you respond to others in a day. Focus more on yourself than you do other people. Improve your ability to communicate from a place of self-awareness and choice and one day you won't have buttons others can easily find and push.

-Alan Allard, Executive Coach

Why Are Our Pets so Special?

Submitted by Womenworking on Fri, 08/14/2015 - 08:51

What makes YOUR pet so special? Let us know in the comments below!

Video Editor: Elizabeth Marino


Easy Ways to Deal with Toxic People

Submitted by Womenworking on Thu, 08/13/2015 - 09:20

If anything is true in life it's that relationships can be challenging at times. For many people, one of the biggest challenges is dealing with someone who aggressively pushes you to do what they want, even if it’s not in your best interest. If you find yourself in that situation, here’s what you need to know and do:

Know the warning signs:

  • They’re not making a request or a suggestion—they frame what they want you to do as an obligation on your part.
  • They won’t let it go—they’re trying to wear you down.
  • You’re feeling guilt, shame, or fear when you talk to them.
  • They dismiss your feelings in the matter and accuse you of being too sensitive or difficult to get along with—or things similar to that.
  • They threaten you in some way to get you to cave in.

In short, if you’re dealing with someone who refuses to respect your decisions, you’re almost certainly dealing with someone who doesn’t have your best interests at heart. After all, it’s always in your best interest to make decisions you feel good about. It’s never in your best interest to make decisions out of fear, guilt, or shame.

That’s what you need to know when dealing with someone who’s not acting in your best interest. Now, let’s look at what you need to do:

Protect yourself:

No one has a right to dismiss a clear “No” from you, much less to try to manipulate you through guilt, shame or fear. Don’t worry about convincing the other. Your priority is to protect yourself, not to make things easy on the other person. 

Don't worry about the relationship falling apart, and don't give in to any fear you might have about not doing what the person wants. Failing to protect yourself will do more harm to you than anything they can do.

Keep your emotions in check:

Dealing with someone who isn’t taking your best interest into consideration can be anywhere from unpleasant to gut-wrenching, depending upon how confident and assertive you are. Be aware of what you’re feeling. Common emotions could include confusion, frustration, fear, hurt, and anger. You might also feel sadness if this is someone you’ve been close to and trusted up until now. 

Resist the temptation to give in to your frustration or anger and say things that will escalate the conflict. Do some journaling about what you’re going through, talk to a trusted advisor, or get professional help to sort through and manage your emotions. This is a time you also need to make sure you’re taking care of your needs physically and emotionally. If you’re having a difficult time dealing with this person, don’t beat up on yourself. Be patient and empathetic with yourself as you learn to deal with a toxic person.

Be assertive:

Assertiveness is the middle ground between timidity and aggressiveness. You have every right to say “No” to someone without being bullied by them. If a family member is using guilt, shame, or fear to prod you into doing what they want regardless of what you want, that’s never in your best interest. 

Tell them “No” in a firm and clear manner. Explain your position if you want (but you’re not obligated to) and tell them you expect them to respect your decision. The bottom line here is that if you allow this person to mistreat you or to take advantage of you, they will. This is not a time to be cooperative or to capitulate—this is a time to stand up for yourself.

-Alan Allard, Executive Coach

How to Stop Self-Doubt

Submitted by Womenworking on Wed, 08/12/2015 - 08:51

Sam has a reputation of being smart, capable, and dependable. He knows that, but can’t seem to help but question and doubt himself more than he would like. One month ago, Sam was made a team leader and that bolstered his confidence some, but he still finds himself stuck in his insecurities at times.

If you’ve struggled with self-doubt and second-guessing yourself, here’s what you need to do.

Master your self-talk

Despite the fact that we “talk” to ourselves every minute of the day, most of us don’t pay attention to our self-talk. It’s like a subliminal program running underneath our conscious awareness. The thing is, your confidence depends upon the content and quality of your inner dialogue. If you want more confidence and peace of mind, you have to start with your self-talk.

Start asking yourself questions that promote self-confidence. Instead of asking yourself, “Did I make the wrong decision?” ask yourself, “What evidence do I have to support the decision I made?” In all probability, you have reason to believe you made a reasonable decision—but you have to look for that evidence and use it as you communicate with yourself.

Ask for feedback

Ask a trusted colleague for her take on your situation. You need better information to assess how you’re doing. If you always think, “Am I missing something here?” you’ll always find something. No one can make perfect decisions.

Ask for input from someone who can view your situation from a “clean filter.” Then tell yourself, “It’s far more probable he sees my situation more accurately than I do.” Remind yourself of this several times through the day until you have more confidence in your new perspective.

Embrace “Good enough”

Perfectionism is a habit that fuels self-doubt and second-guessing yourself. The solution is to understand that successful people act fast and then adjust as they go along. There is no such thing as a perfect decision and we never handle any situation perfectly—we don’t even know what that would look like. It might be helpful to remind yourself of this throughout the day.

Get help from others to develop a sense of what “good enough” is. You can always improve anything you do, but the question is, “Is it worth it the time and energy it would require?” Usually the answer is “No.” Practice asking yourself, “Is this good enough for me to reach my current objectives?” Then remind yourself that by going with what’s “good enough” you can now move on to the next thing that requires your focus.

Use the “WYSTTYBF” Test

In my book Seven Secrets to Enlightened Happiness, I share an effective technique that can grow your confidence. The acronym above stands for “Would You Say That To Your Best Friend?” This exercise is powerful because you’re likely to have a more accurate assessment of your situation if you put someone else in your shoes and reevaluate. 

Imagine your best friend is in your situation. After they explained their decisions, how would you assess their handling of it? In all fairness, you then have to apply your assessment of them to yourself. 

-Alan Allard, Executive Coach

Dress Like a Boss When You're the New Kid on the Block

Submitted by Womenworking on Tue, 08/11/2015 - 08:39

Starting out in the career world can require an entire overhaul of your closet. You suddenly have to reconsider everything you once knew about fashion and totally reevaluate your standards for daily dress. Fortunately, there are many ways to blend style and business, leaving a variety of outfit options for the trendy, professional woman. So if you’re not willing to sacrifice style as you dress for your new job, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Get a feel for your work environment
Before investing in a new wardrobe, evaluate the level of professionalism exhibited in the dress of co-workers. Some places may allow dark jeans, for instance, while other offices prohibit denim entirely.

The same is true of vibrant patterns, colorful garments, and more “fun” outfits. If you find that these are common in your workplace, feel free to explore some of those options — rather than sticking to slacks and blouses.

Leave your flip-flops at home
Shoes can make or break your professional outfit. Flip-flop and thong sandals should be left at home, and you’ll have to gauge how your office feels about flats — some environments consider them too casual. Avoid neon, party-girl high heels, too. Generally speaking, shoes with a neutral color, closed-toe and small heel are your best bet.

Keep it simple
Style doesn’t have to come by sacrificing simplicity. As a rule of thumb, it’s good to keep outfits and general appearance simple in the workplace.

This means put a cap on colors and patterns, jewelry, elaborate hairstyles, etc. There’s an art director in New York who wears the same white shirt and black pants every single day, for example. While you don’t have to be quite so simple, there’s value in keeping it basic. Not only will this leave you looking no nonsense and professional, but it will save you time in the mornings, too.

Tame your hair
Failing to style, or at least tame, your hair will send a message that you’re messy and unprepared. Make sure it’s cut nicely and styled in a way that’s not too extravagant but not untidy, either. Avoid pigtails, cornrows, and vibrant, unnatural hair dyes. Keeping it down and natural, or pulled back in a single knot or ponytail are some safe, chic, and easy ways to wear your hair as a career-woman.

Embrace the color black
Black pieces are perfect for balancing the vibrancy of colorful garments. You could confidently pair a patterned skirt with a black top or a bright blouse with black pants, for example.

You can also put black pieces together, or go with a conservative black dress. Not to mention, black matches almost everything and is generally a safe bet as far as business attire is concerned.

Invest in a blazer
Blazers can take a business-casual outfit and transform it into something interview-worthy. For a casual environment, they can dress up a nice outfit with jeans and show off your professionalism. Plus, blazers can be paired with almost anything, making them a perfect go-to piece.

Just because you have a career doesn’t mean your wardrobe has to be dull and boring. Follow these tips and you’ll feel confident, stylish, and professional when you head off to work.


Read more from Sarah Landrum on Punched Clocks and follow her on Twitter @SarahLandrum for more great tips.




Can We Really Reinvent the Workplace?

Submitted by Womenworking on Mon, 08/10/2015 - 08:44

More and more of us are discussing how much we need to reinvent the workplace and how we work. Whether you’re a Baby Boomer or a Millennial, you likely feel positive about certain things in your company and feel frustrated (or worse) about the need for us to make some fundamental shifts in how we think and work together. The thing is, we can do just that—but it begins with the courage to admit changes need to be made. 

I’m going to share some solutions today but we’re going to begin by taking a look at our current reality. It’s not going to be pretty and you might point to the exceptions and say, “It’s not that bad.” But I'd say exceptions only reinforce the rule. There’s no positive spin on the Gallup Poll’s result that only thirty percent of us have both our head and heart in our work or company.

Let’s take a look at what we say we want in a work environment. Then we’ll look at what we actually have. Remember, I’m painting a broad (but accurate) picture and your organization or manager might be the exception.

Here’s what we say: People are our most valuable asset

  • We believe in our people
  • We listen to our people
  • We value honesty, transparency, and collaboration

Yet, more than we care to admit, here’s what we do:

  • Training and development is one of the first things to go or to be drastically cut back when the economy is challenging. 
  • Few employees have a clear development plan for their advancement so they are left wondering what “I believe in you” means.
  • Far too many employees fear the consequences of speaking up to their boss or senior leaders, so they keep quiet.
  • Not nearly enough senior leaders are honest or transparent or collaborative with what really matter—when it matters.

I know the picture I painted above isn’t inspiring. However, accepting reality comes before change begins. I also believe we can do dramatically better than what we’re doing. I know that because we do have exceptions to the rule. There are leaders at all levels, starting with the top, who are leading the way in creating a more humanized workplace. 

They are the ones who believe that inspiring people is more profitable than driving them—and they are telling us we don’t have to choose between profits and people—we can have it all. Enough about leaders though. If you’re not a formal leader or a senior leader, what can you do? You have to lead the charge from whatever position you’re in, and here are three ways you can do that:

Be visionary

When it comes to company culture (our values, beliefs and behaviors) you need to have a vision you believe in and are willing to work for. You don’t have to have a title or formal authority. You can lead where you are if you believe you can. If you doubt your ability to make a difference, think about what anthropologist Margaret Mead said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”

Be solution focused

We know well enough what the problems are, even if we deny them and minimize them too often. We need to address the problems of our current workplace, but we need to do that with solutions in hand. I don’t know what that would be for your team or your organization, but you do. If you don’t, you and your team can identify at least one solution and say, “Let’s start with this.”

Be empathetic

Organizations and individuals don’t change just because we want them to. Most leaders, managers, and employees want things to be better. Let’s give each other the benefit of the doubt and believe most of us want to make positive changes in the workplace. That’s not being naïve, it’s extending the same courtesy we expect from others. If we are patient and empathetic with each other, then when the time comes, we can respectfully challenge each other to not only imagine a better workplace, but to actually do what it takes to create it.

-Alan Allard, Executive Coach