PowerPhrases® for Women: Decisiveness Speech for Better Results

Dressed in a business suit with a brief case in hand, a dark-haired woman stepped up to the counter next to me at California Kitchen and said: 

Can I have a sausage pizza? 
And can I have a coke? 
And will you get me some fries? 

It was as if she was asking permission to place her order. I wondered how she spoke at her business meetings. Here is my guess:

May I make a few suggestions? 
I’d like to talk now, okay?

Or how about with her kids? 

Turn off the TV, will you please? 
Do you mind helping me? 
Can you be quiet? 

I wanted to give her a copy of my book, PowerPhrases®! The Perfect Words to Say It Right and Get the Results You Want

How often do you speak with indecisiveness and uncertainty? Women complain that men do not take them seriously at work. Women complain that their kids only respond to their Dads. This is because women are more prone to use tentative speech.  

While she says: I feel pretty good about this proposal
He says: My proposal will increase revenue by 32%

While she says, I don’t think you should be watching TV until your homework is done
He says: Turn the TV off right now and do not even think about turning it back on until your homework is done! 

It is said that men state opinion as fact and women state fact as opinion. Opinion stated as fact sounds judgmental, however, fact stated as opinion sounds weak. PowerPhrases® provide the middle ground where words are chosen to mean exactly what you want to say. Facts are stated as facts and opinion as opinion. Requests are made as requests and instructions are given as instructions. A PowerPhrase® is a short specific expression that gets results by saying what you mean and meaning what you say without being mean when you say it. One of the PowerPhrase® principles is that your words are as strong as they need to be and no stronger. Women often need to up the amperage; men often need to tone it down. 

Upping the Amperage
 
Kinda, sorta and maybe are Killer Phrases that weaken your message and keep you from being taken seriously. Instead of saying style: you might want to consider, say I recommend.  Instead of saying "I’ll try" say"I will" 

And take those tags off the end of your sentences that make you sound like you are asking permission, like "you know?" And "right?" 

If you are placing an order such as the woman at California Kitchen, do not imply you are seeking their approval of your order! Simply say,  I’d like a sausage pizza, a coke and some fries. 

If you want to make a point at a business meeting, again, do not ask permission; just make your point. Or you can request the floor decisively. Say: I need your complete attention here please. 

If you want the TV off, say it like you mean it. Turn the TV off I'd like it turned off now. 

Back yourself up with action. If they balk-they do it because they have learned that you do not mean what you say. 

If you need help and expect to get it, say so. Instead of asking if they mind helping you (which they probably do mind,) simply say: I need your help.

If you want them to be quiet, don’t ask if they can be quiet, (you know they can if they want to), say: I need you to be quiet. 

Let your voice carry your message. Say what you mean and speak with the decisiveness you feel and you will get more powerful results in the world. 

The Good News about Being a Woman Speaker: How So-Called "Feminine Traits" Translate into Speaker Strengths

Guest blog by Lois Philips, Ph.D.
Author of Women Seen and Heard: Lessons Learned from Successful Speakers

“Listen up. My presentation will change your life.” 

No doubt about it: in order to be successful at work, or in a community leadership role, women must master presentation skills. This is not an easy thing to do because public speaking is a function of the male role, and what we expect men to do. Society encourages boys to become leaders, but being assertive in terms of telling people what to do, how to spend their money, and whom they should vote for (or not) is still a relatively new posture for girls and women. As they move into occupational and professional roles formerly occupied by men only, and see the potential for leadership roles in all facets of life, girls and women don’t have a choice. Women need to be more assertive in finding a “public voice.” The good news is that women speakers don’t need to mimic men but, rather, can capitalize on the very “feminine” traits that society has devalued for centuries. Many of those same traits are speaker strengths. 

“Feminine” behaviors such as “batting your eyelashes,” subordinating one’s interests to others, focusing on conventional standards of beauty, being coy and evasive are media inventions and aren’t what we’re addressing here. Those behaviors don’t help women to succeed in life as people with intelligence and leadership capabilities. Let’s focus, instead, on a cluster of feminine traits that sociologists indicate is a preference for “sociability.” 

In personal conversations, women relate; they don’t dominate. Effective public speaking requires that the speaker is also relating to listeners: empathizing, making connections, solving problems, sharing experiences, and finding common ground. Ask yourself: Do you capitalize on a range of “feminine traits” that can help you to be effective at the podium? Take this self-assessment quiz to find out. 

Reflect on your presentation style. Which of these statements describes you? 

q 1.I enjoy talking with people.

q 2. I am willing to share personal anecdotes and disclose personal information if it will help me to make a point.

q 3.I do worry about what other people think.

q 4.I do like to find out what I have in common with people with or to whom I’m speaking.

q 5.I think about consequences of decisions, and how they might impact other people.

q 6. I appreciate the practical details of everyday life and how things happen.

q 7. I prefer to empower other people rather than taking credit for knowing it all.

q 8. I make things happen through my relationships with people, not (necessarily) through status, position, or power.

SCORING: Give yourself one point for each statement to assess whether you are able to integrate what have been described as “feminine” attributes into your presentations.

q 0-2 Seek opportunities to be whom you are when speaking to groups and audiences. Start by volunteering to be on a panel, speaking to a group of people with whom you are familiar so you can experiment with a “relational” approach.

q 3-5 When you tackle a problem or propose a solution, you’re confident at the podium, expressing feelings, disclosing relevant information, and relating to people in a personal way that makes you able to connect.

q 6-8 Congratulations! Your presentation style effectively incorporates feminine traits; your presentations are thoughtful, you relate to people, and you can personalize dry material. You have the potential to be a leader who can influence others to think differently and take action regarding the extraordinary range of issues facing us as a society. Time to meet the media!

Are my conversational skills an advantage at the podium?

As a result of the female socialization process, a conversational style of speaking will be familiar. Good speakers adopt that off-the-cuff “I’m interested in you, this-isn’t-just-about-me” tone to create a sense of intimacy that people appreciate. In conversation and delivering presentations, curiosity is an advantage. Women know how to keep a conversation going, using segues that bridge from one topic to another with a “That reminds me of ….” and “Has this ever happened to you?” The same skill set is a plus when you address a group conveying an “off the top of my head” approach. People leave thinking, “Now that’s someone I’d like to get to know better.”

Women appreciate the give-and-take of informal conversation. The speakers I’ve interviewed said that they prefer to deliver an impromptu speech, rather than read from a prepared manuscript. Perhaps this preference for interaction is why women do so well during the Q and A phase, after delivering their prepared remarks. Because women approach “speechmaking” as if it were an extension of having a conversation, they tend to scratch out their remarks on the backs of envelopes or scratchpads, rather than writing out their remarks word-for-word. This casual attitude can backfire as those envelopes are rarely saved, explaining why it is difficult to find a collection of women’s speeches, except perhaps for the most formal Commencement or Memorial addresses or those in the Congressional Record. Are you saving your presentations? You never know when they will come in handy, perhaps published as transcribed or rewritten as an article for your organizational newsletter.

Even in formal communication settings such as a public hearing or a conference, “feminine” qualities can be demonstrated when an outline of key points is used only as a guide so that the speaker can look listeners in the eye, rather than reading from a prepared manuscript Even more than the desire to convey information, the more feminine speaker will want to build a trusting relationship with her audience. She knows that those relationships will serve her well in implementing any proposal she has presented. To make contact with people, and using her notes as a reference point, she will look at individuals in the audience, one key point at a time. And listeners remember what is said when the speaker is looking directly at them as she makes her point.

President Ronald Reagan was lauded for his delivery skills, making each person in the audience feel as if he were talking directly to him or her in a conversational tone. Interestingly, we later learned that a woman, Peggy Noonan, wrote many of Reagan's most outstanding speeches. Her words empowered Reagan with a feminine style of empathy and caring that made an impact, across party lines.

Am I being strategic – or self-indulgent- when sharing personal anecdotes?

Women disclose what they know. Hoarding information? No way? That’s a man’s game. Whether you just discovered a new outlet for designer shoes, the best interest rate for first-time homebuyers, or the cure for cancer, you like to share what you know. It’s what women do. Of course, going on and on and on is never a good idea when listeners are busy people wanting you to get to the point. 

Women have grab bag of personal stories they can use to make an otherwise dry subject come alive for an audience. They remember these stories because they were instructive, occurring at choice points in their lives; as a result they can recall them instantly, and the stories become tighter and more pointed with each telling of the tale. Stories can form the basis for sustaining friendships and family life and are a way of revealing values and character. What better way to get to know a leader than through the personal examples she provides? 

Former Governor Ann Richards has admitted that the years after her divorce were a time when, "I smoked like a chimney and drank like a fish." Through self-deprecating humor, she makes it clear that this destructive time in her life is behind her; she went public with this situation before the press used it to destroy her credibility. Women are comfortable using their life experiences as a strategy for making a point, which works well at the podium. Being candid about one’s imperfections makes the audience trust the speaker as someone who is “just like us.”

Statistics are abstract and often misleading; they don’t do justice to the complexity of problematic situations. Stories help statistics come alive. Describe the economic and social consequences of being a teenage mother when you describe “Mary”. Explain the idiosyncrasies of a family business by describing three generations running “The Chang Restaurant Business.” What does the war in Iraq mean unless you tell us describe the life of a young soldier from our neighborhood. Pie charts don’t help your audience to care about the impact of a particular policy on real people. Personal examples soften up the listeners’ apathy or resistance to changing their point of view.

For example, Susan Lowell Butler was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and initially given a poor prognosis. Using a dynamic presentation style, she speaks to conference audiences, sharing the challenges she faced in moving from diagnosis to treatment. The importance of funding cancer research takes on new meaning when she asserts, “I wasn’t going to be a statistic.” Butler is now an advocate for increased funding for cancer research, and listeners are more likely to join her. Women are more likely to respond to a human face than to the most shocking statistic presented as an abstraction. Do you have a personal story that will support your key points?

Can my relationship skills help me get my message across? 

Political speakers pay media coaches big bucks to learn how to “stay on message,” but this is less important to women who want their message to make sense to their listeners. After all, your listeners are going to be most affected by a proposed change in a way of understanding a problem or taking action. You propose “Elect me!” or “Invest in my product (service)!” In order to achieve your goals, you need your listeners’ buy-in. Staying on message is less important than whether the listeners can relate to you. Will they care? Can they relate to you? Women worry about what other people think, and doing so is probably a good strategy for any speaker.

For example, you may want to speak about controversial issues but cultural obstacles can get in the way of being seen and heard. Television producer Christina Saralegui speaks about breast cancer and gay issues in ways that get people involved because she relates to and respects the Hispanic culture of modesty. As a Hispanic woman, Saralegui wants to build bridges when she explains, “We’re all parents and we have the same problems. I try to appeal to the common denominator…. everyone is in this together.”

Should I worry about what other people think?

Maybe it's true that women tend to worry more than men do about what others think, and conventional wisdom indicates this anxiety impedes women’s ability to be decisive leaders and make those tough decisions. Interestingly, twenty years ago the groundbreaking book called “In Search of Excellence” pointed out that the best managers walk around the office and find out what people are thinking and feeling. No big news to women; we’ve always operated that way. As a result of caring about what others think, women speakers are more likely to have learned about the audience beforehand to know what they’re getting into. Knowing what people are worrying about allows the speaker to be better prepared for what might be asked during the Q and A. No need to operate in a vacuum before making a decision. Good leaders have always known this and, as a result, their presentations have been more effective in persuading people to join with them.

Before discussing something as complex as, for example, the new Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 which provide guidelines for oversight of Corporate Boards, a speaker will want to know about her audience’s level of sophistication. Did anyone in the audience lose their pension as a result of recent scandals? Are they worried, confident, or in denial? Women speakers know how important it is to meet with members of your audience before a presentation to scope out their interests, needs, perspective and sophistication. Schmoozing with people during a break in the meeting or conference can help the speaker gather anecdotal material and test her position. Will it fly? Can she explain complex terminology in everyday terms? 

What do I have in common with my listeners? 

A conversation in which people relate to one another’s concerns about what really matters is how women learn, strategize, and plan and share resources. Jargon, acronyms, and spreadsheets are guaranteed to put people off. We’ve all been a member of a family, we’ve all worked, been to school, paid taxes, earned licenses or credentials. Find that common ground and hold firm but keep the connection as simple as possible. As former Governor Ann Richards said, “Explain the issues in language your mama can understand,” and people will pay attention. Consider levels of education, work sophistication, parenting, age, socioeconomic factors. Are you managers or support staff? Prefer people to products? Find that common ground, or you won’t have a leg to stand on when your listeners competing interests, the upcoming coffee break, or the fascinating person seated next to them draws their attention away from you- the presenter.

The “relational” approach to public speaking is more engaging than the “talk at” approach to which we’ve grown accustomed. The latter is not how women typically communicate. Talking “with” is more like it. “What’s on your mind?” we ask, and then we can take it from there in linking our topic to those concerns.

Why brag about myself when I can brag about other people?

Women tend to be unassuming and self-disclosing, perhaps to a fault. Modesty, by definition, means freedom from conceit or vanity. Considered a feminine virtue, modesty can be appealing to audiences when they realize that a speaker is admitting that she's new at the leadership game, particularly when she says, "I'm human, I can make mistakes, and I don't know everything, so let's figure this tough problem out together." That's quite different from the speaker who masquerades as open-minded when listeners know a proposal is “a done deal.” Arrogant speakers think they have an edge on knowing more than anyone in their audience. That approach may have worked in the old days, but audiences today deserve more credit. Everyone sitting in front of you is an expert in something. Modesty assumes a position of mutual respect: people appreciate being respected by the “expert” at the front of the room.

Some speakers forge ahead with a canned speech, no matter what the audience's unique perspective or demographic composition might be. In a post-Enron era of scandals at the top, audiences want to hear from new leaders who are outside the system, and women leaders will certainly have a fresh take on a range of social and economic problems. 

More often than not, women brag about their staff or other volunteers instead of their own accomplishments. What’s wrong with sharing recognition? A more modest approach can be appealing to listeners, particularly if they are among those being applauded. Taken to extremes, modesty can backfire, but still, let’s take the middle ground, and leave grandiosity and posturing to men.

Are the practical details of everyday life important to my listeners?

Women haven’t had access to great wealth so they tend to be more practical and can paint various scenarios for their audiences. Since women speakers of diverse backgrounds share a perspective that lies outside of “ the establishment” (historically populated by white males), they can draw attention to situations that are often ignored. Women tend to become advocates for change in areas that directly affect their everyday lives. It’s not just health care; it’s a question of “How can my mother—and yours—pay for her prescription drugs on a fixed income?” It’s not just employment in general; it’s a question of “How can I fund my small business?” It’s not education in general, it’s “How can I get my school Board to fund after-school programs?” It’s not just the issue of affordable housing, it’s “How can I qualify for my first homeowner’s loan?” It’s not just safety, it’s “What will it take to install more lighting in our parking lots?” It’s not just the issue of child-care, it’s “How can we as parents organize high-quality, affordable childcare for employees in our corporation?” If women don’t address the more practical details and implementation of broad policy issues as they affect us in our daily lives, who will? 

Think it's impossible to make dull, dry, technical and financial talks more relevant to the lives of families and women? Women speakers are more likely to give hard, cold statistics a human face because they see numbers in terms of human equations: A equals B. 

Architects who design complex buildings are the first to admit that “God is in the details.” Present a visionary plan and people immediately become anxious about the future. They wonder: How do we implement this new product or service? What are the steps? Who will be affected? How long will it take? What compromises will we have to make? As you present the blueprints for change, know that listeners are more willing to help you if they know what they’re getting into and presenting the practical side –including attention to details - mean fewer surprises later.

Can my relationship skills help me to gain credibility as a leader- i.e., as “the voice of authority?”

Good speakers—and this is true of both men and women—aren't aloof. They know how to build relationships with the audience before and during the presentation. At the podium, Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Dole share anecdotes about people they’ve met that illuminate how policy and legislative decisions play out in everyday life. Hillary talks about her mother’s experience growing up unloved and poor, and how she, in turn, became committed to improving the foster care system. Liz Dole walks the room “Oprah style” and gets up close and personal. Each professional speaker has staff members help him or her learn about their audiences. 

You can do the same thing by making some phone calls beforehand and after your presentation to build and maintain relationships. People create momentum around the change efforts you are proposing but people don’t go out of their way for people they can’t relate to. Whether attitude or behavior, change doesn’t happen overnight. A dynamic presenter builds new relationships with like-minded people who come up afterwards and ask, “I liked the way you presented your case. Where do I sign up? I want to work with you on this.”

Women today don’t just want a level playing field or a seat at the table: they want to be at the head of the table or at the microphone. Feminine attributes and qualities such as relating, disclosing, and caring—coupled with an outsider’s point of view—ensure that dynamic women speakers are seen, heard, and remembered.

[1] Excerpted and adapted with permission.

Networking for Opportunities

Guest blog by Erwi Flynn

Networking can be an intimidating task. Many businesspeople don't know how to go about this process, but there are ways to make it more enjoyable and rewarding. In these tough economic times, it is more important than ever to foster new business alliances. How do you network for new opportunities?

Plan Your Networking Approach
"Although we know that the goal of networking is to discover new business opportunities, it's more than a "paint by the numbers" process," according to Andrea Nierenberg, a keynote speaker for conferences and corporate meetings and President of The Nierenberg Group. "It takes time, patience, and creativity to cultivate people into our lives." 

When Nierenberg first started her consulting business, networking was starting to get a bad reputation. "People saw trade shows and business seminars as 'targets' to pass out and collect as many business cards as possible," she confides. "Ultimately, people networked when they needed something from someone."

To make positive networking become a part of your everyday life, start with a strategy and begin the process. "Begin to imagine that many people you meet can lead you to potential business," Nierenberg says. "Think about how that strategy will include tactics to allow people to feel comfortable to want to help you achieve more." 

First, know your contact. Let's say you call someone up and say, "Hi, Bob. I need your help with some referrals. Any suggestions?" On the surface, it seems harmless. However, people will sense when you're using them as a means to and end. Have a genuine dialog first; then, at the right time, ask them if they would help you "brainstorm" for new ideas to develop new business. 

Second, see the potential. Everyone we meet is a client, prospect, friend, or knows someone who can help us meet one. "Often, the top people rely on people they manage for advice," Nierenberg advises. "While the president of a company signs the biggest checks, you might want to find ways to let that person's staff see how you can provide the products or service to help everyone at the company." 

Third, follow up in unique ways. No, you don't have to send singing telegrams. When you network with new people, work to remember something that is important to them. Then, these topics can become a springboard for future communications. 

For example, if someone likes fishing, you could send a follow-up note that has a fish on it. It doesn't take much, according to Nierenberg. However, it does take some thought. It's this attention to detail that will strengthen your networking relationships. 

The Three P's of Networking

Deb Haggerty, President of Positive Connections, views the successful networker as someone who enters a room and sees people who need to be connected with others. Once this attitude is adopted, there are three steps to make networking pay off -- Process, Place, and Practice.

1. Process. Process refers to how and why you are going to go about
networking. Haggerty recommends asking yourself the following questions:
* Why am I networking?
* Who will I be networking with?
* What am I able to give?
* What do I hope to gain?
* When will I network?

"With these answers in mind, set goals for your networking -- decide on a
tracking system and get your tools ready (business cards, brochures, contact
lists for referrals)," Haggerty explains.

2. Place. Open your mind to the endless possibilities. Anywhere there is
another human being, there is the possibility of networking. Especially good
locations are:
* Chambers of Commerce
* Professional Conferences
* Social Clubs and Churches
* Professional or Alumni Associations
* Charitable Organizations

3. Practice. Like anything else, proper networking must be practiced to get it right. "The most important aspect of networking is creating a good first impression," Haggerty says. "Since you only have one chance to do this, it makes sense to hone the skills that will accomplish it."

Her guidelines are as follows:
* Keep business cards with you at all times, along with pen and paper to write notes on the cards you receive. This will help you to remember the who, when, and where of why you have them.
* Have a "Tell Me About Yourself" attitude. This is a short phrase that will enable you to respond professionally and lead to a meaningful conversation with a prospect.
* Remember the three-foot rule. Anyone within three feet (about the length of a handshake) is a prospect and possible contact for you.
* Always smile at people - it's contagious!
* Have fun! Take networking seriously, but don't be serious when you are doing it. 

Bottom line: Networking is an attitude. Your job is to get others to see you as someone who wants to help them. Once you accomplish this, everyone you add to your network will be actively selling you to everyone else they network with, Haggerty reports. 

Do Your Words Betray You?

Guest blog by Wendy Weiss
Author of Cold Calling for Women: Opening Doors and Closing Sales
Watch her interview on The Woman's Connection YouTube Vlog

What do the words that you use say about you? What is your basic message? Do your words support that basic message?

As a business owner, entrepreneur or sales professional, part of your message must be of confidence and authority. You always want your prospect or your customer to see you as an expert in your field, as someone who is credible and someone who is knowledgeable. Sometimes, the words we use or the way we use them get in the way.

Have you ever started a conversation with a prospect or customer with the phrase "I'm just calling."?

That little word "just" is an apology. It says that your call is not important and that what you have to say is not important. Delete it from your vocabulary immediately! Simply tell your
prospects and customers why you are calling. That is enough.

"I believe that.."
"I think that.."
"I know.."

Who would you rather listen to? Someone who believes or thinks she knows something-or someone who just knows it? The phrases "I believe" and "I think" detract from your message. They detract from your power.
"Once we have completed. We will hopefully achieve."
Hopefully?

No one pays you to "hopefully" do something. They pay you to actually do it! Tell your prospects or customers what they will achieve or should expect to achieve.

To make your words sound powerful, pitch your voice to a lower level than your usual speaking voice. In our society, a lower-pitched voice is perceived as more authoritative. Also, make sure that the inflection goes down at the end of every sentence. When nervous, everyone tends to make even statements into questions with an upward inflection. This will make you sound nervous and unsure. Be careful also, as you are doing this, not to drop off
or throw the last words of your sentence away. That would sound like you are giving up. 

It may take some time and practice before you are fully comfortable eliminating the words "just," "I believe," "I think" and "hopefully" from your vocabulary. It will also take some time
and practice to get the lowered vocal pitch and downward inflections at the end of sentences. But it will be time well spent when you see the difference in the way your customers and
prospects respond. Even if you do feel nervous, using these particular word and vocal tips will make you sound confident and self-assured. Eventually, you will even begin to feel that way!

Workplace Discrimination--Still Alive and Well

Guest post by Martha Burk
Author of Cult of Power: Sex Discrimination in Corporate America and What Can Be Done About It

I recently attended the Wal-Mart stockholder’s meeting, where I presented a resolution asking the company to disclose statistics on stock distribution by race and gender. I also admonished the company on its board of directors – only 2 women out of 14 members. That’s pretty awful for a company with close to 70% female employees and an equal percentage of female customers. It could be one reason why the firm is the subject of the largest class action gender discrimination lawsuit in history. Women up and down the line are allegedly paid less than the men, in some cases told outright that “men need to support their families.” This blatant (and blatantly illegal) justification for sex discrimination is not nearly as common now as it used to be, but other, more subtle, discriminatory practices are still rampant in the workplace.

From Wall Street to Wal-Mart, women are paid less for doing the same job as men. Female brokers at Smith-Barney filed a class action against their company in April, charging that the fat accounts always go to the guys, and so does most of the sales support. It’s well documented that even in so-called “women’s” jobs like teaching and nursing, the men who do choose those professions make more. Some like to say it’s because of the “choices” women make – choices to take time off for children, either having them or taking care of them. That may be, but women are sometimes forced into these choices by the choices that men – still at the top of almost all U.S. corporations – make. And those choices by the corporate elite just incidentally shortchange men as well, only in a different way.

Our workplaces are still structured around the idea that family responsibilities will be taken care of by someone other than the employee – he or she is expected to have unlimited hours to devote to the job. And unfortunately for both women and men, it’s the he that most often fulfills that expectation. There are a number of reasons why, but corporate culture has to be near the top of the list. Even in companies that have so-called “family friendly” policies like leave for teacher meetings, men aren’t expected to take advantage of them. And God forbid if a man should take the full 12 weeks unpaid leave allotted by law for the birth of a newborn, or want to job-share or go part time for a couple of years. What is he, some kind of wimp?

Despite all the big talk that big corporations do about valuing families, the truth is that the family they value most is the 1950s “organization man” model. Men are expected to be on duty regardless of family circumstance – what Wellesley College professor Rosanna Hertz calls the “test of manhood” at work. The test disadvantages fathers, who fear being seen as a less serious employee for choosing to spend time with their kids over extra hours on the job. And the fears are well grounded. Women have been facing that choice for years, and though it’s not seen as abnormal as it is for men, the consequences are still shocking. For women who drop out of the workforce even for a year, the penalty is a whopping 32% of total earnings for the next fifteen years. It’s no wonder in an economy that demands every penny for families to survive, fathers aren’t anxious to jump on the Daddy track and that role is usually left to Mom, who in turn suffers at work with less money and lowered opportunities.

Balancing work and family has traditionally been seen as a personal problem, one that does not concern the employer. But if corporate America wants to remain competitive, it needs to rethink what employees value, and stop giving lip service to families while giving rewards to those that pretend family doesn’t exist. Over two-thirds of fathers work more than 40 hours per week, a fourth work over 50 hours -- most because of expectations or requirements, not personal preference. If more men were allowed to take paternity leave (a mere 7% of workplaces offer it), or encouraged to use family leave (rarely taken by men, even though they’re entitled), it would start to become “normal,” meaning more acceptable. Fathers would not automatically be viewed as less dedicated or less promotable (as mothers are now) if everyone, including the boss, set the standard. This would not only give men some much-needed relief, it would level the playing field for women who now pay what some have dubbed the “motherhood tax” in the form of lower pay and fewer promotions at work. 

It’s been tried in a very few companies, with excellent results. Ernst & Young, the global consulting firm with 23,000 U.S. employees in 95 locations, added two weeks’ parental leave at full pay in 2002. In the first year, 46% of those taking the benefit were male. How did they do it? “We advertised it, encouraged it, and reminded men – from administrators to partners,” said a spokeswoman. In other words, the company validated its acceptability for fathers, and sent a message that careers and fatherhood are not mutually exclusive. If that idea caught on in the workplace generally, it could help women even more. Not only would child care be shared by many working couples, but women would lose less pay and not be stigmatized as much and seen as non-serious employees when they take advantage of family leave. After all, the men will be doing it too.

Making those great sounding “family benefits” truly meaningful in the workplace would not only help working women and men and make companies more competitive, it would help society. More time with parents equates to less time on the streets and fewer nights with only the TV as a dinner companion for kids. Role modeling for sons and daughters would be no small benefit as well. Both might grow up expecting a more balanced care-giving equation, instead of the “men own the jobs, women own the kids” model corporate America is still stuck on.
Copyright © 2005 Martha Burk   

Volunteerism—Before you say NO, consider this: Volunteerism is Good for Your Career, Good for Business, and Good for the Community

Guest post by Marion Gold
Watch her interview on The Woman's Connection YouTube Vlog

Have you noticed your mailbox at home and at the office swelling with dollar-seeking pleas from non-profit organizations? Are organizations knocking at your door, asking you to volunteer your time? 

More and more, fund-raisers and volunteer-dependent organizations are targeting career women, entrepreneurs, and small business owners, as they compete for your time and money. 

Volunteering for a cause in which you believe provides the important satisfaction of giving something back to society, helping your community, and helping disadvantaged citizens. But if that doesn’t warm your heart, consider this—volunteerism is also good for business, and good for your career! Businesses large and small, as well as individuals and entrepreneurs, are all learning the value of being good citizens, or “Corporate Citizenship.” While many small businesses owners and self-employed individuals cannot afford large, or even moderate, dollar donations—volunteerism provides a great opportunity to increase your professional visibility and be a good citizen at the same time, without the need for deep pockets. Moreover, just like the corporate giants, small business owners, entrepreneurs, and career women should take note that it does not diminish your good deeds by sending out press releases and getting more than just a little publicity about your efforts.        

Before you toss the literature and letters in the wastebasket, take a closer look! Simply put, in order to gain community or professional visibility, or to sell a product or service, people have to know who you are, and they have to feel good about you. AND you have to feel good about yourself. Volunteering for a cause you believe in provides both professional and public exposure, as well as the personal and important satisfaction of giving something back to society. One does not preclude the other—if you choose your charities wisely. Carefully consider where you will have the most impact helping others, and gain the most exposure.  Building a career or a new business does take time and energy, and it is easy to feel there is little left to donate. This is a mistake! And for two reasons: (1) there is nothing so satisfying as helping others in need and really being part of the community, and (2) it will help you and your company! There is nothing wrong with doing good deeds and getting the public and professional recognition that go with it.  

Women business owners certainly have caught on. Volunteerism has been integrated into their lives and businesses. According to the National Foundation for Women Business Owners, “nearly six million women business owners volunteer, making significant contributions to the fabric of their communities.”  Nearly eight in ten women business owners spend time volunteering and encourage a majority of their employees to do so as well. Half volunteer for more than one charity.  Overall, nearly two-thirds or 65 percent of women business owners spend time helping a community-related charity; other charities include education-related (35 percent), religious (28 percent), health or disease-related (21 percent) and the arts (19 percent). There are lots of opportunities! 

Now let’s get down to the nuts and bolts. Keep in mind that volunteerism, if not done carefully, can be an unfocused activity that is nothing more than recreational at best. But carefully thought-out, it can be a powerful professional opportunity as well as a worthwhile community service. Below are guidelines for deciding which national or local organization to join, or which charity will be the recipient of your time and money.

Jot down how much time and money you are willing to spend on the organization and its activities.

Choose a committee that fits within that budget.

Look for the activities that will get recognition.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew. This is a responsibility and a commitment that you must fulfill.

Corporate “giving” has additional considerations. If you are considering corporate, as compared to individual sponsorship of a charity or organization, take your thinking a bit further.

Does your company’s philosophy mesh with
the organization’s mission?

Is the charity a group that is well-respected in the community?

Does it have a IRS tax-exempt status?

Is the group audited by a public accounting firm?

members and vendors or other companies? 

"Does the group have active directors, or are they in name only?

Be sure to get an annual report, financial statement, budget, and copy of IRS not-for-profit filings.

 If all this sounds very calculating, IT IS! After all, we are talking about your time and dollars—as well as making a difference in people’s lives. Just because you are providing a service to a worthwhile cause by serving on an organization’s board or committee, helping the disadvantaged directly, or providing dollars or an in-kind service, doesn’t mean you should not use the experience to further your business or career. 

Not only will you get publicity and recognition, but you will be giving publicity to the charity as well. This is a part of building your professional image, and it is an important part of doing business in your community.

Will people think you’re bragging? Will you look foolish waving your own flag? They might. But with careful planning, a public or professional image can be created without losing credibility and self-respect. Think about the image you want to create, explore your own comfort level with public exposure, and assess the communications   potential of your efforts. This is part of “positioning,” and it is the basis for all good marketing efforts—whether you are marketing yourself or your company.
Copyright © 1999 Marion Gold & Company Marketing Communications

Vocabulary and Its Importance

Guest post by Anne Sawyer

Introduction

Language is our most-used and best communication tool. We begin using rudimentary words as infants and toddlers to get our needs met, often changing bottle to baba or water to wawa, as we gain linguistic control. As we grow older, it becomes more and more important to be able to articulate clearly what we want to express – whether it be to teach, give directions or instructions, to express emotions, or for gain – to flatter or bargain. Human beings are social animals and we yearn to connect with other humans, to understand them and to be understood.

Why is it important to have a good/strong vocabulary?

We are judged not just on the external cues, such as appearance, age, gender and race, but also by other categories, including education, social position and what we do for a living. The ability to move fluidly between social strata and turn situations to our advantage has a great deal to do with context, and how we speak, because this is one of the crucial ways in which we present ourselves. Just as you wouldn’t choose to wear a wedding gown to a job interview, or a bathing suit to the beach, you would be wise not to speak to your boss in the same ways and language that you use with your four-year-old child. Each situation demands different language choices, and the greater your vocabulary the more choices you have. Just as we want our doctor or our automobile mechanic to answer our questions in “layman’s terms”, there are times when it is necessary to skew ones word choices to the situation at hand.

How can one tell if one’s vocabulary is inadequate?

The New York Times can serve as a good litmus test. If you find that you are reading an article or novel and come across so many unfamiliar words that you lose track of the story, that’s one sign. When I was younger and came across a word that I did not know, rather than looking it up in the dictionary, I would just skip it, thinking that it wasn’t important. Of course that led to my missing important plot points on many occasions.

If, in social situations or at work, you find that you are hesitant to join the conversation because you don’t follow all the words that the people around you are using, or you hesitate because you are afraid of appearing stupid, that’s a sign.

If you find that you use the same words over and over to express yourself, words like “wow”, “yeah”, “awesome” and “like” – and you’re not a 13 year-old, then you may need to bolster your vocabulary.

What if you know words, but are hesitant to use them in conversation?

In a case like that, it would be helpful to look the word up in the dictionary, consult the definition, examples and pronunciation given, and begin to insert the word into conversation. Start with a new word each week or every few days, and don’t use it to impress people, but when the word truly serves to express exactly what you mean. For example, a word that you hear all the time, but probably don’t use often is “ubiquitous” which means omnipresent or “present everywhere” – not like God or oxygen, but as in cellular phones or handheld palm devices. 

What are some tricks to improving vocabulary?

If you really want to improve your vocabulary then you need to become very aware of language. Listen for new words when you are out in the world or when watching television. Write them down when you can and later, look them up in a good dictionary. You can try to infer the meaning of the word from the context in which it is used, or the conversation around it.

Reading is the number one way to improve vocabulary. I recommend fiction – novels and short stories, as well as journalism – major newspapers, magazines that include fiction selections, such as The New Yorker, …. And make note of unfamiliar words so you can look them up.

If the situation is appropriate, such as with a friend or colleague in private conversation, then don’t hesitate to ask the person for the meaning of an unfamiliar word they have used. Even I have developed the ability to just ask – there are so many words in our language, that there’s always a new one just around the corner.

Other ways to improve are to engage in word related activities – such as playing Scrabble, doing the crossword puzzle in the newspaper, buying a Word of the Day calendar, subscribing to an online vocabulary booster, reading books of puns and jokes and then telling them to others.
 

The Good News about Being a Woman Speaker: How So-Called "Feminine Traits" Translate into Speaker Strengths

Guest post by Lois Philips, Ph.D.
Author of Women Seen and Heard: Lessons Learned from Successful Speakers

“Listen up. My presentation will change your life.” 

No doubt about it: in order to be successful at work, or in a community leadership role, women must master presentation skills. This is not an easy thing to do because public speaking is a function of the male role, and what we expect men to do. Society encourages boys to become leaders, but being assertive in terms of telling people what to do, how to spend their money, and whom they should vote for (or not) is still a relatively new posture for girls and women. As they move into occupational and professional roles formerly occupied by men only, and see the potential for leadership roles in all facets of life, girls and women don’t have a choice. Women need to be more assertive in finding a “public voice.” The good news is that women speakers don’t need to mimic men but, rather, can capitalize on the very “feminine” traits that society has devalued for centuries. Many of those same traits are speaker strengths. 

“Feminine” behaviors such as “batting your eyelashes,” subordinating one’s interests to others, focusing on conventional standards of beauty, being coy and evasive are media inventions and aren’t what we’re addressing here. Those behaviors don’t help women to succeed in life as people with intelligence and leadership capabilities. Let’s focus, instead, on a cluster of feminine traits that sociologists indicate is a preference for “sociability.” 

In personal conversations, women relate; they don’t dominate. Effective public speaking requires that the speaker is also relating to listeners: empathizing, making connections, solving problems, sharing experiences, and finding common ground. Ask yourself: Do you capitalize on a range of “feminine traits” that can help you to be effective at the podium? Take this self-assessment quiz to find out. 

Reflect on your presentation style. Which of these statements describes you? 

1.I enjoy talking with people.
2. I am willing to share personal anecdotes and disclose personal information if it will help me to make a point.
3.I do worry about what other people think.
4.I do like to find out what I have in common with people with or to whom I’m speaking.
5.I think about consequences of decisions, and how they might impact other people.
6. I appreciate the practical details of everyday life and how things happen.
7. I prefer to empower other people rather than taking credit for knowing it all.
8. I make things happen through my relationships with people, not (necessarily) through status, position, or power.

SCORING: Give yourself one point for each statement to assess whether you are able to integrate what have been described as “feminine” attributes into your presentations.

0-2 Seek opportunities to be whom you are when speaking to groups and audiences. Start by volunteering to be on a panel, speaking to a group of people with whom you are familiar so you can experiment with a “relational” approach.

3-5 When you tackle a problem or propose a solution, you’re confident at the podium, expressing feelings, disclosing relevant information, and relating to people in a personal way that makes you able to connect.

6-8 Congratulations! Your presentation style effectively incorporates feminine traits; your presentations are thoughtful, you relate to people, and you can personalize dry material. You have the potential to be a leader who can influence others to think differently and take action regarding the extraordinary range of issues facing us as a society. Time to meet the media!

Are my conversational skills an advantage at the podium?

As a result of the female socialization process, a conversational style of speaking will be familiar. Good speakers adopt that off-the-cuff “I’m interested in you, this-isn’t-just-about-me” tone to create a sense of intimacy that people appreciate. In conversation and delivering presentations, curiosity is an advantage. Women know how to keep a conversation going, using segues that bridge from one topic to another with a “That reminds me of ….” and “Has this ever happened to you?” The same skill set is a plus when you address a group conveying an “off the top of my head” approach. People leave thinking, “Now that’s someone I’d like to get to know better.”

Women appreciate the give-and-take of informal conversation. The speakers I’ve interviewed said that they prefer to deliver an impromptu speech, rather than read from a prepared manuscript. Perhaps this preference for interaction is why women do so well during the Q and A phase, after delivering their prepared remarks. Because women approach “speechmaking” as if it were an extension of having a conversation, they tend to scratch out their remarks on the backs of envelopes or scratchpads, rather than writing out their remarks word-for-word. This casual attitude can backfire as those envelopes are rarely saved, explaining why it is difficult to find a collection of women’s speeches, except perhaps for the most formal Commencement or Memorial addresses or those in the Congressional Record. Are you saving your presentations? You never know when they will come in handy, perhaps published as transcribed or rewritten as an article for your organizational newsletter.

Even in formal communication settings such as a public hearing or a conference, “feminine” qualities can be demonstrated when an outline of key points is used only as a guide so that the speaker can look listeners in the eye, rather than reading from a prepared manuscript Even more than the desire to convey information, the more feminine speaker will want to build a trusting relationship with her audience. She knows that those relationships will serve her well in implementing any proposal she has presented. To make contact with people, and using her notes as a reference point, she will look at individuals in the audience, one key point at a time. And listeners remember what is said when the speaker is looking directly at them as she makes her point.

President Ronald Reagan was lauded for his delivery skills, making each person in the audience feel as if he were talking directly to him or her in a conversational tone. Interestingly, we later learned that a woman, Peggy Noonan, wrote many of Reagan's most outstanding speeches. Her words empowered Reagan with a feminine style of empathy and caring that made an impact, across party lines.

Am I being strategic – or self-indulgent- when sharing personal anecdotes?

Women disclose what they know. Hoarding information? No way? That’s a man’s game. Whether you just discovered a new outlet for designer shoes, the best interest rate for first-time homebuyers, or the cure for cancer, you like to share what you know. It’s what women do. Of course, going on and on and on is never a good idea when listeners are busy people wanting you to get to the point. 

Women have grab bag of personal stories they can use to make an otherwise dry subject come alive for an audience. They remember these stories because they were instructive, occurring at choice points in their lives; as a result they can recall them instantly, and the stories become tighter and more pointed with each telling of the tale. Stories can form the basis for sustaining friendships and family life and are a way of revealing values and character. What better way to get to know a leader than through the personal examples she provides? 

Former Governor Ann Richards has admitted that the years after her divorce were a time when, "I smoked like a chimney and drank like a fish." Through self-deprecating humor, she makes it clear that this destructive time in her life is behind her; she went public with this situation before the press used it to destroy her credibility. Women are comfortable using their life experiences as a strategy for making a point, which works well at the podium. Being candid about one’s imperfections makes the audience trust the speaker as someone who is “just like us.”

Statistics are abstract and often misleading; they don’t do justice to the complexity of problematic situations. Stories help statistics come alive. Describe the economic and social consequences of being a teenage mother when you describe “Mary”. Explain the idiosyncrasies of a family business by describing three generations running “The Chang Restaurant Business.” What does the war in Iraq mean unless you tell us describe the life of a young soldier from our neighborhood. Pie charts don’t help your audience to care about the impact of a particular policy on real people. Personal examples soften up the listeners’ apathy or resistance to changing their point of view.

For example, Susan Lowell Butler was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and initially given a poor prognosis. Using a dynamic presentation style, she speaks to conference audiences, sharing the challenges she faced in moving from diagnosis to treatment. The importance of funding cancer research takes on new meaning when she asserts, “I wasn’t going to be a statistic.” Butler is now an advocate for increased funding for cancer research, and listeners are more likely to join her. Women are more likely to respond to a human face than to the most shocking statistic presented as an abstraction. Do you have a personal story that will support your key points?

Can my relationship skills help me get my message across? 

Political speakers pay media coaches big bucks to learn how to “stay on message,” but this is less important to women who want their message to make sense to their listeners. After all, your listeners are going to be most affected by a proposed change in a way of understanding a problem or taking action. You propose “Elect me!” or “Invest in my product (service)!” In order to achieve your goals, you need your listeners’ buy-in. Staying on message is less important than whether the listeners can relate to you. Will they care? Can they relate to you? Women worry about what other people think, and doing so is probably a good strategy for any speaker.

For example, you may want to speak about controversial issues but cultural obstacles can get in the way of being seen and heard. Television producer Christina Saralegui speaks about breast cancer and gay issues in ways that get people involved because she relates to and respects the Hispanic culture of modesty. As a Hispanic woman, Saralegui wants to build bridges when she explains, “We’re all parents and we have the same problems. I try to appeal to the common denominator…. everyone is in this together.”

Should I worry about what other people think?

Maybe it's true that women tend to worry more than men do about what others think, and conventional wisdom indicates this anxiety impedes women’s ability to be decisive leaders and make those tough decisions. Interestingly, twenty years ago the groundbreaking book called “In Search of Excellence” pointed out that the best managers walk around the office and find out what people are thinking and feeling. No big news to women; we’ve always operated that way. As a result of caring about what others think, women speakers are more likely to have learned about the audience beforehand to know what they’re getting into. Knowing what people are worrying about allows the speaker to be better prepared for what might be asked during the Q and A. No need to operate in a vacuum before making a decision. Good leaders have always known this and, as a result, their presentations have been more effective in persuading people to join with them.

Before discussing something as complex as, for example, the new Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 which provide guidelines for oversight of Corporate Boards, a speaker will want to know about her audience’s level of sophistication. Did anyone in the audience lose their pension as a result of recent scandals? Are they worried, confident, or in denial? Women speakers know how important it is to meet with members of your audience before a presentation to scope out their interests, needs, perspective and sophistication. Schmoozing with people during a break in the meeting or conference can help the speaker gather anecdotal material and test her position. Will it fly? Can she explain complex terminology in everyday terms? 

What do I have in common with my listeners? 

A conversation in which people relate to one another’s concerns about what really matters is how women learn, strategize, and plan and share resources. Jargon, acronyms, and spreadsheets are guaranteed to put people off. We’ve all been a member of a family, we’ve all worked, been to school, paid taxes, earned licenses or credentials. Find that common ground and hold firm but keep the connection as simple as possible. As former Governor Ann Richards said, “Explain the issues in language your mama can understand,” and people will pay attention. Consider levels of education, work sophistication, parenting, age, socioeconomic factors. Are you managers or support staff? Prefer people to products? Find that common ground, or you won’t have a leg to stand on when your listeners competing interests, the upcoming coffee break, or the fascinating person seated next to them draws their attention away from you- the presenter.

The “relational” approach to public speaking is more engaging than the “talk at” approach to which we’ve grown accustomed. The latter is not how women typically communicate. Talking “with” is more like it. “What’s on your mind?” we ask, and then we can take it from there in linking our topic to those concerns.

Why brag about myself when I can brag about other people?

Women tend to be unassuming and self-disclosing, perhaps to a fault. Modesty, by definition, means freedom from conceit or vanity. Considered a feminine virtue, modesty can be appealing to audiences when they realize that a speaker is admitting that she's new at the leadership game, particularly when she says, "I'm human, I can make mistakes, and I don't know everything, so let's figure this tough problem out together." That's quite different from the speaker who masquerades as open-minded when listeners know a proposal is “a done deal.” Arrogant speakers think they have an edge on knowing more than anyone in their audience. That approach may have worked in the old days, but audiences today deserve more credit. Everyone sitting in front of you is an expert in something. Modesty assumes a position of mutual respect: people appreciate being respected by the “expert” at the front of the room.

Some speakers forge ahead with a canned speech, no matter what the audience's unique perspective or demographic composition might be. In a post-Enron era of scandals at the top, audiences want to hear from new leaders who are outside the system, and women leaders will certainly have a fresh take on a range of social and economic problems. 

More often than not, women brag about their staff or other volunteers instead of their own accomplishments. What’s wrong with sharing recognition? A more modest approach can be appealing to listeners, particularly if they are among those being applauded. Taken to extremes, modesty can backfire, but still, let’s take the middle ground, and leave grandiosity and posturing to men.

Are the practical details of everyday life important to my listeners?

Women haven’t had access to great wealth so they tend to be more practical and can paint various scenarios for their audiences. Since women speakers of diverse backgrounds share a perspective that lies outside of “ the establishment” (historically populated by white males), they can draw attention to situations that are often ignored. Women tend to become advocates for change in areas that directly affect their everyday lives. It’s not just health care; it’s a question of “How can my mother—and yours—pay for her prescription drugs on a fixed income?” It’s not just employment in general; it’s a question of “How can I fund my small business?” It’s not education in general, it’s “How can I get my school Board to fund after-school programs?” It’s not just the issue of affordable housing, it’s “How can I qualify for my first homeowner’s loan?” It’s not just safety, it’s “What will it take to install more lighting in our parking lots?” It’s not just the issue of child-care, it’s “How can we as parents organize high-quality, affordable childcare for employees in our corporation?” If women don’t address the more practical details and implementation of broad policy issues as they affect us in our daily lives, who will? 

Think it's impossible to make dull, dry, technical and financial talks more relevant to the lives of families and women? Women speakers are more likely to give hard, cold statistics a human face because they see numbers in terms of human equations: A equals B. 

Architects who design complex buildings are the first to admit that “God is in the details.” Present a visionary plan and people immediately become anxious about the future. They wonder: How do we implement this new product or service? What are the steps? Who will be affected? How long will it take? What compromises will we have to make? As you present the blueprints for change, know that listeners are more willing to help you if they know what they’re getting into and presenting the practical side –including attention to details - mean fewer surprises later.

Can my relationship skills help me to gain credibility as a leader- i.e., as “the voice of authority?”

Good speakers—and this is true of both men and women—aren't aloof. They know how to build relationships with the audience before and during the presentation. At the podium, Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Dole share anecdotes about people they’ve met that illuminate how policy and legislative decisions play out in everyday life. Hillary talks about her mother’s experience growing up unloved and poor, and how she, in turn, became committed to improving the foster care system. Liz Dole walks the room “Oprah style” and gets up close and personal. Each professional speaker has staff members help him or her learn about their audiences. 

You can do the same thing by making some phone calls beforehand and after your presentation to build and maintain relationships. People create momentum around the change efforts you are proposing but people don’t go out of their way for people they can’t relate to. Whether attitude or behavior, change doesn’t happen overnight. A dynamic presenter builds new relationships with like-minded people who come up afterwards and ask, “I liked the way you presented your case. Where do I sign up? I want to work with you on this.”

Women today don’t just want a level playing field or a seat at the table: they want to be at the head of the table or at the microphone. Feminine attributes and qualities such as relating, disclosing, and caring—coupled with an outsider’s point of view—ensure that dynamic women speakers are seen, heard, and remembered.
[1] Excerpted and adapted with permission.

The Magical Job Hunt

Guest post by Janina Renée
Author of By Candlelight: Rites for Celebration, Blessing & Prayer

Job hunting can be a grueling and discouraging process, but we can turn it into more of a game and a quest by approaching it with a magical mindset.

For example, job hunting is something of a "numbers game." Many of us have to send out hundreds of cover letters, resumés, and applications, and then go to numerous interviews before we get an offer. When we are rejected, it is not necessarily that we are unqualified, have made a bad impression, or are being discriminated against, it is just that there are such huge numbers of qualified applicants for the jobs available. However, a numbers game can be turned into a blessing game. Every time you sign another cover letter (and you should generally always include a cover letter because it "sells" your application or resumé), you can say, "As I send this out, I extend my blessings. Abundant blessings to one and all." When you go in person to put in an application or show up for an interview, you can pause, squeeze the door handle, and think, "Abundant blessings!"

By getting around, you are opening more channels for the inflow of your own luck. However, do all of these things without expecting anything in return. Here, you measure your job hunting success not by how quickly you get hired by an ideal employer, but by how many blessings you are able to spread around.

Occasionally you may encounter an employer where you observe or suspect unfair hiring practices or exploitative conditions. Even though such employers might rightly deserve a curse instead of a blessing, bless them anyway, perhaps by saying something like, "AcmeCo and Mr. X., chief of AcmeCo, are magically blessed; may they now do right by others, and be a blessing to our community." (This does not mean you can't report them to the appropriate authorities, if their practices are overt enough to provide proof of wrong-doing.)

You can keep count of all the companies you've blessed by keeping a log of the letters you've sent out and visits you've made. To better visualize your achievement, you could create a material record by setting out an abacus, or stringing beads on a necklace or garland (interviews get bigger beads), forming a chain of paper clips, or coming up with some other visual counting device. You could also mark the places that you've applied to on a map, so that you can see how you have extended your magical presence as a bestower of blessings in your community. As you contemplate your map or list of jobs applied for, (or your garland, paper clip chain, or whatever), don't be pessimistic and say, "50 companies have turned me down!" Rather, say, "Wow, I've contacted (and blessed) 50 companies! I wonder if I can contact 50 more?" Indeed, you can take the view that the job hunt is just a ruse, an excuse to get out and around, to get to know more places than are normally accessible to the public.

There is a magical psychology behind this. When we are desperate to get work, we put out subtle signals, and the people in charge of hiring pick up on them and judge us unfavorably. Indeed, one study showed that human resources people routinely made job offers to actors who were secretly sent in as part of an experiment, rather than the real job seekers. Because the actors weren't worried about getting hired, they didn't convey a sense of anxiety--unlike the people who actually needed the job. Thus, if we can make the job hunt more playful, the desperation vibes are diminished. Of course, once you do get a good job offer, whether sooner or later, you can set the game aside and graciously take the job, thanking your Higher Powers or the Living Universe.

Here are some additional suggestions for job hunting with a magical mindset:

After each interview, consider it a blessing if you can discover at least one way to improve your self presentation, skills, or answers to interview questions. 

Maintain a sense of openness, without an expectation that you have to have a particular job or a particular kind of job. This way you make it easier for your Higher Powers to lead you to some other interesting possibilities.

It has been said that "the best way to get a job is to get a job." It is an unfortunate fact that unemployed people are often perceived as losers. However, if you are able to get any kind of a job at all, whether that be a part time, temporary, lower paid, or less prestigious position, you will be perceived as more desirable, and will therefore be in a position to find a better job. The situation can be compared to the common phenomenon of persons who have a hard time finding dates, but once they do get into a steady relationship, they suddenly start attracting all kinds of interest from the opposite sex.

Volunteer work magically primes the pump, because it affirms that you are working. It can also get you out into the wider world, help you make contacts, and build references.

From an astrological viewpoint, the more companies you contact and the more people with whom you interview, the greater the chance that you'll hook up with some whose planets are in a friendly, fortunate aspect to your own, (as all of us have many planets in different positions in our horoscopes). Again, it's a numbers game.

The Employee

Guest post by Erica Bardin

When asked to write an article for The Woman's Connection® based on my perspective of being a working woman in the corporate environment, I was horrified; I felt empty of any exciting anecdote or interesting overview of my job. I knew I should have some feeling of empowerment or a surpassing of societal expectations, but truthfully, I was more intrigued about what kind of dessert would be served at the power-networking event where I met Barrie Switzen. The result of staring at this communication cement wall you ask? - I procrastinated typing the article for practically six months. In light of that half of a year stall, I have finally found some material much more real and interesting to relate as a working female in a male dominated industry - the working world is the world. 

I'm not going to discuss the corporate incompetence embedded in female stereotypes or I'm certainly not going to beat the dead horse of double standards. I'm also not going to offer an uplifting story of how I stormed into the battle known as the conference room and conquered the dueling partners with my artillery of PowerPoint. What I will bring to the table is how the gender relations and struggles for power I have experienced in the working environment are no different than those that I have faced in my personal life. 

In combating these recycled struggles in the workplace, certain female characters we can rest assured will emerge in any company. The following are some familiar faces: the Victim, Captain Defensive, Signourney Weaver's character from Working Girl, and the Employee (all of which I have embodied at some point in my short career). Through these women we see how female challenges (much like our monthly visitors) never seem to -end. 

The Victim- While meeting with potential partners, clients, CEO's, and internal superiors, she clings to the excuse that due to the less than adequate female stereotype she won't ever be able to reach that next rung on the ladder. She is a deer in the headlights, hoping her co-worker will fill in the gaps. She flashes us back to the lone female adolescent in a student group project stunned by the lack of eye contact and acknowledgement of her male partners. She nervously sits in silence while those around her have exchanged an understanding of their strategy through high fives? "Stacey, you're taking notes, right?" Stacey originally brewed up some brilliant ideas on presenting the stages of photosynthesis with pizzazz, but is now furiously taking notes in a state of defeat.

Captain Defensive -This frustrated female finds herself immobilized by her exaggerated interpretation of the "setup to fail" association with women trying to succeed in a man's world. We all know women who, when asked by her husband if she has gotten the oil changed barks back, "I know what to do! It's not on my list to do until Wednesday!" That wasn't the question. 
Sigourney Weaver's Character from Working Girl - This vixen is - also known as the classic power-hungry woman angrily climbing the corporate ladder to prove to the masses that women can do it better than men. She loses sensitivity and assumes an overabundance of rigidity. People will listen, processes will be followed, and deals will be won. She reminds us of that nauseating high school girl who begins campaigning for that homecoming tiara freshman year. She delegates a campaign strategy for the student council that mimics Julius Caesar's acquisition tactics. In the office setting, this homecoming queen has now turned into the Sheik of micromanagement. She communicates via the Outlook task manager and has to include on her list, "Remember to ask Jerry in Accounting how his wife is doing." 

The Employee - When the roller coaster of identity fears levels out, a working woman finds herself in a position of power as she finally feels like an employee first. This position is not in disregard of the inequities of power distribution and gender relations. This position also does not fail to celebrate womanhood. This position involves the beautiful execution of excelling at your job and relinquishing the emotional effort to fight the stereotypes that one blows up to nano-proportions. She knows that despite the inadequacies of social constructs, she is fully equipped to reach her goals. Finally she finds vengeance for the little girl who wasn't allowed to play on the boys' team. She now cunningly wins accounts and closes deals in the face of a sexist competitor who mistook her for a "secretary." 

Everyday, women go head to head with workplace inadequacies. We have been facing this combat our entire lives, and, in fact, we have formal training. The work environment is the collision of all worlds: gender constructs are a gift with purchase. Work echoes of the relations we experience in our family, with our friends, with our teachers, with our boyfriends and mentors. Essentially, female success at the office is success in the world. 

STRESS MANAGEMENT FOR WOMEN Utilizing Tai Chi/Qigong and Yoga for Total Relaxation of the Body, Mind and Spirit

Guest post by Cynthia Knorr-Mulder RNC, MSN, NP-C,CS, C.Ht
Watch her interview on The Woman's Connection YouTube Vlog!

When we talk about stress management one thing we always have to remember is that we can’t change stress. It is always there and always will be. However, what we can do is decrease our perception of it by utilizing complementary modalities that have been practiced for over hundreds of years to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Tai Chi/Qigong, which has been practiced in China for over 600 years, does exactly that. Moving through Tai Chi/Qigong postures gently works the muscles and helps to combine mental concentration with coordinated breathing. Often called meditation in motion, Tai Chi is becoming very popular in the US and appeals to women because the synchronized movements are easy to learn, perform, and can fit into busy lifestyles.   As women, we have a tendency to nurture all of those around us and in doing so we forget to nurture ourselves. Self-care plays a vital role in how we manage stress. Women all over have recognized the positive outcomes of self-care and are attending weekly classes for Tai Chi/Qigong and yoga. Women attending these classes state that they feel less stressed throughout the week and are better able to face the challenges ahead. Outcome research has shown that even after only one week, women will have a reduction in heart rate, blood pressure, anxiety, depression, fatigue and pain and a general increase in their overall perception of health.

I had a 42-year-old women who was referred to me by her physician for anxiety and high blood pressure. During her fourth week into a yoga program her blood pressure was within normal range and she was feeling less stress by utilizing the techniques she had learned in the program. As she expressed how wonderful she was feeling she stated, “Okay now I’m done, I just wanted to get better so I could go back for my doctors appointment next week with a low blood pressure”.  I advise participants that including these modalities into your lifestyle can indeed be very beneficial for stress management and total health although one must practice these modalities weekly if not every day in order to incorporate it into your philosophy of life. 

As a Complementary Medicine Nurse Practitioner I not only recommend these modalities for women seeking stress management, but I also feel that it significantly benefits women with chronic conditions.  It is an ideal practice for women at any age that experience increased stress resulting from chronic pain with arthritis, fibromyalgia, or back injuries. Women with this type of pain need a milder and more soothing exercise. Tai Chi/Qigong and Yoga facilitate low impact movements that increases muscle strength and balance while promoting general pain relief and an improved quality of life.

By participating in these modalities women report a decrease in pain, depression, anxiety and fatigue increased flexibility and an overall increase in their perception of health. These classes are an ideal lifestyle addition for women of any age to help decrease stress. Not only are the classes inexpensive, but they can be practiced almost anywhere at any time with no special equipment or clothing.

Tai Chi/Qigong and Yoga are not a vigorous workout like traditional exercise and participants reap the added benefit of balancing mind and spirit. Most female patients with chronic illness don’t want a vigorous exercise regime, but they want the benefits of exercising. If they don’t like to exercise they will not stick with any program designed for them. Since Tai Chi/Qigong and Yoga are something people really enjoy, they tend to stick with it.

In most classes you can find a large group of women ranging in age of 28-83 participating weekly to master gentle postures and movements with an emphasis on breathing and inner stillness. The women continue daily to practice Tai Chi/Qigong or Yoga, and state they would never go a day without it because it makes them feel physically, mentally and spiritually fit.

Not only do I advocate these modalities for my clients I also stress the importance of self-care and therefore can be seen weekly joining group sessions of Tai Chi/Qigong and Yoga and include meditation in my daily practice. Practicing these modalities increases my mind-body-spirit connection and reaffirms my commitment to self-care. This serves as the foundation of what I do as a complementary medicine practitioner and that is first and foremost to build a therapeutic relationship with each and every one of my clients.

Speaking Funny Ten Tips on Using Humor Effectively in Your Presentations©

Guest post by Fran Capo
Author of It Happened in New York City: Remarkable Events That Shaped History
Watch her interview on The Woman's Connection YouTube Vlog

My 20 year career as a stand-up comedian has taught me first hand, how to succeed with any kind of audience. When I moved into professional speaking, I quickly discovered the great advantage of professional speaking over comedy. In speaking you don't have to be funny! But if you are, you are considered a sensation. Knowledge and humor is a powerful mixture, and in speaking its a win-win situation.

Unlike a comedian, there is very little risk involved if a speaker bombs with a joke. If you "bomb" as a comedian you risk never getting booked again. If your humor fails as a professional speaker, simply continue with the presentation. No one however likes to hear a round of silence instead of one oflaughter. Here are some tried and true methods to give your humor the best chance to succeed on the platform.

#1 - You don't have to be a comedian to be funny. Anyone can tell a joke. Find your comic persona. What type of humor are you most comfortable with? Some speakers are better at one liners, some at observational humor, others excel at story telling. Timing is essential. The closer you stick to your natural timing, the more success you will have.

#2 - Know your audience! Are they blue or white collar? Liberal or conservative? What do they have in common? Are there regional sensibilities? The nature of your audience determines the type of humor. A colleague of mine jokingly yelled out "Last call at the bar!" Only to discover most of his audience were Alcoholics Anonymous members!

#3- Localize and personalize your materials. Audiences love to be included. Tailor your humorous anecdote. Make it seem as if it just happened. They will think you are incredibly talented. Mark Twain said, "The best improvisation is rehearsed for 48 hours." It is better to say "On my way here from Newark Airport" than "A month ago when I was in Dallas. " Personalize humor from a joke book or speaker's file. The audience wants to relate to you, and you want to relate to them.

#4 - Be prepared with a few "What IF" lines. IF the mike malfunctions, IF the lights go out, IF a fire alarm sounds, IF, IF, IF. Have stock joke answers that you will use in these situations.

#5 - There are many ways to speak funny. Make enlargements of relevant funny cartoons. Use props. Have silly pledges or awards. You are only limited by your imagination.

#6 - Humor is important because it keeps your audience interested. Your job is to impart information. Humor keeps a audience tuned into your message. The more attentive they are, the more they will retain.

#7 - Space out the humor. The beginning, middle and end of a speech are the strategic places for a joke. You want to start with a laugh to warm them up, throw some humor in the middle to keep them interested, and end with a laugh so they will have a nice, warm feeling.

#8 - Practice telling the joke on unsuspecting friends. Just like with your speech, practice your jokes and delivery. Don't tell someone you are going to tell them a joke, just work it into a conversation and watch their reaction. If they laugh, you know you have a winner on your hands and you've mastered the joke.

#9- Do not telegraph the end of the joke - surprise them. Suspense is the key in any good joke. If someone feels they know the punch line, the joke is a let down. The listener should be waiting to find out what the punch line is. 

#10 - Be yourself and have a good time. If the audience sees you are really enjoying being on stage, your enthusiasm will be contagious. If you are having a good time, then your audience will too. 

Follow these simple steps, and remember to always leave them laughing!

Six Tips To Insure You're Introduced With Impact

Guest post by Peggy Klaus
Author of Brag!: The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn without Blowing It
Watch her interview on The Woman's Connection YouTube Vlog

As an entrepreneur, I have counted on numerous friends and family members to be important sources for contacts and to spread the word about my business. Over the years, I've discovered I must literally put the exact words in their mouths to ensure they convey an accurate message about who I am and what I do. Well I guess it just shows that no matter how well you know the lesson, you can always screw up-because that's exactly what happened the other day at lunch. 

I recently offered to put together a meeting to introduce a writer friend to some clients of mine-four partners in a well-established marketing and public relations firm who were looking for a freelancer. I thought I had prepared for everything-from a restaurant close by to everyone's office to a pre-lunch email outlining three things we were going to discuss. The one thing I failed to plan was a bragologue about my friend. Bragologues are succinct, story-like monologues that memorably capture and portray a person's interests or accomplishments. So when my introduction of her tumbled out, it was less than stellar. I tangled the details of my friend's job experience so badly that by the time I was done, she had worked for 79 years. Also, I was uncertain about her current projects and so incorrectly placed her at a job she left more than three months ago. 

My friend graciously transitioned into telling her story without so much as a raised eyebrow or dirty look. Fortunately, after an hour and half of great damage control by the two of us, the partners asked her for a follow-up meeting the next week. As I was driving home, relieved that things had ended well, I couldn't help but reflect back on the situation. I realized my mistakes: I should have checked in with my friend prior to the meeting (and not just when we' were walking to the table). I should have written down her information and turned it into a bragologue. And I should have practiced several times out loud, paraphrasing the facts until they felt comfortable rolling off my tongue. Okay, so that's where I goofed. However, as much as I blamed myself, I had to admit my friend was also culpable. After all, it was her big chance to sell herself, so she should have given me articulate, entertaining, and up-to-the-minute bragologue material to work with. Truth be told, the couple of times I had asked her to go into more detail about her professional background, she sloughed it off saying, "Oh let's talk about something more interesting." Not a good sign! 

The day after the meeting, when I called to apologize for my mishap, my friend asked for feedback about how she had presented herself. I suggested including more about the exotic places she's lived in, flushing out one or two of the most interesting articles she had written, and dropping the names of a few of the prestigious publishing houses she's edited for. And when at her next meeting with the partners, she did all of that-it worked! They commented about her breadth of expertise and gave her the coveted first assignment. 

I can't stress enough the importance of making sure that people who are slated to introduce or talk about you-at a luncheon, an industry panel, a keynote speech, or even a cocktail party-have the facts straight. We tend to believe we have little control over what our friends, relatives, and colleagues say about us. Yet when others introduce you, they often either repeat what they have heard from you or make something up. So get your bragologues down, keep them current, and repeat them often. And make certain that everyone around you has the most up-to-date version. Remember: A successful word-of-mouth bragging campaign is contingent upon getting the right words in the mouth to begin with.

TIPS FOR GREAT INTRODUCTIONS
· Weave the details together in a story-like fashion to create a memorable bragologue.
· Be succinct. 
· Keep the content fresh and updated,
· Be clear with others about what you want them to emphasize about you.
· E-mail your bragalogue to everyone who might need it. 
· Don't get lazy about preparation-even with your spouse or best friend.

Six Essentials for Networking

Guest post by Christine Camaford-Lynch
Author of Rules for Renegades: How to Make More Money, Rock Your Career, and Revel in Your Individuality

Networking is about creating an extended family. It’s about developing connections, caring about people, increasing the size of your “tribe.” Most of all, networking is not the awkward social ritual many of us think it is—networking is actually FUN!

Here are my top six networking essentials to rock your career and your life. 

1. Practice “Palm Up” Networking. When you network, are you giving, or grasping? Palm up networking embodies the spirit of service, of giving and wanting nothing in return. When you network “palm down” you’re grasping for personal gain. Palm up = heart-oriented interaction. Palm down = greedy grasping. Which attitude results in building relationships, providing value, and ultimately bestows benefits on both parties? You guessed it. The universe has a perfect accounting system. Give to others, it’ll all come back to you in time.

2. Do Daily Appreciation. Appreciate at least one person daily. Sometimes I do this via e-mail so I can be thorough. And often, to my delight, the recipient will tell me that they are saving the message for when they need a pick-me-up. You can also express appreciation over the phone or in person. Simply tell someone how much you appreciate who they are, what they do, whatever about them moves you. They’ll be flattered and you’ll feel great. 

3. Equalize Yourself with Others. I believe we all have one unit of worth, no more, no less. No one can add to it, no one can take it away. We’re all equal. Just because someone is powerful, rich, famous doesn’t mean they are better than you. Practice equalizing yourself with others—this will enable you to more comfortably interact with others, and to reach out to people of all walks of life.

4. Rolodex Dip. This is a fun practice when you want to connect with someone but aren’t sure who. Flip through your contact database and pick a name. Then think of all the things you like about them. Now call them up to see how they are doing. They’ll be surprised and delighted.

5. Pick a “Sensei of the Day”: Each day I pick a sensei, a teacher. This is someone who has taught me a lesson or reminded me of something important in life. Your sensei can be a person, a pet, a plant, it doesn’t matter. The important thing is to acknowledge that there is much to learn and you are being offered valuable lessons constantly.

6. Do the Drive-By Schmooze. Parties, conventions, groups of all sorts are great opportunities to network, but sometimes you’ll be tired, not in the mood, or have too many events in one evening (like during holiday season!). This is when you’ll want to use the Drive-By Schmooze. Here’s how:

a. Timebox your networking. Decide that in 30 minutes you’ll do a check-in to determine if you need to stay any longer. 

b. Set your goal. Determine the number of new connections you want to establish. Remember, your goal is meaningful connections, not simply contacts.

c. Let your intuition guide you. OK, this may sound flaky, but it works! Stand near the door, in a corner, out of the way. Stop your thoughts. Internally ask to be guided to the people you need to connect with. Then start walking. You’ll be amazed at who you meet.

d. Connect. You’ll always resonate with someone at an event. When you do, ask questions about them, such as: How did you get started in your field? What’s your ideal customer? We all love to talk about ourselves, and these questions will not only help you form a connection with this person, but will also tell you how to help them.

e. Offer help and follow through. If you can provide help, jot down ideas on the back of their business card, commit to follow up, and then do it. If you’ve had a fruitful conversation and want to take it further, offer to meet for lunch or coffee. People say life is 90% about showing up. Nonsense! Life is 90% about following through!

Rejected? Throw A Party

Guest blog byChristine Lynch
Author of Rules for Renegades: How to Make More Money, Rock Your Career, and Revel in Your Individuality

You’re going to be rejected in life, heck it happens to me all the time. And if you haven’t experienced much rejection, I’ll bet you’re not taking many risks. Without taking risks you’ll lead a safe, predictable, and somewhat boring life. So let’s learn how to rock rejection. Read on.

I’ve been rejected zillions of times… such as when I was a 16 year old runaway in New York City. Of course I hadn’t figured out how I’d make a living before dashing out the door. The only job I’d had was working at a bakery, and pastry-pushing wasn’t going to cover the bills. The only other “skill” I had was what I’d learned in modeling school. After calling numerous agencies, one finally agreed to see me. Within three minutes I’d been dismissed as “too short” and “ugly.” When I heard those words the first thing I thought was “I can get around that.”

And that’s how I’ve dealt with rejection ever since. Could I have been destroyed by the dissing they dished out? Sure. But I had to eat. I had to find a way to make it in Manhattan. So I decided to rock the rejection. And it worked.

Fast forward several decades later, and here I am getting rejected still. So what? When someone says “no” I say “next.” Somebody out there wants what I have—I simply need to find them.

It’s one thing for me to tell you not to take rejection personally; it’s another to pull it off. The key is to desensitize. The first thing I do when rejected is to practice QTIP:

Quit
Taking
It
Personally

My preferred method of desensitization is to throw a Rejection Party. Yep, you heard it right. Party when you’re rejected and down—it’s the best way to peel yourself up off the floor.

How to Host a Rejection Party: Type A

Gather ten or more people together (more is better). They can be colleagues, friends, members of a networking or Mastermind Group, or even strangers with a desire to learn. 

Here are the rules: 

1. Each person in the group forms a question for something they want, such as “Will you invest $100,000 in my new company?” or “Will you buy my widget?”

2. Now walk around the room, approaching the other participants one-on-one and asking them your question. They’ll give you a “yes” or “no” answer, and will ask you their question too. You must give a “yes” or “no” answer. See step #3 for the rules on answering.

Keep a silent tally of the number of requests made of you. You can only answer “yes” if the person addressing you is making the ninth request. Say “no” to all others. Once you’ve said “yes”, start counting again and say “no” to the next nine requests. You can say “no” however you want—apologetically, curtly, kindly—it’s up to you. The goal is to simulate real-world rejection in order to become immune to it.

After repeatedly getting rejected, you’ll find it doesn’t hurt so badly. You come to realize that each rejection gets you closer to acceptance. Remember the Rock Rejection Mantra: 

Some will.
Some won’t.
So what?
Someone’s waiting. 

Keep asking and eventually you’ll get a “yes”. Thanks to Jack Canfield for teaching me this technique.

How to Host a Rejection Party: Type B

As much as I like Rejection Party Type A I extended it to this new version, which I find mirrors the world more realistically. The requester must ask for the same thing, but can change his or her pitch, trying on different approaches. For instance, the requester could say “Will you invest $100,000 in my new marketing company?” and the next time he or she could say, “Will you loan $100,000 to my new marketing company at 6% interest and a 10-year payback period?” The requestee is allowed to say “yes” if he or she finds the request compelling enough. He or she doesn’t actually have to follow through (i.e., fork over that $100,000), but must honestly be intrigued by the request.

I can’t tell you how incredibly effective Rejection Parties are—they’ve help hundreds of my friends and colleagues to desensitize, and to no longer be stymied or stumped by rejection. But the best part, of course, is the less you let rejection throw you, the more risks you’ll take. And risks are what rock our lives, help us find more meaning, help us reinvent ourselves, help us make a difference in the world.

So go ahead. Take risks. Get rejected. You know there’ll be a party afterwards!

Refreshing Your Search for Work- The Five Key Questions

Guest post by Karen Okulicz
Author of Decide! How to Make Any Decision

Labor Day is a special time that often times triggers a desire to put away the old and begin anew. Many people look to make changes in their career the same way they pick up the beach chairs and towels and get ready for the fall. They begin to start anew with a fresh attitude towards their job search whether it is for a change of work or to ramp up a current, stagnant search from unemployed to employed.

The Five W’s are:

“WHERE” do you want to work?

Easy question. Answer YES and NO. Why are you reaching out to companies with long commutes into the city, if you don’t want to work in the city” Why are you sending resumes to locations and companies that don’t interest you, are too far away, or meet your personal needs. Why are you spending time this way at all? Answer the question and stick to your guns. 

Every age in life has different responsibilities. If you are single and have no kids, then maybe the job on the road would be great for a year or so. But if you are married with kids and want to see them and your spouse every day, then you need to adjust your “Where” to fit. Right now offers the greatest job market for employment flexibility. You just have to decide to make it work for you. Answer the question “Where” so that you identify what is best for your personal needs.

Then ask yourself some more questions to get a closer fit. How will you get to this place, (e.g., by car, bus, train, walk, bike)? What will be wearing when you get there? What time will your get there? Do you want to work days, nights, or swing? These are the details you need to really know for each Where you consider. So, when at an interview and you are told you have to work late or weekends and this doesn’t fit for you. You might want to think about the work offered. 

“WHO” do you want to work with? No kidding, but you really do have a choice. Who will you be working with at every new place of work you consider? Maybe you would like be on a team or will enjoy liked minded people. Maybe you prefer large organizational structure? On the other hand, maybe you work best alone, out in the field with very little interaction or minute-by-minute supervision? Do you work with the same people every day or will you have mix of contacts?

You know what you like. You have to ASK these detail questions and get the answers so that you can make a good decision, know exactly what you are getting yourself in to, and are not surprised and chagrined by who you end up spending most of your time with each day. Got it?

“WHEN” do you want to be WHERE and with WHO? The answer is NOW. Get up. Get Moving. Make the call. Go visit. Go to where you want to be. See for yourself. Volunteer for a day and see if that “dream work” will suit you. Spend some real time observing and studying what the new workplace actually looks like, what you will be wearing and who you will be working for and who you get to work with. You must acquire real knowledge and data so you can visualize and create a complete picture which enables you to make a good decision that it really does fit your needs. 

Whatever you are doing right now, at this very moment will determine and create the future success. Every moment is a crucial step in the process of getting from where you are, dead-stop unemployed or out of a dull job, to something better, more fulfilling, more flexible and more rewarding. 

Do something NOW. Get the Answers NOW.

“WHY” do you want to work? The answer to this question determines the outcome of your search. Is it for the fame and glory? Do you need to get something part time until your “Great American Novel” is picked up by a mainstream publisher? Do you need to work full time until the kids graduate from college? Do you need to work for the money and health benefits only? Are you just trying to get out of the house and be a part of the world? Are you looking to save the world? What’s in it for you?

“WHAT” do you want to be? There are basically three different work choices that can lead you choose to the perfect WHAT. 

a. A Job: Give time, energy and muscle for money. It is something that you get to pay the bills. A job you take until you finish, school, apprenticeship or whatever. It helps you cover expenses. It may be mentally or physically demanding, but its rewards are financial only. It is ‘doin’ what you gotta do’ to just get through.

b. A Career: You go to school for training and acquire skills, knowledge, expertise, perhaps a specialty or a trade. You may find yourself in a career because you felt you may like it or it was suggested to you. It may be challenging for you, but you think there could always be a better way to go. You may like your career and are comfortable with the choice, but then be glad to retire someday.

c. A Life’s Work: Ah! The pinnacle of all employment! You get to do something you love. You get to choose where, what and with who. You get to have passion for the things you do. You get to love what you do and lose yourself in this work totally. A career maybe a life’s work but, a job will never become one.

Remember working is NOT a life sentence. It is a choice.

All of us want to work in something that fits us and fulfills us.

If you are stuck, not sure what to do or what you want to be, ask yourself, “On your worst day of your work, what did you say to yourself on the way home?” 

The answer to this question gives you the primary clues to what you should be looking to adjust for the better.

Did you say:

“I have to get out of here. I can’t take this place any more. 

“I can’t work with these people any longer?” 

“I want a break from this schedule, this commute, this routine?”

“I want a break from these commitments.”

“I want to make my kids’ baseball games, soccer practice, ballet class.” 

“I want to make my favorite yoga class, knitting circle, take a walk?”

“I want time for ……..

“I want to delete…..

“I need a break from…..

Now fill in the blank!

“I would love to find……

…. a closer commute

……better hours

……more interesting projects

….. better salary

“I need to learn….. 

“I should look into……

Pay attention. It is always on our worst days that we get the best clarity out of what bothers us. Issues can be dormant and hidden for long periods of time. On the worst day, what needs to change comes right to the surface. So pay attention. 

Now you begin to realize what is really not right for you. Now you get to focus on where you are right now and what needs to be adjusted.

This doesn’t mean you go into work the next day and quit. That only happens in the movies or with big time lottery winners.

This knowledge must give you is a new direction. This is the start of the new path to build something better. What do you do?

Answer the five questions. Write the answers down. The act of doing so will create physical movement that helps you move forward. You want to use the new feelings and discoveries help you change the current situation. Write it down.

You are gathering clues to what is next. What direction are you to take?

Probing for the answers is next. Whether you are unhappily employed, or under-employed, or unemployed, you must focus on the answers. Take pause. Let the questions rest. Take care of yourself. Spend some time on your favorite hobby. Don’t use food, or alcohol to cloud over your thoughts. Think clearly and focus.

The answers to some of these questions may lead you to feeling uncomfortable. You may realize that you will have to leave your comfort zone or leave people you carte about. You might not be able to go back to something you once loved doing. It may also be true that times have changed and the industry you knew and loved is gone.

Change is a challenge. But sometimes, it’s just time to go.

The Five W’s give you the best clues to the best approach for you.

This will save you time and unnecessary spent funds spinning your wheels in the wrong directions.

Get the answers, make the adjustments. It is simple and simplicity breeds success.

PowerPhrases® for Women: Decisiveness Speech for Better Results

Guest post by Maryl Runion

Dressed in a business suit with a brief case in hand, a dark-haired woman stepped up to the counter next to me at California Kitchen and said: 

Can I have a sausage pizza? 
And can I have a coke? 
And will you get me some fries? 

It was as if she was asking permission to place her order. I wondered how she spoke at her business meetings. Here is my guess:

May I make a few suggestions? 
I’d like to talk now, okay?

Or how about with her kids? 

Turn off the TV, will you please? 
Do you mind helping me? 
Can you be quiet? 

I wanted to give her a copy of my book, PowerPhrases®! The Perfect Words to Say It Right and Get the Results You Want

How often do you speak with indecisiveness and uncertainty? Women complain that men do not take them seriously at work. Women complain that their kids only respond to their Dads. This is because women are more prone to use tentative speech.  

While she says: I feel pretty good about this proposal
He says: My proposal will increase revenue by 32%

While she says, I don’t think you should be watching TV until your homework is done
He says: Turn the TV off right now and do not even think about turning it back on until your homework is done! 

It is said that men state opinion as fact and women state fact as opinion. Opinion stated as fact sounds judgmental, however, fact stated as opinion sounds weak. PowerPhrases® provide the middle ground where words are chosen to mean exactly what you want to say. Facts are stated as facts and opinion as opinion. Requests are made as requests and instructions are given as instructions. A PowerPhrase® is a short specific expression that gets results by saying what you mean and meaning what you say without being mean when you say it. One of the PowerPhrase® principles is that your words are as strong as they need to be and no stronger. Women often need to up the amperage; men often need to tone it down. 

Upping the Amperage
 
Kinda, sorta and maybe are Killer Phrases that weaken your message and keep you from being taken seriously. Instead of saying style: you might want to consider, say I recommend.  Instead of saying "I’ll try" say"I will" 

And take those tags off the end of your sentences that make you sound like you are asking permission, like "you know?" And "right?" 

If you are placing an order such as the woman at California Kitchen, do not imply you are seeking their approval of your order! Simply say,  I’d like a sausage pizza, a coke and some fries. 

If you want to make a point at a business meeting, again, do not ask permission; just make your point. Or you can request the floor decisively. Say: I need your complete attention here please. 

If you want the TV off, say it like you mean it. Turn the TV off I'd like it turned off now. 

Back yourself up with action. If they balk-they do it because they have learned that you do not mean what you say. 

If you need help and expect to get it, say so. Instead of asking if they mind helping you (which they probably do mind,) simply say: I need your help.

If you want them to be quiet, don’t ask if they can be quiet, (you know they can if they want to), say: I need you to be quiet. 

Let your voice carry your message. Say what you mean and speak with the decisiveness you feel and you will get more powerful results in the world. 

The Personal Publicity Factor(TM)

Guest blog by Marion Gold
Author of Personal Publicity Planner: A Guide to Marketing YOU
Watch her interview on The Woman's Connection YouTube Vlog

A must for businesswomen with their eye on the boardroom! 
Too often we are so busy climbing the corporate ladder, we tend to forget that part of our continued climb includes letting people outside the company know who we are and what we have achieved. This is the essence of public relations. It is the heart and soul of what I call Personal Publicity.

It’s easy to wrongly assume that a mentor (for those lucky enough to have one), or supervisor will take control and make sure that others in our industries become aware of our success and knowledge, how our talents contributed to the growth of the company, and what impact we can have on our chosen fields.

Well, guess again, my friends. You can attain a corner office, earn a handsome salary, and manage a large budget and lots of people, work 16-hour days, all without anyone outside of your company knowing just how talented and valuable you are to your industry. And that is exactly what you will need to achieve if you have your eye focused clearly on the career advancement.

First you need to obtain the world's attention—well, maybe not the whole world, but) our world. Then you need to convince that world that you have a contribution to make, and that they should pay attention to you. Women at all stages of their careers who want more visibility must take the first important steps towards developing a Personal Publicity Plan if they are serious about introducing their talents and commitment to the marketplace.

Will achieving Personal Publicity take time? Of course it will! But experience shows it is crucial for successful career growth. 

Will people think you’re bragging? Will they be jealous? Will you look foolish waving your own flag? A public or professional image can be created without losing credibility and self-respect. It takes thoughtful planning about the image you want to create, exploring your own comfort level with public exposure, and assessing the informational needs of your audience. This is called “positioning,” and it is the basis for all good marketing efforts.

Do you have to be GREAT? Take a look around you. Is every male Board member you read about a rocket scientist? Are all our politicians, who have been elected by millions of people, competent? Just read the business pages of this newspaper. I-low many million-dollar CEOs walk off with golden parachutes while their companies sink into oblivion, and the good people who worked for them take their places at the unemployment line? How many Board members are in “name only” with little to no contributions made to the companies they represent?

Sadly, we live in a world of mediocrity where image and tenacity are often more important than real talent, competence, and commitment.

Now, I am not professing that you sink to the levels of mediocrity that go before you. But if you are at least good at what you do, and have the heart to compete aggressively, and face adversity, and if you truly believe you have something to offer, you have a real shot at success—as long as you get the word out. And if you are really good... look out world!

Overkill at Work

Guest post by Karlin Sloan
Author of Smarter, Faster, Better: Strategies for Effective, Enduring, and Fulfilled Leadership

Mitchell thinks he's impressing his boss by e-mailing her on weekends.

Eileen believes she's protecting her job by being the last one to leave at night.

Najit feels she's nurturing her client relationships because she never says "no" to a request.

What's wrong with this picture? Why are we killing ourselves? And how do these things really make us look? I'm all for hard work and dedication, but the last thing I want to see from my team is people burning themselves out-or putting on a performance for my benefit. 

Today I hear more and more "overkill" stories. The good news? They beg a conversation about energy management-versus time management-and why it's an increasingly relevant concept in a global, technology-fueled work environment.

By all accounts, "energy management" is a term coined by Nina Merer, a corporate trainer and coach practicing in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Merer's energy management programs took traditional time management concepts and turned them on their head-reframing them for prioritizing people's energy resources.

Energy management is both art and science. To better manage your energy, you need an equal amount of input to output. Deplete your energy stores without "recharging" them, and you sabotage your ability to work efficiently and effectively. 

It's great to demonstrate commitment and competence to your company, but how do you know when "above and beyond" becomes overkill and puts your energy at risk? The answer lies in three questions:

1. Is what I'm doing sustainable over time? 

2. Is what I'm doing something that really adds value?

3. If what I'm doing isn't sustainable and doesn't add value, 
am I gaining something important from it?

If you can't answer "yes" to any of these questions, you've got something to think about-and that's boundary setting.

Setting Boundaries: Rules of the Road

Follow these three simple yet powerful rules, and you can avoid sacrificing your "ROEI"-return on energy investment.

1. Your time and energy are valuable.

If you don't protect your energy, who will? Unless you are superhuman, you need to set up some parameters about when you will-and won't-jump to the rescue or go beyond the call of duty. Everything feels important-your boss, your customers, and your short- and long-term deliverables-so how do you balance it all? Prioritize the time that most feeds your energy-versus simply doing or reacting-and set clear expectations of what you can and cannot do. 

A coach on my team recently told this story: Two principals in a mid-sized organization hired Ken, an outside consultant, to facilitate an upcoming team meeting. When the principals expressed concern about holding the meeting in the company conference room-a space they had custom designed and built for their new offices-Ken asked them why. "Because we always get interrupted when we're there versus offsite, and it makes it impossible to get anything done." The interesting assumption here is that they can't set boundaries when they're in the office, but they can when they're at a remote location. It's not that other things don't crop up when they're offsite, it's that they just don't know about them. Their challenge was to set clear boundaries at the office-absolutely no interruptions-and, to be able to use their new conference room to do productive work. 

2. You don't have to kiss up to look good.

I agree with Dr. Wayne Dyer, well-known author and speaker in the field of self-development, who says, "We teach others how to treat us." At work, you teach others to respect you by respecting your own time and energy-and refusing to be at others' beckon call.

Stan, one of my executive coaching clients, is a key account director for a big-name global consulting firm. One of his clients is very demanding and frequently calls Stan at night and on weekends. Instead of "redirecting" his client to reserve these calls for business hours, Stan makes himself available 24/7 and works hard to meet every request. Unfortunately, this behavior is not sustainable nor is it adding any value. Stan's core belief-the client always comes first-is admirable, but what happens when that belief actually ceases to serve the client? Stan is often so physically and mentally exhausted that he doesn't do his best work. With good intentions, he has created a dynamic in which his client expects him to go above and beyond at all times-at all costs. Stan's challenge is to create a new dynamic, set limits, and show his client that he delivers his best work when he preserves his time and energy. 

3. You have a choice-sustainability or burnout.

To perform at the top of your game, it's critical to work in ways that stave off fatigue and burnout. Sustainable work practices support your ongoing role and responsibilities over time-not just in the heat of the moment.

One key is to stop blaming others for your overwork, and start taking responsibility for setting your own boundaries. Doc Childre, an expert on optimizing human performance and personal effectiveness, teaches that blame is one of the biggest contributors to low or lost energy. Sure, there are those "human" moments when you point a finger or complain about something or someone. In the end, however, you do have a choice. You can choose when to go above and beyond, when to set and stick to your boundaries, and when to adapt to a certain work environment-or to leave that environment if what you're doing isn't sustainable or adding value, or you're not gaining something important from it.

Oh The Places You'll Go

Guest post by Dr. Dee Soder

Transitions are difficult, but with a few basics and the right attitude you will succeed.

Anyone contemplating a job change in the current economic climate should spend at least an hour a day-two if the handwriting is on the wall. And regardless of level or age, read Dr. Seuss' terrific book "Oh, The Places You'll Go". In humorous verse and pictures, he gives advice on weathering the ups and downs we all encounter during the course of our careers: confusion and uncertainty, unexpected success, loneliness, finding fun, meeting people, taking charge, and the Great Balancing Act.

Will reaching your goal be challenging -yes. Fun-no. Require work-yes. Is the work worth it? Yes!! Per Dr. Seuss:

"And will you succeed?

Yes! You will indeed!

(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)"


Tips for Moving On and Up

  1. Develop a self-summary that can be heard and easily repeated. If you're an analyst who's passionate about technology and good with creative people, say so. Test your self-summary on a clerk, neighbor, or manicurist-can they repeat it later?
  2. Have three introductions ready. One is very short, another is five minutes long, and the third is longer yet. For example, the shortest summary is for a quick intro at a party, the five-minute version when you just have a short time to talk and last is for an interview or if you're sitting next to someone at dinner. Most people neglect the first and second intros-and make their messages too lengthy.
  3. Make sure people know how to reach you. In emails, give time and phone number-translate any time difference and use their time zone. On voice mails, give your phone number early and slowly, repeat at end.
  4. Send thank-you notes promptly, generally the same day. Keep them short and don't over-sell in a thank-you note. Be careful with salutations. For example, "Hi Dave" to a potential boss or peer is wrong tone. Whether to use a note card, stationary, or email depends on the person and the context. For example, use email to write someone who is traveling and not apt to receive your note for a week. Generally thank-you notes sent by messenger or over-night delivery aren't appropriate and look too eager
  5. Waiting for an interview to start? Stand-you'll look and feel better ("How To Act Like A CEO", Fortune, Sept. 8, 1997.)
  6. Utilize an old IBM sales tactic-when you first enter someone's office, look around and notice what "doesn't belong". The hard hat, movie poster, or sailfish in an otherwise traditional corporate office has a story-ask about it. One client discussed sailing with the potential employer for 15 minutes before he was asked about work (he's since been promoted twice and gone sailing.)
  7. Have good questions. "What made you want to work here" is often a good early question because it gets the interviewer in a recruiting mind-frame. Questions about specifics during the interview will make it a conversation and demonstrate your diligence and knowledge of the company.
  8. Remember that executives often ask assistants and others for their impressions or to conduct an initial screen. Treat staff as professionals-they are. Patronizing flattery, condescension, manipulation attempts and similar behavior is inappropriate and unwise.
  9. Be the perfect, gracious guest when you visit a company. If the interviewer's assistant offers you a beverage, accepting a glass of water is perfectly fine. Requesting decaf, hazelnut-flavored coffee with skim milk and artificial sweetener sends the message that you're needy and high-maintenance.
  10. Don't fake it when asked about your experience or knowledge. It won't work and can be disastrous. Ask the person who falsely claimed fluency in German, or the person who implied friendship with a prominent lawyer, how they felt when facts surfaced.
  11. Turned down? Lost out on a job? Be gracious and follow with a thank-you for consideration. Keep in touch-you never know what will happen. Executives have good memories and many friends. There's always a chance you'll be considered for a similar position when it becomes vacant. Avoid the "I didn't want the job anyway" mindset.

Basics of Moving On and Up

The basics of transitioning are just that-basic to a successful transition.

  1. Decide you want to move-whether to a new area, new function or new company. Decide whether you'll put in the effort and time to make a change. The Olympics illustrate the importance of dedication, persistence and the right attitude. The gold medals go to the best prepared people, those who got up early, practiced (and practiced and practiced), and who had their goal always in mind.
  2. Luck happens-but don't count on it. And be prepared to take advantage if it does. Have your introductory spiel and resume ready, look and act sharp. You never know when a senior person may "drop by" unexpectedly, when you may get to attend a key meeting, or who you'll meet en route to a client. I met two CEOs while boarding an airplane and secured major engagements from them only a few months later. Most senior executives have advanced their careers via chance encounters. During a reorganization or merger, presence is especially important-look rested and confident. During busy times, an executive may pass you in the hall and make a decision as to whether you can handle more (Is she up to the task? Can he take the next step?). Of course, bad luck happens too. Plan ahead.
  3. Know yourself. Know your strengths, weaknesses, motives and quirks. Too often people think about whether they can get a job and not whether they truly want it. Be realistic. You may be a great salesperson for MegaCorp, but that may change with a new business card for a little-known company. Similarly strong coffee may help for a few weeks if you're not a morning person, but joining a company where everyone's at work by 7 or 7:30 doesn't make sense if you "come alive in the afternoon". If you're good in finance, but truly enjoy marketing and management-think twice before accepting a finance job. (In doubt? Then call and we can put you in touch with well-paid people who wish they had chosen differently.)
  4. Know where you're going. Develop a list of other jobs, areas, and/or companies that interest you and seem like a possible match to you. Not aware of other possibilities? Develop a preliminary target list. Some people recommend talking to contacts (networking). We don't-preferring to reserve those contacts for a later time. We recommend setting aside a few hours each week for research. The internet and the library are terrific resources. One executive recommends "spending a Saturday at the library and going through the last few years of Fortune or an industry publication, the last year of The Wall Street Journal…you get a feeling for growth areas and executives which you can refine later."
  5. Identify allies and sources of help. A list of friends, allies and contacts will be most helpful if it's written down. Keep adding to it as you think of new people and recall people whom you've helped. Review the list to see how they can help you with your target list. Some people will be able to provide background information, some introductions, etcetera. Wise use of this two list system (your target list and contact list) will ensure the proverbial win-win. It saves your allies time, enables them to be truly helpful and provides you with desired information easily and efficiently.
  6. Do your homework. Learn as much as possible about the people, job and business before you start discussions. The internet is obviously a great resource, but not the only one. For example, one person attended a venture conference in order to meet a future employer. Another person was able to overcome a staid banking stereotype by spending a day watching how people dressed, acted, and talked in his desired company, a technology venture. The work and time paid off. The banker became one of Apple's first employees (and a millionaire at an early age). Doing your homework can help you in a transition- both in getting an offer and avoiding a mistake by accepting the wrong job.
  7. Practice intros, greetings and interviews. Enlist a friend or relative's help, but to ensure maximum help, tell them you want to hear at least five flaws or things you can improve. Friends are often reluctant to be too critical. Remember, too, that you will act differently with a friend. One client I coached was great with his good friend, but nervous and sweating during practice with a colleague of mine. Leave yourself a voicemail to hear how you sound on the phone. Practice your handshake-a bad one is more problematic than most people realize. Don't let nervousness or a desire to show you "get it" result in your cutting people off, or finishing their sentences. Simply count to four after the person stops speaking and before you start.  
  8. Be cautious about whom you tell you're seeking a new situation. It's a competitive world. Plus even well-meaning friends can mention it to the wrong people or give the wrong slant with a detrimental result. At a recent workshop an attendee asked how to recover from a blunder-- the blunder? He asked a coworker if she knew of any jobs in advertising as a good friend wanted to move due to a bad boss….the coworker was the sister of the "bad boss". She was married, with a different name, and fortunately wasn't close to her brother. Certain situations and industries call for extra caution in transitions-approach them with a rifle, not a shotgun.
  9. Remember: employers are people too. Your future boss wants to work with someone who is thoughtful, follows-up, loyal, personable, honest, and shares similar values. So in addition to impressing a future boss with your skills and ability, demonstrate that you'll make her look and feel better on a daily basis. Thank her for considering you (send a follow-up note promptly.) Last week two senior clients expressed annoyance and amazement at poor etiquette and follow-through of candidates. If an email is appropriate, follow to make sure it is received. Make it easy for a potential boss to find you, especially if you travel. If you can't access your private email at work, are you checking it frequently? Slow responses will be interpreted as low drive and interest. Administrative assistants, search executives, assessment experts and others whom you may meet in search of "the right job" are part of your potential employer's family too. Remember employers will hire the best all-around person, not the smartest.
  10. Beware the dream job. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Keep the differences between recruiting and reality to a minimum by good questions and diligence. Then the surprises will be pleasant ones.

Per Dr. Seuss,       

“So…
be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea
you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!”


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