Challenges, Empowering Women, Family, Tips, Work/Life Balance, Working Women

Long Weekends: Relax

For so long, I would make all of these crazy plans for long weekends – someone was having a party, someone was having a cookout, there was always someone to visit and someplace I felt compelled to go. 

Over the years, I have embraced long weekends as a chance to “live life” and do some of the things I simply enjoy doing – reading, watching a movie, running errands with my husband, even taking a nap in the middle of the day.For me, the key to enjoying this “down time” has been to own my choices. Much like the scariness sometimes of owning your voice, owning your choices can be a bit scary as well. We all know that someone is going to feel slighted if you choose to stay home versus attending their cookout or an outing with them. It happens to all of us and what we need to try and practice is making choices that put us first.

For me, the busy rigor of the work week demands that I take some time on the weekends to reenergize and that requires choices. So there may be times when I don’t go to all of the events offered up as invitations over a weekend. It’s simply a choice I am making, not to put anyone else second or third but to put myself first.

And at this point in my life, putting myself as my first priority feels pretty good. It is power and serenity combined. Give it a try! Give yourself permission to put yourself first and see how liberating it can feel.

Diversity and Inclusion, Empowering Women, Leadership, Working Women

Women’s Networks: Not for Women Only

Three months ago, a group of passionate and powerful women started the conversation around the potential of creating a Women’s Network ERG (employee resource group) in our Division HQ location. This past Friday, we held a coffee social event to measure the interest level in this affinity group. We had over 70 people join us to learn about the Women’s Network. There was so much energy and excitement, we quickly realized this forum will serve a need for many!

Membership in and connection to ERGs is one of my passions – especially the engagement found in a Women’s Network! I know how very powerful an ERG can be for its members. Working for my prior company, I was involved in the Women’s Network. I have seen firsthand the impact that an ERG can have on employees – from professional development to career opportunities to community connections. Throughout my career I have experienced those benefits myself.

The creation of this Women’s Network drove a few different thoughts for me over the past month. We clearly continue to have real opportunity to support one another and drive a community of women in a space where we can develop, mentor, inspire, and network! However, I am convinced that we will need to consider some things going forward (some obvious, others not so much):

• Women in the workplace cover multi-generations that encompass different experiences, different needs as those generations mature through a career. How can those multi- generations co-exist in areas of professional development, mentoring, workplace interests etc.?

• How does talent development for women address the generational spectrums?

• How do we ensure we can preserve a meaningful focus on women’s issues in the workplace (and in life) while starting to invite men to the conversation?

It is critically important that we invite men into these conversations and initiatives. We need to ensure men are at the table to broaden awareness of some of the issues important to women in the workplace and the women in their lives. We have had these conversations amongst us, as women, for a very long time. However, I am certain that inviting men to the conversation develops more awareness and leaders who can appreciate the perspective of women in the workplace even more deeply. (This could frankly be said for any ERG – hence an inclusive approach to membership and inviting others to an affinity awareness drives a more holistic organization)

I am grateful that I work for a company that embraces diverse thought, diverse background, diverse geography, and diverse experience. A company where every person in an organization has a voice, a thought, an idea. A place where we can create a village of support and connection! The creation of culture of diversity and inclusion drives happier employees, engaged employees, and a strong healthy business!


Challenges, Empowering Women, Leadership, Tips, Working Women

Coaching to Performance Excellence

I have been having so many conversations recently about coaching (in the workplace). It is truly quite fascinating how many people feel that coaching is a bad thing – in the workplace it has such a negative connotation. As I share these conversations with my team I leverage the analogy of professional sports – highly compensated professional athletes are coached in many ways – how to practice and focus on skill development, what to eat to drive maximum benefits nutritionally, how to visualize success and manage any “blocks” they have in their minds, and advisors on financial management.
These athletes are idolized in the sports enthusiast population and deemed “perfect” by many – we are in awe of these supreme athletes. Coaching is the key to their initial success and moreso continued success. Coaching is the way in which people become truly their best self – at work, at home, and in the world community. Sometimes it is uncomfortable to coach and to be coached – but any good sports team and any good company realizes the benefits of coaching to the success of the employee and the business!

Reset your view of coaching – it is the opportunity be your best “you”!

The article below is a truly good read on the subject!

Leadership, Personal Branding, Tips, Working Women

Connections, Recommendations, and Your Brand 

So interesting that recently over the past couple of months I have had many people reach out and connect with me on LinkedIn. I enjoy the connections and building of our professional networks. I am also honestly curious by the manner in which some of these new connections inmail me for a career recommendation and career considerations.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am more than happy to support and help people that I know and have had a positive professional relationship with during my career. Nothing makes me happier than referring, recommending, and supporting people who would be a great fit for the company I work at – I actually see talent recruitment and support as a part of my leadership responsibility.

What I find amazingly curious is those that reach out and share things with me such as:

“I am not sure if we ever worked together but I did know Joe Smith and I see you may have worked with him as well”  

“It’s good to see how well you are doing at your company, I am hoping that you can help me find a job”

“Maryann suggested I reach out to you to see what you can do for me”

“I recently applied for your customer service manager position in Oregon.” (I work in the Northeast – clearly outlined in my profile)

I do get people who request insight on their LinkedIn profile or resume – and I happily oblige providing my feedback and I am hopeful they are seeking a number of reviews of their professional profiles.

I take my professional brand (my thumbprint of recommendation) very seriously and I would not (and will not) provide a reference or recommendation for people I don’t know or have had casual interaction with professionally. I can direct you to my company’s career website and can certainly take a look at your resume but if I don’t know you and we haven’t worked together, it is not professionally appropriate to request a recommendation.

My professional brand carries through all facets of my professional career including advocating and providing recommendations for candidates with my company. I focus on ensuring that I am providing a high-powered candidate and one that is rooted in knowledge, experience, and knowing the person and his/her capabilities, leadership, and value they would bring to the organization.

Connections are important as we build relationships virtually. Recommendations are a critical value to the talent acquisition and hiring spectrum – make sure they mean something and are founded on a solid professional relationship. Your brand matters – in the workplace, in the community, and in your life. Make sure you stay true to that brand!

Empowering Women

The Practice of Executive Presence

This week my blog post is simply a reflection from an article I read (reread) last week. It resonated with me as I was asked to provide some coaching on executive presence. Such an interesting concept and often provided as coaching for women – develop your executive presence!

As I think about the article (shared below) – I will consider this week how I best demonstrate Gravitas:

Gravitate Toward Gravitas

A leader has gravitas if she exudes excellence, remains calm under pressure and commands others to listen but knows when to be silent. Sylvia Hewitt, CEO of the Center for Talent Innovation, breaks down gravitas to these six traits:

· grace under fire
· decisiveness
· integrity
· emotional intelligence
· reputation, and
· vision.
Teresa Taylor, former COO of Qwest Communications, proved her gravitas at a meeting where she was the only woman there and a man asked, “Can someone take notes?” Wanting the men to regard her as a leader, she ignored the awkward silence until a male VP stepped up. ‘Wait for the uncomfortable moment,’ she advised.”

My personal challenge for the week will be to gather examples of Gravitas and to share my findings!