Careers, Communication, Work Strategies


Talking about “the tough stuff” is something everyone avoids. I’m often asked why can’t I be “lighter”? Talk about less serious stuff? I’ve gotten better at small talk, but I find that, with the right approach and use of language, people are actually willing to have conversations about topics that aren’t always so light. Receiving opinions without judgment and listening are key; admittedly, these things are much easier to do in a professional setting. I find I still struggle in difficult conversations with my adult children. 

“Start with honest words.” This was the advice from last month’s guest on Bytes on Thursday, Maria Seddio. An expert in organizational coaching, Maria has used her background in clinical psychology to guide executives and companies to engage in conversations that start with the truth. As a coach and recruiter, I understand the influence that language has on communication. Speaking with Maria, a professional in guiding conversations, I realized that there are many components involved in building a conversation that matter. 


My work brings me into contact with people across the spectrum of identity, so my sensitivity to word choice is acute.  Sometimes it’s important to take a step back and think about how you are approaching the conversation. Different generations will expect different protocols.  My father will get angry if no one calls on his birthday. I prefer a card in the mail or a call can work too.  My adult kids are more the texters, but will still use Facebook or email on occasion. The teenagers of today are resistant to email but might learn to adapt as they enter university and the workforce (adulting, oh no!)


Conversations that matter require word choices that are intentional when responding to a discussion.  I’ve been inculcated by my children that it’s better to use genderless terms, e.g. “kids” or “children” in place of “girls and boys”.  Gender is an important topic for the youth of today, and non-gendered language signals empathy and respect for their communication style.  If you work in the U.S. South, a region known for its cordial informality, the phrase “you all” might be better received than saying “guys” or by using “team” to refer to a group. We must be sensitive to all the places where personal or geographic bias can enter and influence a conversation.


The terminology used in writing HR documents can have a long-lasting impact. Job descriptions, performance reviews, and the minutes from meetings where decisions are made all influence company culture and the context in which that company is perceived. Just as writers have editors, it’s not a bad idea to use the buddy system to prepare important communications. A strong leader, like an astute writer, will know that it’s difficult to edit oneself. Intergenerational mentoring at work can uplift colleagues, junior and senior alike.  I heard a very senior leader mention that they have a Millennial “mentee” who also shares terms, viewpoints, and changing “styles”.  My daughter took me shopping for some new jeans because she said my “mom jeans weren’t cutting it anymore.”  The communication de mode changes as generations evolve, and we can learn new skills from young new hires and their bosses.  


Try this activity: apply the principles of continuous learning to your conversation skills. From word choices, to format, and subject matter, observe your interactions and reflect on how they flowed (or didn’t) and what was the outcome(s). What can you learn that can strengthen your ability to have successful conversations? By continuously learning and improving upon our personal communication mode, maybe we can even encourage better civil conversations too.  

Continuous learning is a critical factor for a successful career and helps create resilience through transitions and growth. I created a resilience toolkit for professionals, with tips for continuous learning, adapting to change, and more.

Resilience toolkit & tips here!


One of my favorite tools for successful conversations is stage setting using context.

Before I make a statement, I often describe my thought process or perspective, and this helps me to be better understood overall. I also had an experience over the break with a very difficult conversation that I didn’t think was repairable. Ultimately, I hung in there and was able to move past the name-calling and recriminations to the hurt, anger, and fear. It brought us to a new level. We agreed to use conversations or voice mail, no texting, so there would be less misinterpretation. I realized the person needed to hear from me more and receive positive reinforcement more to feel valued and a greater connection with me. It was eye-opening and painful.

Some people may think it’s a waste of time to share stories or talk about where you come from. But if we don’t spend the time getting to know each other, how can we be more empathic when we listen and discuss topics that matter (to each other) with each other? Tolerating is not empathy.  Sympathizing is different from empathy too. If we can be patient and take time to really hear, and reflect on, what someone is saying, we may have better conversations. We may feel less defensive, we may have better solutions to the challenges we face.  


In our Bytes interview, Maria spoke about the importance of building relationships, trust, and a safe place. I’ve read ideas about this from relationship experts like the Gottmans, or Brené Brown, who talk about the strength of trust to help get us through tough times. A relationship bond, be it professional or personal, can be tested in different situations. Invest time into building trust-based relationships now; and reduce the risk that tough moments, later on, will derail them. 

The past couple of years uprooted what most people expected for their lives daily, and beyond. The transition to a “new normal” is ongoing and will continue to evolve as well also (hopefully) learn.

How can we nurture relationships and communicate on important issues in a way that helps more people thrive?

I resolve to dig deeper this year and to keep learning new ways to build conversations that matter. 

Onward & Upward! 


Careers, Communication, Networking, Work Strategies, Working Professionals

Informational Interviews in Action – August 2021


Informational interviews are a wonderful opportunity to learn about companies and get to know the people that you might like to work with. Pre-job interview conversations can have a huge impact on your journey, and you’ll want to make a first impression that counts! These seemly in-formal chats are strategic too, and in the blog below I share an example of how effective informational interviews can be. 

OK! I know you’re asking what an “informational interview” is – so first, a little background, and then get ready to jump right in.


This is not a job interview because you are not asking for a job. This is an opportunity to learn more about a person, the organization that they work in, and a field or industry of interest. Do your homework before you reach out, and be prepared to share your “Elevator Pitch” on what you bring to the table.

Note: An informational interview is a tool to build and nurture your network.


A network is a circle of people you know, starting with your family and friends, expanding to colleagues/alumni. The (key) people you are referred to or locate through research, are included in your outer circle of network contacts. For more details, here’s an earlier blog on how to build networks.

Note: Track your network and manage it as a living document that continues to expand with each new connection you make.


It’s a great idea to nurture a professional network from the very beginning of your career. In this way, you will have guidance, insights, and opportunities that will organically come your way. Networks are meant to be built and sustained for a lifetime, it’s never too early to start identifying and nurturing those meaningful relationships.

Strong network connections enable a broader worldview. A diverse group(s) of connections can expose you to new ideas and trends across fields of study or industry. Take time to develop new contacts into meaningful relationships and create space for opportunities that align with your interests to come your way.

Even daily business tasks, like responding to a proposal for work or building a PPT presentation, add depth and breadth to your professional expertise and build your visibility/brand. Every interaction you have is a chance to show your value, build your reputation, and bolster your network.

Note: It’s never too late to start building a network and as with all good things, relationships take effort.


Coaching clients over the years, I’ve noticed that some are very resistant to informational interviews. Some have expressed that they feel they are bothering people or not interviewing for real jobs. Don’t believe me? Well, my clients have shared their results, and based on their experiences (meeting people and finding a great professional opportunity) networking does work!

Building a professional network is a numbers game – and informational interviews are a great critical success factor. Through a consistent effort to engage new contacts, you get a lot of interview practice. The more practice you get, the better you get at pitching your value, and eventually, the odds are in your favor. It’s not luck so much as the dedicated effort that will reward you with an offer (or a few). Use the job tracking sheet here or create your own. Remember you are building something that you will come back to and add to regularly.

On average, it takes 3-6 months of networking to connect with the right people and be hired.


The real-world data points below are an example of how numbers work to get results on your job hunt. Depending on how you design your job search, the results will vary, but the ratios are accurate. 

• 90 renewed (or new contacts) through LinkedIn, email, and other social channels
• 40 informational interviews
• 8 formal job interviews
• 4 positions tailor-made
• 5 offers received
• Evaluation of roles, alignment with priorities, and negotiation of the compensation package

Remember: the more senior the role the longer a job search can take. And the more activities generated, the faster the process develops. How many people can you speak with per week? 1 or more? Set clear GOALS and take the actions to make them happen.

Job and network research should be balanced to suit your work style – and keep track of information so you can see results! Continue to nurture your network after you build it. Keep in touch with new connections and assist if you are asked to, and always be genuine to individuals that helped you along the way.

And there you have it …. Informational interviews in action!

Careers, Communication, Jobs, Uncategorized, Work Strategies, Working Professionals

Let’s Talk About Resilience —

Years ago, a client told me that if companies don’t evolve they will go extinct just like the dinosaurs. At the time I thought it was a much better way to explain restructuring within organizations or what is now called intrapreneurship when a company is responsive to the market . I understand that all species must adapt or, through evolution, will disappear.

Fast forward to a couple years ago when I was speaking on a panel at Georgetown Biomedical Graduate School with a panel of deans and administrators. The topic was geared to make educators think about their role in the economic ecosystem. We were asked to discuss how to better prepare students for the workplace. It brought the conversation around to what is often called career pathways, highlighting adaptation to changing economies as critical in the quest to stay relevant. Relevance, as it turns out, goes hand in hand with becoming resilient.

One of my favorite researchers and authors, Brené Brown shared in her book “Rising Leaders” that a key trait of people who are resilient is emotional intelligence (EQ). Yup! It’s worth repeating, emotional intelligence.  In her interview with Abby Wambach, US Women’s National Soccer Player star, she shared insights from her book, “Wolfpack” that stress the importance of change, “Old ways of thinking will never help us build a new world. Out with the Old. In with the New.”

“It’s all about a tolerance for discomfort”, Brené shares and sums it up:”Resilience is more available to people curious about their own line of thinking and behaving,”

Here I would like to delve into what makes people resilient; and focus-in on actions you can take to fortify resilience in your career journey, continuously and enjoyably.

The Definition of Resilience is: 

re·sil·ience /rəˈzilyəns/ (Oxford) noun

    1. The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness; “the often remarkable resilience of … institutions
    2. The ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity, “nylon is excellent in wearability and resilience.”


There are arguments over nature versus nurture all the time. Is someone born with existing traits or skills, or does the environment shape and influence them? As we have learned from researchers, it’s never just one thing which delivers us to any particular point in our lives: but rather, a conglomeration of characteristics, experiences and our environment.

As a recruiter, career coach and parent/partner, I believe we have the ability to take inventory of who we are and where we are. We can recalibrate to make healthy decisions that have a holistic impact on the outcome of lives.

Let’s focus on traits we have – or tools we can learn – to empower a rewarding life journey.

The Pandemic has pushed the limit of almost every imaginable boundary – for everyone.  We realized that things we thought were important, might not be. Companies that thought remote work or telecommuting would destabilize them, have experienced a smooth transition with a remote workforce and improved productivity – and sometimes happier employees.  Technology tools for collaboration, CRM and workstream management already existed, and others are being created. Zoom is efficient and effective, but also exhausting. Personally, I found boundary setting to be an important tactic to avoid burnout as the days/weeks began to blur into each other. Even without a commute, the workday has grown longer for professionals and parents alike. In the midst of juggling work alongside personal lives, children and homeschooling, a new context for “resilience” has begun to emerge.

We know that emotional IQ allows us to be reflective and more self-aware, and that it is a first step to improve the dexterity we have in adapting to change. EQ is a great trait that helps us drive and become confident decision makers, instead of passengers affected by the course of time and life.


A self-reflective audit of your career roadmap – skills, goals and strategy – is a technique available at any point on the journey. My kids, at different points in their lives, have approached me with this philosophical conversation starter: “what if you don’t know what you want to be or where you want to go?

In creating this feedback loop, you consider the things you are good at doing, what kinds of jobs are available in the world right now, and in the future; and then we make a decision about which skill areas to develop. Occasionally when you try out a new strategy, you learn that your skills don’t match up the way you thought they would for your goals. In that case you can go back to an EQ-based audit of your profession and adapt your toolkit to meet those needs.

Education and professional training are consistently in development – not just for the teachers or medical professionals who need to meet recertification requirements each year. We should all push ourselves (and encourage others) to be continuous learners. In coaching sessions with clients, we take inventory and create a mission statement or pitch to clarify what an individual is good at doing and where they would like to head. We discuss the skillset needed and how to apply a strengths-based strategy for success. Informational Interviews are a great way to test existing capabilities in the professional arena – and get feedback on options that could improve your professional profile.

In times of discomfort, we must lean into the suck, bounce back, regroup and adapt to build a resilient career.


A main source of joy for me in the past year has been cooking.  Cooking goes with eating and this, combined with months of quarantine, has found its way to my hips, belly and bottom. I’m a firm believer in modifying my behavior and I prefer to know why I’m doing something – rather than doing it because I was told so. For this reason, I started the behavior modification program, NOOM,  on Feb 13th. There is science, there is a plan, there is action and accountability. The steps and the process are important to me and should be important to any person or organization wanting to achieve a major objective.

In NOOM, I’m asked to write my goals down and share them with my cohort. This semi-public broadcasting of my objectives is not always comfortable, but as an accountability tool it exponentially boosts my chances of achieving them. The format you use to share doesn’t matter – some members paste pictures into a collage for motivation, others create lists of New Year’s resolutions.  I prefer to journal, so I have something I can look back on, reminding me of where I was and where I wanted to go or what I wanted to change.

Goals that you can form habits around will increase the chance of getting sustainable results. People with a high EQ pause periodically for a mind-body scan of what’s working, what’s not, take accountability and pivot when necessary.

Goals are often malleable – firm but flexible – commitments that adapt to changes in the environment in which they are developed. Becoming resilient is a process of adapting strategies to meet goals informed by a personal and environmental EQ. Nothing like a global pandemic to demonstrate how EQ and adaptation are components of resilience.


I want to be clear about the steps in building a roadmap for resilience – goal setting comes after a personal assessment, information gathering and before you set milestones and goals. I’m not saying that this plan is going to be engraved in stone, but an outline with high-level details is a rough-draft guideline that has led my clients to happy lives and sustainable careers.

I like to travel this way also. I pick a location, do my research and make the reservations for important stuff like where I sleep, hard-to-get tickets and hard to book restaurant reservations. These are the “need to haves”. The “nice to haves” depend on energy levels, impulses and the weather. This flexible-but-firm strategy has led to some great adventures over the years. I apply this outline to coaching too – but with value-added goal setting and accountability tools to provide momentum.

Resilience can save a trip or a career with the ability to lean into the disruption with an attitude of problem-solving in order to salvage it – or cut your losses.


The lifespan of a human being is actually pretty short. We hope for long and healthy lives, but in the grand scheme of the universe, we are only here on earth for a little bit of time. The past year has seen the loss of loved ones for many and been a catalyst for deep reflection in almost everyone I know. I find myself thinking more about each moment with the people I love (and those I miss) and what is actually important in the context of a lifetime.

The way I like to plan and apply myself to personal and career goals paid off as I pivoted toward coaching in the past year. My passion for community and volunteerism came to life as I poured energy into non-profit work to help home-bound kids access sports, or make sure newly unemployed people could still get healthy and respectful food. I wanted to help and in the face of many traumatic changes, I needed to feel like I was doing something.

My business has grown organically this year as the result of being grounded, genuine, and demonstrating a tolerance for discomfort. Through inquiry and continuous improvement, I have built the career I want, I continue to visualize where I want to go and adapt based on what I want to accomplish. With a rough plan and an attitude of agility, I am able to influence my life and contribute more wholly to my community and the world.

Your career, just like your happiness, is an individual journey; and with a loose plan and a few well-refined skills (plus a good coach) we become resilient as we adapt to change. It’s all about the ability to bounce back!



Abstract art with "regain control of your career" as text
Careers, Communication, Growing up, Working Professionals

Regain Control of Your Career

I attended a talk some time ago by Bill Stixrud and Ned Johnson who recently published a book called The Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their Lives. The authors, a clinical neuropsychologist and a motivational coach/test-taking company CEO, both agreed that there are ways to reduce anxiety, depression, isolation, and lack of motivation in today’s children. I thought about that tagline, “Giving your kids more control over their lives.” Then I thought, “Doesn’t everyone want more control?”

Throughout our lives, we struggle to be independent and self-directed. When a baby learns those first words, “No!” the baby is looking for autonomy. As we do battle with our teenagers over technology use or homework, they are trying to command their own way of doing things. Later in life, we fight to keep our driver’s license even after it’s unsafe for us or others, but losing that right curtails our freedom. This can be a huge blow that some people don’t recover from, that loss of independence. The ideas about control and being self-directed can also be applied in the workforce and when it comes to managing your career.

There are critical moments in the development of our brain, according to Bill Stixrud and Ned Johnson. We as parents can help our children develop into healthy “self-driven” people, by not hovering, rescuing, or solving all our children’s challenges. If we can give them the tools to take “more control over their lives” they can become healthier human beings throughout their lives. If we translate the parent-child role to the workplace, we can also see how this plays out in a manager-subordinate role. We are faced with several challenges in the workplace with multiple generations who have different styles trying to work together. If we teach our children to make healthy choices that give them back their sense of control early on in life, then later on they will be more successful in the workplace. With more confidence, an individual can be more self-directed and this results in greater success throughout the life cycle.

Raising self-motivated children and building a more motivated workforce, are just two aspects of a healthier society or economy. In the arc of our working life, we can learn to be more proactive with managing our careers too. We aren’t all going to be entrepreneurs or the CEO, but we can be proactive or be our own advocates in the workplace. Again, these are skills we need to teach our children while they are young or as they grow up, so they can be healthier members of society. What this looks like in the workplace could take several forms.

When you start your first job, you are often just thrilled to have a paycheck. If you’re more focused, maybe you land a role at your target company or doing exactly what you wanted to do. Regardless, what your title is, what you do on the job is key. Plus, you can influence your career pathway. Here are several important tasks to do as you get oriented to a new job and beyond.

  • Learn the corporate culture and the spoken and unspoken rules of the organization.
  • Build clear communication with your immediate supervisor and don’t forget your peers.
  • Master your tasks and gain new skills that will allow you to progress within your firm.
  • Find a mentor in the firm or outside the firm, someone who can give you sage advice or perspective on any given situation.
  • Identify what you need to do to progress as a professional, and set goals to achieve these skills, experiences, or abilities.
  • Learn how to self advocate for yourself and the organization promoting change, growth, or new ways to do things.
  • Notice a way you can positively impact the organization, pitch your idea!

All of these tasks allow one to take back control and have a say in your own future. It feels better to have control of all ages when we are a kid, a young adult, middle-aged, and aging. How do we retain it in the workplace professionally?

In Teddy Roosevelt’s stirring speech, about the lazy critics in our lives, he said,

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat…”

Like Stixrud and Johnson, Roosevelt felt strongly that by acting or participating we are already taking back our control. If we silence the critics who are not in the arena with us and focus on the experience of being there, then we are already ahead of the game. How this plays out for each person can vary, but it is clear that by regaining our control we lessen our anxiety, depression, lack of motivation, or sense of isolation. As we replace these destructive feelings, we now have room for confidence, positive energy, possibilities, connection, and the ability to map our own future. We can’t all be in charge of the company, but we can be in charge of our own lives.


Brainstorm, Collab, & Bullies

“Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair; but manifestations of strength and resolution.” —  Khalil Gibran

During a recent therapy session, I talked about my frustrations working with people, currently, that I have yet to encounter as much in the past. Two significant areas were challenging: collaboration, which has always been easy for me, but now seemed difficult to navigate smoothly, and second, my ability to bring prominent personalities and busy people together onto the same page. It could be the complication of virtual collabs (oration), the mentality of people after 3 yrs of COVID, or maybe humanity is more fragile these days . . . Let me elaborate.

When we are passionate about something, we put out more energy. We share ideas and thoughts; sincere effort delivers results. When faced with questions about our ideas/thoughts/actions, we can take them personally. It feels like being picked apart as a person, not just the ideas. We also need to be valued and trusted. I’m guilty of feeling all of the above.

In reality, people participating in any ideation process likely feel the same. The key is to figure out how to recognize this, be kinder in critiquing ideas, and acknowledge that we can build on the myriad of ideas to come up with an agreed-upon solution. To collaborate successfully, keep people engaged, and deliver results, we must acknowledge how people are experiencing the process and put ground rules in place.


I’m listening to Michelle Obama’s new book, “The Light We Carry,” and the second chapter is Decoding fear. She describes Lin Manuel coming to the White House to perform a rap piece that he had been working on but isn’t sure how the President and First Lady will receive it. Granted, this was before his show Hamilton (Lin Manuel sang the first song he’d written about Alexander Hamilton for this event), but he had already had success on Broadway with “In the Heights.”

The first lady shared a story that showed how even a talented, successful person feels anxiety and fear. Michelle suggests fear can prevent us from experiencing anything, or we can “get on top of our fear.” Can you imagine entering a room to sing before the President and the First Lady?! Finding a less intimidating person to lock eyes with would be hard.

When he met Michelle’s mom’s eyes, she helped him ground himself. Lin Manuel could focus on her and held the audience rapt for 3 minutes. He shared with Michelle afterward that he felt the song had two possible outcomes and, depending on its reception, whether he would continue to develop it or not. We know it’s never all or nothing. It takes courage to work through the fear and devise realistic solutions.

Order of operations is critical. Before we jump in, we must create a plan of action.

We have a choice when asked to lead an initiative and deliver results. We can use the sense of responsibility to level up or allow fear to overpower our capabilities.

When there is a significant project, we must overcome fear and deliver. Any part of the process can throw us off track. The fear that we might not be able to produce this time, the stress of getting and staying on a timeline, the pressure of assembling a team that can work together toward a goal, and then getting on the same page about the vision. I describe this more in my blog, Check Your Attitude. Go read it!

<img src=“infographic.jpg” alt=“order of operations” title=“graphic in text”>

Clear roles and lines of responsibility must be agreed-upon and established. Methods of communication and best practices must be shared and continually improved.

I’ve let enthusiasm blind me before and jumped headfirst into a situation that almost destroyed me. I felt uncomfortable, like having my intelligence challenged, and the team didn’t believe in me. I walked around for days feeling like I was under sludge, and it wasn’t until I leaned into several difficult conversations that we got to a good working place. I could have quit at any time, overcome with fear of failure. My husband, being protective, wanted me to. But I’m made of sturdier stuff.


Because of technological improvements, we can schedule “facetime” quickly, even across distance and geography. A video call is often more efficient than driving to a meeting, saving more time for actions! But competing schedules and different locations also tend to drag out projects through side calls for updates and conversations that can get convoluted because all the stakeholders need to be together to work and discuss.

We used to pick up the phone or walk down the hall when we had questions. An email or text can help in some scenarios and hurt other situations when the tone or meaning is misconstrued.

Fewer meetings, concise agendas, and action items are my recommendation. And cut down on side chats! Yes, we can remind ourselves not to take things personally but to reduce the chances of these misunderstandings, meet with all the stakeholders, take notes, and be accountable. It will save time and energy, plus we will be more productive.


Remember, don’t let bullies into your head (brainstorming is supposed to be throwing out ideas without judgment), or be a bully to others as they are courageous in sharing their thoughts.

Continue encouraging brainstorming together as the global workplace becomes more diverse. Get people to throw out ideas and consider them together as a team. Differing backgrounds and experiences offer up a more significant variety of perspectives and possible solutions — and improve the capability of everyone involved. Share ground rules in advance, allowing the collaborators to respond from the beginning.

<img src=“ideas.jpg” alt=“to internalize” title=“list”>

1. I recommend fewer meetings, concise agendas, and action items. And cut down on side chats! Yes, we can remind ourselves not to take things personally but to reduce the chances of these misunderstandings, meet with all the stakeholders, take notes, and be accountable. It will save time and energy, plus we will be more productive.

2. Identify parameters (cost, effort, timing) and value each collaborator’s idea as a possible element of or a complete solution.

3. Kindness counts and can take us much further. In the words of Khalil Gibran: “Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair; but manifestations of strength and resolution.”



Have you noticed a change in people lately? We aren’t post-COVID, but we are post-homebound and isolated. After the flurry of vaccines and excitement as death rates eased, I’m weary. One long-term effect of COVID is a delayed reaction to the COVID blues. Or perhaps it’s just trauma. Regardless, the pissed-off people impact everyone – at work and home.

The Mayo Clinic describes the science and impact of stress, plus adds some great suggestions on healthy ways to deal with ongoing tension in the workplace and our lives. I’m not alone in noticing the lack of patience and decreased collaboration and kindness.  

We have to value mental health, or it will impair our performance at work and relationships at home. Before you can heal from trauma (benign or acute), it has to be identified and named. After the acknowledgment, processing begins and is an ongoing cycle. We NEED TO adopt methods to manage our emotions calmly and regroup when we hit one of life’s “speed bumps.”

Healing occurs when we recognize that trauma impacts how we see life in the present and how it could impact challenges in the future.

Thinking about appropriate responses to situations, I remember some coaching I received. Several dog trainers have come in for our various rescues over the years. We joke that the trainers should be more focused on the dogs’ behavior rather than on the behavior of humans who need to adopt different ways of managing their pets. It’s an intriguing idea. I encourage people to think about it as we build and lead teams.

I gained another insight from the dog training experience: aggressive animals are usually not mean but scared and want to protect themselves. Getting to the root of the fear is essential to creating an environment where they feel safe and can communicate with you. An animal can’t speak to tell you what is wrong, so all we can do is create an environment where they feel safe.

Humans can use our words, but we sometimes communicate poorly.

The challenge is to sort through or translate messages to resolve issues or accept that any following collaboration will be fraught with obstacles. It can be incredibly draining and discouraging. There can be minefields in conversations or collaborations based on miscommunication or pre-existing issues. Miscommunication isn’t unique to the workplace; it happens even more in personal interactions with volunteers or family where emotions run high.

Many people feel that if they ignore something or let it go, it will go away, but it is guaranteed to reappear if we don’t address the root cause. COVID weariness has made me feel more vulnerable than ever. It’s become harder to lean into tough conversations without emotions interfering. But this is imperative in the workplace, and I am always willing to adapt to change. Minor changes combined with resilience can lead to less volatile discussions, which will be more effective in the long run.

Can you lean into the issue and have those difficult conversations to deliver better outcomes?

When I’m emotional, I can’t express my feelings or describe the issues very well. It takes longer to explain the problem and get a resolution. It reminds me of what the dog trainer told us, if we don’t nip destructive behaviors in the bud, it can lead to worse issues down the road. We are human (the manager, leader, parent, etc.), and that can enable the (dog, colleague, child, etc.) to fill in the blank. Pissed-off people impact everyone!

This article on LinkedIn has a great model for complex conversations. I’ve used some of the steps, but there are others that I could add or do better. Plus, the pause and utilizing a model keep things professional to be more effective than purely emotional. 

My husband always says to me when something happens: “[the] intention was probably not to offend or to hurt anyone’s feelings.” Remember that aggressive dog with the trainer? The dog didn’t start with the intent to harm; it’s a defense mechanism for protection. That pause is critical to remember previous experiences triggered the response, and we must dig into it.


Ironically I called this blog Pissed off People, and the author uses the term too, even though she was writing back before COVID started. I was particularly struck by the phrase “Radical Candor” after listening to the author, Kim Scott, describe it. How to use it as a tool during difficult conversations. I thought this was brilliant.  


While the Mayo Clinic describes and diagnoses, there are things we can do in the workplace and at home to help ourselves and those around us more effectively deal with stress. Additionally, having various tools in your toolbox helps us respond to a crisis with the most appropriate method. As I was reading the blog, the “Radical Candor” concept jumped out at me. It could be effective when people feel pissed off and aren’t quite sure why.


Select your challenge, learn the method, and lean into that discussion you have been avoiding. You may find that just like that pound puppy who is making you crazy, with some firm, consistent work, together the problem “child” at work or home can become the superstar.


Communication, Work Strategies

Check Your Attitude

The anticipation of getting to see family or friends can lead to setting unrealistic expectations for the people in our lives. I constantly remind myself to manage expectations and set realistic benchmarks for my relationships. Time off over the holidays allowed me to reconnect with my friends and extended family. Similar to communication at work, how we say things and what we mean can often be misinterpreted. 

My youngest son is often the wisest among us. He told me to stop reacting with a negative response because this just escalates a tense situation. His words were simple: “if someone’s being mean, don’t be mean back; turn to them and say you are being mean, and when you can be nice, I’m willing to engage.”

love and logic

I found it ironic that my son reminded me of something I used to do when he was little. I was exhausted from arguing with him about picking up his clothes are helping clean up after dinner. Everything was a debate.

At my wit’s end, I Googled “Kid Whisperer.” There was one for dogs; why wouldn’t there be one for kids?! Sure enough, I found an educator who called himself the Kid Whisperer. Scott Ervin blogged on the topic and used many materials from the Love and Logic Institute. They became my go-to place for ideas.

TouchPoint: Can you imagine this in the office, professionals being “mean”?! Someone in a meeting cuts you off or speaks over you; instead of being quiet or responding with an attitude, be firm and calm and keep repeating your message until it’s heard, “Can I continue?”

Social interactions at work can resemble high school norms. Workers feel underappreciated, so they make passive-aggressive comments, are abrupt in their responses, and generally disengage from the community. A project needs a high degree of collaboration, and team members don’t respond to emails or come to meetings. These are signals. But what do the messages mean? How can the actions be interpreted?  

The way we present ourselves in the world is essential. How we show up matters. From our words and expressions to the manners we use to engage, our attitude signals to others how to approach us (or not),

Focusing on hurt feelings doesn’t allow for any growth. Negative behaviors and actions often come from a place of hurt. Someone acts out because they want attention. A colleague drops the ball on a deadline because a manager (seems to) favors the new hire.

The root cause of aggressive behavior from a colleague is likely a response to feeling uneasy, not who they are as a person. attitude

It’s safe to say that acting like a child at work is not okay. Micro-aggressions are bound to backfire in the end. Instead, hone self-reflective skills and use them to identify when something is not going smoothly. Think about how you can change situational dynamics by changing yourself. Improve the energy in a room with a proactive attitude and low tolerance for bad attitudes or BS. 

When things are rough with family or in the office, consider a realistic solution and get feedback. I’m an eternal optimist (although these last several years have been exhausting). I go into situations expecting the best, use positive language, and encourage proactive behaviors. I usually get a response that is upbeat, productive, and kind. Entering a situation with judgment or discernment might be too heavy-handed as an approach, even if there is cause for critique.

A lousy attitude begets a negative response, or as the saying goes, “you get more flies with honey than vinegar.”

When people are not at their best, affirmative guidance will help them get back to a sense of confidence and positivity. Ultimately you want to bring out the best in people, even if that first means finding the best way to be yourself.

set realistic expectations

So when faced with someone who interrupts or talks over you, respond diplomatically, e.g., “let’s pause for a moment; being louder isn’t being better.” If a colleague or manager likes to hog all the glory, remind them gently of the “great joint effort.” Hold your own in the new year, be firm, and act confidently (or fake it until you are). A clear and neutral tone sets boundaries for those who need them and puts others at ease to speak up. Remember, no one is perfect; mistakes and arguments happen. It is not a reflection of who we are at our core.


  • Check your attitude first
  • Assertively (but kindly) call out unwelcome behavior.
  • Be firm about your expectations and boundaries 
  • Engage with kindness. Be compassionate

Use these tips the next time you face a bully or someone’s bad day gets projected onto you. The results might surprise you! 

review the lessons and refresh commitments

My Style Metamorphosis

My brother and I often don’t agree, but that doesn’t mean we are arguing; we have intense discussions with very opinionated answers. My husband gives me great feedback and support in my familial interactions, but regardless, he finds my description of our “discussions” rather funny. I’ve also learned to manage my expectations of what someone should or shouldn’t do with my advice. No need to frustrate oneself, just let go and move on. As 2022 comes to a close, I want to discuss the importance of using the last calendar days of the year to review (the lessons), renew, and refresh commitments to myself and others. The new year 2023 will be here any moment! 

 Getting back to the story about my brother, maybe you’re wondering what we were so heatedly discussing. Well, I had planned a photo shoot and invited him to participate, and he was calling me to ask why I was even doing a photo shoot. It was to upgrade my photos and refresh my website and social media. Not my favorite thing to do, I told him, but needed. I hated taking pictures alone. Typically I don’t mind a family photo, but I’ve even given up trying to take a good one for the holiday card because we are so scattered. He still didn’t get it. 

Our discussion got heated as I tried to explain the importance of branding, outreach, and social media visibility. He needed help understanding the value and why he should make an effort to participate. His wife and our parents have encouraged him to think about doing his business differently, but he couldn’t see the ROI.  


 My social media maven, Kerry Sinclair, taught me that networking differs from brand building. A positive professional reputation only guarantees visibility when you promote it. We spent the last year focusing on my brand development, and I’m beginning to see an ROI for my efforts.  

I’m adding value to my network, sharing insights, and love the opportunity to contribute to others’ growth as I nurture mine. 

So where am I going with this?! It’s about how we review lessons and refresh our commitment to learning and growing. These are the things on my mind as I review 2022.  After a rough year, I had to think about what I am willing to share with the world, the version of me that is authentic without oversharing. No one wants to feel obsolete, as I like to say, adapt or go the way of the dinosaurs! Like it or not, the presentation does have an impact on how people perceive you.  

What’s the right way to do it?

My closet has always been a little funky or offbeat. I prefer a good vintage piece to a more traditional look. Now as I recover from a back injury, any heel over an inch is guaranteed to cause me aches and pains later on. To really change things up, I needed to reach out to the networks I’ve nurtured and ask for help. 

Kevin Kennedy has photographed special moments for my family since 2016; my son’s Bar Mitzvah, dad’s 80th birthday, and our beautiful home wedding that missed the start of COVID panic by a few weeks and some good luck. I trust Kevin. He can capture gorgeous portraits and professional headshots; most importantly, he can convey feeling through pictures. While I trust him, I also want to feel like myself. In some way, most people struggle to balance their genuine selves with the decorum or expectations of office culture and the larger professional landscape. 


The past year was full of moments when I was out of sorts. I thought about what I needed to adjust (not just my attitude). 

Back to the closest, how could I change things up? I went through my shoes and gave away the ones I hadn’t worn in a long time. I like to pass on clothes to friends who will give them a second life. When I was last in Asheville, I tried on some “grown-up” shoes, things I could wear with a skirt or to look more professional, and bought them!

I tell people to wear a favorite tie or outfit when interviewing, making a presentation, or doing something public-facing. It will make you feel more confident and impact your attitude, which can improve the whole outcome.  

Finally, the day of the shoot arrives and I’m anxious.  We are in Kevin’s studio for Part A of the photos and heading to a brewery to meet the friends and family who agreed to help for Part B. Being the sole focus of the photo shoot was uncomfortable. It did not feel natural to me at first. It was very different from the family portrait sessions I had planned over the years. I needed to take the feelings of discomfort and push them out of my brain.   My professional presentation was more important.

So, what else can you do to prep to get through an activity you don’t like to do but is essential?

Change what you can and let the other stuff go. Get a friend to help you create some looks. My daughter was visiting and agreed to rummage through my closet with me. Kerry and my husband suggested I splurge on a stylist, and maybe one day I’ll do that. This time I used my Rent the Runway subscription to have several outfits as options.

Did you know that what you are wearing or how you feel can shape the experience you have in the world? 

What you wear or how you present to the world impacts your mood, which will attract or discourage people from approaching you. It can make you feel uncomfortable in your skin. I needed to master this for the photo shoot and the in-person meetings trickling back. 2023 is right around the corner!

(read my thoughts on getting comfortable with people post-COVID!) 


Mood also matters. My mood at the shoot was not great, I did splurge for a professional blow dry and make-up, but my face felt as stiff as my hair, frozen by the foundation. All I could think about was that I’d much rather watch World Cup than take pictures. I needed to pull up my granny panties and do something. 

I couldn’t get connected with Kevin’s pop culture references, interjected to make me relax and smile. My kids tell me I have a pop culture void and love pointing out examples. So I asked if I could change the music, and I pulled up US3, Hand on the Torch, on his iPad. An oldie but goodie from 1993, it’s my go-to music for an incredible feeling of nostalgia and positive energy. 

What you wear and look like also helps you present yourself to the world. Identifying your style, being aware of trends, and developing the version of yourself you want to show the world, can make all the difference to your career and confidence!  

If you embrace what and who you are, that’s the most important thing. I must remind myself to follow my advice: stop focusing on my flaws and be a positive force in the world. Connect with people and causes, learn something new, contribute at work and in your community, and remember that the first improvement you make should be to upgrade yourself. 

Stay tuned for my new mug shots! They turned out pretty good.  


Career Coaching, Careers, Communication, Interviews, Mentoring, Networking, Uncategorized, Working Professionals

Acknowledge the Awkward (Embrace the Suck, pt. 2)

We’ve been spending much more time in Asheville; it’s our happy place. We invited our neighbors, a young couple, out for breakfast recently. The conversation was about how to acknowledge awkward moments, and I shared a story about a debacle that occurred during my first in-person networking event in over two years. After three years of Zoom calls where you can manage your expression on camera, have time to think about your responses, or even choose to “Live text” or chat instead of speaking out loud, we are all rusty. Some people have a better public veneer than others, and I am in the awkward group.

Rebuilding our social muscles will take time, and in the process, we are all getting a lesson in how to embrace the suck.  

My neighbor pointed out that some people need time to construct their responses in a conversation. Some people prefer texting to talking on the phone, which used to really annoy me. However, I’ve learned that my husband and son need time to process, organize, and express themselves in well-thought-out sentences. The talkers (of which I am one) just let thoughts spill out from their mouths as they come to mind. 

I’ve made my living by chatting on the phone for many years, learning about people’s careers and, inevitably, their lives. I used to believe that the distinction between personal and professional was pretty black and white. They were separate realms of life and should stay that way. 

Enter COVID, virtual offices, and video conferencing. The line between personal and professional is dissolved by family pets wandering by, kid/partner photo bombs, and whatever other randomness might be happening in the house that day. This awkwardness has been good for us. It’s a reminder that we are all human and share a lot in common – right down to doing the laundry (literally). 

We adjusted to the remote environment and conquered long-distance calls using Zoom. The definition of “office casual” attire changed too, and sweatshirts abounded. Lately, I see more of a mix of work styles, with some folks back in an office (and pants) and others still at home (pants optional). My style has been adjusted in response to my back injury, and wearing heels more than an inch high is guaranteed to cause me pain later. I much prefer my slippers. 

Is there a right way to do it? Most days, I go to PT, the gym, or a Pilates session before I sit at my desk. Do I need to change out of gym clothes to start my workday? 

The transition from being at home back to in-person events is trickier, and I still need to adjust for travel time between activities. Dealing with heavy traffic has taken my relaxed state down a notch or two. Is it just my imagination, or are people angrier and more aggressive on the road? Am I just having a moment, or is everyone?

As a panel speaker at my first in-person event in a long time, connecting with people felt good. The energy was high, and we shared career growth and management insights. I attended a leadership summit the following week, but that could have gone better. It felt like I was speaking Latin and everyone else was speaking Greek. The noise level in the room made it hard to hear and left me wondering if I was out of practice or just getting older. I didn’t feel as comfortable as I did with the first group. 

I thought about what I needed to adjust to make these current transitions less awkward. I needed to dust off some of the skills I hadn’t been using recently and update my wardrobe too. I always tell people when they are interviewing or doing something important, like making a presentation to put on a favorite tie or outfit. It makes you feel more confident, and your attitude can change the outcome.  

The Serenity Prayer reminds us to try and control the things we can and let the other stuff go. We can acknowledge the awkward moments and let them go. Turn on music that makes you dance, and buy clothes that make you feel good and look good. Get yourself psyched up again! Wrapping up breakfast, I put a question on the table: 

How can we each adapt to become more comfortable in awkward moments?

Being with people (after COVID and virtual) feels uncomfortable because it’s not as controllable as being remote. We have become accustomed to controlling and curating our on-screen personalities. But the awkward moments in real life (IRL) are an essential element of human connection that doesn’t get through a screen, text, or email. 

Acknowledge the Awkward Moments. Get back out and embrace the suck! 

I challenge you to exercise your social muscles until they are strong again. Let’s meet at an event or for coffee and get through the awkwardness together!  

Careers, Communication, Mentoring, Networking, relationships, Work Strategies, Working Professionals

Every Touch Point Has Value!

It’s the little things that matter. Critical moments are touch points where the slightest effort can add value. I’ve been giving this much thought and have had several conversations. A friend shared a sermon by Rabbi Angela Buchdahl that drove the point home. She talks about the racism she experienced as the first Asian American female rabbi in the US. Woven in with her well-thought-out points are some ideas I’ve gathered from other professionals on how to treat others, and it’s not just because it’s nice.

Here are a few thoughts. 

  • Choose kindness in every moment because each touch point has value. 
  • We need to recognize that the only thing that matters is time – we have one life to live and how we live it, personally and professionally, are the most critical choices we make. 
  • Visually, as a reminder, I had Maitri in the roots of a lotus tattooed on the back of my neck; it reminds me to practice kindness to myself and others.

I’m suggesting that we need to pause, be more intentional, and notice the small things. Acts of random kindness are not ordinary moments; it’s better to catch them being good than to focus on the negative. 

(Hang onto these thoughts for later, and let’s start with some other ideas and the tools to help you execute them!)

How do we want to be treated?

I had lunch with a leader I coached out of a toxic environment and is now in a much healthier one. It is lovely to see my client’s face relax and tension receding from around their shoulders; now, their actual abilities are seen and recognized. As a senior-level capture leader, this talented professional meets many people, potential partners, and external clients, and they are responsible for hiring staff internally. She experiences critical moments where the slightest effort can add value each day. We shared our beliefs about the rules for how to treat people in all situations. We agreed that taking a moment to do the little things often impacts the people we encounter. 

For example, consciously being compassionate and respecting a candidate through the interview process or sending a client in a direction that meets their needs better are little things that can have a significant ROI. I coach candidates to send a genuine Thank You note because the gesture adds value to the interview and insights into the person. I also like the idea of answering a rejection with a Thank You! It lets a company know that you are mature and plan to leave the door open for a conversation down the road.

Touch Point: Simple common courtesy can go a long way toward building long-lasting and sincere relationships.

These positive behaviors are “a deposit into a social capital account.” When we do kind things for others, it fills up our capital account, so when it’s low, we can reach out to others for support. For this reason, unlike my midwestern husband, I have no problem asking for help. I offer my service without prompting and follow the golden rule: nurture your networks to build strong, trusting relationships. You have to start somewhere.

Reflect: How can we regain value in our communities, lives, and careers?

Practice Random Kindness

There was a bumper sticker I used to have on an old car of mine, “Practice Random Acts of Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty.” Letting a vehicle go first in traffic, giving a neighbor a ride to the grocery, and upcycling old sweaters to share with strangers as wearable art, are small things in my life that can put a smile on someone’s face. Small acts make a big difference; sometimes, it is hard to know who benefits more, the giver or the recipient. Taking time at work to explain a task or collaborate is an example of random kindness.  

Fun Fact! The phrase “practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty” was written by Anne Herbert on a placemat in Sausalito, California, in 1982. It played on the phrase: “random acts of violence and senseless acts of  cruelty.”

“No Ordinary Moments”

I read the “Way of the Peaceful Warrior” by Dan Millman years ago, and he suggested we consider the idea that there are no ordinary moments in our lives. I often gathered these moments in the years I spent raising my children: a moment in the kitchen with them doing homework at the counter, music playing, and me cooking dinner. While not super unique, these moments become the memories we carry forward in our lives. They are joyful touch points that I can share with others. 

In the workplace, that looks like a well-run morning meeting ending early and recognition that the team accomplished a lot in less time. Or it could be when a business development/capture opportunity comes together into a well-written proposal, and you recognize the team effort matters more than the win, although both would be nice!

Catch Them Being Good

Capturing and recording critical moments is essential, while being present and responsive is also crucial. In the workplace, a critical word at the wrong moment can cause an explosion or destroy a rising leader’s desire to participate. Every working parent can share a story of when they hurt their kid with harsh words after they walked into the house exhausted. A smiling kid proudly presents a messy sandwich, and instead of thanking that kid with a big bite and compliments, the parent shouts, “OMG look at this mess!”

The book Catch them being good is co-authored by USA Women’s Soccer Coach Tony Dicicco, Colleen Hacker, and Charles Salzberg. He wrote that to be a better coach is to catch your team “being good.” This mantra is as relevant in the workplace or home kitchen as it is on the field! Praising someone’s work in a morning stand-up encourages others to seek positive feedback, as does guiding a staff member toward healthy outcomes. 

Positive reinforcement wins over reprimanding every time!

Critical Incident Journal – a tool for reflection and learning

There’s a great tool that I learned in college called a Critical Incident Journal. We used this technique in our internships to capture moments that are not ordinary. We learned more from each of them by reflecting on what made a moment unique. The practice of journaling helps us become better at recognizing critical incidents and their impact and reveals hints to how we can make positive changes in our daily lives and careers.

I have incorporated this collegiate tool into my career and personal life too! They are handy for capturing the moments in our lives when our perception changes. The insights shared over the years have been surprising and insightful. 

Start journaling! Learn more about critical incident journals!

Here’s a recent experience that made me pause and reflect on its critical value:

I mispronounced the name of a young woman I was interviewing, and she gently corrected my pronunciation. She shared that when at school, she pronounced it the “American way,” thinking it was easier for people to understand. But for our interview, she wanted to embrace her bi-cultural identity, so she helped me with the correct pronunciation.

I wasn’t embarrassed and appreciated her transparency and how she communicated with me. It opened the door for other topics and an informed conversation. That touch point had critical value; she felt comfortable sharing experiences and asking questions on other sensitive career topics.

Her gentle feedback also gave me pause to think about ways to be more sensitive to the small things that make a big difference in other situations.


If we all pause before speaking or acting, it might change our response. The basics of consideration that children learn in school are the same rules of etiquette for adults. For example: wait your turn, remember to share, say please and thank you politely, and don’t hit people when you don’t get your way. We learn to communicate and control our responses. Through play and interaction with others, we learn impulse management.

Two colleagues joined me at a leadership breakfast last week and said they feel compelled to make work fun. They enjoy the time more, their teams enjoy being together more, and they stay engaged for more extended periods. A leader has the responsibility to set the tone. Emphasizing joy in work helps engage team members and makes teamwork more effective, delivering better results. 

The results of the world’s largest study on kindness are in. Here’s what we learned

** University of Sussex’s study on the impact of kindness

Call to action 

Take time to notice touchpoints, critical value, and not-so-ordinary moments in your life. It’s easy to look for flaws when you can catch them being good. Small affirmations have a significant impact on those around you! And a little effort can result in strong bonds and more joy for everyone. I think that’s valuable, don’t you?   

And if you fear doing something nice will be taken the wrong way, be sensitive and do it anyway. You can tell if you have made the right choice by a person’s expression.


Equity is Better Business


I was deep in research mode, looking for evidence of how equity can benefit bottom lines and boost performance. I came across a LinkedIn article by Wendy Veloz, What good Does focusing on equity do me anyway?  and a line grabbed my attention. “As professionals, we have to commit to doing everything we can to make sure things are equitable and accessible.”

This got me thinking about my role in DEI as a white woman and a professional. I consider myself an ally of BIPOC and LGBTQ communities and actively participate in change-making. Yet here I was searching for reasons to prove why equity in the workplace reverberates elsewhere. It occurred to me that a lack of cohesiveness could also be the reason it is misunderstood.

“For us to create sustainable social change, we can’t forget that equity has to take place on all levels, especially at the top. Having diverse leadership is only one step, but creating a pipeline of talent is important too.” — Wendy Veloz

The vocabulary of inclusion is becoming commonplace these days. DEI practices, unconscious bias, and embedded systemic racism are discussed at dinner tables across the country. But words alone don’t move the dial toward systemic change. Privilege allows people to believe that social equity is right because it’s fair, and still not grasp why it’s essential.

The burden of change is on organizations and leaders to cultivate buy-in for DEI initiatives within their organizations.

How Can Equity Benefit the Bottom Line? Think About It!  

Have you ever not been hired because you are female? Or interrupted and spoken over in meetings because you are from another country?

Are you Latinx and suspect that your ethnicity might be why you were turned down for a small business loan? Did your background prohibit you from networking your way to acceptance at a competitive university?

Can you relate to the frustration of not qualifying for a mortgage because your credit isn’t quite good enough? Or losing your license because you didn’t have the cash to pay a traffic fine? 

Understanding “Anyway”

There are a lot of firms with personnel dedicated to the work of DEI specifically. HR departments receive training and change hiring practices. But the seriousness with which DEI is embraced is less measurable. Sometimes it gets lip service, and even those who support diversity, equity, and inclusion don’t necessarily understand it. Or why it matters to people who have historically faced discrimination, experienced barriers to access to education and employment, or lacked the resources needed to succeed in their career goals

Measurable improvements and evidence-based practices are important to proving the value of DEI in mainstream society. Arguments should be made for the positive impact of DEI across all levels of an organization, including those who are the primary target audience, and its influence on business ecosystems.

Groupthink happens pretty easily within homogonous teams and organizations. Companies that lack diverse people and perspectives also lack some capability to provide innovative solutions, disruptive business strategies, and essential elements of communication that leads to healthy growth.

Our individual experiences might shape how we think, but the mashup of perspectives can lead to awesome new ideas. In a room where most of the people don’t share some commonality (language, culture) or there an overwhelming gender imbalance (men or women) exists, communication might prove harder and slower at first. As individuals begin to find shared experiences or beliefs, they get excited and foster a dynamic environment that can spark innovative ideas and unheard-of solutions.

An Example of How Bias Works

Why does a pharmaceutical company spend its R&D budget on developing drugs for men? Because most leaders are men who hire men to develop questionnaires for the health consumer market. The surveys end up being biased toward the needs of men, even though the total consumer market is pretty evenly split. Are you surprised?

This bias creates a problem with the availability of health products for women. But the pharmaceutical company is leaving money on the table because they survey half of the consumer market. How can they change that? 

Cosmetic companies figure out that targeting people with white or light complexions neglected a lot of available markets. The global market is made up of hundreds (maybe thousands) of skin tones. Ignoring those consumers is simply bad business! Understanding the needs of the underserved consumers could lead to a lot of new revenue. A more diverse team can create relevant products and prove how equity can benefit the bottom line.  

Your Company

Discrimination stagnates people who want to create wealth and have more purchasing power. The right to a living wage and fair pay is about more than between 29 and 18 cents on the dollar*.

* (If you want to know more about the state of the wage gap in 2022 you can check out this downloadable resource:

Better base pay leads to better loan rates on mortgages. With more money and PTO, employees have disposable income and days to spend on outings. They come back to work well rested and happy with ideas to share. 

As purchasing power increases so does the value of consumer markets. This seems like strong evidence for equity as a guiding principle in policies. The company that creates the policy, hires the outsider, promotes the unacknowledged, will stand to see how equity can benefit the bottom line. 

Assessing Why and How

Understanding how equity can benefit the bottom line begins with an assessment. Where are we now and what do we believe.

In ReInventing Diversity by Howard Ross, you can find guidelines to assess current-state mission, policymaking, and cultural values. Ross stresses the importance of DEI being written into organizational DNA, rather than a laser focus on hiring practices.

I believe that education is how organizations can drive engagement and comprehension. Understanding why is more than fairness. It is essential to connect the dots to how and produce innovative solutions that benefit all people.

Build a business case for DEI in order to break down and remove discrimination in our workplaces and world.

Different but the Same

An accurate assessment of how equity can benefit bottom lines begins with asking the right questions. The first question might be what is the difference between equity and equality. 

Instride defines their differences and suggests actions that organizations can take toward forming a plan of how equity can benefit the bottom line. Click here for new ideas from Instride!

“Equality seeks to provide all employees with access to the same resources, regardless of the pre-existing barriers they may face. This can refer to an equal distribution of money, resources, or opportunity between workers at a similar level. 

  • Equality is in many ways a beneficial concept that can push company culture in the right direction. However, it often fails to address problems of underrepresentation or an unfair status quo.

Equity is distinct from equality in that it doesnt provide the same resources and opportunities to everyone. With equity, an organization will recognize that each employee has varying access to resources and privileges. And those with less access may need more support in order to take fair advantage of opportunities within a given company.”

More Examples!

One of my favorite articles by Globoforce talks about the multi-tier impact from new hires to leadership. Click to read! 

This case study from the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry is an example of evidence-based practice… get the details 

Of course, Forbes magazine weighed in on the topic. Convening a panel of human resources experts to compile a list of benefits from DEI. Find out what they came up with!

Avoid blind spots with either/or choices
Careers, Mentoring


How to avoid blind spots with either/or choices 

When I want to accomplish something, I get to work researching and consulting my gut instinct before I make a choice. Most of the time things work out, sometimes they really don’t. When bright ideas fail, it’s because I overlooked a blind spot in the planning.

Read on for thoughts on avoiding the blind spots in your career path by using either/or choices. 

“Either-Or” Logic

As kids, my siblings and I knew that if we wanted to go to a movie or get Thai food for dinner, we had an “either-or” choice. Either we could ask our father, whose knee-jerk reaction was typical “No”, or we could appeal to our mother who usually responded more positively. 

My father wasn’t always inflexible and stern, but he often wasn’t willing to listen either. My mom on the other hand usually had an ear for her kids, was used to fielding requests, and adapting to change.

Managing Expectations

In high school, I managed my social calendar using either-or logic too. Knowing that if my friends failed to make plans for a weekend outing, I would end up babysitting. So, either I took initiative to suggest using my car and fake IDs to sneak into bars in Georgetown, or I resolved to another Friday night sitting on the couch watching kids, and earning money.

As a teenager, I learned to deal w

ith my less-than-motivated friends by managing expectations. Still, it took a lot of eye-rolling for me to arrive at the question of why they couldn’t just make plans on their own.  

Status Quo or A New Menu

The case of either-or turns to Friday evenings with my husband.

We like to cook: a spicy chili, finger-linking-good fried buttermilk chicken, or grill some mean steaks at home. It can be exhausting catering to all of our kids’ likes and dislikes, so we have regular places to order take-out from. Moby Dick’s Kebabs, Pasa Thai’s Pad Thai, and Pad Won Sen…I like to try new things and if I waited for my husband to think of a place, we would end up at the same few places that have a good beer tap list. Sometimes playing Star Wars trivia or the Dogfish 90 minutes shakes up the evening too. 

Locating my husband in his office, I suggest that either we suffer through a repeat performance of overcooked noodles … or we throw standards out the window for a dinner of beer and Star Wars Trivia. Of course, he couldn’t resist an IPA-sponsored game night.

As much fun as it is to come up with plans and alternatives, I’m often the one taking initiative. Why isn’t anyone else motivated to find solutions that work for all?

It Won’t Work … Nothing Will Change

Most people don’t like to voice suggestions or take leadership because it involves risk. If the plan doesn’t work, if the solution fails, risking embarrassment (or worse) stops most people from ideation. 

It’s safer to wait until someone else speaks up, takes the lead, or hedges the bet. But the cost of playing safe is the chance of having a life-changing experience or even just better food. 

Yes, it takes effort to live the life you want! And yes, it’s risky. Bad things might happen.  Good things might happen too. Either you keep blinders on and accept what is in front of your face, or risk taking a different career path, dating a new type of person, or ordering from a restaurant that isn’t appealing (even though your spouse loves the food!)

The Blind Spot in Your Career 

How does this all relate to careers and jobs? 

The evolution of a great career is governed by your threshold for risk and the manner in that you engage (or don’t) in relationships and networks. Networking proactively and putting effort into relationships with people usually have a positive outcome. 

You can either learn new skills to stay competitive or you can move to a new industry entirely. Upskilling has less risk, but maybe adapting to a new sector will lead to a more exciting benefit.

People sometimes get stuck when faced with a choice like the one above. The possibility of failure in a new industry is too much, but the thought of staying in the same or similar job is not encouraging. They manage expectations by not deciding until they are forced to by a blind spot.

You Don’t Know, What You Don’t Know

No one is all-knowing or (except a mom) has eyes in the back of their head. So how can you learn to avoid blind spots in different areas of life? 

Is it most important to be proactive and to think strategically? Or is having the flexibility to roll with punches more aligned to your risk profile? What if you could be coached into changing your perception of situations and the choices they present? 

Avoid blind spots with either/or choices

Coachable people are open to new information – and to making changes as situations shift around them. Being coachable also requires trust; to be receptive and willing when blind spots are pointed out. 

The only guarantee in life is that it will change, and choices will follow, whether you can see them or not. I believe that making the effort to learn what they are and take a position is at least a better strategy than doing nothing. Transitions are intrinsic to every area of life. Our career journeys are shaped by how we choose to experience life as it shapeshifts around us. 

A successful career, and a great life, are often decided by “either-or” moments. Each time you encounter one, take a breath and call a coach, or someone else you trust to check your blind spots. 

Careers, Hiring

Talkin’ bout a revolution… In Hiring Today

Hiring today: the candidate market and the new normal …

The Beatles sang: “you say you want a revolution”, and the one we are living in is changing the way companies hire. In the new normal, some will adapt and others will not survive the change. 

Historically Speaking

In the bust that followed the .com bubble of the 1990s, people I knew were among those laid off in the fallout. Not wanting to accept a pay cut, they turned down great roles for over a year. As the market stabilized, out-of-whack salaries disappeared and people realized that such high pay was a thing of the past.

My recruiting activities in the financial sector came to a halt after 9/11, and for more than a year I didn’t pick up the phone to call New York. I was one of many professionals who reconsidered their career options following the decimation. As I shifted to recruiting for another sector, I learned to adapt to that industry’s needs. 

In 2007 the housing market crashed and propelled the country into a recession. Professionals were scared for their jobs as companies tightened their belts. The overall number of open roles decreased while demand for jobs grew. Salaries were adjusted for the supply of jobs as rising unemployment became critical.

The Last 2 Years

Hiring activities fell quiet in 2020, one of many impacts of COVID 19.  Unemployment rose as the Pandemic escalated and dragged into 2021. 

By the end of the first quarter, companies were eager to get back to “business as usual” and the hiring frenzy began. The Pandemic catalyzed some lasting changes and ushered in an era where candidates control the market. 

This year (and maybe the next) will be a test for companies, to change policies and processes and adapt to hiring in the candidate market. 

Head over to YouTube for my thoughts on the candidate’s market

Hiring Today

The disruption of the Pandemic took a toll on everyone, but it brought back a sense of balance and humanity to the workplace. We could see into our colleagues’ homes as they juggled kids, dogs, and caring for seniors – continuing to work despite the challenging environment. 

The meaning of work-life balance changed and made the case for remote working; professionals can argue for flexible locations and fair pay. Staggering inflation has changed the meaning of a dollar in post-pandemic norms. Candidates want companies to evaluate compensation packages and adopt policies to guarantee a real living wage. 

I keep hearing from companies that they are aware of these requests. But they continue to use outdated and ineffective practices. This new era is an opportunity for companies to look for intangible value and promise that goes beyond a resume. 

The Candidate Market has choices

Some Things to Consider … 

Business leaders are addressing some of the key areas important to a healthy, happy workplace. Feedback from employees has led to companies considering their responses to the questions below. Look them over and consider the responses that companies or candidates want to hear.  

Companies consider this …

  • What makes your company a good place to work?  
  • Why would someone want to join your team? 

Candidates ask this … 

  • Can you paint a picture of how new hires will contribute to, and grow within, the firm? 
  • What professional development opportunities do you provide for individuals to grow and contribute more within the organization? 
  • Culturally, how do you plan to build inclusive trusting environments, where success is measured by the quality of life as well as performance?  

While business leadership teams work on these questions, I want to shift the focus to a topic even more elementary: the mechanics of getting successful new hires. 

The Hiring Process …

Is long overdue for an update. The steps, and the communication in each step, need to be clarified and held accountable (the company). In my work as a recruiter, I see my clients lose candidates at a dizzying rate, to organizations that move faster and make fewer demands.

Innovative companies are streamlining their processes to include panel interviews and pitch presentations – resulting in a shorter timeline overall. These agile techniques happen faster, review more candidates in each step, and present a dynamic, 360 view of each possible hire. 

Hiring managers want to spend time getting to know people, so they can hire the best resource for their team. Understanding that the post-pandemic landscape includes hybrid and remote roles will lead hiring managers to leverage digital resources like social media and recommendations on LinkedIn. 

Conversations that matter – Get to know candidates through their references and informational interviews too! 

Countless hours are wasted on process minutia while candidates get frustrated and walk away. Keep great talent in your pipeline with faster processes, stronger compensation packages, and innovative formats for interviews. These characteristics show that an organization is open to non-traditional practices to retain great people.

The Comp Package …

Needs to meet market demands. So what if you’ve been paying your entire internal at the same level for 10 years. Change it! 

When my clients have roles that are open for more than 6 months, I advise them to revise job descriptions and compensation packages. Maintaining the traditional ways with rigidity is not impressing anyone in the labor market today. 

When hiring in the candidate market, you must adapt or die! 

Adapting to the New Normal

Moving Forward …

Assess how the pandemic disrupted the way we live and do business. Returning to outdated practices doesn’t make sense when the market demands equitable, innovative, and effective methods for interviewing. 

There are a lot of great people with intangible talents. Companies that want to create new normal business practices, should take note of what those talents are.

I’ll close with a quote from Jim Collins, named one of Forbes 100 living greatest business minds: 

“Look, I don’t really know where we should take this bus. But I know this much: If we get the right people on the bus, the right people in the right seats, and the wrong people off the bus, then we’ll figure out how to take it someplace great.” 

embrace change
Careers, Communication, Resilience

EMBRACE THE SUCK (part 1 of 2)

There are 3 phrases that I want to have tattooed on my body or my brain as armor in 2022: Let it go (or “Flow off your back like a duck” as my husband says) is the first one. “Lean into the Suck” or more nicely stated, Embrace Change (already on my calf). And the big one, Take Care of Each Other.

My husband typically spirits me away between Xmas and New Year, for a celebration that is part birthday weekend, and part reward for surviving another Christmas season. Truthfully, December birthdays can suck but I reclaimed mine by picking out fun jaunts every year. But I found it difficult to get motivated for our “Birthday Escape” weekend this year.

A new location for each new year. One year we headed to Asheville for several days of hiking, eating, and craft beer. Another year, I chose historic Ellicott City for the quaint shops and local gastronomy scene. Our last “escape” before COVID shut down the fun was to Nashville to hear John Prine play. This year we decided to reclaim the fun in our lives too and booked a trip to historic Cambridge, Maryland. 


All three of these came in handy when I woke up excited for the beginning of my birthday week. I busied myself preparing for our 2-hour road trip. Checking on our plans, my excitement dampened when I found that our theater plans (Rent!) were canceled because someone in the cast came down with COVID.  We are still in the middle of a pandemic and leery of other disappointments possible on my birthday escape, I held my breath.  

I checked websites and voicemails for the rest of our road trip to Cambridge, Maryland. As far as I could tell, everything was a go – including the massages I had booked at the Hilton. In celebration of turning 58, I skipped the low-sugar yogurt in favor of leftovers from Monday: tasty dumplings and dipping sauce. I semi-steamed them in the microwave and nibbled with my hubby as we packed and cleaned before our departure. My celebratory breakfast turned out to be a mistake and within 15 minutes I was on the porcelain throne! Three times in all, between walking the dog and a final reassurance that I could endure a car trip without soiling myself. I grabbed a medical-grade ice pack on the way out the door, just in case, my back didn’t recover from whatever sleeping position had seized it up.

At almost 60 years old, I pride myself on staying active. I do yoga 3 times a week and traded soccer cleats for the stationary bike and daily walks with the dog. After months of working with a chiropractor to rid me of the hip (left) and shoulder (right) pain, my back was now on the list of aches too. This is when I applied the second phrase that helps me through life: Embrace the suck. I tapped my tattooed leg to remind me always to expect bumps at regular intervals along this road of life.  


We made good time with minimal traffic and the ice pack was successful. Arriving in Cambridge where lots of cute streets gave me the perfect excuse to walk out aches growing in my back. Remember the admonishment let it go because shit always happens. A delightful walk about town and we decided on day drinking at RAR Brewing. They have a wonderful list of IPAs and a great sour that was thirst-quenching without sucking the moisture out of me. Some mini bar shuffleboard competition, sliding heavy metal discs down the sand-sprinkled board was followed by onion rings and a double burger dipped in the famous RAR sauce. It was a perfect moment, and I wanted to bottle the sauce. It would have been fun to stay but I had already sent an email confirming our massages. We paid the check and headed out to grab my Mini Cooper.

Driving through the commercial area of the town, we passed a local Olive Garden, Dollar store, and strip malls, arriving at the immensity of the Hilton Hotel. Parking was an adventure; the gate entrance was apparently broken and hubby decided to jump the curve into the parking lot. Interesting start. We proceeded to the spa entrance, noting the circular staircase that spiraled elegantly upward. My glasses fogged up behind my mask as we started to climb, and I was out of breath by the time we reached the staircase summit.


Three young women were seated behind a large reception desk with masks on. In the low lighting, they welcomed us and asked what name our reservation was under. Providing mine, I waited expectantly, preparing for an afternoon of rejuvenation. Then it happened, they couldn’t find our reservation! As panic started to rise in my chest, they managed to retrieve the booking … but it was for the next day!

My heart went south, my euphoric mood disappeared, my skin was getting hot and the mask didn’t help.  When you turn 58 your hearing starts slipping and asking her to repeat the information wasn’t much fun either.  Rather than burst into inexplicable tears, I told her we’d let them know if we couldn’t make it back tomorrow.