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! 


Career Coaching

Language & Listening in the Storytelling Arena

How often do stories become trite or less accurate each time they are retold? Human history began with oral traditions passed down through generations and the nuances of culture. Language and listening skills have always been important in the storytelling arena. The speaker, bard, or storyteller shared their slant on events of the time; and more often than not, that story’s accuracy declined with each telling.

Have you found yourself repeating some “old wives tale” as the truth when it was just a story passed along? Who tells the story, and how we listen to it, helps us to understand events in terms of the story’s language and lens. “History is written by winners” is the saying; and throughout human history, this cliche has been proven true. 

In the words of Lin Manuel, “History has its eyes on us” and we have a responsibility to remember it inclusive of everyone’s versions. I challenge you to pause this month and evaluate your communication style (verbal and non-verbal) in storytelling arenas. What language do you use as the narrator to create space? In the audience, do you listen openly to understand the speaker’s perspective, or with reservation? Do you use tools (even unconscious ones) to become a better listener?

Maybe we can shake things up one at a time, person to person, and rebuild the art of civil conversations. Wouldn’t we all benefit?!


When I lived in Guatemala, (before GPS) we would ask for directions when we traveled to the countryside to visit an in a small when we traveled to the countryside to visit an “Aldea” or small town. I found that if I asked three people then the correct way would be somewhere in the middle of all the suggested routes. It became apparent that the true “way” came through research, but also through my own evaluation and instincts.

In the digital era, there are so many news media resources all vying for your attention. Some may resonate more than others while you evaluate information to understand the whole picture. Exposure to different sides of every story presents an opportunity to collect all the information before you derive the truest “way” forward. 


Diversity and inclusion are at the forefront of conversations about workplaces and social environments. I am proud of my passion for culture and living an international lifestyle (at home or abroad!) The more people that I meet, the more I value our differences. While it’s true that all human beings have lots in common, we also have beautiful and meaningful differences. The language(s) a person grows up speaking shapes brain development and ability to reason. Different languages approach communication differently, in their structure and subtexts, and a team that can call on a range of approaches to problem-solving is valuable for an entire organization.* Not to mention, the mashup of problem-solving skills can lead to innovation! Cognitive psychologist, Lera Boroditsky, explains this concept in “How Language Shapes the Way We Think” (2018, TED)

Seek out the stories and voices that are different from our own; because we need to be stronger, smarter, and more resourceful every day. 


Diversity makes sense for the future of business. A spectrum of differences within a company culture can bolster workforce engagement and promote innovation. I discussed the “Future of Work” over lunch with a colleague recently. His firm asked him to participate in a committee determined to gain insights on the topic. We talked about Myers-Briggs and the value of 360 reviews. How leaders should rely on their teams for vital information on trends, and mentors can “pay it forward” by passing on wisdom to junior peers.  If we build respectful places where active listening, reflection, and teamwork grow, then organizations will be stronger, more collaborative, and drive towards better solutions. 

How can we go to work with the objective being to deliver high-quality results from effective listening? What stories do we choose to share and listen to?

Listen to receive, without judgment, stories told from diverse perspectives. Make the effort to truly listen, pause to understand, reflect instead of devising an immediate reply.


I took part in a course at Leadership Greater Washington where an improvisation trainer came to host a session on effective listening techniques. As participants, we broke into pairs and with our partners, began to tell a story. It was a storytelling volley with each person contributing the next line in the tale. The catch: each new sentence had to begin with the last word of the previous sentence (hard!!) Forced to listen to our partners all the way through in order to catch their last word, we learned to pause and mull over a response before adding the next line.

That simple but effective exercise proved how often we all can’t wait to jump in and command the story through our own lens. When I get excited I do this all the time! Do you? Lately, I engage people by asking them to expound on their opinions, rather than challenging them (or saying that they’re stupid). No one likes an arrogant conversationalist. 

Without creatives and thinkers, the world would be colorless, quiet, and lacking originality. Without engineers/farmers/scientists we might not eat, survive disease or have a place to live. We all want to do better than being cogs in the proverbial wheel. We want to thrive! The language we choose and how we listen to others will have an impact on how we end the story too.


My passion for diverse mindsets is part of why I like to read several books at the same time. Right now, I’m reading 3: Colson Whitehead’s new book, “Harlem Shuffle”(fiction) set in NYC; journalist,  Sandy Tolan’s book “The Lemon Tree”, a 1998 true account about a Jewish and Palestinian family; and just got the new book, from my favorite, Brené Brown, Atlas of the Heart!    Reading different authors, I learn to hear, enjoy and gain insight into the different ways that different people think. 

Join me in a challenge to your use of language and listening in the storytelling arena! Evolve your perspective by entering the storyteller’s arena with an open mind and willingness to pause, reflect on finding solutions in an entirely new “way.” 

Career Coaching

BELIEVE (the Ted Lasso effect)

We watched a lot more TV during COVID. Actually, I watched a lot more TV to be close to my family. My bookworm and cinephile habits aside, I don’t enjoy sitting on the couch at home staring at the “boob tube”, as my parents used to call it. So, I fold laundry while I watch TV and resolve the guilty feeling of laziness with chores.

We watched The Expanse, Lovecraft Country, Ozark, Donovan, sprinkled in with Bridgerton (surprised us both), The Great (historical fiction), and Gentleman Jack (based on a true story). Movies failed to hold my attention these last 18 months… I needed something lighter. Enter Ted Lasso, the too-hapI’m not saying that it was mindless fun, but there was something about Ted Lasso. We’d wait in anticipation for it to drop each Friday.  It made me smile, my heart warm and my soul comes back to life.  It’s interesting, most of the people who I asked about the show either lit up or had no clue. It made me wonder, why did Ted Lasso have such a strong appeal or total lack of interest from people.

I have played, coached, and refereed soccer for 43+ years. Most of my friends and all my family are familiar with my zeal for the sport. I played on the field until 2018, chasing a ball around the pitch, focused on my teammates, and keeping the ball out of my net.  You’ve heard me espouse Title IX (50th anniversary in 2022), the scene my mom made when there were no girls teams, so she said I get to play on a boys team. That led to helping my high school and college women’s teams get off the ground in the 1980s

Ted Lasso is not about soccer; nor is it about football, the sport he initially coached. This quirky comedy, which appears to be more brain candy, drives at some series points on leadership, empathy, and how imperfect human beings can recover from mistakes and losses without losing a positive outlook. I’m not trying to write a review of the show but want to dig deeper and figure out why Ted struck a chord with me.

I relate to Ted as a coach, his optimism and innocuous approach to the game are compelling. I love the subtext in this show, suggesting that a true leader can succeed in any discipline. Knowing how to build teams and inspire people, and how to collaborate with area experts to drive at goals and win the day. The most important lesson Ted teaches is that authentic leaders have the power to inspire people, by caring for and being genuine with their teams. I also love that he struggles with his own demons and that acknowledging them becomes an even better leader.  Maybe, I’d like to be admired the way he is, even when his enthusiasm drives you insane.

The women in Ted Lasso’s life add to refreshing messages of fair play and teamwork in the series. Even more so, it’s truly wonderful to see real female characters that aren’t backstabbing each other.  Rebecca is a middle-aged white woman who just inherited a soccer team from her philandering husband in the divorce. She’s out for revenge when Ted shows up. What could go wrong?!  Enter Keeley, the perky footballer girlfriend, and supermodel who finds her own power as she helps Rebecca to reclaim her own. Rebecca’s childhood friend Bex is exploring her sexuality and makes a few appearances in the series, intermittently connecting with Ted as he tries to get over his divorce. Lastly, Ted Lasso tackles the topic of mental health via Dr. Sharon Fields, the therapist who helps to heal the spirits of players and the team. Diversity abounds in the show, real life is reflected on the screen through these large-as-life characters.

I will close with the word from Ted that motivates me each day.  I made a copy of Ted’s drawing for my son’s high school football team to tape up in their locker room and see before games, BELIEVE! Things that inspire me consistently are hard to come by as normal continues to shift, but I can hold onto the concept of belief, because what else do you have? I believe we can be better, smarter, stronger, and more compassionate human beings, each day.

Careers, Work Strategies, Working Professionals

Spin your Story (Determine Your Own Destiny)

I just read the McKinsey article about huge turnover in the labor market, referred to as the “Great Attrition.” Companies are facing a conundrum across industries. The researchers at McKinsey layout a simple challenge to businesses: be part of the continued disenfranchisement of employees or become known as a “Great Attractor”, an organization that is successfully recruiting top talent over the next 12 months.  

The past 18 months of COVID Pandemic panic was tough on a lot of businesses (including mine) but thankfully since January 2021 businesses in several industries came booming back. This is great news for me as a recruiter and for the talented candidates that I place with client companies.  

The McKinsey challenge to organizations forces employers to confront the disconnect between their mindset (transactional) and the mindset of employees (relational). For HR professionals, career coaches, and recruiters, this is not exactly breaking news – but the impacts of worker discontentment are glaring post-pandemic. I’ve been watching a rise in burnout and a shift among employees to being more introspective about what really matters.   It prompted me to ask a follow-on question: 

What type of story will you tell to your employees and the talent you hire in 2021-22?


The first step in  “romancing a candidate” is a mindset.  I coach my clients to highlight the company’s strengths that matter to candidates (e.g. focus on the relational!) 

The current job market favors the candidates and for companies to attract talent, the costs are high. As a recruiter, for example, the talented people that I identify are sometimes not active job searchers.  This means they were not considering a change until presented with an opportunity. Attracting these candidates requires companies to think more about what makes their organizations wonderful places for people to work. 

The McKinsey authors suggest that companies will continue to lose workers and struggle to attract new talent in the “Great Attrition” until they shift toward a relational mindset; and get focused on understanding the motivations and needs of their people. As companies seek to stabilize following the pandemic, workers are reassessing their lives and thinking even more about the mission/ethics of a company, or about the location and the willingness of their employers to be flexible.

Businesses that want to become “great attractors” would be wise to understand what values are important for people who can make their companies succeed. 


Some companies measure success by shareholder earnings. Others measure it through innovation, low staff turnover, and career satisfaction. Lowering costs and boosting higher profits is a business priority agreed upon across industries by all.  Determining how to get there, however, differs by company, the attitudes of leaders, and the subsequent culture that emerges. 

Universities and college administrators have begun to realize that by not accounting for job market needs in curriculum planning, they fail to prepare students with employable skills. Businesses can take a similar approach and prepare workers for greater success with professional development opportunities that not only advance their careers internally/externally but provide a better-trained workforce for the organization. 

Educational and business leaders can take the same page from the proverbial book to train individuals and prepare them with in-demand skills that fit market needs.

Information is powerful and knowing what forces motivate workers is key to becoming a successful “attractor.”


Based on the article and other studies in work/labor research that pre-date the pandemic, these factors have been identified as the missing components from corporate cultures. Simply put…

“The top three factors employees cited as reasons for quitting were that they didn’t feel valued by their organizations (54 percent) or their managers (52 percent) or because they didn’t feel a sense of belonging at work (51 percent).” (McKinsey, 2021) 

The impact of the COVID pandemic was especially hard for working families with young children. The need for flexibility, already a growing priority, became critical for parents as they shifted to home offices and homeschooling, simultaneously. A gaggle of 20+ kids ran around my neighborhood for months, as parents were challenged trying to turn picnic tables into school desks. Now as they resume commutes into the office, many are considering the opportunity cost in a relational way. 

Employers must listen to hear what employees value and remain supportive as needs evolve.  Employees who feel valued stay longer.  Retention not only saves money over time by reducing HR costs but protects institutional knowledge.  As a long-time recruiter, these were facts I often shared with hiring managers when they were resistant to investing in the right hires and the importance of a culture shift to focus on the relational needs of employees. 

Company leadership has the power to create a culture that is responsive to employees and good for business.   


Consultants can provide an evaluation and give feedback to companies about specific strengths and weaknesses. Coaches for executive teams are also great resources for helping to kickstart a shift in an organization’s culture.  

A teacher I had used the phrase: “don’t assume … it makes an ass out of you and me.” Find out from the people on your teams how they feel and what matters. The McKinsey article has a great list of questions to ask!

Discuss with your HR team the best benefits that have an authentic value to employees – find out what’s changed and what hasn’t. My takeaway for you … it was never all about the money!

Here are some of the *relational benefits* that I suggest: 


Let’s Talk About Timing…tools for negotiation

When someone tells a good joke, I have a hard time repeating it and getting the punch line right.  If someone walking past me has blue hair, I’ll blurt out loud “blue” instead of thinking it to myself. 

Timing is really everything: knowing when to listen and when to speak is an important career tool. When you tell a story, the depth of detail you share can determine whether you keep an audience’s attention or not. I once took a writing class that emphasized the importance of pace, tension, climax, and the finale in a story. It’s the difference between an ‘okay’ book and a really stellar one. In negotiations, the story we tell can impact the result of a business agreement or salary review. 


The first conversation typically does not include compensation so be patient.  Once everyone is convinced they want to work together,  be prepared to receive an offer and recognize that it is open to negotiation. Compensation is not just your base pay, it includes many types of benefits some are more traditional like healthcare or retirement.  Other benefits have grown in importance like flexible location or hours, how leave can be used, or childcare/eldercare benefits.

This isn’t a first interview topic when the romance of the interview process has just begun and both sides are looking for chemistry. If there is alignment the company will raise the topic naturally.  

Once the discussion moves to compensation you may be asked to provide an answer about your expected salary. If so, redirect with a query about a range for the role. Once you know the range, explain that you are willing to accept a salary within it but do not state a specific number. Remember! Compensation talks are negotiations. The first offer is the company’s first move, and your opening to respond with a counter request. At this point the hiring process is serious and you should only proceed if you are confident about your role, the organization, and you are sincerely interested. 


Most organizations have an annual review protocol.  Some are self-evaluations and others include 360-degree input. Whatever format the review is in it’s good to understand what is expected, which goals are important, and key milestones for you as a professional. Roles and responsibilities can change, if that happens it’s time to ask for guidance: additional input, a review out of cycle, or a re-evaluation of your last review. A special request can be made for lots of reasons: additional training or a license earned, a request for overtime or resources for one person who’s doing the job of 2 people. 

Request feedback, support, and documentation, so you can measure progress and continue to grow as a professional.  


As we emerge from a global pandemic the economic impact and realities are different than in any previous crisis. When asking for a raise, consider the market and business landscape before you make your move. Do the research and build a business case to support your “Ask”. You should be able to demonstrate, based on the value you contribute to the company, why you have earned a raise. If you have learned new skills or a professional degree, or recently had a positive review, use this as leverage.  This supporting evidence can demonstrate additional impact on the bottom line of your organization and how you deliver higher value to clients.

A concise story that highlights the impact of your initiative on a company will deliver good results! 


Are you constantly taking on more responsibility? Would you like to move up to the next level in your organization? Sit down with your manager to discuss expectations and make a plan before you are burned out. If you need additional skills or training to achieve these results, then create a timeline to prepare you for a promotion. Track your progress on mutually agreed-upon goals and build a strong pitch that provides details on how you are ready for the next step. If it’s a long-term career goal then do research to understand what actions will set you up for future growth. 


You have been dedicated, loyal and love your job and co-workers.  Unfortunately, you feel stuck or stale. Communicate your frustration in a professional way to managers. If your feedback isn’t taken seriously following a review, your raise request is denied without merit, or you get passed over for that promotion (again) despite meeting your milestones consistently — or your heart is just no longer in the job — it’s time to warm up your network and begin to ramp up the process of informational interviews. 

This is a healthy approach to identify other opportunities and your next role so that you are able to make your career transition in a thoughtful way!


Timing is everything.  If you are intentional, do your homework, and find win-win situations that benefit you and others the results will be strong.  A business is better suited for growth with the right people in the “right seats on the bus”.  Intonation, punch lines, and your delivery truly matter.  

Take a pause, think about your goals, imagine what organizations and others value, and position yourself for success. Remember, if your “Ask” doesn’t work the first time, it might not have been the right time. Recognize what you learn from the failure to do it differently the next go-around!



I began thinking about resilience a few months ago when I noticed a shift in the lives of my clients and friends. The COVID-19 pandemic transformed our lives and the catch-phrase “paradigm shift” began to pop up in conversations. Many people began to rethink career paths, geographic locales, and the importance of relationships.

The dramatic changes across job and social landscapes brought up an important question: What makes a person resilient? Or, how do we become resilient in the future? So I invited colleagues that I admire to join me in unpacking the elements of resilience. What came out of these conversations is a guideline on preparing for career transitions and personal growth.

Developing a Growth Mindset is a big takeaway from my inquiries these past few months, so I developed a toolkit to help my clients build it. I discovered there are 3 major traits for resilience: (1) learn continuously, (2) innovate or have an entrepreneurial mindset,  and (3) the ability to adapt and bounce back from adversity.

Check out the bulleted lists below for detailed guidelines on how to build a resilient career and a thriving life.

Keep Learning!

  • Develop a growth mindset
  • Up-skill w/ online & in-person courses
  • Identify interests through research and inquiry
  • Join networks and schedule informational interviews

Get creative!

  • Innovate in your career through reflective awareness
  • Create new opportunities w/ an entrepreneurial mindset
  • Integrate passions into your work – even if what you’re passionate about isn’t the job itself.

Adapt & Bounce Back!

  • Choose mentors to help you grow holistically
  • Keep a lot of “irons in the fire” & celebrate your wins
  • Diversify your network



Interview Tracking Template – RR Career Tools

Not sure where to start with Informational Interviews? Organization matters!

Firstly, an Informational Interview is a tool to build and nurture your network. It is a conversation where you can learn more about a person, an organization, and a field or industry.

Second, an informational interview tracking template is used to keep track of connections you make, identify potential career options, and opportunities.

This tool will  you manage your workload to look like the professional you are. 😉

The spreadsheet has three rings or tabs: the first one is for close inner circle family and friends. The second ring is for colleagues, alumni networks, and close friends. The third ring is for new contacts, expansions of connections, referrals, and new networks.

Finally, track your network as a living document. A tracking sheet allows you to see your progress, not lose things, and be able to analyze outcomes and industry sectors. Use it in conjunction with scheduling follow-up on your calendar.  A well-designed search will help you manage new connections; applications, interviews, and importantly, job offers.

Use this FREE informational interview tracking template to design a job search that delivers success!

Job and Network Tracking Sheet 2021


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!