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!



Communication, Uncategorized

A commentary on communication

As I climbed onto my barstool next to my hubby at B-side on Friday, I could smell the talc of the barber shop from his fresh haircut. I laid my leg across his lap so he could examine my foot and see my blue toes. It was a guilty pleasure to have a warm cream and stone massage with pedi after a really long week.

Beer and burgers are the best way I know finish a hectic schedule, so I joined him to look at the menu for our favorites. We like to sit at the bar so we can engage the bartender and sometimes converse with other patrons. Tonight we had a hipster, minus a beard, with a wrinkled plaid shirt that lifted to show a dingy white undershirt and the edge of his skinny chinos every time he reached for a bottle or glass. We are big craft beer fans and enjoy a sample before committing to a pint. After my third taste and no winners, I told Andrew,

“I’m not feeling it. Tomorrow we are headed to a sour beer fest, and I think I will just have some booze this evening. Can you mix me a drink, please?”

He perked up. “Where are you headed? I”m a big sour fan.”

“Denizens, over in Silver Spring.”

He scratched his chin, looked puzzled, and said, “I don’t know that one.”

Being the huge fans we are, we proceeded to tell him all about our favorite Denizens flagship beers, a Southside Rye IPA and Oud Boy (a Flanders Sour), and how they made special batches for the Make it Funky Festival, plus host lots of guest brewers. Then I paused and it hit me why none of the male brewers or bartenders seem to know Denizen’s beers: They have boobs, they are a woman-owned brewery!

“Do you think they don’t get any traction with the other breweries and craft bars because they are women? I blurted out loud.

“Totally,” Andrew responded. “It’s definitely a male-dominated arena.”

It blew my mind. I sipped on my lemon, black pepper, and basil cocktail while my husband wisely was quiet. After a moment I turned to him.

“You know, everywhere we have traveled, from Richmond to Rochester, Santa Rosa to Philadelphia, all the small breweries tell you about their friends in the business. I mean, they refer you to other breweries who are really their competitors. They even go as far as to share which are the particularly good beers someone should try. I guess they don’t share the beer-bromance with the female owned breweries. Wow, that stinks!”

He said, “You are just realizing this now?”

I glared at him. “I mean, no, but really?! I thought we’d got past this and it was all about the quality of the product.”

He sat up straighter. “You know I’ve been thinking, your next blog needs to be about translating.”

“I don’t get it, what do you mean?”

“What you really need to write about is the huge gulf between different groups of people, like men and women brewers, or in the workplace with technical teams and creative teams. There are huge gaps of communication that need to be bridged by someone…” he trailed off.

I looked at him and waited for him to explain further.

“Folks who can translate what one group is saying into terms the other group can understand are really important. It’s like a foreign language or different cultures are dividing people these days, even when they are from the same country,’” he added.

“The inability to communicate is keeping us from functioning. Everything is broken down, politically, economically, inter-personally…”

It was food for thought.


The morning dawned clear and the sun promised to warm things up to the 70s. We headed to Denizens on Saturday afternoon for the festival. We got in early with VIP tickets, so the beer garden was populated but still quiet. Before the crush, we ran into Emily (one of the co-owners) and chatted her up. She was glad to see us.

“How’re things going? Business been hopping?” I asked.

“Steadily growing things,” Emily responded.

“We loved celebrating our 15th anniversary here for Empowered Women International. It was a great turn out; thanks again for hosting!”

“Our pleasure, we like to support the community,” Emily said.

Then I remembered our conversation with Andrew the night before. I wondered about his comments.

“Emily, do you think it matters that you are a woman-owned brewery in terms of growing and collaborating with other beer makers? Do you find the field dominated by men?”

She laughed. “Big time! Even with my brother-in-law Jeff brewing, we have a hard time networking in the community… he isn’t really good with guy talk.”

My hubby looked at me and raised his eyebrows… “Translator,” he mouthed.

“Geesh, that’s really frustrating to still be facing that divide. We tell everyone we meet to come taste your beer or that they should have a line of your product when they are serving.”

She smiled. “Thanks for the support. Go enjoy the day ‘cause there are lots of good beers to taste!”

He didn’t say, “I told you,” so we started to wander and taste. One of the first tents held the folks from Black Narrows. They make beer on Chincoteague Island, VA. Their approach was very unique—the brewer’s parents described how they fermented oysters in their base to get their unique taste. They also shared that they hadn’t even opened a locale to serve beer, yet their beer was amazing.

There were the always consistent, bigger, more established breweries too, like Allagash and Avery. Then we tripped over Graft Cider from New York who were making a sour cider-like beer, Shared Universe (in conjunction with Charm City Meadworks in Baltimore). It was divine. Sarah, one of the business owners, was there and was really knowledgeable. Other than Emily, she was the only other female we met, other than servers, who seemed involved with the business of making beer. There were at least 50 breweries represented at the festival.

But the fun wasn’t over, and you are probably wondering where I’m going with this. I was equally surprised as the theme of communication and the need for translators was driven home again.

On Sunday I had a non-profit volunteer board meeting that lasted for three good hours, with engaged volunteers who were all mission-driven—easy stuff. Then we headed to my son’s football match and enjoy more of the beautiful fall weather. To top off the entire weekend, we went downtown to a sold-out book talk by Brené Brown, PhD Social Work.

Damn, she’s funny. She’s colorful, loves to cuss, and with her third-generation Texan accent, tells a mean story about her extensive research. Guess what she was talking about?

That we have a global “spiritual crisis of disconnection”. How we have become a nation of the “sorted.” That we have built balkanized communities of people similar to ourselves who are against everyone else. A collection of people who view others as outsiders while they are trying to find belonging, and in the end find themselves lonely behind self-constructed bunkers. That by not talking to people who have differing views, we have disabled communication totally. That there is a difference between hate speech (it’s destructive, hides fear, and is de-humanizing) and freedom of speech (guaranteed by the first amendment and crucial for democracy to flourish).

Brené was talking about the same thing my husband and I had started out with earlier: that unless we have a translator, a connector, or something drastic to bridge the gap between us (all people), we will continue to be disconnected. Human beings as a species are social and crave true connection to thrive. If we could only be vulnerable, look beyond the hatred that often masks pain or fear, and engage those who are different from us, Brené said, and if we do it with genuine, curiosity, and civility, we might survive.

She had started the discussion with a quote from one of her favorite writer/poets, Maya Angelou (Bill Moyers Interview 1973):

“You are only free when you realize you belong no place—you belong every place—no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.”

Brené challenged us to show up and join her in “Braving the Wilderness” (Her latest book that just made the bestseller list) where by being true to our individual selves, we can lower our barriers and reconnect with others—both those who are like us and those who are different from us. We can open communication and find that we are more alike than different. We have to start somewhere to repair the world—both professionally and personally.

Good beer making doesn’t require a specific gender or orientation. Neither does remembering to pull our neighbors (regardless of who they voted for) into the boat when the flood hits, or digging through the rubble for survivors (regardless if they are rich or poor) when the earthquake strikes, or rescuing survivors and mourning the dead (while trying to empathize with the perpetrator) when a gun-toting man fires his semi-automatic into a crowd of country music lovers. Here’s to the translators and connectors in the world. Please help bridge the gap, one human being to another.