I’m a – I’m a a Diva

The alarm goes off and you smash the pillow on your face and scream. It is Monday morning and you are dreading making the commute to the office. Multiple thoughts are running through your head.

“I should call in sick.”

“When was the last time I called in sick?”

“Do I have any meetings today?”

“What will really happen if I don’t go to the office?”

“F-it, what am I going to wear?”

“Goodness I can’t stand (fill in the blank)

Yep you are experiencing a serious case of the Monday Blues. Sometimes I just sit and think about all of the politics involved in cube-ville. I could give myself an aneurysm with the serious eye roll I just did thinking about it. One more day saying things like low-hanging fruit, out of the box, bandwidth. My goodness make it stop! Or worrying about an acquisition, a merger, layoffs, or transitions. The pressure is overwhelming especially if you are finally over the politics of it all. Maybe corporate success and climbing the ladder are no longer your dreams. Did you know FreshBooks reported that 24 million people want to become self-employed by 2021 and leave the traditional corporate day job. Yep that’s a fact.

Have you ever dreamed about being your own boss and starting a business? Do you have a side hustle that you wish you could devote more time too? Are you smiling right now thinking about your side hustle? Maybe it’s time to make that side hustle your permanent hustle. Let’s talk about a few signs that you are getting ready to become your own boss.

Wait, before we dive into that I want to give you a few more facts to think about. Ever heard the term “freelancer”? It’s basically a fancy word for a self-employed person who takes on contract work for individuals and/or companies. Nasdaq predicts that freelancers will increase to 43% of the workforce by 2020. While reading up on this fact I found that remote employees are 13% more efficient than office employees (Stanford said it). Gone are the days of having to have brick and mortar, tons of people work in their homes and/or remotely. Technology has been a disruption to the everyday office employee. This could be a good thing when you branch out, you won’t have to worry about leasing office space (insert happy dance).

Okay back to the signs…..

  • You have discussed the idea with your friends and family multiple times and have a soft business plan drafted.
  • Corporate success isn’t a goal anymore and you are tired of the rat race (no offense to the rats).
  • You have fulfilled your professional goals and looking to accomplish something different.
  • Tired of showing up and pretending to be something you’re not.
  • Want to follow your passion and express your creativity.
  • Jealous of the free-spirited entrepreneur that makes their own rules.

Maybe it’s time to put some meat behind that draft business plan and make it a reality. There are several resources out there that can assist in making your dream come true. Check out the SBA website there is a guidebook that will help with a lot of the leg work. SBA also has suggestions on counselors and an awesome learning center.

Not to be a Debbie-Downer, (random, what do we have against Debbie’s) there are some risks to being your own boss. You have to remember your clients will ultimately run your life. As the old saying goes, the customer is always right. I mention this because if you have a needy client and they expect you to be there any time they need you, you will have to factor that into your life. Again, technology is a disruption and if you get a bad review this could hurt your business and referrals will be your livelihood. Quick tip, set expectations in your contracts.

Deadlines and commitments are going to have to be met at all times. You no longer have any back up and most business people don’t expect to hear that your dog ate your homework. This will become a different type of stress but remember you make the rules.

Money is the key to end all your woes (great song). You will be spending your own money. The money you earn is the money you earn. Managing your finances is a hard thing to do on your own. The corporate finance department is sitting at the table with you. Let’s not even talk about hiring, that could be a whole ‘nother blog for a later date.

To all you Divas (Beyonce told us that a Diva is a female version of a hustler) out there, is it time to step out on your own? Take the time to map it all out. Weigh out the pros and cons. When you are done analyzing the data and your ROI is looking good, GO FOR IT!

Sky’s the Limit

The Review

Do you know how well you are doing at your job? Throughout my career I have had several different managers with a different idea on feedback, career paths, and performance reviews. Speaking of performance reviews there are several different methods and some are better than others. I believe the performance review should be simple and nothing should be a surprise (my blog, my rules). Let’s be clear, reviews should be a conversation, not a confrontation. First and foremost the idea of a performance review puts the employee on edge and raises their stress levels. Think about some ways to reduce the stress. One way would be to stop having them altogether and some organizations are moving away from the old-fashioned annual review. A good alternative to an annual performance review is to structure informal discussions throughout the year. This structure reduces stress and the employee is not blindsided at the end of the year. Here’s another good tip, have the employees schedule their time with their manager. This will reduce stress by helping the employee feel empowered due to the employee becoming the meeting organizer instead of the manager. Subtle but effective. Let’s dive in on the individuals.

The Boss

There are several things that could go wrong with performance reviews. Lack of data, insecurities, stress, fear, and behavior are all things that contribute to a bad experience. Each participant should be prepared. I will begin with the boss. Managers should be ready to listen more and provide constructive feedback. Let’s face it, as a boss you are a mentor, use those skills. They should provide feedback to their employees regularly and provide correction. The manager should think about the employee holistically by thinking about their strengths and their weaknesses. For instance, if an employee’s priority is to sale products and they are killing it, this should be recognized. But if the same employee is not doing a good job at entering data into the CRM, this should also be recognized and solutions should be offered. If the employee takes the advice and corrects the data entry issues, this employee will be the bees-nees in the organization moving forward.

If an employee is not performing well the annual performance review is more than likely too late to provide feedback or correction. Issues should be identified quickly and plans should be structured to correct the issues along with a deadline. You could use the annual review to discuss how the correction plan is going and provide additional feedback if necessary. Another good tip is for leaders to get feedback from other members of the organization that interact with their teams on a regular basis. This will provide the leader with information regarding behaviors (either positive or negative). Everyone is on their best behavior when the boss is around. It’s good to know how the team interacts when the boss is not around. All of these factors should be compiled and discussed during the review from the boss’s side.

The Employee

Discussions with the boss should never be one-sided. The employee should be prepared to discuss how they performed and this is a good time to discuss career goals. Use this time wisely and get instant feedback and guidance from each other. The performance review is a great time to bring in the projects that you have completed throughout the year and give your manager a quick peek into how the sausage was made (a saying that I use to reference processes and tactics used to complete a job). You are your best advocate and your manager may not even understand how you complete your projects. Some great tools were discussed in a blog I wrote about promoting yourself (This Woman’s Work). Here’s the thing, during most reviews the manager does all of the talking. Did you ever think that during your review it’s a good time to give your manager some feedback? Well it is, again this is not a confrontation and most leaders need to hear about the day-to-day activities so that they can adjust processes or responsibilities. Managers need guidance too and getting information from the “worker bees” is an excellent way to keep their finger on the pulse of morale and if new ideas and/or processes are working. Don’t be afraid you can provide guidance to leaders, remember they hired you for a reason (you is smart, you is kind, you is important).

The Outro

In a perfect world we would all communicate with each other with confidence and civility. When things are wrong we will work together to correct them. Lastly people will get credit when credit is due and promotions and raises will come naturally and fairly. But who am I kidding, this is not a perfect world and we need tools in place to keep the playing field even. Just remember to communicate on a regular basis, provide feedback, and guidance to correct issues. Sprinkle in some good ole’ fashioned manners and we will be cooking with gas LOL. Have a good one.

Get Up, Get Out, and Get Something

The Intro

Through your childhood if you are fortunate you had your parents to look up to for guidance. When you enter school you add on a few teachers and professors. Then you start your career. Are you provided someone to go to for assistance? Are you blessed to use your manager for guidance? What about your HR department are they a good resource? Here’s the thing even as children it’s a good idea to have this strange concept of a mentor. Most organizations and communities get this concept completely wrong. Some use it as a way to punish. Troubled youth, let’s get them connected to a mentor. Get in trouble at work, match them with this person so they can shadow them. Think about how mentors have been used so negatively. No wonder people shy away from having or finding a mentor.

You Know Why

Okay let’s demystify mentors. I am going to focus on mentors in the business world. First why should we have a mentor? As business pros we believe we have all the answers to the obstacles that come our way. Take some time to think about the one obstacle you wish you had a second chance to overcome because you feel you hit every step going down to failure. If you had a good mentor to bounce ideas off of you may have saved yourself some pain. A good mentor will inspire you to do better, connects with you, make you think differently about situations, and last but not least they should provide a judgement free zone. The dictionary definition of mentor is, an experienced and trusted adviser. Trust will play a large role in your mentor. You will more than likely share things about your career, co-workers, and manager that you would not want to be shared with others or them. Second, you want a place to share ideas and not feel incompetent or less than.

What’s My Role

The role of a mentor is simple, they should provide a safe place to be open and advise you on methods to complete your goals. Not tell you what to do, but help you with your plan. I have heard from many mentors on how they hate it when mentees come to them asking, “what should I do to be promoted”? Mentees should come prepared with a plan so that the mentor can offer suggestions, not write the plan. Mentors can see where you may need to improve even when you don’t see it. They are like therapist, they ask probing questions for you to think about and ask for answers later. See, they are not meant to fix it for you, but help you come up with the answer on your own. Reminds me of the old saying “teach a man how to fish…..”. Mentors can make connections and point you in the right direction; they have experience; and they can keep you from making beginners mistakes. Lastly, mentors are free.


You are probably wondering where can I find a mentor? Most people suggest you find a mentor within your same profession. The easy route is to find someone in your organization that you trust. I would suggest finding more than one for different areas in your career. For instance, a mentor at your organization can assist you with advancing in your career at that organization (remember come prepared with a plan). A mentor in the same industry at another organization may give you a different perspective and provide guidance on how to advance at several different organizations. I also believe you should have a mentor for life choices (just a thought, this could be your circle of friends).

Finding a mentor should not be forced and should come from a place of admiration. You should select someone that inspires you either from a conversation you have had, they gave a great speech, or just observing the person in the workplace. When you approach them make sure you are clear on what you are asking them to do. Once they are on board state what you would like them to mentor you on and what skill sets they have that you would like to pull from. Determine the length of time you will meet and how often. Are you going to lunch or meeting at a coffee shop? Is this going to be quarterly meetings or monthly? Once you have identified the frequency of your meetings, schedule them for the year to get them on the calendar. I am guessing your mentor is very busy and the sooner you get it on the calendar the better.

Don’t sell yourself short, let your mentor know what value you bring to the table. For instance, if your mentor is at your organization you may be able to help them understand what the “worker bees” think of their leadership style and provide suggestions. Or you could have great ideas on an initiative they are championing. Be present while you are meeting, the last thing your mentor wants to see is that you are not engaged. Believe me the relationship will need there and you probably have put a pin in your career.

The End

All and all, mentors are a great addition to your life and can assist in many ways. Just remember, come prepared, select someone you admire, and be open minded. You didn’t make it this far in life not being able to handle the truth. Have a good one!

Till I Collapse

As you look around your office do you begin to feel like a dinosaur? Are you becoming the bitter old person? When is it time to step down and let the next generation take the reigns? Advisors, counselors, placeholders are all titles that the elders receive when the new blood comes in. Is this evolution or the end of an era? If your organization is thinking about it’s future, it should be the beginning of an evolution or they are going to miss out. Let me explain.

Did you know there is a name for the older workforce “perennials”? Who knew?! It’s not the plant but this group has been described as ever-blooming, knows what’s happening in the world, stays current with technology and has friends of all ages. If you are wondering the research states this person is 55+ years of age. Well, this segment of the workforce is geared to be the largest working population by 2024. This topic reminds me of a great movie called The Intern, watch it great stuff.

Organizations are beginning to see the value in retaining institutional knowledge and have developed a new culture for the perennials. Better work stations, softer floors, ergonomic chairs, flexible work hours, better vacation packages. The list goes on and it is due to the amount of perennials that are in the workforce and the lack of workforce availability. Who knew that with all the fuss over millennials the perennials would take over. There is something to be said about wisdom and the research is proving this.

There are several reasons why this is happening. There is the obvious, increased life expectancy across the industrialized world. Or to put is frankly, people are basically living longer and want to continue to secure the bag beyond the age of 65. Females that put their careers on hold to raise a family enter the workforce later in life and reach their professional stride at about 50. This group of women have mastered a lot of life skills through running a household and conquering the world will go past the next 15 years in the workplace. Then there is the move that many organizations made in the retirement plans, moving from defined-benefit to defined-contribution. Which means the workers have to save to retire comfortably and let’s be honest ain’t nobody got time for that. Most people spend when they get it and if they save it’s for emergencies. Just saying, the research shows that we are not good at saving the coins, just spending. Therefore we work longer.

I read somewhere that the perennials will be the segment that changes and disrupts the workplace more than the millennials. Research has shown that perennials take fewer sick days, have stronger problem solving skills, and more likely to be satisfied at work. Let’s not forget the loyalty to the organizations. Think about the person you go to for advice at work. Are they older than you and have they been at the organization longer than you? Wiser, knowledgeable, guidance counselors, awesome employees, and hardworking. Gives us all something to look forward to in our older years if we decide to continue working. Like I stated last week, know your worth!

This Woman’s Work

Know your worth. This is a strong statement that relates to many aspects of life. Your friends, your mate, and your career. In each track there are different methods and mindsets needed to show your worth. Today we are going to concentrate on the career.

So do you remember the time when you wanted to go to your manager and request a raise but you stopped because you couldn’t or didn’t think your manager would go for it? Or maybe you were afraid because you didn’t want to seem greedy. Or my favorite, I don’t want to face rejection. We all know when someone in leadership tells us no we feel inferior or that they believe we cannot handle more responsibility or don’t deserve more pay. Then you leave their office and go right to the job search websites to find another job even though you know you’re not going anywhere. Okay maybe that’s me #truestory. One more for giggles, you get rejected from leadership and you go directly to your work crew and rip that manager a new one and work on a plan to strike. Yep that escalated quickly. But we all know how that goes in cube-ville.

Time to drop some knowledge. Have you ever Googled your name? Most people have. I have and boy was I shocked. What about your position title? Try it, this is a good way to see what other organizations have going on in your industry. You may find that your title doesn’t match your job duties. A few sites can help you find out more about your position and the salary range. I would begin with Indeed.com or use some of the tools on LinkedIn. Knowing the range will give you an understanding of how you fair against the standards. If your current salary is closer to the low end of the salary range you have the data (well some of the data) needed to assist in the negotiation process for higher pay. You can also use these tools to become more aware of what employers in your industry are seeking and when you meet these needs highlight them.

Now you have the research on how much you should be making lets work on the confidence. You have to believe that you deserve a higher wage or why would anyone else. First make a list of your accomplishments and profitable skills. Interview your friends and mentors to see if you are missing anything from your list. Now that you have your list, put some meat behind it. Put your marketing hat on and begin telling your story. For example, if you have implemented a new program that brought in more revenue write out how you implemented the program, how you monitored the growth and run reports on the ROI (return on investment). Yes print this out and create some visuals. Do this for all of your accomplishments and create a book. When it is completed read it, make edits, remove any redundancies, and last but not least relish in how you are a rock star and deserving of a larger pay check. Guess what, you can also transform this information into a resume. You should always have this information stored in your mind and always ready to give your elevator pitch about yourself. An example of an elevator pitch: as the business operations director I have implemented a new sales process that has reduced the approval time for projects from 180 days down to 90 days resulting in the closing of 1,007 projects and $4M in sales. BOOM DROP THE MIC and cut the check.

Be your own advocate and ready to market your skills and experience. No one else is going to do this for you and most managers are comfortable with paying you the standard. If you want more money or more responsibilities you have to pitch yourself and get out of your comfort zone.

Hope these tips have been informative and helpful. Have a good one.

Werk, Werk, Werk, Werk, Werk, Werk

Working from home, working remotely, alternative work locations are all great descriptions of the new work lifestyle. Corporations are beginning to provide alternative work locations for staff based on their work behavior. I personally love to work outside of the office. There are less distractions, opens my mind to creative thinking, and reduces my stress levels.

Here’s the thing, trust is a large part of allowing team members to work remotely. There are some managers that do not trust their staff and become micro-managers and always checking in to ensure that everyone is actually working. This is counter productive. As a manager I worked with new team members and informed them that they had to wait 90 days before signing up for an alternative work station. Then based on their work ethics and responsibilities, staff were allowed to work remotely on scheduled days (my organization was not fully vested in the idea but I don’t want to digress).

Moving all programs to a cloud based system is key to having remote staff. For instance using tools like Box for file sharing or making sure your CRM is cloud based. This allows team members to share their work easily and helps with collaboration. Just a few business processes and naming conventions and you are good to go.

Co-meeting spaces are helpful as well. If you find that your team is more productive outside of the office, host meetings at a coffee shop or a co-meeting space to assist with remote team members feeling disconnected. Co-meeting spaces a becoming a huge part of working remotely. It sort of feels like a field trip but you are still working on a specific project and/or goal.

To be clear, not all positions are fit for remote work. It is beneficial to allow people to use their best judgement on their personalities and job responsibilities to come up with a solution (alternative VS office). For instance, if you are not a self starter working from home may not be a good idea. Or if you have small children who don’t understand that you are working and potentially unavailable.

Some people worry about losing face time with senior leaders if they have an alternative work space. To fix this concern, have your team dedicate days in the office. When senior leaders schedule meetings, inform your team that it is an in-person meeting. This is also good practice if you are not a manager. Whenever you have a meeting with a leader of your organization, take the time to drive to the office.

In the end, it is a new age people. Open your mind and think about the individual instead of the team as a whole. What works for one team member may not work for the rest. I mean don’t get me started on high walls versus low walls or stand up desks versus regular desks. Times are a changing.

Because I’m Happy!

The Rant

What does success look like? Does it mean you are financially stable, your relationship with your partner is solid, your children are happy, you are being promoted and provided financial rewards at work? Think about it, what does success mean to you? Now think about what does mental health mean to you? Do you believe that your work life contributes to your mental state? In one of my previous blogs I found a stat regarding how many hours a person will work in their lifetime on average (65,000 hours). 65,000 hours equals 31.25 years of work days. I can give you the formula if you want it. That is a lot of time to spend on one aspect of your life. Now think about that time frame and your mental state. Are you happy or are you spending all this time in an unhappy situation? Would you do the same if it was regarding your personal life?

I ask these questions because your work life plays a huge role on your personal life and your state of mind. Balancing your work life and your personal life is becoming an issue. There have been multiple studies done on how the fears of job loss incentivize longer work hours. A stat showed that more than 93% of working professionals reported working more than 50 hours per week. This type of workday is damaging and can hurt relationships, health and overall happiness. Technology is adding to the problem and making professionals accessible around the clock. I know that in the past when I worked from home I had a difficult time turning off and being engaged with my family. Just one more email or I just need to log one more call. I had to force myself to stop. Of course, I had to learn the hard way, when things changed and my responsibilities were changed I realized, I am replaceable and it is all about the bottom line. It’s work, right, not my entire life. I also realized that it’s more than work, it is a big part of my life and if I didn’t get ahead of the issues, it was going to affect my personal life and my mental health. Let’s get into a few tips.

Work Balance Tips

Review your workload and set realistic goals to complete each task. Completing goals gives you a sense of accomplishment and control. When you feel you are in control you have less stress. Make a “To-Do” list and prioritize the items you write down. Evaluate what is essential, what can be done later, and what can be completed by someone else (delegate if you have the choice). Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask for help especially if you are feeling overwhelmed with all the tasks that have to be completed.

When you face a large project don’t procrastinate, our mind will make the task larger than it is and we will begin to feel it is impossible. Start by dividing the project into smaller tasks and complete the first task before moving on to the next. It’s good practice to give yourself a reward when you accomplish tasks. For instance, after completing the first two tasks, reward yourself with a short walk (maybe to the coffee shop or cafe in your office). Walking clears the mind and will get you prepared for the rest of the project tasks. The more time you spend being focused and productive, the less time you will spend procrastinating.

Everybody needs a break. Taking breaks are usually encouraged at most corporations. Some organizations have set rules to manage coverage. For instance, you work two hours you get a 15 minute break. Utilize these benefits. Like I said earlier, small breaks help clear the mind and keep you focused.

Music makes you lose control, JK. Listening to music at your desk and/or office can reduce anxiety and stress. Do you have a favorite song that pumps you up? I do, I listen to several songs depending on what I am getting ready to do. Like I listen to Mula by Big Sean (ain’t nothing more important) before I have to do a presentation. Get’s my mind right and pumped up LOL. When I am trying to get a project done, I listen to smooth jazz (no words). It relaxes me and I don’t get off track by singing the lyrics.

Tell the truth about your situation especially when you are in a bind or behind the ball. Chances are everyone will understand but don’t just complain, come with solutions and/or alternatives. Getting a team members point of view could help you with your completion strategy. Communication is key when you are trying to meet a deadline.

Are you a perfectionist? If so, let it go. You are in danger of burning out and fast. As you grow in life you find that your responsibilities are growing as well. First its just school, then after school activities, then your first job, then higher education (paying for it), then your career, family, etc. Now you have all of those things and all of the responsibilities that come with them. I AM EXHAUSTED!! But seriously, let it go, the pressure of being perfect in all of those aspects of your life will send you to a mental institution. Here’s the thing it’s pressure we are putting on ourselves. Great segue into the personal stuff.

Life Balance Tips

I have talked about this in a previous blog post “The Plug Walk” it is important to unplug when you get home. Recognize that the same technology that makes you easily accessible can also burn you out. You have earned the right to have some personal time so do it.

Break up the chores at home. If you have a family, divide and conquer. Meaning split up the chores and you will save time and have more time to spend connecting and catching up. If you are home alone, split up your chores by the days. For instance, meal prep on Sundays for the week and then dinner is done. Do laundry on a certain day. Grocery shop on a certain day. This allows time on each day to dedicate to winding down.

People don’t understand how busy you are. I mean how many people share their work calendars with their friends and family and vice versa. So try your best not to over commit. Remember we are leaving the perfectionist behind, take off the cape and sit on the couch. Over committing during your personal time will add to your stress and when it’s time to go back to work you will take that overwhelming feeling with you.

Count on your tribe. Wait do you have a tribe? Meaning your group of friends and family that you can count on for support. Chatting with your friends about life or just sitting and laughing about everything is very beneficial to your mental health. People with strong support systems handle stressful situations better than people without a support system.

Get up get out and get something. Go dancing, ride a bike, take a walk, go to the gym. Just get active. Activity helps reduce stress levels and regular activity reduces depression and anxiety. Activity is a good way to incorporate your family and friends as well so you can kill two birds with one stone.

Break it down. Start small when you are looking at changing things at work and in your personal life. We have all failed at the new diet trends, or attempting to go to the gym. More often than most it’s because we wanted a quick fix and didn’t take the time to change our behavior and make something a habit. Same for this topic, when we take on too much too quickly it will fizzle out. Start with one change and use the tools. Take the change you want to focus on and write a list, prioritize, and begin working on one thing at a time. Eventually it will become a habit and you can begin to incorporate some of the other changes you need to make. TAKE YOUR TIME THIS IS YOUR PERSONAL GOAL #mentalhealth.

Hope these tips help. See you next week! ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL!!

I Got a Meeting in the Ladies Room

Let’s Have a Meeting About the Meeting

Meetings to discuss the meeting all day everyday. There becomes a time when I begin to think that I am a professional meeting participant. Sometimes I would look at my weekly schedule and wonder when will I be able to get some work done? Monday meetings are the worst. Okay maybe 8 AM meetings are the worst. But back to Mondays. There are so many distractions especially with the all time favorite opener, “how was your weekend, did you do anything?”. 15 minutes later the discussion may begin. Some days the meeting will go over because of the distractions. I really love meetings with a subject of touch base and it’s scheduled for an hour with no agenda. Now how in the heck am I supposed to get prepared for this generic meeting. Yes, I emailed the organizer but of course I don’t get a response because everybody’s inbox is crazy, probably because they are in meetings. Then there are meetings that I attend and halfway through I wonder why in the world was I invited to this meeting and instantly get annoyed and begin thinking about my to-do list that I need to accomplish when I escape the meeting. Don’t get me wrong, meetings are a necessary evil and are a great way to get things done quickly. All business cannot be handled through email. The trick to meetings is to be efficient. Having said that here are some tips on conducting a successful meeting.

No Research – Just Tips and Just the Tip

First when hosting a meeting focus on eliminating distractions and keeping the participants focused and on topic. The best way to accomplish both is an agenda. This will allow the participants the ability to plan ahead and get mentally prepared. Your agenda should include meeting objectives, topics (in bullet form) with the type of action needed and remember to allow time for Q&A (questions and answers). It’s good practice to print agendas for all of the participants. You should definitely include the agenda on the meeting appointment. Which should be emailed at least a week prior to the meeting. In the meeting appointment, the subject should set the tone for the overall topic.

Second important task for the meeting host is defining the roles of the participants before sending out the appointment. Have you ever been in a meeting and look around and wonder why certain individuals are there. I do. Then I begin thinking about the salaries of the participants and how much the organization is spending in regards to labor for this particular meeting. Back to the tips, based on the topic you should have a champion (someone that will make the final decision), subject matter experts, and a record keeper. There are times when the host will play multiple roles during a meeting.

A really good method to use during a meeting is the “parking lot” method. When the discussion gets off track but you don’t want to forget the topic “parking lot”. Inform the participants that the discussion is important but would be better suited at a later date. The host or record keeper will need to write the topic down and include the parking lot topics in the follow up email. This is also a meaningful way to let the participants know the discussion (even though off topic) was important. Don’t forget to address the parking lot topics at another meeting. You can also ask one of the participants to be the host of that meeting. One more thing about parking lot. There are times when I use a whiteboard for parking lot topics or those large post-it notes. Visuals are always good during meetings and a good way to keep the participants on topic.

So now the time is up and everyone is headed back to their desks. This does not mean it’s over. The host should connect with the record keeper and send out a follow up email. This email should include notes about actions taken, new action items with the assigned person identified and deadlines for completing the tasks, last a short sentence or two about each topic discussed.

Oh yea, one more last thing. Start and end the meetings at the time allotted. Everyone’s time is valuable. Hope you find these tips useful. Have a good one.

I’m Still #1

My Rant

I recently heard a term, alienated lonely. These two words were so deep and troubling and eye opening to me. This loneliness is different from being sad. It is a description of being the only one. You could be the only woman in the conference room and you definitely could be the only woman of color in the conference room. These two are perfect examples of alienated loneliness.

There are times when being the only one really gets to me mentally. The burden and the pressure that I feel because I am now representing the entire race and/or gender. Some may say I’m putting this pressure on myself but it’s true. Have you ever disagreed with someone in a meeting and then you’re labeled angry or your tone is questioned? Skin color, hair texture, body language, curves are all on display and sometimes judged or frowned upon. I think twice about certain styles because I don’t want to be “too” ethnic. Have you ever spoken to someone on the phone and when you meet them in person they are surprised because they assumed you were another race? Let me tell you, I have and the sad thing is I have grown accustomed to it.

Our former first lady stated “when they go low, we go high”. This certainly is true in the workplace. But man sometimes it is a hard pill to swallow. Always wondering if someone is treating me wrong at work because I am a minority or if the person is just rude. It’s tiring. As I maneuver through different scenarios as the only one I begin to wonder do I disappear and try to blend in or do I stand up as the voice of the group? Here I go again dealing with having to work three times harder than everyone else.

Mistakes are taken as being incapable versus a mistake. Only being given one chance to prove yourself and usually with little to no guidance. In the back of your mind always wondering is it the same for everyone. I mean why are strong business women called bitches, heartless, or evil? When their male counterparts with the same behavioral traits are labeled leaders, smart, and strong. Don’t even get me started on unequal pay. Possibly a future blog post.

Some Research

Eye opening is an understatement after reading the annual Women in the Workplace study completed by LeadIn.org and McKinsey & Company. It was hard to read that women of color are the most underrepresented group of all behind white men, men of color, and white women. Out of the 64,000 employees surveyed in this study, it was found that women receive less support from their managers than men. Specifically less support navigating organizational politics which is important to understand for promotions. African American women receive less support than other women in different races, especially in regards to promoting their accomplishments. In some instances the issue is female leaders holding back other females by informing them to keep their heads down and work hard. While men are told to network and pitch their ideas whenever chances arise.

Another thing I found whiling reading about this topic is that women that are looking for jobs will only apply when they meet all of the qualifications while men apply when they may meet only a few? Have you ever done this? Focus on the one thing you may not have and walk away from an opportunity? To be clear, I am not talking about a field that requires a certain certificate or degree (nursing or doctor). It is usually something minor that puts doubt in our minds coupled with feeling like we have to work three times harder. What a vicious cycle.

Working three times harder brings me to another point, women are more likely than men to be questioned about their judgement in their area of expertise and asked to provide additional evidence. If a female disagrees with someone in a meeting, men instantly go to “it’s her time of the month”. Okay maybe not all men but I am speaking on my personal incidents with a little research mixed in. Saying things like “time of the month” are called microaggressions (new term I learned in my research). Microaggressions are often directed at people with less authority. In this case women. Another common microaggression is assuming that the female in the room is not qualified to be in the room. For example, assuming the woman in the room is there to take notes or get coffee. Another personal example, yes this happened to me. There was also a time when a colleague and I were discussing racial issues and my colleague stated, “I don’t see you as black.”. Was this a compliment, a statement to prove they don’t see color, or something negative? I have to say, I did not ask, I went on with the conversation and pondered about it ever since. Not going down this rabbit hole today.


Experts agree that feelings of comfort and acceptance in the workplace are serious and should not be taken lightly. Most people will work an average of 65,000 hours in their lifetime. This being said, being happy at work is beneficial to your physical and mental health. If you are unhappy in the workplace you will more than likely under perform, misuse time, and not give your best on projects. Here’s some advice on how to overcome the pressures and anxiety of being the only one.

First, figure out if the problem is internal or external. Meaning are you overthinking things and the problem lies within yourself and your confidence. Or are people treating you unfairly. Once you identify this you will be able to take the effective steps to correct the situation. If internal think about why you are insecure about certain situations and work on this.

Second, make sure you are not secluding yourself because of things you have learned in the past. For instance, you may have been told that women should be polite and not assertive. Well ladies, all bets are off in the workplace. You have to be your own advocate and find your voice and your seat at the table. You belong there, otherwise you would not have been hired. Don’t be afraid to pitch your ideas in meetings and remember you are always on an interview especially in front of leadership.

Third, continue to hone your craft. No matter what industry you are in make sure you continue to attend trainings/seminars to learn new methods and skills in your industry. Communication is another skill that you should continue to improve. Are you a good communicator (written and oral). If not, attend some trainings on how to effectively communicate. There are several organizations that offer trainings for industry skills and management skills.

Fourth, reach out for help. Find a mentor or a colleague even if they are at a different organization. They will bring a different perspective and possibly offer up some advice to help you grow professionally. Connections and building relationships are the best way to grow in the business world.

Fifth, don’t be ashamed to leave. If you have done all you can do and you still feel uncomfortable in your work environment it is probably time to leave. How do you know it’s time to leave? If you feel you have to compromise your work ethics or change who you are, it is definitely time to go. Lastly, if making the changes necessary to fit in will ultimately ruin your reputation or not make a lasting difference #goodbye.

I’m Out

As women we don’t have to feel “less than” there are several leading business women that are making it happen everyday. We need to find our voices and stand up for ourselves and other women for that matter. If you are a leader, remember to teach the ones coming up behind you. Each one teach one, it’s who you know not what you know, etc. GIRL POWER, LET’S UNITE!! Share your story by commenting. Have a good one.

Change Clothes – I Stay Fresh to Death


We have all heard the phrase, dress for the job you want not the job you have. This came to my mind while shopping with my daughter. My daughter was looking to upgrade her wardrobe for work and struggled with what she should buy. I began to wonder, with the new generation coming into the workforce, does this phrase still ring true? Or are we becoming a workplace of casual and self-expression? Don’get me wrong I LOVE expressing myself through fashion. Feeling regular – maybe I will wear a v-neck t-shirt, cute scarf, and khakis. Feeling like a rock star – silky cargo pants, fitted button up shirt, and a spiked heel. Then there are days when I want to wear PJ’s to the office and fuzzy slippers (no suggestions at this time LOL). It just depends. But what do you do when it comes to this phrase and the workplace? I want to rule the world, does this mean I wear my crown and my royal mantle to work? Not to be extreme but these are the things that came to mind when this topic came up. And of course, it took me down a rabbit hole of what do I want to be when I grow up and how does that persona dress?

Don’t we all feel like this??

The Research

Just because someone wears a polo style shirt and khakis does not always mean they work in IT or Target. Whatever happened to don’t judge a book by it’s cover (even though I do this)? The keyword is judge. Most of us pride ourselves on not judging others. But who are we kidding, we are judging everyone all day long in the workplace. Think about it, you’re sitting in the meeting room waiting on the other participants and it’s like an episode of What Not to Wear or Who Wore it Best. Okay maybe that’s just me but I KNOW MY TRUTH!!

There are studies about first impressions and how people make their judgement when meeting someone new within the first seven seconds of the introduction. Now that’s pressure! You’re probably thinking about all of the new interactions you have made over the week and now it has hit you, you have judged. Okay again, I know my truth! But let’s flip this on it’s side, what did that person think of you? First, that’s none of your business, but let’s roll with it for this post.

You have seven seconds and with our reduced attentions spans (thanks technology) it is probably four seconds to make an impression. So interviews, meetings, speaking engagements, deal pitches, 4 seconds before you even open your mouth the person and/or people are evaluating how they feel about you. With this pressure how do you establish yourself as a successful person? The easiest answer is, the way you dress.

While researching this topic I found that the dress code in corporate America and the standards are pretty low. But this makes it fairly easy to impress. The Goddess of fashion has so many quotes to live by. A girl should be two things, classy and fabulous; fashion fades only style remains the same; dress shabbily and they remember the dress, dress impeccably and they remember the woman. YOU BETTER WERK!!! #CoCoChanel

I tell my team all the time, you are always on an interview at the workplace. Especially in front of leadership. Therefore, how you dress is the first thing people see and it is very important. Now I can do a whole post on shopping on a budget, that said, dressing nice does not equal break the bank. This is an investment in the most important person in your life *YOU*. One last thing before I go into the tips. What is your style and do you have or are you working on your brand (new term of the century)?

Tips – Back to the Basics

Investing in a more classic and staple wardrobe can give you a better bang for your buck and you won’t have to worry about an item going out of style. Below are a few classic items you will need in the workplace that are easily mixed and matched.

  • Black slacks, brown slacks, and gray slacks
  • White button shirt and blue button shirt
  • Black skirt
  • Blazer (probably the most expensive item on this list)
  • Brown leather shoes (pump/heel)
  • Black leather shoes (pump/heel)
  • White cardigan
  • Black dress (sheath style is classic)

Below is an example and how to add on more pieces and ideas on how to mix & match.

Rule of Thumb

If you are wearing dark pants/skirt and dark shoes, wear dark socks (vice versa on light clothes). There is only one man (God rest his soul) that can pull off white socks in a black (rhinestone) suit and that’s Michael Jackson. Some of us hate pressing our clothes but your clothes should be wrinkle free. Use your clothes dryer and hang immediately to reduce wrinkles and the need to iron. Leave your tight clothes at home and while we are on this touchy subject, invest in some good shape wear. Believe me even the super models wear them. Dress for the occasion, casual Fridays bring out your rip free jeans. Black tie event you will need a very nice dress or gown.

Just to expand on dressing for the occasion, know your audience. If you are meeting with IT experts their dress code may be more relaxed. Meeting with someone in the financial or legal industry, the dress code may be more formal. A little research on the company and the person goes a long way prior to your first engagement. LinkedIn is a great site to learn more about an individual professionally. Are you on LinkedIn, you should be.

Accessories can be your best friend or your worst enemy. Don’t wear too many. For instance, a scarf, statement necklace, long earrings, bracelets on both wrists, a watch, and more than one ring on each hand. TOO MUCH!! Don’t be afraid to accessorize but limit how many at once. Your accessories can spice up a classic look. A great brooch can bring your outfit to another level.

Don’t forget your work bag, especially when walking into a meeting. Invest in a good-functional work bag. If you bring your cell phone to meetings, don’t forget your cell phone case will be on display. Last but not least, invest in a good watch. Select a nice face (big faces are in right now) and purchase different bands so that you can swap them out. I would go with a brown leather band and a black leather band. Just a suggestion.

The Exit

While being in the office or an external meeting, perception is reality. This is a fact that you need to remember while you are dressing for different occasions. You should always put your best foot forward in the workplace. Remember you are always on an interview even when you don’t expect it. Have a good one!

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