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Feeling Gratitude During Times of Change

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Can you believe it’s November already? The autumn colors and falling leaves (and temperatures!) signal a time of change. The fall season is my favorite time of year. Besides the pumpkin spiced donuts and crisp apple cider, there is sentiment of gratitude in the air. Of course, we have the Thanksgiving holiday to remind us, at least for a day, about the importance of gratitude in our lives. But what if you maintained this attitude of gratitude throughout each and every day of the year? How would your life change? How would your approach to work change?

As many of you know, these past 6 months have been challenging for me as I adjust to a new normal with my canine best friend and Chief Motivating Officer, Lucy. Back in May, Lucy began to have grand mal seizures. Scary to witness. I felt so helpless. After the devastating diagnosis of a brain tumor, our doctor told us that Lucy might have just 3 to 6 months to live. Not the news anyone wants to hear.

Faced with significant change, I did what any normal human being would do. At first, I was upset and angry. I wondered how on earth this could happen to a strong, independent, and otherwise very healthy dog....

The Importance of Leadership Culture for Success

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Finding the right organization and culture to thrive in is a personal endeavor. What works for some, may not work for others. You have to be able to fit within the structure and character of a company to perform at your best. For women in male-dominated industries, this can be an uphill battle. But remember, you always have choices.

First, you have to figure out what you want. Get clear and focused on your own strengths, values, priorities, and goals. Understand your career aspirations and goals. Only you can determine what is best for you. Then, evaluate your organization and culture.

Ultimately, to be successful you need to find a corporate culture with men that have a strong desire to support and advance women. Culture is driven from the top down. Leadership defines the values, and more importantly, the behaviors of a culture and organization. These values show up significantly in overall decision-making and how to promote within.

Aileron, a national non-profit organization dedicated to unleashing the potential of private businesses through professional management, defines culture as the “values and beliefs as demonstrated through the real behavior of the organization.” This definition captures the heart of the issue.

An organization can have stated values and beliefs that define their culture....

Building Rapport for Successful Leadership

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Know any personalities at your workplace that rub you the wrong way? Chances are you do. Friction, by definition, is the resistance of motion when object rubs against another. There are plenty of high friction personalities in the business world. Some are successful, but their leadership methods are often shortsighted and fear inducing to their teams.

Successful leaders understand that building rapport is the grease that reduces friction in the machine of business. Whether you are in sales, marketing, engineering, finance, or human resources, reducing friction allows people to collaborate in a way that is forward moving and productive.

Rapport is an emotional bond or friendly relationship between people based on a mutual liking, trust, and an understanding that they share each other’s concerns. The best leaders create rapport with everyone – their team members, colleagues, managers, shareholders, stakeholders, customers, and clients. These leaders often generate win-win solutions that build upon that trust that was developed over time.

Fortunately, building rapport and the level of trust and understanding that great leaders embody is a skill that has been studied for years. Here are five proven ways to build rapport with everyone you meet.

1.  Pay attention to how you show up – physically, emotionally, and mentally.

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Top 3 Reasons You Fail at Networking

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Networking – How is that working out for you?

Everyone tells you to get out there and network. So, you Google various groups and find a few events to attend. You show up, grab a few snacks, and wander around the room waiting to see what will happen. Perhaps there is a speaker. You have some chitchat with the women around you. Then after the presentation, you get up and head home. Perhaps you feel good because you showed up and put yourself “out there.” Maybe you are frustrated because you didn’t feel you made any progress. Possibly you are excited about one or two of the new people you just met.

Chances are you leave networking events with a mixed bag of emotions and a handful of business cards. But what value did you gain from attending (besides eating enough hors d’oeuvres to pretend you got your money’s worth)? For many women, networking events are painful necessities in the business world. Get your glass of wine, grab a few snacks, and talk to a few people, then leave.

We feel obligated to attend these events to make us believe we have a go-to network to generate new opportunities when the need arises....

Go Slow to Go Fast

Change is inevitable in our lives. Technology drives us to find answers faster, be more productive, and constantly connected. However, when we live our lives at this frantic pace, it can actually feel as if we are standing still when trying to create the change we want. Living in the fast lane doesn’t always yield the rewards we expect. How can you get back in touch with what is most important to you while still continuing forward progress to attain your goals?

Recently I found myself falling back into my workaholic tendencies and struggling to create the results I wanted. Although I was working hard and doing everything in my power to make things happen, progress felt stalled. It’s funny that in coaching, our clients show us what we need to see for ourselves. For me, that was going back to basics to become more mindful of my true desires.

We all have expectations. When our results don’t meet those expectations, we feel disappointed. For some, this disappointment can result in trying to do more, try different things, or just plain throw more time, energy or money at the issue. Unfortunately, it usually ends up with more frustration and no further progress....

Mentors vs Sponsors: Who is on your team?

Renowned businessman Jim Rohn once said, “You are the average of the five people you spend most of your time with.” Bottom line: the people around you matter. You need people—sponsors, mentors, coaches, colleagues, family, friends—who will challenge you and push you to become your best. When you engage with people who are exponentially better than you, the only result is that you will up-level yourself in the process.

Sylvia Ann Hewlett, President and CEO of the think tank Center for Talent Innovation, studied 12,000 men and women across the U.S. and the U.K. to better understand the difference and impact of mentors versus sponsors. The research showed that sponsorship beat mentorship when it comes to career progression – especially for women struggling to climb higher than middle management.

Recently, many women have been asking me how to get mentors and sponsors. We all need help to blaze a successful trail in business. You can’t expect to win going it alone. But “getting” a mentor or sponsor isn’t the challenge. You must understand the fundamental differences.

Mentors are members of your inner circle that you reach out to for advice. They provide you with guidance on what worked for them on their career path to show you a path to your goals....

5 Tips to be Trailblazing

In the past three articles, we have examined the traits that make a FAST Women in Business. We have covered what it means to be Fearless, Ambitious, and Strong. This month we will dive into about the fourth, and perhaps the most significant, of the FAST Women traits – Trailblazing.

The idea of trailblazing goes back to early settlers and pioneers. These individuals were explorers blazing new trails into uncharted territory. First it was the 13 colonies on the East coast. Pioneers set out in search of new land and started paving new paths through the dense forests. Their reward was obvious – new land and greater abundance. Eventually, these pioneers crossed our great land to seek gold in the West. Blazing new trails came with significant risk as well as reward.

In our modern society we still have Trailblazers. In many cases, industry icons are seen as trailblazers. These leaders create new approaches to old problems, and develop products we never knew we needed. For example, Steve Jobs was not only a visionary but also a trailblazer in technology. Who knew we needed to have digital music delivered on a device as small as a deck of cards?...

5 Ways to Build Inner Strength

The only constant in life is change. Change is everywhere. We experience change in needs, expectations, careers, economics, business, time demand, and so much more. Today, the security we seek from the various aspects of our lives is no longer guaranteed on any level. To create an effective personal system for thriving in our ever-changing world, you need to become your authentic self – armed with inner strength.

Inner strength helps you to get back up when you’ve been knocked down. Empowering yourself to dust off your pants and step back into the ring. It is about resilience and confidence. A person with inner strength has the mental and emotional skills to confront the challenges life brings. We all have the muscles to do this. We simply need to develop these muscles to respond rather than react to life’s challenges.

It is inspiring to know that you really can do something to increase your inner strength. Since part of survival is the acceptance that you cannot change circumstances or other people, it is critical to accept and feel empowered to transform yourself from the inside out. Here’s a few ways to help you exercise this muscle:

1.  Develop a keen sense of awareness....

Embrace Your Ambition

One of the biggest mistakes you are making in your career is failing to embrace your ambition. I know it’s difficult at times – especially as a woman. Ambition is a tricky word. For men, the aggressiveness and assertiveness that goes along with being ambitious is rewarded. For women, it’s a different story.

Society tends to look at an ambitious woman and draw a different conclusion. An ambitious woman may be viewed as bossy, maybe even bitchy, a little too assertive and aggressive. This is where part of the problems lies. Society views ambition differently by gender.

Recently, Cheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook and author of the book Lean In said in a conference that she felt women lacked ambition, and she continued to speak about an ambition gap between men and women.

I completely disagree with that. It’s not that women don’t have ambition. It just may be different for each individual. Not everyone wants to be a CEO. I never did, but that’s not to say that I’m not ambitious. It’s about owning what your ambition is. Now that is a story we need to talk about. 

Your ambition is a core part of who you are as an individual....