Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Image: It Matters!

By Debra Davenport

With so many fashion trends to choose from at any given time, some working women make the mistake of opting for “fad” over “fashionable.”

And that can damage both image and credibility.

Most women want to present themselves in the best possible light. However, many simply are not sure what really looks best with their coloring, body shape, personality and, yes, age. Age-appropriate dressing is a critical component of image management and one that many women are not comfortable embracing. Perhaps semantics is the issue … no woman wants to be reminded that age is a part of the image equation.

So let’s focus instead on what I’ll call the “credibility factor.”

Women who dress with polish, panache and sophistication immediately communicate their expertise, professionalism, cachet and monetary worth in terms of salary and/or consulting fees. In other words, an exterior image that is both appropriate and stylish conveys credibility nonverbally – and that is a powerful tool to utilize, especially in today’s competitive market. Fads are fine, as long as they are properly adapted to the woman wearing them, her professional role and the organization in which she works. Ad agencies, design firms and art galleries may encourage more creative and colorful attire whereas more conservative fields will likely adhere to a more toned-down dress code.

Just yesterday I was conversing with some colleagues about the proliferation of casual dress at the office. Even in professions like law, accounting and finance, it appears the trends of “casual Friday” and “fad-following” are dominating organizations around the country. However, I am also aware of a number of companies that have done away with their casual Friday policies and now require professional dress every day of the week.

Unfortunately, casual attire in professional settings often sends the wrong nonverbal message (translation: “We’re casual about our appearance, and we’re casual about our products and service, too.”). While this may not actually be the case, does anyone really want to take that perceptual risk?

Women’s image management does not stop at wardrobe. Hair, make-up, accessories and eyeglasses must also be selected wisely. Further, the appearance and health of the nails, skin and teeth are exceptionally important. I recall a lovely woman with whom I worked several years ago who demonstrated the utmost in professionalism and adroitness in her field, but her badly discolored and misaligned teeth became the unfortunate focal point of every interaction with her customers, peers and managers. As sensitive a subject as it may be, these are image realities that everyone must consider as they begin developing and promoting their unique personal brand. From a more practical perspective, these improvements can have important overall health benefits that far outweigh the visual aspects.

I believe one’s image is the culmination of their appearance, career and well-being. Every woman owes it to herself to look her best, feel her best – and identify a career that brings her joy. A genuine smile that reflects self-actualization is the best accessory any woman can possibly wear!

Debra Davenport, president of Identity IQ, LLC, a licensed and certified firm that provides career development, image consulting and wellness strategies. Debra was a recent career expert on the “Dr. Phil” show, and she is the former workplace color spokesperson for Panasonic. Debra holds multiple degrees and certifications and serves on the faculties of several universities. She speaks and writes regularly about the image-career-wellness connection. Connect with Debra on Twitter at @debradavenport, and visit for more information.

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Friday, May 20, 2011

Get To Know Our Presenter: Pamela Slim

She's a master career coach. A mother. An award-winning author. A scientist. A leader of the High Council of Jedi Knights.

She’s lived in four countries. Speaks four languages. She whips people in shape in martial arts room and in the workplace.

Please get to know the superhero—and Fresh Start Career Invention presenter—we know and love as Pamela Slim:

With more than 21,000 Twitter followers, Pam is the epitome of personal branding, a topic of which her book, Escape from Cubicle Nation, talks a lot about. The book, movement and community ( were based on her experience moving from “corporate prisoner to thriving entrepreneur” 15 years ago. She likes to say that she spent many years working with “smart people in corporate environments” that felt “out of place” and “suffocated.”

She fell in love with being her own boss as a contractor for Hewlett-Packard and went on to create “Ganas,” a consulting company named after the Spanish word meaning “inner motivation” and “drive.” Ganas brought her projects helping multi-million dollar companies through various corporate transitions, and now, through her work in Escape from Cubicle Nation, Pam helps individuals make the transition from corporate employee to budding entrepreneur.

This is the idea behind Pam’s Fresh Start e-learning course: Career Invention. Pam believes that the world of work has "blown up," and there are new rules we all need to embrace and apply in order to be a thriving employee, contractor, freelancer, entrepreneur and so on.

One such rule is creating a personal brand. In our Twitterview (@wehelpwomen) with Pam (@PamSlim) this week, Liz Froment (@LFroment) asked, “Should all side projects be bundled under your ‘personal brand’ or kept separate?”

To which Pam, a martial arts instructor of 10 years, replied, “I think everything you do falls under your personal brand - it is simply reflection of who you are.” Most would consider martial arts to be very separate to what Pam does on a daily basis, but on the contrary. Pam credits much of her coaching foundation to work she did with gang members through a non-profit martial arts organization in San Francisco. Met with every kind of I’m-not-going-listen-to-you-no-matter-what body language imaginable, Pam learned effective coaching techniques that she brings with her when walking into a room of corporate executives staring at her over the tops of their eyeglasses.

Learn how to harness your passions and even turn them into a side or full-time business! In her Fresh Start Career Invention course, Pam will show you how to apply the new rules to your career and ways to take advantage of the modern-day tools that this new world of work has to offer.

Take this course today by becoming a Fresh Start Community member:

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Career Invention Course Launch

It's an exciting day here at! We're launching our newest career e-learning course: Career Invention.

Do you have a business idea tucked away that you’ve never acted on?

Starting your own business, or side hustle, can help you gain a sense of security in this uncertain job market. If it’s because you’re just not sure how to get started, learn tactical steps to build your professional image, elevate your “brand,” and develop side projects that have the potential to generate ongoing job opportunities or direct revenues.

Want more? Become a member of the Fresh Start Community and take the Career Invention course today! Visit .

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

How To Be More Confident At Work

By Laura C. Browne

Do you wish you could be more confident at work?

It’s important to realize that you don’t need to feel confident in order to look confident.

Even if you don’t feel confident inside, you can say and do certain things that will make you appear confident to others. When people at work see you looking and acting confident, they’ll treat you as a confident person and that will help you to feel more confident. You can build confidence from the inside or from the outside.

Here are tips you can use to feel more confident:

1. Remind Yourself How Wonderful You Are. Focus on the positive things you’ve done, and put together a “Good Job” file and keep it in your desk to look at when you’re feeling unsure of yourself and your abilities. Have a picture of something you’re proud of so you can continually remind yourself of what you can do. I was able to break a board in a self defense class, and I kept the board in my desk drawer for many years to remind myself that I’m strong and I can do more than I expect I can. When I had a bad day at work, I looked at the board and knew I could get through it.

2. Know your stuff. Be thoroughly prepared with everything you do so it will be easy to feel comfortable. For example, if you’re making a presentation to a group or giving a proposal to your boss, make sure you’ve done your research and practiced in advance. And the more important the issue, the more you need to practice.

3. Use affirmations. Most of us talk to ourselves but tend to make negative comments. Do you tell yourself, “That was stupid” or “I’m so dumb!” If so, replace those negative comments with positive ones, such as “I am confident” and “People listen to what I say.” It may seem strange the first few times you do it, but positive repetition can help you feel more confident.

4. Surround yourself with supportive people. The more time you spend with people that support you, the easier it will be for you to feel confident. If you have to work with negative people, you need to develop ways to deflect their negative words. One woman I know imagines herself behind an invisible shield that protects her from negative comments. That helps when one of her co-workers says things to put her down.

What can you do to look and sound more confident, even if you don’t feel that way?

  • Stand or sit up straight and look at the other person. If you slump down in your chair and look away, it can seem like you are trying to hide. In some cultures direct eye contact is not appropriate; however, in American business culture, looking away can indicate a lack of confidence.
  • Use controlled hand gestures. Pay attention to your hands and make sure you’re not using nervous gestures such as playing with your hair or picking at your nails.
  • Speak up and slow down. When people are unsure, they may mumble and rush their words so they can finish faster. Confident people speak at a normal rate and volume.
  • Use powerful phrases. Use statements such as “I will…” or “I can…” Don’t use powerless comments such as, “This probably isn’t a good idea but…” or “We’ve probably already tried this but…” When you use phrases like that, you are telling people not to listen to you.

Think about the confident people you know. You can observe them and copy what they do. You may even want to set up a time to talk to confident people and ask what their secrets are. Most people are happy to talk about themselves. And you may find that they feel nervous and unsure sometimes also.

When you think about confidence, just remember the advice from an old commercial tagline, “Never let them see you sweat.”

Laura C. Browne has more than 20 years experience as a corporate trainer and manager and is passionate about giving women the guidance and communication skills necessary to overcome and be successful despite workplace and gender-specific challenges. For almost ten years, women from Fortune 1000 companies have turned to Laura for career guidance and training. Laura is the author of Raise Rules for Women: How To Make More Money At Work and Why Can’t You Communicate Like Me? How Smart Women Get Results At Work (both titles available on Amazon Kindle).

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Perimenopause Primer for the Young and the Restless

By E

MYTH: Menopause happens when you’re old.


Perimenopause typically begins somewhere between your late 30’s and late 40’s - when you’re young, vibrant and BUSY! Surprised? You bet. Many women are shocked and blindsided when they start experiencing perimenopause symptoms. They just aren’t prepared for the perimenopause and menopause storm to begin. (I like to call it PM&M for short.)

So, what to do when you start experiencing PM&M? Here’s a quick primer on the symptoms, so that you won’t find yourself in your early 40’s, confused and wondering what the heck is happening to you!

First, let’s clarify the difference between perimenopause and menopause. Perimenopause is the 6-10 year symptom-laden time in your life before you reach menopause. Menopause, on the other hand, does not occur until you’ve been period-free for 12 consecutive months. The average age for this is 51 years young.

What should you expect during PM&M? There’s no one answer. The perimenopause experience is different for everyone. There are over 30 symptoms of PM&M. Many women breeze right through PM&M with relatively few symptoms (lucky gals!). Others suffer tremendously with symptoms like sleeplessness, memory loss, extreme emotional highs and lows, anxiety, depression, and hot flashes, just to name a few. Oh joy!

The most important thing to remember is this: YOU ARE NOT ALONE. There are over 50 million women in menopause in North America, and when you add all of the women in perimenopausetheir husbands, boyfriends, girlfriends, children, brothers, sisters, and co-workersjust about everyone has a little PM&M in their life.

So, get prepared! As with any medical condition or health issue, it’s important to keep track of your symptoms. In my book, Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness, I’ve created the Shmirshky Daily Symptoms Chart to make this easy for you. Charting your PM&M symptoms not only helps you know what’s going on and when, but it’s also a great reference for your doctor or specialist to refer to when they are trying to help you feel better. Charting makes their job easier and helps you understand your body quicker!

Here’s another little tip: Show this chart to your loved ones and the people you spend your life with. Once they see all the symptoms listed, it will help them better understand what you’re going through. We all need support in our lives – no one can go it alone. It’s up to you to reach out for the help and support you deserve. You can find hormone happiness; I did!

I’ll be writing in more detail about the PM&M experience here at, so stay tuned for more.

Remember, reaching out is IN. Suffering in silence is OUT.

"E" is the pen name of Ellen Sarver Dolgen, author of Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness, a light-hearted, informative, easy-to-read book on menopause, and creator of, a resource treasure trove for women going through perimenopause and menopause.

Members of the Fresh Start Community, be sure to check out your Special Offers page to get your copy of E's fun-loving Shmirshky book. Not a member yet? Become one by visiting

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Networking Know-how and Your Next Job

By Dolores Seright, CPC

Searching for a job in 2011 is a new game with changing rules.

The March 2011 10th Annual CareerXroads Source of Hire Report: By the Numbers says that “nearly 65 percent of all openings are filled through internal movement and referrals.” Learning to become an effective networker can increase your opportunities to find job openings and hear the exciting words, “You’re hired!”

Develop a List of People You Know

If you have never had to network before, it can sound frightening. To help you take those first steps, think about the people in your life that you already know.

This list will include:

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Colleagues you work with currently
  • Former employers and people you have worked with in the past
  • People you come into contact with through organizations, schools, churches
  • Your neighbors
  • People at places where you do business

You Need a Plan

Develop a plan to increase your interaction and involvement with all of these people. High visibility during your job search will help them think about you when they hear about job openings or meet someone that may know about potential jobs.

Things you can do include:

  • Participate in events and activities at places where you are already a member.
  • Volunteer for committees to become better known.
  • Talk to your neighbors.
  • Smile and say hello to the person in line with you at the grocery and other places.
  • Reconnect with former friends and colleagues using social media, such as Facebook and LinkedIn.
  • Tell everyone about your job search goals and what type of position you are looking for.

Expand Your Circle

Remember that it’s not just the people you know that can help you, it is the larger circle that includes the people they know that can be your best resource.

  • Join professional or social organizations. Use to search for groups close to your zip code.
  • Search for meetings, conferences or training session in your area of interest. Some are free.
  • Find calendars of networking events in your local area and plan to attend on a regular basis. Build relationships with the people you meet.
  • Use the internet to locate job support networking groups both online and in your geographic area. You can get excellent information and training, as well as make valuable connections at these sessions.
  • Join groups on LinkedIn and Facebook. Listen and observe first to understand the dynamics of the group before joining in discussions. Do not rush to let everyone know you are job searching. Build relationships first.
  • Ask your friends and connections if they know anyone that works for a company you are interested in. They may be willing to introduce you.

An Example of How It Can Work

I want to share a story of a friend whose networking experience may help you understand the process. Her name is Beth, and Beth was living and working in Indiana when she decided to move to Arizona to be closer to her daughter. She resigned from her company and relocated to Phoenix. Jobs in her field were tough to find in the economically challenged Phoenix economy.

Beth began aggressively networking in her job search. Her experience was in printing, and she searched LinkedIn and connected with former employers and colleagues. She eventually heard about an open position with a printing company in Texas and interviewed with the company. She received a job offer, but didn’t really want to relocate away from Arizona.

The person in Texas knew someone in California in the print business and recommended Beth. She connected with this person who had a contact in the Phoenix area and helped Beth meet and interview with this Phoenix firm where she eventually received a job offer and is currently employed. The entire process took nine months.

Beth had some difficult times, but she was very focused on her goal. She became an expert networker and recommends others see the value of using this tool.

Be Consistent and Committed in Your Journey to New Skills

Build a strong network, stay visible, be clear and focused about your goals. Communicate on a regular basis and be disciplined in your activities.

Be sure to share your experiences and your success!

Dolores Seright, CPC, is a certified professional coach and her passion is teaching people the skills they need to pursue their passion, become an expert in their field and excel in their business. Her experience as a regional business director for a corporation combined with her experience as a business owner gives her a unique ability to understand the challenges you face and work with you to achieve higher levels of success. Dolores also volunteers as a career coach at Fresh Start in Phoenix and facilitates workshops on job searching in today’s marketplace. Learn more about Dolores at and connect with her at

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