Friday, March 30, 2012

Get Involved In Your Community

By Diane McLelland, Career Counselor

Look around you…then ask yourself, ‘Who needs my help today?’ That could very likely be step one in getting involved in your community. Really!

Keep in mind that many organizations and non-profits rely solely on donations and volunteers to survive. You may not think that you alone can make a difference, but think again!
It’s easy to immerse ourselves in our own little world, and our own problems and concerns. We need to be mindful of our families and their well-being. But, look around and see who might need some assistance in your community. By giving of oneself with our talents and time, it’s amazing what you can accomplish, and how you can help others. By determining where your interests or talents lie, you could be a valuable asset as a volunteer!

Some people get involved in their community because they have children. For example, they may coach their son or daughter’s soccer team. Yet others find themselves getting involved in a cause, perhaps borne from an interest, or even an illness or accident of a loved one or themselves…still others develop a passion they may have wanted to pursue, and in doing so, they may be helping others.

You may want to exercise your creativity through the arts, non-profit organizations, or even a synagogue, church, or temple. Several worthy organizations that I have had personal experience with are my church and Fresh Start Women’s Foundation. I serve on the Courtesy team at my church, and also participate (as an actor) in the monthly Family Experience, or FX Live presentation. Places of worship often rely heavily on the contributions of the time and talent of members. I have met some amazing people there, and feel that in some small way I am making a difference. Getting involved in missions trips, or contributing financially so that others may take the trip are easy ways to get involved. I have also served as a class facilitator at a women’s organization, and have helped outfit women in career clothing in preparation for an interview or a new job. These rewarding experiences have allowed me to not only meet important and influential people, but to assist those who I am there to serve.

Perhaps you have always had a keen interest in politics. Why not volunteer for your party or candidate’s campaign? In a similar way, giving of your time or resources to a civic cause can be more far reaching than you may think.

Most people think that helping out at a shelter or food bank during the holidays is a great way to get involved, and while it certainly is, do keep in mind that help is needed 365 days per year. You could organize a group of friends to volunteer on a bi-monthly basis, or hand out water bottles during the summer at the local food bank. Habitat for Humanity always accepts assistance, whether you’re a semi-professional painter, or have never even used a hammer. There are always ways to get involved!
If you have an interest in acting or serving behind the scenes, perhaps getting involved in your local community theater is an option. I have a friend that volunteers as an usher at one of the theaters in our town, and the caveat is that it allows him to see all the plays!

Do you enjoy pets, but are unable to have one? Consider donating your time at a pet shelter. Organizations such as ‘Home Fur Good’ will train volunteers to act as dog handlers and adoption counselors. Shelters need people to walk dogs and clean pets’ quarters.

Visiting a retirement community or the ward of a children’s hospital is a great way to spend your time. One look at a grateful child will melt your heart, and make you realize how important a few moments of your time is to them. Reading to elderly patients in a group home may bring joy to the residents. You might also consider serving as a volunteer at your local hospital at the information desk or gift shop.

Big Brothers/Big Sisters is another important and worthy organization, as is the Boys and Girls Club. There are many diverse opportunities within those organizations that serve children.
Most cities host large events, and will advertise for help and train volunteers, and it’s a great way to meet like-minded people who share your passions.

Finally, there are those who are unable to physically serve others, but who give of their financial resources. I know a very dear woman who cannot idly watch the children in third world countries drink polluted ‘drinking’ water that animals are bathing in simultaneously. She gives from her heart, has been instrumental in the building of several water wells, and in turn, is getting involved in a global effort.

So, you see, getting involved is much more than donating a few spare hours on a Saturday—you may be changing lives unaware.

Check out our interactive courses, webinars, tools and resources available at

About the Author
Diane has been called a "fashionista" from a young age, acquiring her love of fashion after enrolling in Sears Charm School as a young girl. After earning her degree in fashion merchandising & business she gained experience by appearing in movies, commercials and magazine layouts. She also worked as a flight attendant for 15 years and wrote for a well-known travel publication. Diane currently works with students to provide career advisement and loves to act as a personal shopper on the weekends for her friends and family.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Non-Traditional Careers for Women

By Karilyn Van Oosten

In the ABC-CLIO Companion to Women in the Workplace by Dorothy Schneider and Carl F. Schneider (ABC-CLIO, Inc., 1993) we find the following interesting information: Louise Blanchard Bethune, in 1881, was the first female professional architect set up practice in Buffalo, New York. Eighteen years later in 1903, the first woman veterinarian, Mignon Nicholson, establishes her career. Then, in 1910, under civil service regulations, Los Angeles appoints the first woman police officer.

Jumping ahead several decades to 1997, we find the Plaza Hotel, in New York City, hires their first female door-person. And in that same year the first female referees are hired by the National Basketball Association (NBA). These stories are only few of many "firsts" for women in “non-traditional occupations”. And as you can see, they occur in the not so distant past.

Here are some more facts about Non-Traditional Employment for women:

  • A non-traditional occupation is defined by the U.S. Department of Labor as one where women comprise less than 25% of the employed workers in that particular field ("Nontraditional Occupations for Women." U.S. Department of Labor Women's Bureau).
  • In 2009, according to statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor, women who worked full-time had median weekly earnings at 80% of men's weekly earnings.
  • Occupations including those in the trades, technology and science fields, are under-represented by women.
  • Women whom have non-traditional jobs tend to earn higher wages than those employed in traditional female occupations.

Considering Non-Traditional Occupations

The facts listed above, may suggest that part of the reason women statistically earn a lower paycheck than men is because they aren't typically employed in the occupations that pay better — these non-traditional female occupations. Therefore, when choosing a career, women, should consider all the options available to them- not just traditional occupations.

Take a look at these example occupations that are considered non-traditional for women according to the U.S. Department of Labor ("Quick Facts on Nontraditional Occupations for Women." U.S. Department of Labor Women's Bureau):

• detectives
• architects
• chefs
• barbers
• clergy
• computer and office machine repairers
• construction and building inspectors
• railroad conductors
• machinists
• truck drivers
• fire fighters
• aircraft pilots
• construction occupations
• small engine mechanics

Additional Resources for Women Interested in Non-Traditional Careers

Many additional resources are available from the Women's Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor. They present statistical information to help you learn more about non-traditional careers for women. Here are a few:

National Association of Women in Construction: "NAWIC is an international association that promotes and supports the advancement and employment of women in the construction industry."

Work4Women: This project from Wider Opportunities for Women, or WOW, helps women and girls explore nontraditional jobs, find training programs and support systems to help existing women workers remain in the male-dominated fields.

Nontraditional Employment for Women: NEW is a New York City based organization that provides "occupational skills and fitness training, job readiness, counseling and case management, and job placement services in occupations in which women are underrepresented."

About the Author:
Karilyn is the Director of Strategic Alliances at Chamberlain College of Nursing. She has a strong background in business development with more than 10 years of experience. She has a bachelor's degree in Business Administration, as well as, Spanish, a masters in language and culture and is a candidate for her Doctorate of Psychology.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Time for Some Personal Spring Cleaning!

By Ellen Sarver Dolgen (aka "E"), Author of Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness

On my last trip to New York, I attended a friend’s lovely dinner party and met a delightful woman who is just entering perimenopause. After introducing her to my mission to educate women about perimenopause and menopause and my book, Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness, she pulled me aside to talk. Looking at me with raised eyebrows and a lowered chin, she spoke to me in a whisper, ensuring that no one could overhear our conversation. As if a secret, she began telling me her symptoms. “I can’t sleep, I’m unusually achy, anxious, and irritable – and if that is not enough, I am gaining weight and my libido has completely vanished. It’s hell!” My immediate response, and now my mantra, was, “You need to go to a perimenopause and menopause specialist.” Like so many other women out there, she was blindsided by these symptoms, yet so secretive about what she is going through that she had difficulty reaching out for the help she needs and deserves. Kudos to her, though, because unlike so many women experiencing these disconcerting and disruptive symptoms, she recognized that she was not “fine” and not functioning at her body’s best. She was aware enough to ask advice of someone who is experienced and knowledgeable about perimenopause and menopause (I call it PM&M – easier and more fun). She was aware that something major was changing in her because she is in-tune with her body and has a desire to lead a fully-functioning and happy life.

If you can believe it, it’s already March! With my new friend’s story in mind, I want to emphasize the importance of taking a personal inventory – a “spring cleaning” of yourself, if you will – to see if you really are functioning at 100%. This will be a great way to celebrate March and avoid “March Madness” (no, not basketball March Madness – the perimenopause and menopause one)! Questions I ask myself daily include the following:

- On a scale of 1-10, how do I feel today?
- If I could do one thing to improve the way I feel, what would it be?
- Am I on the top of my To-Do List?
- What is my husband’s name again?*

Many changes occur in your body when you enter perimenopause. It is the most symptom-laden time since puberty, but remember that over 50 million women around the world are right there with you. 6,000 women enter menopause daily.

Some of the most common perimenopause and menopause symptoms include hot flashes, insomnia, irritability, memory loss and a drop in sex drive (CNN). Just because these are the most common, however, doesn’t mean that you will definitely encounter all of them. Experiences vary because each of us is so different. In fact, I developed hypothyroidism around the same time I was going through perimenopause. About 10% of women going through perimenopause face some form of thyroid dysfunction (Columbia Medical Center). This results in a compounding set of symptoms and challenges, and there is a multitude of other health-related issues that can affect your particular set of symptoms – there is no one-size-fits-all approach to PM&M. This is why tracking your symptoms and taking your list to your PM&M specialist is so important. Perimenopause and menopause and the symptoms they cause require more than a few aspirin and rest. Do a personal spring cleaning inventory. Fill out the symptoms chart I provide in my book, take it to your PM&M specialist, and make sure that your specialist does the necessary blood tests. Remember, this may NOT be your regular gynecologist as not all of them are specialists in PM&M. With a review of your symptoms, test results and medical history, the two of you can design your personalized path to hormone happiness together.

Once you have your inventory done, on to the spring cleaning fun!

You will find that once you take control of your well being and deal with your PM&M aggressively, you will be able to eliminate a lot of clutter in your life. You will go from being confused, worried and distraught to free to make quality changes in your life. After all, you will have already taken the biggest first step, which is putting yourself on top of your To-Do List.

First, trash the sense of shame that surrounds talking about your experience in perimenopause and menopause. This is paramount! Studies show that talking about this stage that occurs in each of our lives helps women gain confidence, manage their symptoms, and find a support system that they can rely on in their journeys (Health Canal). Next, there is a huge negative voice inside most of our heads. It’s like an enormous SUMO wrestler squashing our every attempt to feel good about ourselves. That guy has got to go! It seems that we all have these fellows sitting atop our self-esteem and self-confidence. True, they come in different weight classes, but nonetheless, make yourself SUMO FREE . Finally, many of us become members of the “Sisterhood of the Shrinking Pants” upon entering PM&M. When it comes to the spring cleaning of your closet, just stop thinking negatively about yourself, take the clothes that don’t fit anymore and place them in garbage bags in your storage area. When you find hormone happiness, you may be able to retrieve them, but get them out of sight in the meantime. With the expulsion of the SUMO in your head as well as your tight clothes, you will have time to exercise the self-help you need.

When I began my perimenopause and menopause spring cleaning, I took inventory of my symptoms, my daily functionality (or the lack thereof) and pushed forward to help myself find a path to hormone happiness. This journey lead me to write Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness about my experience, take hold of my life and reach out for the help I needed and deserved and I feel great! I found my path to hormone happiness and you can, too.

Remember: Reaching out is IN. Suffering in silence is OUT!

OK, it is now time for you to place yourself on the top of your To-Do List. Start cleaning!

*Just kidding, Honey!

About the Author:
"E" is the pen name of Ellen Sarver Dolgen, author of Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness - a cut-to-the-chase book on perimenopause and menopause. Reading Shmirshky is like getting a big, comforting hug from a dear friend who happens to know a lot about menopause!

Visit and follow Shmirshky on Facebook and Twitter for everything you wanted to know about perimenopause and menopause but were afraid to ask!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Empower Yourself With Confident Communication

By Sheila Nazari, Human Resources & Career Consultant, Management & Leadership Solutions

When we hear confident leaders speak, we usually want to continue listening to them. They command a certain presence and catch our attention without being overbearing and commanding. We may have even said to ourselves at one time, “I wish I could speak like that, but (fill in the blanks with excuse).” There are many excuses we can use to avoid working on our communication skills – I’m too shy; I’ll do it later; There’s not enough time; I don’t know where to start; I won’t be very good at it anyways. All we’re doing when we make these excuses is holding ourselves back from developing the skills to speak confidently and feel more empowered.

You may not be making speeches in front of thousands of people; however, being a confident communicator can help you in any aspect of your life. It could help you be better at interviewing for jobs or standing up for yourself to a friend or sharing your ideas at a team meeting at work. Think about a situation where you would want to improve your communication skills and identify what improvement you would like to make.

Two key ingredients for success that I cannot stress enough are preparation and practice. I know a CEO who is an excellent speaker and always grabs people’s attention and receives thunderous applause. People thought that speaking well was his natural talent. After spending time with him, I found that this assumption was far from the truth. He had been a nervous wreck when he had to make his first public appearance and had to work with a speaking coach and spend hours preparing. What looks completely natural to the rest of us is usually the result of days, weeks, and even months of practice and preparation.

Making the change is going to take time and effort on your part. There’s no quick and easy solution, but there are resources out there to help guide you through your journey.

Books to help you communicate with confidence:

A Woman’s Guide to the Language of Success: Communicating with Confidence and Power by Phyllis Mindell

Great Communication Secrets of Great Leaders by John Baldoni

10 Simple secrets of the world‘s greatest business communicators by Carmine Gallo

The Confident Speaker: Beat Your Nerves and Communicate at Your Best in Any Situation by Harrison Monarth and Larina Kase

Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office by Lois Frankel

About the Author:
Sheila is a HR and Training Consultant and Career Coach who guide organizations and people in setting and reaching their goals. She has worked with Fortune 500 companies, medium-sized and small companies including Target, Apollo Group, University of Phoenix, Corporate Psychologists, Knight Transportation and Auckland Museum. Sheila received her Master's degree in Human Resources from the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management and her Bachelor's Degree from Boston University.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned ..... Still True?

By Samantha Peters, Freelance Writer & HR Expert

You've heard it before, “a penny saved is a penny earned.” While it is not rocket science, you may not know exactly what this adage means and what it refers to. The phrase alludes to an age old belief that saving money is a safe way to generate earnings, which is to say being frugal with your money as opposed to spending it thriftily is the right way to go. The operating principle here is that it doesn't matter how much money you earn if you're living beyond your means or at the edge of your income without investing in a savings plan. The prudent financial planner will research his/her best options for savings accounts and the best CD rates out there while also practicing shrewd financial discipline with regards to discretionary income.

But in an age of rampant, widespread, systemic debt—credit card, student loan, home mortgage, federal, etc—does this belief still apply? If a person owes a considerable amount of money to creditors, does saving that money for emergencies still count as earning money, even though it is being used to subsidize a debt that is likely accruing interest? This is a question many people ask themselves on a daily basis. “I am saving money, but I owe a hefty balance on my credit card. Should I continue to make monthly payments, or should I pay the whole amount and rid myself of this financial burden?”

There is no one correct answer to this question. On one hand, paying off a debt builds good credit over time, which will likely allow you to secure better credit rates in the future and save you money on a home, credit card line, or car insurance quote. Paying a debt slowly, incrementally, also allows you to invest money in different pursuits and sureties, diversifying your financial portfolio while having funds tucked away in the event of a medical or other emergency.

On the other hand, the money you are saving and diversifying is costing you a fee in the form of interest rates on your financial debt. You are essentially paying more to have more. Over time this can cost you thousands of dollars or more. Many people have found that by procrastinating the full payment of their debts they have paid nearly twice as much money than the original balance.

Each person's situation is different. If you have a reliable job with a stable income, it may make more sense to go ahead and pay off your debts in full so that a penny saved truly is a penny earned. Paying off debts can also free you up, physically and mentally, for other investments. But if your situation is not as secure and you are essentially living paycheck to paycheck, saving is part of a larger practice that involves learning to be financially responsible. Ultimately, this is a value that will be indispensable to anyone looking to build savings and create long term financial security. The choice is yours, but be sure to contextualize short term solutions within the broader outlook of your future.

About the Author:
This is a guest post written by Samantha Peters, who enjoys blogging on career and HR covering topics of particular interest to women in the workplace.

Tap in to Your Inner Leader

By April Fischer

Do you know a woman who seems to be successful in every endeavor she pursues? She gets every job she applies for or opens an at-home business that thrives. There are certain characteristics women possess that make them stand out from the pack and become leaders, and there are reasons why those women we know are good at what they do. Here are a few of those reasons:

1. She isn’t afraid to speak up for herself. Expressing your opinion in a big boardroom meeting full of men may seem daunting at first, but the leader sees this as an opportunity rather than a threat. She recognizes that no matter her status or gender, her ideas still have value and that as a member of her company, she has a duty to contribute. Breaking the ice at first will be difficult, but after you speak up, you’ll feel so much better.

2. She takes opportunities that get her where she wants to go. This woman has a plan, and she sticks to it. She may already have a stable job, but if another one comes around that will get her closer to her dream, she isn’t afraid of change.

3. She says yes. Leaders take on challenges every day and are not afraid of failure. They would rather make a mistake and learn a lesson from it than spend their life sitting back in their comfort zone.

4. She thinks for herself. In the end, life is about making yourself happy. Leaders recognize this and pursue goals that provide them with the most joy.

5. She finds value in others. Although she lives life for herself, she recognizes that success comes from connection and from value placed in other people. She does not forget the people from her past that helped her to where she is today, and she gives advice to other women who may be just starting out with their careers.

These are just a few characteristics of female leaders. Overall, a woman is a leader because she knows what she wants out of life and is devoted to getting it.

Don't forget to check out the Developing Your Leadership Style course on for more information on what make women great leaders and tips to improve your leadership skills.

About the Author:
April Fischer is currently attending Arizona State University. She is majoring in journalism with an emphasis in public relations and hopes to do PR for athletes after she graduates. She is currently a communications & PR intern for Fresh Start Women’s Foundation and is an active member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority. April also has written for a local teen magazine, AZTeen, and has articles published in ASU’s student newspaper, The State Press.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Self-Esteem: Is Yours as High as Your Goals?

By Dolores Seright, Certified Professional Coach & Author of Shattering Barriers: Amazing Women's Journeys to Personal Empowerment

The words you hear as a child can impact your life forever. What you think of yourself and your abilities may have been influenced by seemingly insignificant events of your past.

“I fight demons every day” were words I never expected to hear Clarissa Burt say. Her face has graced the covers of Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, and many other magazines. She has also been a runway model for top designers from Armani and Chanel to Versace and Dior. Her much-photographed face appeared on the cover of more than 250 magazines over her 30-year career. Clarissa shared her story in “Shattering Barriers: Amazing Women’s Journeys to Personal Empowerment.” She is passionate about teaching young women the importance of having a healthy self-esteem.

Clarissa’s passion is the result of facing and overcoming many obstacles and insecurities as a young girl. Clarissa’s mother always discouraged any comments or compliments about her beauty and would say to her, “What are you looking for . . . the monkey to jump out,” if she saw Clarissa looking in the mirror. Growing up in a home with an alcoholic father, a lot of violence, and not a lot of “warm fuzzies” was "tough stuff,” shared Clarissa. Being the firstborn of three and hearing her entire life that she wasn’t wanted, combined with physical punishment for not getting A’s or B’s, contributed to her low self-esteem. Living with a constant regimen of physical and mental punishment, assuming responsibility for running the household at a young age, and never enjoying having friends over for fun contributed to many health challenges for Clarissa. As soon as she graduated from high school, Clarissa was eager to find a job in New York City and forge a different future. But the scars of her youth were not easily left behind . . .

Do you recognize your value as a unique individual placed here on our planet to contribute something that no one else can? Self-esteem is the opinion you have of yourself. A simple definition but your self-esteem powerfully impacts virtually every aspect of our life. Self-esteem not only influences your relationships and your career, but also the total of your accomplishments in life. High self-esteem makes it possible to function effectively. It allows you to take risks and make decisions about your life that are necessary for a successful life.

Do you believe you can create a successful life? When things are not going well, do you believe you can overcome the challenges you face? Do you deserve to be happy and successful? If you can emphatically say “Yes” to all three questions, you have a healthy self-esteem. Not really certain you can overcome every challenge that comes your way? If you hesitated over any of these questions, consciously or unconsciously, those thoughts may still be holding you back.

Listen to what you say to yourself. Do you ever say “I was stupid for saying that?” Or maybe you say things like “I can’t learn that; I’m not smart enough.” Or how about “nobody likes me because I’m unattractive.” What about, “I can’t do it.” This self-talk is programming your present thoughts and actions. If that inner talk is based on past beliefs, ask yourself if those beliefs were valid or were they filtered through events and emotions that are no longer valid in your life?

Starting right this minute you can pay attention to your self-talk and control what you say to yourself. The instant a negative thought comes into your mind, stop and ask yourself “why did I think that?” “Is it valid?” What should I be thinking about myself and my abilities?” Keep your awareness of your self-talk high and practice constantly. It will become a habit in a very short time and you will see the difference in how you approach your life. Your confidence will soar and your actions will be those of the unique, successful person you were always meant to be.

Learn from role models, like Clarissa Burt, the techniques of positive self-affirmations and implementing your personal action plan and watch your life soar to new heights!

Want to read Clarissa's full story? Log on to for details on how to purchase your copy of Shattering Barriers.

About the Author
Dolores Seright is a professional speaker, author and coach. She left a successful corporate career after facing devastating Stage III breast cancer diagnosis in 2005 and is now a cancer survivor. She is a certified professional coach and her passion is teaching women the skills to move beyond the obstacles holding them back from achieving their personal and business success. She is an experienced coach and specializes in personal success development and mastering sales strategies.

Dolores volunteers as a career coach and conducts training workshops at Fresh Start Women's Foundation in Phoenix, AZ.

Shattering Barriers: Amazing Women's Journeys to Personal Empowerment is her first book. This book is currently available on

Monday, March 19, 2012

Creating a Powerful Personal Brand

By Sherri Thomas, Career Coach & Author

Personal branding is a hot topic these days, but do you know what a personal brand really is? And do you know how to leverage your personal brand to get the career you really want?
Getting bigger promotions, better clients and a more meaningful career depends largely on how you’re perceived by senior managers, colleagues, peers, and potential clients or employers.

To maximize your career opportunities and get into a career that actually inspires you to get out of bed in the morning, let’s start by strengthening your personal brand.

Step #1. Identify your value
Having a powerful personal brand means that you consistently deliver what you say you’re going to deliver.

In other words, it’s the skills, experience and value that you provide to your employer or clients.

Whether it’s bringing in new streams of revenue, managing highly valued projects or developing creative marketing campaigns, your career is fueled by the value that you consistently deliver to employers. Your value is a unique blend of your strengths, professional accomplishments and personal characteristics (such as being a good leader, risk taker, problem solver, strategic thinker, etc.).

All of these combined make up your “value package,” which makes you truly unique from a crowd of colleagues, business associates and even job applicants.

Step #2. Send a powerful message
Being in a passionless job is a career killer! If you’re walking around dull and listless (like the Clairol Herbal Essence girl before she shampoos her hair), others are sure to see you that way.
It’s impossible to have a powerful personal brand if you’re just going through the motions at work. You need to be in a career that challenges you, flexes your professional muscles and excites you!

Everything you do and say sends messages to your manager, senior managers, clients, peers, and potential employers. Your words, actions, presentations, reports, work deliverables, and professional accomplishments shape the perceptions others have about you and the value you provide.

Think about how you want others to perceive you. Do you want to be recognized as being smart? Strategic? Having specific expertise? A great leader? Whatever it is, you should be striving to send that message loud and clear.

Every day you have opportunities to shape and manage your personal brand. In every presentation that you give, in every meeting you attend, in all your conversations with other professionals – think of yourself as being on a stage. It’s your opportunity to shape and manage the way others are perceiving you.

Step #3. Network strategically
In my own personal career, I’ve been blessed to have had opportunities to reinvent myself into a variety of job roles (disc jockey, PR Director, video producer, technical program manager) and industries (TV, radio, professional sports, and high tech.)

I’ve learned that if you want bigger promotions, better clients and a richer, more meaningful career, then you need to work with people who value and appreciate you.

Focus your energy on creating a strong support system of what I call “career influencers.” These are people who can hire you, promote you, inspire you, teach you something new, and open doors to new opportunities. Nurture your relationships with these people, and ask about their career path and lessons learned for overcoming career challenges.

Seek out people who can give you the blueprint, guidance and inspiration to help you advance your career. Remember, great jobs don’t just land in your lap. You have to know what you want – take action – and go get it! Your new career is out there. You just need to go after it!
And finally...

Great companies are ALWAYS looking to hire great talent - and that means you! So, if you're serious about getting into a new career, then follow these three tips, power up your confidence, and believe in yourself! You'll significantly increase your chances of getting hired, decrease the time it takes, and be much more likely to transition into a new career that inspires you!

About the Author:
Sherri Thomas is author of Career Smart - 5 Steps to a Powerful Personal Brand - on AMAZON's TOP 10 LIST for personal branding books. She is also founder of Career Coaching 360 which provides resume help, interviewing support, and personal career coaching packages to help professionals change careers quickly and easily.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Staple Clothing Pieces EVERY Woman Must Have

By Diane McLelland, Our Resident Fashionista

Have a ‘Go-To’ Outfit ready at all times….
When I think of wardrobe staples, my ‘Go-To’ outfit comes to mind. When interviewing some years ago, I finally decided to give up on trying to ‘match up’ an older skirt (and several pair of slacks) with a new blazer I had purchased, hoping that the black shades would match out in the bright sun. I eventually took my friend Donna’s advice, and sprang for a nice business suit. It’s black, and the blazer can be worn with other skirts, or even jeans. Hers was sage advice. I no longer had to rummage through my closet, looking for separates to piece together. I made certain I had several blouses to choose from so that I didn’t have to stress out if a potential employer called to set up an interview for the next day. Maintaining the look of your suits or separates is important, too. Be sure that your outfit is clean and ready to go at all times. As I stated in an earlier blog, great deals can be found at stores such as Marshall’s, TJ Maxx, Kohl’s, and even your local Goodwill. Check your local paper for coupons and special holiday or weekend sales.

Basic Black- flattering to us all!
Every woman should have a pair of black slacks and/or a black skirt in her closet. Stay away from pleated pants, as they tend not to flatter most women’s figures. Skirts should hit the knee, or measure just an inch or so above it. When thinking interview attire, those are must-haves that you can pair with a crisp white collared shirt (considered timeless), and a blazer or jacket, depending on the season and weather. Black really does flatter all figure types, is considered a neutral color, and can be worn with any other color. Gray is also a good choice and still a basic, as is brown. If you wear brown, be sure your shoes are in the same tone. Black has a tendency not to show stains as easily, and is always a good choice for formal attire as well. When choosing fabrics, avoid fabrics that wrinkle easily (stay away from 100% cotton) as you’ll find yourself ironing and/or sending your drycleaners on a cruise.

That LBD (Little Black Dress)
Having a basic black dress in your closet is always a good idea. It can be dressed up or down simply by changing jewelry, shoes, and for example, choosing a classic blazer by day, and a lacy shawl or scarf for evening. You can always add a pair of patterned tights for another look altogether. There are numerous websites and fashion magazines that offer advice to those of us who need a bit of ‘dress for success’ advice.

Even if you’re interviewing for a construction position, you still need to dress to impress. Remember the saying, ‘You have only one chance to make a first impression’. You simply cannot go wrong with a basic black skirt or slacks, and a white or pastel colored shirt. If the shirt is cotton, be sure that it’s pressed or dry cleaned, if possible. Some women prefer to wear sleeveless or short-sleeved cotton, polyester, or silk blouses under a blazer. Blouses or tops look best tucked in, and adding a belt is fine if there are belt loops present on the slacks or skirt. There is no such thing as being overdressed for an interview!

Save those strappy sandals for the weekend….
A pair of black pumps is another ‘must-have’ for your closet. They don’t need to be 4-inch heels, of course. There are many choices out there that offer both style and comfort. As a former flight attendant, I felt I was something of an expert on shoes. I learned early on in my career that the higher the heel, generally, the sorer the feet were later that day. It’s best to choose a mid or even lower heel, and a rounder toe. While the strappy sandals are great for summer, be sure that you have a basic shoe that works with your slacks or skirts for a more professional look. Another lesson I learned was- do not buy a pair of shoes the day of an event…they may feel comfortable in the store, but after several hours on your feet, they’ve caused several of your toes to go numb…and it’s difficult to concentrate or enjoy yourself when you’re in excruciating pain! A medium heeled black boot can be a good choice as well, however, if you live in a warm climate, they are considered seasonal and too warm for summer wear.

To top it off….
A long sleeved white blouse is a great piece to mix and match, and should also be at the top of your ‘staple’ list for your closet. It goes great under a blazer for an interview, and it looks equally as sharp with that same blazer and jeans. Classic never goes out of style! Of course, some women prefer a knit top to a blouse, and choosing a white or neutral light blue or gray would work well, too. Consider buying a lightweight sweater to wear in the cooler months under a coat or jacket, or for a wrap when you just need a topper for your tank or t-shirt. Choose a versatile shade of camel or taupe, and you’ll find it an invaluable option for many outfits. Purchasing a few brightly colored t-shirts can add a pop of color, and can be worn with jeans or a pair of khaki pants or shorts.

There’s nothing like a great fitting pair of jeans!
Another great staple to own is a well-fitting pair of blue jeans. With the pieces mentioned here, you could create multiple outfits, and by simply changing jewelry and shoes, you can create an entire new look! Your black dress can go from office to evening dinner by throwing on a lacy scarf, and a sparkly pin or pair of earrings. Jeans can go from casual to dressy by adding the same jewelry, and a higher heeled (or strappy) shoe or boot. So, remember to build your wardrobe on these key staple pieces, and you’ll always have choices for any invitation you receive!

About the Author
Diane has been called a "fashionista" from a young age, acquiring her love of fashion after enrolling in Sears Charm School as a young girl. After earning her degree in fashion merchandising & business she gained experience by appearing in movies, commercials and magazine layouts. She also worked as a flight attendant for 15 years and wrote for a well-known travel publication. Diane currently works with students to provide career advisement and loves to act as a personal shopper on the weekends for her friends and family.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Assert Yourself When Entering a Male Dominated Field

By Samantha Peters, Freelance Writer & HR Expert

For the woman in transition, embarking upon a new career, education, or any other life opportunity can make for a daunting and uncertain period. It is human nature to fear the unfamiliar. On the other hand, however, a major change also presents a welcome opportunity to redefine oneself, search out new interests, and forge ahead free of past limitations.

Entering a male-dominated workforce brings into relief both sides of this equation. During National Women's History Month, we have the opportunity to look back on the challenges woman have faced in the workplace and on the tremendous strides that have been made over the past several decades. But even despite widespread signs of greater office equality, many of us in certain industries – law and finance come immediately to mind – still face hidden biases and restrictions that prevent us from reaching our potential. Although women are well-represented in law schools and in entry-level legal jobs, for example, only a few women make it to the top echelons of the profession. The rest get left behind. On that note, for someone entering a male-dominated field, it is only natural to strongly fear the unfamiliar while welcoming the new possibilities at hand.

One of the best ways to welcome those possibilities and redefine yourself is by asserting your capabilities in a male-dominated office. Specifically, you can negate subtle biases by addressing head-on the attitudes and practices that serve to squeeze women out of upper-level roles. Here are some tips for accomplishing this:

Seek Out Mentors And Mentees
Many workplaces have unofficial hierarchies that match mentors with mentees. The mentors – usually employers of greater office stature – will help their mentees with anything ranging from company acclimation all the way down to helping them find a phone number. Most importantly, the mentor is often instrumental in getting a promotion secured for the mentee. Unfortunately, due to sexualized gender conventions, women are often left out of the mentoring system because no woman wants to stand accused of inappropriate relations or intentions. Don’t let these fears guide your actions in the workplace.

Attend “Masculine” Work Engagements
In a holdover from earlier times, many firms often make their most important business deals in informal and highly masculine settings. These settings include golf courses, bars, lounges, and football games. As a woman, you may not have a desire to attend such events, but it is important that you either work to change the venue or decide to occasionally tag along. Even if a deal is not made at every golf outing, your presence there will help negate some of the unconscious bias that may hold you back come promotion time.

Don’t Shy From Your Goals
There are many differences between men and women, one of them arguably being a different conception of propriety. It has been shown that men are much more willing to boldly and explicitly share a selfish goal with the people around him. If he wants to become a partner at his firm, for example, he will likely make no secret of these intentions. On the other hand, a woman might instead keep such desires to herself. Doing so, however, may make her appear less motivated and less desirous of promotion. You don’t need to loudly proclaim your goals of fame and fortune, but it is important that you go into the job with a willingness to exhibit your hope of moving up.

By keeping these tips in mind when starting a new job, the transitional woman can mold a more assertive identity for herself in a male-dominated workplace. National Women's History Month reminds us that our generation has been given far greater opportunities than even our mother’s received. Still, there are still plenty of biases out there – intended or not – that serve to hold us back. A change in your career is a great time to address these biases and work to correct them -- an important message to keep in mind even after Women's History Month comes to a close.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

One Women's Story of Shattering Barriers

Blog written by Amy Michalenko,
Abridged Story from Shattering Barriers: Amazing Women's Journeys to Personal Empowerment
, By Dolores Seright

Imagine growing up with two parents who were addicts. Imagine being forced to work at a young age just to provide food for yourself and your family, all the while wondering when your parents might show back up again or when they might walk back out of your life. Imagine leaving home at the age of 14 to live on your own and support yourself.

Those are just some of the realities that Carina Prescott had to face in her life. Yet she used these obstacles to learn, grow and create a life that she is proud to share with others! Carina has taken the obstacles in her life and has used them as a spring board to create opportunities.

Carina is now a successful business owner and describes herself as FEARLESS!

Want to find out how she did it? Get your copy of Shattering Barriers TODAY by logging on to our website.

And don't forget to check out our monthly contest. You could be the winner of a free 1-hour personal coaching session with Certified Professional Coach & Author of Shattering Barriers , Dolores Seright

Be sure to check back every Tuesday to hear another woman's story!

Monday, March 12, 2012

How to Motivate Your Children

By Dr. Ellen Diana, Ph.D., Psychologist & Co-Author of the Charge Up Your Life Book Series

Daniel H. Pink’s book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, challenges the view that humans are primarily motivated by external rewards, like money, praise, or gifts. He posits, instead, that there are three secrets to human achievement and happiness: the need to take charge of their own lives; the opportunity to create new things; and the chance to have a stake in improving their world. Consider the stories of Apple’s Steve Jobs, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, and eBay’s Meg Whitman, just to name a few. All three applied their creativity to revolutionize the way we live through technology, social networking, and business. They had vision, creativity, and drive.

Drive has important information for parents who want to raise independent thinkers who are intrinsically motivated to utilize their innate, creative vision. First, Pink suggests giving kids an allowance as well as household chores, but not linking the two. He reasons that, in a shared living environment, every member is intrinsically motivated to pitch in and help, while giving kids an allowance is designed to teach money management skills. Once parents link an allowance to chores, they’ll have great difficulty motivating their children to work without an external reward.

Another idea is from psychologist, Carol Dweck, who recommends praising a child’s effort and not necessarily their intelligence. When parents praise children for their intelligence, they may avoid challenges, for fear of looking stupid. But praising a child for effort is more apt to yield continuous motivation since it’s always possible to try hard.

Finally, Pink notes that education systems, in their desire to maximize on performance, actually diminish motivation due to the excessive emphasis on external rewards such as grades or prizes. It isn’t necessary to motivate a two-year-old to be curious but, somehow, once kids reach school age, working for external rewards and conforming to arbitrary standards take over, while an emphasis on curiosity, creativity, and vision are minimized. By teaching children the value of what they are learning, as well as the importance and usefulness of this knowledge, intrinsic motivation is increased and the need for external rewards is decreased.

These are only a few of the many interesting ideas from Drive which parents can use to understand motivation. By developing a toolbox of family-oriented strategies, parents can help their children live their happiest lives and be the best they can be.

Don't forget to check out our monthly webinar and contest - you could win a free career and life coaching session! Log on to

About the Author:
Ellen Diana is a licensed psychologist, co-author of the Charge up Your Life Book Series and certified school psychologist with 30 years’ experience working with children, adults, couples, and families in schools and in private practice in Phoenix, Arizona. She has published a number of articles in scholarly journals on psychology and education, and co-authored five self-help books in the Charge Up Your Life series. Helping women to evolve into their best selves through personal growth and self-awareness is a passion of hers. Ellen raised three successful children as a single parent and so has special interests in mentoring other women in transition and helping parents to raise resilient children. Contact Ellen at or through her website

Friday, March 9, 2012

Come Again Ms. Moss?

Check out this amazing blog written by our February contest winner Gina Lee. Congrats Gina - we loved it!

There are very few things in life that really bother me. There are even fewer things that make me grit my teeth and want to scream such as that infamous quote by Kate Moss. "Nothing looks as good as skinny feels." When I hear people say this or post it as their facebook status, it makes me want to grab them and seriously shake the crazy out of them.

Since high school I have definitely had a tumultous love hate relationship with my body image. It was mostly tilted towards hate and self loathing that slowly chipped away at my self esteem, confidence and happiness. I would cut out pictures of beautiful skinny girls and put them up on my mirror at home as a constant reminder of my weight loss goals. Instead of motivating me, looking at these pictures everyday made me develop a distorted view of myself and what I considered beautiful.

I thought I was doing all the right things by subscribing to fitness magazines, researching how to lose weight and do exercises that give me the fastest results. However time and time again I would lose weight then gain it all back. I was never at the same weight for too long and anytime I would gain even a pound, I would stress out and beat myself up over it.

Because I've spent countless hours pouring over all these magazines about the latest diets and how to lose weight, I felt it wasn't my lack of knowledge that was keeping me from my ideal weight. I truly believed that it was my own resolve. I thought that my failures at achieving the social standard of beauty branded me as lazy, weak and undeserving. Gah! I was miserable on top of miserable. Looking back now, I realize at the very root of this dilemma was my incredibly unhealthy mindset. I was killing my body and my self esteem to reach an unattainable beauty manufactured and distorted by the fashion and beauty industries and reaffirmed by society. There is a documentary in the making called The Illustionist that explores this very topic.

I've slowly learned that you can have a healthy fit body without sacrificing your self esteem and confidence. In fact, you can be in better health, have a great body, feel stronger, have more self esteem and more pride in yourself. You just need to stop your restricting and self defeating thoughts. Instead think nourishing and self loving thoughts. For me, when I work out I think about how I'm staying healthy and growing stronger so I can live each day to my fullest potential. Running is a gift I give myself because it makes me happy and feel great. The same goes for eating. I see it as giving my body the nutrients it needs to be healthy and not starving it. With these self respecting and giving thoughts, I'm in the best shape of my life and more importantly I feel happy and whole. Want an added bonus? People will pick up on the fact that you care about yourself and treat you the way you treat yourself.

Check out our site for this month's exciting contest!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

How to Ask for a Raise In Tough Times

By Renee Hanson, Certified Financial Planner

Just because times are tough doesn’t mean that you have to write off asking for a raise. You do, however, need to be thoughtful in your approach.

  • Identify your market value and then evaluate how you measure up. For help gathering that information, call a recruiter that specializes in your industry or check out online sites, such as
  • Schedule a meeting with your boss to discuss your contributions and how your compensation aligns with them.
  • Be prepared to remain objective and share information. In addition to the numbers on what others in your field are making, make a list of your important contributions. Include ways that you have saved your company money or brought in new business. Whenever possible, include numbers that demonstrate your value.
  • Remain calm, positive and conversational. Don’t threaten to leave or give any other ultimatums. Instead, start by saying that you’d like to have a conversation about your value to the organization.
  • Know what you want and be resourceful. Focus on your total compensation — salary, bonus, stock and benefits. If a raise is out of the question, consider asking for other benefits, for example, restricted stock or stock options, additional vacation time or a lump sum bonus.
If you hit a dead end, ask what you can do between now and your next scheduled job review to help better position yourself for success. Ask for — or propose — tangible goals so that you can document your efforts to achieve them and the results you produce.

Looking for more financial tips and adivce? Check out the exciting courses and blogs on

About the Author:

Renée A. Hanson, CFP®, CEP®, CDFA™, CFS, is a private wealth advisor with Hanson, Ayala & Associates, a private wealth advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Her passion is in helping women achieve their dreams and financial goals, regardless of life’s many obstacles. Renée is licensed/registered to do business with U.S. residents only in the states of AZ, CA, CO, GA, IA, IL, MI, MN, MT, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OH, PA, SC, TX, VA, WA, WI. Please visit: to learn more.

Brokerage, investment and financial advisory services are made available through Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA and SIPC. Some products and services may not be available in all jurisdictions or to all clients.

© 2011 Ameriprise Financial, Inc. All rights reserved.

Monday, March 5, 2012

What To Do When Someone Takes Credit For Your Work

By Jennifer Winter
Reposted from

Managers love to extol the virtues of a team mentality. I can’t count how many schlocky motivational posters I’ve seen emblazoned on middle management walls (or fabric-covered cubicle dividers, as the case may be) over the years, all claiming that teamwork is pretty much the solution to everything.

And sure, I’m all about striving for the greater good of the group—but at the end of the day, team performance is rarely a factor during those year-end reviews with your boss. Which is exactly why we all work so hard to distinguish ourselves from the rest of the pack. Let’s be honest—it’s those special projects, great presentations, well-written articles, and everything in between that make us valuable members of the team (not to mention help us get to the next level).

Of course, this assumes you’re actually getting the credit for your efforts—which, sadly, you can never assume. Whether intentional or an honest mistake, colleagues and bosses routinely take credit where it is most certainly not due, and your contributions can go unnoticed by those who matter.

To really succeed at the office, you not only need to do the work, you need to make sure your name is included in the credits. Here’s how.

Go Public

In my first role as a manager, I was cautious about sharing my ideas with the group—not because I didn’t have them, but because I wanted to make sure they were “good” before speaking up. So, naturally, I turned to more senior members of my team or my boss and bounced ideas off of them, first.

Soon after, these same mentors and bosses shared these ideas in team meetings. Initially, I was thrilled—my ideas must be solid! But that elation lasted for only a few moments before I quickly realized that my proposal wasn’t being shared—it was being hijacked. What’s more, even if I had spoken up, no one would ever believe the idea was mine after a more senior member of the team had mentioned it first.

Instead of being overcome with disappointment and frustration (although trust me, I was filled with both), I turned the experience into a hard-learned lesson. The next time I had a great idea brewing, I thought through it, planned it out as if I already had buy-in from the group, and piped up to present it at the next team meeting.

Since I first shared it in a public forum, everyone was aware that the idea was mine. And, because I had put extra effort into plotting out how to implement it, my boss and colleagues were more than happy to give me credit when we eventually presented it to a larger group.

Though it might be intimidating, announcing your plans to a wider audience naturally helps prevent others from being tempted to “borrow” or “be inspired by” your ideas.

Keep a Few Tricks Up Your Sleeve

Sometimes, sharing your genius plans in a public forum isn’t always possible, so you’ll have to find other ways to brand your ideas as your own.

For example, when I was working on a very small team that rarely had meetings, it was nearly impossible for me to get my ideas in front of decision-makers until well after I had worked through them with my boss. On more than a few occasions, after spending weeks managing a project myself and crafting a winning presentation, I was rewarded with the opportunity to watch my boss lead the meeting where it was presented, never once mentioning who had done all the work.

Finally, I decided to change my game. For every project going forward, I proceeded just as I had before, but I also did a bit of extra research. When the presentation rolled around, I had anecdotes and additional data that wasn’t included in my boss’ speech—and I offered them up during the meeting. By being over-prepared and anticipating additional questions, I came across as an expert on the topic, without making my boss look bad.

What’s more—after I started doing this, we ended up presenting more as a team. Although it was never explicitly noted that I was behind the ideas, more and more credit began to shared equally between us.

Know When to Let it Go

While there are certainly times when I felt justified in speaking up for myself, perhaps the hardest lesson I had to learn was knowing when to just let it go. Here’s the thing about getting credit: You’re not going to get it for everything you do. That’s just part of the job, and it’s part of being on a team.

I was reminded of this when I became a manager, and I had a few staff members who expected to be given credit for every positive outcome even remotely related to work they had done. I tried my best to recognize my team whenever warranted, but I found these continual “reminders” frustrating, almost always taking the shine off any positive feedback I had for them already.

While there are ways you can position yourself to help assure you’ll earn that recognition from others, if you expect credit for everything you do, you’ll no doubt find yourself disappointed. Save your credit-earning strength for important projects and you’ll help establish yourself as not only an outstanding individual contributor, but a strong team player as well.

About the Author:
Jennifer Winter is a 13-year veteran in financial services, and an aspiring writer and entrepreneur. Originally from Montana, Jennifer has a great appreciation for the outdoors, and takes advantage of all the Bay Area has to offer whenever she gets the chance. Hailing from Oakland, Jennifer is always up for a glass of wine, great conversation and people watching. You can find her on Twitter @fearlessjenn. She currently blogs for