Archive for Workplace

Catapulting Your Career Dreams

In 1996 my speaking colleague, Lori Kleiner Eckert, published the book, With This Ring.  Excerpted from the forward of her book: “Upon her grandmother’s death, Lorie inherited her grandfather’s ring.  Recently, separated herself, she slipped her grandfather’s ring on and slipped off her own wedding band.  Feeling that some sort of vows were appropriate, she decided to make vows to herself — to become a quilt lecturer and teacher, to trust her inner voice, and to love herself.”  This is the dream Lorie pursued.  The beautiful book is filled with photographs of her quilts, that include powerful and inspirational words.  My personal favorite is the one you see to the left with the words, “If Not Now, When?”  This picture lives on my desk, in my car, on my desktop, in my journal, etc.  These were words that rang in my head often, in the month of July, when I landed in the hospital quite ill.  Many of the followers of this newsletter know about my bizarre bout with being sicker than I have ever been in my life.  This experience gave me a lot of time for reflection and a perspective shift.  My thoughts shifted to career dreams that have been conceived but not come to fruition.  I know I am not alone in dreams deferred.  This newsletter is dedicated to YOU my clients, followers, friends, and colleagues.  If not now, when?

There are soooooo many things that may cause you to put off career/business dreams:  fear of failure, fear of success, perfectionism, money, time, life stage, lack of clarity, opinions of others, etc.  My hospital stint reminded me of the fragility of life and that no more days are promised.  My dear readers, if not now, when?  Let’s take a leap into moving your career dreams into reality! 

Let’s focus on the obstacles before we move to my four-step process of getting these dreams out of your head and into reality.  Some of your obstacles are quite real.  Let’s say you are currently in a job that is not using your talents and strengths to the fullest, but you have a side hustle that you love.  You have a dream to expand your side hustle into a full-time business.  Money may be a significant stumbling block for you.  There is no doubt, there is gender disparity when it comes to lending.  Data from the annual Federal Reserve Banks “Small Business Credit Survey” shows that women-owned businesses apply for financing at similar rates to businesses owned by men, but women-owned businesses, on average, seek out smaller amounts. They also are less likely to receive the full amount they sought (43% vs. 48% of men).  Women still have a long way to go to gender equality in the lending market.  The Biz2Credit research found that the average size loan for women-owned businesses was 31% less than for male-owned businesses ($70,239) in 2018.  There may be several legitimate challenges to your dreams, that doesn’t mean they are insurmountable.  The dream starts the process but the action brings it into reality.  This process below will help you get that ball rolling.  You don’t want to suffer the regret of unfulfilled dreams.

Here are the four steps I use with my clients, let’s explore each:

  • Dream
  • Decide
  • Dedicate
  • Do

Dream:  There are plenty of people in your circle more than available to squash your dreams.  Some of those Debbie Downers are well-intentioned, trying to keep you from pain and failure.  Often these people are closest to you – parents, spouses, siblings, closest friends.  Listen and sift.  Perhaps in their warning framework they have some valid concerns.  There are also people who have never allowed themselves to dream and can’t conceive of going for it.  Unfortunately, there are people likely in your circle that want to keep you right where you are.  Your very success may be threatening to them.  Learn what you can from these people but stay focused on the dream.  You know your needs, talents, and strengths best.  You know if these unfulfilled dreams will be soul-crushers for you.

Decide:  This quote from author, motivational speaker and business strategist Tony Robbins is powerful.  “It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.”  You may plug along dreaming for years and suddenly something shifts, and you finally decide.  From my perspective this is the most powerful component in this four-step process.  After you decide, there is a weight that lifts, the conundrum is gone, and you often move forward with a rapid pace.  Honestly, sometimes external experiences help you decide.  I currently have a client who had been passed over multiple times for a promotion and raise.  She is skilled, hardworking, and dedicated!  After hearing of another person’s promotion, that she saw as less deserving, she decided THAT day to seek out a career counselor.  She spoke with a friend who she knew had used a career counselor and asked to be connected.  Obviously, the counselor was me.  Within three months, she had taken dramatic steps to be more visible and valuable to her upper management and received a promotion.  Decide and dramatic things happen.

Dedicate:  Dreams take dedication.  Sugar coating the dedication process is unfair to you.  Perseverance is key.  Your dedication may mean some sacrifice of time, money, leisure time, etc.  When you want to quit because it’s hard, having someone to encourage you along the way is essential.  Often my clients say next to the skill sets they learn with me, my belief in them is one of the things they value most.  You likely will remember someone in your life that kept you persevering when you were ready to give up.  We all need those people who believe in us when we have faltered.

Do:  Another favorite quote of mine, from author Joel Arthur Barker, focuses on the doing.  “Vision without action is merely a dream.  Action without vision just passes the time.  Vision with action can change the world.”  You DO have to take action on your dreams.  You must have an action plan, otherwise you will be overwhelmed, scattered, stuck.  Action plans are an important part of career maximizing with my clients.  Do you need an additional credential, do you need to know more about what it takes to succeed with your dream job, do you need to bolster your LinkedIn Profile?  Without a clear action plan, your dream may only stay a dream. 

There you have it, my four-step process for guiding clients into their dream job.  There is so much more to do, but this information will get you started.  Are you convinced you need more help?  It would be my honor to guide you in fulfilling your career dreams.  Call High-Heeled Success, LLC, (513) 561-4288 or email me Kay@highheeledsuccess.com and we will get the dream machine into gear.

Generating Career Catapulting Ideas

There’s nothing new under the sun! Or is there? Women who excel in their careers become idea factories, churning out ideas aplenty. But sometimes it seems like there is nothing new to be had, all the great ideas have been taken. Whether you own a business, work in a corporation, or non-profit, it’s essential to continue to generate ideas and solutions. The key is to say or do it differently! Let’s take Spanx, as an example. It’s all about holding “stuff” in! In my great grandmother’s day, it was a corset. In my mother’s day, it was a girdle.  In my day, it was first control top pantyhose, and now it’s Spanx, Shapermint, or other garments designed to yank it in. Remember, it’s just a new twist on an old idea. To be a changemaker you only need to tweak, not necessarily revolutionize. The same is true for ideas and concepts. You’ve likely heard of SMART goals, standing for Specific; Measurable; Achievable; Relevant, and Time-bound. One of my keynotes, “Cracking the Code for Goal Setting,” presents other essential aspects of achieving goals, START goals.  This is a concept I use with my individual clients, too. It’s looking at how to better view goals, based on what is commonly overlooked. It’s truly how to build a better mousetrap. Just a little better, just a little different, just a little more down-to-earth. Your spin makes it YOURS! Give your idea a name, acronym, or initialism. (If you don’t know the difference, google it.) Once you have a term, it takes on newness.

Become a solution sleuth! Problems are everywhere. Even small or partial remedies can set you apart. What you don’t want to do is consistently dismiss your ideas as inconsequential and table them. Timing is important but that doesn’t equate to never! Commonly, my clients don’t give their ideas enough credit for usefulness, originality, and value. If the message in your head is a reoccurring loop of “No one will care about this,” understand that reflects how you value yourself. If you need encouragement, affirmation, or a kick in the pants, run it by someone you trust and who will be candid with you. Even if they are a naysayer, it’s your ultimate decision to make.

Another critical factor in the idea factory is ownership. In the entrepreneurial world, it may entail a copyright, a Registered Trademark, or patent. In a corporate or non-profit world, it likely means having a paper trail.  It also means starting at the top. Divulging your idea, at high ranks first, helps you “own” the idea and prevent someone else from taking credit. I hear from clients often how they casually threw out a fabulous idea at a meeting and the next thing they knew, someone else had repeated it and taken credit for it. This happens to women frequently. Consider times where you have observed a woman tossing out an idea in a meeting, getting little reaction and then a male has repeated it and received a glowing response. Just another example of the struggle for women to have a voice and be acknowledged in the workplace.

How might you get started in catapulting your career with workplace changing ideas?  Here are three foundational steps you may want to take:

  • Keep a problem log! Since problems are everywhere, this may be easy. The hard part might be deciding which problem to consider first. Then try my “NOUN SOLUTION” — what person, place, or thing could impact this problem? Looking at the problem from these different vantage points can give you quite different perspectives.
  • Talk the problem aloud. You may hear a phrase, hear a question, hear an explanation that will create an idea. That is exactly how the concept of “The Fast Five” came to be, which is a term I use with my coaching clients. I was recommending a time of reflection be taken at the end of her day with a client. She needed to capture her successes. She commented, “When I am done with my workday, I am exhausted, and I want to get the heck out of there.”  My response was, “I promise you that this can be done fast, and it doesn’t need to take more than five minutes.”  Voila, “The Fast Five” was born!
  • Perhaps you already have the idea, and now your job is to fine tune and develop an action plan. What that means is 1) Name it and 2) Create your pitch for getting the idea out there.

If you are feeling shaky about producing ideas that will catapult your career forward or how to roll them out, having a coach to hone this aspect of your career could be beneficial.

Email Kay@highheeledsuccess.com or call (513) 561-4288 and we will set up a time for a complimentary 45-minute consultation to determine if we could be a good match to address this problem. 

Understanding and Transforming the Need to Please

Strains of the Rick Nelson song, Garden Party, float through my head, “You see, you can’t please everyone, so you’ve got to please yourself.”  If you are not familiar with the song, take a minute to listen, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PECmjB9df0w. Am I being overly dramatic calling this article, Death by People-Pleasing? I don’t think so! There is a death of self when your very identity hinges on whether others approve of you and like you. This people-pleasing behavior will be pervasive in both your personal and professional life. How did you get in this pickle in the first place? What was it like in your home growing up? Was there addiction? You tried your best to appease them in hopes the addictive behavior would stop. Was there intense controlling behavior, anger, rage, or another dysfunction? As children, we try to manage our environment, as best we can. We may have the illusion of believing that if we are loveable enough, good enough, or pleasing enough, we can “fix” our world. That need to have an o.k. world follows us into adulthood and into the workplace.

Oprah, very astutely calls people-pleasing behavior, “the disease to please.”  Don’t get me wrong, we all want to be liked, hope to be kind, and desire to be helpful but when you cross the line into people-pleasing there is a high price to pay. You may already know that this is an issue for you, but others may be unsure. Take this quick assessment:

Do You?

  • Struggle to say “no”
  • Overly care what others think
  • Feel guilty when not being compliant
  • Worry that others will think you are mean or selfish
  • Agree to things you don’t want to do
  • Constantly say you are sorry
  • Live for approval
  • Take undo blame
  • Have no free time
  • Neglect your own needs
  • Take on work of others to the detriment of your workload
  • Match the opinion or behavior of others when it’s not sincerely yours

Sometimes the consequences must be drilled into our head to make a change. Long standing behaviors aren’t easy to change, I get that. Here are consequences of workplace people-pleasing behavior:

  • Exhaustion
  • High stress levels
  • Constant anger
  • Lack of happiness
  • Resentment
  • No time for self
  • Being mistake prone
  • Career stalling or derailment

Author, Mel Robbins wrote, “Letting things slide to keep the peace only starts a war inside of you.”  No one want a war inside. How do you begin to change this behavior? When you have been people-pleasing for a long time, it may be hard to know what you want anymore. That’s a good place to begin. Sit down at your keyboard or a journal identifying things you want and need at work. You want more time to have your projects be excellent, more respect from your upper management or colleagues, time to attend professional development opportunities, shorter work hours, etc. Knowing what you want can motivate you to make changes. It’s really o.k. to have people not be thrilled with your choices, let them be disappointed, or surprised – you will survive. Heck, you may be surprised that their reaction is less dramatic than expected. It’s really o.k. to have a difference of opinion. It’s really o.k. to not always be agreeable. How do you morph this ingrained behavior? Boundaries will be your new watchword. Look at the tips in Kay’s Consulting Corner to start on some basic boundary setting. If your career is suffering because of people-pleasing behavior, ongoing coaching would be beneficial.

Email Kay@highheeledsuccess.com or call (513) 561-4288 and we will set up a time for a complimentary 45-minute telephone consultation.

Reaping the Benefits of Rewards

When you read the word “reward,” I am betting your mind immediately went to you rewarding employees, or rewards you might receive from your employer, or rewards you might give to a client for a referral. Did rewarding yourself jump into your brain? The perspective of rewarding yourself may be foreign to you. Maybe you grew up in a family that espoused making your bed, doing the dishes, or taking out the trash were chores you should either want to do or do because you were a member of the family.  Being rewarded for doing these things was not something your family valued. Regardless of the source, somehow you may have received the message that you do not deserve rewards, accomplishing the goal is all the reward you should need. In a utopian world, that might fly but you live in the real world in which changing habits and reaching goals can be tough! There exists a mountain of research for using rewards to reinforce positive behavior. You may long for kindergarten, where you a received a gold star for not eating paste! Rewards can be one of the most powerful gifts you give yourself and others. Today’s parents have used rewards with children very effectively and we can use them as a model for ourselves.  There are many parenting websites that focus on changing children’s behavior through rewards. The Verywell Family parenting site sums it up well:  https://www.verywellfamily.com/behaviors-that-respond-well-to-reward-systems-1094749. Adults can use the same concept. I have a client, who is a business owner, with some new sales goals for her business in 2022. The one major obstacle is getting to the paperwork she hates. That paperwork is necessary to keep the business running and to reaching those goals, but it is boring! She’s an extrovert who is excited and energized by others, being alone doing paperwork is drudgery. We have developed a reward system to get that necessary task done.

Every behavior you want to change, every new habit you want to develop, every goal that you seek can be reinforced by rewards. However, for this to work there may be beliefs you have to let go. You deserve to let go of the belief that to reward is juvenile and to reward is self-indulgent. Why fight what works? Here are components that are part of the system we have devised for her. She is not unique; I have created a similar type of system with many clients. Our first step was to identify what would feel like a reward to her. Then she identified that an hour of paperwork a day will be necessary. She plans to track that and at the end of the week she will assess how she has done. For each daily hour of paperwork, she will give herself a star. If she has five stars at the end of the week, she will go to T.J. Maxx and purchase an outfit; three stars and she’s off to purchase a desk accessory; one star earns her a new eyeliner.

Here are three components to remember when setting up a system like this:

  • The rewards must feel important to YOU! This is your plan, and you don’t have to justify it to anyone.
  • The rewards must be timely, the shorter the gap of time between the behavior and the reward the better.
  • The rewards must be consistent, skipping a reward will diminish the effect of the reinforcement.

This is something I do myself. I own a Michael Kors purse that was purchased as a reward. It is a constant reminder of reaching an important goal.

There are all sorts of challenges you have in the workplace. A toolbelt full of tools is an asset in overcoming those obstacles. Using rewards is one more tool at your disposal.

If you are facing many challenges in your career and not reaching your goals in the workplace, guidance is only a click or a phone call away.

Email Kay@highheeledsuccess.com or call (513) 561-4288 and we will set up a time for a complimentary 45-minute telephone consultation.

Breaking the Rules for Success

At my core, due to my upbringing, I am a rule follower. I can hear my mother now, “Good little girls are polite, look pretty, wait their turn.”  Can you hear your own mother, father, grandmother, schoolteacher? It’s a common lament of women, we have been taught to follow the rules. I am not proposing anarchy. Or am I? I love the quote from Katharine Hepburn, “If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.”  I was always considered a “Goody Two Shoes”! In 6th grade, we were allowed to walk home for lunch but not go anywhere else.  One day a group of kids decided to walk to a local café for lunch, strictly forbidden, and I summoned all my courage and went.  Someone ratted us out and we were to be punished. I was giddy to be part of the rebel group. However, when the time came time for the punishment, our principal didn’t put me in detention because she couldn’t believe I would be part of the insurrection. I was devastated and begged to get detention like all the rest of the gang. This shows how entrenched I was in following the rules. It has been a lifelong battle to resist this upbringing, as it can be such a career obstacle.

If you want to maximize your career, you must learn to break some rules for success. I would love to tell you I can do this blithely, but not so. I still feel some anxiety and queasiness, but I do it anyway! Sometimes I break a rule just to prove to myself that I still have it in me. Here are examples from my speaking career:

  • I always advise, in advance, how a room is to be arranged. If you ever train or speak you know that this is essential. The seating can make or break a training. When real life sets in, the seating is often wrong. When I can find staff to fix the problem, I direct them in how to make changes. Sometimes, I change it myself. When I comment on this to others, they often express concern that I haven’t asked permission. My ultimate responsibility is to assure the event is successful, if it means breaking some rules, so be it.
  • Meeting planners will sometimes request I speak on the stage and behind the lectern. That can be the kiss of death in connecting with an audience. I now will not even agree to it. In the past, there have been situations where I agreed but invaded the audience space anyway. That’s a rule I love to break.
  • Have you noticed that conference participants often spread throughout a meeting room? For energy, connection, and activities it’s important for an audience to stay together. Consequently, I direct participants where to sit. In my traveling bag, I carry caution tape. Think of the type you see at construction sites. Taping off seats that I do not want occupied is common for me. I have had people shadow me to learn speaking and training techniques. It’s not uncommon to have someone ask, “Did THEY say this is ok?”  I didn’t ask permission and don’t intend to. However, I will explain why it was necessary.

What are some of the rules that it makes sense to break?

  1.  “You must pay your dues.”  Just because you are new or young, doesn’t mean you have to wait to rise to the top or ask for the plum opportunities. Are you great at what you do? Then jump over everyone else. Might you hack people off? Yep! Might people say, “Who does she think she is?” Yep! Do it anyway. 
  2. “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”  There’s a proven way to ensure mediocrity! Shake things up, break that rule. Try new things, that’s how organizations evolve, stay ahead of the competition, and innovate.
  3. “Wait your turn.”  Most recently, I have a couple of clients that have held back on asking to go to conferences because no one in their organization was sent during the pandemic. This seemed pushy to them. Push away! All that can happen is you hear, “No.”
  4. “Newbies keep your thoughts to yourself.”  Diversity of age and tenure are smart ways companies are hiring. Organizations desperately need latest ideas, thoughts, and perspectives. Break that rule soon. You do not need to wait. In fact, when coaching women in their first professional position, I nudge them to speak up early in their career. Don’t wait until an arbitrary amount of time has passed. Make your mark from the beginning.
  5. “Work and play don’t mix.”  Men have figured out this is ludicrous! It is the essence of the “Ole Boys Club”.  Making business contacts and deals on the golf course isn’t just a story, it’s real.  Some of my best opportunities and clients have come from conversations in social settings. I recently struck up a conversation at the nail salon with the woman next to me and it looks like an article for a magazine will be the result. 

These are just a few of the rules that are worth breaking. You will think of more rules that apply to your situation. These obviously are not ethical violations or legal issues. These are perspectives, traditions, unwritten rules. Frequently, they are sexist at the foundation. If we didn’t eventually break the rules, women would still be wearing hats, gloves and dresses every day when they left their home. I think of Amelia Earhart, the stir she caused in breaking the rules of attire. She wore PANTS! She flew airplanes!  She was a rule breaker! Thank you, Amelia and all the other women who have gone before us breaking rules so we could thrive in life and in the workplace.

Are you sabotaging your career as a rule follower? It’s not your fault, you are just following the rules, LOL! If your career is being held back due to adherence to some unwritten, arbitrary set of rules, or other behaviors, there is help. Let’s talk. Did you know that High-Heeled Success offers 45-minute complimentary telephone consulting? Email Kay@highheeledsuccess.com or call 513-561-4288 to set a time to assess your situation. 

Sounding Powerful and Professional

Some of you may react to this article with a shrug of your shoulders.  You may be thinking, “As long as I do a good job and know my stuff, I will succeed.”  Though doing a good job and knowing your area of expertise is critical, how you express your knowledge can be a game changer.  Let’s face it, women have a disadvantage in the workplace.  Period.  It is in your best interest to have everything possible working for you.  That is what I strongly recommend that you start paying close attention to your language.  If you recorded yourself today, would you hear a woman who sounds assertive, confident, and powerful?  Maybe not.  In the media, I have been quoted saying, “Every time you open your mouth it’s a speaking opportunity.”  When YOU open your mouth, are your words advancing your career or undermining it?  You likely are presenting department reports, or pitching to a potential client, or speaking on a podcast. Unfortunately, you may have learned verbal habits that undercut your power in each of those situations.  They are so entrenched you don’t notice you are using them.  Sometimes you use these phrases intentionally, in an effort to be accepted, soften the blow, or seem less aggressive.  Regardless of the foundational reason, it’s still causing you to shoot yourself in your High-Heeled foot. 

There are many power-robbing phrases that I hear women use.  The focus is going to be on three in this article:  hedges, add-ons, and the indecisive “I”.  Curb your inclination to be defense about this, I am not scolding or berating you, instead guiding you.  We need every tool in our career tool belt.   

  • Eliminate hedges:  By the time you are presenting at a meeting, to a client, or are on a Podcast, you have thought things through.  You have a stance, perspective, or recommendation to make.  You see it as the right direction.  You have crunched the numbers, done research, or conferred with others.  It’s not mere opinion.   You may sound unsure, subjective, or tentative if you use hedges.  Hedging may be your attempt at reducing rejection, but it has the opposite result.  Consider these hedge statements:
    • “This may not be important, but…”
    • “I just wanted to say…”
    • “In my opinion…”
    • “This may not be right, but…”

“This may not be right, but I think shifting the marketing plan to a new target audience could be beneficial.”  No doubt you recognize how the hedge under sells your well thought out direction.  

  • Eliminate add-ons:  Add-ons, phrases added at the end of sentences, are frequently reflective of female learned behavior growing up.  Keep the peace, don’t ruffle feathers, get along!  Add-ons may be a sign of your leadership style.   If you have a more collaborative than commanding leadership style, you are apt to use these phrases.  If you are seeking collaboration, there are better verbal tools to use then add-ons.  Your add-ons may be more a sign of easing your discomfort with taking a position.  If you seek changing the marketing strategy, own it.  This is the time to be persuasive, impactful, and convincing.  You will recognize these add-ons:
    • “don’t you think?”
    • “right?”
    • “okay?”
    • “isn’t it?

“Changing the target market is aligned with the company vision, right?”  This add-on opens the door for controversy and dissent.  Your collaborative efforts, fact-finding, and alternate perspectives need to come well before you take a stance.

  • Eliminate I think and I feel:  One of the disadvantages women have had for decades is the belief by many men that women are too emotional in the workplace.  You see it in every industry, companies small and large, and in politics.  In 2019, an analysis by Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce found 1 in 8 Americans believe women are not as emotionally suited as men to serve in elected office.  This presents a significant barrier for women.  We don’t want to do anything that reinforces this bias.  Starting our sentences with the words “I think…” or “I feel…” is self-sabotaging.  You can readily see the issue.  By using this verbal habit, you are suggesting to others that this is merely an opinion, or you are speaking from an emotional response.  Sometimes we DO have an emotional response to and issue and that may need to be expressed.  But by starting every other sentence with I think, or I feel can be disastrous. 

“I feel changing the target market will be align it with the company vision.”  Are you convinced this is a valuable direction?  If you are, say so.  Surely, this is not just your gut talking.  You’ve done your homework, say so.  Followers of my articles, keynotes, workshops, and books will recognize tis quote from author and Pediatrician, Sally E. Shaywitz, MD, “To be someone, a woman doesn’t have to be more like a man, but she does have to be more of a woman.”  Women are strong and powerful, let your language reflect that strength and power.

Are you concerned that you are undercutting your career with your speaking style?  Many women face this problem, and it can be solved.  If these and other challenges are preventing you from your goals in the workplace, guidance is only a click or a phone call away.  Email Kay@highheeledsuccess.com or call (513) 561-4288 and we will set up a time for a complimentary 45-minute telephone consultation.

The Art of Making More Money

This article starts with celebration!  One of my clients just received a fantastic raise, big raise!  She is very smart, works her tail off, is an amazing leader, etc.  Yet, she has been underpaid throughout the time she has been in her current role.  There are many reasons women are underpaid in the workplace, including systemic bias and sexism.  Additionally, many women struggle with the “ask”, my client did.  It took a systematic approach to having this wonderful celebration.  Are you struggling with the “ask”, too? I get it.  One of the personal stories I tell in a keynote is about messages received in childhood regarding asking. If you had been with as an 8-year-old child on that sweltering July day, you would have seen my grandmother and me go into Niebuhr’s general store in the tiny town of Cobden, IL.  Imagine a scene right out of a movie set in the early 1900’s.  Picture the old scales to weigh produce and barrels of bulk candy.  Out of one eye I spied a bin of lemon drops, my favorite.  I was just ready to ask for some when the proprietor commented to my grandmother, “Helen, it’s so refreshing to have Kay in the store, she isn’t like other kids who demand candy from their parents the minute they walk in the door.”  My grandmother said, “You are so right, Kay is such a sweet little thing, she never asks for anything.”  Any “ask” that was in me died on that old wooden floor.  I still struggle with asking for what I want, so I get it.  However, I have made huge strides, my clients have made great strides and you can, too.  Never fear, I am going to break the process down for you.  Will this guarantee that you get a raise?  Nope!  However, I can GUARANTEE you likely will NOT receive one if you do not ask.

What keeps you from the ask?  Let’s break it down:

  • Women having traditionally been taught not to ask for much of anything!  From childhood, you may have been taught that powerful message.  Don’t ask for the last roll at dinner, don’t ask for the larger bedroom, don’t ask for a larger office, don’t ask for more money.  Asking has been equated to greed and being greedy, especially for women, is a no-no.  Heck even talking about money in many families is a no-no.  Often the lack of conversation about money causes intense conflict with family members when someone passes away.  Lack of conversations about money prior to marriage, can create problems that end in divorce.  Lack of conversations about money can create difficulties with teens headed to college.  The result may a significant discomfort with asking for more money, whether you work in a corporate job, a small business, a non-profit or you own your own business. For entrepreneurs, raising fees can bring out all the challenges listed above.  I challenge you to consider the messages you received about money growing up and are still receiving.  You must break through those messages to be paid what you are worth. 

  • For some women, another obstacle is the ongoing challenge of worth.  Many of the women I talk with struggle with their value in the workplace.  There often is a focus on what they don’t have versus their contributes to their workplace.  You may have a laundry list of what is lacking: 1) time in the role 2) an advanced degree 3) additional certifications, you get my drift.  It is essential to reframe this conversation.  Reframe the conversation around value, we will focus on this in the next bullet If you can objectively see that there are some gaps, work on remedying those.  Perhaps take an online course, write some articles for LinkedIn, join a professional organization for your field.  These actions indicate your willingness to invest in value to your company.

  • The third leg of this money stool is your approach.  This approach MUST be based on the value you are bringing. What value do you bring to the workplace?  Have you cut costs? Have you increased revenue?  Have you solved problems?  Refocus on your contributions and what you do have.  If you are unsure about what you have and are contributing, go to my website: https://www.highheeledsuccess.com.  Visit the Library tab, our newsletters are archived there and read the March/April 2019 newsletter, pay special attention to the third bullet in Kay’s Corner regarding documenting your successes/value.  Keep in mind, your salary “ask” is NOT a conversation about your needs!  Maybe you have a compassionate boss who really cares about your needs, but most raises are calculated on what you bring to the plate.  Coming to the conversation with your needs only makes you look needy, not valuable.

Giving Fantastic Feedback

In a business group I belong to, we have been discussing the importance of feedback, both giving and receiving.  I have addressed receiving feedback in this newsletter previously.  Now let’s talk about giving feedback.  Most people are giving feedback at work daily.  Sometimes it is to colleagues, sometimes to team members, sometime to employees.  You likely have experiences in your history that evidence how you flourished because of some fantastic feedback.

I am betting that one component of your success was by whom it was given.  Perhaps you really admired the giver because of their personal characteristics.  Let’s say they had a career/home balance that you envied.  Maybe, you acknowledged the giver as experienced, you knew they had been there, done that and got the T-shirt. I currently have a client in a traditionally male field that has been mentored by a ground-breaking female in that industry.  She knows the mentor has not only survived the construction industry, but she has thrived.  Could be that the person giving feedback has expertise in an area about which you were clueless!  Early in my business, I craved feedback from individuals that knew marketing and sales inside out.  Why? Yep, you guessed it — CLUELESS! 

Next you valued the why it was given.  You were convinced that they had your best interest at heart.  They might have been trying to keep you from making a huge career mistake.  Let’s say you were interviewing for an internal position under a supervisor they knew had a history of treating her staff poorly.  Or just maybe you are one of those folks that have had a position in their career in which things were not going well.  You were written up previously and someone gave you feedback trying to prevent a “third strike you’re out”.  Likely, you were eternally grateful for that feedback because it kept you from being canned. Let’s say just the opposite, you were on the fast track, doing great.  There was that person that gave you the heads up that if only you did XYZ, you were perfect for a promotion.  I’m betting you were listening with open ears to that feedback.  It’s not uncommon to me to have a client referred to me by her boss because the XYZ feedback was, “When you add polished presentations to your skillset, you will be unstoppable in your career.”

The third component is the how.  Ding, ding, ding!  Even if you admire the person, believe it’s given to you with your success in mind, if it’s given poorly, the receiver may not listen.  It might sound like, “You SHOULD…”, most people resist and rebel with should statements. It might sound condescending, patronizing, or overwhelming.  Loud, poor timing and poor location are additional how factors. The flip side allows the receiver to hear.  It’s crafted as an idea or thought; it’s respectful; it is feasible feedback; and it is given at the right time and place. 

By now, the hope is that you have taken yourself back to receiving feedback and remembered why that feedback worked for YOU!  Also, you can remember why some feedback you ignored, deflected, or rebelled against.  Now it is time for you to put the high heels of the receiver on your giver feet.  Everything that didn’t or did work for you needs to be remembered.  Remembering and internalizing that information gives you a roadmap to being a successful feedback giver.  This won’t guarantee success, but it will up the possibility of a successful outcome. 

One of your goals can be to become a more balanced feedback giver.  There is a spectrum of giving.  You may be a person that is more aware of changes that need to be made, problems that need to be fixed, and tends to only give feedback when there is an issue.  Giving negative feedback is comfortable for you and seems appropriate.  At the other end of the spectrum, are people that want others to feel good, they believe in positive reinforcement, and are rather uncomfortable with conflict and confrontation.  Yet, the person that has good results with giving feedback has developed a balance.  They can and do give both negative and positive feedback.  In my coaching practice, I tend toward wanting to give more feedback that uplifts, inspires, and affirms clients.  Clients, however, hire me to help them over obstacles.  If I never make them aware of what may be tripping them up, then I am sacrificing the success of my client for what is comfortable and common for me.

We have only looked at giving feedback.  You are not an island in this process.  The person receiving your feedback has their own personality style, their own history of feedback, and other issues currently going in their life.  This creates an environment that may make them ripe for taking feedback or a sitting duck for being defensive, blowing up at you, or completely ignoring your feedback.  Plus, you do not want to miss Kay’s Consulting Corner in this newsletter, there I will give you some simple, yet powerful, steps on giving feedback that you will love.  Finally, if you realize that feedback is a career nemesis for you, the advertised VIP Day at the beginning of this newsletter could be a career-changing investment.

If feedback is one of the struggles you are having in your career, know that you are not alone.  This is a challenge for most people.  Let’s set of a time for a complimentary 45-minute telephone consultation to chat about this and how it plays into the coaching I do with clients.  Email Kay@highheeledsuccess.com to get a time for us to talk about this and other steps to your High-Heeled Success.

Create Career Buzz!

Lately, I have fielded a lot of questions about how invisible people feel in their career due to the pandemic.  If you are working remotely, this is probably even more of a concern.  You are not being dramatic, jumping to conclusions, or being paranoid.  When you are out of the office, “out of sight, out of mind” is a legitimate concern.  You may go back to your physical workplace in the future and some of you are going to work remotely going forward.  This invisibility does not have to be your fate.  YOU can take the helm of your career, guide it out of choppy waters and into calmer seas.  There are so many things you can’t control right now.  That is one of the many frightening things about the pandemic, the world is unpredictable!  When humans are faced with chaos, having some things they can control can really improve your mental health and your career. 

One of my favorite books is by Pam Lontos, published in 2013, I See Your Name Everywhere.  I was familiar with Pam because her company PR/PR always ran ads in the National Speaker’s Association magazine.  Her book became one of my “go to” guides for my business.  She was THE guru in my estimation.  You should have seen and heard me the day she called me!  Out of the blue, Pam called me and told me she had seen my name recently several times.  Wow!  I was speechless and for those of you that know me well, that doesn’t happen very often.  After some discussion, I found out that she had sold the business and as part of her semi-retirement she was doing consulting.  I could not sign up fast enough. The words Pam consistently drummed into my ears were: leverage and buzz.  You may work in a corporate position, in a non-profit, or in a small business and think creating career buzz does not apply to you.  Hold on, my friend, YES it does.  It’s where, why, and how you create the buzz.

Your first step could likely be making peace with the concept of creating buzz about yourself.  Some of you can hear your mother saying, “Don’t brag, don’t sound conceited, don’t toot your own horn.”  It’s time to tell mother to “zip it!”  You likely didn’t just get this message at home.  You may have gotten this same message in your schooling, church, community, media, or society at large.  If you don’t leverage your successes, accomplishments and awards you are missing great opportunities to advance your career.  Replacing that message with that of the great humorist, Will Rogers, is powerful.  Good ole Will said, “If you done it, it ain’t bragging.”  This is different from seeming needy, screaming for affirmation isn’t career enhancing, either.  

With whom could you highlight your successes, accomplishments, awards, etc.?  Here are a few to get you rolling:

  • Your former bosses
  • Your former co-workers
  • Your former mentors
  • Your alma mater
  • Your professional associations
  • Your networking groups
  • Your closer professional network
  • Your social media connections
  • Your current boss
  • Your next level up
  • Your current mentor
  • Your current sponsor (people who have opened doors and opportunities for you)
  • Your sorority
  • Your community
  • Volunteer causes that you participate in

One of my clients is a dynamo.  I know it and she is realizing it.  On our coaching calls we often start the session with celebration of her current successes.   I acknowledge her successes, the talent it took and the effort it took to achieve it.  Next, I ask, “How are you going to leverage that?”  At first, she was resistant, as she had been socialized to be very humble about her successes.  Then she got to the point where she would beat me to the punch and say, “I know, how am I going to leverage that?”  Now she leads with, “Here is what I have done to leverage that.”  It’s a process. 

One of the most effective steps I have taken is to create a “Buzz Buddy System”.  You can give a shout out on social media, inter-office message boards, company online newsletters about your buddy’s success!  You can say laudatory statements about them that they might be uncomfortable saying about themselves.  Make sure this is reciprocal. It feels great to know that you are assisting a co-worker, colleague, or friend advance their career.   It is possible to leverage your successes and create buzz about you!

Perhaps this entire article makes your skin crawl, but you know it would be valuable to create some “buzz”.  You don’t have to jump over this career hurdle alone.  Call me at (513) 561-4288 or email me at Kay@highheeledsuccess.com.  We can schedule a complimentary consultation to discuss this and other steps to your High-Heeled Success.

Making and Owning Choices That are YOURS

Doesn’t every aspect of your world, both personally and professionally, seem to be driven by the pandemic these days?  Considering that, a friend commented that she was struggling with holiday decorating.  She lives alone and will have no one in her home for the holidays due to the pandemic.  What to do?  Tradition, habit, and other people’s opinion of whether or how she should decorate appeared to be muddling the decision-making process. She really does have choices:  she could go full-out in decorating, just because she loves the way it looks.  She could choose just to decorate the rooms she will most frequent.  Holy cow, she could do nothing at all!  This is such a metaphor for choice and the age-old question, “Whose life is this, anyway?”  To truly “own” our decisions and choices may be one of the earmarks that we have reached adulthood, regardless of our age.  I’m not recommending ignoring the needs of others when they are impacted by your choices, but this may be a great time to reflect on how you make choices, personally and professionally. 

If you are being honest with yourself, you may find that decisions and choices are being run out of habit or “The way I’ve always done it.”  Life changes, you get divorced, you move out-of-state, you are terminated.  Seasons of life change, you get your master’s degree, you have a child, you near retirement age.  You don’t have to keep doing things the same way, especially if you have never really considered YOUR wants and needs.  Perhaps it is time to move out of rote and into intentionality.  The ability to choose differently at home may give you the skill and confidence to translate this into your career.  

I was an advocate for women to “lean in” to their career long before Sheryl Sandberg wrote the book Lean In and coined the phrase “lean in”.  With that said, we are all vastly different, with different skills, temperament, and aspirations.  Choosing for yourself can be tough, especially if you have spent your entire life pleasing others.  It’s time to ask, “WHY?”  Why am I making this choice?  Are you living the career your parents wanted for you?  Are you in the job that seems to be the usual for your circle of friends?  Have you chosen to step up into leadership because a professor or mentor saw that as an opportunity for you?  Have you succumbed to the influence of media as to what you should be aspiring? 

Perhaps you are considering a major choice like changing careers.  The Career Foundry identifies 5 reasons to make a career change:

  1. You need a new challenge
  2. Your values have changed
  3. You want to focus on other things
  4. Your passion lies elsewhere
  5. You’re not happy

I work with many women who are exploring this stage of choice.  However, your choices don’t have to be that dramatic.  One of my clients felt the “itch” to have a higher income and switch her focus from a customer service role to a sales role.  Another client, given the option of a promotion that would have put her in charge of a large team, turned it down.  With some guidance, she came to the realization that “herding cats”, her term for managing others, would make her life miserable.  She wanted to be responsible for HER work only.  She came to me with her husband’s comment, “Are you nuts?  Of course, you will say yes to a management position.”  She was finally able to remind him, he was not the one that would be “herding the cats”!  It isn’t easy bucking the perspective of others, even when they are well-meaning. 

Your choices may seem less dramatic than these but still will make a difference in your life.  Recently, I had a client say “No” to serving on a committee that would have an impact on the diversity and inclusion policies of her company.  Though she was passionate about the power of diversity and inclusion, with small children and the iffy nature of the pandemic and childcare, she declined.  It was all about the season of her life. 

Where in the world do you start with taking the reins of your own career?  A good first step will be to go through the steps in Kay’s Consulting Corner.  Perhaps that is not nearly enough assistance.  If you are struggling with career choices and need someone without a “dog in that fight” to guide you, I might just be the woman for you.  Call me at 513-561-4288 or email me at Kay@highheeledsuccess.com.  We can arrange a complimentary consultation to talk about your situation.