Tag Archive for career advancement

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. 

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. 

Speaking Strategies to Create Memorability While Working Remotely

A Forbes article cites a survey done by Prezi, the cloud-based presentation platform company, that 70% of employed Americans, who give presentations, agree that presentation skills are critical to their success at work.  Even though employees acknowledge the career boost great speaking skills afford, few love to present.  In fact, the Book of Lists cites fear of public speaking as the #1 fear people have, ahead of snakes, heights, and death!  Perhaps you have developed some skills around speaking but now with department meetings, quarterly meetings and conferences going virtual, you have not translated those skills on to Zoom, Microsoft Teams and other platforms.

As many of you know, in my career, I have given over 3,000 presentations and spoken to over 100,000 women.  I know what it takes to create pizzazz in a presentation and how to impact your listeners.  You must learn how to morph those same skills online to create the same pizzazz.  One of the bizarre behaviors I have observed in watching virtual presentations over the last six months is the belief that because they are online, the standards of excellence have changed.  Yes, working from home can give you the illusion that everything is casual.  Smart women know that is NOT TRUE!  In fact, smart career women know that they must fight that perspective.  Preparation, practice, and pizzazz are even more important now.  It is so easy to disappear from the forefront of your career when working remotely.  You must seek every opportunity to make an impact on your career trajectory. 

Clean up your act!  Looking like you just rolled out of bed for a presentation is a career killer. Even though your commute is from your bedroom to your basement doesn’t mean you can have the luxury of rolling out of bed 5 minutes before a meeting.  You still need to do the same readying for your day that you did before the pandemic.  Plus, you often do not have the other trappings of success when you are presenting online.  You are not speaking from the front of the room, on stage or standing.  All three of those behaviors give you some instant credibility.  However, if you can give your virtual presentation standing, do it. You will have more tools to seem forceful, credible, and confident.  Pay attention to what your viewers will see of you on a screen.  Whether it is the jacket you wear, the necklace that frames your face, or the hairstyle that looks kept, this attention to detail will make an impact.  Even if you have ratty jeans on your bottom half, the part of you the world sees will send a message of confidence, credibility, and command. 

Make your voice an asset.  Online presenting demands that your voice convey seriousness, lightness, and variety of other tones.  It has been obvious lately, that many people have forgotten their voice is key in conveying their message.  Practice ahead of time by recording yourself.  If you could not be seen, would your voice send your intent?  This is even more critical when you are screen sharing.  Slides can get old fast if your voice does not keep things lively.

We know that your listeners have more distractions to their attention span at home than they ever did in a conference room.  Your “audience” members have kids, barking dogs, crazed cats, partners, dishwashers, doorbells from delivery drivers, chirping birds, just to name a few.  You must be different, interesting and attention getting.  Make sure you check out Kay’s Consulting Corner for some specific steps you can take to put some pizzazz in your delivery.  Whether you will be presenting from home for the duration or just until we kick the pandemic to the curb, remember, presenting online can be your asset or your albatross. 

If you know that your online presentations could be more impactful, but you are just not sure how to get there, remember for September and October you can get presentation coaching at a 10% discount.  Call me at (513)561-4188 or email Kay@highheeledsuccess.com to get this process rolling.

Silencing the Inner Critic for Career Success

Is your career being driven by that nasty little voice in your head?  Much has been written about how negative self-talk is damaging to your self-esteem.  A stronger light needs to be shown on the career damage you can do.  You may call these behaviors cognitive distortions, stinking thinking, or negative self-talk. Regardless, the result is the same – career self-sabotage.  Here is my promise: these behaviors can be managed and you can experience a career boost as a result!  Is that enough of a promise to keep on reading?

What kind of distorted thinking are we talking about here?  Check out the short list below and ask yourself if you are in the habit of thinking or saying any of these:

  1. All-or-nothing thinking: You look at things as either black or white.  You are either the most skilled marketing professional in the world or an incompetent who should have never been hired. 
  2. Negative filtering:  You remember and focus on your mistakes, the things that go wrong or your weaknesses to the exclusion of any positives.  There was one typo in your report and you can only remember this.  Never mind that your boss praised you for the insights and pragmatic action plan.
  3. Jumping to conclusions:  You try to mind read others or predict the future around which you have little information.  You were not on a list for an upcoming meeting and you are sure that means your department does not see you as valuable. 
  4. Catastrophizing:  You take the smallest problem and follow the potential consequences to the worst possible outcome.  After you were not on the list for the meeting, you assume not only do they not value you; firing is in your future, probably by the end of the day. 

P.S. This is a short list; there are many more distortions that may be your undoing. 

If you don’t manage these behaviors, “Danger, danger, Will Robinson.”  (If you are too young to recognize this TV reference,  Google it) Here are just a few of the possible rotten ramifications:

  • Blowing mistakes out of proportion
  • Creating an environment where you limit your necessary risk-taking
  • Taking responsibility for events that are not your fault
  • A focus on your weaknesses versus your strengths
  • Intense procrastination

Does this sound like a prescription for success?  No, I don’t think so either.  You need a perspective of positivity that impacts your risk-taking, creativity, timeliness, innovation, and confidence.  In your defense, these behaviors are often an attempt to protect oneself.  One assumes this type of thinking prepares you for the worst.  The bad news is this does not work!  Instead of preparing you for the worst, it adds stress to your life and work.

One of my clients, we are going to call her Marti, came to me initially to work on getting a new job she was seeking.  She had been working on her resume for over a year, because in her eyes it would either have to be perfect or don’t put anything out there.  If she did not get an interview from a particular application she would quit for months, as it was apparent NO ONE would ever hire her and she would be stuck in her current job for the rest of her life!  It became clear quickly that cognitive distortions had been holding her back. In our coaching, she began with the simple four steps you will see in Kay’s Corner and then we ramped up with additional techniques.  In three months she was on to a new job.  This is feasible!

If you know this behavior is like an anchor around your neck, here are some quick life rings to catch:

Check out the book:  Self-Esteem:  A Proven Program of Cognitive Techniques for Assessing, Improving, and Maintaining Your Self-Esteem by Matthew McKay and Patrick Fanning.

Then read the four steps in Kay’s Corner.  If you recognize that Cognitive Distortions and other negative learned behaviors are making career advancement like sailing in rough waters, please give me a call at 513-561-4288 or connect with me via email at kay@highheeledsuccess.com.