WiLab Post: Finding Opportunity in the Turning Point

Please check out the release of this story on WiLab!

FINDING OPPORTUNITY IN THE TURNING POINT

I recently had a fantastic opportunity to speak to a group of young women at Hult International Business School in Boston, MA for the “Women in Business Series: Walk in Her Heels” hosted by the Women in Business Club.

Hult

I discussed my background and my perspective on how it took me time to realize that the work I am doing today is in conjunction with my original goals as a fresh grad. 12 years in business has afforded me an understanding that fulfillment is much more complicated and you should not expect to gain a fulfilled life from your job alone. We are complex human beings. Take an honest look at yourself, your goals and aspirations to build the right opportunities for yourself. In addition, timing is not everything. Everyone talks about “having it all” which seems absolutely impossible when you are attempting this feat. It is also unfair to put that type of pressure on yourself. I am a successful business woman, wife, mother of a 4 yr. old with another baby on the way. Being everything to everyone has its ups and downs.

It was important to me to discuss a topic that I find interesting and something that has helped me in my own career which has been “Finding Opportunity in the Turning Point” When faced with a challenge or turning point in your life on the cusp of change. How can you make the best move, create the best opportunity and successfully position yourself to achieve your goals?

Recognizing the Turning Point, The Need for Change?

When you realize its time to take on a new challenge; graduating from college, changing jobs, career paths, or a major life event,  it is important to recognize the turning point and prepare yourself for a change. I am a list maker by nature and planning the next opportunity takes time to map out. Preparing to dive in takes practice, but when do you dive in the deep end and take a risk? I suggest to start by aligning your personal goals with professional goals. Does your next move incorporate your overall aspirations and mission? If your job path does not, that’s OK. We can’t all make our favorite hobby a job and sometimes reality sinks in. I often find balance between my career and interests by tying in extracurricular activities. Be dynamic.

Diving in the Deep End, Preparing for Change & Diving in

One of my most embarrassing moments was at a 6 grade party. I stood on the diving board (a chubby 10 year old girl), my crush was swimming in the pool, and for some odd reason I decided to announce that I was not only going to dive in, I would up my game and do a back flip. I proceeded to do a back flop in front of my entire class. It was at that moment I decided not to give a f**k and laugh with others (who were laughing at me) and not take everything so seriously. I use this analogy now 20 years later. You are inevitability going to dive in and potentially fail, big time. But that is the first step. Understanding your strengths, disposition and capabilities will help maximize your potential for success. Create a portfolio of your greatest strengths, where do you excel? Figure out what angle you are making the decision from, what is important to you, right now? When seeking a new opportunity, explore all options.

When you dive in the deep end to seek change in your career, do your research and know your audience. This will help you position yourself appropriately to communicate effectively with your audience. If you promote yourself to change, you will create new opportunities. Get out there!

Marketing Yourself, Tools for Engaging in Change

Some quick tips for marketing yourself; preparing your qualifications to engage in change, ask yourself; how are you presenting yourself to the world? Be your own advocate, find advocates. Who do you know that can introduce you to a new career, potential employer, advocate for change? Get comfortable with networking and the only way to do this is to practice.

Taking Chances, When to Take Risks?

It is important to consider timing when taking chances with your career. It might make sense to take a risk at this point in your life, for others stability might be at the top of the list. Ask yourself, can you really live with this decision every day? Do a walk through of your daily activities and make sure you are happy with your decision. How do you connect with the team, the mission?

Finding fulfillment is much more dynamic than landing a job. It is a combination of many things. Finding opportunity at the turning point is lead by your passion, understanding and disposition for the need for change. Capture your interests in both your job and through extra curricular projects to keep a sharp edge on your resume and credential building exercises. At the end of the day, its only a job and true happiness, fulfillment and change is initiated from within.

One Step Forward In the Working Mama Revolution

Please see the release of this story on WiLab!

ONE STEP FORWARD IN THE WORKING MAMA REVOLUTION

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During a recent interview with Chris Hayes on MSNBC, journalist Rebecca Traister was joined by a guest: her newborn daughter!  While she spoke about the recent email controversy involving Hilary Clinton, her little bundle slept silently on her chest.  I heard nothing about it and only came across the article when looking specifically for the latest news regarding working mothers.

This isn’t headline news and may not even go viral, but it should.  This small act is huge for working mothers who are striving to prove they are still relevant to their employers, despite their new parental status.

Despite this story’s quiet appearance, people are noticing it. Randye Hoder from Fortune.com said,“What was most remarkable, perhaps, was how unremarkable the baby’s presence was”

As working mothers, our goal is not only to find a balance between work and home life, but also to feel successful and supported in our work environments. Traister made a wonderful statement and point without really trying.  She did what feels natural to many of us, which is multitasking work and motherhood.  We don’t want to have to hide the fact that we are mothers and we don’t want to be defined by or judged for it at work either. Traister proved that being a mom and having a successful career is not only possible, but it’s the new norm!  The more we are exposed to these simple gestures, the more accepting society will be.  For now, Blissfulmamas is grateful for another amazing woman who is paving the way for us all!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: BLISSFULMAMAS

dsc_0013Blissfulmamas is inspired by living in the moment, embracing the chaos and enjoying the crazy wonderful ride of motherhood. As working professionals, we really do have it all! Come as you are and embrace it. Families are like snowflakes, each different and unique, no two the same. The antiquated idea of the perfect roadmap to raising a family, balancing a professional job, and everything else in and between is long overdue for a make over! Blissfulmamasis a networking community for working mamas with a positive outlook, looking to collaborate with each other on career advancements, job opportunities, managing and organizing family life, without forgetting about the long overdue personal “me” time. Our goal is to act as a positive outreach for working mamas and be a place where working mamas can collaborate & find resources, all available on the go!

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Read more about and from the author: BlissfulMama’s WiLab Profile

Sheryl Sandberg and Speaking Up in the Workplace

Please see the release of this story on WiLab!

Photo from http://karlynpercil.com

Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant have been authoring a four part series for the NY Times called Women at Work and it’s been eye opening to say the least. If you’re familiar with Sheryl, you know she is the fearless leader of the Lean In movement. She strongly encourages women to lean in, understand how they are held back, and how we hold ourselves back from achieving our professional goals and advancing on to take on leadership roles in the workplace.

Speakup

In the recent article in the NY Times; Speaking While Female,  Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant write on why women stay quiet at Work. As working career mothers, it is easy to relate to the descriptions of what women face in the workplace. There have been instances where our opinions and input were deemed as trivial and despite years of experience, we’re dismissed.

“When a woman speaks in a professional setting, she walks a tightrope. Either she’s barely heard or she’s judged as too aggressive. When a man says virtually the same thing, heads nod in appreciation for his fine idea. As a result, women often decide that saying less is more.”

The article speaks mainly to the response of men to women speaking up in the workplace, but what about the response of women? Is the problem that we as women are unable to deal with other women speaking up? I have heard experiences of many women in the workplace, unable to support each other or recognize good intentions when presenting a new idea. It is often other women in the work place who cut each other down, whether it be for another promotion, needing time off for family/leave, or just a simple idea. Women need to start supporting each other if we want to be effective with change.

When male employees contributed ideas that brought in new revenue, they got significantly higher performance evaluations. But female employees who spoke up with equally valuable ideas did not improve their managers’ perception of their performance. Also, the more the men spoke up, the more helpful their managers believed them to be. But when women spoke up more, there was no increase in their perceived helpfulness.

It becomes a game on when and where to speak up, often leaving women feeling that their best attribute is to hold there tongue and speak at the right moment, a sort of twisted strategic plan. Women who speak their mind are often seen as aggressive and forthright, not creative and innovative. It isn’t easy to figure out (which is a vast understatement), but if we initiate conversations and improve upon an accepting culture in the workplace, women will speak more freely and speak their minds, offering well intended value to their organizations.

The long-term solution to the double bind of speaking while female is to increase the number of women in leadership roles. (As we noted in our previous articleresearch shows that when it comes to leadership skills, although men are more confident, women are more competent.) As more women enter the upper echelons of organizations, people become more accustomed to women’s contributing and leading.

Featured Mama ~ Connie Brown, Head of Talent Acquisition at Manulife and John Hancock Financial Services

Connie

Please meet our Featured Mama, Connie Brown. Today is her birthday!

Connie,  Thanks for sharing your inspiring story. You are truly an amazing Mama, showing perseverance and courage for your daughter, all while of course looking fabulous! We wish you all the best and success in the years to come & wish you the happiest of Birthdays!

xo Blissfulmamas 

Single Mama on a Mission

I am 32 years old single Mom to my daughter Charlotte, who turned two in September. I am currently co-parenting with my ex-husband and am proud that despite our differences we are on the same page parenting our daughter and have sound communication. People always say that being a Mom is one of the hardest and rewarding jobs all in one. I do not think I ever really understood what that meant until I actually became a Mom.  Charlotte has brought me more unconditional love than I knew was possible and I have been able to see the world through this little persons eyes all over again.

Being a Mom has without question changed me for the I am more compassionate, understanding, have redirected values/interests, and frankly do not have time to worry about half of the irrelevant things I was concerned with before I had Charlotte.  It has also strengthened my relationships with my family and friends and brought several amazing new ones into my life.

For me the hardest part of being a Mom is that our family life is not how I imagined it would be and that makes me sad for Charlotte. She will never know her family all together under one roof and all of the amazing things that come along with that every day.  Luckily, her Dad and I are very amicable which has made the process as manageable as possible and seamless for Charlotte as can be.

Career Challenges, Perks & Rewards

I work full time at Manulife and John Hancock Financial Services, a global financial services firm as the Head of Campus Talent Acquisition for North America. In my role, I lead a team of eight individuals in the attraction and retention of student talent for internship, coop, and new grad programs.  I have worked for the company for over 3.5 years and this is my third position during that time.

The biggest challenge for me has been balancing everything, especially while going through a divorce and being a single working Mom. The truth is, if you let yourself, you can feel guilty about just about everything.  The thing that has helped me to navigate this is a strong network of people professionally and personally who are supportive, offer a listening ear, and remind me that I am doing a great job.

From a work perspective, I could not have asked for a better situation.  I took an extended maternity leave, came back to work on a compressed work week, and now work 1 day per week from home. My company offers flexible work arrangements to work from home, compressed work week, etc. depending on individual’s roles and performance.  Our benefits packages offer great rewards for flexible spending, HSA, Back-up child care, college savings discounts, mother’s rooms for breastfeeding, and an onsite gym with health and wellness discounts and benefits.

The most rewarding thing for me is that I have not lost my professional identity. I am continuing to grow and evolve in the way that works for me and being the best me for my daughter.

Organization Style

This is definitely a juggling act. Before having Charlotte, I was very focused on having a clean home, being organized, etc.  While this has not completely gone to the wayside, sometimes it takes a back seat.  I rely heavily on lists, routines, iphone calendar to stay organized, and leveraging external resources (house cleaners!).  For me it is critical to give myself treats here and there too.  For example if I know I am tired one week, Charlotte and I will grab dinner at Whole Foods and eat out.  It’s fun for her, switches things up and makes me feel like I have a break….the little things go a long way. Iphone and google calendars are essential for us.

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun!

Charlotte and I spend a lot of time at the park, at gymnastics, play dates with friends, and we do sneak in Disney movies. Currently Aladdin, Cinderella, and Frozen are the favorites.  This summer we vacationed with family at the beach. Our must haves are love, patience, laughter, and to celebrate the small moments.

Focusing on Myself

I have joint custody of Charlotte, so I have some time to take care of myself. I work-out 6 days a week and find this is very important to manage stress and the many things I have going on in my life.  I also try to get a massage or a manicure every other month or so, it helps me to feel like I have not lost all of the things I indulged before I was a mama.  Spending time with my family/friends has been critical.  Going through this experience, while one of the hardest things I have ever gone through it has shown me that I have amazing people in my life that will always be there for me no matter what and love me for who I am.

Future Goals & Moving Forward

I wish I had more time to read and travel.  I have had the chance to travel quite a bit this year with Charlotte and on my own.  In 2015 my goal is to visit Europe. I find inspiration in others who have overcome hardships, not necessarily similar to me own, in general. It helps me to know I am not alone in overcoming a challenging time in my life and that this too shall pass.  Additionally, having an amazing group of supportive Mommy friends is critical.  I feel like as women we are so hard on ourselves so having someone who you can relate to and that offers you empathy is crucial. Friendship/family support, time to myself to work-out and relax.

Tools for the Wise:

At home:  Staying organized is key and accepting when things do not go as planned which is inevitable with a toddler. It is important for me to know Charlotte and I have special time, if I travel for work or play I will plan a day for her and I to do something just us.

At work:  This is a struggle for me because I am constantly pushing for more…sometimes this could mean I feel better if I work on a Friday night (weird I know), but I know I will feel better the next day.  The key for me is to listen to myself and what I need to not be overwhelmed.  As I mentioned earlier, we are all different and unique and I think you need to listen to yourself and what is going to make you individually “balance it all’.

Finding Balance 

My advice for other Mama’s; Cut yourself some slack!, two deep breaths go a long way, and find a network at home and at work that support you and help you to grow as an individual.My schedule is my biggest challenge because I always want to be in two places at once. It’s hard not to feel guilty for that because I am such a driven person.  I work Mon-Thurs in the office, Fridays from home and travel every 5-6 weeks to Canada for about 3-4 days.  The nice thing for me is that my work is very flexible so I am able to spend more time with my daughter after I have traveled.

All or Nothing

The biggest challenge I face is that everything I do is all or nothing. When I have Charlotte it’s all me all the time which can be tough on hard days as my family does not live locally.   Even on these days, I am constantly reminded that she and I are creating amazing memories just the two of us and the time we spend is truly quality time.

 

 

You’re Invited! Our upcoming Featured Mama, Lizzy wants you to check out her Mommy Energy Group Coaching Session!!

“YOU’RE INVITED!!  Join Lizzy every month for a free-for-all Mommy Energy Group Coaching session. Her next session is TONIGHT at 9PM EST.  Want to learn more about Mommy Energy?  Come listen to Lizzy’s teleclass, “7 Reasons Why You Want More Mommy Energy” on November 7th at 9PM EST.  If you’d like to ignite your Mommy Energy book a Complementary Mommy Energy Coaching Session.”

 

WiLab’s Working Mom Series: Apple and Facebook’s New Egg Freezing ‘Benefit?’

APPLE AND FACEBOOK’S ANNOUNCEMENT THAT THEY ARE COVERING THE COST OF FREEZING EGGS HAS PEOPLE TALKING.

apple-facebook-freeze-eggs-mainThis NBC News article takes the positive approach to the matter, kicking off with a quote from Brigitte Adams, an egg-freezing advocate and founder of the patient forum Eggsurance.com. By offering this benefit, companies are investing in women…and supporting them in carving out the lives they want.”  NBC focuses on the positives of this new corporate benefit like leveling the playing field for a male-dominated Silicon Valley and attracting more female talent.  It goes on to quote author Emma Rosenblum  “Not since the birth control pill has a medical technology had such potential to change family and career planning.” 

The article does also touch on, only very briefly, the drawbacks to companies covering the cost of freezing eggs. Women may feel indebted to the company or feel it is perceived they cannot do their job while pregnant or a mother. However, it is brushed off by claiming “the more likely explanation for lack of coverage is simply that egg freezing is still new, and conversation around the procedure has only recently gone mainstream.”

I BEGAN THINKING THROUGH MY STANCE ON THIS NEW “CORPORATE BENEFIT” AS A WORKING MOTHER, MYSELF.

Is it a benefit or a ploy to have women be indebted to their employers and feel pressure to put off Motherhood? The line between work life and personal life is one that is quickly blurring and policies like these blur those lines even further.

Egg freezing is a huge decision and a huge cost, but one that has historically been made after a personal evaluation of your career and financials. With this new benefit a third party, your employer, joins the conversation.  Some may argue that your employer was always a part of the conversation, and that is probably true. However, your employer isn’t just a factor anymore, but rather an active contributor.

On the one hand this is a fabulous benefit to offer employees who have already or would have elected to freeze their eggs and may not have been able to afford it.  It supports women’s flexibility in choosing when they want to start a family and gives them the opportunity to focus on career now and family later.

On the other hand, this new corporate benefit can add an element of pressure that some women previously did not feel.  Before this benefit, the decision was entirely yours to make.  Now, since your employer is funding the process there may be a feeling of obligation, or guilt.  If you decide to have a child now rather than freeze your eggs for a chance later, does that put you at a disadvantage to progress in your career if you choose to return to work after maternity leave?

Dozens more questions passed through my mind on the matter. What if the company pays to freeze your eggs and later are fortunate enough to have a child when you want one, and then don’t want to go back to work, do you feel pressure to do so because your employer paid for you to freeze your eggs in the first place? What if your employer pays to freeze your eggs and then you decide you want to go to a different company?  Do you stay longer than you would have otherwise?

WHERE I NET OUT

I netted out in a place that, at the surface I think it is positive that companies are expanding the benefits they provide their employees, but companies need to do more. I came across one article on SFgate.com that focuses on the need to think about and encourage companies to offer more benefits for employees once they have a family. I certainly agree!

As stated in the sfgate.com article “They could have offered on-site day care. (Currently, Facebook offers full-time on-site day care only for dogs; Apple offers none for dogs or humans.) They could have offered to ease negotiations about flexible work schedules for new parents. Above all, they could have offered transparent salary scales and guaranteed pay equity. Women feel far better about starting a family when they know they won’t be penalized, either economically or in terms of career opportunity, for doing so.”

Rather than discuss the perception of a benefit that a company has decided to offer, we should continue to encourage people to make the decisions that are right for them and encourage employers to expand their benefits to support those decisions.  I hope to see an evolution in the way companies support those employees who choose to have a family.  Some companies already offer flexible work hours or on-site daycare, but that is far from the norm and only a start.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Timna MolbergerTimna Molberger is the Director of Analytics at Visible Measures. As a working mom of 2, Timna squeezes in as much time as she can with her husband and two children and when she has a spare moment or needs a break you will find her rock climbing, hanging out with friends, or just relaxing. Timna holds a B.A. in Economics and Sociology from Connecticut College.

Location: Boston, MA

Read More about and from Timna: Timna‘s WiLab Profile

Are you in need of some changes in your life? Our previously featured mama Angie wants to show you how!


HAngieAndrewsFB-48ello beautiful career mamas.  My name is Angie Andrews.  We may have met before when I was featured on Blissfulmamas a few months ago. 
If we did, it is nice to see you again.  If you did not, let me just tell you a little of what I am about.  My passion and my mission is to inspire women of all ages to practice radical self-care in their lives and to develop a deep relationship with themselves.

My business, Angie Andrews Inspire, was built from personal experience.  I spent years working way too many hours, taking care of everyone in my life and leaving myself and my well being in the dust.  Through a lot of work and the support of others I have shaken up my life completely and am living a more joyful, connected life.   I want to share with the world how to move from burn out and feeling empty to feeling full of love, energy and joy.  In my quest to to reach out to those I can help the most, I have created this questionnaire.  I am trying to understand more fully what women who are juggling careers outside the home and family life are struggling with.  I would GREATLY appreciate it if you would take 5-10 minutes to fill this out.  Be honest.  Give me the not so pretty truths.  Life is messy.  We all know that!

Take Survey Here

Thank you for your time and your input.  As a gift to you for helping me out, I would love to offer you a free 45 minute clarity call.  On this call we can dive deep into how it is you want to feel and what you think needs to change.  I can help you define some small, actionable steps towards a life of radical self-care.  If you would like to take me up on this offer, please email me at angie@angieandrewsinspire.com with you contact information and we can find a time to talk.

Much love – Angie

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