Latest Posts

Leadership Minute Monday – Paradigm Shift

Do men have it better than women in the workplace?
And if so, can we restore a balance?

In this first episode of “Women in the boys-club” series, I invite us to flex our action based decisions muscles.

Share your thoughts in the comments below. Keep it kind, constructive and conversational.

Showing up is an inside job bigger than you

January 10th 2019 marked the first concrete milestone for the “Women in leadership who dare to play in the boys club initiative”.

Everyone who showed up on that day is a leader.

They all were in communication, I knew exactly who was going to show up and when, and I did not have to worry about anyone not having their things together.

…As a matter of fact, they came over-prepared and with the most beautiful enthusiasm and smile, especially after clearing out the energies from the commute to Brooklyn snafus.

All experts in their respective fields, my promise was to give them the opportunity to experience what it feels like when you go on a TV set. Let’s face it, even though I have been mostly writing lately, video is where it’s at in terms of positioning yourself, gaining greater credibility, get your audience to know you, getting business opportunities, and amplifying your message. As part of a women’s history month series, I actually am part of a panel on that very topic on March 7th. More on this when the flyer is out.

Planning the daylong photo-shoot brought me back to the days I hosted collaborative events, mainly for women in my New York and Hoboken Community.

It reminded me of the power of showing up everyday, no matter if there is one or 100 person interested in what you have to offer. You still have to deliver at your highest best.

If you have never sat in an empty room with no one to buy your product, service or listen to your message, been laughed at or being told no countless times – you have not showed up everyday ;).

I recently watch the documentary “Minimalism: A documentary about the important things” and it sparked the same reminder as Joshua Fields Millburn and his best friend Ryan Nicodemus were touring to share their message.

You have to be able to self-reflect, be genuine, willing to learn, patient, loving, relentless, resilient, interested in your offering(s), grounded in who you are and humble to succeed at your own definition of success.

The most important factor of all, showing up requires a deep understanding that once you put yourself out there, it becomes bigger than you.

As the days, weeks, months and years go by, your growth and the one of those around you will evolve and be in direct proportion with your level of showing up.

 

How mature is your leadership?

“I want more responsibilities.”

How many employees come to you with that request?

Sometimes they are your high performers, other times your highly ambitious or well-intentioned managers.

You also are someone simmering with that desire if you are looking to grow… Opening a new location, joining a philanthropic board of directors, buying a 2nd or 3rd property, signing up for a mind fitness program (aka hiring a coach), having another kid, etc.

Saying and voicing out loud we want more responsibilities is great, but do we really know what we are actually asking for?

Here is a funny story:

Just this week, my step young adult/kid asked to get more responsibilities (YAY!). Feeding the cats in the morning was the specific request.

“Absolutely!” was my answer.

To add context, I feed the cats in the morning as soon as I get up. I also have to monitor them eating because they will sneak up on each other’s bowl. One has to eat prescription wet food and the other is allergic to it. AND, every cat owner knows the hungry cat stare…!

The next morning came, we all got up and I eventually asked:

“Are you feeding the cats?”

Step kid: “no, not this morning because of xyz.”

Me: “Ok.”

Then I went on and fed the cats.

The following morning came, we all got up and I eventually asked:

“When will you be feeding the cats this morning?”

Step kid: “I will start when I come back from my mom…”

Me: “face palm”

The coach in me wanted to ask: “What will be different when you come back from your mom that will have you feed the cats in the morning?” …but I shushed.

Then I went on and fed the cats.

As I was feeding them, it got me thinking… accountability is a funny thing. It does not mean that things get done, but it is a sure way to find out about the conditions to make it happen. If you noticed, I purposely asked a different question the 2nd day.

I also thought, how many times do we push our “responsibilities” for another day because “we are not feeling it today?”

Think about one of the leaders you admire the most in your industry. Imagine if that person woke up in the morning and said, “meh” I don’t feel like going to work today, then pulled the covers over her/his head and went back to sleep.

Now it happens to the best of us, we are human and live in a world of doing more, better and faster. However, a mature leader finds a way, takes inventory of what worked and what did not work about fulfilling or not fulfilling on their responsibilities and so on. And when they are struggling or can’t do it, they ask for support. I even see them asking for support BEFORE getting to the struggle points.

Taking more responsibilities is asking of ourselves to get up in the morning, embody our best to fulfill on them in spite of our mood(s), and ask for support when needed.

At the end of the day, reliability is a dimension of leadership maturity.

How will you balance yourself in 2019?

How do you know when “good” mindsets you have, go too far?

We all know that any good thing that is overused brings its load of weaknesses with it.

Knowledge is only 50% of the ingredients when it comes to the recipe of restoring balance or instilling change.

Weather you are on the side that resolutions are underrated or the one that deems them overrated, balance is an intention we hear loud and clear across platforms for 2019.

 

…and that has been the case for decades

 

The difference today is that technology gives us the opportunity to produce more, in a 24 hours cycle.

How cool is that?!

I surely am not asking you anything you didn’t already asked yourself, but is “producing more”, the goal?

Maybe…

And if so, why?

 

In the 10 years I worked in the fashion industry, the goal was always to make a higher profit margin from one year to the other.  It was a “do more and better, with less and less budget, year after year and make sure the clients will buy, buy, buy” mindset. My buyer’s colleagues and I had the saying: “If only we had a crystal ball…”.

 

Regardless of your industry, I know some or many of these following things will sound familiar:

–      Produce more with less people

–      Deliver quality with lower cost materials

–      Design higher quality products with 80% of the staff at entry level

–      Promote an employee to lead a team with little or no continuous soft skills development

–      Make more money with lower investments

–      Work around the clock to get or stay ahead

–      [Add your own]…

Let me be clear, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that mindset.

It can actually be a fantastic set up for creativity, innovation, talent development, pushing limits, increasing profitability and learning to use resources fully and effectively.

Unfortunately, that mindset of “doing more with less” brought to far, highlights the trends of:

–      Chasing our tails

–      Fighting one fire after another

–      Being available 24/7 or else we get behind and turn into a pumpkin

–      Being first or die

–      Knowing the latest and greatest from the past hour or else we are irrelevant

–      Being performant in mindfulness or you won’t know the meaning of the Universe and everything

–      [Add your own]…

The issue is that we are dismissing the shades of grey, and treating everything as black or white. When was the last time you stopped and ponder on the amount of energy you spend in ALL areas of your life, without looking for an instant resolution?

We lost the art of balance at the cost of more, more, more, for the benefit of filling all the holes. The thing is… holes ARE part of balance.

This is where I usually get the: “But you don’t understand Jen, I have no choice”. Or the “I know Jen, but once I get here, THEN I will be able to breathe.

…Then weeks, months and years go by… and we are STILL out of breath.

Forget about asking, “HOW do I restore balance?”, and practice asking more often “WHAT can I do to restore balance in 2019?”.

The Vitruvian Man might be an ideology in terms of proportion and balance with the Universe, but it is through self-reflection on our current posture(s) in the face of imbalances and the energy we allocate everyday, that we can start seeing strategies to restore our balance.

Are you answering your calls or stuck test calling?

“Can I have a minute?”

Asks the third person that popped their head in your office in the past hour since you sat down to finally“do some work”.

Now, however you handle those situations or the reason why this is happening varies.

The most common things I hear from clients are:

  • We have an open-door policy
  • There is not enough time to do everything
  • They need me
  • If I don’t help them, things will fall apart
  • Nobody is doing what they are supposed to do
  • I have to be everywhere, so they all coming to me now
  • But Jen, there is nothing I can do about this! (that’s my favorite 😉 )

People working with me quickly realize they are responsible for their own fate.  And even those who already knew this, realize how much they were underutilizing that awareness.

One behavior that seems small and harmless, like allowing people to pop in the office, reveals very deep-rooted beliefs setting us up daily to keep things running the same. And, your brain is excellent at making sure you do not have to think about how you do things and why, after you have integrated the behaviors.  It is a basic human survival function.

Leading as we were test calling constantly, is like living in trouble shooting mode all the time.  It is exhausting!  The thing is, you are not a machine to fix, you are human being with your own unique cocktail of skills “manual”, that is screaming to be expanded, understood and realized.

What are you called to change within your organization, but ultimately within you? 

If you are working with me or have worked with me in the past, you will have a much easier time answering that seemly simple question.

I see you.

Leap with grace – The courage to be unpopular

Leading is not easy.

I was giving a workshop on managerial courage last week, and courage lives in everyone. All you need to do is get the tools to tap into it when feeling frozen, defeated, overwhelmed, overworked or better yet, develop greater self-awareness to know how to get over yourself and be able act long before feeling that way.

As the character Benjamin in “We bought a zoo” said: “Sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage, just literally, 20 seconds of just embarrassing bravery”.

Leap.

“Just like that.”

If you keep doing different versions of the same thing and are waiting for things to change, they won’t unless you leap.

Leaping further into your leadership means that making unpopular decisions with grace is part of your daily routine. It also means you will be wrong many times and judged based on the biases your team and colleagues around you have.

I was having dinner with a dear friend last night and we were having a great conversation about women and different ways to help that feels authentic to us.  She is an inspiring career woman always looking for opportunities and an amazing role model for her son. She is the kind of person you ask, “what do you NOT do”.  She doesn’t have a website and is barely on social media. Her way of being around people and the relationships she has build over the years, speaks for itself and so are her ventures. And as you guessed, she is being judged for it because at 40 years old, she should be having more kids by now… right?

…This is the kind of saying you get a blank stare from me…

 

When we focus on what we want to do and why we do it, being a woman is not in the way. There is always a door that is cracked somewhere, and it is a matter of taking the leap to crack it open and dare to see what is on the other side.

Ditch you suit – Wear confidence

“Do not judge a book by its cover”, we all are familiar with that saying.

Even though it is perceived as a very noble way of being, we judge all the time whether it is positively or negatively. It is a normal human behavior, and part of it stems from our cognitive biases.

During a conference I did for my community in Hoboken, I talked about the importance of a first impression. According to a NYU research conducted by Dr. Michael Solomon, we make 11 critical decisions in the first 7 seconds of meeting someone new.

1. Education Level

2. Economic Level

3. Perceived Credibility, Believably, Competence and Honesty

4. Trustworthiness

5. Level of Sophistication

6. Sex Role Identification

7. Level of Success

8. Political Background

9. Religious Background

10. Ethnic Background

11. Social/ Professional / Sexual Desirability

Whoever decided that wearing a suit meant looking professional had a good idea, but they completely left out the importance of style, fit, culture, body type, silhouette, comfort, personality and what one projects. And, the only reasons why jeans are still not allowed in some companies except for casual Fridays, is because we are not thought about which fits makes you look like a million bucks and how to dress them up like a boss.

Let me tell you a story. 

While I was studying fashion in college, I worked as a medical secretary for seven doctors. You can imagine the flow of patients that were coming in daily to see them. My love of fashion was also accompanied with dressing sexy. I never shied away from any types of clothing I liked and was judged a lot for it. However, I was at least smart enough (thank you mom!) to know there was a place for certain things and adapt my style, until that day…

Me: “Setting up for my shift

Doctor: Jennifer – can you come to my office?”

Me: … yes

Doctor: We are not in a club here

Me: “Swallowing my pride, turning beet read and knowing too well I pushed it too far that day.” Yes, you are right and I am really sorry.

Now, she did not make me go back home and change, probably because not showing skin was better than having everything too tight and shiny like that day, combined with seeing how embarrassed I was. I think she knew this would translate into an important lesson…or prayed it would.

The next day, I went out shopping for suits. Stiff cotton blouses and polyester suits. Never would I push the limits and embarrass myself again. I wanted to dress the part, and look professional. I was 19 years old, and this was the first time in my life I felt really uncomfortable in clothes. I had freshly signed up to wear a costume for the rest of my professional life.

After working in suits for two years, my first job in the fashion merchandising industry opened my eyes. I saw and learned about how you can look both professional AND fabulous, without compromising comfort, femininity, sass, fit and personal style. Can you hear the angels singing? I know I did!

This experience had me develop a huge appreciation to dress with class and sass in a very professional and tasteful way.

What I have learned later in life is that sexiness and classiness can co-exists, is actually about who you are being and not what you wear or what you do. Your attitude is what oozes out of you no matter how much you “dress it up”… or down. It is not something you can hide… at least not under my gaze.

You do not need to sacrifice your stylish feminine beauty in the name of professionalism.

It is proven that what you wear influences your mood, so it is imperative you feel good in your outfits. Most importantly, it is imperative you feel confident in your mind and skin your clothes are designed to enhance.

Now as far as not pushing the limits and never embarrassing myself again, I failed in other areas of my life at various times and surely will again, but those experiences always make you learn and build you stronger, wiser and more confident than yesterday.