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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.

The rise of female role models, inspiring the next generations

As much as I love my “celebrity” male role models, I had no idea how it felt to actually be really excited about discovering a strong career woman character who can navigate the “boys club” like no other… until I “met” Wendy Rhodes.

The media are bringing forth more and more of them and that is extremely refreshing to be able to relate.   And when 5 completely different people tell you, you should watch the series “Billions”, you do.

Women are strong, capable, beautiful, brilliant and influential.  They should not be shy to shine and stand tall amongst all.

Men are not scary.

Women are not catty.

When you look at someone in the eyes, you see no more genders, only the depth of someone’s mind and what it mirrors back to us.

Our mind (men, women and every gender in between) is the MOST powerful tool we have.   It knows no inequality when we dare to let it wonder to what could be. And it gets sharper and wiser the more we become self-aware of ourselves and how our environment perceives us.

So why do women feel pressured to perform, stand out or be taken seriously?

Why do they still feel they are not being herd?

I never talked about my stand on current women’s movements. To me personally, just talking about things is not enough…  It is important yes and a step forward, absolutely, but my coaching career brings me to guide extremely talented people to find the courage to act on their words, to focus and be their best self in challenging times and to expand their skills in ways they would have barely imagined they could, before working with me.  I chose to stay quiet, which is uncomfortable for me, until I found a way to contribute.

Something needs to change, and I am getting myself involved as part of the solution.  I believe there is nothing we can’t reinvent if are willing to rewire our mindset. It requires to discover part of ourselves we are less familiar with and allow our feminine selves to shine.

I will still be coaching men because I love them, they need it too and know MANY who are supporting women (THANK YOU FOR EXISTING – you know who you are), but the majority of my conversations in the next few weeks and the beginning of 2019 will be more womanly focused.

I want more career women to become inspirations, mentors and supporters for the next generations coming after them.

#PayItForward

I also have an incredible network of diverse and qualified coaches around me… I am not and won’t do this alone. So if you are a coach reading this and feel compelled with this diversity & inclusion advocacy initiative, let’s talk.

 

Connect and follow me on LinkedInfor resources on leadership, coaching and neuroscience.

Leadership Minute Monday – Handing off the pizza cutter

Delegation is a conversation that happens at all level of leadership and you do not need me to tell you when, what and to whom.
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No matter how seasoned  you are, delegating is not as easy as it seams.  It takes a lot of patience, trust, coach-like attitude and letting go.
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In this two minutes segment, I share a pizza story that happened with my husband Todd, and he approves of the version… we’ve both been laughing quite a bit using it as an analogy since then and I could not fit it in only one minute!