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Submitted by bailey on Fri, 04/06/2018 - 11:11
Sub Title
Q&A with Genai Walker

A former professional female basketball player, Genai Walker, was accustomed to measuring her performance by numbers. When she was ready to move her career beyond professional sports, she noticed the relatively small number of powerful women of color in finance and decided to make that her next challenge. Genai credits her passion for people, her competitive drive, and her love of numbers as the driving forces behind her success as a financial advisor. 

Tell us about your transition from professional basketball to the world of finance:

After my professional basketball career, I wanted to utilize my degree from college. I noticed there was a lot of disparity among women, minorities, and athletes in how they view and save money. So, I figured the best way [to use my degree] was to get into an industry where hardly anyone looked like me and become a trailblazer. 

What were the key challenges when getting into the world of finance?

I think the challenges are that the world of finance is ever changing, and you have to change/adapt with it or you will get left behind (technology and stock market). Also, there is an abundance of information to take in. It can be overwhelming and frustrating when you first start, however, if you are willing to ask for help and/or leave your comfort zone, then you can be successful. In my industry, there are all types of financial advisors, and sometimes you like to compare yourself to others. Life isn’t fair, so I have learned that the cards I’m dealt are just that, my cards. I can either wait for pity or handouts, or I can show the world why my cards are worth seeing.

How are you able to apply your personal strengths to your professional life? 

I am very courageous and passionate, so I am able to apply those things daily in my practice. I am asked regularly to do speaking engagements or financial seminars in front of complete strangers or to meet potential clients for the first time face to face. During those times, I have to figure out quickly how to break the ice or keep conservations interesting. 

What motivates you?

My motivation comes from being competitive all my life. I don’t get too excited about recognition, awards, or monetary values. I truly always want to win at life, and all the bells and whistles are just a bonus.

How did you discover your passion for humanity?  

I first discovered that I was passionate about people when I worked as a telemarketer in college, where I was truly intrigued by how complete strangers responded to my pitch. In addition, I first discovered my love of numbers and finance while I was a bank teller. At that time, I wanted to learn everything I could about how money affects people.

What is a lesson that you have learned along the way?  

I have found that only you are in control of your happiness. People will offer their opinions on your life, and what they are doing or what is best for them, but at the end of the day, I have learned that life is short, so I need to make my own choices and stick to them.  

What do you not let get in your way? 

I never let a bad day get in my way. Similar to basketball, I might have played horribly one game and lost, but there is always a next game (day) for me to prepare for and be better.   

How do you create a sense of purpose in your life with your work, family, career, etc.?  

I am creating a purpose in my life by trying to impact everyone that I come into contact with positively. I never meet a stranger, so when I am around people, they will know I am there and very relatable. So, with great purpose comes responsibility, so being a good role model is very vital to my purpose.  

What would you tell your 20-year-old self?  

I would tell myself to open an IRA and put money in it, and write down all of your goals and don’t stop until they come true.  

What are 3 things you want other women to know?  

1) Be strong, confident, and know your worth.  

2) Learn another language.  

3) Never be afraid to be the only woman in a room.  

What's one thing you’d change in the world if you could? 

If I could change anything in this world, I would find cures for the current incurable diseases that plague our world and cost hardworking people millions of dollars in medicine and hospital costs. 

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5 Ways You Can Support International Women's Day

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Submitted by anna on Thu, 03/08/2018 - 09:36
In 1910, the U.S. celebrated the first National Women’s Day, becoming international in nature just one year later with over 100 women in 17 countries. By 1912, over one million women and men attended rallies in support of women’s rights.  

While women’s issues have evolved from working conditions and suffrage to representation and wage gaps (to name a few), there is still the challenge of gender parity.   

International Women’s Day is an opportunity to raise awareness and take action.  

Here are 5 things you can do: 

  1. Maintain a gender parity mindset 

  1. Challenge stereotypes and bias’ 

  1. Forge positive visibility of women by mentoring 

  1. Influence others’ beliefs or actions 

  1. Celebrate female achievements 

In only three years, a few thought leaders came together to create a movement that influenced over a million people across the world to march on behalf of women’s rights. If we can make that kind of progress 100 years ago, just imagine what we can do now.  

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HER guide to SXSW: Free Events That You Don't Need a Badge For

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Submitted by anna on Wed, 03/07/2018 - 12:56
Sub Title
Part 3

We get it, badges for SXSW are expensive. But that doesn't mean you have to miss out on all of the fun! There are lots of cool events and panels happening throughout the festival. We have put together a short list of ones that we feel like you shouldn't miss. 

HER guide to SXSW

March 6th

March 8th

March 9th

March 11th

March 12th

March 13th

Don't forget to #HERguidetoSXSW while you're out and about.

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Educating Teens in Recovery: Stepping off the Beaten Path

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Submitted by anna on Fri, 02/23/2018 - 08:53
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Q&A with Julie McElrath at University High School

Today, 45 teens will overdose from opioids, 22 from heroin, and and 13 from cocaine. To combat these statistics, Julie McElrath runs University High School, a sober high school in Austin TX.  University High is committed to enriching students' academic and personal lives in a recovery environment. Julie gave a candid Q&A about her work with adolescents in addiction recovery and her journey off the beaten path to find her life's purpose. She will be speaking on educating students in the recovery process in the upcoming SXSW-EDU on March 4th. 

UHS Graduation
University High School 2017 Graduation

What has made you so passionate about running a sober high school? 

Concerned parents, adolescent addiction experts, and community leaders in Central Texas have long recognized the need for a secondary school dedicated to supporting teens in recovery from drug and alcohol abuse. In response, University High School (UHS) was incorporated in 2013 and gained 501c3 status in 2014. UHS opened its doors on August 25, 2014 as the first sober high school in Central Texas. The school fosters a culture of growth and wellness, with program components founded on national research and best practices, while providing individualized, challenging academics in a safe and sober environment for teens who have chosen recovery. 

How did you find your path to educating teens in recovery?

Apple founder, Steve Jobs, said THIS to a group at Stanford University: "You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well-worn path."

When I returned to school in 2009, after being laid off due to everything that was happening in the economy at the time, I had definitely stepped off the well-worn path. Little did I know what lie ahead – a new career as a social worker, recovery for our family, the opportunity to be a part of an amazing new project in Austin – a recovery high school, and the blessing of being a part of a community I didn’t even realize existed. I wake up each and every day grateful.

What key strength serves you best in recovery work?

I place a high value on my relationships, be it family, friends, co-workers, etc. and I strive to create a working environment that includes a high level of trust and reciprocity. One that is collaborative and allows each team member to bring their own strengths to the working relationship.

Can you describe one experience that helped guide your path?

One experience that I continue to learn from today is that it is never too late. When I decided to return to school at age 50 to pursue my bachelor’s in Social Work, I wondered if I would be able to actually stick with it “after all these years.” Walking through that experience and then continuing on to pursue my master’s in Social Work, taught me a valuable lesson – even at my age!

What is one thing you have not let stand in your way?

If I could sum it up in one word, it would be FEAR. As a young person, and well into adulthood, I was a fearful individual. Through my family’s experience with the disease of addiction and our healing, I’ve learned that fear expends a great deal of energy, that it can be a motivator, and that it’s always important to remember to “let go” and trust (God, my Higher Power, the Universe).

Can you share what motivates you?

My motivation is driven by my relationships and collective life experiences. 

My parents – Two hardworking individuals who raised me with an immense amount of love and support. 

My children – Being a mom is the best job in the world! I used to think a lot about all of the things I would need to teach them. Little did I know – they’re really the teachers. 

My UHS family - The students – they are truly my heroes! Their insight and authenticity pushes me each and every day to be a better version of myself. The recovery support staff, academic staff and board – we have one of the hardest working and most dedicated teams I’ve ever had the privilege of being associated with. 

My recovery community partners – They give tirelessly of themselves each and every day! And what I’ve learned from working with them is that a career in this field is truly a calling.

What gives you a sense of purpose?

I find that I stay most grounded when I am living purposefully and connected with my core beliefs and values. They influence my decisions, shape my day-to-day actions, and support my short- and long-term priorities. I place a significant value on being a person of high integrity and trustworthy. As a result of this, I am better able to be true to myself and live in authenticity.

What would you tell your 20-year-old self? 

I would tell my 20-year-old self that she is beautiful, smart and capable of doing whatever she sets her mind on doing. To be kind, patient, and have grace for herself and others. Plan for the future and live in the moment. Work hard, have FUN and, above all else, be yourself!

What advice would you give other women in pursuing their goals? 

Take time for self-care. 

Take risks. 

Be true to yourself.

What wish would you have for the world? 

That all humankind has the opportunity to experience unconditional love and acceptance.


Julie McElrath

Julie McElrath, LMSW, LCDC-I,

Prior to coming to University High School, Julie facilitated Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) groups for adults and adolescents, and provided individual therapy at a drug and alcohol residential treatment facility.  She is a member of the Austin Metro Drug Free Coalition, Travis County Youth Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition (YSAPC), Recovery Oriented Community Collaborative (ROCC) in Austin, Strategic Planning Group for the Alliance for Adolescent Recovery Treatment in Texas, and founding member of the Central Texas Youth Recovery Network (YRN).  Julie has spent the last several years focusing her time and energy building relationships in the nonprofit and recovery communities, and developing a working knowledge of nonprofit best practices.  She is a native Austinite and has worked in the nonprofit community as a Director of Advancement, Business Manager, and member of an Exploration Committee that successfully established and developed a statewide chapter of a national nonprofit organization.  Julie is the co-author of a book chapter to be published in early 2018 in Implementing the Grand Challenge of Reducing and Preventing Alcohol Misuse and Its Consequences.  Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group.

Julie holds a Master of Science in Social Work and a Bachelor’s in Social Work from The University of Texas at Austin, as well as a certificate from the Graduate Portfolio Program in Nonprofit Studies from the RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service at The University of Texas. 


Our community is so fortunate to have strong, empowered and dedicated women like Julie pioneering recovery-oriented systems for our youth.  She is a great role model for any woman who wants to be "the change she wants to see in the world!"  I'm so grateful for her commitment! and passion.

It's so  inspiring seeing a woman switch tracks mid-career, especially when she follows her heart into something fueled by her passion. Julie seems like a truly wonderful individual. Thanks for this interview.

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Creating Your Destiny

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Submitted by anna on Fri, 02/16/2018 - 15:10
Sub Title
One woman's journey over 5 years, 2 continents, 1 boyfriend, and many friends

Aerin Coleman was given an opportunity and took the chance. She always wanted to travel but could never predict the rewarding experiences that came about, nor the hardships she would encounter along the way. This is just one woman's story about courage, love, and fulfillment.

New Beginnings 

At 21 I interned with a firm that prided itself in its global opportunities. I was offered a fulltime position and spent the next 3 years working days, nights and weekends. One day my manager approached me with an opportunity in Oslo, Norway. The firm there had just won a major contract and needed U.S. resources with a background in US regulations to help with the transition in the project.

None of this was by chance. When I joined the firm, I knew that the opportunity to work abroad was an attainable one. At goal setting discussions, I always made sure to include an international rotation goal and specifically chose a mentor that would champion my desire to work abroad. So when the opportunity presented itself, it took 24 hrs to sign the papers and 3 months later my bags were packed and I was on my way to Norway.

Adopting a new lifestyle

Norway is beautiful. The people are beautiful. The streets are spotless and the public transportation is to die for. I quickly found a beautiful furnished apartment and began my foray into the Norwegian workplace. I quickly learned the in Norway the people “Work to Live”.

When children are sick you get sick leave specified for the children, in addition to your normal sick leave. 5 weeks paid leave is normal. Women also get one year paid maternity leave! 

I quickly got used to being the only one in the office past 5pm. All of the Norwegians were out the door with their cross-country skis at 4pm on the dot! The T-bane (pronounced Tay-bahn-ah) left right outside the front door and took you straight to the ski trails in less than 20min. 

Although I loved the working-to-live life, this often conflicted with another term Americans are familiar with, deadlines. I realized early on that I had to meet in the middle with the Norwegians. This was not a quick or easy journey. At the end of 2 years I had developed my teams and they had taught me how to work within their world. 

Exploring the corners of the world

Now for the good stuff!

For the first two years I spent every other weekend travelling. Flights are very inexpensive when you live and travel within the E.U. and Shenghen. Thanks to my amazing expat coworkers I always had someone to travel with. 

The most interesting place I visited was Amman, Jordan and the lost city of Petra. What I didn’t realize before I got there is that the city was an actual small city. We walked for miles and miles. The carvings were beautiful and you were able to walk straight up to the stone buildings. You do not realize the scale of the stone buildings until you walk up to the entrance and realize the entrance is two feet above you. Word to the wise if you ever get to go, beware of the “scenic view” signs. They will take you on long hikes up rough passages that end in gift shops with zero views!  

My favorite place? Porto, Portugal. The wine, the food and the people surpassed all of my travel expectations. A river flows through the city and cools it on the warm summer nights. We were able to rent an apartment with a beautiful view of the river and walking distance to some fantastic restaurants. Most restaurants are owned and operated by locals that make you feel like family. If you get a chance to visit Porto, make sure you arrange a wine tour of the Douro Valley. Many of the vineyards are small and family owned. If you schedule a tour group they will make sure that the vineyard is open. Make sure you also pick a tour with a river boat ride. You won’t regret it!

My least favorite place? Dublin, Ireland. It did not help that I visited in the middle of March. It was cold and foggy the entire time. My friend and I were smart enough to sign up for day trips to get outside of the city. By the end of the trip I was ready to leave. It may be worth a second chance, however you should definitely plan to go in the summer. 

Following my heart

Why would I leave Norway? Let’s back-up for a second. My time in Norway was originally supposed to be 2 years that quickly turned into 4 and then 5 years. I spent the time exploring the fjords of Norway, Christmas markets in Germany, and shopping in Italy. I also made friends with a vast variety of extraordinary expats from all over the world. 1.5 years in, I fell in love with a Norwegian man.

At the end of 4.5 years I had it all. A loving boyfriend, amazing friends, and travelling almost every weekend. I was living the dream life and I realized it was exactly that. A dream. 

You start thinking about what your future has in store. I quickly ran down the list:

Boyfriend: Never moving to the states. Wants to marry me? – Not a priority.

Job: Will they make an American a partner in the firm? – Nope.

Expat friends: When will they start moving home? – Inevitably going to happen.

It was time to grow up. My circumstances were not changing but could make a decision to move my life forward. I missed my family and realized that I wanted to be closer to them. 

Was the choice easy? HECK NO. Did I cry my eyes out in public spaces? On multiple occasions. I took an amazing new opportunity at a new company in a new role. Life will move on if you want it to or not, it is up to you to determine the direction.

P.S. I am loving the new direction.  

herdacity women travel blog
herdacity women travel blog
Aerin Coleman

HER Career Reboot Event Recap

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Submitted by anna on Tue, 02/13/2018 - 09:47

The HERdacity team was honored to connect with more than fifty motivated and inspiring women at our February 7th Career Reboot Event.  Our attendees included women from diverse backgrounds, industries and age groups.  One thing they all had in common was a willingness to seek out career support and an interest in making new connections.  We had an incredible day with the group and with talented speakers who volunteered their time to present.  The workshop covered topics ranging from women's career development, resume building, and female networking to tips for building a professional wardrobe and where to find inspiration for the job search.  Here is a short recap of the event.

Chateau Bellevue
Chateau Bellevue, operated by the Austin Women's Club.


On the morning of February 7th, HERdacity kicked off the HER Career Reboot event at Chateau Bellevue, operated by the Austin Women's Club in downtown Austin, TX.  Attendees were greeted by HERdacity volunteers with name tags, enjoyed hot coffee, and mingled before having their complementary LinkedIn portrait taken by photographer, Allison Dudley.


Attendees at Chateau Bellevue.


Women attending the conference ranged came from a variety of industries including, tech, finance, health, marketing, insurance and teaching.  Their work experience ranged from a few years to several decades.  Most were looking to transition from not working or working part-time to working in a full-time position.

Mary Flanagan
Our President + CEO Mary Flanagan.


 HERdacity President + CEO Mary Flanagan welcomed the attendees and speakers, outlined HERdacity's mission, introduced the staff, and presented the agenda for the day.  She also shared her personal story of taking time off to care for family and returning to the work force. She addressed  some of the challenges women face when they look to re-enter the workforce including obsolete skills, diminished self confidence and economic pressures.


From left to right: Marny Lifshen, Jen Young, Lydia O'Neil.


The first panel of the day had three speakers and focused  on career and networking presentations.  Presenters included:  Career Consultant Lydia O'Neil, an executive career coach;  Marny Lifshen, Professional Speaker,  Marketing Consultant and Author of Some Assembly Required:  A Networking Guide for Women; and wardrobe consultant, Jen Young, founder of


Lydia O'Neil
Lydia O'Neil, Executive Career Consultant.


Lydia O'Neil provided practical advice for women re-entering the workforce, detailing how to create a strong resumé and  how to present your authentic self in the interview process. She detailed useful tactics for the job search and addressed gaps on the resume that women often have to account for when they step away form the workforce.  Lydia shared the term "family sabbatical" as a method of explaining large period of times missing in many women's resumé.


Marny Lifshen
Marny Lifshen, author, speaker, and marketing communications consultant.


Next was Marny Lifshen, who effortlessly took the stage and commanded the attention of the room. She was an engaging speaker who emphasized the importance of leveraging your network. Typically, men and women have the same amount of connections throughout their lives, but she demonstrated that men tend to utilize their connections in a more effective way. To combat this, she outlined how to make use of natural strengths as a woman in order to get ahead in your career.  Marny was adamant about her "no apologies" attitude, touching on the importance of not apologizing for your choices, but instead, using them to your advantage.


Jen Young's Clothing Demonstration
Jen Young's clothing demonstration.


The final speaker was wardrobe consultant, Jen Young, who brought along a clothing rack and mannequins to demonstrate work-appropriate outfits for various industries. Her confidence and poise was contagious and had the whole room laughing with her. Her presentation was insightful as trends and styles change so quickly, and conceded that it can be daunting if you haven't been in an office in a long time. The right outfit can make your interview process flow more smoothly and ensure you are comfortable in your own skin. She brought along a Nordstrom representative, Paige Jeffries who was kind enough to supply both the clothing pieces for the presentation and goody bags for all the attendees. 


Q&A Panel
From left to right- Rochelle Holland, DeeDee Whitt, Suzanne Brown.


After a beautiful lunch (and chocolate mousse) we had a Q&A panel to showcase three moms who have gone through the personal transformation of getting back into the professional world.  These speakers shared their personal experiences of stepping away from the work force and provided tips on how to return.  Their stories sparked a lot of meaningful questions and conversations with the women in the room. 

Rochelle touched on the importance of visualizing your goals through creating a vision board (and keeping it somewhere you will see it often) and working to achieve them with an audacious spirit. 

DeeDee spoke about her journey of being a stay-at-home mom for fifteen years, going through a divorce, and suddenly having to re-invent herself in order to support her two children. Her story seemed to resonate with women in audience who may have found themselves in a similar situation.

Suzanne, the author of Insights from Successful Professional Part-Time Working Moms who Balance Career and Family, demonstrated that part-time work is a viable option for mothers who want to have a professional career that emphasizes flexibility. 

Overall, the event was inspiring and the camaraderie in the room was a reminder to women looking to re-enter the workforce that they are not alone. Whatever you are struggling with, there are others to help you.  The HERdacity mission is to bring women together to share their stories and support each other and the Feb. 7th HER Career Reboot was an example of doing just that.

If you're in the Austin area or are able to travel, check out our upcoming events here:  Or visit our site to see video recaps and presentation materials.  We are working to be able to offer live webinars to our community soon.  Please reach out with any comments or questions! 

HERdacity team + volunteers
HERdacity team + volunteers


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It's All About Who You Know

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Submitted by anna on Wed, 01/31/2018 - 14:57
Sub Title
Q&A with Marny Lifshen

Senior executive women attribute a key part of their success to making and maintaining connections. But according to a study by and McKinsey & Co. of 118 companies (2012), only 10% of women who held leadership positions credited their professional advancement to 4 or more connections. When looking at men in similar leadership positions, 17% of them associated their success to the same amount of connections made through networking. Marny Lifshen, author of the book "Some Assembly Required: A Networking Guide for Women" saw first-hand the negative effects that this lack of networking had on professional women. She recognized that women had different methods to building relationships but could use those strengths to build the same supportive group of mentors that may come more easily to men. We wanted to know more about her professional career, personal life, and what to drove her to follow her passion. 

What did you see that was lacking in the workplace that made you want to write a book specifically about networking for women? 

Hands-on mentoring and sponsoring of women was not as consistent as it was for our male peers – we don’t have a “good ‘ole boy” network to give us feedback, introduce us to the right people and give us opportunities. But mostly I just think that we make and manage professional relationships differently than men – and that’s okay. I wanted to create a guide for how to take advantage of our natural strengths as women, but also to acknowledge what we can learn from the guys – like actually leveraging the network we work so diligently to create.

What impact do you think the book has made since? 

I hope it has helped a lot of women to understand and embrace networking as a critical career tool, and to correct some common misconceptions about what networking is really all about.  I also hope that readers understand that we don’t have to do it the way the men do in order to be successful.

How did you discover your passion? 

I have been very lucky to have incredible mentors throughout my career.  Through them, I was exposed to great opportunities and experiences, met amazing people, learned new skills and developed as a leader.  It was by learning to say “yes” to new things that I found my passion for consulting, writing and speaking about networking, communication and branding. 

What was a defining moment in your career? 

I am not a natural risk taker. When I faced a cross-road in my career and was considering leaving the firm I had built and loved for 9 years, I was very unsure. I relied on my network to give me honest feedback and advice – and that is what gave me the courage to start my own business.  

In terms of your personal life, what place were you in at that time? 

I was a partner in a PR/Communications firm and loved it. But I was also a newlywed and wanted to have children. I couldn’t figure out a way to make my 50+ hour work weeks fit with my desire to be a mom. Going out on my own as a consultant gave me the flexibility I wanted and the opportunity to explore new professional paths. It was scary but worth it!  

What was the biggest challenge when you decided to start your own consulting business?

For me the hardest part was leaving the security of a full-time well-paid job for the unknown.  It was also hard for me to have the confidence that I could “make it” on my own, but a wonderful group of mentors convinced me I would succeed and encouraged me to take the leap!

 How are you able to apply your personal strengths to professional life?

I believe that consistency is a key to success. You can’t be one personal in your personal life and a different person in your professional life. You must be authentic in order to build real relationships and credibility. While I strive to always be professional and polished in a work situation, I am also my energetic and friendly self. Think about what makes you unique and memorable and make sure those attributes shine in your professional roles, as well.   

 What do you NOT let get in your way?    

I don’t hold grudges. I think that holding grudges against people is pointless and may in fact keep you from opportunities with that person in the future. Just because something went wrong in a professional relationship doesn’t mean that you won’t find a way to work together or help one another in the future. 

What motivates you to coach others through your writing, speaking, and consulting? 

The feedback I get from people who see me speak is very inspiring and motivational for me.  Knowing that I am actually helping people overcome challenges and succeed in their professional lives is what makes all of the work worthwhile.  It just plain makes me happy to help them!  

One thing you would like to tell your 20-year-old self? 

Chill out!  Everything will work out!  You don’t need to have a 5 year plan or 10 year plan.  Just work hard and be open to opportunities. 

 What are three things  you want other women to know? 

  1. Be kinder to one another.  We need to support and encourage each other as women, rather than judging the choices we make.  

  1. Take risks in your career and be okay with a little failure!  This is one thing that men do consistently better than we do and it may well be holding us back. 

  1. Ask for help.  There is no shame in needing support, advice and assistance – in fact, there is strength in learning to ask for and accept help. 


Marny Lifshen

Marny Lifshen is an author, speaker, coach and marketing communications consultant with more than 25 years of experience.
Find her here:

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Leaning Back In: 5 Tips for Women Returning to Work

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Submitted by anna on Tue, 01/30/2018 - 13:28

In the US, women are the primary caregivers, often opting to drop out of the workforce to care for children, aging parents, and ailing relatives. According to a study conducted by the Center for Talent Innovation (2010), of the 90% of women who wanted to resume their careers after taking time off to have children, 70% found a way to return to their careers but only 40% found full-time, mainstream work. In addition, a growing share of stay-at-home mothers say they are home-bound because they cannot find a job (6% in 2017, up from 1% in 2000).

What do stay-at-home moms do all day?

After 15 years in the professional world, I stepped back to stay home and raise my kids. It used to bother me when people would ask if I “worked”.  At dinner parties, someone would inevitably try and make conversation with me by asking,  

“Do you work?”    

“Oh, yes,” I’d answer. 

 “What do you do?” they’d continue.  

“I cook, I clean, drive kids, help with homework…it’s 24/7.”

They would laugh, as if there was some joke there, then look away uncomfortably when they saw I wasn’t kidding. 

For some reason, the type of work a woman does when she cares for her family often does not count as “work”. Nor does it count as legitimate career development, presumably because money does not change hands.  The reality is, staying home for a time to care for your family is both a job and an education.   

Most working moms step back from their careers at some point to raise children, whether for a few months, a few years or a few decades.  And when they do, they find that they undergo a unique hands-on, pressure-cooker type of leadership program. It has long hours, zero pay and a hap-hazard vacation policy, at best. Technically, they do not even get sick days. But what they do get is an excellent management education. They learn to motivate, lead, negotiate, train, manage a budget, and drive to results with the most difficult, untrained work force imaginable: children under the age of 10. 

Yet, for women seeking to return to the paid workforce, this intense leadership education gets little or no recognition in an interview setting. Unless you’re going for a nanny position, the person across the desk may not readily acknowledge the people management or budgeting skills you’ve developed in your hands-on, stay-at-home Mom program. One of the biggest challenges a woman faces when returning to the work force is how to take the experience she has gained in her time off and leverage it to land a paid position. 

career mom










Here are some tips that helped me, and could help you, make the most out of your stay at home experience.

1. Break down the tasks you’ve used at home into marketable skills- 

You may have developed digital and networking skills through social media, blogging or other online programs. If you’re like many women, you’ve spent a big portion of your time volunteering and helping at your kid’s school. You’ve raised money by selling tickets for events, rounded up and managed volunteer workers to get the job done, and thrown entire events often without spending a dime. 

In job terms, these skills are: 

  • Social media & communications 

  • Sales management, 

  • Project team leadership and, 

  • Event planning.  

These are all resume builders.  Step back and look at what you’ve done and the skills you’ve developed as an employer might see them.  Whether you performed them for an educational institution, a nonprofit entity or an athletic leisure association, you’ve done it.  Remember to be specific and state the percentage of total revenues you drove, the number of people you managed and the impact you had on the organization.  These are all sound building blocks for a resume which reflect what you’ve accomplished in your “time off.” 

2. Showcase your skillset digitally-

Once you’ve got your resume updated, make sure you set a credible and updated online presence on LinkedIn.  Using the building blocks of the career skills you outlined above, try showing your experience by skillset rather than chronologically if your work experience is not recent.  Then develop your digital footprint by attaching a professional photo and by growing your network to around 100 connections, initially and ultimately to 500+ as your network grows.   

Remember to round out your profile by stating what is important to you and what you value. Employers appreciate volunteer work and want to see your personality in addition to your skills.  Spend some time making your profile is as complete as possible and include a crisp summary paragraph stating what you’re looking for and the skills you have to demonstrate your capability in this area.   

3. Network through your immediate circle of friends- 

Though you may not have been in the work place recently, you still have the ability to develop a strong network.  In addition to the strong network from your daily interactions, remember that the women you see in car pool lines, waiting for kids at after school activities and volunteering at your child’s school also have connections.  They may have spouses with jobs, know others that work for companies in your area or hold jobs themselves. They are not only great networking opportunities, but women you can develop personal relationships with that could help you professionally later on.

4. Have your elevator pitch ready-

It is important to you take some time to sketch out a brief description of what you're looking for—your elevator pitch-- and rehearse it in private until it rolls off your tongue naturally.   The more confident and well-articulated this "pitch" is the more credible you'll appear. Start by announcing your intent to get a job to friends and share the pitch which you've rehearsed in private earlier.   

Friends want to help; ask them if they know anyone you can reach out to for an informational interview.   Most people are happy to share information as long as they do not feel put on the spot to hire you and will be happy to connect you by email.  In your informational interview, ask questions about the industry, the company or their job responsibilities to bring yourself up-to-date in your field of interest. Any of these conversations can convert to more interviews and ultimately, an actual job. 

5. Persevere- 

It may not happen overnight (and probably won't), but your chance to move from an unpaid position to a part-time paid position or from a side hustle to a full-time job is out there.  Be open to volunteer opportunities if it expands your skill set (and your resume!) and don’t forget to ask for a detailed LinkedIn recommendation for your work contributions.  You can keep your efforts going strong by connecting with other friends that are looking to pivot, too.  It’s more fun to go with someone to the career meet-ups, lectures or career fairs. 


Ultimately, as in other areas of life, you will get out of your job hunt what you put into it. If you take some time to figure out what you want, articulate the new  skills your time off has given you, and share your abilities with friends and potential employers, you will stand out.  And when you do get that job, remember to take time and encourage that next woman who may be trying to move out of her comfort zone and find a way back to paid employment.  

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Submitted by anna on Tue, 01/23/2018 - 15:23
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Anne Grady: Entrepreneur & Professional Speaker

Inspired by hardship, Anne Grady has worked to forge both a rewarding professional and personal life. From raising a child with mental illness to being diagnosed with a tumor in her salivary gland, Anne Grady found courage to start her own public speaking business, the Anne Grady group. Her challenges and setbacks have been a catalyst to her success as a public speaker and entrepreneur, leading to over 2,000 keynote speeches with audiences up to several thousand people. We set to find out how she does it.

What inspired you to become a prolific speaker? 

I learned very early on in my corporate career that I wasn’t political, politically correct, or a good rule follower. I was actually petrified to start my own business. I partnered with an amazing mentor for a decade before venturing out on my own. The catalyst was living at the Ronald McDonald House in Dallas for 2 months while my son was in the hospital. I realized if I could do that, I could do anything.

How did you discover your passion for public speaking? 

I loved debate and public speaking in high school and college. Communication was always my strength.  From the time I was little, I told my mom I would get paid to speak. She said, “You can either be a minister or a politician”. I’m Jewish, so that ruled the first one out, and I had way too much fun in college to be a politician! I’m one of the lucky few who have known what I wanted to do since I was a little girl. I’m really proud of the fact that I found a way to make it happen. 

 How are you able to apply your personal strengths to your professional life?  

My strengths are my ability to communicate, to connect with people, my desire for achievement, and my need to help and inspire others. My professional life is built around these things. I’ve been fortunate to build a team that can compensate for my weaknesses.  

What one experience are you still learning from today? 

I have two kids. A 16-year old daughter, and a 14-year old son. My son suffers from severe mental illness, making every day a new opportunity to practice. I have had to go beyond theory and really put into practice what I teach every single day, and not always successfully. My son’s illness certainly helps you put your priorities into perspective. His illness makes him really tough to live with sometimes. We live in a constant state of crisis, and it makes it a real challenge to keep the right head space and be able to focus on my family and the business. I’m fortunate to have a great support system. 

What do you  NOT let get in your way?  

Rather than hide our challenges, I hang a lantern on them. One in five suffer from some type of mental health issue, yet no one talks about it. People need to know they are not alone, and if by sharing my story in some small way helps people, I’m thrilled to be able to do it. Almost four years ago, after my son was discharged from his second hospitalization, I was diagnosed with a tumor in my salivary gland. The surgery resulted in complete facial paralysis on the right side of my face. Because I couldn’t close my eye, I scratched my cornea. While getting ready for surgery to implant a gold weight in my upper eye lid and stitch up my bottom eyelid, I fell down the stairs and broke my foot in four places. I was terrified to speak in front of groups, but I did. I’ve never had more standing ovations in my life! I used to think I wasn’t brave because I was terrified. Now I know that true courage is doing it anyway. 

 Where you do you find your motivation? 

I’ve always been self-motivated. It’s a blessing and a curse. It creates momentum to push harder and accomplish more. It also means it’s never enough, and always feel I should be doing more. Sharing our story has also give me the opportunity to be a source of inspiration for others, and that is so fulfilling. Knowing I help people makes it all worth it. Every time I get an email from someone saying I’ve had a positive impact on their life, I am inspired and grateful.  

How are you able to create a sense of purpose that embedded itself into your professional setting as well as personal life?

As my son’s illness has progressed, I have explored, researched and learned about information that I otherwise would not have pursued. I believe my purpose is to use this information to help people, to reduce the stigma of mental illness, and to provide a little laughter and inspiration in the world. 

What would you tell your  20-year-old self?  

Stop letting the little shit weigh you down. I promised myself after my tumor that I wouldn’t sweat the small stuff. That lasted about 6-months. Then I started slipping back into sweating almost everything. I have always put so much pressure on myself. I would go back and say, “You can’t chase happiness or you will never find it. Learn to be grateful and content with where you are, and happiness will follow.” And lastly, “Be kind and focus on what’s most important. Everything else will fall into place.” (I still tell myself these things every day) I want to know I have made a positive impact on the world, and that I’m leaving it better than I found it. 

 What are three things  you want other women to know?  

  1. Focus on what you can control: YOU 

  1. You are strong enough to handle any challenge thrown your way. The fact that you’re still standing is proof. 

  2. Learn to get comfortable being uncomfortable. Embrace failure, change, and adversity.

What's one thing that you would change in the world? 

Selfishly, I would wish for my son to be healthy and to have mental health coverage that makes treatment possible for anyone with mental illness. If you had any other illness, there are ways to get treatment. With mental health, there are limited resources, it is out of this world expensive, and there are few if any options. 

And of course, world peace. ;) 



Anne Grady

Anne Grady is a Motivational Keynote Speaker on Leadership, Influence, Communication, Resilience, and Navigating Change. Find her at:

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Submitted by Jen at HERdacity on Fri, 01/12/2018 - 17:39
Sub Title
Angelia White's Magazine for Women


Following the death of close family members, Angelia White, mother of 3, embarked on a journey to find her purpose. Along the way, she found her passion for empowering women and sparked her newsletter-turned-magazine. HOPE FOR WOMEN is a quarterly publication for women at a crossroads, searching to live their best life. We set out to find what makes her dare... 

Where did you find the fire to start your magazine?

I had just lost my grandmother and father within three months of each other. At that time, I was on this search to find out “my purpose” and “what I was created for” so it was a combination of realizing how short and fragile life was…but it was time to get busy living it. I didn’t want to go on the journey alone but wanted to encourage other women that may be at a cross-road in their lives and desired to live their dreams and pursue their passions.

What inspired you to focus on women in particular? 

When I first started, it was actually a newsletter for a group of 50 to 100 women. I had an audience and I had every intention to inspire and empower them. I wanted to create and platform for "real women" to discuss "real topics" and their "real stories" and life journeys. It was a safe haven where it was a judgement free zone. We were all trying to love and live again. Many of us had been broken and still weren't sure of how to express those hurts so "Hope For Women" was the tool and the vehicle. Women because to release the shame in their leave so they felt they belonged and had purpose. So from that moment I knew this was my purpose. It grew quickly within the first year to a magazine (an inspirational companion).  

How did you discover your passion? 

It was in the moment when I took that leap of faith to launch Hope for Women. The immediate response and reaction was overwhelming. I soon realized I love seeing other women flourish and blossom into their best lives. It’s so rewarding watching and seeing other women believe in themselves.   

How do your personal strengths impact your professional life? 

Being resilient, remaining hopeful and letting things go. There have been so many things thrown my way even as a child. I learned early in life not to take things personal, forgive and move on because if you don’t it will hinder your progress in life…I’m not perfect, may make a few mistakes here and there but that’s OKAY. Get up and try it again! 

What one experience do you continue to learn from  today?  

Trusting the wrong person with your vision and having your own confidence. WOW! That was one of the toughest lessons I’ve ever learned. I basically handed my company over to this particular individual (to handle sales) and she mismanaged it so much to the point I thought it was unrepairable. Not only was I left broke and broken but the company was too. What it taught me was to have confidence and believe in myself. Not to make hasty decisions too soon just because you don’t think you have time. Everyone doesn’t have your best interest at heart and often people are looking for the best opportunity for themselves and don’t care what or how they get it. So today I’m extremely selective who I share my platform with, who contributes or have any part of the magazine.  

What do you  NOT  let get in your way?

Fear and the opinions of others.  

What motivates you to keep going? 

My faith in God, and my three children. 

Tell us about your inspiration to create.

I was smack dead in the middle of spiritual, emotional trauma and abuse. In that moment (me being the not selfish person I am) desired to inspire other women that may be in the same place. They were victimized over and over again and didn’t know how to escape or break free. So I created HOPE. I didn’t want to go on the journey alone so why not take a few more thousand women (who may or may not know how great there were) with me. Let’s heal and experience our greatness together.  

What would you tell your  20-year-old  self?  

Have COURAGE! Go. Be. Do. 

Three things  you want other women to know?   

1. They are amazing.  

2. They are capable of many things.  

3. Greatness lies within each of them.  

What is one thing that you would change in the world? 

That no one would be homeless or hungry, but everyone would have a place to dwell and eat.  

Angelia White

Angelia White is a mother of three and the Publisher, President, and CEO of Hope for Women. Motivated by her desire to encourage women and share their inspiring stories, she transformed a simple idea into an empowering endeavor when she started the lifestyle magazine in 2005. Hope for Women magazine is headquartered in Muncie, Indiana and is now read by over 100,000 women monthly. For more information visit

Hope for Women Magazine
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