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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.

 

Audience
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.

 

Speakers
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 Foreversytled.com

 

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: https://www.herdacity.org/upcoming-live-events.  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 LeanIn.org 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:
http://marnylifshencommunications.com

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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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Toughing it Out & Motivating Others

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Submitted by anna on Tue, 01/23/2018 - 15:23
Sub Title
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:
https://twitter.com/annegradygroup
https://www.facebook.com/AnneGradyGroup/
https://www.linkedin.com/company/anne-grady-group/

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Women at a Crossroads

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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 http://www.hopeforwomenmag.com

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The Female Farmer Looks Like This

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Submitted by Jen at HERdacity on Thu, 01/04/2018 - 10:07
Sub Title
An Interview with Audra Mulkern, Filmmaker

Think of a farmer. Did you picture an older white man in overalls and a piece of straw sticking between his teeth? Audra Mulkern wants to change that.

Realistically, women now make up 30% of farm operators in the U.S. (almost triple from just 3 decades ago) yet their work is often unappreciated or unrecognized. Audra founded “The Female Farmer Project” to shine a spotlight on hardworking female farmers around world through a multi-platform documentary. Combing stories, personal essays, photography and a podcast she is determined to give a voice to these women.

What initially got you interested in photographing farms and farmers? What sparked this blog?

One summer day, I was standing in the middle of my local farmer's market. I was just admiring the color and artful bounty that the farmers bring every week trying to decide what to buy next. I was watching the farmers interact with the shoppers, and each other and all of the sudden it struck me. Behind every single table was a woman. I wondered what was going on – was my community special to have so many women farmers? Or had I bought into a gender stereotype?  So I went to the library. Yes, strangely enough – that moment struck me enough to the point that I would go to the library to research. What I discovered amongst so many things is that women were missing from the narrative -- from the data, from the stories, from the pictures. So I decided to do something about it. Only problem, I wasn’t a photographer, didn’t even own a camera much less know how to use one. I had never written anything besides emails and Facebook posts, I didn’t know how to start a project mapping a group of people. Nothing. I had no experience, education, authority or permission. So I had to write my own permission slip.  

What are some of the best things these farmers have taught you? If not directly, has sharing their stories taught you something?

I have learned to redefine what success looks like. Many of the women that I have met are first generation farmers, and like myself are on their encore career. They’ve had the corporate job and gave it up along with the security of stock options, health insurance, annual bonuses, and paid vacations for something entirely new with no guarantees. I have also learned to observe nature more carefully. I’ve noticed that women farmers and ranchers know almost immediately if something is wrong in their herd or flock. And I’m constantly impressed with the intellectual challenges that farming brings. I think at first glance people might brush off farming as easy. But wow – farming employs STEM all day every day. There is nothing easy about it.

Why do you think it is so important to share women's stories? Particularly female farmers stories?

I mentioned that women farmers were missing from the data and the narrative. What that means is that their contributions and their stories have not been told. Only for the last forty years has the USDA Census tracked gender statistics, and even then the questions have been gender-biased and resulted in incomplete data. By telling their stories, by providing a platform for them to tell their stories, we rewire ourselves for the empathy to make change. What change? To change policy that was written without women in mind. To help create paths for women to better access tools, training and financing. It’s critical to tell these stories.

Growing up, who were your most important influences? How did they inform who you were as a woman?

I grew up in the 70s and 80s – mid women’s movement. Many of the women around me were just beginning to work outside of the home, but perhaps not in their dream job or career. I truly feel that my mother would have made an amazing architect but she worked in social services. While important and fulfilling to her in many ways, I always had that lingering feeling that she and many of the women her age were held back by societal norms. I am grateful to them for paving that path. And now as a mother of an 18-year-old young woman – I am even more grateful because she feels powerful in her skin and her path has fewer obstacles than mine.

Describe a time when you realized women were treated differently than men… how old were you… what was the situation? What happened?

Early in my career at a large software company, I was in a conference room conducting contract negotiations with a Japanese company; it was a male negotiator on their side, plus his female secretary and a few other men. I too was the only woman on the other side with my male team. I had a male translator in the room and the Japanese businessman asked him if I had the authority to negotiate the contract. The translator made sure I knew what he had just asked. I was grateful to know that I now had the upper hand; his misogyny was his fatal flaw and I got everything I wanted in the contract. I hope his secretary was silently cheering for me!

When do you feel your most powerful?

When I have helped another woman tell her story. Too often women feel as if it’s bragging. It’s not bragging if it’s true.

Or the pressure to be perfect is so overwhelming that they apologize for their story. Your story is as perfect and valid as anyone’s. Find power in your uniqueness.

Or, and this is a big one. Women don’t feel like they have the authority. Remember, I didn’t have the authority to do what I do. But I wrote my own permission slip and I am asking women to do the same. Even if you have to sit down and type it up and sign it and tape it to your wall. Give yourself the permission and the authority - don’t wait for someone else to give it to you.

Were all about daring at HERdacity. What is the most daring thing you’ve ever done?

I have done a few crazy things in my life, like flying off to all parts of the world on my own at age 18. I worked for an airline and was determined to take full advantage of my free flight benefits. But honestly, sometimes the most daring and scary thing is to hit the send or submit button - but the feeling after you’ve done it is as amazing and adrenaline filled as if you had jumped out of an airplane!

Do you have a mantra?

“There is no path, the path is made by walking.”  

I love this saying by Antonio Machado, it’s part of a longer poem. But that one line gets me through the times when I feel like I am in the weeds. For me, it means to keep my head down and work to create my own path.

 

What do you carry in your purse or bag with you every day?

In my camera bag, in addition to my camera, I carry two lenses, an extra battery and charger, and a lens cloth. But I also carry a rain bonnet that I found in my husband’s great aunt’s camera bag. It’s from the 1950s, its unused and in a sweet little plastic container. It’s my talisman. I also have red lipstick, sharpies, a granola bar, and thank you notes. Because with red lips I feel pulled together, sharpies are never a bad idea, I get super hungry after a shoot and manners never go out of style – people love to feel appreciated. l love sending and receiving thank you notes. The things I don’t carry - insecurity, other people’s expectations or past mistakes.

What are 3 things left on your bucket list?

Great question! Hike Machu Pichu, take a pottery class and be published in the New York Times.

What are your go-to indulgences or guilty pleasures?

I didn’t have T.V. for almost a decade so I have been out of the pop culture loop. I recently got satellite and streaming services - and my guilty pleasure is watching the Real Housewives of New York. I’m still pretty far back in the seasons, but I’m hooked. What should I watch next when I’m done?

You can pick one superpower… what would you choose?

Inbox Zero!

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Power Magnets Ignite Daily Inspiration

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Submitted by CassieCT on Wed, 12/13/2017 - 11:42

Power magnets are the best!

 

I got three incredible HERdacity magnets… and here are the words on each one. 

 

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK I CAN’T DO SO I CAN GET STARTED.

 

WHEN SOMEONE TELLS ME WHAT I’M NOT ALLOWED TO DO, I LAUGH BECAUSE I DIDN’T ASK.

 

DON’T BE A PASSENGER ON THEROAD OF LIFE.  TAKE THE WHEEL.

 

I love each and every one of these and for different reasons. So since I have been a big fan of magnets for years, I searched my kitchen. Where can I put them?

 

Refrigerator? Nope. That new kind of surface isn’t really metallic. Stove or oven? Same problem. Wooden cupboard doors don’t work for the obvious reason that they are, well, wood. No metal involved except in the hinges and I don’t see an easy and obvious way for me to stick a magnet on a vertical hinge.

 

But inspiration struck. I have a weird little breaker box with a metallic door under a cupboard in my small kitchen! And thank goodness these little chunks of powering magnetism stuck nicely.

 

It seemed a powerful omen.

 

HERdacity’s messages do best with electricity, and that is where all of us come in.

 

We each generate our own spark, our own interpersonal electricity… and we give zing and energy to each other.

 

So figure out your magnets for your life – change them frequently – and find a place to put them that will provide the power, the boost, and the fire to drive you forward.

 

 

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Self Care - What Is It and Why Should It Matter?

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Submitted by Jen at HERdacity on Wed, 11/29/2017 - 11:13

Want to press a woman’s buttons? Tell her she’s not taking care of herself the way she should. 

Just read the comments below this provocative article about self-care and you’ll see that it’s a hot topic among women. When someone apart from yourself (in other words, anyone) admonishes you about self-care; it’s an opinion, it’s irrelevant, and it smacks of judgment.

Before diving in to the controversy, what is self care? According to PsychCentral, self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. It is a conscious, deliberate act, something you enjoy, that you plan into your life. 

So why all the fuss? Why are there opinions about whether you’re doing it right?

First, no woman likes to be told how to take care of herself. It’s a little too personal. It would be like someone coming into your bathroom and telling you you’re putting your bra on wrong… it’s none of her business. 

A caveat: if you show up with your bra on backwards 10% of the time, then yes, those close to you may offer some advice. Furthermore, if one’s inability to get dressed means they’re not showing up at all, then please reach out. There’s a difference between omitting self-care and self-sabotage. 

Otherwise, save it.

In the real world, showing up is what matters. Not what you do to get there.

Second, telling someone who shows up, that she’s choosing the wrong things to show up to, is judgmental. It doesn’t matter whether it’s yoga class or the pantry, what you choose is your business.

One woman may insist on exercise, while another swears by a glass of wine and a novel. Neither one is right or wrong, although we might agree that some balance may be in order. 

Third – and this is crucial if we’re going to discuss self-care at all – comments about self-care are opinions, and reveal more about your source of stress and what you think about stress, than what calms, comforts and rejuvenates. 

Self-Care as Stress Relief

Hardly anyone would argue these days that self-care is selfish. Studies show that self-care is an integral part of wellness and stress management.

Kelly McGonigal’s TED talk, How to Make Stress Your Friend, emphasizes that your views on stress affect your health more than the stress itself.

And since stressors are always in flux in any given life, no single stress-relieving practice or balm is ever consistently appropriate. 

If ideas about stress are personal, and self-care is acceptable, then individual definitions of self-care must be acknowledged.

Tried and True Standbys

Every woman I know has her own ways and means she adheres to, feels passionate about, and practices when no one’s looking. She wouldn’t deviate from them unless she were held hostage against her will. Many are non-negotiable daily activities.

self care is a wonderful way to spread comfort and joy

These are the things that bring comfort and joy. In other words, they fall under the umbrella of self-care.

We have a nebulous collective definition of self-care precisely because self-care is personal, and connected to the way each of us addresses and satisfies our most personal needs.

Why are some of these personal treasures kept private, while others are trumpeted at top volume?

Like most personal issues these days, everyone has an opinion.

What an individual chooses as self-care is revealed in her bank balances, her browsing habits, unaccounted minutes or hours, and what goes on behind closed doors.

We’ll never agree on how to get this basic need met until we determine if it is in fact elemental to survival, or a few notches up on Maslow’s hierarchy.

“Selfish” but Necessary

One woman would never want someone to know how much she spends on lipstick, another obsesses about her next Netflix fix. One relishes her weekly date with the hand cut French fries ordered in the drive through and munched on the drive home. Another may yearn to escape with a walk in the woods, keeping a pair of sneaks in her trunk for unscheduled forays into the nature.

Are any of these activities better than another? More Instagram-worthy? If you’re addicted to organic tea, you could start a movement and share everything you know… but what if you’re just into naps?

The people who have definite ideas about what constitutes self-care are often the people who follow self-care practices that have been approved by their culture, or proudly hailed as redemptive by a celebrity or influencer.

Reliance on trends and popular public opinion can be more stifling than liberating, however. Certainly, the media plays a part in our feelings about self-care. Yoga, meditation, daily 5:00 mommy juice (wink) may be trendy, but does that make those “me time” activities worthier than another’s? Pushing one self-care practice over another seems righteous and sanctimonious.

Let’s be honest. The most effective, deliciously indulgent self-care is the stuff that’s a wee bit um, selfish. That’s the point. Emerging from the self-care whole and intact, ready to face the day is the result.

You Do You

… and I say that with love. 

If you’re overly interested in defining self-care, it’s probably because you’re not getting enough.

The key word in self-care is “Self.”

Your problems are not universal and they don’t automatically make you virtuous. Neither are the ways you address them. In fact (you know this), many would probably view your problems as blessings. The overstressed woman holding three jobs has good reason to crave more self-care, but so does the one for whom just one job would be an amazing windfall of good fortune.

When you’re finally comfortable with the inevitability of stress – whatever your particular brand happens to be – then you can finally allow yourself (and others) the freedom to define self-care as you see fit.

Self-care is equally the arrows you duck and the extra hours you invest; as it is your leisurely, scandalous moments with pie or pedicures. 

As Voltaire wrote, “…Tend your own garden.”

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Gratitude's Double Edge

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Submitted by Jen at HERdacity on Tue, 11/21/2017 - 14:34
Sub Title
For Bold Women Only

Gratitude has two sides.

When Sarah Ban Breathnach published Simple Abundance 22 years ago, her gratitude journaling practice started a movement.

Since then, studies have consistently proved that expressing gratitude is an indispensable key to happiness and fulfillment, an increase in generosity, physical and mental health, and thriving relationships.

Without it, we continually peer over the fence, longing for greener pastures. When people live in the future or the past, this “want” in life prevents us to feeling joy in the present.

This Thanksgiving, we’re inspired by women who not only exude gratitude, but help others tap into it in their daily work and lives.

One such woman is Rha Goddess, the founder and CEO of Move The Crowd, a coaching and entrepreneurial training company. Her take on gratitude, however, goes beyond cherishing the good stuff. Rha challenges people to take stock of the painful, messy parts, too.

Before you launch into goal setting in the new year, you must first summon gratitude for your blessings.

And here’s the kicker:

Blessings include both the abundance of riches AND the calamities and near misses. It's the fullness of your experience that allows you to be here at this moment, at this place, with these people.

Grown up women need to recognize this aspect of gratitude and embrace it. As you envision how to create lasting change in your life and those of others in the world, the key is to take a thorough inventory as you prepare to meet new challenges and receive new blessings.

Next time you’re trying to summon gratitude, include the unexpected car repair bill, the child’s illness, and the minor disaster at work. They count.

The holidays and new year are coming, wrapped up in pure promise and potential... and yes, you are ready.

You are here. You are stronger than you think. Life is precious, all of it.

Thanksgiving a great time to begin the process of practicing bold, bring-it-all, audacious gratitude. 

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