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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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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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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:

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How to Extend Your Giving This Season

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Submitted by Jen at HERdacity on Mon, 11/20/2017 - 12:04
Sub Title
Five Ways to Maximize Your Donation

Giving Tuesday has come and gone.


If you were online, you probably noticed the hashtag cropping up on all your social sites, emails and popups from participating organizations. Maybe you investigated a campaign that spoke to you, and pulled out your credit card.


The holidays are prime time for charities to add to the “noise” amidst the rampant consumerism. There’s the office project, the school kids’ donations of toys and coats, the church’s giving tree, the gifts and greetings sent in shoeboxes overseas, the extra donation at the checkout at every store, the holiday letter from your alma mater, and of course, Santa ringing the bell on the corner.


Without some sort of plan, you may feel that your giving has no impact at all. After all, what do a few dollars here and there really matter? How much thought do you put into those decisions to donate?


Fundraisers rely on the fact that many people simply give without thinking. They wait to be asked, or receive solicitations in the mail, and react to appeals on an as-needed basis. This “Splatter Philanthropy” benefits many charities and is the preferred way of giving for many people.


Giving Tuesday is here to stay, because most people feel good about giving when they’re asked, especially after the feast and spend of Thanksgiving weekend. Charities benefit, too. In 2016, $168 Million was raised for US charities and nonprofit organizations, with an average gift of $107 per donation. 


While those numbers are increasing year over year, Giving Tuesday is a random event for many. Consider that 93% of consumers are familiar with Black Friday, but only 18% are familiar with Giving Tuesday. The international day of giving sneaks up on people and delights – partly because of the unexpected flush of joy that goes along with generosity.


In contrast, people who make giving a part of their overall financial plan and life mission report an even greater sense of purpose and satisfaction.


Impactful Giving


Many people focus on their charitable giving in December. As companies and individuals close the books on the year, some make it a priority to ensure they’ve “done enough.” Many people give sporadically all holiday season, yet even with a giving budget, they may not know the total impact of their donations.


That’s why it pays to plan your charitable giving to last through Giving Tuesday and beyond. Here are a few ways to extend your generosity and make sure your gifts have the maximum effect on those you aim to help.


Five Ways To Stretch Your Giving Dollars


Choose three causes you are passionate about, and build your giving strategy around those. Envision a future that you want to see, and then approach your giving as a way to attack the biggest problem that thwarts it. As Financial Planner Erin Botsford writes, “don’t ignore the other things [you] care about… just overweigh [your] giving in those three areas.


Do your research and give where your dollars will have the greatest impact. Will your gift feed 5 people or 50? Provide 10 pairs of shoes or 100? Look into the organizations you like and read their annual reports. Check their ratings on Guidestar, BBB Wise Giving Alliance, or Guidestar.…  Are they using their constituent’s dollars wisely or spending it on overhead and salaries? Make decisions that reflect your belief in their responsibility.


Give regularly. Setting up an automatic monthly gift is a bold act. Many would say this requires faith, especially if you’re living on a tight budget. But whether you are giving because of a spiritual belief or not, the fact that you are committing to a bank draft on the same day every month reveals the kind of spiritual hope that boosts the act of giving. Giving audaciously means giving with the belief that there will be enough. This mindset is built on the requisite belief that we’re not running out; and there is not a finite amount to go around. By giving first, we’re guaranteeing that we’ll all have enough. (Sorry if that sounds a little woo woo.) If you have any doubts, remember this: The secondary benefit of regular giving is that the practice helps you become a better money manager for your personal finances, too. As with any financial habit, start small and learn how to budget for giving all year long.


Consider saving money aside for emergencies. When the next disaster strikes, will you be able to provide assistance the way you’d like? Unfortunately the next tragedy is always just around the corner. If you have the resources to give, and if you are likely to do so, save a fund outside your usual amount and keep it in reserve for special relief efforts.


Finally, put your expertise, skills, and time behind your money. Work for the causes you support with your financial gifts. Share what your favorite organization is doing with your friends, family and colleagues, or on your blog or social media pages. Enlist support when needed and appropriate. Attend board meetings. Become a loyal ally in the organizations you prefer and donate a little of yourself to the cause. Not only will you have an inside view into your organizations, but you will multiply your efforts and inner satisfaction by mingling your personal energy to your money.


This holiday season, why not Invest an hour or two in this project. Make a date with your checkbook, your computer, and your family or spouse, and make a concerted plan. The haphazard online donation is heartwarming, but if you’d like to start creating a deeper, more lasting impact with the money you give, focus on the bigger picture and the real change you’d like to see in the world.

Extend Your Giving This Season.
Extend Your Giving This Season.
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Three Networking Secrets to Build Your Dream On

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Submitted by Jen at HERdacity on Wed, 11/01/2017 - 07:38

When women support other women, incredible things happen.

Women’s networking groups are the backbone of many local, online, and regional tribes of successful women. The old adage about surrounding yourself with others you want to emulate couldn’t be truer than among women’s networks.  If you can get yourself to a room full of women who’ve been there, don’t that, and still have more to give and share at the end of the day, then you should definitely show up.

In a world where only 5% of CEOs are women, and where success looks like different things to different people, you may feel like you’re climbing uphill alone. One simple way to elevate your personal and professional status, while snagging an easy opportunity to relish the feeling that someone’s got your back, is inside a good network of like-minded women.

Are all networks strong? Nope. In fact, they’re only as strong as the effort you put into them.

Thousands of women are convening in the Capitol city tomorrow to attend the Texas Conference for Women. As we’re prepared for the conference the other day, we listened in on a teleclass about Networking given by Kelly Hoey, an expert networker and author of the book and website, Build Your Dream Network.

She gave several tips on the short conference call, encouraging women to take advantage of the democratization of networking in the digital age. The secret to success is simply engaging in face-to-face networking skills and extending them to your online network.

Whether you’re in a real live room, like a large networking/educational conference, or simply perusing LinkedIn as part of your regular routine, here are some networking tips to create the strong connections that benefit you and those you meet:

Follow up.

It’s obvious after someone has shared some time with you to thank that person soon after the favor. It’s that next step, following up, that most people leave out. When someone gives you advice or shares a connection, they want to know how things turned out. Close the loop and let that person know how you implemented their advice or how the meeting with their colleague went. This is where strong bonds are forged, but it’s where most people drop the ball.

Engage with all your networks, not just your professional network.

Give the same attention to your looser networks like the people on the sidelines at your child’s soccer game, or the women in your book club, as you would your colleagues within your field. Those loose connections may be the ones that create the most opportunities for you.

Give. Give. Get.

In other words, be generous.

Be there for others. Don’t just show up when you need something. Go out of your way to reach out with a helpful introduction. Post a colleague’s blog post on your social media sites. Write a review or testimonial for someone. Inquire about a past trip or event.

Generosity takes many forms. Creativity in your generosity is instantly memorable.

In the end, Hoey reminds us of the Golden Rule.

Good networking looks like being a kind, caring, compassionate person.

Pretty simple, really.

HERdacity will be exhibiting at tomorrow’s conference, with an ear to the ground as to what makes inspiring women feel free to share their stories and support other women. Please stop by and say hello. We’re looking forward to learning more.

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How to Develop Your Voice In A Room of Your Own

I'm lucky. This office has a window to look through as I write. In this, my first blog post at HERdacity, the fact of a window seems worth mentioning. Women writers look out into the world and then turn inward, culling thoughts and experiences to write what is real. 

And then... they share it. 

This small office has a view of a large ash tree and a whitewashed half wall made of concrete. It is a blessing. To be a female writer with the time to form thoughts, and string sentences together in a safe, quiet place; in the scope of history, I possess a luxury many women could never have imagined.

The ability to find and serve an audience is even newer, thanks to the wave of blogs and websites on the web. 

That last part – an audience – is not completely necessary for a lot of women writers.

So WHY do women write?

Humorist Gina Barreca lists several reasons why women pony up to the blank page in spite of the day-to-day obstacles. Collecting quotes of several famous women writers on the subject, she reminds women that in reading each other's words, "we are not alone in the oddity of our beliefs. [Fay Weldon]." 

When your private, most personal voice is open to the public…

Just this morning I was just talking with a freelance writer friend who uses her blog to muse about future dreams, concerns about culture, motherhood, etc... to "just get it out there,"she says. She only edits and hones her message for her clients. Her blog is more of a semi-personal journal. One she shares with the entire world. 

The truth is, with an audience comes the stress of being seen. If you know many writers, many of them introverts by nature, visibility isn't their first priority. Many women begin writing to simply affirm that their thoughts lead to order, and then, if they have some skill and a genuine voice, to a connection. If someone nods her head at the words they read, the writer has done a fair job of it. 

But how do writers know if they've made a connection? 

Most writers I know don't write for glory. As this morning's Nobel Prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro claims, "I just hope that my winning the Nobel prize contributes something that engenders good will and peace.”  

Hope is good. Seeing those heads nodding in agreement (or, let's be honest, winning a Nobel Prize) is even more affirming.

Is it any wonder, then that authors who have something to say, stand up before audiences and, well, speak.

Authors as Speakers

Since HERdacity will be attending the Texas Conference for Women in a few weeks, and since it's Friday (a good day to recommend books), I was checking to see which speakers also had books. Of the 15 keynote speakers, only three are authors of books:

Mallika Chopra: Living with Intent: My Somewhat Messy Journey to Purpose, Peace and Joy

Annie E. Clark: We Believe You: Survivors of Campus Sexual Assault Speak Out

Diane von Furstenberg: The Woman I Wanted to Be

A personal How-To, a collection of personal stories, and a personal memoir.

The common theme: Personal.

In A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf asserts that in order to write fiction women need a private, quiet space, and some money. As we gradually acquire both the independence and the freedom to say the hard thing, and entrust it to the minds and hearts of others, women naturally share what is personal to them. (Let's hope the money will follow!)

As my writer friend Shell expressed this morning, she believes she has something to say that the world needs, but she just needs the space and time to edit her blog and publish a book. Ah, those age-old gatekeepers, space and time...

You’re never really alone.

Reading women allows us access to deeply personal (many times common) experiences and a woman's unique telling of it. Attending a talk, whether a TEDtalk video online, or a live event; can draw us even closer to that woman's story. The benefit to the speaker and her audience is the ability to witness each other nodding our heads in agreement.

Now it’s your turn. Let’s stoke this fire.* 

Many writers speak. Many speakers write. Name one author/speaker you've read/seen who has moved you with her personal story. 

*Stay tuned for more info on how to join an HERdacity Campfire.

Creativity Life's Work Opening The Next Door

This is lovely! I'm new to this group and pretty bummed that I just missed last week's entering the workspace event, but these posts are terrific. 

Going to check-out some of the readings you included in your post. Thank you!

Jen McGahan

Remains of The Viking Warrior Everyone Thought Was a Guy... Was Actually a Badass Woman

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Submitted by Larissa at HERdacity on Tue, 09/19/2017 - 05:45

As women fight to get more representation and power in our respective fields, take note… the women who came before us have been kicking ass for hundreds and hundreds of years. 

The latest proof: bones of a viking warrior presumed to be a man… are actually those of a woman according to new DNA analysis. 

She’s being deemed as a ‘high-status’ viking because her remains were found with weapons as well as a strategy game board… which indicates she was an officer involved in  planning and tactics. 

So what does this all mean? If you were in awe of Wonder Woman— you may have some real life 'sheroes' to draw some inspiration from too.

Like the stories you see on HERdacity? Please like us on Facebook and share this article on your own Facebook feed! 

Larissa at HERdacity

First Person Story: The Evolution of Cowgirls

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Submitted by Kelly Smith on Wed, 08/23/2017 - 09:04

I'm staring at a childhood photo of myself on our fridge and I begin to reflect on how expansive gender roles have become.

I'm about five or six in the photo wearing a green cowboy outfit. I remember I had announced to my parents that I wanted be a cowboy for Christmas. I was very specific about asking for a cowboy outfit, not cowgirl, because it was pretty clear as a child from the movies and books I read that cowboys did all of the cool, exciting stuff: chase down bad guys, jump on moving trains or ride bareback if the mood suited them. Cowgirls were scarcely represented and hardly ever did the things I considered fun, not to mention most of them wore skirts or dresses and my tomboy self would have none of that.

Thankfully, my Mom was a tomboy as a child, too, so she willingly obliged my request. She actually made me the lovely green cowboy outfit from scratch. Hard to believe given her limited skills in sewing, but it was a triumph because I lit up when I opened that package. The guns, belt and boots finished the outfit off perfectly. Green was my favorite color at the time, and I wore that outfit as much as I could. I played hard at being the fastest draw in the West and saving the day while riding my horse, Silver. Giddy-up.

While my parents were fine with me wearing a Cowboy outfit, family members, neighbors and teachers were a different story. If I had a dollar for every person who told me I should be "wearing a skirt" and it's not "ladylike" to wear clothes and play the way I did, then I would be a very rich lady today. On one of the days, when the barrage of sexist comments got me blue, my Mom shared a story. When she was younger, my Mom babysat seven children in one family for 50 cents an hour to save up for her passion to ride horses. The day arrived when she had saved enough money and she started going to the stables regularly to rent a horse. She was born to ride horses and soon she could ride like the best of them. People at the stable would comment, "You ride as good as a man." Her young self would feel the prick of this comment, but it gained more of an edge as she grew older and she continued to hear similar comments that uplifted men and marginalized women's power.

Her resolve to change this was passed down to me. She lit a spark within me. And while we have come a long way, I know our journey for gender equality continues. We must audaciously refuse to accept gender norms. Stubbornly, we must question the status quo of what girls and women can be or do.

I’m proud to be a cowgirl among the trailblazing women who came before and that will come after me to bear this torch. Yee-haw ladies!

Tiffany Patterson is a District Executive Director with the Austin YMCA. She holds degrees from Texas A&M University and The University of San Francisco. When she's not at work, she's blessed to spend time with a tremendous network of family and friends.  She loves to travel, go to the theater, listen to live music, explore the outdoors, and eat lavish dinners with a great bottle of red wine.  


I totally get this... our younger minds knew what our older minds would come to understand. Equality means equal opportunity but also how we are perceived to the outside world. Girls deserved... and still deserve to do what they want- when they want (wearing whatever they want!) 

Tiffany Patterson