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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 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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Submitted by anna on Wed, 01/31/2018 - 14:57
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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:

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Leaning Back In: 5 Tips for Women Returning to Work

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

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

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

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

“Do you work?”    

“Oh, yes,” I’d answer. 

 “What do you do?” they’d continue.  

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

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

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

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

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

career mom










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

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

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

In job terms, these skills are: 

  • Social media & communications 

  • Sales management, 

  • Project team leadership and, 

  • Event planning.  

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

2. Showcase your skillset digitally-

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

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

3. Network through your immediate circle of friends- 

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

4. Have your elevator pitch ready-

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

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

5. Persevere- 

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


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

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Submitted by anna on Tue, 01/23/2018 - 15:23
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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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. 








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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Double Duty: Style that Works as Hard as You Do

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Submitted by annageorgakis on Tue, 12/05/2017 - 15:14

You put so much effort into making the holidays perfect for others; sometimes it's a good idea to look inward.  How you feel and look matters.  You owe it to yourself to look at least as dressed as the turkey.  Here is one reader's suggestion on what to wear, whether you're cooking, moving chairs from the garage or posing for a photo.

It's an all-too familiar setting when you're hosting holiday events at your home… Every family member is either ready to eat or about to arrive, and you’re still running around throwing things in the oven, mashing potatoes, or setting the table, rocking yoga pants and a ponytail.

We often experience a downside to providing for everyone else- we neglect ourselves in the process. I know too well how much our clothing and overall appearance contribute to our confidence and happiness. 

With your comfort in mind, I created a Holiday Style Guide, complete with six outfit ideas, to help you feel self-assured and poised even while cooking and pouring holiday cheer, You are so ready to handle anything the holiday throws your way. 


outfit idea 1, holiday style guide


My first inspiration is this stunning Madewell x No.6 Silk Magical Dress in the color Vintage Rose paired with black tie-back booties. The Madewell dress loosely drapes over the body so you'll be able to run around with ease, and the wedge heel makes the boots comfortable enough to wear all day. Once guests start to arrive, throw on this set of two chokers also by Madewell to quickly dress it up.


outfit two, holiday style guide


I am loving this light pink bell-sleeved Tunic Top by Halogen. Nordstrom describes is perfectly, calling it "unapologetically feminine," to which I would have to agree. I mean, look at that velvet bow tie-back… Pairing it with gray straight leg twill pants keeps it casual (Bonus: they’re stretchy.) Adding a pair of snake print mules and Kate Spade silver studs adds an unexpected touch. 


outfit three, holiday style guide


Okay, hear me out. This spotted J.Crew jumpsuit may be totally out of your comfort zone but trust me, there is not an easier and more comfortable outfit out there. You won't have to worry about finding a cohesive top and bottom; this jumpsuit does it for you. Adding these red pointy-toe pumps and matching tassel earrings makes this outfit a no-brainer.


holiday style guide, outfit 6


This lantern-sleeve top pairs perfectly with washed-black wide leg crop jeans, both from LOFT. The outfit is relatively casual on its own, but can be quickly dressed up with the addition of these light blue ankle strap sandals and a black onyx beaded bracelet. Interestingly enough, the black onyx gemstone has been known to protect against negativity, just in case you encounter the evil eye or the stray, barbed comment from that certain family member over the holidays. 


outfit 5, holiday style guide


For a more effortless look, I bring you these relaxed utility pants. They're perfect for a hectic day. But don't be fooled, they look so chic when paired with a black and white striped wrap top. Add a pair of platform slides and rose gold chevron studs and you'll have an outfit you'll want to wear all day long.


outfit 6, holiday style guide


Lastly, I have these gorgeous weekender jeans paired with this delicate ruffle bell sleeve top. This combination is so understated, yet stunning. Throwing on this silver layered necklace and a pair of block heels easily takes this outfit to the next level. 

Remember, self-care includes loving how you look and feel in your clothes.

The holidays are full of fun and stress, especially when you’re juggling expectations and trying to sprinkle magic for others. Spend some time and money on yourself, and make sure you don’t put yourself last in all the preparations. You deserve the same comfort and joy you bring to others.

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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. 

gratitude's double edge
the other side of gratitude
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HERdacity Staff

Ability to Engage Employees Distinguishes Great Bosses

In celebration of Boss’ Day, we’re zooming in on the female boss. (But of course!)

Not only do girls rule the world, they crush leadership roles, too. “Girl Boss” may be a popular Instagram hashtag, the title of a bestselling book and TV show, and a popular slogan among creative women these days, but the reality is that women leaders are a boon to the organizations – the few and the proud – that they run.

Women CEOs in 2016 claim only 27 spots at the top of Fortune 500 companies, yet findings show that they have distinct characteristics that could make them better leaders than men. Among their best qualities are their ability to engage people, retain employees, communicate, and remain patient, key traits for long term success.

Women Naturally Make Strong Leaders

While women tend to value “communal” organizational assets like participation from a more diverse group, quality communication, and customer-focused work, they also know talent when they see it, and promote women who possess the needed skills. A study of women in business leadership roles (in Italian manufacturing firms in the 1980s and 90s) found that not only did senior women's wages increase, but firms with women in senior roles actually performed better. 


There's that word again...

I’m listening to the audiobook The Advantage, by Patrick Lencioni, about how healthy organizations maintain an edge over their competitors. Most companies work to make smart decisions, focusing more on execution, systems, marketing, etc. than the people behind those functions. However, Lencioni maintains that the real key to success is a healthy team. He provides examples from his leadership consulting business to prove that teams that work well together make smarter decisions and avoid costly mistakes.

While I haven’t exactly counted the times the author uses the term “vulnerability,” I’d swear it’s in the dozens; and throughout the book, it’s an underlying core component of leaders who build cohesive teams.

Contrast that with success characteristics of male leaders, personal career advancement and compensation, and you'll see traditional corporate leaders running for the hills at the "V" world.

Vulnerability may be the new black, but successful women bosses are not all hugs and warm fuzzies. Still, women's natural leanings toward human connections positively flavor the work environments where they are given the reins.

The Underbelly of Feminine Leadership

To be fair, women bosses also have unique challenges in the area of leadership. Among many corporate and organizational female leaders, maintaining effective emotional distance (not too exclusive, nor too personal), admitting hiring mistakes quickly, and working to foster relationships with multiple mentors; all tend to present discomfort at some point as they stretch to become a good boss. 

One of the best critiques on natural leadership skills I’ve heard this year has been from author and speaker Kim Scott. In her book Radical Candor, she relates a story of a genuinely helpful form of feedback she received from her boss and mentor, (pre Facebook) Sheryl Sandberg  when they both worked at Google. After a presentation in which Scott’s accomplishments on a project should have made her look like a rockstar, Sandberg took Scott aside and told her that her speaking style needed some work. After Scott brushed it off a few times, her boss insisted that the constant “ums” made Kim “look stupid.”

Ouch, right?

In retrospect, Scott understood the gift she'd been given.

These words from a woman she admired were in fact exactly what she needed to move ahead and grow. Listen to this interview about Radical Candor, and consider how women bosses, once they get over  the awkwardness of giving truly valuable feedback, can use it to groom women leaders to become the standout teachers, mentors, authors, speakers and leaders of the future.

Now it’s your turn. There are women leaders in your past and present who have shaped your career, and made you feel valued for your contributions to a team or workplace – or not. Who were they (no need to name names if you prefer not to), and how have they changed you?



Life's Work Breaking Down Barriers Women's Wisdom (Seeking or Giving Advice)
Jen McGahan

Why You Should Grant the Occasional Mulligan

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Submitted by Jen at HERdacity on Thu, 10/12/2017 - 18:33

Women can be especially hard on themselves. Ever notice that? Harder on themselves and (sometimes even other women) than anyone else seated at the table.

Do you recognize yourself in any of the following scenarios?

  • You say the wrong word at a job interview, then replay it 742 times in your mind before falling asleep that night. 
  • You blow off a PTO meeting at your child’s school, and imagine every other parent giving you condescending looks in pickup line for weeks.
  • You notice a lingering piece of spinach in your teeth three hours after lunch, so you replay each and every human encounter, and try to remember whether she had a weird look on her face, and why, for the love of Pete, no one said anything! (You conclude that everyone must think you’re too far gone to mention it.)

Now here’s a thought… what does it really matter?

Smart women shrug off the small stuff and get on their way.

We’re pretty good at retail therapy, changing our outfit or hair color to pick ourselves up. We’re excellent at swapping one feeling for another, with the mental gymnastics that would leave most men in knots. E.g. Uncertainty over a promotion transfers easily into a desire to furiously clean the kitchen. Sadness over a friend’s illness slides into a full-on campaign to raise awareness on our social media pages.

We’re not as good at acceptance, and certainly not inclined to take a simple do-over. Why? Because errors need fixing. Failures need improving. With enough discussion, a new course of study, or a different approach, we can overcome any setback.

Women tend to internalize gaffes, rather than laugh them off. In an effort to prevent a second strike, we retreat and study, analyze, drink, wallow with a friend, or exercise, etc.

There’s always a remedy...

On the other hand, we could just try again.

Yep, without further ado, we could keep it simple and unabashedly try the exact same move a second time.

Paying little attention to small personal errors is the secret sauce of confident women.

Men do this well. That's not just anecdotal; studies have proven this. They take their Mulligans and make it look easy, because, in fact, it is.

Smart women use Mulligans to their same advantage. No harm, no foul. A Mulligan is a small gift. A freebie. No judgment about quality, or preparedness, skill or talent; a Mulligan is a straightforward Gimme. 

The reasons for taking a Mulligan are many and varied, but in the end, those are mere details. A Mulligan is simply there for the taking, so you should take yours as often as allowed.

Can you imagine getting out of your way with ease? When was last time you let yourself take another swing without any apologies?

The Mulligan Story

The Mulligan was invented by a man who knew how to make light of failure. As the story goes, David Mulligan had been rushing to meet his golf buddies; he claimed his hands were still vibrating from the drive when he stepped up to the first tee. (This was in the 1930’s, so cars weren’t what they are now.) After wildly botching his first drive, he simply grabbed another ball, re-teed it, and swung again.

He called it a “Correction Shot”.

What do you think happened? Did the sky fall down? Did his friends abandon him at the tee? Did the club revoke his membership? Did they get in a fight?

No. None of those things occurred. In fact, later at the 19th hole, everyone laughed about it. To top it off, it became a thing, a celebration of mistakes on the fairways and greens of the game. 

Imagine taking a correction shot with the sense that you are entitled to it. This is where things get shaky for those who strive for excellence. You hold personal high standards and expect the same of others. Errors should be duly noted. You play by the rules.

Is it possible to take a Mulligan without being riddled with guilt, shame, apology, or something on the imposter syndrome spectrum?

Know Your Deeper Intention

In her TEDtalk, Mallika Chopra (yes, the daughter of the yoga and new age guru Deepak Chopra) shares a story infused with a sense of humor and self-kindness. She was interviewing Eckhart Tolle (The Power of Now) about the theme of her blog, Intent, which, according to Mallika, means knowing who you are, what you want, and how you serve.

After a morning of nervous energy and a flight to meet this hero of hers, she ends up sitting with Eckhart, literally listening with him as church bells rang outside. Ding Dong, ding dong. Tick, tick, tick… She’d been granted only a few minutes for the interview and time was wasting away, it seemed. 

We’ve all been there. Anxious about blowing our best shot, missing an opportunity and feeling completely out of control about the situation. When the stakes are high – and to women, who are careening through life under stress of our daily, self-imposed high expectations, where almost all outcomes feel significant – how do you go about taking a Mulligan? 

In the end, Mallika was rewarded with more time and a productive interview. In short, a Mulligan suffused with self-given grace.

The Trouble with Best Intentions

Ironically, Intention is one of those words that sounds good, but there’s an underlying, implied foreboding attached: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions,” was a favorite quote of one of the nuns at my Catholic high school. I remember that every time I've aimed high and fallen short, which is to say, a thousand times.

  • I intended to make it home in time to cook dinner. But it's takeout again.
  • I intended to throw my mother a birthday bash. It ended up being just family for BBQ and cake.
  • I intended to help plan the charity event this year. I attended the dinner, at least.
  • I intended to give the perfect speech to my organization. I bungled the opening lines.

Still, there's hope and humor. Intention sets parameters for a good life story, regardless of the specific outcome of all the individual scenes. You know who you are. You know what you want. You know how you serve.

Life holds no guarantees. Some of your hopes and dreams will be dashed against the rocks before it's over. However, the chances of catastrophic failure grow slimmer if you’ve established a meaningful, personal intention as your foundation.

Intention gives you solid footing and the confidence to brush off mistakes. 

That way, when you swing and miss, it’s easier to confidently pull another ball out of your pocket. Of course, you didn’t intend to slice that ball into the woods. That would be silly. You intended to drive it straight down the fairway. 

And there it is.

The Power of Intention

Intention comes from a deep place. Its arc outreaches your day-to-day foibles. With practice, when you take the occasional Mulligan, expect to bounce around from mistake to mistake in a forward direction, with your intention intact.

Let’s make being easier on ourselves “a thing”. Let’s make Mulligans out of mountains and laugh... Please don’t forget to laugh.

No woman ever walked a straight or smooth path. Don't count on it yourself. You’re going to have to settle into the deep grooves of intention with a sense of humor and a smidgeon of self-grace, and take the occasional, unapologetic Mulligan.

Now you. When have you taken your Mulligan and laughed?

Jen McGahan

Reese Witherspoon’s Guide to Equality: Be Unapologetically Ambitious

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Submitted by Kelly Smith on Tue, 09/12/2017 - 05:53

What will it take to tip the gender scales? If you ask Reese Witherspoon, one of the most likeable women in Hollywood, she'll tell you women have got to stop worrying about being… well, likeable.

“What is likeable anyway? I’m allergic to that word,” The actress and producer wrote in a blog titled We Have to Change the Idea That a Woman With Ambition Is Out Only for Herself, for October’s issue of Glamour magazine.

In the magazine Reese focused on her personal struggles managing her own ambition… and how women have to do a better job of owning their power.  Here’s three things we can all learn from Reese’s personal journey… 

#1 Inequality sucks…but you’ve got to get past it and keep kicking ass

Most of us can picture Reese starring in Legally Blonde. Or maybe you’ve heard about her more recent HBO Show, Big Little Lies. What you don’t get to see— is the blood, sweat and tears Reese puts into her work as a producer. When she first started in Hollywood, women had less visibility on and off screen. So she had to create her own entertainment studio to honor the stories of powerful women.

Is it fair? Nope. But in her blog she writes,

“You can complain about these things. You can get stuck in the emotion of it—and sometimes I do, and I get really angry. I’ll get pissed off and stomp around the house. The anger comes from such a deep, real place for me. But my mother always said to me, ‘If you want something done, do it yourself.’”

“…Nobody hands me anything. I’ll wake up earlier; I’ll stay up later. I will put my money where my mouth is. I have to read faster, and I respond quicker than other producers. I have to call and call and call executives until they say yes to my projects.”

#2 Choose your allies carefully 

Reese is busy and admits that means sometimes people aren’t worth wasting your time on. If someone doesn’t value your own strength, cut them out of your life. This advice pertains to everyone from supervisors, friends and even your significant others:

“Run away from a man who can’t handle your ambition. So many men think ambition is sexy…”

#3 You’ve got an inner voice. Listen to her!

Face it, you probably have a good idea of what you want. Now is your time to reach out and get it. 

"That’s my advice: Just do what you do well. If you’re a producer, you’ve got to produce. If you’re a writer, you’ve got to write. If you’re in corporate America, keep working hard to bust through the glass ceiling... If you are one of those people who has that little voice in the back of her mind saying, “Maybe I could do [fill in the blank],” don’t tell it to be quiet. Give it a little room to grow, and try to find an environment it can grow in."

And if all else fails... channel your inner Elle Woods.

Read Reese's full blog here

Larissa at HERdacity