ideas without action are worthless

Tuesday Truths 2015 edition v20

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It’s almost impossible to think that we’re heading into summer and the return of the intern rotation. I’m looking forward to having an intern start with me in the next couple of weeks so you may see a guest post geared to their peers.

  • I believe in positive reinforcement as well as tackling issues that may be seen as weaknesses. Harvard Business Review did an article on how companies have increasingly drained women’s ambitions. The environment for promotion is less inviting with a focus on behavior that leave women less motivated. One of my first reactions is that we need more female mentors. If you’re a female with management experience,  I hope that you will make the time to support those women who need a helping hand.
  • How to throw around some swagger without looking like a douchebag or a more appropriate title, “How to Promote Yourself Without Looking Like a Jerk”. Like we always say to candidates. your narrative (bio) needs to be compelling and so does the manner in which you talk about your achievements.
  • No matter where you may be in your career, these 5 tips can help boost your career. It’s a great reminder to stay connected with your network! What other tips have you done to help your career?
  • I’ve been working a lot more in the field of leadership and realizing that a person’s state of mind is so important to achieving your goals. When I have moments of doubt, I remember some very basic tenets to remind myself about the Why because those doubts turn into clarity. Learning technical skills or specializing a particular field can certainly bring you success but it’s personal development that brings mental dexterity to evolve and adapt to ever changing situations.
  • Which leads me to how you get to influence people when you’re not perceived as an expert. If you don’t have a lot of experience, you can begin by working with your peers and your network to get testimonials of your abilities or work with a more experienced person in your field who can provide you with credibility. What other tactics have you used?

Thanks for reading/sharing – please feel free to subscribe if this has been helpful!

— Madalene


Tuesday Truths 2015 edition v19

it will be worth it in the end

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Happy Tuesday! This is an especially crazy week with a deluge of riches of AAPI Heritage month activities as well as the House returning to session, and me doing my civic duty with jury duty. Never a dull moment! I’m still working off the adrenaline from doing a Boston campaign training with the AAPI community. Great to see new faces while working with people who have been colleagues/friends for close to 20 years. If ever I wonder why I am in politics, this is a reminder of why – people! I may be an introvert but being around people who are interested in advancing the lives of the AAPI community and those who are disadvantaged or marginalized makes it worth it. So it’s nice to see that a bit of idealism still alive in my cynical heart :)

If you missed the announcement last week, I have a Special Guest joining us for the Tuesday, 5/26 meet-up – DSCC Political Director Simone Ward. So be prepared to get your lunch/beverage/dessert/snack from Le Pain Quotidien at Union Station (so that they don’t hate us for using their space but not buying lunch) at noon. Please RSVP in the comments section so that I can make sure we have enough space.

On to Tuesday Truths!

  • Did you realize that only 31,976 donors gave a total of $1.18 BILLION in federal dollars in the 2014 election cycle?? That’s a whole lotta of cha-ching spread across not that many people. So basically the one percent of the wealthiest one percent are political donors. See how the demographics break down through this piece from Opensecrets.  If you guessed white & male – BINGO!
  • I’m a fan of both the Outlander tv series and books but I never really expected it to be a part of the interview process, but I like where this question is headed. Time travel is not just for science fiction fans/nerds! Next time, I’ll be prepared for when I have to interview someone!
  • I hate talking with strangers as much as anyone else (OK, maybe not a extrovert) but I think back to when I was a child and I would talk with anyone who would respond and asked for stuff all.the.time (maybe that’s why I usually don’t have a problem about asking for money). As I’ve gotten older, I find it a little tedious so I need to kick myself in the butt to remind myself that there was a time when I was much more open and thought about the consequences less (they could say “NO!”). I need to think less and just dive in. My 2 cents on how to network with strangers but the Harvard Business Review may have a slightly different take 😉
  • Work smarter not harder. I try to do most of these steps but I need to stop multi-tasking and focus, focus, focus. With the clients I have I try to not get sidetracked when something comes up so that I can devote my attention to each one with the kind of purity I want as if they were my only client. I also know that I have to schedule call time for myself when I fundraise. Knowing the weaknesses is half the battle, right?
  • Be a little foolish and you may well find that you’re on the path to success. I try to face my fears by doing things that will make me less fearful (i.e. surfing – for some reason I developed a fear of water – I used to spend so much time in the pool and then I became a little mental about it so I decided that the only way for me to face it was to do something that would show me that it’s OK). Holding onto that fear can stunt your growth and hold you back from realizing that you are much more resilient than you think.
  • How to become more politically active without actually running for office? Here are a few tips from Tonia Bui and I would add that when you think you have no connections, you really do – your friends and family and people who trust your insight. The more you meet others who think that they don’t have connections, the more you’re networking to the next level. Show people how you want to be involved by your actions, not your words. They’ll see it and believe it.

Alright folks, don’t forget to comment if you’re planning on joining us on Tuesday, 5/26! If  you find these posts helpful, feel free to subscribe and share. Thanks for reading!

— Madalene


always have time for things you put first

Tuesday Truths 2015 edition v18

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It’s the beginning of another May and luckily for me, it’s Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage month! I’m fortunate to work with my community so that we can have more representation and for others to better understand that AAPIs are also an integral part of the fabric that makes all of us American. So if you didn’t know about AAPI Heritage month, here are a few places where you can learn more about the trailblazers who have helped to make this nation more diverse, culturally richer, and my community proud.

The Library of Congress has a great section to honor the achievements of the AAPI community.

Buzzfeed did a great pictorial of their AAPI staffers showing what it means to be AAPI.

Along with AAPI Heritage month, it’s the 40th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon, otherwise known as Black April (April 30, 1975). NPR did a series of stories that chronicles the lives of American soldiers and where they lived – this story talks about a refugee family’s transition to San Diego. PBS honored the anniversary by airing “Last Days in Vietnam”, a documentary based on the accounts of a NBC reporter and a US Army Captain.

The Smithsonian has a wonderful AAPI Center where you can learn more of the AAPI experience (it’s diverse and complex) so there is always so much to learn.

**We’re on to additional Tuesday Truths!**

  • Remember when I talked about my life being in constant triage? When I’m trying to tackle a tough deadline/project, I try to remember these steps to get my mind in gear. I procrastinate like everyone else!
  • If you’re looking for more work/life balance, it boils down to managing choices. My priorities are exercise and sleep. I try to work out 4-6xs a week because I know that it reduces my anxiety and stress level. I also know that I need to sleep so that my brain functions efficiently. If I don’t get enough sleep, my ability to be coherent and articulate greatly decreases. I can both see and feel the affects of lack of sleep pretty quickly. My priorities are different than your priorities and my goals are different than yours. Some people know that I have taken voice lessons throughout my life, and occasionally I get asked if I’m still taking them and I haven’t made them a priority to make time in my schedule to take lessons. So I can’t lament that I haven’t done it because I’ve made a choice to not move other things off my calendar to make it a priority. It may seem like a it’s an unconscious decision but when I put other choices in front of others, I’ve really made a decision to pursue that particular goal, unspoken or not.
  • One way to get to your goals can be to take whatever small step is necessary for change. This seems to be directly related to getting your mental game ready for tackling that big deadline/project. Those small steps can turn those accomplishments into grand plans.
  • Networking is really never about you because the more you can connect with others willing to tell their own stories; the more you will be remembered. If you’re new to the process, here are a few things you can try. One thing I tire of but know that I must do all the time is to get my own story refined. It’s a terrific way to practice your pitch and refine your brand.
  • Summer internship time is about to start (in some offices they’re on their 1st wave already!) so if you are starting on the Hill or work with staff, here’s a great primer to help get that wardrobe question of “What do I wear?” that is also appropriate out of the way!
  • With networking on the brain, some readers asked for a way to get together in DC. So meet me on Tuesday, 5/26 from noon – 1:30pm at Le Pain Quotidien at Union Station for a brown bag lunch. I may even have a Special Guest with me! Drop a note in the comments so that I know to expect you and have enough space.

Thanks for reading/sharing and I hope to see you on 5/26!

Screenshot 2015-04-26 15.07.36

Tuesday Truths 2015 edition v17

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It’s the last week before a district work period is upon us so we’re barreling our way through with fundraisers and donor meetings. Does it seem like all I ever do is raise money? Well, if your answer is “YES!” then you WIN – I’m not sure what you’ve won but consider yourself a WINNER! Let’s get cracking with Tuesday Truths:

  • I think like most people, I started my professional life with an idea of where I wanted to work and in a particular industry. I aligned my beliefs with working in my industry but as I have gotten older, I’ve started thinking more of how what I do affects my purpose of life. As a believer in creating your own luck, I think it’s also a result of your ability to control your “destiny”.
  • If you’re having challenges with work, it may be because you need to remind yourself of what motivates you. I pulled back on some of my projects because I realized that I was spending too much time doing things that didn’t maintain a spark in my career. Read about the science of finding that motivation.
  • My life is always about deadlines and to an extent, it’s about dealing with procrastination. My friends/colleagues would probably say differently, but I’m a BIG procrastinator. I’ve used a lot of these techniques to mentally prepare for the onslaught of deadlines and thinking of triage. Do any of these methods help you?
  • I’ve come to learn through my interns who happen to be business school majors that they learn about thank you letters but those in other programs, aren’t necessarily taught to write them. So for those who may need to brush up or just outright learn some business etiquette, we’ve got exactly 19 ones for you.
  • As much as I advocate for doing business as usual or at the very least understanding what is considered “the norm”, it’s great to see people who are innovative in breaking through the endless white noise. Check out Nina Mufleh and her creative way to get her resume noticed by Airbnb’s CEO. Which also reminds me about Lindsay Blackwell and how she used her social media network to get noticed for a job announcement at the U. of Michigan.
  • As a woman who has professional and personal goals, I feel that my definition of “having it all” is different from anyone’s goals for themselves or even what they may think it may be for me. So when asking yourself, “Is it possible?” really think about what your definition is and not compare it to someone else’s.

Thanks for reading/sharing!

— Madalene


be brave take risks

Tuesday Truths 2015 edition v16

We are well into the 2nd QTR of 2015 and I have coffees, meetings, lunches, breakfasts, and receptions to bring in that cash $$. It’s a wonder that people actually want to talk with me considering the number of emails and phone calls I make to tell them about upcoming opportunities. Luckily I never take anything personally and I know that it’s not about me so hearing a lot of “No’s” isn’t a morale drainer. I’m only human after all so after too many emails/calls, I need a break to re-charge and get back into action. Hope you’re having a good week so let’s get to Tuesday Truths!

  • I get asked a lot about branding and although the exercise itself is very reflective, the ability to pitch yourself is not. You can actually practice to make it more natural so that the next time you meet someone at a cocktail reception or networking event, you’ve got skillz and stories to share. We know that small talk can be mind numbing but you can turn those moments into opportunities!
  • My peers and I are often asked to meet with people from our networks and we’re usually more than happy to oblige a request because of our relationships. There are times when I wonder what people are thinking when they do ask us to meet because since we’re the ones doing the favor, wouldn’t our schedules take precedence as well as our preference to where to meet? Well you won’t fall into that etiquette conundrum when learning the art of the introduction.
  • Did you know that there’s a service that will use publicly available data sources to come up with personality profiles and provide ways that you can best communicate with specific individuals? I haven’t used the service but Crystal has piqued my attention. Talk about personalizing a pitch in an email to best suit the reader. Hitting those pressure points! If someone tries it, let me know! If we’re talking about communicating, here are ways to improve your communication skills so that you are more self aware and can best engage with others.
  • There’s going to be a time when you as a manager/supervisor will need to have some tough conversations. I know that in the years when I’ve had to manage, I’ve had to motivate and get people to realize their potential as well as to correct behavior so that bad habits aren’t created. I’m a person who tends to keep my emotions in check when I need to but on a regular basis, I’m a “F” bomb thrower and will do a quick solo tirade to express my displeasure before I gather my senses. I just like to get it out and then move on. So when it’s your turn to have those stressful conversations, use these techniques to get you through it.
  • I’m doing a campaign training in Boston and one of the challenges that Asian Americans face on the regular is the dreaded question, “Where are you from?” – “No, where are you really from?” which just means that the people who ask that question don’t really think that I’m American after all. My head starts to swivel back and forth and I get a little PG (Prince George’s) on them but I try to remember that my momma taught me right and respond in a polite fashion, instead of reverting into my high school persona of the Ice Queen. This recent HuffPo article by Mason Hsieh may teach people a more appropriate way to phrase the question as well as what does it really mean to those of us who encounter the question ALL. THE. TIME.
  • If you’re having a bad start to the week, buzzfeed is here to the rescue! Puppies, dogs, kittens, even a baby kangaroo (for the record, a joey) so if you need to take a few deep breaths while you’re stuck on a barrage of conference calls (really, not me!), you may find some happy thoughts to get you through the day!

Thanks for reading/sharing and please subscribe!

— Madalene


make yourself miserable or strong

Tuesday Truths 2015 edition v15

We’re back to regular programming with Congress back in session and fundraising events galore. Did you catch the #HillaryforAmerica video announcement on Sunday? Honestly, I got teary eyed watching it! It’s good to know that however cynical I’ve become through the years that I still believe in the magic of an inspirational candidate. It’s such a personal connection. The 2016 campaign will be 20 years since I worked on my 1st campaign as a paid operative.  Having seen a lot of candidates through the years, it can be challenging to find individuals who possess the ability to inspire. Everyone has a different pressure point in why they believe in someone so I hope that you never become so jaded to never let your emotions be your compass.

Let’s get to Tuesday Truths!

  • When I first started my consulting business, I was at a crossroads. I wanted more flexibility to take on projects and I wanted to be my own boss. The question was, “Am I ready?” (is there a theme here?). A lot of us go through life taking a ladder approach to our careers when we could use a different mentality to get to our dream job. At the time, I was 29 years old and I knew that I marched to a different beat. I had already taken a break from politics to pursue a different career and realized that my passion was really where I had first started. If you think you need to make a major change in your life, here are a few thoughts on how you can get comfortable with it. If you’re looking for ways to get to your dream job, take note of how you can build a path to your future success.
  • Are you feeling less motivated than usual? I have the one foot in front of the other approach. Here are a few other ways to find motivation when you may just not be feeling it!
  • When do you know it’s time to find another job? Here are some tell tale signs that can help you make the leap into a different position. I felt some or all of these behaviors when I  knew it was time to for a new gig. Most importantly was that I didn’t value my own work –  I had stopped caring about the consequences of my actions as a reflection of me and that is definitely no good if you want to keep a positive reputation.
  • Negotiating anything takes practice and you’ll want to learn that you can do it nicely without being a pushover. It’s always a good idea to be nice especially when you might be walking into a tense situation. Understanding one another makes for an easier conversation.
  • Something to think about if you’re starting your career journey or even if you’re comfortable with your career goals, is how you reconcile your ambitions with your desire to be a better person or as David Brooks calls it, a “moral bucket list”. As I continue to develop this blog, I want to continue sharing how to create “success” (from an external perspective: breaking into an industry, networking, leadership, getting a promotion/salary increase) as well as how you and I can be better individuals to our communities. With all of the machinations of politics, it can be easy to get caught up in the ambition of this industry and there are times when you feel like it’s a chess match trying to strategize how to get ahead. At the same time, we all need to recognize that once ambition and ego are stripped that we are in this business to make other people’s lives better. Accolades are wonderful but knowing your true motivations will better guide your choices.
  • Who started watching Game of Thrones again? The Washington Post did a great opening sequence and called it, District of Thrones – all of the geeks, nerds, DC-philes will love it – I did!

Thanks for reading/sharing – if you found it worthwhile, don’t forget to subscribe!

— Madalene

PS – We’ve got a Democratic campaign training in Boston scheduled for Saturday, May 9th – $50 for a one day training – applications can be found here. We highly encourage AAPIs and diversity. Space is limited. Questions? Email

Tuesday Truths 2015 edition v14

If you’re a staffer on the Hill, I hope you’re enjoying recess. I’m taking this time to get ready for another set of events come next week. That calendar is sure filling up! Not only am I booking fundraisers, I’m also booking campaign trainings! I’ve got one coming up in May in Boston and another one in June in Seattle, so if you’re in those cities or would like more information to pass along, let me know! I’m also planning on more skills specific campaign training as well (think fundraising, communications etc). The organization is geared towards AAPIs but we’re good Democrats and as a result, if you want to work in the progressive space, we’re happy to train you! We also encourage diversity so that our talent pool is reflective of the country so if you’re interested in getting more information, subscribe to the blog and you’ll be the first to know!

Let’s get to Tuesday Truths!

  • I am a one woman shop right now. I decided to “ease back” on my work load but yet, I feel like I’ve started down a path where I’m going to need to be hyper organized so that I don’t let things slip through the cracks. Productivity is the name of the game and these tips are making me more aware of how I’m hijacking my own success. #gamechanger
  • I had my 20 year college reunion this past November and maybe some of these life lessons are generational but as I reflect on my professional career, I wonder if life would have been more boring if I had just cut to the chase. Lessons are learned because you make mistakes and take the road with the twists and turns.
  • OH-EM-GEEE a political life lesson learned the HARD way. Fundraising and consultants can get shady but the saga that has surrounded this story is a cautionary tale for those who are candidates and those who are consultants. A solid reputation and ethics are the only way to go.
  • Are you an in state or in district staffer who is looking to get on the Hill? Got questions on how you make that transition? One tip from the Hill Navigator – use LinkedIn – good luck!
  • Does your work define you? Some people think that this is a negative concept while others think that it’s really about integration. This also comes into play when you think about your personal branding. If you allow work to define who you are as a person, how do you want others to define you? I know that my work is based in Democratic politics, no matter what you want to say about my other skills/interests/talents, that is always going to be the core. How I choose to engage in that arena is up to me. Here are ways that you can engage your brand with your work.
  • Fellow Females! Brush up on those persuasion skills – it’s going to help you as you progress into your careers.
  • We’ve all encountered the difficult co-worker: the one who seems to grate on your last nerve. How do you contend with them and keep your professionalism intact? We’ve got a few ideas here.

Got comments? Drop them below and let me know! Thanks for reading/sharing and don’t forget to subscribe!

— Madalene

keep putting out good

Tuesday Truths 2015 edition v13

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Today’s the END. OF. THE. QUARTER!!! Can you tell that I’m super excited? It can be stressful to be in full on collection agent mode but I also have a client who is also very generous in giving so I get to spread some joy to my colleagues with their clients when I let them know that I’m dropping off checks! So it’s a nice mix of giving and receiving. The end of quarter is kinda like Christmas, Lunar New Year, Birthday, and any and all celebratory events rolled into one. Plus it’s a congressional recess so that means a little bit of down time.

chris manjiri


A little background on the above selfie: I met up with 2 of my former staffers for drinks last week and it was a nice little reunion. These crazy kids worked at different times in my office. Chris was with me in 2007 before I kicked him out of the “nest” and encouraged him to work at the 2008 Democratic convention in Denver. Consequently, he worked for the CEO of the Convention and later worked for the SBA Administrator. At the same time, Manjiri graduated from college and I served as one of her references for the Denver Host Committee working for the CFO. Knowing that I had 2 former staffers in Denver, I suggested – OK – I mandated that they needed to meet one another. As a result, they became fast friends. I imagine that when we’re all getting on in years that they will be the #goldengirls even though Manjiri is happily married (both Chris and I were guests at her wedding) and I will need to step in to be the boss, Sophia :)

I share this story because I like to connect my networks when I see it appropriate. As a result, I always try to keep in touch with my former staff, volunteers I’ve worked with on different campaigns, donors that I meet in my job and making personal connections so that I can introduce people. The rule in my office is that if you have ever worked for me then you are obligated to meet anyone I ask you to meet with because politics is about giving and receiving. The altruistic version is that you’re helping people and the more “politicized” version is that people will owe you a chit. I operate in the middle – I do want to help those who have proven themselves and are eager to make a difference for more than just themselves but I also remember who I’ve helped because one day, I may need help from them. It goes both ways because if you’re in the position to where you need to ask for help, remember that you may be asked to do something in the future. That’s also why when you’re seeking help, looking for ways you can help someone indicates that you value that person’s assistance. Giving and receiving. The political circle of life.

Let’s get on with Tuesday Truths!

  • Career coaches giving their best tips on advancing your career – get it here!
  • Ever heard of Seth Godin? He’s a renown entrepreneur who has written 18 best selling books with more than 20 years of experience. If you’re going to take advice from anyone on leadership and direct marketing, it should be him.
  • Calling all future #ladyboss titleholders – looking for female mentors can be challenging but once you find someone who works with your goals, be sure to use these guidelines to help you stay on track. Also, remember them when you’ve taken on that future role.
  • I always liken politics to being in high school. I work in the call room where various Members of Congress do fundraising call time. They’re particular in where they like to sit (near the air conditioning, near a window etc..) and it reminds me of when you’re in the cafeteria sitting with the cool kids, nerds or the athletes. It pretty much is the same everywhere in politics – Members and their official offices in the House or Senate office buildings or the press room in the White House.
  • Working in politics, you see more than your fair share of losses and wins. You go on to fight another day and sometimes, you feel a little less idealistic but you keep going because you know that altruism motivates you. If you ever need a reminder, here’s 10 selfless ways to build good karma. You can be tough but you can also be kind.

Thanks for reading/sharing! If you find the post helpful, I hope you’ll consider subscribing!

— Madalene

recognize where you've been

Tuesday Truths 2015 edition v12

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Thanks to all of the readers who did the survey from a couple of weeks ago! It was great to get your feedback and I’ll take your recommendations into account for writing future posts!

My current situation is that I’m in full on BGM (BUSY. GETTING. MONEY.) mode with the end of the quarter so #showmethemoney :)

Over the weekend, I did manage to spend a few hours with a dear friend who I’ve been fortunate to know for half of my life and it got me to thinking about when she and I would get together in college and dream of the future. I would probably tell my younger self to chill out and be slightly amazed that I accomplished my ever evolving list of goals. Why? Because I never had a plan but I did have a driving sense of ambition. Although my list of goals have changed, my curiosity continues to compel me along a path that is outside of my comfort zone and to challenge myself. There is occasion when I think about how my life would be different if I made different decisions but as I told another friend over the weekend, life is about living without regret and with the life that you’ve chosen. You can always change course or realize that you want to do something else. I had a quarter life crisis and went into a completely different industry because I thought it would be an opportunity to explore a different interest and realized that I was really a lot happier doing politics. People may judge your decisions but you’re the only person who has to live with your decisions. We make mistakes and learn from them so that we can not repeat them. Self reflection helps to shape the person that you’re meant to be. My younger self is certainly different than my current reality. I no longer have the same type of ambition that I had in my younger days and there’s only a certain amount of BS that I’m willing to take to do my job. I sometimes post articles about how comparing your story to someone’s can lead to negative results. Basing life changing decisions on what others may think can tilt your internal compass and at the end of the day, no one else is living your life but you. For the most part, I live without #FOMO because at this stage of the game, I give zero F*CKS. I know myself well enough when I’ve reached my limits. I know how to prepare so that I can be the best version of myself when necessary. This affects my decisions about getting exercise, taking clients, and recharging. I’m all for self improvement but also knowing how to maximize your energy to get to your goals in a way that works best for you is going to make the journey less bumpy.

So if you’re starting out, #hustle the game as much as you can so that it works for you and know that when you next talk to a dear friend who you’ve known for half of your lifetime that you’re going to wonder where did the time go and it’s highly likely that you’re more than going to be OK :)

Now onto Tuesday Truths!

  • Looking for ways that you can get ahead within your organization? Here’s 7 ways!
  • Here’s a commentary from Amy Errett, CEO and co-founder of Madison Reed in Silicon Valley on how to be a successful leader.
  • I recently met someone at a party who had a great way of introducing himself to strangers at the party. It wasn’t really what he said but the way he was able to connect with people from different backgrounds and experiences to strike up a conversation. Here’s an article that takes you through the steps but I’ve come to realize that it’s really about active listening and giving people the opportunity to talk about themselves. You’ll be talking to every stranger at the next networking event!

Thanks for reading/sharing!

— Madalene

listen & silent

Tuesday Truths 2015 edition v11

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Hoping you’re wearing green so that you don’t get pinched (do you remember doing that as a kid or is that just something out of my own crazy childhood??). We’re changing things up a bit with an opinion piece but we still got Tuesday Truths!

Last week I was a panelist as well as the moderator for a Women’s Information Network (WIN) panel on Bridging the Generation Gap at the Workplace between Boomers, Generation X (my generation) and Millennials. It was a great interaction and we certainly created dialogue and prompted questions not only about generational uniqueness but also the layered nuances that each of us have experienced as women and to our individual experiences as women of color or as a member of the LGBT community. Intersectionality is something that we can’t ignore as all generations converge in the workplace.

With a less homogenous professional environment, we’re all navigating how to best move forward with our companies’ missions while handling office politics and a variety of personalities. How does anyone get anything accomplished? My associates are either getting younger or I’m just getting older 😉 In all seriousness, every cycle I tend to work with people who are recent college graduates and I always tell people that I’m not the perfect boss. However, I strive to create an environment where people feel that they are valued for their work.

Politics can be fast paced and expectations need to be set from the beginning. My office’s official hours are from 10am-6pm. Since it’s somewhat casual being that my house is also my office, I don’t really want anyone to have to stay past 6pm and with such a late start time (I remember working in campaign season when I had to report in at 7:30am), there really is no reason to why anyone should be late. I’m such a stickler with being on time (my definition of being on time is 15 minutes before the start time) that if you start off late with me, you’re going to get major attitude. Knowing what your manager considers important that may not be important to you, is key to making your own life easier. I say this from the get-go. You should be beating me to events and there are going to be times when you’ll beat me to the office because I’m doing things outside of the office that informs our work. If it’s the height of fundraising and we’re doing west coast events, we’re working later because we deal with the time difference and then we may have east coast events the next day where we need to be at the site by 7:30am. It can all be a blur but I recognize that everyone puts in a lot of hours and once the quarter starts anew, I want my team to feel refreshed – take a few hours off, blow off some steam and lets get back to work. I try to take my team to lunch once a week so that we all get a chance to ask questions of one another that is outside of the work setting. It’s a good way for people to socialize and to get to know one another better. I talk more about what we’re doing and why. A lot of my former staff enjoyed the lunches for the food alone but it was also a forum for them to ask questions and to learn. It also better informs me of what my team maybe facing if I’m too busy during the week to take notice of any problems. I’m not here to make friends but I’m here to empower you to have a better job performance. I liken it to being a coach. From the beginning, there’s always an understanding that staff will not be working for me long because it’s a shared goal to get you to the next place. A lot of jobs don’t have that understanding because they’re bigger and built to engage individuals to fulfill a particular function. When I worked on presidential campaigns, there wasn’t an employee manual. My role was to get my voter contact numbers in and move the needle forward. We’re not too concerned about the touchy feely aspects of managing. There were no such things as job performance reviews or a real HR department. So when it’s time to transition to a work place where those things do exist, it can be awkward.

Expectations are how partnerships are formed and team work product is evaluated. I will readily admit to when I screw up to my staff. They expect me to give them clear instructions and when I don’t, it shows in their work. Procedures and processes are very clear cut (we have memos and outlines on just about everything) so when we don’t follow them, we have created situations that will cause problems. I ask what’s not working and why. If there has been a fundamental change (a client has asked for a new procedure etc), we adapt and change the memos to reflect that so that we’re all on the same page. If you as a staffer can help create more efficient processes, your value has increased in my book. Less time working on getting something done with the same quality of work is a good thing. All that being said, I’m working in a profession that allows for a lot of flexibility. Those individuals who are at a different economic status may be working hourly positions and that is a different environment in terms of negotiating and expectations. There is no one size fits all. It gets tricky when women are advocating on behalf of women when the constituency in itself doesn’t fit into the same mold either. I respect Sheryl Sandberg’s efforts because it brings a necessary conversation but we also need to engage those individuals who don’t have the same kind of flexibility. The New Republic highlights that in the article about #leanintogether.

You see that I haven’t really talked yet about intersectionality even though it’s a topic that is just underneath it all. Generational uniqueness in communicating with one another is a challenge all into itself and then layer anything else on top of that and you have quite a pickle. How do we have better conversations so that our generational uniqueness allows us to evolve and better understand one another? Is it possible to educate? As a person of color, I grew up with an Asian mother and a Caucasian father in a predominantly African American neighborhood but I would have to remind myself that I was Asian American by looking in the mirror. Why? Because I really didn’t take notice of race and in that I had to learn about challenges and discrimination through the experiences of my friends and colleagues. I didn’t have real first hand knowledge and that is an example of the privilege that I grew up with in my life. As a result, I try to inform myself by talking with others in my community of their experiences and learn about micro aggressions/prejudices that are common. Just like we can’t pigeonhole generations, every constituency has had varying degrees of prejudice within their own constituency. This topic is never going to be comfortable but the more it’s discussed in a safe environment without judgement and fosters steps for improvement, it helps all of us to evolve.

I was asked earlier about an article that I shared about how allies can best help in this cause so I’m sharing it here and I also wanted to share a post where it helps to outline a way to which a dialogue can get started that may be a good jumping point for your own workplace. Got comments/questions – drop them in the comments section!!


Now for Tuesday Truths!

  • Even as I try to provide a resource for those who are less experienced, I also strive to provoke thought to my peers. Here’s a good one as we start to reach a point in our lives when we begin to think about life after work: retirement! In my personal definition, it means that I will still take an active part in politics and be happy to watch from the sidelines, but it also includes time to explore new adventures and interests.
  • If you’re just starting out in your career and want a little direction so that you’re going down a strategic path, you may want to check out these steps and advice from leaders who want to share their experiences. If you’re already on your path but need help to focus or you’re feeling stagnant in your current position, these same steps can help you as well. All great advice to having a better experience in your career.
  • It doesn’t come as a surprise that I’m a huge advocate for training. I spent part of my weekend training the DC chapter of the New Leaders Council on fundraising. Having started my political career in the Training Department of the DNC, it really has affected my perspective on how training helps to engage our constituencies. A former DNC colleague of mine, Joe Fuld makes an excellent point about the future of the progressive movement and training in a recent blog post. Check it out!

Thanks for reading/sharing and if you have comments, drop them in the comments section!

— Madalene