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Tuesday Truths 2015 edition v47

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It’s an abbreviated week with the Thanksgiving holiday and I want to thank you, the readers for your support throughout the year. I hope that you find the posts helpful in your journey, both personally and professionally. Having you as part of the Arum Group/Tuesday Truth community has been fulfilling in my endeavor to create a forum that shares ideas and best practices. Thank you for reading/sharing/subscribing and for spreading the word about the blog. May you have a wonderful holiday and I look forward to sharing more Tuesday Truths in the weeks/months/years to come.

Let’s get rolling!

  • The holidays can be a time of great loneliness and sometimes you need to remind yourself that you can take control of your life. It takes a great deal of mental fortitude to keep striving forward. Self reflection and a purpose are just the beginning to get you into a positive mental state. Here are 7 ways you can take the wheel.
  • Which leads me to self-esteem and how it needs to be nurtured. It can be an endless well but you need to feed it so that it will grow and allow you to feel that you can handle the challenges that life has in store. Sometimes the basics can really serve as the foundation for how successful you allow yourself to be – yes, there are circumstances personal to all of us that can be to our disadvantage but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be overcome. Self-esteem can help power you through difficult situations and that mental resilience can make a difference.
  • This article was shared with me by one of the blog’s readers who also happens to be one of my closest friends. She’s an extrovert well liked by her colleagues and it’s evident in her ability to bring a diverse group of networks together in her relationships. Being likable at work can be helpful as you move forward in your career, but as with all things use it strategically so that you know how it’s working to your advantage. Taking Jennifer Lawrence’s essay about pay disparity where she says, “I’m over trying to find the ‘adorable’ way to state my opinion and still be likable!” – being likable is about an overall attitude because it’s always good to be a team player and being emotionally intelligent of others so don’t be afraid to step away from that demeanor when it comes down to strategically advocating for yourself.

Have a terrific and safe Thanksgiving!

— Madalene


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Tuesday Truths 2015 edition v46

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In the recent weeks, I’ve been asked to do a ton of informational interviews and as much as I try to impart some helpful advice, I want to be sure that people who talk with me understand that there are lots more “in the know” people than me who can provide insight and if they came to their informational interview as unprepared as they were with me, they would never grant another coffee again. I just don’t have the time to sit with people who don’t bother to do some basic research about my work or about me. It’s as simple as doing a Google/pick your favorite search engine inquiry. My electronic profile isn’t crazy but you get the gist of my work as well as my biography. So when I walk into a coffee because I’m doing a favor for a friend, I’m not the one getting anything out of it except knowing that I’m helping someone. I may find your narrative interesting as you tell me your career goals but the basic questions of “what I do” can be easily found on the internet(s). I’m not puffing my ego just to be one of those people but I hope people asking for information do a better job in asking more researched questions. Just to prove that I’m not crazy about having an attitude about it, this week’s edition of Tuesday Truths is directed solely to informational interviews:

Take these articles seriously. Every single person who I met with were extremely intelligent people and it saddens me when people aren’t doing the basics. Whether you’re learning about breaking into a field or trying to connect with people to get more information about working in a particular organization, people will remember those who went beyond the basics during these coffees. As one of the articles mentioned, you’re not interviewing for a job but you’re still “on”. If you know your colleagues are making these mistakes, please help them correct their behavior.

Consider this my Public Service Announcement for the week :)

Thanks for reading/sharing and don’t forget to subscribe!

— Madalene


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Tuesday Truths 2015 edition v45

This week we’re honoring our Veterans (something that should happen every day!) and as a daughter of a Veteran (Go Army!), I value the sacrifices that our military personnel and their families endure for the preservation of our safety and for freedom. I especially get emotional when I’m in the airport and see a crew boarding/deplaning. I’ll make a trip to Arlington National Cemetery to pay my respects to my father and all of the others who have served.

Here’s Tuesday Truths

  • Growing up in a multicultural household, I’ve always straddled the heritages that have accompanied my family history – neither fully Caucasian or fully Vietnamese, I grew up knowing that being American had a widely diverse definition. I’m happy to see that television is following suit and my friend, Jeff Yang writes about how tv is redefining the definition of being American. With more diverse casting along with the powers that be making decisions, our stories are being told.
  • It’s the last quarter of 2015 before the holidays take over the calendar and we dive into the deep end of the pool for 2016. I spent 2 days last week working on projects with some fellow operatives visualizing and setting goals for the election cycle. Which meant I was tasked with the fun part of “how do we do all of this legally” – certainly not the sexy part of the planning stage but most definitely an essential part so that none of us go to the clinker. With the excitement of the election, be prepared to know how you can best use your advocacy organizations without losing your tax status.
  • I always come back to fundraising because honestly, if you can’t pay for it, shiz just doesn’t happen and in the AAPI community, we’re growing more politically aware and that includes building our financial capital. Journalist Bobby Calvan wrote a three part series for Al Jazeera America showcasing the AAPI electorate for the 2016 cycle. I hope you read it just to educate yourself about this very critical swing vote. Here’s the 1st part, 2nd part and 3rd part (where my colleagues and I are quoted about the AAPI donor community).

Thanks for reading/sharing & get your friends to subscribe!

— Madalene

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Tuesday Truths 2015 edition v44

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Today’s Election Day so if you’ve got local elections, go vote!

We’re weeks away from the end of the year and people starting to make New Year’s resolutions. I believe that there’s always room for improvement so why wait until the end or start of the year to change habits or to throw something else into the mix? Evolution doesn’t wait for the calendar!

  • I like to say that I’m a jack of all trades and a master of nothing because I do so many seemingly random things without much thought of how well I actually do them. I do have some proficiency in these different areas: I’ve taken voice lessons throughout my life and even when I was taking lessons, never really used them in a way to publicly showcase the work that I put into learning Italian phonetically so that I can sing opera so although not a lot of people have heard me sing in my adult years, I know how to read music and play guitar. Every once in a while, certain hobbies will take priorities over others – for now, it’s French and surfing. So what do you want to do when you realize that you have a lot of interests and not a lot of time to fulfill your learning? Here you can learn how to prioritize and focus your many interests. My mom is sometimes sad that I didn’t continue playing guitar since she was the one who “made” me take lessons but I believe that it’s just as important that I pursue interests with a broader sense of educating myself. Doesn’t matter if you’re an expert or dabbling, I think it makes the world more interesting to learn as much as you can.
  • Everyone has their struggles and life is never perfect so when you need a reservoir of patience or a reminder of how life’s struggles make you stronger, you can think of these 8 things.
  • I’ve worked with a lot of people in Silicon Valley and with no disrespect to the culture or to the people who innovate, I really dislike the word disruptive. So although this article has that word in the title, I’m still a fan of what they’re saying about being a great leader. My favorite by far about any office or work environment is creating a place where people can ask “Why?” because every thing we do has a reason and if people can innovate a better method to achieve the Why then things are going to get accomplished.
  • Did you know that you can transfer stress to others and others to you? You can protect yourself with a few strategies so that you create a positive mental barrier. Just like secondhand smoke, secondhand stress can be dangerous.
  • Just because it’s Election Day, it doesn’t mean we stop working on advocating for issues. If you need a terrific guide on the basics of community advocacy, head on over to the Campaign Workshop!

Thanks for reading/sharing and get your friends to subscribe!

— Madalene



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Tuesday Truths 2015 edition v43

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I can feel myself getting sick and it really sucks because I usually don’t get sick! I have a crazy immune system so I’m hoping that this one cold is THE one cold for the winter season. Ain’t nobody got time for this!

Let’s get to Tuesday Truths minus the germs :)

  • We haven’t talked about branding in a while so here’s a great article that articulates why personal branding is essential to career success. The more you know your narrative and how it makes you unique to others, the more you can differentiate yourself from the pack. Blending in can be a good thing but being distinctive is also just as good.
  • My good friend, Maria Meier has a fantastic piece on her blog about “Should-ing” and why it’s important to be reminded of the difference between should and could. It’s a mighty powerful mental attitude that can help your career trajectory.
  • What is setting back women in corporate America? According to Betsy Myers, it’s the 24/7 work day. Valuing being busy vs being productive is a main highlight and finding ways to change the environment that allows women to be productive has to be recognized as a new norm in the workplace.
  • One of the best parts of my life is working with the Women’s Information Network (WIN) and meeting extraordinary women who are making a difference in this world. One such woman is Helen Babb. She and I met at a WIN event and hit it off. Read more about her journey from Australia to DC and how she’s using her communication skills to help her progressive clients.

Thanks for reading/sharing and tell your friends to subscribe!

— Madalene

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Tuesday Truths 2015 edition v42

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Aloha! If you’re reading this post in real time (Tuesday, 10/20) then I’m likely flying over the Pacific or across the continental US returning to DC from a beautiful albeit short trip from Hawaii. I’ve been here since Thursday night/Friday morning and got back on a plane on Monday night to get back to DC where there are a ton of events going on so I’m super grateful to have a great team in DC helping me so that I can celebrate a dear friend’s wedding. There are times in life when work shouldn’t take precedence and being with loved ones when they’re celebrating a milestone is a true priority. I did spend part of my trip working because I’m a crazy type A personality but at least my “office” wasn’t too shabby :)

diamond head october 2015

Here’s Tuesday Truths!

  • As a fundraiser, I’m constantly following up so much so that I have #FollowupFridays in my office to evaluate what contributions haven’t come in yet and who I need to email/call/send a carrier pigeon to see when I’m getting those commitments in the door. As such there are a ton of other activities that require follow up in other industries (a pitch, book manuscript etc) or the day to day activities of being an entrepreneur (getting an invoice paid) so here are a few tips from pros who can help you master the art of the follow-up.
  • I’m always looking for ways to improve productivity! Here are 15 habits that we can all use – not sure about the tidy desk. I live among piles of paper.
  • Living in a “busy” culture, I try to remember to be mindful to myself and to others. The more that I think about breaking old habits, it helps me to re-focus my energy. Here are 3 ways to help set your mind on track.
  • All in an nutshell on how to ask for an informational interview, what to do to prepare for it as well as how it should go and what to do afterwards. Step by step instructions – gotta love it!
  • Since we’re getting into election season, here’s a great read on what female candidates face when they run for office. If you thought that appearance would be one of the key factors then you’re correct and the bias doesn’t really stop there.

Thanks for reading/sharing & please don’t forget to subscribe!

— Madalene


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Tuesday Truths 2015 edition v41

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One of my favorite times of the year is just getting started – fall temperatures with crisp weather and the excitement of GOTV. It’s really difficult for me to think of campaigning into Election Day when the weather doesn’t involve stepping over crunchy leaves and wearing scarves and gloves while doing honk and waves. It seems unseasonal to be wearing shorts! What are your favorites for the season?

Let’s get rolling with Tuesday Truths!

  • As we talk about the women’s movement, it’s becomes increasingly important to discuss intersectionality and how it affects perspective. In industries such as tech and politics, where the ratio of men to women is rather appalling, companies are making strategic decisions to increase diversity. They’re touted for their approach to include women, but don’t take into account that life also involves other communities of color. It’s understandable to think that the issue can be viewed as insurmountable and that any stride in diversity is seen as a win, but to not address that intersectionality in diversity also adds to the challenge.
  • A history lesson for my AAPI brothers and sisters who may not be aware of the civil rights leadership of our African American brothers and sisters. It’s due to their struggles that we, as AAPIs enjoy those civil liberties.
  • For all of my friends and colleagues who work on the Hill, I salute your service to this country. The environment of being overworked and understaffed while doing your jobs would make most people quit, but it’s your dedication to improving this country that may drive your get-up-and-go attitude. Think Congress is dysfunctional? It can be but it’s still on the frontline of the biggest policy issues of the day.
  • And….we circle back to the reasons WHY people stay in positions in organizations that they hate. Not every day is going to be a GREAT day at work. Sure, it’s fantastic if we have a streak of those kinds of days all the time, but the reality is that we have ups and downs to the work day/week but if you find that the work environment is toxic and causing way more stress, think about why you’re actually staying in your job. Don’t let peer pressure determine where you work.
  • We end on one of my favorite topics – fundraising! Yes, it’s a pain to do and yes, half the battle is motivation but there’s a strategy to all the phone call mayhem. Here are a few ways to identify donor psychology. Sometimes I feel like I’m a part time therapist :)

Thanks for reading/sharing and please don’t forget to subscribe!

— Madalene




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Tuesday Truths 2015 edition v40

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Whew! We made it through the 3rd QTR which means that we’re really gearing up for what’s to come next year. Full speed ahead! To prepare myself for #Election2016 all the time, I know that I will need a break from all that discussion to think about something else. As a result, I decided that I would brush up on my French language skills so I’m working with a private instructor to use a different part of my brain. I have a love for Harry Potter for the sheer fact that it saved me during the 2004 Election because no matter how late my day ran, I ended my evening reading a book to step away from the crazy. What do you do to take a breather? Share with me your ideas!

Here’s to Tuesday Truths!

  • When I get laser focused, you can bet that I don’t have a lot of time for extraneous activities in life. I weigh my commitments heavily and commit to them so that I can meet expectations. Here’s an entire list of things that I no longer do because experience and age have told me that it’s not worth it.
  • DC can be rather intimidating in its culture and it’s so important to have people who are in your corner. YOUR TRIBE! I truly enjoy seeing my friends succeed. They push me to do better and they know that I will help them to reach their goals. I’m not perfect and I try to check myself when I start moving along a path that isn’t healthy. Here are a few ways to remind yourself how you can be a better cheerleader and a true friend.
  • My professional life as a fundraiser has had some really extraordinary moments: presidential fundraising dinners, working with some incredibly wealthy people who really do have a lot of informed opinions on how this town and the rest of the country should work, getting irate calls from donors when something doesn’t go their way, and of course hiring a mariachi band and placing an order for 50lbs of pork butt. The fun never ends! Most of my work pertains to donor management. Matchmaking in a sense. Listening to donors when they need an ear with no action behind it. Compared to some of my other colleagues who work in development, campaigns can be a fast moving ship because at times, we can re-direct conversations about policy. Bigger organizations that do development have a much bigger bureaucracy to navigate and as a result have less power to wield in meeting a donor’s “recommendations”. It’s a fine line in pitching to a donor and accepting their money while taking their advice.
  • I have a degree in Political Science and although I work in politics, I don’t really use the theory of what I learned in college in my everyday life. I always say that there is an art and science to doing fundraising. Research (science) allows us to see people’s giving habits and how they are swayed by particular issues. It’s the art of articulating that information that allows us to get a message across that shows that we’ve done our homework. Life is also a mix of art and science. I’m equating art with instinct and there are times when you have to listen to your inner antennae. Sometimes all you can do is trust that your instincts are taking you beyond what you’ve researched. I can write different scenarios of how a call or meeting might go but it’s the moment that teaches us so much more.
  • Are you working towards building your confidence? Here’s a terrific infographic on how you can put the pieces together to get your mojo flowing.
  • Relationships thrive under active listening. People in those relationships are making a concerted effort to understand how each person is dealing with specific issues. The more you understand how a person operates, the more you can make them feel significant. My MO is that I cook for the people I care about and I enjoy having them over at my home or dropping off whatever meal/cake I made over the weekend for us to share. In my professional life, I make an effort to remember people’s narratives so that the next time I see them, I can ask about a particular moment that they find memorable. It’s those small things that make people feel that you care.
  • Working with finance committees aren’t that different from nonprofit boards when managing personalities and getting people to meet their commitments. Here are a few tips that you can use to help you if you’re dealing with board management.

Thanks for sharing/reading & if you haven’t already – subscribe!

— Madalene

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Tuesday Truths 2015 edition v39

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It is cray cray time – lots of events this week so if you catch me around town looking slightly crazed, I’m trying to remember where I’m supposed to be and therefore trying to remember where my clients are supposed to be too! Last week, I was really fortunate to attend the White House arrivals ceremony of Pope Francis and it was well worth getting up at 4am. If you ever get the chance to attend an arrivals ceremony, I hope you make arrangements to participate. Definitely a DC moment – to be perfectly honest, I was thinking about past movies that feature WH ceremonies or events that happen on the South Lawn, particularly the scene from X Men: Days of Future Past – check it out! When Hollywood goes completely wacky!

white house pope

On to Tuesday Truths!

  • When life gets this crazy, I get a little anxious and that’s when I know that I really need to go to the gym so that I can release some of that excess anxiety. It’s also the same when I get in a bad mood or feeling overwhelmed. So when your life is getting out of hand, step away from the crazy and take a breath. I’m a thinker – I think about all the different scenarios when I’m stressed and that usually means all the negative outcomes. After I’ve thought of all the possible things that could go wrong, I try to focus on the best outcome and prepare myself for the worst so that I’m not so frazzled. Life is too precious to let the crazy control me. I try to be a positive person and when I’m around negative people, I start wanting to butt heads with them and that’s not good for anyone either. I’m also a realist because as much as rose colored glasses can make a situation better, I also want to be pragmatic. Life is about moderation and I want to experience it as fully as possible on my terms. I recently watched Inside Out and thought my own core memories that have made me into the person that I am today. Every experience has been a learning one and I look forward to experiencing every aspect that it can offer.
  • If you look through my twitter feed, you will find that I follow lots of restaurants, chefs, politicos, my fellow Democratic/Republican operatives, and fashion folk. One of my associates gave me “The Devil Wears Prada” dvd as a gift (not really sure what they were trying to say there LOL) but Anna Wintour has a reputation for being quite decisive aka bitchy. I think I’m decisive once I have input. Let’s collaborate on ideas and feel out all the different ones to reach a decision. Women leaders who are deemed decisive don’t get the same level of respect of their male counterparts who carry the same attitude. Don’t shy away from knowing what you’re doing and empower those who work for you to do the same.
  • I’ve always talked about defining your own version of success and not comparing someone else’s journey with your own. Did I plan to be in this particular place when I started? No, but as I was going along I made decisions based on the current situation and tried to plan accordingly. Hustling is not part of my DNA so I had to learn to do it and do it well enough so that I could get clients. I believe in creating my own luck and one of the ways to do that is to imagine the life you want and make it happen. Is it better to work all the time so that you can have a more relaxed life later? That depends on how you want to do it. A door closes and a window opens. There’s no perfect clean way to do life – sometimes it gets messy and sometimes it can present itself with a pretty bow.
  • At the request of a friend/colleague, I recently met with a young woman who works at a large organization as a fundraiser. She hasn’t been at her position for very long (maybe 3 months) and she felt a little out of place. There was some resentment from the junior staffers of her hiring because they were passed on a promotion. She’s a mid level fundraiser so she has a supervisor while she also manages an assistant. We talked a great deal about making her own tribe. Sometimes it’s not with the people in your department and as a woman of color in a mainly Caucasian organization, it may mean looking for people who may understand first hand what it means to work in that kind of situation. It’s important to have some social ties with people in a professional environment for the sheer fact that it builds relationships. They don’t need to be your BFF but being sociable and understanding some of each other’s key interests makes us better humans. If everything was transactional, there would be no personality to your work and as a result, no willingness to compromise or “see” one another when you’re in an environment to collaborate.
  • I often tell people that regardless of your age or experience, everyone can give back. You might wonder, I don’t have any management responsibilities or this is my first job – all great experiences to share with those who are looking for their 1st professional endeavor. In my perspective, I don’t lead an exceptionally exciting life but there are people who want to have a similar life and want to know how I got to this place. If it helps them achieve their goals, I’m happy to share my story and help them along the way. Networking works both ways – you share your experiences with those who are in need of a person to help them and you share your experiences with those who can help you.
  • I’m a BIG fan of my colleague, Joe Fuld’s political consulting firm, The Campaign Workshop – he has a blog as well as great “how to” e-books on running a campaign. One of his staffers wrote a fantastic post about down-ticket races and tips on how you can win. Check it out and follow Joe on twitter @joefuld for great campaign advice!

Thanks fore reading/sharing & if you haven’t subscribed, get on it!


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Tuesday Truths 2015 edition v38

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It’s supposed to be a “quiet” week with the Jewish holidays and the Pope visiting (which I’m fortunate enough to have a ticket to the arrivals ceremony at the White House) but with all of these events this week, I’m getting ready for a wedding next weekend out of town and when I get back, all crazy will be breaking loose with back-to-back events the last week of September. Which means I really need to get my life together so that whatever happens the last week I can go with the flow. I like to be as prepared as possible which is kinda funny because believe or not, I’m a HUGE procrastinator. No one ever believes me when I say that because they think I’m a little OCD and a list maker extraordinaire. I LURVE to make lists, it’s the checking things off that can get a little tedious. That sensation of seeing an fully checked To-Do list is pretty exhilarating. I hate when things hang over my head so the procrastinating tends to get curbed because I like knowing that I don’t owe anyone anything. The ball is in your court :) If you’ve read the blog long enough, I’m a triage type of do-er. I’m constantly evaluating my priorities list to get the most important to do items out of the way first. If you’re in DC, I hope you get to telework during the Pope’s visit. I hear the traffic is going to be insane.

Here’s Tuesday Truths!

  • Living in DC, I oftentimes feel like I live in a bubble and once I depart the confines of the Beltway, can I accurately get a sense of what living in the US can truly mean: regular people who don’t talk about politics at a Saturday night dinner party or think about the next maneuvering of the budget. I spend my time with a very diverse group of people who tend to think very similarly as me so my experience of microaggression is not the same as those who work in larger organizations or engage with people who are not accustomed to seeing people who are not like themselves. Microaggressions occur from people who unwittingly don’t recognize the impact of their words and how it affects the position of power. We’ve become more aware of it as we have become a more diverse society and the more we learn about it, the better we can address the issues that are behind it. Is it better to have blatant racism vs the microaggressions? Can you tell the difference if someone is well intentioned vs slyly sneaking in a comment? This world is a tough place and it comes from all sides. We are not perfect and every experience is a lesson.
  • This is a longer read but well worth the time. I was raised in a multicultural house with a Caucasian father and an AAPI mother, where I spent a lot of time with Caucasians and was fortunate to live in a diverse neighborhood with AAPIs and African Americans. So when reading the article, it helped to educate me about the privilege that exists within a much bigger ecosystem than I have personally experienced. Checking your privilege can be a challenge when you’re thinking, “I just want to be an ally and show my support” and it’s even more challenging to maintain your composure when racism occurs in your community. My takeaway: put others first.
  • There are times when I think I want to pick up and move to Star’s Hollow (for all you non Gilmore Girls fans, it’s a fictional town in Connecticut) and become a regular at Luke’s diner. What that contemplation really means is that I would like to live in a sleepy town where I have no adult responsibilities but I think due to my personality, I would either help a candidate run for Mayor of Star’s Hollow or start my own small business selling party supplies. So regardless of where I lived, I would still be “adulting”. My point in all of this is that there are times when instead of contemplating moving, I should just take a breath and not be so hard on myself. Here are a few reminders of how you can take a break from being an adult so that you can get right back at it later.
  • Hey Type A Millennial this Generation Xer doesn’t have all the answers either, although I tend to ask myself constantly, “What’s next?”. Remember! Don’t compare yourselves to your peers and definitely don’t compare yourselves to those who have been around the block a lot longer. I spend a good portion of my time with women who are younger who I have seen grow in their careers and although our relationships have evolved into being colleagues, I still have more years on them and with that a certain amount of stability. It’s not a competition and there’s certainly no judgement on how you envision your life.
  • For those of us who work in politics and especially in the niche of communications, messaging is crucial to position your narrative the way you want others to see it. Apply those same techniques to your own story when you’re up for a promotion or a job interview and you would have flipped the script.
  • I’ve got an article for more seasoned readers and that might mean managers who are starting out. Things that you’ll need to consider as you continue to ascend into your career and become less reliant on a support system to help you. It can be lonely at the top so you’ll need people to bounce ideas but know that you’re standing alone because you make the decisions. Self reflection can make you check yourself as long as you stay honest.
  • Want to be a good employer/leader of your team? Here are the top complaints from direct reports about their bosses. Effective communication is key. Recognize a trait that you need to strengthen? Assessment is half the battle!

Thanks for reading/sharing & don’t forget to subscribe!

— Madalene