Tuesday Truths 2015 edition v30

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Last week for the House to get it together before they recess until after Labor Day!! Lots of things to do but first and foremost on my list — a BIG thank you to all of the readers/sharers/subscribers!!! Thank you for continuing to be a part of this community as we learn how to create a more well rounded society, professionally and personally. I enjoy reading the articles with you and hearing from you as you share your experiences (feel free to comment – we all benefit from them!). Knowing that you think the blog is timely in your own lives means a lot to me and I hope that I can be there for you as you create a life that you want to live! So, thank you for creating this community!

Tuesday Truths are ready to go!

  • I recently had a discussion about dressing for success and recognizing that each industry has their standard “uniform”. Although I work in politics and government, I don’t work directly in those fields where my de rigeur attire is a charcoal/black/pick your dark shade conservative suit. My professional attire is bit outside of the box so I have more flexibility in what I choose to wear. I also have the benefit of age and although I may not initially appear to be my age, my demeanor and attitude carries beyond what is considered “age-appropriate”. One of my best friends used to work in the House leadership and we could always spot her in a crowd on C-SPAN because she shunned the usual colors for more vibrant ones when she worked the House floor. She has also taken this attitude with her on her move to the west coast in a work place where she’s below the average age and everyone seems to own at least 10 pairs of khakis. She has no qualms in being herself and letting her work be on display even when she’s wearing a print dress.  There are times when we want to blend in – I remember the days when I was an intern on the Hill and worked for a Democratic member in leadership. At the time, the standard practice was to wear white hosiery (!!) and skirt suits. Yes, I complied and yes, I questioned my ability to find my own voice. As actresses fight for more substantive questions on the red carpet beyond “Who are you wearing”, it’s important to not take yourself too seriously when you express yourself in a professional environment. So I’m glad to see that Silicon Valley female executives are ripping up the play book about what to wear! What would you most want to get rid of out of your work closet?
  • Do you need to learn how to overcome the awkwardness that sometimes comes with networking and/or talking with strangers? Hate to tell you, but the only way to overcome it is to practice! Here are a few techniques that you can use along the way!
  • Millennials have become the largest demographic cohort, surpassing the Baby Boomers and as my fellow Generation Xers take the helm of management, this article shares a few ideas of how Millennials can get promoted. I’d enjoy hearing what Millennials have to say about these suggestions. Knowing that this is a broad generalization is a given but also acknowledging that there are differences in work style and how on a generational level, we value them can help us better understand each other’s motivations.
  • I only started fundraising in the AAPI community 11 years ago so although that seems like a long time, it really isn’t in the history of identity politics. As a Democrat, I didn’t necessarily identify with my constituency when I started working in politics nearly 20 years ago. My first and last name don’t identify my AAPI origins, if anything it identifies my German ancestry and only when I started doing AAPI fundraising, did I add my Vietnamese middle name so that people could see that with my email signature, you were probably communicating with an AAPI. This Roll Call article by Stuart Rothenberg analyzes the struggles that Republicans have with identity politics while National Journal columnist Josh Kraushaar writes about how diversity can be just as messy for the Democrats.
  • I recently met up with a former colleague who was a feeling a bit stagnant. Being that she is over a decade younger then me, I told her to relish in a less chaotic schedule. My friends and I would be even a bit jelly of her free time! I’ve come to realize that my life can be overly scheduled and a lot less spontaneous, but that’s not really the point – the point is that every thing that we do, no matter how mundane can lead to success. Taking the time to see opportunities and “recognizing the good” will ultimately pay off. This article was really interesting to me as it also taught me the “Seinfeld Solution” – have you heard it of it and yes, it’s named after the comedian Jerry Seinfeld!

Thanks for reading/sharing/subscribing – Don’t forget to drop me your comments!

— Madalene

Tuesday Truths 2015 edition v29

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This has been an intense weekend of America’ Opportunity Fund (AOF) training (9 hours straight just on Saturday!!) while watching the next generation of leaders drop knowledge of best practices and how to succeed in the fundraising profession. Training/teaching is always fulfilling in seeing how participants connect with the basics of what we’re teaching and creating a more informed corps of professionals. I also had a great time talking with the participants of a brown bag lunch series on fundraising through Democratic GAIN. New faces who stay in the business = a flowing pipeline. To cap it all off, I hosted a Women’s Information Network (WIN) dinner at my home for a program that we have called Linking Leaders. Members get a chance to network with one another while connecting with an Advisory Board member on topics that the Members get to choose. A thrilling few days and I’ve got a lunch fundraiser on deck so let’s get to Tuesday Truths!

  • One of the topics we discussed at last night’s dinner was how to gain more leadership/management skills if you don’t have a lot of opportunity to showcase them in your work environment, perhaps due to the work culture. This led to more discussion about personal branding and how to differentiate yourself from others. From wardrobe selection to work product to finding a mentor, it was a conversation that really broke down the components necessary to be successful in your career (basic career building) and how you can help others in the process. Here are a few things you can do so that you can be taken seriously as a young leader.
  • Working in campaigns, I know that there are way more things on the to do list than staff who can do them all. As a result, we rely on a team of volunteers to help us knock through the tasks. Obviously, the staff tends to work on the bigger strategic items while the volunteers help us with the items that help us in making those strategic decisions. You’ll find that you have a group of dedicated volunteers who have demonstrated consistency and straight up street smarts so delegate to them more responsibility so that you can get even more things done. The same applies to your office team! If you can’t delegate tasks, you’ll find that you’re not working as a efficiently as a team. It doesn’t mean giving up control, it means taking the time to teach your team how it should be done. It’s not going to be 100% the 1st time but the investment will create more dividends in the future. For those who are being managed, see how you can help your supervisors. It’s a matter of trust – the more I trust in myself as a manager and how I teach in addition to the person I know I’m delegating the task, I’m going to give you bigger projects. Mutual trust.
  • This is a bit of a longer read but well worth your time! There are times when you are unconsciously paralyzing your success. Recognize them and ask yourself if you can create an environment where you can overcome these obstacles.
  • I certainly take the personal branding lessons that Iris Apfel teaches seriously – with 93 years of experience, she knows how to create and maintain a brand! You don’t get to be a fashion icon without knowing how you want others to see you.
  • I got a question last night about how to better network and one of those ways is to be an active listener. You really need to be present in the conversations with the people you’re networking with because it provides for a deeper relationship. We take those types of conversations seriously when we’re talking with prospects and donors because the more people remember the short term conversation, the probability of making a connection is stronger and what is networking really about? Creating relationships! Here are ways that you can network more effectively. You’ll find that listening is the author’s first tip!
  • The power of introverts unite! Part of the dinner discussion was also how to introverts better network? As a combination extrovert/heavy introvert, I really do my best where I can prepare and know when I need to exert “more”. So if you’re in a work environment where you’re surrounded with extroverts, here are tips on how you can best navigate work situations to your advantage.

Thanks for reading/sharing/subscribing! Drop me your comments below!

–Madalene

Tuesday Truths 2015 edition v28

It’s Bastille Day and it also would have been my dad’s 86th birthday! Although he passed away when I was a teenager, my dad heavily influenced my life. I have him to thank for my adventurous palate, my healthy sense of wanting to gather friends/family for impromptu occasions (my mom was quick on her feet in pulling dinners together when my dad would bring home a party!), and he gave me a tremendous amount of confidence being an only child growing up in a multicultural family – yay for German and Vietnamese roots! I hope your week is going well and let’s get to reading!

  • Working in the rather unconventional industry of politics, I know a few things about not having supportive friends/family in my career choice (fortunately, all the people who really matter to me have all been very supportive of my decisions). It’s challenging everyday under the best circumstances so don’t let the naysayers influence your attitude or your actions.
  • Ever since I moderated a panel discussing how to work across generations, I’ve been intrigued about the dynamic between the Gen Xer and the Millennial. I work with a lot of Millennials and every year that has passed since I became a manager and have gotten older, I feel like I’m turning into the cranky neighbor, “Get off my lawn!”. There are a lot of discussions about how to attract the Millennial workforce and yet, I wonder how do we educate Millennials about the the already existing infrastructure and how to best adapt. So for those of you who fall in between the 13-34 age range, here’s how you can work with the Gen X demographic (all within the context that speaking for a group is considered widely general).
  • I often tell people that they need to have a communicative relationship with their manager/supervisor (this sounds a lot like the way millennials like to interact). Why? In my experience, my supervisors were able to see things about myself that I never saw. They were able to assess my potential and envision the things I could do as well as behaviors that I needed to strengthen. Although I’m very hands off (my staff may have a differing opinion), I’m always probing to see what my staff thinks they’re missing from their skill set as well as informing them of what I’m thinking they’re missing. This kind of feedback creates a more well rounded visual of your portfolio and it’s one of the steps that you can use to become a better version of yourself.
  • Even I need reminders that it’s never too late! I take a bit of issue on the article because success doesn’t necessarily mean that every thing you do is equated to monetary success but I get that the gist of the article is meant to inspire you. With that as an aside, remember that there are a lot of other attributes that will propel you along when you don’t have connections, training or wealth (one of them being talent!). Age ain’t nothing but a number!

Thanks for reading/sharing!

— Madalene

Tuesday Truths 2015 edition v27

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I hope everyone had a good holiday weekend! I had the great fortune to spend it with 2 very close friends visiting from out of town and it reminded me how spectacular it is to have female friends who support whatever it is I’m doing. The feeling is certainly mutual and to watch the US Women’s National Team win the World Cup together was just the cherry on top.

We’ve started the 3rd Quarter and with a few weeks left before August recess, there are a plethora of events and meetings to get us through Summer! Next weekend, I’ll be conducting a Democratic Finance Directors training in DC for America’s Opportunity Fund – if you care to apply – here’s the link – so if you want to learn the technical skills to fundraise or if you’re interested in running for office, this is a MUST do training.

  • The soccer tourney was great because I got to see a few empowering commercials featuring women who ROCK! I particularly like Under Armour’s hashtag #wewillwhatwewant and I think there’s so much meaning to that mental attitude. There are certain types of people who believe that they’re fixed beings and can’t change but I come from the “make your own luck” society and those who believe in “What You Think, You Become” are members of my tribe.
  • I’m starting to feel like I’m really focused on my female readers today so guys, I hope you hang with me/us because today is really about the sisterhood that makes everything in life less chaotic. I really do believe in exalting the accomplishments of women and here are a few women who will knock your socks off – they’re so cool for just being themselves and wanting to change the world. They’re awesome role models not just for women but for everyone!
  • I’m really digging the Hill Navigator’s column! In this one she’s talking about how you choose between policy or communications. My experience is a little different with communications and fundraising. I’ve had friends/colleagues who made the transition and my words of caution remains the same – fundraising is a dreaded task and if you’re good at it, you’ll always have a job and people will want you to stay in that field so you need to be dedicated to overlooking any finance opportunities because those will be plentiful and you know, you gotta pay those bills so hold out for the communications position that will come later in the cycle.
  • I’ve had a lot of friends who are or were unhappy in their positions and attitude in the workplace is very much related to productivity. If you’re not recognized for your talent, why waste it at a place that thinks you’re replaceable? Although, the caveat for me is that I always think I’m replaceable since I feel that is the nature of the beast of politics but moving on. So putting that aside, this list talks about how the habits one needs to display for getting promoted, but I also see it as a checklist for the environment one needs to actually exhibit these habits! Use it for your own checklist before you take a job because if the work environment allows you to grow, it will allow you to also get promoted!
  • With the summer in full swing, I do a lot of information interviews with interns (those who are still in college), entry level staffers (who may have recently graduated within the last few years) and brown bag lunches with a mix of people. I get that at this point in one’s professional career that there is uncertainty with the kind of career one wants. There are lots of questions of “If I go this route, can I switch over to something?” and as much I don’t view myself as a guidance counselor, I do understand that the decision for a career can be overwhelming. Here are a few ways you can check that uncertainty and make a few decisions on your own.
  • I’ve been in campaign environments where there were yellers – loud, profane infused yelling directed to individual(s) for their mistakes and I wear my time with those yellers as a badge of honor, however I haven’t taken to that method in my own office. Yes, I do yell and do use a lot of profanity but it’s never directed to anyone in my office. I’m usually just yelling into the air about a situation or circumstance and figuring out how I can remedy it. Those who have worked in my office know that I’m at my most dangerous when I’m quiet. My tone and demeanor when giving criticism is one of a level headed person but sometimes it causes tears because the general feeling is that my staff has let me down. I don’t think I place that pressure on them but they feel it because they know that we are a team and when mistakes happen, I take responsibility for them as well because I didn’t train my staff well enough to get the task done correctly. I genuinely respect my staff because I want them to learn and I want to learn from them (although I did have one former staffer give me “The Devil Wears Prada” dvd as a gift one year – were they trying to tell me something?). Offices that don’t have civility can create more stressful work environments and it makes a difference on the staff’s work performance. It really does count to be nice!

Thanks for reading/sharing! Subscribe so that you don’t miss a post! Feel like sharing? Drop me a note in the comments section!

— Madalene