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Are you ready for Fall? This time of the year gets me excited – Summer is coming to a close, the start of a school year and the lead up to the crazy of a Presidential year! I wonder if I will ever tire of this kind of excitement? It is a mental game – knowing that there’s still a lot to do and trying to best use the time to get everything done because even though it seems like a lot of time, it really isn’t! I’m getting ready for one last escape and upon my return, it will be managed chaos to get to September 30th. I hope you’re enjoying the remaining days of sun and fun! If you haven’t used all of your vacation time, get on it!!
Here’s Tuesday Truths!
- Finding your power stance and projecting authority – it’s got to do with your limbs and eye contact. A friend of mine told me that my wardrobe is my armor. I have a certain aesthetic that I project when I put on my work attire and my friend is certainly correct in that assessment. I’m often in heels because I stand differently when I’m elevated and as a result, most people think of me as being a certain height. When walking into a room, I square my shoulders and remember to stand straight and walk a little taller. I gesticulate when I speak – official photos of me speaking on a panel or making remarks document my hand gestures. When I look at other principals, I see how they hold themselves and I remind myself that I’m a peer who conveys the same authority. You gotta just remind yourself to OWN IT!
- There was a time when I was the youngest person in the room. I skipped a grade as a child and therefore graduated early and therefore, started my career a bit earlier. I have the good fortune of my momma’s genes and as a result have always skewed youngish in looks. There was a time when I couldn’t wait to turn 30 so that people could take me seriously! With these factors in mind, I had to work with lots of people who were more experienced and older than me and lead them through many of an election. We’ve got some tips to get through that experience. Remember how you did this as a young person because when you get to be middle aged and older, you’ll want the next generation to do the same for you! I really think it’s about acknowledging respect and getting input. People’s life experiences are meaningful and having institutional knowledge helps in making more educated decisions. However as the leader of a team, you’re ultimately responsible for its product so take the heat if something doesn’t work out and share the credit when it does.
- Science proves that there are optimal times to get things accomplished. Want a raise? Ask in the morning. Need to make a difficult decision? Be sure that you’ve eaten. Make the most of your day! I am a morning person (if you follow me on twitter @madalenemielke you’ll find that I’m most enthusiastic about my morning routine of going to the gym at the crack of dawn) and I tend to get a lot of work out of the way right afterwards.
- Isn’t this the time when people do their fantasy football leagues? I have vaguely seen my friends post about it on FB but my equally exciting version of that has been outlined by the New York Times graph of all the different staffers working on the presidential campaigns. Yes, I’m a #politicalgeek.
- I don’t have to write often in my professional life. My life is usually spent on emails so they tend to be short and sweet. If you are interested in writing, here are 5 ways you can improve your writing. Concise and compelling seem to be the goals.
- This is so critical in establishing and maintaining communication with your manager. Deciphering their behavior and how they absorb information will help you in keeping them in the loop. My staff has learned to anticipate my questions because they get accustomed to how my brain works and how I process the bajillion things we’re juggling. The more you understand their patterns, the better you’ll be in figuring out your own responsibilities.
- I’m doing my best to have better work life balance. I decreased my work load so that I could incorporate other activities of interest to me. That’s definitely a privilege that most people don’t have but it’s also a conscious decision to change habits so that I can accommodate the other things in my life that are important. So although I may venture to far flung places, I probably won’t be shopping as much 😉 Here are a few habits from people who have achieved a manageable work life balance. Most people know that my Sunday evenings are spent with my immediate and extended family so I rarely accept any external invitations, unless completely necessary (work travel, friends’ celebrations). If I can’t make it on a Sunday then I also try to schedule a time during the week that I can at least see my mom. If it’s important to you, then you need to make the time for it!
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I hope everyone is having a great summer! I’ve returned to the quiet of DC, where the usual work schedule has been replaced with a more relaxed rhythm. It was great being gone for 11 days because I got a chance to see how other people live their schedules with their priorities. During this time I got to visit with one of my best friends, who is taking the ultimate plunge in our industry (running for elected office!). I couldn’t be more proud of her seizing this opportunity. With everyday you gain more experience and with the right attitude, you can reach your goals. It won’t always be easy but the best way to start is to just start.
Here’s today’s Tuesday Truths!
- Do you believe that life is always about statistics? In fundraising, the more phone calls you make, the higher the chances that you’ll get better results (that’s also dependent on the type of list you’ve created to make the calls). That’s a statistic. There’s a mathematical principle that’s based on the idea that the more an individual takes the initiative, the better their chances are for getting what they want.
- I wouldn’t say that this specific rule applies to fundraising but it does help in making a relationship warmer. If you’re applying it to a situation where you are asking for help, being generous of your own time and providing support prior can help you. If you’re going to ask someone to help you, it’s always best to have a track record of you being helpful to that particular person in the past. It’s always about a give and take.
- This may be the year of the woman in electoral politics and that also translates into more female operatives all across the board. Here’s a great list of just a few of the phenomenal women who are making their marks in politics.
- We’ve talked before about procrastination and the seemingly endless Jedi mind tricks that we use to get something checked off our to do list. Here’s another approach to remind yourself why you’re the BOSS…..of yourself 🙂
- With any set of challenges, there will be times when you really need to dig deep within yourself to stay positive. I have faced challenges where I have wondered if I would be able to mentally pull through. There have been times when I have asked myself, “Is it easier to quit then to keep going?”. Those internal struggles can define how you decide to move forward and having the capacity to make clear decisions can help you recognize what is best for your situation. Here are a few mindsets where you can frame some of those difficult challenges.
- Opportunities can come in different guises. You need to figure out how you can make the best of these opportunities. You might not need a promotion to get ahead when what you really need is to grow (disclaimer – be sure that you include these additional responsibilities into your portfolio so that you can discuss that at your next review and get the promotion/salary increase!). Titles are free and accomplishments speak for themselves.
- During my trip, I encountered a conversation about mediocrity and if one could live a life of mediocrity if you’ve seemingly always have lived a life of excellence. We know that we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others, but how do we manage our own expectations when comparing ourselves of yesterday to today and even tomorrow? On a tangent, I had a conversation about how I was slowly moving into retirement (not taking on more clients, not hustling as much) and I was alright with it because I continue to feel that I’ve done a lot in the 13 years that I’ve had my firm. My professional and personal goals are not the same as when I started in this business and I give myself permission to be OK. Does it make me happier? Do my life choices mean I can prioritize some other goals that I had put aside? Everyone’s definition about being mediocre is different and most importantly, it’s personal. Embrace the life you want and ignore everyone else’s definition of what is excellent.
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Mixing in a mini-break along with work travel is a nice combination in the summer. I get to visit with some of my favorite people while raising money so it’s a win win for everyone. I readily admit that I’m not the best vacation type person. I don’t like to have things hang over my head when I’m supposed to be relaxing and when I check out, I really want to check out! My type of work isn’t life or death so not answering my emails immediately isn’t going to set up catastrophe, but I feel like it might. Occasionally, I need to remind myself that it’s OK to take a day off now and then. It’s good to take the time to re-charge! #noguilt
In the meantime, Tuesday Truths!
- I thoroughly enjoyed reading Mindy Kaling’s first book and with her new book, there has been a lot of promotion. She recently did an interview with Glamour and it was a valuable lesson in building self confidence. It’s nice to see that we share the same philosophy! I’m looking forward to reading more.
- Do you need a primer on how to get a job on Capitol Hill? I get lots of those questions and this comprehensive list can really get you focused. Another idea is to look at your own natural constituency. I’ve had people talk with me who are Latina/o or AAPI and I tell them to look at the organizations that help to promote diversity. You want to use every natural advantage!
- There is scientific proof on the ideal length to vacation. In case you’re wondering, it’s 8 days – do you think that’s long enough or do you need more to re-charge? When I take vacationing seriously, I usually travel a great distance so my real vacation time is about 8 days because the days at the beginning and at the end are my travels days. My longest trip has been about 2 weeks when I went to Australia but I’m more known for my crazy let’s leave on Thursday and get back to DC on Monday when I go to Hawaii. I don’t recommend it for everyone 🙂
- If you don’t have time to get to a vacation, you can find ways to make your life a little more idyllic when you try to push out negativity. If you work in a stressful environment, there is only so much you can do to brace yourself so maintaining your mental health is key. Here are ways you can counteract those moments and keep your spirits buoyant!
- An interesting perspective in working towards your goals is to think about the struggle that you’re willing to endure. It takes a great deal of strength to weather and knowing what pain and sacrifice you’re likely to experience makes you more aware of what it takes to reach those goals. What do you think?
- Stepping into a role with more responsibility? Get a promotion and not sure how to handle the more challenging aspects? Here’s a checklist not only to think about what deliverables you can produce but also how you can maintain self care and professional development.
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We’ve started another month and as I get ready to jet out west, I can’t help but think that we’re going to be in full on campaign mode once we return for September! Since I’m a sef-proclaimed nerd, I really enjoyed returning from vacation to start school so Fall has always been my favorite time of year (see, I told you that I’m a nerd). I’m scheduled for a bit of down time so when I get back to the crazy, I’ll be re-charged and ready with new ideas so that I can get to Beast BGM (Busy. Getting. Money.) mode. Hope you’re taking the necessary steps to get some relaxation time onto your calendar.
Here’s to Tuesday Truths!
- All of us need tips or even a refresher to keep our conversations from going stale. It helps to see where you may need improvement and how you can remedy it. Conversations can come naturally if you’re willing to actively listen and willing to make connections.
- Living in DC, we get a lot of the same questions about “what we do” and sometimes, the frequency of that question may make you think that’s how you should define yourself. For too many years, I wanted to be taken seriously and thought that my choice of profession would help in making me more of an adult. Now that I take myself less seriously, I know that I have a lot more attributes to my life than my work (yay!) and giving myself the room to define myself how I see fit.
- I am often asked how did I decide to go out on my own and start my consulting firm. First, I had a mental shift with my work. The organization I was with was going through a transition and I needed to decide if I was staying, going someplace else or get out completely. I couldn’t think of a job that I wanted so I thought really hard of what I wanted. In all honesty, I knew what I didn’t want – and that tangible thing was I didn’t want a boss. So if you’re thinking about going solo, here are a few questions you can ask yourself before you take the leap.
- In the “thrill” of politics, we can sometimes get swept away with the emotion that comes with fervent rhetoric and that may lead to political hate – you can read more about how that can be defined and how we can stop it. Don’t you want to have more of a discussion of ideas in a civilized way? It may not bring ratings or energize a segment of a population, but maybe we can get more people involved in how they can shape their own futures. Am I getting a little too idealistic here?!!?
- Every boss is quirky – we come with baggage, expectations that are crazy high, and we want you to be able to read our minds – well, no problem – you’ve got this! I’ve had associates in my office who totally get me and those associates do really well because they’ve figured out how my brain works and what I’m likely to ask each and every day/week because they understand what I’m obsessed about in my routine. They knew how to anticipate and they knew what I needed before I even realized it. The more you can identify these items in your boss’ life, you’ll find that you’re really managing them without them really knowing it. It’s like having a mind meld.
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