Tuesday Truths 2016 edition v8

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It’s been an eventful week as we execute plans for the Democratic primary and even though there is so much going on, this is what working in politics entails. Over the weekend, I spent part of my Saturday at The Women in Politics Institute at American University as a Guest Speaker at a Women & the 2016 Elections weekend session. It was amazing to talk with such a dynamic group as we discussed what it means to be a woman working in this industry as well as the challenges that women candidates face. I marvel at the fact that I’ve worked in this business for 20 years and have seen the demographic change to include more diverse individuals, but yet there’s still more work to do.  I hope to still be around in the next 20 years to see how much we’ve progressed. This class certainly gave me inspiration for the future!

Here’s Tuesday Truths!

  • I’m excited to be participating at WIN’s Young Women of Achievement (YWA) awards this coming Thursday. If you haven’t purchased your ticket, get on it! I had the opportunity to meet quite a few of the 55 women who were nominated for their respective industry awards earlier in the month and they are all extraordinary people who make a difference in their organizations and the broader community as a whole. I made remarks that evening commenting that after reviewing their resumes, I wondered what I had done with my life because they were already well accomplished. As a result, this made me reflect that I could have chosen a better way to congratulate these women because I know that life is not about comparisons and that there are times when people feel that they’re falling behind to their peers. All of these women have seized opportunities and made it their own. I hope that everyone gives themselves the room to take it all in.
  • If you’re looking for ways to re-focus your journey, here are some great ideas to jump start your adventure. I recently met with a woman who is starting a new life (leaving her 25+ marriage, moving from a very well established life in a northeast state to DC where she hasn’t lived since her college days, no longer managing a household with a husband and 2 grown children etc..) and she’s ready to dive back into the work force and brush up on her social media skills. That takes a lot of courage and the mental wherewithal to take steps to change a very familiar routine. Life is a constant reinvention of self. I try to push outside of my comfort zone so that I can feel and embrace the fear. I took up surfing for that particular reason. Even with multiple trips out into various oceans, I still have my WTF moments and wonder why I put myself in these situations. I always know the answer and yet I still ask the question. I don’t want to be complacent and when the familiar becomes too familiar that new sensation creates a different perspective of how the world operates. Starting a new chapter can be exhilarating and downright scary but the water’s just fine – jump in!
  • A revealing article on how to have more presence in your workplace from Amy Cuddy, a Professor and Researcher at Harvard Business School. It articulates how much active listening creates a level of trust with your colleagues and staff. Important factors to remember when you’re working in your organizations!
  • With so many networking opportunities in DC, there can be times when you can’t seem to get beyond the small talk. Here’s to moving into medium talk! I thought the questions were great in engaging people. Small talk is innocuous and doesn’t allow for people to GET REAL. Do you have some favorite medium talk moments?
  • Regardless of whether you’re a Hillary supporter or not, everyone needs to acknowledge that there are crazy high expectations of women in positions of authority. Known as the double bind, women are constantly critiqued against a scale that doesn’t apply to men. It’s something that needs to stop and it begins by recognizing it in the first place.

Thanks for reading/sharing – tell me what new adventures are on your horizon!!

— Madalene

 

 

 

Tuesday Truths 2016 edition v7

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It has been brutally cold the past few days and we got some more snow! I’m ready for Spring and in fact, we’re almost close to 30 days to the 1st day of a new season!! In the meantime, let’s snuggle up with Tuesday Truths (if you’re reading in a warm climate, send some of that sun and heat my way!)

  • I was at a meet and greet the other night and was asked, “What gets you up in the morning?” and my response, “Going to the gym”. It sounds a little wacky but knowing that I start my day with exercise, helps me to get the rest of my day in order. The physical exertion allows me to channel frustrations, anxieties and negative energy so that I can face the rest of the day with adrenaline and excitement about my morning accomplishment – pilates, quakes and shakes, TRX – I’ve already met a commitment to take care of myself so the day only gets better. What do you do to provide yourself self-care? Here are some suggestions to make sure you do what is necessary to take care of yourself.
  • Need help to build a habit? We’ve discussed breaking it down into small manageable steps so that you can see improvement every day. I am nowhere near perfect and I try to create an environment that allows me to succeed in achieving my goals. It’s not easy but 5 minutes a day and cues to get you to the next step can be game changers.
  • Living in DC, there are so many parties, networking events, meet and greets and general receptions that put you in front of a lot of strangers all the time. There was a time when I would walk into a room, scan for the closest food buffet and open bar and hunker down. Those days no longer exist and I end up barely getting hydrated with water and nibbling on a crudité because I’m focused on talking with those around me. This translates to a ton of time being spent on banal conversation along with those that really make a connection. It’s important to remember that any of these conversations can lead to something else. So how do you prepare so that you can have great connections? Let’s learn from Ari Shapiro, NPR’s cohost for “All Things Considered”.
  • A lot of my readers live in the Washington, DC area where the largest employer is the federal government, but how many of you know about the GS code that determines the qualifications needed for a job as well as its equivalent pay scale? Insider baseball.
  • There are days when I’m just not feelin’ it and those are the days when I know that I need to pull through with the best of my ability. I know that I can’t let the negative control my actions so I focus on the “glass half full” aspects of the day. Circumstances can put a damper on how you approach a situation and that’s where I fight for parity, but your attitude can get you mentally focused for the challenges ahead. If you walk in with a less than rosy disposition, you risk setting yourself up for failure.
  • When I was a child, I skipped a grade and that put me in the position for a very long time as the youngest person in the room. That also included when I was in professional environment and being the youngest person along with being the only female in the room with growing responsibility brought on a small case of “imposter syndrome”. Am I as qualified as the others to have an opinion, let alone seem like the expert in this subject? Don’t get me wrong, I still have a lot to learn but the years that have passed since I was a young staffer have turned to decades and I’m still around doing what I do.

Thanks for reading/sharing! Got words of wisdom you would like to share? Put them in the comments!

— Madalene

Tuesday Truths 2016 edition v6

I’ve had a hectic personal schedule of late and with the professional piece of my life also going full steam, it can be challenging to remember where I’m supposed to be and continue to stay organized! I heavily rely on outlook and google calendar to check and re-check my schedule so that I don’t double book. My to do list is on Trello and articles that I want to read later for the blog or for my own education are dropped into Pocket. What useful tools do you use to keep organized?

Here’s Tuesday Truths!

  • In my intro, I talked about how life is getting a bit chaotic. People comment on my ability to go to the gym and the honest truth to it is that I will become an angry person if I don’t sweat out my anxieties and push my physical limits. It’s good for me and it’s good for others around me to not have so much negative energy emanate from my being. That being said, I schedule my work activities and then schedule my gym work outs around them. I know that my evenings are generally tied up with fundraisers/work obligations and it’s nice to have some spontaneity in the evenings to catch up with friends should an opportunity occur. Who wants to spontaneously ask me to meet them for breakfast at 8am – really no one! I’m also a morning person so I get antsy when I wake up in the morning and there’s no exercise waiting for me. As of late, I’ve had a bit of trouble waking up for my 7am sessions. I usually wake up before my alarm and lately, I’ve been slightly startled when the alarm plays the lovely sounding Hawaiian music I chose to begin my day. All of this being said, I was reminded of my priorities when Randi Zuckerberg talked about choosing between work, sleep, family, fitness, or friends. I made a strategic decision to reduce my workload (it may not appear that way to others!) in that I would only work on projects that I was totally committed. If I had any doubts that I was doing the project for different reasons, then it was rejected. I was making room to do other things, such as my French lessons and even though I haven’t done as much as I would like, I know that it’s more a mental shift than the excuse of not having time that tells me that I should focus on work more than my other interests. I recently spoke with a friend who is starting her own consulting firm and we discussed it’s the feeling of guilt of not being accessible when others are working traditional 9am-5pm work hours. Those of us who have the flexibility should use it and those of you who don’t, I hope that creative scheduling lets you choose how you want to prioritize without the guilt.
  • Last week I shared the story about how the U.S. Senate was run entirely by women during one of the days of the snow storm that hit DC and it reminded me about how women have always had to fight so incredibly hard to get to our positions. It can be a double standard for us and even more so when you’re talking about women who are from underrepresented communities. We are often judged by our appearance and it’s society’s definitions that tell us what is deemed appropriate for our gender. There are days when I sigh in frustration and days when I want to tear it all down, but fortunately I get my act together and help where I can. This opinion piece by Catherine Rampell describes the daily lifetime(!!!) challenges that exist in a woman’s life and you start to wonder, when will it end?
  • I’ve been working with a few women who are at different points in their lives: a recent college graduate, a woman who has taken time off to raise a family and is now looking to return to a professional career, and an experienced political operative who is transitioning to another geographical area and wants to create a new network for herself. All very fascinating people who have one very similar goal: to work in a career field that allows them to enjoy their work and get paid for it! I didn’t have a career path other than find a job in politics after I graduated from Tulane. There was no grand scheme to be the next “fill in the blank” or the where are you going to be in 5-10 years plan. As a person who has had a career for 20 years now, it worked itself out – YAY – so it’s possible to not have a plan and still make a living! It doesn’t sound very together but if you want to get it together, you may want to read this handy guide. As I was reading it, I realized that I was really in the area of “accept that I’ll keep changing” mentality. I’m certainly not the young whippersnapper I was in my 20s and I’m OK with it.
  • I’ve said multiple times that I started my own firm because I didn’t want a boss. After spending years working for someone else, I realized that I had the ability to do things on my own. I didn’t want the structure of someone else’s creation. I worked in the hospitality industry for a James Beard winning chef as a front of the house manager and I learned so much, including the fact that I didn’t want to experience life at someone’s else discretion. It takes a lot of risk to dive off the deep end and swim – lots of people do it and find that it’s not for them. That’s completely a personal preference. To really understand your motivation about your career choices, you really need to ask yourself 2 very important questions. Keep coming back to the answers and you may find yourself in a career that was always meant for you.
  • Deep breaths – this one is a doozy. I break things down into incremental steps. I do it everyday when I fundraise because if I didn’t, I would be overwhelmed in the enormity of my goal. I’m sharing this article about mastering the art of setting goals in 4 steps. Each step is HUGE! I’m not ready to take this tact for fundraising but I may be ready to do it for a different project in my own life. Let’s be audacious together!
  • There are a lot of readers of this blog who are fighting the good fight in the land of nonprofits. It is a place that pulls at your heartstrings and during the good times, leaves you fulfilled and at the worst of times, makes you wonder if you’re clinically insane (#amiright?!??). It is a place where efforts to do good can sometimes but thwarted with the challenges of just running the place – can I get an “Amen” on the fact that I’m sure that a lot of you are working 3 different job descriptions under one job title and getting paid for the job description a step below you. This infographic gets it all right with the myriad ways that nonprofits lose their talent. Perhaps it’s best to check in on your own organization’s grade for each section and see how you’re doing great and how you can improve.

Alright folks, that’s it for this week – thanks for reading/sharing and let me know of your triumphant tales!

— Madalene

 

 

 

Tuesday Truths 2016 edition v5

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How many of you were up last night watching the Iowa Caucus returns? I had returned from a trip and was already tired from the travel, however it was addictive to watch the hours and hours of commentary. I usually don’t watch scripted television (i.e. reality tv) but this is the ultimate reality tv for me because it really is completely unknown to all of us the eventual outcome in November. It’s going to be quite an election!

Here’s Tuesday Truths!

  • I often get asked why I started my own consulting firm and my 2 second answer is that I wanted to be my own boss. I’ve always been an independent worker so when I first began, I actually had to tone down the amount of hours I worked because I placed myself in an environment that kept me working ALL.THE.TIME. I never had a problem where I was distracted by working from home. So if you think working as your own boss in a non-traditional environment is for you then take a look at these suggestions about being your own boss.
  • If you didn’t know, DC had a pretty big snow storm last week where the federal government had to shut down due to travel concerns. The U.S. Senate decided to convene and lo and behold, it was a historic moment because the entire chamber was staffed entirely by women (the Senators, the parliamentarian staff, the pages, the floor managers – EVERYBODY!).
  • I think I’m a procrastinator, but my closest friends think I’m such a weirdo for saying such a thing because they have a different definition for that term. It does help to think about procrastinating in a positive way. For me to fully concentrate, I need a sense of calm & a bit of silence. I can usually tune out the tv or radio but if someone is talking to me, I need to step away for me to focus. I’ll take a break when I write to read articles and let’s face it, look up my favorite Hollywood columnist and then I can re-focus my energy to finish another paragraph. Accept it and don’t beat yourself up!
  • When you’re unhappy, the thought of leaving your job can be empowering! There was a point in my career when I would wake up and start crying because I knew that I was headed into work. That’s a bit extreme but the emotional toll was too taxing for my mental health. If you haven’t reached that point but realize that going to work isn’t your cup of tea, here are reasons why you should stay and focus less on the reasons why you dislike your current position.
  • If you’re interested in reading about the “New American Majority” then check out Brown is the New White, a book from national political leader Steve Phillips. It’s a powerful discussion about race and politics.
  • I’m a glass half full person with a touch of pragmatic reality thrown in for good measure. I tend to stay on the positive side of things, although I do recognize when things are going downhill. It’s fair to wallow in the negative, but I can’t exist in that place for too long. Here are steps you can take so that you can transform a bad day.

Thanks for reading/sharing and get a friend to subscribe!

— Madalene