Can you believe it’s the last week of April?? In a month’s time, we’ll be in the unofficial throes of Summer and campaign season will be crazy busy. We’ve got lots going on and we’re optimistic for what the rest of the year brings. I’ve also been having fun with Snap Chat so if you’re inclined to snap – add me: madalene.mielke!
Here’s Tuesday Truths:
Are you considered the note taker during your meetings? On big meetings, there are sometimes multiple note takers to make sure that everything gets covered because topics can go fast and furious. Junior staff in my office are usually given that task when I take them to meetings and the more meticulous those notes, chances are that you would have captured the essence of the meeting (discussion, action items & deadlines etc.). Some may think that this is a mundane task when in fact, it’s a critical piece of having a successful meeting. It’s a great example of how well you’re listening, and how quickly you can process information. Here’s an outline that you can follow to help you gain structure in your note taking. If you’re taking notes for yourself during meetings, knowing how you best recall notes can help you reach goals quicker when you recognize how all the parties involved are reaching their goals.
There are days when I like that I’m a boutique consulting firm and days when I wonder if I would like to have a flurry of people in my office working for me like in days past. As I celebrate 20+ years of working in politics, I recognize the things that I will subject myself to for clients. I still have a bit of idealism that keeps me passionate about working in this space and here’s the thing, I also know what I don’t want to do in my line of work and that comes from having done it for so long. I enjoy working with my colleagues and helping those who are new to the consulting business in their search for clients. Do I foresee my career continuing in this field? Yes, however in a different composition of my own choosing. When you’ve reached a career that spans decades, you’ve earned the right to make those kind of choices and reinvention has never looked so good.
I thank my momma everyday for giving me genes to maintain a youthful appearance. Fortunately, I work in DC where the saying goes, “We’re Hollywood for ugly people” so my looks don’t necessarily take center stage when it comes to my work. That’s not to say that my youthful appearance hasn’t been a source of contention. DC has a lot of young people – A LOT – so when you’re mistaken for a staff assistant or someone with a lesser title because you look young, it can be a blessing or a curse. Campaigns are made for young people with distinguished titles (“titles are free” but are your responsibilities and compensation = senior leadership). You can have a campaign manager overseeing a multi million dollar budget and still be in your 30s. I remember when I was in my early 30s and at that point, already a veteran of several campaigns and I had already started my consulting business that a slightly older, but not that much older male statewide elected official commented that they couldn’t envision me having managed staff (!!). OOOHHHH – KKKAAAAYYYY Was that a commentary on his lack of knowledge of my skills or his astonishment that I was older than what I appeared? My friends and I are relatively in the same age range and in fact, I don’t even know their specific ages unless they decide that they want to celebrate their birthdays with a number. I don’t base my opinions of people on that really inconsequential number because it’s about the level of experience that gets my motor running. It’s exciting to me to see a young person who has accomplished their goals and doing things that people double their age have never done and it’s equally important when I talk with an older woman who has done so much and is still creating their own set of rules. Comparisons come into play and life experiences only mean something when you’ve actually had a chance to experience life. Just because you’re old doesn’t mean you’re wise. No matter the age, it means that you’ve done or you’re doing something with your life and I’ll respect anyone who can share their stories. In a professional setting, older women are pushed aside because they’re no longer seen as assets when their life experiences certainly amount to wisdom. It’s not the age that matters but what you’ve done with your life that does.
When I talked about titles being free, I really meant it. Of course, that’s a totally different post on negotiation but what it also means is that your title doesn’t earn you respect either. Leaders are made through their actions and how well you treat your peers and the people on your team have direct and indirect consequences. My former staff will readily admit that I’m a tough boss. I demand excellence but also understand when mistakes are made (we’re not perfect) and they know that I will have their backs. If we screw up something for a client, it ultimately falls on me because the buck really does stop at my desk. My office culture is that I want you to succeed, whether it’s in my office or after you leave. I may or may not be able to help you do your next job but I can certainly impart the sentiment that we’re always there to help one another. There’s an unofficial mantra that once you’ve worked for me (and performed well) that you will always be a part of my network and that each former staffer is responsible for the next generation or the many, many generations after.
Last week I went to a reception where I saw my old boss, Chef Bob Kinkead receive the Duke Zeibert award from the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington. This award is given to a person who has contributed to the success of DC’s restaurant industry. He has countless former staff all over the area enhancing the dining experience of those visiting or living in our nation’s capital. I have so much respect for those who work in the hospitality industry because no matter how well your day may be going, someone walking into the restaurant may be having a craptastic day and your job is to make them happy. Sometimes it doesn’t always work out but when you have great service, a welcoming atmosphere and delicious food, you’ll have a winning combination to turn that person’s day around. Did you know that I used to be a restaurant manager at a James Beard winning chef’s restaurant where the owner was also a winner of Restauranteur of the Year? Yeah, there’s a lot of expectation with that kind of reputation! Which leads me to sharing the profile of Maria Trabocchi. She’s the co-owner of Fiola, Fiola Mare, Casa Luca and many many more soon to open restaurants. Fiona recently celebrated their 5th anniversary and it’s one of my favorite restaurants in town. I’ve talked about her restaurants on my personal blogbecause the food is delicious and the way they treat their customers is equally fantastic. I rang in 2016 at Fiola Mare, spent many anniversaries and other celebratory events at Fiola and have had fundraising dinners at Casa Luca. Treat your customers well and they will reward you in so many different ways. It’s a lesson that Maria teaches everyday.
Thanks for reading/sharing and tell me your thoughts by emailing me or in the comments!
This is one hellacious week! Why?! By the end of the week, I would have had to deal with 8 fundraisers in a span of 5 days. Luckily, I only have another round (next week!) of crazy before I get a breather to start it all over again in mid May. The joys of being in election season. But who am I kidding? This is the kind of work that I didn’t realize I wanted to do, so although the days can be long and the details can get tedious, I’m proud of the work that my team and I get to do everyday.
Here’s Tuesday Truths!
Whether you’re on your 1st job or on your 10th, your professional career never ends. I had a wonderful opportunity to work in a different industry from politics and that professional detour still reaps rewards in the form of personal relationships. There was a time when I thought that I had to separate my professional and personal time. Yes, there are definitely moments when I want the barrier because I want that work life balance thing, but what’s important is realizing that social connections through your work relationships shows that you’re more than just your job. It’s less transactional and more about building experiences with one another. Your network becomes invested in your success and who knows, there may be a time when you change your mind and want to move in a different direction. The essential habits you utilize will be there to help you transition to wherever you decide.
One of the questions I often get with fundraising or becoming a 1st time candidate is “How do I prioritize my relationships so that it doesn’t look like I’m being calculating?”. Totally understandable because you want to be authentic while also working towards building relationships with those who are influencers in their industries/constituencies. This question is also a basic question when it comes to networking. Having depth in your relationships with a few key member is more valuable than a stack of business cards of people who you met but don’t have a connection. You can boost your network by being strategic on who you network with but don’t confuse that with the attitude that someone who isn’t on your list isn’t worth the time to talk with or connect. There’s always your priority list and you being on someone else’s priority list.
While you’re out networking, remember to make a good impression! Engagement and interest along with authentic interactions can make you memorable when you’re trying to get to people who are better established or those who are your peers or just getting started. We’ve all been somewhere on the ladder so remember those who have helped you and pay it forward.
Working in politics and public service doesn’t necessarily reap rewards in your bank account but when you enter the private sector, remember to use this handy dandy tool to calculate the real worth of your job offer.
I’m a little eccentric when it comes to my work attire choices. I’m not restricted with the standards of being a Hill staffer so I have a bit more freedom when it comes to choosing my professional appearance. DC gets a bad rap for being stodgy and a town of many shades of black, grey, & navy but here are ideas of how to create your own rules for your next work day style. For the dudes – if you thought you weren’t included in the article, there are tips for you too so check it out!!
Continuing my search for people who create their own luck, I found Leiti Hsu, a former finance person (not the fundraiser kind like me but the real kind that you find working in the trenches analyzing companies as an investment banker) who transitioned into becoming a food radio host. Recently I joined Snap Chat (come snap with me – madalene.mielke) and found her on snap chat at @leitihsu. At the time she was in NYC at a food conference and later made her way to New Orleans (my 2nd home!). She was taking me on a culinary journey as well as showing me daily life in these industries. As a result, I wanted to learn more of her story and found this wonderful article where she was interviewed by Jill Filipovic. Leiti and I ended up snapping one another and it’s been fun catching a glimpse of her adventures.
Thanks for reading/sharing and let me know what you think in the comments!
With Congress returning today, we’re moving full steam ahead with a plethora of fundraising events. Time to raise that money! I’m also looking forward to being on a Mentoring panel this week for the Young Leadership Network (YLN) for the Association of Government Relations Professionals (AGRP). I’ve done this in previous years and it’s a fun way to meet people in the government affairs industry. What projects/events are you most excited about this week?
Here’s Tuesday Truths!
Having Congress gone meant that I had time to do work and to assess how my year is going so far. I’m not a fan of “being busy” and I’ve made a more conscious effort to pursue other opportunities that are more aligned to my professional goals. If you don’t take the time to reflect on whether you’re living a life of value, then you’re missing out on times when you can be leading a fuller life. Coasting is not my nature so whenever I feel a little complacent, I know that it’s time to mix it up. I’ve always been a believer in creating my own luck!
Which leads me to there are less than 9 months before the end of the year!!! That crazy feeling that time is slipping away is REAL! Here’s how you can get a handle of reaching your goals. I’m a big fan of calendaring EVERYTHING – gym, personal appointments, health appointments and scheduling my life around those things so that I know if I’m really giving myself a chance to achieving work/life balance.
We’ve all got Decision Elves lurking in our everyday lives. It’s a risk to do anything in politics – you never know if the candidate you’re working for is going to win or if the incumbent you have is going to lose. Life has a way of figuring it out for you and it’s that mental game that you must play to see if you can handle the older version of yourself reflecting on the challenges you’re facing now. Everyone has a level of risk that they’re willing to take – do you fly off the deep end or play it safe? You can’t make everyone happy with your decision but for one person: YOU. Knowing of others who have risked it all and made it through is good for acknowledging the possible. Take a moment to figure out what you’re really willing to risk.
Decision Elves are related to the Choice Fairies. We all make choices in life in how we want to spend our time. It’s called prioritizing. You always make time for the things that are most important and that is ultimately a choice. My ability to improve my French is solely based on how often I commit to practice and I mean in a whole hearted way; not “the I’m busy reading the same sentence from my French novel a million times because I’m distracted and not really reading”. As I start to work on a project that means I’m helping an organization shed its excess to reach a tighter argument on why prospects should financially support them, it also highlights for me what excess I want to shed so that I’m running a more efficient life that puts into place the foundation in achieving my goals. Hmmmm…pretty powerful stuff when you start recognizing that shedding the excess really does bring you to the core of yourself.
I hear that a lot of you want to start your own consulting business one day and that’s fantastic! You’re probably one step ahead of me because you’ve started thinking about your business plan. If you haven’t then here’s a template on the how to’s. I’m going to use it to see if I can actualize my Korean spa. Find a mentor and network like crazy!
Whenever I do trainings, I’m always fascinated with learning all the new technology and the psychology of a voter. Polling certainly outlines the potential of a race and how certain pressure points are affecting voters’ choices in candidates. With states doing all kinds of different things in this election, it was interesting to read the forecast of election 2016 from this perspective.
In an effort to highlight more people who have created their own luck, I want to share profiles of people who inspire me to be as fierce as them – in business, in community, in life. I hope that their work ethic, drive and passion spur you to make your dreams into reality. Today, I’m highlighting Annie Choi of Found Coffee in Los Angeles. I’ve only met Annie once and it was through a mutual friend. I later learned that a work colleague of mine is also a patron of Annie’s coffee shop and that Annie’s sense of community is felt everyday (whether she’s there or not!). Annie and I became friends over Facebook and I’ve had a lot of fun observing her life with her team and her customers. You can read more of Annie’s story here. If you’re a fan of coffee and baked goods, you’ll want to visit the next time you’re in the LA area! Is there an inspiring figure you want to share with us? Let me know!
Thanks for reading/sharing and let me know what you think in the comments!
How fun is it that today’s post coincides with my birthday?! I’m taking a day to re-evaluate, reflect and re-energize. I think most people would consider the numerical value of my life as “middle aged” and although it’s just a number, I know that I have a lot of life still to live and learn. Whatever experiences that I’ve gone through, whether they’ve been positive or negative have brought about tremendous life lessons. I look forward to continuing this journey with you and sharing how we can make the most of life’s adventures!
Here’s Tuesday Truths!
This is basically the story of my life! As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, “I’m a Jill of all trades and a Master of nothing” and yet, I’ve managed to carve out a life that does a bit of this and that to make a professional career. So what happens when you recognize that you’re not good at anything particular? You create the totality of your portfolio to something that defines your success.
There’s definitely awkwardness when we’re going to networking events or receptions or just about any place where it’s required of you to meet people (maybe that’s why I’m an introvert!). I always believe that with a fair amount of practice and preparation, you can eliminate or at the very least, reduce the amount of awkwardness you face when you’re meeting people for the first time. Here’s a really great outline of what not to do as well as what you can do.
I’ve talked before about how staff can manage their bosses and how effective it can be to making your career (Devil Wears Prada). As a Gen Xer, I sometimes serve as a bridge between the Baby Boomers and the Millennials and regardless of where you fall into the spectrum, it helps to know that the tools used to manage your boss pretty much works in every instance. Are you a Millennial and your boss is a Baby Boomer? Learning about their preferred tools of communication is how you’re going to get in front of them and become a trusted ally. Same goes for the Baby Boomer working for the Millennial. It all comes down to communication and how best to message your point of view. I have donors who prefer to FAX me donor cards – they have the ability to go online and process their information but they CHOOSE to do it via fax. You know what? I love it! I’m going to take their money and it doesn’t matter to me how they want to give it. I still get it at the end. Being flexible and willing to provide the options to communicate how they see fit is where I’m going to meet them. It’s what is easiest for them, not me and just like your boss, you want to make life easy on them and in turn, they’re likely to do the same for you.
I believe in all of these things and I have to remind myself that it’s OK to not have all the answers. I’m certainly not the smartest person in the room and although I work by myself quite a bit, I also recognize that collaboration requires communication with a variety of personalities and leaders who can push individuals to throw out their best ideas demands that we teach leaders to create a safe space. I was doing a training in Philadelphia a few years ago with 2 other colleagues and while we were conducting the training during the day, we were also working at night to create content for our client. So we’re talking long hours and trying to be creative when we already put in a full day of work. We locked ourselves into a hotel room and just hashed out different scenarios. My colleagues were younger than me and I knew that I didn’t have the perspective of what people in their age group would want to see. Knowing my vulnerabilities and acknowledging them helped us to frame the objective. As a result, we were able to timeline a goal and get the project completed. It was my job to get all the possible ideas to reach the goal and set the deadlines to accomplish the tasks. What’s also important is giving credit to everyone because ideas that are equally invested and accomplished (good or bad) makes for a stronger team.
A really great article on identifying traits in people so as to better read them. I associate some of these types to the elected officials I work with and as a result, I have a better understanding of how they operate. It gives me a better sense of how I can present information to get the results that are more positive for me. Just like you can read people, they can also read you so whatever public persona you exude, don’t send mixed signals because then it creates confusion and you’re less likely to get people communicating with you in a style that you prefer.