Monthly Archives: December 2016

Tuesday Truths 2016 Edition v52

This is it – the last blog post for 2016 – thank the heavens because 2016 was hella rough! I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we make it to the other side unscathed and we kick off 2017 with some good energy.

Happy to See Ya 2017!

We’re doing a recap of the articles that were most read on the blog so some of them may be new to you if you recently joined the Arum Group community! Hope they continue to serve you on your professional and personal journeys.

Here’s the BEST of Tuesday Truths!

  • We’re looking for success in our lives and sometimes we’re our biggest obstacle. We form bad habits and it stops us from reaching our potential. Most often, the simplest of things can be the most complicated. Here’s the most read article of 2016 – 25 simple things to give up if you want to succeed.
  • These 2 articles tied for the 2nd most read: one relates to improving your resume (8 common resume mistakes to avoid), the other is about how to earn your manager’s respect.  A great read for those who are getting ready to jump into the job market and for those who may be looking to improve their work situation. Either way, great tools to get you in tip top shape for your professional portfolio.
  • It seems that readers care about their appearance because the next article deals with Dressing Like a Leader: Style Tips for Women in the Spotlight. Women get ridiculed for looking a certain way, regardless if they’re in leadership positions or not. Men have a pretty basic uniform and can convey their personality by a change of accessories. The cut of a suit can bring a certain swagger and that is a part of the brand image that you want to project. An ill fitting suit negatively impacts a brand – it doesn’t look professional if things are too tight or too loose. You want to own your image. If that means silver lamé or a hoodie w jeans combo then go all in and be comfortable with your choices. I like fashion as a statement of who I am so I take the time to think about the aesthetic. Others may not want to spend the time to think of what to wear so having a “uniform” that makes you comfortable in your power is what will bring your self confidence to the surface.

I hope you find inspiration to start 2017 and no worries if you find inspiration later down the road. My belief is you don’t need a calendar or a specific date to start – do it when you’re ready even when you think you’re not prepared (there’s only so much planning and researching you can do – dive in!) You’ve certainly inspired me to share these kinds of articles and I THANK YOU for keeping me accountable. See you next week, next year!

— Madalene



Tuesday Truths 2016 Edition v51

We’re in the throes of Winter Break and it’s a time to be spent with loved ones. I’m still in the midst of getting my office holiday cards done and writing proposals for potential clients, but I’m taking time to re-charge and to harness my energy for 2017. I’m truly an optimist. I believe in taking a pragmatic approach to life: assessing risk, looking at the different avenues for outcomes, and believing that there is good in the world, even when it seems like everything is falling apart. There are a few key people in my life that hear of my concerns and complaints because life isn’t always rosy, but I like to believe that I’m a messenger of positive thinking. There are times when I’m forcibly surrounded by negativity and I get defiant when people want me to go down that path with them. I like to find people’s strengths, especially those people who I consider to be friends and give them something positive to hold onto when darkness appears. I refuse to let anyone drag me into gloom. Let’s be real about the future and utilize one another’s strengths to get through it together.

C’mon the sun composed of French fries – no gloom doom here!

In the meantime, Tuesday Truths!

  • I know that there are a lot of you brushing up your resumes to prepare for transitions. You’ll probably want to do a triple spell check (I often try to get fresh eyes to read for grammatical errors because my fingers sometimes likes to type something else than what my brain is telling them) and you’ll probably want to confirm with your references that you’re using them as such (in advance please! I sometimes get calls from employers before I get the call from the person putting me down as a reference). It helps to know what kind of skills I should emphasize to help YOU get the job. If I’m talking about skills that aren’t that important to the employer, it doesn’t really help (just saying!). So don’t make these common resume mistakes!
  • Oftentimes, looking for a job when you’re unemployed is a full time endeavor. You work from home or if home is too confining, you work from a coffee shop or some other space to get out of the house. I’ve been on my own for 14 years without an official office and people ask me, “How do you separate work from home life?”. My easy answer is that I work certain hours just like I do when I used to go into an office. I don’t get distracted by home activities because I’m too busy with my to do list of work items. Procrastination doesn’t come in the form of doing laundry but if you follow me on snapchat (madalene.mielke) or instagram (madalenemielke), you’ll see that I sometimes do cooking during the work day. I have the flexibility to do that and I also know that I’m not cooking when I have a deadline. My work schedule during the work hours takes precedence and everything else fits around that schedule. You have to be disciplined to not let the distractions destroy what you really need to do (when there’s a Star Wars marathon, can you still do your work or do you know that you need to leave so that you can stay focused?). Creating habits and a routine will establish your work productivity just like having an office because now your home is your office!
  • December is generally filled with holiday parties and gatherings, which are opportunities to network. I’ve heard a lot of people during this season talk about how they really don’t want to hit up these functions because they hate the networking aspect but they know they have to because they’re about to be unemployed. It’s hard to get into a festive spirit when you’re going to these things because you feel the pressure of being “on”, you don’t really want to be there and you need to tell people of your situation so that you can ask for help. Let’s rewind to when you were employed and you went these functions because you actually enjoyed hanging out with people. You were probably approached by others talking about a similar situation. Networking should be viewed as constant communication and maintenance of your current network so that you can meet new people and expand the network. It’s a process that should happen ALL. THE. TIME. Not just in the times you need it. As an introvert that sounds totally and utterly PAINFUL. It really isn’t because when you think about how networking SHOULD work, you’re really planting the seeds for the future. Networking is about not getting anything in the immediate return. You want to connect people to one another and you want to help people who are in the room. The holidays are a good excuse to get into people’s faces so that if you ever find yourself in the “unemployed” situation, you actually will have a lot of people who will want to see you and help you.
  • When we talk about the realities of the job market, we recognize that there will be thousands of political appointees flooding the market come January 2017. Some have plans to go to graduate schools or fellowships, others will be moving back to their non-government jobs, while there will be those who will be competing in every type of government/non-profit/political sector job. Stay with me…this is giving recognition to the landscape and realizing that you are GREAT and it’s your self-confidence that needs a boost to power through this market. If you believe in yourself, you will be successful. Do not feed the doubts. Take care of your mind, soul & body because it’s the vessel in which you convey your confidence. You know your strengths and you know how you could be an asset to an organization so even when you think it looks bleak, your confidence will help you shine differently from the others.
  • I’m a non-practicing Catholic, meaning I was raised Catholic but as an adult I’ve made my own decisions on what parts of Catholicism I choose to believe and practice, one of them not going to church but participating in Lent. With that context, I usually give up meat every Lent because it is a choice that makes my life less convenient. It’s not that I enjoy meat so much that taking it away is a sacrifice, it’s more that it’s no longer a choice for me to have it becomes the sacrifice. Instead of giving up meat this year, I’ve decided that I don’t want to “sacrifice” anything because honestly, it’s a #firstworldproblem and I want to do more to give of myself. So I’m in the process of researching places where I can be a part of something bigger and volunteer my time and/or my skills to help those who are disadvantaged. Kindness may seem in short supply and I want to be a person who can learn from those who offer it freely as well as demonstrate it myself. Life can be cruel and the more I learn to be kind, I think it will help me to be a better leader in my work.
  • With the increase of hate crimes and outright physical attacks, it’s difficult to decide if you should intervene. Of course, you say but are you taking on more than you can handle? We all have good intentions and when in the moment, the person who is being affected should be made to feel safe and you as the intervener should help to defuse the situation, not escalate it. You would think that being in a crowd that people would jump to the aid of a person being attacked, but studies show that individual responsibility lessens in that kind of situation. Here are things that you should consider before you intervene so that everyone involved comes out safe in the end.

Wishing you all the best for this holiday season. Thank you for your continued readership! See you next Tuesday!

— Madalene




Tuesday Truths 2016 Edition v50

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Thanks to everyone who reached out to me regarding my last post of Tuesday Truths. You’re all very kind to be so supportive and my apologies if I caused any worry. I’m not going anywhere (just yet!), but I’m seriously taking a long view of where my firm is headed into the future. For 14 years, I have worked directly with candidates and elected officials, raising funds for their re-elections and as much as that aspect of my work was fulfilling and made me feel that I was part of a team, I have evolved as an individual as well as a consultant. I’m shifting my focus to provide more overall strategic advice, not just in fundraising but also in other fields outside of raising money. I will continue to do campaign fundraising and will spend more time managing staff to do that aspect while I work on other projects that will involve overall strategy. It’s hard wired into my brain to work around a congressional calendar and I no longer feel tethered to such constraints. It’s liberating and it’s also a bit terrifying to step outside of familiar territory, but that’s life – challenging yourself and spreading your wings to explore (can I get any more cliché – said in my best Chandler from Friends voice).

In the meantime, here’s Tuesday Truths!

  • If you’re looking for inspiration, look no further than this list of women elected officials who are rocking this country. I’ve been fortunate to work with some of them in getting them elected (even with their bad assery, some of them still had to give it multiple tries to win – meaning, don’t GIVE UP!). I know that they’ll be fighting for all of us so if you can spare a few dollars, think about supporting them as we head into 2017!
  • Teen Vogue has been crushing it with their post election articles and this doesn’t disappoint (although the topic saddens me that with such a diverse world, we’re talking about fighting discrimination). On a side note, I might be out of the demographic for the publication but I’m going to be supporting a fellow WOC in their EIC, Elaine Welteroth (the only 2nd African American to to hold the EIC title in Conde Nast’s 107 history). Back to talking about post-election -> I recently went to a town hall and heard many young women from a variety of backgrounds discuss their feelings. It’s so important to acknowledge those feelings and make room for one another. Love one another and own your identity. It’s been over a month since we woke up to the 2016 election results and I can tell you that I’m still struggling, for myself and for others. Melissa Harris-Perry created a syllabus to help you process how this all went down. Elections are complicated – candidates bring baggage involving the history of constituency politics and how people engage with one another. Even though I’ve been working in politics as an operative for 20 years, I can still learn from these materials and refresh my memory.
  • It’s always wonderful to see colleagues featured in articles sharing their work! Creating a welcoming atmosphere as well as putting some fun into a stressful work environment can go a long way to keeping staff motivated and cranking out their best work. Human resources does so much more than the paperwork when hiring new staff. Kudos to you Bernard Coleman!
  • During the 2016 election, I started working more on the media training side of politics, learning the tactics needed to defuse an argument, whether on the radio or on tv. It may seem to be counter intuitive, but agreeing with the person FIRST then using a segue way without the using the word “but” gets them to see that you agree with them without disqualifying their argument. The goal isn’t about being right – it’s about convincing them to get on your side. Use a bit of honey and it will bring people to see your point of view. If you’re looking for ways to have this kind of conversation without being overly confrontational then you’ll want to read this article.
  • You’ve got past the initial stage of sending in your resume and cover letter and now, you’re headed to the interview! Learn a few tips on body language so that you’re conveying a “HIRE ME” message of confidence and maturity.
  • When your boss is a micro-manager and you come out of the other side realizing that you learned a thing or two from that experience. Who enjoys being micro-managed? I’m sure not a one of you (or me for that matter!). Although I don’t see myself as a member of that crew (who would ever want to join?!), I suspect that my team would say that I’m a stickler on the details. I keep to the mantra of “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good”, but there are certain standards that need to be met time and time again if we’re going to be considered great at our jobs. Being treated poorly is very different than being held to a higher standard. I’ve always felt that when my team works well, it’s because we share in the responsibility and the accountability of one another. Let’s not let one another down. You do that by producing your best work. Sub-par is not acceptable when everyone else is pushing out top notch. It elevates everyone.

Thanks for reading/sharing and feel free to subscribe!

— Madalene




Tuesday Truths 2016 Edition v49

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I’m traveling down a path of change, not necessarily unwanted. Election outcome aside, I’m about to embrace a professional change in my own career so the opportunities that lie ahead of me are ones that will evolve with my own set of goals. I find myself facing a lot of uncertainty, where my professional identity is no longer fixed to the individual elected officials that I once represented. There’s a lot of freedom in re-designing my own brand and I look forward to the challenges and opportunities that await me.

Let’s get to Tuesday Truths!

  • Mindfulness has been a catch phrase when it comes to leadership. How useful is it if people aren’t learning how to use all facets of it? Mindfulness trainings are necessary so that people can learn how to address the 3 essential items to be more successful in leadership.
  • A majority of the people who have worked as associates on my team were usually recent college graduates and my office was their 1st experience in a professional setting. One of the 1st things that happens when joining a team is to earn your manager’s respect. Here are tips where you can make sure that you’re getting recognized for your work and how managers can better communicate their goals so that everyone gets a common result.
  • Looking for more ways to be productive? These slides can help break some mental barriers so that you can have better time management.
  • “It’s better to thank someone for the room they make for you than to apologize for taking up space in their lives.” – casual gratitude can make people feel better and some cases, live longer!
  • One of things that we learn on campaigns is that there are only 3 resources: people, time and money and the most important resource is time. It’s limited and extremely valuable because you can’t get anymore of it. So when you think about your own time, you have to be judicious on how you allocate it. Learning to say no on your time can be daunting so we’e got some ideas on how you can diplomatically decline.
  • When I was in mid twenties, I had my quarter life crisis and as a result, I burned out of politics. I was no longer interested in my selected career and decided to pursue something entirely different. When we work in stressful environments, the possibility of burning out increases so we always need to find personalized solutions to help us avoid the burnout. What do you do so that you can manage your stress?

Thanks for reading/sharing and if you have helpful tips, please let me know!

— Madalene