I’m getting ready to get back on the road again! Leaving for the Bay area to do another training and hopefully experience cooler temperatures than the DC humidity. On a non work related topic, whose been watching GoT??? I’m loving the women characters from the premiere. Lady Mormont maybe small and she doesn’t need anyone’s permission! #FeminisimRules
Work is work and sometimes we get caught in the notion that you have to love your work to be happy in life. Life isn’t meant to be perfect because you need the ebb and flow to understand gratitude. Recognizing when the benefits of your work outweigh the challenges is really the key to understanding if you’re doing what you love. It’s probably the reason why I continue to review the past 15 years as an entrepreneur with rose colored glasses. I can barely remember the times when I wanted to throw in the towel because all of the benefits outweigh the challenges. It’s good to know what drives your purpose because when your work becomes a career, it can also be an adventurous journey. Here are a few extraordinary women who share how they made their careers into an adventure.
As a woman, I know all too well the pressures that society places on my gender in both a professional and personal context. For the longest time, my own mother (who has been an independent woman for all of her life) really didn’t understand why I didn’t want to get married and because she raised a stubborn daughter, I pointedly didn’t get married when she wanted me to just so that I could say that I did it out of my own choice and not by being harangued into it. Living in DC, where everything is not normal, I see women who chose to have children later in life and women who decided to get married in their 30s+ or not at all. I have also shared how the “outside/normal” world thinks about women candidates/elected officials who are single or who don’t have children. Society continues to place pressure on gender roles and finding a workplace that takes that into consideration is extremely forward thinking. This has led to new opportunities for businesses to fill in the gaps. There are now maternity concierge services that will help women with the issues that they normally deal with so that they can focus on returning to work. It’s helpful in getting the tasks done so that women aren’t trying to do it all however it doesn’t address the same societal pressure that it’s women who have to be the ones responsible in executing these tasks.
I’m trying to be more present these days which means, I don’t look at my phone. I have an app that tells me each week how much time I spend on a particular app where I’m trying to curtail my engagement. I try to spend one day of the weekend where I don’t read my email and I don’t respond to work. I don’t want my life to be a series of hours that were meant to catch up. So if you’re learning how to unplug, here are a few suggestions so that you can properly decompress and come back refreshed.
We live such crazy hectic lives that it seems a little out of place to slow down. I have to be honest and tell you that I have a lot of guilt if I’m not doing a million different things (which is a horrible habit). My brain is constantly firing away at different thoughts and projects that it physically hurts when I have to focus **all** of my attention to accomplish one action. You should have seen me last week responding to my French tutor in French in an email. It’s been more than 6 months since I used my brain to speak, let alone think, in another language. You could virtually see the steam coming out of my ears because my brain was working so hard. So it’s a nice reminder to everyone, including myself that it’s OK to slow down. I used to drive a lot more than I do now and I used to listen to NPR or the BBC on the radio and I can’t do that anymore because listening to the news is too depressing. So the alternative to listening to the news is silence, which is an act of kindness to myself. Silence is so rare and I do my best thinking when there is no noise but my thoughts. Hence, my best thinking comes from when I take a shower, but maybe TMI. Nonetheless, I like driving in silence and I can say that I’m meditating (sorta).
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Big day today! We’re getting a new U.S. Representative for CA34 sworn into Congress. Exciting times! This past weekend, I was in Los Angeles for another client, America’s Opportunity Fund (AOF) doing a training for AAPI campaign operatives and candidates. It was terrific to meet local activists and help them move ahead with their political careers. I’ll be in the Bay area in 2 weeks and can’t wait to see everyone!
Here’s Tuesday Truths!
I tremendously loved reading this post because I’m a horrible small talker (yes, believe me especially since I work in an industry where communication is key) and really alerted me to a basic reminder: everyone just wants to connect with the people they meet. Strangers may or may not become friends but they become less strangers to one another. The secret to small talk is being unafraid to be awkward. Easier said than done. So when I remind myself to give zero f*cks, I became a more open person to opportunity and connection. Be your awkward self and people will see that you’re authentic.
Being a woman is HARSH. There are so many challenges and outside variables that nag at your self confidence. Are you married? Do you have children? Where are you in your career? Is there a growing competition between older and younger women? I am fortunate to have good genes that disguise my mid 40s age. I also have a mindset that allows me to stop thinking about age (whether it’s me or my friends/colleagues). For the longest time, I couldn’t track my friends’ ages. I knew that we were relatively in the same age group due to job experience etc but it wasn’t until they publicly celebrated milestone birthdays did I really see an age attached to them. IMO, there are women who are truly ageless, not because they look a certain way, more because they have a variety of friends of different ages, generally are current on technology and are compassionate/passionate advocates for their work & lives. I see the women who mentor me who are in their 70s & 80s and think, when I started in this business they were well into their 50s and they continue with such grace and veracity. The ageless generation (women who are in their 40s-50s) are my inspiration to keep myself curious and creative.
I obviously love what I do because I spend a lot of my weekends doing it as well! I remember when I worked in the hospitality industry and realized that my schedule no longer aligned with my friends (they had weekends and my definition of a weekend may have been a Monday-Thursday and be non-consecutive). I recognized that the industry wasn’t right for me and also that I’m the type of person who would easily give up a traditional weekend if it meant doing what I loved. So if you’re in a job situation that doesn’t meet your passion, then you should consider a few things before you decide to throw in the towel. You maybe feeling a little stuck and you’ll have to assess the situation but if you’re living only towards the weekend, it’s a red flag that’s also blinking DANGER DANGER.
Over the weekend, I was in Baltimore for the DNC Future Forum supporting one of the Vice Chair candidates, Rep. Grace Meng in her re-election to the DNC. Years ago, I worked on another Vice Chair race for the DNC when Rep. Mike Honda was elected to that position and this go around reminded me why I’m a Democrat (not that it really takes much to remind me of my personal values). I hold particular personal views about who I am as a Democrat and my travels around this country have always reminded me that my version of being a Democrat isn’t necessarily someone else’s version, but it doesn’t lessen the significance when we talk about our allegiance to the Democratic Party. We talk about the D Party being one of a big tent: welcoming those from different faiths, gender, ethnicity – the whole gambit. Yet when we talk about how much of a progressive are you, we start towards the slippery slope to having a litmus test. I once worked at the New Democrat Network and was deemed “Republican lite” from my colleagues in Labor and the more progressive wing of the Party. That doesn’t sound very much like a welcoming attitude :/ Every person should be allowed the space to evolve in their views. With education and awareness, people can actually move towards ideas that were once not so welcomed into their personal sphere. Respectful discussion can create opportunities for evolution. Any kind of talk where attack of character or the disdain of geographical difference or industry only leads to more conflict. Understanding each other’s perspectives and teaching one another contrasting stories helps to educate and better understand what it means to be in someone else’s shoes. Just like we can’t expect all of the U.S. to fit a particular model, we can’t expect a Party that has diversity as its greatest asset to be of one particular mindset. We may all share core values and want to promote those values together so let’s also welcome the diversity of ideas that allows all of us to proudly say that we’re Democrats.
Here’s Tuesday Truths!
A common habit that I’ve noticed in people in senior leadership positions is their inability to listen to feedback when having a tough conversation. I totally understand what it means when someone is coming at you with negative criticism. When I share feedback, I do my best to come from a place where everyone involved understands that I want us as a team to do better together. When one piece is dragging, it brings everyone down and if we’re performing at our peak then we’re hitting all the right notes. When you represent a client or a MoC or someone in a hierarchy, your actions also reflect on that person and/or organization. I’m all for nipping bad habits in the bud so that they don’t continue and they don’t spread. When a supporter shares feedback, it’s to help and to figure out how to do something better. When you’re not present or when you try to win the “battle” of this is how we’re doing a certain task, it doesn’t endear you to your supporter. In fact, it can cause them to walk away because you’re not listening. The urge to be right can be overwhelming. OMG – it’s like a drug – the feeling you have when you KNOW you’re right and you want to stomp out your opponent. Guess what, when people are on the same team and giving you constructive criticism, you want everyone to be right.
More self-care tips! This time related to not going crazy when you’re following all of the DJT news. On my personal twitter, I keep lists and that allows me to step away from the constant political barrage, but there are times when even on my lists for “fashionista” and “culinary inspiration”, tweets seep in regarding DJT and that’s OK. Just the act of reading something else un-related to work can help soothe my constant feeling that I need to be doing something for the resistance. It helps that I journal more and that allows me to recognize how much gratitude I have for life itself. There are times when I feel some guilt for having fun and that’s not good for me. Being able to spread and share joy into the world is important so I hope that you’ll take the time to do that for yourself and others. Vogue has ideas on how to manage anxiety as we continue to move forward in a DJT administration.
I don’t consider myself a fashionista (I can’t tell you from which collection an accessory or piece came from — Spring, Winter, resort etc but I do have a sense of what I like) so it’s cool when my social media feeds gets populated with more fashion news than usual. New York Fashion Week (NYFW) has started so seeing designers weigh in with political commentary through their creations is an added benefit. The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) has partnered with Planned Parenthood of America to create pins. Choosing how to dress as a political statement has been historical with how women have chosen to push the boundaries. Being forced to wear a corset vs being Madonna and doing it whenever you want is about choice & not social conformity. PoliticsxFashion is an interesting intersection.
If you had to read one thing in Tuesday Truths for this week, read this! Excellent outline on how to re-shape or course correct your life. It’s not just about today because every action you take leads to something else so that it brings you to your destination. Stop moving long enough so that you can take strategic steps to get to your bigger picture. I find that most people who talk with me about how to move forward in their careers aren’t thinking about the big picture because they haven’t stopped long enough to recognize what they truly want. It doesn’t have to be perfect. You can think BIG and you can work towards those bigger goals when you take the time to reflect.
I hope that you had a relaxing holiday! I’m ready to tackle the next few weeks so that I can mentally prepare for 2017. Tis the season for reflection and setting goals. So let’s take a look at Tuesday Truths to see how we can jump start the new year.
Sometimes when you set goals and not meet them, you wonder if they were too lofty or question if you have the stamina to reach them. What’s important is to realize that you need to set your goals that motivate you to achieve them vs make you more frustrated. Here are a few tips that you can use so that you can make those goals achievable as well as keep you moving towards the bigger picture.
With the new year comes a fresh start and there are times when we take risks to shake things up a bit so how do you make a risky move less risky? Before you jump into the deep end, you can do “life design interviews” to see if a change in careers is really in the cards for you. Something I probably should have done when I had my quarter life crisis!
Women have a more challenging environment in our professional careers because it’s not the social norm to have a life that includes family and professional achievement all rolled into one. We are questioned about our priorities of having children over the financial bottom line for the companies where we work. It’s a time in our lives when we start to question how do we prioritize? How does this connect with our personal achievements and goals? Ambition isn’t a dirty word. It’s also important to recognize that women have complicated roles in society and when we’re placed in positions where men are the norm, there are societal pressures that put women in a bind. We are constantly asserting ourselves while trying to please everyone else.
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It’s supposed to be a “quiet” week with the Jewish holidays and the Pope visiting (which I’m fortunate enough to have a ticket to the arrivals ceremony at the White House) but with all of these events this week, I’m getting ready for a wedding next weekend out of town and when I get back, all crazy will be breaking loose with back-to-back events the last week of September. Which means I really need to get my life together so that whatever happens the last week I can go with the flow. I like to be as prepared as possible which is kinda funny because believe or not, I’m a HUGE procrastinator. No one ever believes me when I say that because they think I’m a little OCD and a list maker extraordinaire. I LURVE to make lists, it’s the checking things off that can get a little tedious. That sensation of seeing an fully checked To-Do list is pretty exhilarating. I hate when things hang over my head so the procrastinating tends to get curbed because I like knowing that I don’t owe anyone anything. The ball is in your court 🙂 If you’ve read the blog long enough, I’m a triage type of do-er. I’m constantly evaluating my priorities list to get the most important to do items out of the way first. If you’re in DC, I hope you get to telework during the Pope’s visit. I hear the traffic is going to be insane.
Here’s Tuesday Truths!
Living in DC, I oftentimes feel like I live in a bubble and once I depart the confines of the Beltway, can I accurately get a sense of what living in the US can truly mean: regular people who don’t talk about politics at a Saturday night dinner party or think about the next maneuvering of the budget. I spend my time with a very diverse group of people who tend to think very similarly as me so my experience of microaggression is not the same as those who work in larger organizations or engage with people who are not accustomed to seeing people who are not like themselves. Microaggressions occur from people who unwittingly don’t recognize the impact of their words and how it affects the position of power. We’ve become more aware of it as we have become a more diverse society and the more we learn about it, the better we can address the issues that are behind it. Is it better to have blatant racism vs the microaggressions? Can you tell the difference if someone is well intentioned vs slyly sneaking in a comment? This world is a tough place and it comes from all sides. We are not perfect and every experience is a lesson.
This is a longer read but well worth the time. I was raised in a multicultural house with a Caucasian father and an AAPI mother, where I spent a lot of time with Caucasians and was fortunate to live in a diverse neighborhood with AAPIs and African Americans. So when reading the article, it helped to educate me about the privilege that exists within a much bigger ecosystem than I have personally experienced. Checking your privilege can be a challenge when you’re thinking, “I just want to be an ally and show my support” and it’s even more challenging to maintain your composure when racism occurs in your community. My takeaway: put others first.
There are times when I think I want to pick up and move to Star’s Hollow (for all you non Gilmore Girls fans, it’s a fictional town in Connecticut) and become a regular at Luke’s diner. What that contemplation really means is that I would like to live in a sleepy town where I have no adult responsibilities but I think due to my personality, I would either help a candidate run for Mayor of Star’s Hollow or start my own small business selling party supplies. So regardless of where I lived, I would still be “adulting”. My point in all of this is that there are times when instead of contemplating moving, I should just take a breath and not be so hard on myself. Here are a few reminders of how you can take a break from being an adult so that you can get right back at it later.
Hey Type A Millennial this Generation Xer doesn’t have all the answers either, although I tend to ask myself constantly, “What’s next?”. Remember! Don’t compare yourselves to your peers and definitely don’t compare yourselves to those who have been around the block a lot longer. I spend a good portion of my time with women who are younger who I have seen grow in their careers and although our relationships have evolved into being colleagues, I still have more years on them and with that a certain amount of stability. It’s not a competition and there’s certainly no judgement on how you envision your life.
For those of us who work in politics and especially in the niche of communications, messaging is crucial to position your narrative the way you want others to see it. Apply those same techniques to your own story when you’re up for a promotion or a job interview and you would have flipped the script.
I’ve got an article for more seasoned readers and that might mean managers who are starting out. Things that you’ll need to consider as you continue to ascend into your career and become less reliant on a support system to help you. It can be lonely at the top so you’ll need people to bounce ideas but know that you’re standing alone because you make the decisions. Self reflection can make you check yourself as long as you stay honest.
Want to be a good employer/leader of your team? Here are the top complaints from direct reports about their bosses. Effective communication is key. Recognize a trait that you need to strengthen? Assessment is half the battle!
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