By Angela Lurie | Senior Regional Vice President, Robert Half

When I first heard about TeamWomen’s WaveMaker Awards, I thought, “Oh, this sounds like a program that recognizes women who rock the boat and make things happen!” Without knowing anything about the program, I figured that the honorees could be women worth knowing.

I was right.

What is it about these women that makes them special, and what can we all learn from them? As pioneers in their fields, WaveMakers are models of the entrepreneurial spirit. They possess a certain set of skills that empower them to maneuver through the rocky landscape of the professional world. Among those skills:

Networking – The best, most successful entrepreneurs didn’t necessarily go to the best schools or come from wealthy families; they simply surrounded themselves with the right people whom they knew would help them on their way to success.

Learning on the Go – WaveMakers see opportunities where others see obstacles. They’re always observant of the world around them. They understand that knowledge is power and are eager to pick up a variety of skills, even those that aren’t necessarily relevant to their work. This also means exposing themselves to new experiences and staying open to lessons beyond the classroom.

Self-Discipline – “Discipline is choosing between what you want now and what you want most.” Attributed to Abraham Lincoln, these words ring truer today than they did, perhaps, in Lincoln’s time. With 21st century distractions and opportunities for instant gratification screaming for our attention, not to mention the profound pressure they bring to the workplace, self-discipline is an essential practice for anyone who wants to succeed.

True Leadership – Contrary to what many believe, becoming a leader means that you are put in place to serve others. Leaders are mindful about showing empathy, listening, promoting teamwork and acknowledging the accomplishments of others.

Time Management – Entrepreneurs are driven by the need to get things done because every minute wasted is a lost opportunity. They are often trying to juggle the workload of five people. But with good time management, they can get everything done, and more.

Adaptability – Sometimes when the going gets tough, all an entrepreneur can do is simply wing it. Whatever your profession, you’re undoubtedly going to be thrown a few curve balls that require you to come up with solutions on the fly. Embrace that!

Grit – Pioneering psychologist Angela Duckworth, author of the best seller, Grit, says that the secret to outstanding achievement isn’t talent but a special blend of passion and persistence for a singularly important goal. In other words, grit. We all know what it’s like to fail or be told we cannot do something, but WaveMakers cultivate the ability to persevere.

Giving Back – “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” This timeless advice from Gandhi teaches us to find compassion within ourselves and adhere to values that benefit the common good. Not only does giving provide others with building blocks for a better future, it will help you grow as a person.

There are, of course, a multitude of other commendable characteristics personified by this year’s TeamWomen WaveMaker Awards finalists. The best way to characterize these outstanding women is to paraphrase Chief Political Correspondent and Anchor of State of the Union with Candy Crowley: Whatever they do, they are so good you can’t ignore them.

 Bravo to you all.

Angela Lurie is a Minneapolis-based senior regional vice president at Robert Half, the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm. For more information, visit http://www.roberthalf.com.

By Angela Lurie | Senior Regional Vice President, Robert Half

Finding a balance between professional responsibilities, personal responsibilities and self-care is an ongoing challenge for most women. This can be especially true during the summer, when kids are home from school, the weather is nice and vacation opportunities are aplenty.

A family vacation should be the perfect opportunity to recharge and refocus your priorities, but how often does that happen? Research from Robert Half has found that the majority of workers (56 percent) check in with the office while they’re supposed to be on vacation. While professionals in Minneapolis are among those most likely to fully disconnect, we aren’t immune to the pressure to keep up with our career even when we’re out of the office.

Perhaps more unsettling is that the trend is working against us. This summer, employees plan to take an average of nine days off, down from 10 in 2017, and younger employees typically feel a stronger urge to stay connected when they are away. Seven in 10 respondents ages 18-34 plan to check in with the office somehow while they’re on vacation. That’s a stark contrast to the 39 percent of respondents ages 55 and older.

Similar surveys uncover the same trend toward staying in touch when you’re supposed to be taking a break. In 2016, 59 percent of employees said they never check in while on vacation, but that number dropped to 47 percent in 2017 and 44 percent in 2018.

We all need time away from the office to recharge and boost productivity and creativity. Easier said than done? Try some of these tips to fully relax when you’re out of the office:

  • Plan ahead. As soon as you have your vacation on the calendar, make a list of what you need to take care of before you go and what potential issues could arise while you’re out. Having a plan in place will allow you to feel more confident things are under control in your absence. Plan meetings for the week you return (not back-to-back; you don’t want to undo the benefits of your vacation right away!) to catch up on what you missed.
  • Ask for help. Delegate tasks that can’t wait for your return, making sure to spread out the workload so as not to burn out one person. Take the time to share project updates, deadlines and access to important files before you leave.
  • Communicate. Let your boss, team and clients know when you will be away and that you will be unplugging. Asking if there’s anything you can do before you go can promote goodwill and possibly prevent problems from arising while you’re away.
  • Clarify exceptions. If you will be available for emergencies only, define what constitutes an emergency. If you can’t completely unplug, specify when you will be online, and stick to that schedule.
  • Let yourself unplug. Finally, give yourself permission to focus on your family, friends and/or self when your vacation begins. Remember that taking a break from work is important to doing your best work when you return. It’s just as important as responding to emails and meeting deadlines!

Taking vacation time is an important step to maintaining a strong work-life balance, but actually allowing yourself to enjoy your vacation is important too. Take advantage of opportunities to unwind, and allow yourself to do so without the guilt.

Angela Lurie is a Minneapolis-based senior regional vice president at Robert Half, the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm. For more information, visit http://www.roberthalf.com.

Judy Zimmer, president of Coachology.us and Debbie Kraemer, a project manager, were connected in the TEAMWomen Mentoring Program in 2017.  Both women have found value in the mentoring relationship and in this interview, both talk about the power of mentoring.

Debbie, what made you decide to seek out a mentor?

I didn’t choose the Team Women Mentoring program, I believe it chose me!  I was discussing my career journey with my sister-in-law, Beth Kraemer, and she told me about this group and all the benefits she has enjoyed from it.  Beth suggested that I sign up for the Mentoring program to help with my adventure of finding something new in my career.

Judy, this is your second time participating as a mentor.  What made you decide to work with a mentee?

I love working with engaging and successful mentees.  Debbie is a very successful business professional and strives to be even better.  She is an avid reader and has expanded my list of business books.  I have learned from her and she has learned from me.

Debbie, what has been the biggest surprise and most rewarding part of the mentoring relationship?

The most surprising experience I have enjoyed since joining the mentoring program is the positive, forward thinking shift in my mindset in only 3 ½ months, it has been simply amazing.

The most rewarding experience is meeting Judy and spending time with her.  She is a positive force who has made me realize I am capable of anything, the world is mine and I have everything I need inside myself to be successful and happy.

Debbie, what advice would you give to someone who doesn’t have a mentor?

I would tell another business professional who is hesitant about joining a mentoring program that we truly limit ourselves when we live inside our own head and believe all the negative stuff that we make up.  We can spend countless hours reading self-help books, listening to positive self-help podcasts and YouTube videos but we must ACT and do something to really be happy and fulfilled.  One of the best ways to do that is through a mentor who will help us to see how we are limiting ourselves and how to ‘break out of ourselves’.

Debbie, what would you say about the TeamWomen organization?

My experience with the Team Women Mentoring Program has been amazing, it has changed my mindset, helped me let go of negative thinking, raised my confidence level and I now have connections with hundreds of other strong women.

Judy, what would you say to TeamWomen members who have not participated in the program?

TeamWomen has an amazing process for matching mentors and mentees.  There is training, engaging meetings along the way and monthly mentoring topics.  Being a mentor is a wonderful way to serve the community and being a mentee is a great way to increase your professional profile, confidence and connections.  There are no downsides to the process.

 

Do You Have Fears?

Have you ever been paralyzed by fear? Of the unknown, of failing, of letting people down? Same. It’s not a fun place to be, and it limits your ability to dominate at life…whether that’s in work, in relationships, or in any number of endeavors.

Well, I think I just found the solution.

As someone who always wants to excel and take on the next challenge, I can get in my own head from time to time, thinking I’m not doing enough or achieving enough. I try to eat the whole world in one bite. When this happens, I have to slow down and realize (read: acknowledge) that the things I’m doing are steps in the right direction and are leading me closer to what I want to accomplish.

But what about when you have a very tangible fear – a decision you need to make that you’re afraid to move forward in, such as asking for a raise, taking a huge trip, getting in a serious relationship, or changing careers?

There is a TED Talk that gives a very simple (genius) three-step process of how to tap into an ancient approach to take a hold of your fears, rationally define them, and move on.

The TED Talk to End All TED Talks (or at least to help you tackle your fears)

The TED Talk I’m referring to is given by Tim Ferriss, an early-stage tech investor, best-selling author, and podcaster – and he came across a practice called “Stoicism” (sto-i-cism) – defined as the endurance of pain or hardship without a display of feelings and without complaint.

Before you roll your eyes at this definition (like I almost did), he focused on one specific aspect of Stoicism he calls “Fear Setting.” He defines this as the ability to confront your fears – visualizing the worst-case scenario in detail that’s preventing you from taking action – so that you can take action.

At first this sounded like a terrible idea. Who actually wants to take time to visualize the worst-case scenarios of your fears…even if they are rolling around in your head already? Well let me tell you, this had a different twist than I expected – and it provided a very positive, tangible outcome. I plan to use this technique in the future and thought others might benefit from it as well.

See below for my cliff-notes version of his three-step process. I think this can revolutionize how many of us tackle our fears and move onto greater things!

3-Steps to Dominating Your Fears

PULL OUT A PIECE OF PAPER.

Step 1:

Write down what you are afraid of.  (E.g., asking for a raise)

  1. Define: Write down 3-10 things that could go wrong if you move forward with your decision to do the thing you’re afraid of (e.g., my boss might not take me seriously and I won’t be able to ask for a raise again for a long time)
  2. Prevent: Write down 3-10 things correlating to the above for how you could prevent those negative items from happening. (e.g., do research prior to talking to my boss about a raise and have resources to back-up my appeal)
  3. Repair: Write down 3-10 things that could make each above item go a little better even if they do go wrong (e.g., if your company doesn’t have budget to give you a raise, you could ask for a different benefit – such as more PTO, working from home one day/week, etc.)

 

Step 2:

Write down what the benefits might be of an attempt or partial attempt.

Conservatively…what could go great if you tacked the fear at hand? If you attempted whatever you’re afraid of, could you build emotional skills, financial skills, etc.?

 

Step 3:

Write down the cost for inaction. What could result if you do not face the fear at hand (emotionally, physically, financially, etc.) – in the next 6 months, 1 year, 3 years? Based on your anticipated outcome, is inaction no longer an option?

In doing this exercise, the TED Talk speaker claims that you’ll find that many of your fears are irrational, and avoiding them can put you in a worse position than tackling them head-on. That said, there are fears you may go through this practice with, and you’ll conclude that they are fears for a good reason and you should not go through with them. Regardless, by going through this exercise, you’ve given yourself time to consider your options, and make a well thought-out decision based on evaluation.

Now What: How to Apply This To Your Life

When you face obstacles that are stopping you in your tracks, consider this method. Tim Ferriss recommends doing this practice once per quarter or any time you’re paralyzed by a decision. He and others who have put this into practice have seen much success and have avoided large mistakes! This is really contributed to giving themselves mental space to deal with tough things in life and make good decisions based on evaluation.

One great quote from Tim Ferris was,” The biggest choices we face, will never be solved with comfortable conversations.”

What courageous conversations do you need to have with yourself today?

This blog is based on TED Talk: Why You Should Define Your Fears Instead of Your Goals by Tim Ferriss. 

 

“Be yourself – not your idea of what you think somebody else’s idea of yourself should be.”

– Henry David Thoreau

Authenticity is not easy to attain and it is even more difficult to sustain. With the constant bombardment of other people’s thoughts and opinions sometimes it’s incredibly difficult to express or even recognize your own beliefs and desires. Being your authentic self-requires making intentional decisions that are true to you and the life you want to have both personally and professionally. In the workplace, valuing authenticity can make for wonderful leaders and excellent employees.

Whether you hold a leadership role in your company or not, you may find it challenging to bring aspects of yourself into the workplace for fear of not fitting with the company norm. Being authentic should not be confused with “say whatever you like and do whatever you like.” The company’s structure, mission, and values should be respected; if your individual values don’t align with those of the company you work for you may want to consider a change. That being said, all companies should encourage authenticity. Employees put forward the persona that they believe their company or employer desires, which can cause them to live an inauthentic or “divided” life. This can happen to those at the executive level as well. Top executive leadership experts, Dina Rauker and Janet Feldman discuss this in their article, How Being Authentic Accelerates Leadership in Women. “The dissonance caused by living an inauthentic or divided life can be a significant energy drain for women executives, and may be a factor in why some women opt out of the leadership track.” Life is exhausting enough. Don’t try to live life in a way someone else thinks you should. Give your company, family, and friends the best version of yourself.

With authenticity comes an opportunity for greater self-awareness. Self-awareness allows you to see your strengths and weaknesses, and with this knowledge, you can highlight the areas in which you excel and rely on others to assist you with the areas in which you struggle. People who can recognize the best parts of themselves and those around them make excellent employees, but more importantly, they make extra ordinary leaders. Authenticity also helps us self-reflect to define our sense of purpose. With purpose comes the motivation and drive to take on risks and challenges that could lead to new opportunities and if you are a leader your motivation can inspire others.

Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.

– Albert Schweitzer

For more information on how authenticity and leadership go hand in hand, check out Dina Rauker and Janet Feldman’s article.

The signature event for TeamWomenMN drew a record crowd to the Minneapolis Event Centers on May 5, 2017. More than 420 women from the Twin Cities and beyond turned out for TeamWomen MN’s annual Leadership Conference. (Photo’s can be accessed here: http://smu.gs/2s9kP23 (photo credits: Julie Sturek, that.moment.frozen photography)

Keynote speaker India Hicks was a huge draw for the conference titled, “Fearless Women, Fascinating Minds.” She began her talk by sharing her background. As a young woman, she was a bridesmaid for the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana. She also discussed her decision to start up her own company, selling a collection of beauty accessories with the help of a team of “ambassadors,” who as a result of the partnership are inspired to pursue their own dreams.

“It’s so important when you are starting a business to really dig deep and understand it before you begin,” she said, explaining that she did plenty of research before launching her company. “You also need to understand your own strengths.”

Also presenting at the conference was Marion Parke, who left a job in medicine to enter the footwear industry. She talked about how she launched her business and the lucky breaks that got the company going. “I’m often asked what advice I would give people interested in starting a business. I say don’t ditch your day job until you know if it will work,” she said. “I still have my podiatry practice to fall back on. My message to other women is to follow your dreams and be deliberate about it.”

Linda Schwefel, managing partner of Discover Yourself, Inc., talked about the importance of maintaining extraordinary relationships and the role good communication plays in it. “Communication is 7 percent about what you say and 93 percent about who you say it to,” she said, also pointing out how everything we do is based upon perception. “Think about interacting with people every day on a more conscious level. Be aware of who you are and how you show up.”

She also led an exercise that helped women in the room better understand their personalities and how they are perceived, pointing out where people fall on the color chart. Those who are task focused, driven and demanding have red energy. Those who are calm, caring and good listeners have green energy. People who are data driven and analytical are considered blue, and the fun, energetic, enthusiastic women have yellow energy. “Understand how the people around you need to be motivated, and motivate them that way,” she said.

Also presenting at the conference were national fitness expert Chris Freytag, who shared why being healthy is the number one way to a good life; Pam Borton, founder of TeamWomen MN, who spoke about the importance of investing in yourself and how best to manage teams; Julie Schissel Loosbrock of Corporate Soul Infusion focused on how soul is the essence of who we all are and how to nurture our souls so we can achieve great thing; Retired FBI agent Deborah Pierce and retired CIA officer Patti Weber talked about leadership lessons learned; and CBS Survivor contestant Holly Hoffman spoke about never giving up.

The event also featured an awards presentation. Brigadier General Sandra L. Best was named Leader of the Year, Lisa Huey of Merrill Lynch was named Member of the Year and Beverly Mestelle was recognized with the Board Service Award. The event concluded with a Happy Hour and special vocal performance by Kat Perkins, finalist on NBC’s The Voice.

“The success of the conference exceeded our expectations! The energy in the room was truly contagious. On behalf of our entire team, we thank all those who contributed their time, creativity and spirit to this conference – especially our amazing line-up of speakers and sponsors,” said Katy Burke, TeamWomenMN Executive Director.

For more information about TeamWomenMN and how to get involved with the organization, go to http://www.teamwomenmn.org.

EVENT RECAP: TEAMWOMENMN ANNUAL WOMEN’S LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE

By Christina Milanowski (@ChristinaMila), Vice President and Social Media Director at Maccabee, a Minneapolis-based strategic public relations and online marketing agency. You can read the original post on MaccaPR blog.

As a lifelong learner, I love hearing how respected business leaders have navigated successes and challenges during their careers. Although more and more women are taking leadership positions (the number of female CEOs is increasing), the majority of business leaders tend to be male (the top 27 highest paid CEOs in Minnesota are all men, for example).

That’s one reason why I jumped at the opportunity to attend the annual women’s leadership conference on May 5th at the Minneapolis Event Center. It was my first TeamWomenMN event. I was inspired by the sheer number of attendees and the speeches by many of the respected women leaders. Here are 6 leadership lessons from speakers Chris Freytag, Marion Parke, Linda Schwefel, Deborah Pierce, Pam Borton and Julie Schissel Loosbrock:

 

“STRIVE FOR PROGRESS, NOT PERFECTION”

-CHRIS FREYTAG

It’s no surprise that passionate “fitfluencer” Chris Freytag, who is a KARE-11 TV contributor and Get Healthy U social community founder, presented on the topic of health. She explained that in health, as in our daily work lives, perfection can be the enemy of good. To achieve big goals, Freytag recommended starting by adjusting your mindset. Remove the stress of lofty goals. Instead, focus on what progress can be made toward them.

 

“NOBODY SUCCEEDS ALONE”

-MARION PARKE

Female entrepreneur Marion Parke founded the Marion Parke women’s shoe collection by merging her professional expertise as a podiatric surgeon with her love for luxury footwear. Her advice to fellow business leaders? “Nobody succeeds alone. Admit what you don’t know.” Ask questions, do your research, and surround yourself with smart people. Since founding her shoe line, Parke credits her success has been in large part due to the quality of the team she brought together.

 

“STRETCH YOUR PERSONALITY TYPE EVERY DAY”

-LINDA SCHWEFEL

Linda Schwefel, a consultant of the Insights Discovery, presented on how to communicate in full color. Interpersonal skills come down to body language and, to a lesser extent, your words and tone of voice. The Insights Discovery framework is similar to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, but it centers on four color energies (blue, red, green and yellow). Often asked which energy type makes the best leader, Schwefel explained that everyone can be a great leader, so long as you stretch your personality style. As an example, if you have a task-focused red energy, try to bring more passion and understanding from the opposite, green energy. Whether you’re stronger in the “feeling” or “thinking” personality styles or consider yourself to be an introvert or extrovert, she explained how important it is to know your personality type. Good leaders understand and lead based on their individual personality types and interpersonal dynamics.

 

“CAPABILITY, CREDIBILITY, CONFIDENCE & COURAGE”

-DEBORAH PIERCE

One of my favorite TeamWomenMN sessions featured former FBI executive Deborah Pierce and former CIA executive Patti Weber. This dynamic duo began their careers in what was the largely male-dominated world of law enforcement and intelligence, and have since retired as the Pierce-Weber Partnership.

Pierce recommended that other women leaders employ her four Cs:

  • Capability– Do the job! Focus on the mission, prioritize and organize.
  • Credibility– Gain respect. Do the job well, deal with problems head on, and take care of yourself.
  • Confidence– Be sure of yourself. For Pierce, she found it best to compartmentalize work and family. Reward excellence.
  • Courage– Be open to change. Take risks. Be collaborative. Establish trust. Laugh.

 

“EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE KEEPS YOU IN YOUR JOB”

-PAM BORTON

Perhaps you’ve found your way to your career successes through hard work and being smart in your chosen profession, but former University of Minnesota women’s basketball coach Pam Borton explained that “what gets you here, won’t get you there.” Now serving at Minnesota-based Borton Partners as a coach to executive-level leaders, Borton finds that her most successful clients work to recognize their own emotions and the emotions of others in their business. She recommends that women leaders be self-aware, understand others and manage relationships with that emotional intelligence.

 

“INFUSE YOUR SOUL”

-JULIE SCHISSEL LOOSBROCK

Senior Vice President of HR at Deluxe Corporation Julie Schissel Loosbrock believes that her company exists not only to generate ROI, shareholder value and profit, but also to provide well-being for the customer, Deluxe employees and their families. Recent psychological trends suggest that a company needs both an analytical side and a social side to achieve better business results. Bestselling books, like Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experiences by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, show how true happiness can greatly improve the quality of our lives. In fact, there’s evidence that organizations with executives who lead with both their heads and hearts perform better. As a result, Loosbrock’s belief that business leaders are best served bringing happiness into workplace culture has been a cornerstone of success in her current role at Deluxe.

 

For a bonus read, don’t miss this Business Insider article, “Why Women Are More Effective Leaders Than Men,” that examines leadership characteristics across gender. Though women scored higher than men in most competencies, including “takes initiative” and “practices self-development,” men scored higher on two competencies: “develops strategic perspective” and “technical or professional expertise.”

 

Thanks to the leaders featured above who shared their leadership lessons with a room full of more than 400 women (and 5 men) last week! Please comment below with your favorite advice for business leaders.

 

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