I am woman, hear me roar!
Oh yes, I am wise, but it’s wisdom born of pain
Yes, I’ve paid the price, but look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong
I am invincible
I AM WOMAN!
~Lyrics from “I Am Woman” by Helen Reddy
Women are strong, sexy, intelligent, resourceful, nurturing, intuitive and resilient. Sometimes being all of these things (and more) comes at a price. As women, there are times when we become depleted and we need to be inspired, rejuvenated and our fire needs reigniting.
Reading is one of the most empowering things any person can do for themselves. A good book–I mean a really good book–can touch your soul, heal your heart and stir your creative juices.
Below is a list of 20 books that every woman should read. They will inspire, educate, transform and bring back your roar! Read more.
We’ve all been there. You’re between pay checks, running low on cash and then disaster strikes and you need money–now. Or you get paid on Friday and find yourself broke on Monday. You have too much integrity or are too scared to rob a bank…but the thought has crossed your mind.
Don’t fret! I am here to help.
Below is a list 20 perfectly legal and legitimate ways to get your hands on some cash in a pinch. Some of the ways are more suitable for some than others but the list will provide you with options and more importantly get you to generate your own creative ideas on how to increase your cash flow.
Keep in mind that these are short-term solutions. The real solution to your money problems is proper money management and planning (a.k.a. budgeting). Learning to live below your means, delaying gratification, eliminating debt and reducing your dependency on credit are the keys to financial freedom.
Featured image by Chris Potter on ccPix.com
Podcasts, similar to wide leg pants and Mohawks, are experiencing a huge comeback. Popularized by the iPod in the early 2000s, these short-form audio files experienced huge (albeit short-lived) success. Originally, the files were too large and painful to download and a lot of the topics were a bit abstract and obscure for the average taste, so the podcast slowly died — until now.
The Podcast is back and better than ever! Apple reported that podcast subscriptions via iTunes eclipsed the one billion mark. Technology has changed the face of this audio file. Downloading is no longer necessary, they can be listened to anywhere, and within their niches the topics are mainstream. Best of all, they are free!
Gone are the days when we had to learn things the hard way. Experience may be the best teacher but having access to critical information can save time, money, and a ton of aspirin. Being an entrepreneur is tough. It can be lonely and a ton of work if you are doing it right. Having access to solid information at the right time could mean the difference between your startup exploding into a huge success or slowly fizzling out and joining the ranks of the 90 percent that fail.
An easy, efficient, and portable way to get great information concerning all things entrepreneurial is by listening to podcasts. We’ve assembled a list of 30 podcasts that should be on the playlist of every entrepreneur: Read more.
Featured image courtesy of maxpixel
Anyone that has ever endured the joys of a job interview has probably been faced with some variation of the dreaded, “tell me about your strengths and weakness,” question. This question is incredibly obscure and tricky to navigate. Should you answer honestly?
“My strengths are I am the life of the party, I don’t do hard drugs, I’m tall and I have a great sense of humor. My weaknesses are I am always late, have problems with authority, steal office supplies and love to tell dirty jokes in meetings”
Or, should you give an answer that is vague and where your weaknesses are actually strengths in disguise, such as:
“I am a hard worker, a logical and analytic thinker and work well with others. My weaknesses are that sometimes I work too hard, I am a perfectionist, I am always over prepared and I meet every deadline – no matter how impossible it is…”
While the first response is incredibly honest and the employer knows exactly what they are getting – you probably won’t get hired. The second response is obvious bull crap and while you may get hired, you’ve essentially set yourself up to fail. You’ve also shown the hiring personnel that you lack the ability to personally reflect and self-analyze.
Before we dive in and work on how to answer this question, it’s important to understand why the interviewer is asking it. The main reason the hiring manager or team asks this question1 is to try and determine if you possess qualities that will enable you to succeed. They also want to know what qualities you have that could hinder your job performance. Simple as that.
Now that you know why interviewers ask this question and what they are looking for, you can craft a response tailored to accurately satisfy this question. Let’s look at the strengths first: Read more.
Do you ever feel that you are investing in the dreams and success of others while neglecting your own? You punch a clock day in and day out, earn a meager paycheck for performing mundane tasks far beneath your capabilities, and for what–to help catapult someone else to success? If so, you are not alone. Many people are trapped in a cycle of chasing someone else’s dream for them, while theirs go unrealized.
Being an entrepreneur is the sexy new trend these days. Everyone seems to be doing it. What if you were to gain the necessary capital needed to launch your own business- would you? Or would the fear of failure stop you dead in your tracks?
If you chose to heed fear’s warning, you may be smarter than you think. Your fear is rational and not without merit. Building a startup is hard. That’s the tough reality despite all of the hype, glamor, and sexiness surrounding entrepreneurship. Statics show that over 90 percent of startups fail. The odds are not in your favor.
What about that small 10% who do manage to become successful? Their success is not accidental nor did it happen by chance. These young entrepreneurs prove that success is possible despite the odds. Everyone — from the young budding business person to the one looking to get out of debt — can learn something from these savvy upstarts. Read more.
Ab season is quickly approaching. For some, it’s a time for lazy days spent in a bikini or a breezy shirtless run at sunset. For others, it’s a time for weak dieting attempts and sad, sporadic bouts of ab exercises. The result, most likely, will be a two pack (if you’re lucky) by summer’s end.
This article is for those of us who want to look good and find ourselves frustrated by the never-ending quest for the perfect midsection.
The abs (a.k.a. the abdominal muscles) are only a small fraction of your core muscles. Your core is a complex series of muscles that includes your entire trunk region. It involves everything except your arms and legs. It is involved in almost every movement of the human body.
The diagram below gives a general overview of the muscles that make up your core:
Our core has three-dimensional depth and functionality. Many of the core muscles are hidden beneath the exterior musculature, underpinning everything you do.
Here are a few health benefits of having a strong core:
Now you know what your core is, understand how it functions, and are eating clean, it’s time to hit the gym! Below are some of the best core exercises for newbies: Read more.
Stress is an inevitable and permanent fixture on any job. Even if you absolutely love what you are doing and are fortunate to work in a profession that ignites your passion and energizes your soul, you still will be faced with stress.
The American Institute of Stress defines stress as the brain’s response to any demand—specifically any demand for change. In small doses, stress has many advantages. Daniela Kaufer is an associate professor at UC Berkeley and studies the biology of stress and how the brain responds to anxiety and traumatic events. Her research has found that there are definitive benefits to stress. It shows that under the proper circumstances the right amounts of stress can:
Unfortunately for most of us, the workplace carries more than just a little stress. Stress that is chronic and experienced in copious amounts for long periods of time can be detrimental to our health. At work, we experience pressure. Pressure to perform and produce from our boss, pressure to “get along” and be a team player from our colleagues and the pressure we place on ourselves to achieve and excel at what we do.
Even though stress is the ever present companion of employment, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming and debilitating. As with any other health condition, prevention is always the first line of defense.
Critical thinking skills are essential to success — any kind of success. Successful individuals are thinkers and they surround themselves with thinkers.
Consider Warren Buffett. He is known as the most successful investor of all time, and by his own estimate, he has spent 80 percent of his career reading. And what makes him so successful is that he isn’t willing to be a passive recipient of what he reads. Instead, he schedules time to evaluate the information he gets so as to form his own insights. This may sound counterproductive.
We’ve been taught to work more, sleep less, and hyper-focus on the things that directly pertain to our goals. We call it being productive. Buffett and those like him find thinking, reading, and contemplating more productive than taking meetings and “working.” He actively pursues knowledge.
Critical thinking involves being able to process information independently and to think clearly, logically, and reflectively. It is the ability to engage in rational thought and to understand and establish a connection between ideas. In essence, critical thinking is the ability to reason. It is about being an active learner rather than a passive recipient of information.
Featured image courtesy of Lifehack.org
An elevator pitch is a short and succinct, persuasive speech used to generate interest and summarize or provide a simple explanation of a process, product, service, organization, or event and its value. A good elevator pitch should last no longer than a short elevator ride of 20 to 30 seconds (hence the name) and it should be engaging and memorable.
Let’s say you are at the airport and you just so happen to bump into an executive from your company. You have seen each other around the office and attended a few meetings together but have never engaged in a real conversation. You have this great idea on how to improve, streamline and make a particular process more efficient but your immediate supervisor has brushed your suggestions aside.
Here’s your chance. You are face-to-face with an actual decision-maker and his flight is starting to board…what do you say?
Situations like this are what the elevator speech remedies. It’s for those instances when you are caught off guard and have only a moment to make a good impression, explain your position, product or skill set and trigger the other person’s interest. That is A LOT of pressure. That one moment could do one of three things: 1) catapult you to stardom, 2) completely ruin that opportunity or 3) quietly slip away…
A solid elevator pitch allows you to distill down to the purest form exactly who you are and what you offering. Think of it as a commercial and you, your product or idea is for sale. You’ve got 30 seconds to market yourself and convince whoever is listening to not only NOT change the channel, but to buy what you’re selling. Here are five simple steps to help you create an engaging pitch:
The quickest and easiest way to create a trigger is by targeting the right emotions. Most people are inherently kind, caring and loving, however, the elevator pitch is about targeting the “what’s in it for me?” attitude that is buried in all of us. Craft your speech in a way that specifically addresses that question. If you can show them a benefit and deliver something that they care about–saving money, saving time, uniqueness, a specific service, fame, fortune, status or power–you will hook them.
For example, if you are a photographer and you happen to be in a bakery behind a couple who just finished cake tasting for their upcoming wedding, you could say:
“Hi, I’m Sharon. I am a professional photographic artist and I would love the opportunity to capture and immortalize that exact moment when your two souls merge into one at your ceremony. I have photographed over 100 weddings in the tri-state area and I am one of the most requested photo artists in this region. I use the Cannon EOS 5D Mark III camera, which is one of the best cameras on the market and I guarantee to deliver stunningly beautiful professional grade photos.
I will arrange all of the shots and I am a master at capturing the most important and intimate moments of your wedding without interrupting the flow. You won’t even know I am there. Here’s my card with my website information, which has some examples of my work and some references. My rates are extremely reasonable and I offer five flexible payment options. Give me a call, I’d love to photograph you two.”
The important triggers (“what can you do for me?”) in this pitch are:
People don’t buy products; they buy brands. People don’t invest in companies they invest in ideas and other people. Consider Apple’s “Think Different” 2016 ad campaign and their “Here’s to the Crazy Ones, ” commercial. The commercial and entire ad campaign had absolutely nothing to do with computers, technology or software–and Apple was not promoting a new product–yet shortly after that ad campaign launched, Apple’s stock tripled.
People buy Steve Jobs.
The truth is there are hundreds if not thousands of people who do what you do, sell what you sell and offer what you provide. So why should they choose you? Your elevator pitch should answer this question.
Let’s revisit Sharon the photographer’s pitch. Sharon’s “why” is that she likes immortalizing that moment in wedding ceremonies where the two souls become one. She is selling her photography services but you are buying a moment of immortality…
In any sales pitch, quantifying your results is important. When doing this try to avoid using empty adjectives–which are descriptive words that are hard to define or are highly subjective. Words such as: a lot, many, a few, several, good, great, etc., should be used sparingly, if at all. Whenever you can quantify something, you should. Be as direct and specific as possible.
Our friend Sharon told the couple that she had photographed a hundred weddings in her area. She gave them a specific number instead of saying “a lot.” She also told them the specific number of flexible payment plans she offers (five) instead of just saying, “a variety of payment plans.” When you are vague, those you are pitching will leave undecided and undecided quickly turns into NO.
Steve Jobs challenged people to “think different.” It was a unique call to action indirectly tied to his products but it netted him substantial profits. Tell the person(s) you are pitching exactly what it is you want them to do. For Steve Jobs it was think different, Sharon on the other hand, wanted the couple to visit her website and give her a call. Keep it simple and be direct.
This is probably the most important part of your elevator pitch. Authenticity is everything. Being who you are naturally is an automatic trigger for most people. Personalities differ but people respond to those they feel they can trust. If you are fake or come across as over-rehearsed, people will turn off before you even begin pitching them.
Being true to who you genuinely are, helps you to exude confidence. People won’t buy what you are selling if they feel you haven’t even bought it. You have to believe you are the best and most capable solution to their needs. Your confidence will make people feel they need YOU even when they don’t.
Do you really need an Apple computer, iPhone and iPad? You don’t necessarily need those specific products but the brand, concepts and Apple attitude resonates with you and that is what you buy over and over. Just be you.
Below are some sample elevator pitches to help you as you craft your own. Look for evidence of all five aspects we’ve discussed so far. Then try crafting your own.
Martha is seeking an entry-level position in a non-profit organization
“My name is Martha and I’m currently studying education at Howard University. One of my greatest strengths is my ability to make the conceptual practical and I’m interested in securing an entry-level role at a nonprofit that allows me to teach and develop curriculum. Because nonprofit programs and fellowships were a key part of my development, it’s important for me to pay it forward and help students develop to their highest potential.”
Sonia is seeking a job writing for the climate change niche
“I’m Sonia and my core skill sets are civil engineering and psychology. I’m endlessly curious and all my friends, family, and colleagues look to me for answers on everything from mood swings to Minecraft. As I’ve always been exceptionally passionate about social issues, I’m looking to write for publications/websites focused on climate change so that I can create content and campaigns urging others to take action and increase sustainability future generations. Here’s my contact information. If you are interested in collaborating, give me a call.”
Mike is a business lawyer looking for new clients
“Hi, My name is Mike and I’m a business lawyer who specializes in keeping you out of court. I have a broad business practice so let me give you a quick example of what I do. I was working with a guy who originally called me to handle a trademark matter, which we took care of. As I got to know his business, it turned out that his larger issue was that his Ph.D. employees were stealing his ideas and he didn’t have any agreements in place to prevent it. I worked with him to create non-compete and non-disclosure agreements to protect his intellectual property and his business. Think about those things you have questions about and give me a call.”
Who doesn’t love a compliment? But how do you properly receive it without making the situation awkward? If you’re like most people, you’re secretly screaming with glee on the inside while remaining overly cool on the outside. You probably shrug and give a mild deflective response in an effort to downplay or modestly reject the praise.
Social analyst categorize our response to a compliment in three different ways. We either accept, deflect or reject it. Full acceptance and rejection are the extreme ends of the spectrum. Fully accepting a compliment seems arrogant and complete denial seems rude and/or self-deprecating. Most people opt for the safe middle ground. They choose to deflect with a response that dilutes the compliment.
Here are a few dos and don’ts that will help you respond to a compliment without making the situation weird:
Don’t boomerang or “one up”
Don’t throw a compliment back just because you received one. It appears disingenuous. You should also avoid the temptation to “out-compliment” someone. Humbly accept the praise and keep it moving.
Don’t dilute or overly downplay
If you’re like me, you may be tempted to say things like, “oh it was nothing, ” or “anyone could have done it,” in an attempt to appear modest. Another downplaying technique is to narrow the compliment. For example, if someone were to tell you that you look nice, you may respond with, “Girl, it’s the dress. This dress could make a bear look slim!”
Don’t ignore it
Please, for goodness sake, acknowledge that you at least heard the compliment. Ignoring the compliment over-complicates the situation making it even more uncomfortable. The complimenter may think that you didn’t hear the comment so they are forced to repeat it. Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away. Instead, it just dangles awkwardly in the air making the person offering the praise feel rejected.
Don’t insult yourself
This is actually one of the more common responses to praise. It looks something like this:
Praiser: “That’s a great haircut.”
You: “Well, I had to do something to hide this big forehead and make up for my witch nose. Now, maybe kids won’t run away in terror when they see me!”
Most of us don’t take it this far but we do try to “neutralize” the positive compliment by exposing something negative about our self. It’s important to remember that when you do this you diminish your own value.
Express gratitude and keep it simple
The simplest most direct way to do this is by simply saying “Thank You.” That’s it. This short and easy expression of gratitude acknowledges the compliment and displays your appreciation.
Pay attention to your body language
Be aware of your body language, facial expressions and the overall vibe you are communicating non-verbally. When you’re nervous or uncomfortable your body language may send the wrong message. Try to avoid crossing your arms or appearing disinterested. These nonverbal cues can give others the impression that you are conceited or feel that you deserve to be noticed. Work to maintain good eye contact (don’t stare–that’s weird), lean slightly forward and engage those around you with warm facial expressions.
Share–but don’t transfer–the credit
Truth is, most of what we accomplish is due, in part, to the assistance of others. Be sure to share the credit with the team without excluding yourself or transferring all the credit to others.
This is the hardest thing to do. This is where the most awkward moment of the exchange occurs. A person compliments you. You say “thank you.” And then there is that dreaded awkward pause. You don’t know what to say or do. Now, don’t get me wrong, saying a humble and pleasant “thanks” with open body language is enough. It is perfectly fine to stop there. Nothing more needs to be said.
But for those of us who can’t stand the pain of the silence and are unable to hold out the additional 20 seconds (the time it takes for the moment to pass), the easiest thing to do is to accept the compliment and then use it as a transition in the conversation.
For example, if you are being congratulated for winning an award for a competition or recognized for work you’ve done on a project you could say: “Thanks so much! I really enjoyed the competition (working on this project)…” And then go on to explain why you enjoyed it.
Most people default to deflection shenanigans in an effort to appear humble. False humility and humility are not the same. A person with humility maintains the proper perspective of themselves and their accomplishments. Humility is not, in any way, a display of low self-esteem, the absence of self-worth nor is it self-deprecating.
Humble people are others oriented. They value the welfare of others and are able to “forget themselves” when appropriate. Truly humble people are very self-aware. They are able to maintain the proper perspective and attitude concerning their accomplishments, gifts, and talents. This allows them to accept praise while properly sharing the credit. A confident yet humble spirit is what your response to a compliment should reflect.