Happier At Work! How The Science Of Happiness Boosts Productivity And Joy

When was the last time you looked back on your day and jotted down the good things that happened to you?
Are you paying attention to

Last week, we welcomed Pam Garramone for our very first fall event to speak on Positive Psychology – how to be happier at work. Pam is a Positive Psychology coach, speaker, and workshop leader largely with clients in academia. She studied Positive Psychology under Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar who taught two of the largest classes in Harvard University’s history, Positive Psychology and The Psychology of Leadership.  Pam says Positive Psychology is simply rewiring your brain to go positive. Here are some fantastic tips we learned!

You define your own happiness.

Studies show that 50% of one’s happiness level is genetic (whoa!); 10% is affected by uncontrollable external circumstances; and 40% is affected by one’s thoughts and actions. So how do you maximize the 40% happiness dose with your thoughts and actions? Pam says, “how you look at life influences what happens around you” and that “happiness is an inside job that no one else can do it for you”.

Appreciate the good.

It’s no secret that a few years ago Pam found herself at a crossroads. Crossroads of whether she wanted to live her life filled with happiness or with emptiness. Despite all the good she had in her life at the time, she wasn’t happy!  Pam recalled, “I thought, what is wrong with me? I have everything I could ask for”. That is when Pam decided to start a journal to write down 3 good things that happened to her in the last 24 hours.

“When we appreciate the good, the good appreciates.”
Pam’s longtime mentor, Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar said.

So pick up a pen and take a moment to jot down 3 good things that happened to you in the last 24 hours.
Write down the WWWs –
What Went Well?

Love yourself a little more.

Halfway through the workshop, Pam had the audience pair up and give each other compliments. First, your partner will give you compliments. In return, you say “thank you”. Next, you give yourself compliments. In return, your partner says “Yes, you are!”. Pam then asked how we all felt. One participant said, “it felt more uncomfortable to give myself a compliment than to someone else”. Many other participants nodded and agreed. Pam says, “people are starving to be noticed, to be seen, to feel valued” that’s why giving a compliment feels good to the giver and the receiver. Yet, we need to own our strengths and notice the good in ourselves, too.

How can we accept and appreciate who we are?

This is when Pam asked us all to stand up and take a “power pose”. Research by Amy Cuddy, Associate Professor at Harvard Business School, showed that doing a power pose for two minutes reignites your confidence. For example, if you are giving a talk and are nervous, practice the Supergirl post will help you to gain confidence and gather positive energies!


Yep, there it is.

At the beginning of the event, the attendees appeared to be quiet and subdued and we noticed the vibes transformed to happiness and full on positive energies after Pam’s presentation. Here are a few comments from the attendees when we asked them what they got out of Pam’s event:

“Pam was Dynamic!”

“Practical and Concrete Actions I can take!”

“Something New and More Human ;)”

“It was wonderful, Thank you, Pam!“


Now if you are ready to reevaluate yourself and be happier, try out a personality test at http://www.letitripple.org/education-search/personality-test-personality-assessment-via-survey/. Discover yourself from another perspective and learn to love yourself more.  

Visit Pam Garramone’s website for more Happiness!

Be kind to one another and enjoy the beautiful fall!

Women Accelerators

*Don’t miss out on our next event – our very first webinar – on imposter syndrome with Melody Wilding. Details can be found at https://womenaccelerators.org/event/impostor-syndrome/.

Read more

Women Helping Women Lead, Grow, and Succeed: We need your help

Female business leaders of today are helping the female leaders of tomorrow.  Research from Catalyst, McKinsey, Gallup, and Credit Suisse demonstrates gender equity isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the profitable thing to do. Simply put, companies embracing gender equity outperform the competition. For seven years, the leaders of Women Accelerators have promoted and helped increased gender equity in the workplace. Now, with the business community at large coming to understand the importance of gender equity it’s time to expand.

And to expand we need your help.

Women Accelerators, a 501(c)(6) organization, promotes the advancement of career women. Years ago, we recognized glaring gender biases such as wage gender disparity, representation inequity, and under-representation of senior-level women in the boardroom.  We set out to build a platform capable of reaching and shattering the glass ceiling holding us back.

Women Accelerators provides an active network and community where women can access resources tailored toward their career goals. Through our educational programs, networking events, and mentoring efforts, we help women navigate work opportunities and nurture female leadership.  Together, we’re building a community of goal-driven, high-achieving women who help each other thrive and succeed in the workplace.

We’re active.

Every two months, we offer educational and career-oriented events featuring discussions and Q&A sessions from nationally-recognized women leaders. Our mentoring program offers a five-month experience matching selected mentees to experienced mentors volunteering their time to help tomorrow’s women leaders. Mentees receive career guidance, salary negotiation suggestions, tips regarding communications with peers and supervisors, and advice on how to balance their work and personal lives.

With the amazing support of ambitious women in our community, as attendees, speakers or volunteers, we have been fortunate to have gained great momentum over the years.  Currently, Women Accelerators receives revenue through small fees charged for each event registration and for the annual mentoring program.  We believe that we can make an even bigger impact moving forward if we offer our community with more career programming that will help women better navigate their career paths and enhance their careers overall.

Our financial goal is to reach $5,000 by the end of 2018, so we can offer the following in 2019:

  1. Six free educational/career programs in addition to our current programs
  2. Quarterly networking events
  3. A Job bank on our website that will list open jobs from corporate partners
  4. Additional events and meet-ups for women to network with companies and hiring managers
Your generous donation will help our mission to Engage, Empower and Elevate the remarkable and talented women in our community by donating to our cause!

Bridge to Elevate Gender Equity Sponsor: $1000

Your sponsorship will provide two career workshops.

  •       Free workshop participation for 10 attendees
  •       Full page ad in the event handout
  •       Rotating digital screen ad of your organization at the event
  •       Permanent Logo placement and link on Women Accelerators website
  •       Logo placement on the event page and on signage at venue
  •       Introduce your company at the beginning of the event
  •       Email campaign with logo and brief description and links to job postings for your company
  •       Facebook shout-outs including a hyperlink to your business
  •       Recognition in social media

Bridge to Empower Gender Equity Sponsor: $750

Your sponsorship will provide one career workshop

  •      Free workshop participation for 5 attendees
  •       Logo placement and link on Women Accelerators website for three months
  •       Email campaign with logo and a brief overview of your company
  •       Facebook shout-outs including a hyperlink to your business
  •       Recognition in social media

Bridge to Engage Gender Equity Sponsor: $500

Your sponsorship will provide a networking event

  •       Free entry for 2 attendees
  •       Email campaign with the logo of your company
  •       Logo placement and link on Women Accelerators website for two months
  •       Listing on our website
  •       Recognition in social media

Be our supporter and Contact us today.

Read more

Mentor Journal Entry 1: A Mentee’s Perspective

Writen By Jan Heng, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Pathology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School
Jan participated in our 2018 Mentoring Program as a mentee to Regina Au.

I was delighted to receive a circulated email in December 2017 via my Broad Institute account about the mentoring program offered by Women Accelerators. I was very impressed by the list of female mentors for 2018 with various leadership backgrounds in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and retail industries; team management; and academia. Due to the nature of my research, I wanted to meet a more formal mentor who could give me insights into entrepreneurship and the US biotechnology industry. I was matched with Ms. Regina Au, Principal, New Product Planning/Strategic Commercial Consultant at BioMarketing Insight.   

Three mentees, including myself, had monthly meet-ups with Regina. There were a total of six meetings, and each mentee was given two sessions to discuss specific topics pertaining to their careers. At my first session, I wanted to seek feedback on the commercial utility of one of my research projects. Were there guidelines for me to critically assess my product and refine my ideas for the product (i.e., increase applicability of my product)? How can I learn about marketing my product? I also wanted to understand the requirements to start a biotechnology company, the recipes for success, and common pitfalls of young entrepreneurs.  

Regina gave me a broad overview to critically evaluate my current research (and potential product) from an industry point of view. Specifically, I was given five pointers to ponder:

1) What is the current unmet medical need I am trying to provide a solution for;
2) How critical is this unmet need;
3) How is my product going to solve the problem better than current technologies;
4) What are my plans to penetrate the market;
5) What are my milestones and timelines to bring this product to market

To obtain an unbiased point of view, my assigned goal was to speak to at least five pathologists (i.e., potential customers) using open-ended questions to assess how critical the medical problem is, and whether my product addresses it.  

We also discussed how important it is to gain work experience in various departments (e.g., research and development, manufacturing, business development, sales, marketing, and human resources) within well-established biotechnology or pharmaceutical companies. Having knowledge of the various departments will provide valuable skills to plan, set-up, and manage a start-up that is more likely to be successful. The most important component of creating a start-up is taking the time to critically plan the company structure, product, milestones, and timelines.   

For my second session, I wanted to learn about staff management and roles in industry that I would be suitable for should I decide to transition from academia to industry. I also asked Regina to share her career experiences from being an employee to establishing her own consulting firm. Regina very kindly provided some staff management advice, especially the importance of setting boundaries. Surprisingly, she also gave tips on how to manage my team while on maternity leave. As this was my first pregnancy, it did not even cross my mind to have a plan while on maternity leave! This was extremely helpful a few months later when my research administration team inquired about how I was going to manage my staff while on maternity leave.   

I gained valuable insights about working life in the US biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry. My two other fellow mentees are also industry scientists. Together with Regina, they shared their love for their jobs and suggested the types of jobs that I might be suitable for. I was very thankful to Regina for sharing her career history on how she made her decision to start her own consulting firm, and find personal strength to continue her consulting business. She stressed the importance of a supportive network of family and friends.  

Our mentoring program ended after six months. I attended the wrap-up meeting where I chatted with one of the co-founders of Women Accelerators, Ms. Susu Wong and other mentors. I was humbled and felt enormous gratitude to this team of women who selflessly give back to the community and enthusiastically support young women with their careers. Mentoring is a time-consuming and thankless job. I once asked Regina why she is so passionate about mentoring women. She told me that women are still underrepresented in a lot of leadership positions, especially minority women, and she wished she had a mentor when she was starting her career.   

A mentor–mentee relationship is a two-way street. A mentee must decide what he/she would like to achieve during each session to enable the mentor to provide targeted advice and make the session efficient and successful. I had two goals when I joined Women Accelerators mentoring program and I achieved them with Regina. All in all, this program was exactly what I needed at a particular point of my career. I am thankful to Women Accelerators’ volunteers for organizing this amazing program to connect professional women from various industries. These female leaders have inspired me to help other women accelerate their careers. I enjoyed contributing to our mentoring sessions so much that I realized I might be ready to be a mentor. I was considering participating as a mentor next year when Regina gently reminded me, “Jan, you are having a baby.” 

Read more

Personal Branding for Your Success

This blog is based on “How to Brand Yourself for Success (Without Selling Out)” event in May 2018

Personal branding is a concept that has become increasingly popular with the rise of social media, but what does it actually mean? And more importantly, how can you use it to be successful in your career and life in general?

Whether you recognize it or not, you are already a brand.  You have certain characteristics that make you unique and establishes an image for yourself.  Branding is a way of marketing to formally “claim yourself” as an individual, and not fall victim to stereotyping. This can be accomplished through social media, developing products, creating content, etc.

Now that you have an understanding of what personal branding is, grab a pen and paper and see if you can answer the following questions.  This is a good starting point to build the foundation of your brand:

  1.      What are you passionate about?

    Photo credit:  http://www.resumesgood.com/4-5-personal-swot-analysis-template/

  2.      What are your unique skills?
  3.      Where do you see yourself in three, five or even ten years?
  4.      What are your goals in life?
  5.      What do the people around you currently say about you?
  6.      What does Google’s search results say about you?

SWOT Analysis

With the answers to these questions in mind, you can also do a SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats. These are usually done for businesses but are easily applicable to an individual.  What are you good at? What areas of your life could use some work? Where are the areas for growth and opportunities? And finally, what is your competition doing in the field you’re interested in?

Brainstorming exercises for your personal branding

All of this information may seem overwhelming, but these exercises are simple to make you think about what you want out of your personal brand and forecast where you want to be.  Using the answers to your brainstorming exercises, check out these three steps to get started:

  1.  Choose your platform, whether that be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or even starting your own website.  Choose a medium that aligns with your personal branding goals.
  2. Create original content and share it with the world.  Take photos, write blogs, post videos, and make a name for yourself.
  3. Engage with your community of influencers by sharing, liking, and commenting.  Developing content for yourself is great, but if you don’t acknowledge what else is out there, then you will lose your competitive edge.

In a world comprised of billions of people, it’s too easy to blend in with the crowd.  But there are numerous advantages to making yourself stand out among your peers or competitors.  In an academic setting, branding yourself allows you to take advantage of great opportunities that may propel you in your career.  The goal is to be eye-catching to employers. In a work setting, defining your individuality means you’re not simply a person in the workforce, but a colorful individual with deep passions and motivations.   Let yourself shine for the rest of the world to see!

Read more

TedX Talk: The Risk You Must Take by Dr. Kristen Lee

Dr. Kristen Lee studies human resilience—our ability to endure, heal, and grow.

In a visceral, relatable talk, she shares deep insights from her teaching and research—ones that helped her redefine authenticity, and encourage us all to do the same.

This TedX Talk shares the story of what fueled her writing process for her new book, Mentalligence: A New Psychology of Thinking: Learn What it Takes to Be More Agile, Mindful and Connected in Today’s World. To get more details on the book, visit  What We’re Reading!


Read more

Engineering My Way Through a Career in Tech

Dressed in all black casual attire, Tamar Newberger portrays a sharp Silicon Valley figure at first sight. But the second you engage in a conversation with her, her rhythmic speech and laid-back vibe puts one at ease of her accomplishments and the high-profile figure that she is.

We had the privilege to welcome Tamar Newberger as a guest speaker this week and her no-sugar-coating success stories were nothing but inspirational. Tamar is a computer scientist who has held executive positions and leadership roles in companies such as AT&T, Novell, SCO, and Catbird, a Silicon-Valley start-up. Also a diplomatic spouse and activist, Tamar lived in Prague for the past three years where her husband served as the United States Ambassador to the Czech Republic.

“Do what you love and don’t be afraid to take a leap.”

From a young age, Tamar was fearless and curious. She remembers a time during primary school when she spotted three boys in her class hovering over computer parts. “I walked right into the room and asked them all these questions about it. I didn’t know anything about computers but I was very interested,” said Tamar. While her passion for technology hadn’t bloomed quite yet, she came to a crossroad during the last semester of her freshman year in college. Being one credit short to finish the year, she decided to take computer science 101. What was supposed to be a credit-filler turned into her passion, resulting in her majoring in computer science. “Experimenting is important to find out what you love,” said Tamar,looking back at her decision at the time.

After graduating from Columbia University, Tamar joined the AT&T Corporation. As she was quickly climbing up the corporate ladder she later transitioned to Novell Inc. to lead the Unix System Laboratories (“USL”) team. Once there, Tamar suddenly faced a career dilemma. Novell had announced their sale of the Unixware division — which Tamar’s team had developed — to Santa Cruz Operation Inc. (“SCO”). With Hewlett-Packard (“HP”) being the leading licensed seller of Unix software at the time, Tamar and her team were asked to make a decision, to move to SCO or HP. “It was a very tough decision,” Tamar recalls, “everyone I looked up to and respected told me to go to HP,” because they valued the stability of HP over SCO. Tamar said this was the pivotal time in her life. “What did I want? Responsibility at a large firm? Or am I willing to take the risk of not having the security of working for a large firm?”

After much thought, Tamar had decided to join HP just as everyone around her had suggested. The night she gave her decision to HP, she thought to herself, “Something is not right.” The next morning, she woke up and followed her heart to join SCO, where she held an executive position until she joined Catbird. The lessons she learned were to not be afraid to try new things, and be fearless.

In 2014, Tamar left Catbird to move to the Czech Republic, where her husband served as the US Ambassador. Despite the need to give up her career in Silicon Valley, Tamar was enthusiastic for the opportunity to promote female entrepreneurship and empowerment as the Ambassador’s spouse. However, when they arrived, the circumstances were not as inviting of her ideas as she had expected. In 2015, Tamar came across a documentary on the gender and minority hiring gap amongst software engineers titled, Code: Debugging the Gender Gap. She then decided to make it her mission to host a screening at the US Embassy. When her original proposal was shot down, she engineered her way through negotiation after negotiation. Later that year, the US Embassy of Prague hosted a screening of Code and the event was covered by multiple media outlets including the Wall Street Journal. Tamar looks back on this experience with an important lesson learned: “Don’t give up, be nice, and don’t take no for an answer.” As a woman, we are expected to be nice naturally.

Here are some of the other nuggets of her advice:

  • Women who are seeking a career – Do some research at the hiring company and see if they have a track record in diversity, whether they have women in senior management positions or at their board. These are telltale signs of companies that value diversity in the workplace. They will be more likely to be successful than an all-male management team.
  • There used to be a five-year career plan – With technology and products accelerating, we now ought to think shorter term, such as a two-year plan.
  • Pursue a career that you are passionate about – It shouldn’t be just a job.  We would be a lot more successful in our career if we do what we love doing.
  • When making a big decision – Ask for advice. Informational interview will help us to explore different fields and industries, and most people you ask love talking about what to do.
  • For working mothers – Tamar recommends the book “Healthy sleep habits, happy child”.


Tamar Newberger is no stranger to forging her own path. She is an innovator, engineer of female career development and a mother. She embodies every positive element we all aspire to have. Her message to all women navigating their way to success is simple: Do what you love and don’t be afraid to take a leap.


Want to meet more inspiring female role models? Join us for our 2018 Mentoring Program. Applications will be open on 12/1. Check out https://womenaccelerators.org/mentoring-program/ for details.


Read more

Setting Boundaries: Say Yes and No with Confidence and Ease

The Women Accelerators was created to “Engage, Empower, Elevate!” people in their careers and personal growth.  We want to inspire and help people with their careers through our events and great speakers.  That is the reason we invited speakers Amy Rebecca Gay, PhD, Deb Elbaum, MD, CPCC, CNTC, and Rachel Rice, MBA, EEM-CP to share their knowledge on how to effectively communicate while setting boundaries.  It all comes down to the art of saying “Yes and No with Confidence and Ease.”  

The event was full of engaging exercises that the speakers demonstrated to the attendees.  It all started out with the “Wheel of Boundaries Exercise.”  If you were to establish four different categories in your life that you need to prioritize, are you maintaining and setting boundaries for each of them under different challenging circumstances?  

Amy presented the crafting Power of a “Positive No” and said that we have to reflect on our “Wheel of Boundaries” by rating our tolerance of our boundaries from 1-10. Determining what is challenging and comfortable about our own boundaries helps us to effectively communicate them to others.  Amy asked the attendees about what’s challenging about your life? You may need to know where you are before you can respond.  What are our most guarded values?  Knowing what’s important for you will help us decide our wheel of boundaries.  For instance, if you were to put two different items on the scale you need to have enough weight on each side to have an equal balance.  

It goes the same for our lives, you need to give the same amount of attention on tasks at hand in order to maintain that balance.  Quite often, we have a hard time saying “no” when a new project is given to us even though we already have a heavy workload.  We have a hard time saying no because we are worried of losing our jobs and disappointing our boss.  

Steve Jobs once saidIt is only by saying “no” that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.”  We often don’t know how to say “no” effectively while maintaining the relationship with the other person.  The group did an exercise on how to communicate effectively on “Positive No” when it is outside our boundaries. We also wrote down what are the circumstances that we could say an affirming “Yes”, and with an invitation for a constructive way to begin a conversation on the topic.  It is about making a proposal or negotiation that will meet our needs as well as their needs. Knowing when to say no with a “softer” no and say “Here’s what I value, how else can we work together?” is a diplomatic way of collaborating without coming across too rigid.

The event was full of tips, techniques and demonstrations that everyone can start implementing in their personal and work lives. The attendees not only learned how to say a positive “No” but also got to interact with people that are going through the same situations.  From the beginning to the end of the event, the speakers gave the attendees a chance to reflect about themselves as well as gain new perspectives on how to approach setting boundaries.  It’s a collaborative approach.

What am I worried about when asserting my needs?

Here are a few examples from the audience:

  • I’m worried that I’m going to do the wrong thing
  • I’m afraid I’m going to be fired
  • I’m worried somebody is going to take my response the wrong way
  • I’m worried if i say no, I will get sabotaged later
  • I’m worried that I’m not good enough.
  • I may damage my relationship with the person

When we are in the moment, we don’t want our emotions to get out of control and get the best of us. Sometimes we store our emotions in our acupuncture meridians, which creates blockages. Rachel said that the process of tapping, a.k.a. Emotional Freedom Technique, can release the emotional distress from our bodies. Emotional Freedom Technique is also known as energy psychology.

We did an exercise of naming our limiting beliefs or emotions and rating our distress from 0-10. Next we created an acceptance phrase such as: “Even though I’m afraid to get fired, I accept myself for how I feel.  I really need to accept how I feel with my body and mind.”  Tapping my palm and karate chops can calm my body. It gives you the feeling that you are not in a fight or flight mode like standing in front of a tiger. The tap points to release the emotional symptoms are: eyebrow, side of eye, under the eye, under the nose, chin, collarbone, under arm and top of head.

Finally, Deb said that we have to develop an action plan that will take us toward setting effective boundaries. We have to take baby steps by setting a time frame and not making big changes. We have to be accountable to ourselves. Writing it down and practicing this with a friend will help us to be more comfortable about saying yes or no with ease and confidence.

If you missed this interactive and informative event, or just want to learn more, please contact deb@debelbaum.com,  Amy at amy@consultfr.com, or rachel@consultfr.com for more information.


We also have another great event lined up in November.  We invited Tamar Newberger on November 15th. She will be speaking about how she navigated her way through her career in the tech industry. Please subscribe to our newsletter or contact us for our future events.

Read more

Mentor Journal 3: Beginner’s Mud

Our 2017 Mentoring Program wraps up this August! Thanks to everyone – mentors and mentees – who contributed their time and insights. We’re excited to share our some of our successes and lessons learned!


Beginner’s Mud

My Mentoring Team met up on a sunny Sunday in July to discuss our progress and questions going forward. This was our second in-person meeting (the first one being in February) – and we had a Skype meeting in between. We had a lot to discuss and celebrate – it has certainly been a busy last few months for everyone!

I came into the Mentoring Program with an unclear sense of where my career was going. Even though I had friends and family sharing advice, and formal evaluation at work, I was missing the resources to fine-tune my direction and reach the next level. At our final meeting, our mentor described what we were experiencing as making it through the “beginner’s mud”. Those graduating from college may have a strong sense of confidence, accomplishment, and identity. When we enter the workforce, we need to re-orient to new environments and routines. Being in a new schedules and adapting to organizational politics may affect of our energy and identity. Throughout this process, we may lose our way: feel unsure what direction to go in, where to put our energy, and how to communicate effectively. We may get stuck in reactionary mode and unable to see the bigger picture.

It takes plenty of work to get out of the “beginner’s mud”. Throughout the six month program, I would often write to my mentor via e-mail with questions I had and frame the challenges I was running into. I kept track of how I felt: What types of experiences made me feel empowered, which types made me feel unsure of myself? Identifying those feelings and responding with actionable steps was key. Having an experienced professional — who was, in fact not in my same professional field — to help troubleshoot and clarify my thinking along the way, was a tremendous resource. I believe we as “beginners” (or not) truly need this kind of feedback in order to become polished and confident professionals.


Examine Your Writing

Our mentor mentioned that simply the way one presents issues and describe the context, can reveal how confident you are and how much direction you have. It is great to write out your goals and questions throughout the mentorship process, so you can track your growth: skills and mindset. Saving six months worth of communications can tell a great story!

Can your mentor, or anyone else, understand what you need help on, based on your writing? If you feel too overwhelmed to begin anything, can you write out everything you’re worried about?

My mentor and I looked at my first and final questions side by side, and the difference was clear. My first set of questions were vague and tentative, revealing how lost I was. The second set were very focused and full of context for where I am now and where I’m headed.


Success Stories

We were excited to hear back from our other mentees about how they are doing. Here are some things our mentees achieved in the past six months:

I went to a very good event offered by one of our group member’s employer

Landed new position – dream job!

I met some great women professionals and formed new friendships.

Knowing what I don’t want, and surviving in a toxic environment while realizing it isn’t about me. It motivated me to think about my career and what my goals are and to take action. I revert back to my comfort zone often and realized it’s finally time to take action and get out!

I personally felt like it was a great feedback I got from the mentor that I was able to apply it for my future position.

I affirmed myself more and gained more confidence.

Take the courage to actually seek help. though I am not very good at seeking help from others.

Understanding personality types and career choices

We discussed a lot of Meyers Briggs. I loved learning about how I can better communicate with folks with different personality styles.

Discussing managing people

Stuck with a very difficult situation to get to the next stage.


Replacing Yourself

We’re encoded to think that irreplaceable means that ‘I can do something that no one else can do’. But in fact, the most irreplaceable people are the ones that empower others to do something they couldn’t do before.

Developer Tea, episode “Developer Career Roadmap: Step 9 Replace Yourself

This quote jumped out to me as just the other day I attended a webinar where the speaker asked the attendees to “write out the skills/qualities that make you irreplaceable”. It is often easy to default to our competitive nature, i.e. how much value we as individuals have compared to others. I love the way the quote above flips this idea, the shift of perspective is so supportive. Knowing everything and being able to do everything is not necessarily something we should endlessly strive for (what a relief!).

How can we continue supporting each other in our day to day careers? As our program concludes, we on the Women Accelerators team challenge you to take this idea into your career, whether you consider yourself a mentor or not.

Our next Mentoring Program will start in early 2018. Please check our website in late 2017 if you’re interested in participating.


Read more

Mentor Journal Entry 2: Mentorship Strategies

We are now halfway into our Mentoring Program! Between February and April, groups met for the first time. Many groups are now meeting virtually on Skype for their second and third meetings in late spring/early summer.

Soon after our first check-in with mentee participants, one of our mentors asked if there could be a check-in for them, as well. This made us realize that, while our mentors have more professional experience than their mentees, they could also use frameworks to support their efforts for our Mentoring Program.

What are some ways to ensure mentorship is successful? Are there activities mentor teams can work on together?


Regular communication is key!

We suggest groups connect every month. While the first meeting was in person, we encourage groups to meet via Skype to give more options for scheduling. Over the course of six months, it is possible mentees have graduated or moved for new jobs.

Even if all group members are in the same location, keeping consistent meetings throughout a six month period can be a challenge. The most important thing is to stay in touch. Some groups may use platforms like Google Hangouts or Slack, while others may prefer group e-mail. If mentors are willing, offer for mentees to reach out to you personally for one-on-one advice.

We suggest mentors lead with check-in questions via e-mail, such as

  • What are points/issues you’d like to discuss?
  • Any news/changes that have happened since we last talked?

These are helpful to send in advance of a meeting so that there is an agenda to talk about or in place of a meeting.

At the start of the program, mentors received PDFs with each mentee’s goals. Halfway through the program is a good checkpoint. What are a particular mentee’s roadblocks, if any, to reaching those goals? Some mentees may have achieved something they weren’t expecting.


Beyond checking in, what are some things groups can discuss?

Here are some words from our mentors, regarding activities/discussion starting points that help spark discussion:

To engage all in a meaningful way is important – so I usually start with something like: what is the best experience and/or worst experience you had in the past week. Is there something lodged in your head you keep on thinking about…Whatever discussion this sparks, leads directly to mentoring moments….and naturally develops a very engaged further discussion. I invite other mentees to ponder, suggest, or compare their own experience among themselves before I come in to “mentor”. Oftentimes, by offering hints, leading questions targeting specific issues etc….the mentees actually come up with various good solutions themselves. Those are the best/most valuable learning/mentoring moments.

We attended a women’s salary negotiation workshop together. Doing a group event/speaker/training was nice.

It is important to acknowledge life demands within the context of the goals they have set for themselves to get from this mentoring program. More than anything, those demands put stress on goal achievement. Helping them adjust the pressure they put on themselves to achieve “now” is helpful.

The Women Accelerators volunteer team put together the following additional list of activities:

  • Role playing scenarios in the workplace/laboratory/etc.
  • Resume and cover letter writing/editing session
  • Practicing salary negotiation
  • Practicing a job interview


Our mentees are growing to become our next leaders

As groups progress through the program, mentees are gaining experience which may help them be future mentors, or simply support their fellow mentees. We hope that our program will keep the cycle of support going. A couple mentors mentioned the following, regarding mentee contributions:

One of my mentees has stepped up to do more of the organizing. I think an articulation of these responsibilities, who holds them, and how they may rotate among the mentees would be helpful at the outset.

My approach is ‘peer’ mentor b/c most are not just out of school/post-doc

Mentors might also reflect on their own journeys to generate additional discussion points or storytelling opportunities for their group. Some guiding questions:

  • What was a time you learned a lot because it didn’t go smoothly?
  • Who was your best mentor and what did you learn from him/her?
  • What skills do you think are critical as a woman leader?
  • What was your proudest moment?

We hope this list of tips, discussion points, and activities will be useful to our groups, and wish everyone the best for the next weeks of the program! Later in the summer, we’ll share some final thoughts and concluding lessons on our 2017 program.

We are so grateful for the mentors who have volunteered their time this year!


Read more

Mentor Journal Entry 1: What is Mentorship?

Welcome to the Women Accelerators Mentor Journal!

We are one month into our Mentorship Program and many great discussions have begun. As I go through my work week, I’ve been re-reading a note I took at our first mentor meeting:

If coworkers are unresponsive, follow up. Ask for a meeting. Use phrases and words like “constructive feedback”, “smoothness” and “efficiency”.

I’ve put this idea into action a few times since I first met with my mentor in February. Advice like this — delivered via one-to-one relationships — is so crucial and nurturing in our competitive workplace. In this and three following blog posts (May, July, and September), we will be recording and sharing more great tips like this from mentors and their mentees.

A little background on our program: Our 2017 Mentorship Program session consists of 9 mentors and 37 mentees. Meetings are in a group session (in person or remote), with 3-6 mentees and one mentor. This is the fourth year of the program, with the largest attendance.  In January, 45 women signed up for our mentor “speed networking”, where they had the chance to meet our mentors for five minute discussions. Matches were made the following week, based on their interests and personal preferences from our surveys and groups met for the first time in February and March.

To find out what our mentees and mentors are learning, and help in areas where teams are stuck, we are communicating with them more often than we have in the past. The result, we hope, will be a rich online discussion to help our participants and beyond!

All mentees are first time mentees with Women Accelerators. Some of our mentors are also new to mentoring. Given this fact, we thought it would be helpful to define the mentor-mentee relationship. One of our mentees asked: Is there any structure in being mentor / mentee?

We are encouraging all groups to meet at least once a month, to build their relationships and discussions. Some may be going through career transitions — finishing a degree program, finding a new job, etc. — so six months is a great arc throughout which transformations can be seen.

At the start of the program, we asked participants to state their goals and interests. This helped us identify the best matches for their mentor groups. Some of our mentees discussed their goals with their teams at their first meeting. Those initial goals are great to revisit monthly, or however often it seems appropriate.

Our hope is that mentorship can fill the gaps where support is missing in the workplace. There are a wide range of areas where mentors can help!

  • Navigating a workplace conflict/politics
  • Issues specific to women, which may be uncomfortable to ask about. For example, how can women get recognized for their strengths when they are less likely to speak up?
  • Providing personal stories about how they overcame challenges
  • Giving advice about how to buy a suit
  • Learning how to feel more confident
  • Escaping a toxic work environment


Mentees should attend meetings prepared with a few questions or scenarios to share. For example:

  • How can you communicate with someone who constantly changes their mind?
  • Why did I feel more confident in college, compared to in the workforce?
  • What is the best way to ask for a raise?


Being as specific as possible is helpful. It’s likely that others may have similar questions or experiences — when the mentor answers, others are encouraged to take notes and add on their thoughts.

Each group dynamic is bound to be different, and everyone has something to gain from their mentor and fellow mentees. Here are some great things our mentees are learning already:

The personal stories from the mentor but also the other mentees were very inspiring!


It might not seem super useful, but just knowing that others are feeling similar to me is very helpful to me. I have a lot of friends who seem to know exactly what they want out of their careers, but I’ve always been interested in so many things. It’s nice to know that others feel the same struggle sometimes!


Ways to tackle language challenges, personal stories about changing state of mind and shifts in careers


Network is important, try to get more interviews for practises


Confidence is the key to everything. Changing our mindset about time, money, presentation… can change how we are perceived.


It was great to hear from not just my mentor but also mentees as suggestions that can improve at workplace.


I really appreciated meeting other women who are in varying states of professional transition, like myself. We all have a lot of wisdom to share, which is very valuable.


Stayed tuned for our second entry of Mentor Journal! Next time, we’ll turn the focus back on our mentors. What are some ways to ensure mentorship is successful? Are there activities mentor teams can work on together?

Read more