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3 ways to spot a glass ceiling BEFORE you take the job

According to a recent joint study from McKinsey and Lean In, progress towards gender equality in the workplace has not just slowed down but stalled completely. “Only about 1 in 5 C-suite leaders is a woman, and only 1 in 25 is a woman of color.” Contradictory to the typical arguments, women are earning comparable education and experience, asking for promotions and also staying in the workforce at similar rates to men.

So why is there still such a large disparity?

According to the study, the management of career pipelines might be to blame. From day one in an organization, cultural aspects will impact how minorities and women are seen. But also how they are interacted with (potential discrimination), grow (access to senior leaders and/or mentorship/sponsorship), and feel included (are you the “only” woman in the room?). Many companies talk the talk but do not walk the walk. In other words, we need leaders to show and consistently act on promises to create a more diverse workforce. Check out the article and link to the complete study here: https://mck.co/2ORF0Ob

For women and minorities seeking career growth, lets even say – at the speed of their peers, it is important to be cognizant of the organization’s culture and how it impacts our personal experiences and opportunities. While some organizations do not have a culture conducive to growing and nourishing female leadership and inclusion, there is a lot that DO. The trick is deciphering between the two. To do so, you need to pay close attention to the culture and the pipeline that shapes employee growth.

It is important to remember that a job interview is more than just an evaluation of your skills and credentials, it is a chance for YOU to interview the company.

 

 

Here are 3 tips to spot a glass ceiling before signing the offer letter to join ranks within an organization:

1. Take time for introspection

Clearly define your expectations and needs within an organization.

What is most important to you in order to thrive? Opportunity, networking potential, and sponsorship/mentorship are common needs for anyone in an organization but what does that look like for an inclusive workplace? Some organizations are lacking resources for minority and female employees so it is important to decide what you desire and need. Do you want pre-existing organizations set up or is it enough to have diverse backgrounds in the organization? Some may argue lean in circles are important for female inclusion. Is work flexibility important? Many organizations create more flexible work environments to help increase the retention of female high performers but that might not be a breaking point in your job search. How does the organization recognize and give feedback to their employees? For some, and in larger organizations, if feedback or ratings are not explicit, the role and progression can be difficult to navigate or question.

The bottom line to remember is that all women have different “ideal” work environments. Understanding what an ideal environment looks like to you will help you start the search, figure out what questions to ask and refine what companies to apply to.

2. Do your homework

    1. Dig deep into the organization’s public website. What information is available on the culture, mission, and vision? How large is the organization? Is anything listed about diversity and inclusion? If so, what does it tell you about the organization (statistics, business plan, action plan etc..)? Many organizations also have leadership profiles listed on their website, what does that tell you about the organization?
    2. Look at job review sites. Like any mass anonymous review site (see yelp), it’s important to take these with a grain of salt but reading multiple reviews may at least help you determine if there is a trend or a cultural issue. Some good large scale review sites to check out: indeed, glassdoor, career bliss. Another site for reviews for women by women: fairygodboss.
    3. Reach out. This takes time. LinkedIn is a wonderful tool to find jobs but also to make connections. Before you even apply to a role, spend time finding a current female or minority employees on LinkedIn. Reach out with a message and ask if they have a few minutes to speak to you because you want to learn more about their job or organization- also known as an informational interview. Most people want to help but you likely won’t get a response to every message you send. Tip: Find someone you have something in common with and you may get a better response rate. If you are able to speak with someone, ask them about their personal experiences and what the culture is like. This genuine human connection will most likely provide more insight than you can find online.

3. Ask the hard questions

*Certainly focus initially on questions about the role but don’t forget the important cultural and environmental questions! The formal interview is an opportunity for you to interview the employer too. Take note of how you are treated, how the office environment is set up, how employees interact and the body language between people.

  1. What is the culture like here?
  2. How is feedback provided or how is success rated?
  3. What are the daily expectations for a time in and out of office? Any flexibility of schedule? (be careful of when and who you ask this question but do include if important to you)
  4. Consider the environment of the office & ask to take a tour – are you comfortable with the surroundings/interactions?
  5. What is the leadership team like?
  6. How is inclusion encouraged within this organization?
  7. Do you have any mentorship programs? Or networking groups?
  8. Why is this position open?
  9. What makes you stay at this organization

Although most modern day companies speak to the value they put on diversity and inclusion, it isn’t always as transparent as we might hope. Learning to listen carefully and being brave enough to ask the tough questions can help female candidates identify gender inclusive employers.

Finally, remember that we are in this together. Empower, Engage and Elevate!

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Tackle self-doubt: How to overcome imposter syndrome

On October 24th, Women Accelerators was thrilled to welcome Melody Wilding for a webcast on “Imposter Syndrome.”

Melody Wilding is a performance coach and licensed social worker. She helps high-achievers master the mental and emotional aspects of striving for a successful career and a balanced life. Her clients are managers and leaders at places like Google, Facebook, and HP. She helps them gain more confidence, assertiveness, and influence. That allows them to reach goals like being promoted twice in one year and doubling their salary. Melody also teaches Human Behavior at Hunter College in NYC.

She helped us learn more about imposter syndrome, something we’ve all heard about and most have experienced, if not, on a daily basis. More importantly, Melody taught us a few ways to combat imposter syndrome and thrive!

 

So what is imposter syndrome?!

Have you ever felt like you don’t belong? That you are not good enough or smart enough to be filling a role you hold? Imposter syndrome can also be thought of as imposter phenomenon. The feeling that you are a fraud and that you do not deserve whatever accomplishment, experience, role etc… is what imposter phenomenon refers to – and it IS real!

History

Imposter syndrome was first identified in 1978 by psychologists Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes. They were doing research and noticed a pattern in successful women which they termed “intellectual phoniness.”  They coined the term “imposter syndrome” which described the feelings they observed presenting most commonly in high achieving women. Further defined as, the crippling feeling that you do not feel you are worthy of the success you get. The phenomenon is marked by the inability to internalize your achievements although there is a lot of evidence to the contrary. Since the initial study, though still most prevalent in high achieving women, research has shown that everyone can experience the phenomenon.

While it was discovered by a pair of psychologists, imposter syndrome is not a clinical disorder. It does not appear in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental disorders (DSM) but can be a contributing factor leading to anxiety and depression. Fundamentally imposter syndrome represents an “inaccurate self assessment.”  This may sound harmless but imposter syndrome can have detrimental effects on your daily life so it should not be ignored.

 

What does it look like in life?

Imposter syndrome can manifest itself in what may feel like anxiety or depression, which it is certainly related to, but in itself, imposter syndrome is more of a phenomenon or experience. It can be tied to a fairly predictable cycle (see image below).

Generally the feeling starts with a triggering event, this event could be a project or challenge generally related to work.  That then sets off a chain reaction of habitual thoughts and feelings.These thoughts and emotions influence behavior. The reaction usually falls within two camps: over preparation & procrastination – generally individuals fall into one category but could be a combination of both. Then at some point we experience something good, a “success” and get a feeling of relief. Along with the relief, we get positive feedback but we usually ignore or push back this feedback, contributing it to effort and discredit it or say it was luck — then the cycle goes around again. How do we stop it?

What are the effects of imposter syndrome?

Of course, this constant cycle leads to a lot of self doubt.

But it can lead to a lot of other detrimental effects too. Things to watch out for:

– Reluctance to ask for help at work

– Turning down/avoiding the search for new opportunities (because fear of failing)

– Perfectionism and procrastination tendencies/distractions

– Negative self talk

– Triggering anxiety and depression especially if there is a predisposition to the conditions

 

How do you manage imposter syndrome?

Up to 70% of people will experience imposter syndrome at some point in their career. We tend to glorify success and feel the doubt or feeling with go away the more successful or higher you become within an organization but it is actually the opposite. For a variety of reasons, women are much more vulnerable – 2/3 of women experience imposter syndrome!

With the realization that you are not alone, learning tools to manage imposter syndrome can help limit its effects on your life. We do not want those feelings to go away but we want to manage them so we can go forward. Address the thoughts when they first pop up in the cycle!

 

UNTWIST YOUR THINKING!

Negative self talk is a hallmark of imposter syndrome. Up to 85 percent of the thoughts we have every day are the same, this applies especially to the negative thoughts. Which means that the negative thoughts become automatic when faced with a stressful event – called cognitive distortions (unhelpful thinking patterns). Types of cognitive distortions are listed in the table below:

 

Catastrophisizing You expect disaster What if I end up broke and in the street
All of nothing thinking Things are black and white, good or bad. I have to be perfect or I’m a failure
Overgeneralization If something bad happens once then you expect it to always happen I’m always screwing up
Mental Filter You dwell on a  single negative detail You obsess over the one “meets expectations” on your performance review.
Emotional Reasoning You believe what you feel must automatically be true. I feel stupid, therefore I am.
Mind Reading Without their saying so, you know what people are feeling and thinking She didn’t respond to my email so I know she hates me.
Personalization You hold yourself accountable for things that are beyond your control The project failed. I didn’t spend enough time on it.

 

How do you fight cognitive distortions?

 

For the long term, work to change thought patterns.

  1. Record your thoughts! What is your inner dialogue saying to you? What are your greatest hits?
  2. Name the pattern (ie. mind reading) – psychology shows that once we label something – it actually helps us create emotional distance and lower the power the thought has over us.
  3. Generate 1-3 facts to dispute the thought.

*Mood kit is a phone application that can help you do this real time!

For the short term,

  1. Accept don’t deflect – be cognizant of the phrases that you may be using “it was nothing” “I just threw this together” start practicing welcoming in praise and not pushing it away- when you get a compliment, keep it at a tweet length response OR even better – just say “thanks.”
  2. Create a brag file! It is a natural way to start to eliminate the bias we feel against ourselves. This provides a visible solution to start to have pride in your own accomplishments. Take stock in each day of what went well and what you’re proud of– make note of any outcomes/successes.
    *Bonus: A brag file is good to have when you are prepping for an interview or updating your resume.
  3. Go on the offense. It is helpful to practice more/exposure technique. Ie. if you are afraid of getting feedback asking for it more will actually help you build the tolerance to it more. When we proactively solicit feedback we find it more helpful. Confidence is a skill and like anything else it takes practice and failures will occur.
  4. Seek a mentor or sponsor. Imposter syndrome thrives in a setting where we are lacking role models- seeking mentorship and sponsorship in your workplace or joining events & groups can help tremendously.  Join Melody at melodywilding.com/community for a pre-established growing community for accountability, inspiration and a place to find advice as you grow in your career.

Want to learn more about Melody or sign up to work with her? Check out her site here: https://melodywilding.com/

Finally, remember that we are in this together. Empower, Engage and Elevate!

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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
you?

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!

www.pamgarramone.com

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!

Love,
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/.

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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 to 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 or send us an email at info@womenaccelerators.org. Thank you!

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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.” 

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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!

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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!

 

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

 

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