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The PWCC Blog provides a platform for our community to interact online so that we may deepen our connection with one another outside of meetings. Promoting PWCC’s mission to create a strong, vibrant network for professional women, the blog also offers individual members a unique opportunity for self-expression. Topics may range from advice on careers, financial matters, and work/life balance to personal observations or even humorous vignettes. Whatever the subject, we hope that all of our members will take advantage of this chance to support, inspire, and enrich the careers and lives of each other. If you’d like to write for the blog, submit your blog to admin@pwcc.org for review. All submissions are reviewed prior to posting. Information is posted regularly by the PWCC blog team, so check back often!

 

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PWCC Blog: Getting to Success

Posted By Annika Mitchell, Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Regardless of gender, everyone wants to be and feel successful. Everyone also wants others to proclaim and acknowledge our success.  But do men and women have to work differently to achieve success?

Much has been written about the networking men do: on the golf links, on the basketball court. A recent article suggested that women should engage in beer bonding to advance their careers. The logic seems to be that engaging in the same networking activities as men will increase women’s exposure to work opportunities.

Everyone agrees that networking is key but there are some roadblocks women experience more frequently that may prevent the kind of back-and-back networking that is the most successful.

So the first step to gaining a sense of self-success may be to overcome these common doubts that women experience:

The Imposter
While millions of people experience self-doubt – including athletes, celebrities, CEOs – women are uniquely vulnerable to this very strong roadblock to success. A lack of confidence makes it hard to feel secure in your work and in your ideas.

There is lots of good information about overcoming this roadblock to success.

The Perfectionist
Women universally report feeling the need to do everything flawlessly. Whether it’s our appearance, our children, our homes, or our jobs, our common need to complete our tasks and shoulder our responsibilities more thoroughly is exhausting, mentally and physically. And sometimes this drive to perfection inhibits our ability to delegate tasks to others, so we wind up self-imposing the weight of everything onto our own shoulders.

The Self-Promoter
Women generally find it more difficult to promote their skills and accomplishments than men do. A study from Montana State University found that the cultural norms of modesty, mostly focused on the behavior of women, prevent many women from talking about their successes.

So if women seem to be especially proficient in sabotaging their ability to feel and be successful, what’s a woman to do?

To the surprise of no one at PWCC, networking proves to be a very important step on a path to success. But while networking in general is important, recent research identified the best kind of networking for women places high value on an intimate circle of colleagues who will share information that the broader, less intimate, network circles that men typically form will not.

The researchers explored the idea of “centrality” in networks among men or women. “Centrality” measured the percentage of highly connected people within a person’s network. A network that includes highly connected people can be small in number but strong and influential.

For men, a network of highly connected individuals, even if the contacts do not communicate often among themselves, can engender and promote success. For men, it was okay – and beneficial – to have weak ties to highly connected people.

But things appeared to be different for women. Yes, networking with highly connected people is beneficial, as it is for men.

But small networks of women who share close connections seemed to be the most beneficial for future success of members. Emailing a small group of women frequently, seeking feedback and advice, appears to bolster a woman’s success.

What accounts for this? Well if we tend to suffer most frequently from feeling like an imposter, having a small circle of professional women on whom to rely for feedback that is genuine can only be helpful.

So yes it’s great to gather lots of business cards and look for leaders with whom to connect, but forming the kinds of networking connections that PWCC encourages – those that are sincere and mutually beneficial – may be the best aid to experience true success.

Carol Jambor-Smith
carol@jamborsmithcommunications.com
Jambor-Smith Communications

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PWCC Community Blog: Use Doubt to Lead Yourself and Others

Posted By Administration, Thursday, March 7, 2019

“The one way to get me to work my hardest was to doubt me.” Michelle Obama

“If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.” Vincent van Gogh

“Each time we face our fear, we gain strength, courage, and confidence in the doing.” Theodore Roosevelt

A healthy mind probes and wonders. It’s skeptical and believes nothing is beyond questioning.  In other words, it doubts.

To doubt something is to be “uncertain of belief or opinion,” to “deliberately suspend judgment” and seek more information. In other words, to be a skeptic. To think critically before accepting an idea.

While self-doubt can block us creatively, it can also push us to discover something new. Constructive doubt is above all defined by its capacity to reframe problems, explore new pathways, and deepen our understanding of the world around us. Without permitting doubt, we risk missing opportunities to rethink a process, develop a new product, or see something in a new light.

Self-doubt may be synonymous with lack of confidence or low self-esteem. It’s easy to understand that lacking faith in yourself makes it very difficult to engage constructively with challenges and with colleagues.

Self-doubt is generally considered a negative trait. Yet doubt is intellectually and emotionally essential. Questioning is adaptive for survival, allowing for testing the environment for safety and for navigating social currents. Questioning is at times a matter of survival, when it represents the first awareness that, without change, disaster awaits. In the social sphere, it is important to learn to gauge trustworthiness, especially since gullibility makes one a target for manipulation.

Doubt is a sense that not all is right and that too much is unclear.  It is a feeling that casts a large shadow of discomfort over current courses of action, without knowing necessarily what is amiss or how to fix it. Leaders can improve the sense-making process by raising doubts.  One approach is to encourage colleagues to give voice to their hunches. A confident leader guides this process of giving voice to doubt and, once acknowledged, begins the crucial process of inquiry and testing, driven by deep curiosity about new questions and challenges. 

Given how valuable doubt can be to our creativity and growth, we need to learn how to harness it for our benefit, disabling its ability to overwhelm us. If you feel overwhelmed by doubt, try these two exercises:

Ask yourself “Who Am I?”

Set aside 10-20 minutes for this exercise. Sit comfortably, close your eyes, and ask yourself, “Who am I?”

Keep asking yourself “Who am I?” after every answer. When your mind finally gets stumped and can’t think of another answer, sit quietly until thoughts start coming again. Each time answers stop coming, sit in the quiet.

If you do this exercise daily, connecting to yourself as presence over and over again, self-doubt will shrivel and your sense of identification will begin to shift to presence over personality. In presence, you find freedom.

Have a Conversation with Self-Doubt.

When your voice of self-doubt arises, turn to face it, in your mind, as if it were a person speaking to you. You can close your eyes for this too.

Say, “Hi, Self-Doubt, thank you for speaking to me today. What do you want for?”

Treat self-doubt like you would a friend and wait its answer. Draw out what it wants for you and what scares it.

When practiced over time, this exercise helps you build a relationship with your voice of self-doubt. When you learn to interact with your voice of self-doubt in this way, it gets less scary and loosens its grip on you.

To be human is to experience times of self-doubt. The ability to harness doubt and face it to discover things about yourself can be an invaluable tool in your journey of self-discovery.  And to lead your colleagues through discussions of doubt about a product or a plan can trigger creative thought and problem-solving.


Submitted by:

Carol Jambor-Smith, Ph.D.
Jambor-Smith Communications
carol@jamborsmithcommunications.com

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PWCC Blog: Are Resolutions for Losers?

Posted By Administration, Friday, February 1, 2019

Each year, we’re romanced by the potential and promise January brings. It’s a time for reflection, fresh starts, and wild declarations. So, how are your New Years’ resolutions coming along?

Don’t worry if you’ve already slipped up, you’re not alone. According to U.S. News & World Report about 80% of resolution-makers trade enthusiasm for disappointment by early February. Other research indicates that 30% don’t even make it that far, ditching their resolutions before they reach the two-week mark. Before you grab that donut and prepare to wallow in self-defeat, take some inspiration from John Norcross, an expert in behavior change and resolutions.

“Many ultimately successful resolvers report—even as they experience them—that the early slips strengthen their resolutions,” Norcross said. “The key to success is coming back from those slips stronger than ever, and course-correcting to get yourself on the right path.”

Course correcting.
Whether you’re making tweaks to a business plan or preparing for a major restructuring, course corrections enable your business to respond to internal and external forces. This same idea of course-correcting applies to many other aspects of our lives, from health to family and finances. It takes some work and determination, however, to get things back on track. When you experience a setback, take a deep breath, put down the donut, and reset your course.

“The biggest mistake people make is picking the wrong goal in the first place,” says Talane Miedaner, author of Coach Yourself to Success. “Never set goals that are over a year old, because they’re dead.” Losing weight is a perfect example some people carry around for decades. “If you still want to slim down after years of trying, then do something different,” she says. “Sign up with a running group and train for a marathon, or take ballroom dancing lessons.”

Create a master plan.
Determine what you actually need to do to achieve your goals. Maybe you’ll have to wake up an hour earlier to write your best-selling novel or spend three lunch hours each week at the gym. To succeed, you have to schedule your goals and make them part of your life. Documenting these actions not only makes your goal real, it but creates a greater sense of motivation and accountability. Besides, positive steps in one direction tend to encourage other positive behaviors. Once you begin an exercise program, for example, you may be more incented to clean up your diet, so you don’t sabotage your hard work at the gym.

Develop a strategy.
Lofty goals often feel overwhelming, which leads to procrastination and incompletion. Without a strategy in place to pursue your goals, your chances of falling short increase exponentially. Attainable objectives will help you stay on track. Short-term objectives, like losing two pounds this week or five pounds this month, are vital to staying motivated for the long-haul. Write down the concrete action steps you're going to take to meet your goals, such as trading 2 soft drinks a day for water and walking for 30 minutes 3 times per week. Stay flexible and be open to altering your action steps as needed.

It takes a village.
Join a group of like-minded folks, team up with a good friend, hire a coach, or otherwise include people who want the best for you and will you keep on track. If you know someone with a similar goal or any goal at all, invite her to be an accountability buddy. Then, check in with each other regularly to make sure you’re on track. Telling people right from the beginning not only builds accountability, but it also gives you the opportunity to let your team know when and how you’d feel most encouraged.

Keep your eye on the ball.
Post your goals on your wall and at your desk. Write them in your planner and post-its on your bathroom mirror. Check in with them often and make adjustments, or course-corrections, as necessary. Vision boards, maps, checklists, and pictures that embody success will also keep you motivated. Visualizing how you’ll feel after achieving your goal unleashes the power of your subconscious mind, which further propels you toward success.

Re-frame if necessary.
Even the noblest goals can be overly restrictive, setting you up for disappointment or failure. Imagine, for example, how paying off all of your debt in a 12-month period will impact your current cash flow or your ability to meet other financial goals and obligations. If paying off debt becomes so restrictive that it adversely impacts your lifestyle, you might want to re-frame your goal. Could you extend the number of months to pay down debt from 12 to 18 or even 24 months? This might keep you motivated to continue the momentum without removing all enjoyment from your life.

Reward your progress along the way.
So your goal is to lose 50 pounds this year. Do you get frustrated if you lose five pounds the first month, and only three the second month? Of course, at this rate, 50 pounds seems a long way off. Instead of focusing on the finish line, take time to acknowledge your progress along the way. Reward yourself for small steps—every 5-pound increment, every inch, every morning something in your closet fits better.

Rewards, like manicures, massages, or a bright-colored scarf or a piece of jewelry, keep you motivated and energized. “If you reward yourself with something that makes you feel beautiful each time you shed a few pounds,” says Christa Wagner, professional organizer and owner of Savvy Solutions, “you’re more likely to achieve your end goal.”

Life is never a simple, straight line. Stuff happens. We all encounter twists and turns along the way which may require “course corrections” to get back on track. Remember, as Professor Norcross said, “slips do not predict failure.” Remember, you haven’t failed until you quit trying. So put the donut down, get back up on the horse, and continue your journey toward accomplishing those goals.

Submitted by:  Abby Rath, AONeil07@gmail.com
Storyteller, word nerd, and Oxford comma devotee specializing in brand marketing, project management, and strategic communications

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PWCC December Blog: Dancing, Not Surviving!

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, December 4, 2018

This time of year can be magical: our worlds become imbued with lights and decorations and traditions. In Chicago we welcome snow and revel in its beauty (let’s not think about our attitude change about snow that happens in late February). For some of us this is a time of anticipation, too, looking toward a new year and new promises.

And yet. Count the number of professional publications that feature the word “survive” in December articles.  Count the number of people who ask you if you’re “surviving” the holidays. Count the number of times YOU wonder how you will “survive” this time of year.

So what gives?

Professionally, the end of the year can bring crunch time -- projects are due, budgets are due, You may have to finally confront staffing issues that have lurked for the last quarter -- whether the issues entail hiring or giving staff notice. Add to this mix the need to thank clients for their loyalty to you and your company with the perfect gift, the need to attend holiday lunches and parties, and the need to plan for time away from the office.

Personally, you may be planning for visits from friends and relatives, organizing menus, and shopping for gifts as you watch the days remaining in the year fall away..

So let’s get out the war paint and figure out to how to “survive.”  Better yet, let’s get out our favorite pair of shoes and figure out how to “dance” through the holidays!

  1. Plan, plan, plan. EVERYTHING is more manageable when plotted on a calendar.

     Make a list of everything you have to accomplish professionally by year’s end

     Overlay this list onto a daily calendar, creating lists of steps to take to reach this goal. At each day’s end, mark off finished tasks.

     For every subsequent day, write a new list of tasks, putting those not accomplished the day before at the top of the day’s list.

     To each day, add any social activities to give you a clear picture of what that day entails.

After you have created a professional plan to manage your time and accomplish your goals, make a second list of personal aspirations and obligations for the season. Think of this list as the personal tasks you want to do during this time, including shopping for gifts, baking cookies, decorating the house, cleaning, organizing, and making that final donation of goods for the year.

     Now chart this list on the same calendar you used for your professional obligations, prioritizing these happy tasks.

     As each day ends, as you did with your professional list, mark off the personal tasks accomplished, putting those not finished at the top of the next day’s list.

You can color code tasks -- professional, personal, social -- if that better helps your visualize each day.

            2. Schedule Time for yourself.

Selflessness is important, but not when it comes at the expense of doing things to keep you centered, calm (as much as possible!), and joyful.

Don’t sacrifice your “me” time, however you define it. Keep exercising, keep eating healthy (although don’t deprive yourself of those delicious holiday treats), and sleep, sleep, sleep. Is there anything that you love doing during this time? Do it!

            3. Practice Mindfulness.

Yes, we should be mindful each day of the year, but it is more important than ever to be mindful during the holidays.

Each day, schedule time to reflect on what went especially well during the year and what could have gone better.  What would you change for the upcoming new year? What is something you want to accomplish? What does meeting this aspiration look like?

And, of course, focus on what made you happy this year!

Envisioning the tasks you must accomplish and those you want to accomplish, maintaining your year-long focus on your health, and being mindful can help the holidays be a time of joy and dancing rather than one of chaos and war paint.  Enjoy!  

Submitted by Carol Jambor-Smith, Ph.D., Principal, Jambor-Smith Communications, Carol Jambor-Smith,
carol@jamborsmithcommunications.com

Professional Women's Club of Chicago, PWCC is a Chicago based networking organization that provides networking connections that support, enrich and inspire women to advance professionally and personally. Members come from public and private sectors, multi-billion dollar corporations, mid-size and small businesses, as well as, non-profit organizations. Membership is open to women from all industries in all stages of their careers who want to develop a strong lifelong network. Learn more about membership and upcoming activities

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6 Ways to Treat Yourself this Summer

Posted By Administration, Thursday, June 14, 2018

6 Ways to Treat Yourself this Summer

Half of 2018 is almost over and the 2018 PWCC 2018 Season has come to a close.  Now that you have more time on your hand (smile), here are 6 sweet actions that’ll help slash stress, boost happiness and improve overall health this Summer.

1. Put Yourself on your Schedule

Look at your schedule and put into practice having some free time for yourself during the day. Set 30 minutes apart for your personal alone time every day: no phones, no computers, no social media. Take the time to do what you like without any distractions.

2. Do Something for the Joy of it

Find something you enjoy. Maybe you’re artistic and have a talented outlet and you enjoy making jewelry or painting. Maybe you’re an avid tennis player and you enjoy physical activity.  Whatever brings you joy, do it! If you don’t know what brings you joy, this is a great time to find out by trying new things, getting out of your comfort zone, and learning something different.  Here are a few things to try for the joy of it:

       Go to a free music festival in one of the beautiful Chicago parks

●       Make potpourri from seasonal flowers

       Catch fireflies

       Do a walking tour of your city

       Blow bubbles (love this one, try it with your kids)

       Throw a BBQ for friends and family

       Have a water balloon fight

       Play with the kids or the neighbor’s kids

       Do an outside workout

       Dance around

 

3. Laugh Out Loud

Chuckling and giggling benefit our mental and physical health, especially when combined with a physical activity. Giving into a case of the funnies can improve our overall quality of life, while getting goofy with other people can help us connect with the people we laugh with and foster our relationships. Watch a funny movie or a comedy on television.  Better yet, have a slumber party with your besties, watch your favorite sitcoms, and get goofy. 

4. Indulge in a Massage

Set aside some time to experience the bliss of massage. It soothes both the mind and muscles, improves sleep quality, and reduces stress.  While you are it, get a manicure a pedicure, a facial, or all of the above, why not.

5. Cuddle

Whether you’re the big spoon or little spoon, cuddling is good for you. Studies show that physical contact reduces stress and releases a hormone called oxtocin that boosts happiness.

6. Indulge in Some Retail Therapy

Shopaholics, rejoice!  Hitting the mall can help ease mild depression and make us more confident, according to some researchers.  Another study suggests that purchasing new clothes can lift a person’s mood (can attest to this one!).  Science aside, treating yourself to something shiny, special, and new (it doesn’t have to be expensive!) is a pretty surefire way to put a smile on your face.

Make it an extra sweet and fun summer.

Submitted by:

Elaine Mikesell, Ph.D.
Managing Partner, Mikesell Digital Consulting - WSI Agency
elaine.mikesell@wsimikeselldigital.com

Professional Women's Club of Chicago, PWCC is a Chicago based networking organization that provides networking connections that support, enrich and inspire women to advance professionally and personally. Members come from public and private sectors, multi-billion dollar corporations, mid-size and small businesses, as well as, non-profit organizations. Membership is open to women from all industries in all stages of their careers who want to develop a strong lifelong network. Learn more about membership and upcoming activities

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What Will Be Your Legacy?

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, May 16, 2018

What Will Be Your Legacy?

A friend visited recently whom I’ve known since college. She told me that she’s trying to determine what to do with the next 30 years, or, the last third of her life. I said that we could write off the last ten years of life to dementia or poor health. “Two ninths” she responded. “So we have 2/9th’s left,” I teared up. From laughter? Or, was it despair?  

My friend is a math teacher so it is natural for her to think of legacy in terms of numbers. In the musical “Hamilton”, it stuck with me that Hamilton’s wife Eliza lived for “another fifty years” after her husband’s death. Did Hamilton’s death make her a 50/50? After Hamilton’s death she went on to painstakingly tell and keep his story alive, raise funds for the Washington Monument, speak out against slavery and establish an orphanage in New York City.

In December 2015, Gord Downie, the lead singer and lyricist for the Canadian band Tragically Hip was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain tumor. He died in October, 2017 from a disease that gradually erased his memory. In his last year of his life, he released a solo album to bring attention to the government policy that sent Canadian children from indigenous families to abusive, state funded residential schools from the 19th century until the 1970’s. Downie’s Secret Path project became his Legacy Project, to make people aware of this tragic aspect of his country’s history. Apparently, Downie had not known about the schools or treatment of aboriginal children prior to his diagnosis. He chose thoughtfully about how he wanted to spend his remaining life. What was his legacy fraction, 1/26? He died at 52.   

Martha Nussbaum a distinguished professor at the University of Chicago (and named one of 100 Leading Global Thinkers) spoke to a group of psychologists in January 2018 in Chicago, which I attended.  She and her co-author, Saul Levmore wrote a book titled “Aging Thoughtfully - Conversations about Retirement, Romance, Wrinkles and Regret”. Nussbaum’s message is to encourage each of us to give thought to what we want to do with our lives, especially as we age.  She gave an example of a relative who lived for over a century, yet the woman was so preoccupied with trivia and herself that she left no legacy. Nussbaum could see nothing meaningful for this woman to be remembered for. Nussbaum’s message? Don’t waste your life like that. Think about how you want to spend your 2/9, or 50/50 or 1/26. 

I see adults of all ages in my practice. They don’t usually come in to address legacy but there is often an undercurrent; an attempt to understand what life is all about, a desire not only to make meaning of it but to figure out where they can fit in, and what they want to contribute.

Of course, few of us know the true fraction that represents the percentage of life unlived.  Maybe it’s ridiculous to put a number on it, yet the idea intrigues me. And, I know I’m not alone. The comfort is in talking about it out loud.  Martha Nussbaum and my friend are talking about legacy and aging openly and candidly. I encourage you to join the conversation. Talk to friends, relatives or a therapist about it.  To want to be known and remembered as bigger than oneself is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s your life.  

Submitted by:  Caroline Steelberg, Psy.D., LLC is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist with offices in the Chicago Loop and Andersonville. She specializes in the treatment of adult individuals and couples.

Professional Women's Club of Chicago, PWCC is a Chicago based networking organization that provides networking connections that support, enrich and inspire women to advance professionally and personally. Members come from public and private sectors, multi-billion dollar corporations, mid-size and small businesses, as well as, non-profit organizations. Membership is open to women from all industries in all stages of their careers who want to develop a strong lifelong network. Learn more about membership and upcoming activities

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PWCC Blog: How to Transform your Career & Reach your Full Potential

Posted By Administration, Thursday, May 3, 2018

Over the course of your lifetime, you’ll spend at least a total of 10.3 years at work and most professionals report feeling disengaged in their current position.  Changing a career can be intimidating.  That’s why people settle and stay.

The good news is that people change careers every day.  So, how do you transform your career successfully? 

Here are 7 proven steps to navigate a career transformation successfully:

1.      Self-Reflect

Before changing, it is important to make sure you are choosing the right career path to avoid experiencing a set-backStart with a self-evaluation.

2.   Plan a Future Scenario

What should your “after” picture look like?   Consider worst and best case scenarios, and choose the best.  What are your transferable skills? What’s stopping you?

3.   Plot your Stepping Stones

Take short term actions to help you move forward and create your dream future.  Be sure you are leveraging your network.   Your network is your most important asset during career transformation.  It can:

o   Help you meet key players

 o   Advocate for you

o   Get you the right advice and coaching

o   Be your seal of approval even if you don't have the perfect match of skills and experience

Invest in your skills.  Career makeovers most often require that you learn a few skills or refresh old ones.

These little steps may not seem relevant, but they are necessary to move forward.

4.   Talk to a Mentor or a Coach

Remember, many people have faced challenges similar to the ones you’re currently facing.  Navigating a career requires a psychological change, it is important to tap into the experience of others.

5.   Check your Fears

Fear is the only thing often stopping us from becoming the person we want to be.  Listen to your internal conversation and be sure it is not stopping you.  What would you do if you were not afraid?

6.   Get Inspired

Surround yourself with inspirational messages and people. Write a person manifesto, vision, or a letter to your “present” self from your “future” self and review it at least weekly. Keep it simple.

7.    Commit

Quell your excuses and get into action. Nothing will change until you take the first step.         

Career transformation can feel daunting. It can also be invigorating as you feel totally empowered to create your destiny.  Make it about creating your destiny.

 

Submitted by:

Elaine Mikesell, Ph.D.
Managing Partner, Mikesell Digital Consulting –WSI Agency
elaine.mikesell@wsimikeselldigital.com

Professional Women's Club of Chicago, PWCC is a Chicago based networking organization that provides networking connections that support, enrich and inspire women to advance professionally and personally. Members come from public and private sectors, multi-billion dollar corporations, mid-size and small businesses, as well as, non-profit organizations. Membership is open to women from all industries in all stages of their careers who want to develop a strong lifelong network. Learn more about membership and upcoming activities

 

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Tips for Smarter Living :Telling a Good Story

Posted By Administration, Thursday, May 3, 2018

Storytelling has moved from the children’s library into the workplace.  Managers are now using stories to make a point, make themselves believable, and lead their teams. 

Storytelling immediately brings your audience with you and helps you better convey any information you want them to know or learn.

But storytelling is also something most people are happy to avoid: it means speaking about yourself in front of people.  Research has told us that people fear public speaking/storytelling more than they fear death!

So how can you learn to use this very effective way of communicating information?  By doing it!

Here are a few tips to get started:

  •  Who is listening? In other words, who is your audience – friends, strangers, colleagues? A large mixed group? You need to know this to find something that connects you to them. Knowing your relationship brings you closer to knowing a story that’s right for them. 
  • What story should you tell?  The best story comes from something close to you – something personal. Hearing a personal story gives your audience permission to think of you as human, which builds an empathetic relationship between you and them – a necessary ingredient to being a good leader.  Everybody can relate to being human.

    Remember: knowing your audience is always key: you have to know who is listening to find the right way to tell your story.  
  • Be sure to fit the occasion.  Focus on something that connects you and your audience. What experiences do you have in common? This is easy enough for a group of colleagues or a family gathering but even if you’re facing an audience of strangers, think about the occasion of your talk to find some clues.  (Hint: you can always win over an audience of strangers by being funny or personal or by asking a question that your story answers.)
  • Structure the story.  Start with the characters and introduce them quickly. Don’t have too many and make them vivid.

    Then introduce a conflict, either between the characters or with some external force. Your character must face a challenge because the challenge is what moves your story forward and keeps your audience’s interest: they will want to know what happens. 
  • Now, get started! Either start saying your story – and record it – or write down a rough first draft and record yourself reading it.

    What does it sound like? Where did you stumble? What’s missing and what’s included that doesn’t belong?  Write a draft that includes these corrections. Record yourself reading it again and repeat the process: what’s good, what’s bad, what’s missing. Rewrite these revisions and now you have a second draft.
  • Practice, practice, practice.  Speak in front of an audience you trust and listen to their feedback. Learn the story well enough to tell it without notes because speaking directly to your audience without reading furthers your connection to them.

Storytelling, when done well, establishes your bona fides with an audience.  Start small in comfortable situations with people you know well to hone your skills and then take your storytelling on the road – to professional speaking situations and in your workplace.  You’ll learn to enjoy being fearless!

Submitted by:
Carol Jambor-Smith, Ph.D.
Principal, Jambor-Smith Communications
carol@jamborsmithcommunications.com

Professional Women's Club of Chicago, PWCC is a Chicago based networking organization that provides networking connections that support, enrich and inspire women to advance professionally and personally. Members come from public and private sectors, multi-billion dollar corporations, mid-size and small businesses, as well as, non-profit organizations. Membership is open to women from all industries in all stages of their careers who want to develop a strong lifelong network. Learn more about membership and upcoming activities

 

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Tips for Smarter Living: Spring Clean Your Diet for Workplace Success

Posted By Administration, Thursday, April 5, 2018
Many women use spring as a time to try to lose weight for summer, why not try to improve the quality of our food choices to get the most we can out of our busy schedules without feeling deprived?
 
Food affects your brain. To function at your highest performance, your mind needs nutrient-rich and low glycemic foods. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and foods with B vitamins, antioxidants and essential fats.
 
Here is a list of tips your brain will thank you for:
 
Snack between meals: Eat a snack that's high in protein and complex carbohydrates between your regular meals. Cottage cheese, fruit, yogurt, tuna, hard-boiled eggs, protein-bars, an apple with peanut butter, and trail mix (heavy on the nuts, not the dried fruit and candy) are all great high-protein snacks.
 
Water: Stop dehydrating yourself! The minor signs of dehydration include lethargy, headaches, aches and pains, and a general sense of confusion called brain fog. Staying well hydrated is as simple as developing the habit of regularly drinking water. Aim for 90 ounces a day.
 
Spinach: Whether it's steamed, sautéed, or in a salad, spinach will help you remember facts and figures for that late-afternoon strategy session when your mind begins to go mushy.Research shows the lutein, folate and B vitamins in spinach can improve mental alertness and memory. And the antioxidants in spinach act as bodyguards for your brain, protecting them from free-radical damage that can cause memory loss and cognitive decline.
 
Beets: The natural nitrates in this root vegetable actually boost blood flow to your brain, according to researchers at Wake Forest University. This not only enhances mental performance, it also increases energy, to help you avoid that mid-afternoon slump.
 
Olive oil: This healthy fat is scientifically proven to help learning and memory. So it's a good choice for dipping your bread or drizzling on your salad if you want to be sure to retain information from that upcoming meeting. Olive oil has high levels of vitamin K, which studies show can help your brain process information faster. It's also packed with polyphenols, which can actually reverse learning and memory deficits. Studies show it can even protect the brain against Alzheimer's.
Salmon: Want to be laser-focused this afternoon? Salmon has DHA and omega-3 fatty acids, which not only increase brain function and concentration. Mackerel, herring, sardines and anchovies among other fish with "smart fats."
 
Tomatoes: Whether you choose them in salad, sauce or soup, tomatoes have high levels of lycopene, an antioxidant that helps fight free radicals. Those are the pesky chemicals that damage brain cells. So eating tomatoes can help prevent that damage, which in turn helps you think more logically and solve problems more constructively. Have you noticed that tomatoes have a slight sweetness? Eating tomatoes early in your meal is a great way to fulfill sugar cravings without spiking your blood sugar.
 
Eggs: Your next business brunch can boost your brain function and make you more alert, if you go for the omelet, the scramble, or the benedict. Packed with supportive antioxidants, eggs can also give you more energy and better concentration. The yolks are especially beneficial for brain function, because of a nutrient called choline, which a recent study links to better performance on cognitive tests.
 
Bananas: A banana contains about 25 grams of glucose, our brains work best with a small amount circulating in our bloodstream, so snacking on a banana can help us sustain our brainpower.
Dark Chocolate: Science says dark chocolate can lift your mood and fuel your focus. That's because of powerful antioxidants called flavonoids, which improve memory, learning and decision making. Dark chocolate also contains magnesium to help you de-stress, and a small amount of caffeine, to make you more alert. So if you're looking to increase your focus, decrease your stress level, and satisfy your sweet tooth, go ahead and splurge on a dark chocolate dessert. Science supports it.
Remember, diets filled with energy drinks, fast food and sugar negatively affects your mood, learning and memory, whereas diets filled with fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds can enhance your concentration and outlook. If we were to snack on something high in sugar, like a handful of M&Ms, then we risk a blood sugar spike followed by a crash. The result? Low energy and low productivity. Better choices will keep you fueled for maximum performance.
 
Contributed by:  Debbie Story, Corporate Identity, Inc. dstory@corpid.com

Professional Women's Club of Chicago, PWCC is a Chicago based networking organization that provides networking connections that support, enrich and inspire women to advance professionally and personally. Members come from public and private sectors, multi-billion dollar corporations, mid-size and small businesses, as well as, non-profit organizations. Membership is open to women from all industries in all stages of their careers who want to develop a strong lifelong network. Learn more about membership and upcoming activities

 

 

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PWCC Blog: Networking as Building a Hive, Not a Car

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 4, 2018

PWCC Blog: Networking as Building a Hive, Not a Car

This blog will tie together the new “organization as organism” model to the increasing need for “soft skills” training in the workplace to networking.  Bear with me.

Much is currently being researched and written about the need for organizations to move from a hierarchical model to a hive.  No more top-down edicts but more hive-like interaction.

McKinsey’s The Five Trademarks of Agile Organizations outlines this need for change.

Traditional models for organizations (think Ford Motor Company) were built upon hierarchy and specialization: leaders made decisions and departments implemented them.  Each department specialized in a discrete skill needed to implement their portion of the decision.

Today, organizations that meet the demand for quick responses to market demands rely on creative, disruptive problem-solving across departments.  There is little hierarchy especially because the best problem-solving includes multiple voices and perspectives looking simultaneously at the same problem. Inside-out, collaborative.

And while companies are perfecting their data analytic skills to offer customers nimble measures of success, little attention is paid to the need for communication and collaboration training to ensure that co-workers know how to share data and projects that lead to solving client’s problems and winning new business.

Scope Logic’s The Importance of Collaboration in the Workforce outlines the need for these “softer skills” in the age of digital everything:

“When your teams are collaborating, they are essentially learning new things from each other. Your organization becomes a body which encourages a culture of continuous learning, and supports that learning through opportunities for growth and development, as well as through safety nets for failures. Whenever team members collaborate, they enhance their capacity to go and grow beyond their comfort zones and take your business to new heights.”

And thus back to networking.

While some may approach networking as the means to an end – new business, say – this approach looks like the traditional approach to business: make a decision and find someone to implement it.

True networking is necessarily collaborative. Think about viewing networking from Scope Logic’s lens: true networking allows you to learn new things, develop relationships that support opportunities for growth and, and enhance your professional savvy.

But true networking demands you enter the relationships as a worker bee, looking to build something beyond yourself within your network.  You’re going to have to give to the hive in order to benefit from it.

Submitted by:  Carol Jambor-Smith, Principal and Founder, Jambor-Smith Communications carol@jamborsmithcommunications.com

Professional Women's Club of Chicago, PWCC is a Chicago based networking organization that provides networking connections that support, enrich and inspire women to advance professionally and personally. Members come from public and private sectors, multi-billion dollar corporations, mid-size and small businesses, as well as, non-profit organizations. Membership is open to women from all industries in all stages of their careers who want to develop a strong lifelong network. Learn more about membership and upcoming activities



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