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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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Dealing with the Unexpected Outburst

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Updated: Friday, December 20, 2013

Have you ever experienced an unexpected outburst from a coworker, your boss, or a client? Did it strike you completely off-guard?

Here's another question:  who hasn't experienced this?

Unfortunately, during your career, you may have encountered people in the workplace who act tough, spew their statements, and then walk away. Or instead of leaving, they remain, waiting for a response from you. Either way, these unexpected and unsettling incidents can be some of the toughest experiences to handle in the workplace.

We all want to go through our day cool, calm, and collected, and we hope we will encounter other people who are equally cool, calm, and collected. But in the workplace the stakes may be high, important projects may have big problems, and the stress levels can soar. We all want to appear competent and our bonuses are on the line. Emotions are high, and this can lead to the big outburst.

Wait - did I use the word "emotions"? When talking about the workplace?

Yes, exactly. As much as we want to appear objective and rational, emotions are a big part of the workplace. The key is to use this knowledge to your advantage.

When a colleague, boss, or client has an outburst, they are expressing their emotions. Breathe deeply to stay calm and then ask yourself, "What are they really feeling?" If you can ignore the negativity and irrationality by responding with a peaceful or neutral statement, you will win them over.

Calmly address the emotions, not the words.  By doing so, you will let them save face, and you get to stay in control.

Pamela Mearsheimer

Pamela Mearsheimer is an Accounting and Finance specialist in Chicago, IL  She is currently studying for the CPA Exam  pmearsh@gmail.com | www.linkedin.com/in/pamelamearsheimer 

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"A Place of Hope"

Posted By Administration, Monday, November 11, 2013
Updated: Friday, December 20, 2013

Before walking up on stage, Sister Rosemary Connelly, Executive Director, Misericordia/Heart of Mercy asked that the attendees of the PWCC October luncheon watch a short video. The clip showed the happy faces of special-needs residents who were clearly in an environment of growth, companionship, and compassionate care. Whether mildly or profoundly disabled or physically challenged, the message was clear:  the Misericordia residents are offered life-giving programs and options to maximize their full potential.

As an example of how many of the residents view themselves, Sister Rosemary shared an encounter she observed years ago. While on an outing with a physically disabled young man in a wheelchair, a small girl kept staring. Finally the girl asked, "Are you handicapped?” The man replied, "Not that I’m aware of.” Sister said that she couldn’t have agreed more.

Sister Rosemary began her journey when her religious order assigned her to a facility which housed children with Down Syndrome. But at the age of 6, according to state guidelines, the children were then sent to a nursing home where they were left to isolate with little growth or education. "These children weren’t sick, they just had the wrong chromosome,” recalled Sister. Recognizing a need existed for this underserved and often underestimated population, Sister rolled up her sleeves. In 1969, as Administrator of Misericordia, she worked with her devoted staff to increase their knowledge base and skills, created accomodating classrooms, and then developed programs for self-help skills, speech and physical therapy, and recreational activites.  Sister’s innovative vision over 40 years ago created the foundation for the environment that Misericordia offers today.

Although the journey wasn’t easy, due to lacking funds and facilities, Sister credits God and the goodness of others with the successes the Misericordia community has achieved.  As an example, a man left $1.2 million in his will to Miseracordia, however, a niece sued the estate for those funds. The litigation lasted four years, but Sister Rosemary said she learned then why God took so long to answer her prayers:  not only were they awarded the $1.2 million, Misericordia also received 18% interest!

Sister Rosemary’s optimism and faith was infectious. I walked away with the feeling of wanting to give back! More information can be found on the website: http://www.misericordia.com

Kris Zeigler is a VP of Mortgage Lending at 1stAdvantage Mortgage, a Draper and Kramer Company. Kris cares, is experienced, and offers sound advice and smooth closings for your residential home loans. Check out her bloghttp://1stadvantagemortgage.com/blog/zeigler/

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Landing a New Client is Worth the Wait

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Updated: Friday, December 20, 2013

I've since left Edelman and had other jobs before I started my own communications agency three years ago.  On a recent trip to visit my friends in Comfort, we did a little shopping and walked into a retail store in town.  Of course, my friends knew the owner, who mentioned the store was looking for someone to help with public relations.  My friend Cindy said, "Alyssa does PR," and gave the owner my business card.  Within a month, the store contacted me, and now I have a new client, due to the positive words Cindy passed along. 

Who would have ever guessed that someone I met years ago in Texas would refer me a new client in a different state?  It reminded me once again that business is built on relationships.    It may take years for something to materialize; however, it does happen, and it’s very rewarding. 

Alyssa Burns is a public relations and communications professional with experience in Fortune 100 and top-10 PR agency settings, including Kraft Foods and Edelman. She is the principal and owner of Alyssa Burns Communications and Immediate Past President of PWCC.  Services Alyssa provides include media training, message development, writing website content, marketing & promotion of products and services, copy-writing (press releases, etc.) and creating blog content.  Alyssa can be reached at alyssa.burns@sbcglobal.net or 312-543-0361.

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Balancing Competence and Warmth

Posted By Administration, Friday, October 11, 2013
Updated: Friday, December 20, 2013

Balancing competence and warmth is the subject of an article in the recent Harvard Business Review (HBR) written by Amy Cuddy, Matthew Kohut, and John Neffinger. Wouldn’t we all like to balance competence and warmth? The sad truth is that women have an especially hard time achieving not the actual balance, but the perception of balancing competence and warmth.

We’ve all heard of pushy women and strong men. The stereotype is unfortunately still as strong as ever. In the HBR article, the authors point out that most leaders want to emphasize strength. However, a more effective way to influence people – and thus lead – is to emphasize warmth.

Warmth is connecting with others, showing others you are glad to be with them, and that you are concerned, or at least aware to their needs. Warmth is probably the last thing that most of us thought of as an asset in the business world. I know I always want people to think of my technical and analytical skills, and I want to be thought of as "someone who gets the job done”. Warmth? That was never mentioned in my MBA program.

But warmth engenders trust. Trust is a necessity of leadership; just ask any eader. When women don’t show warmth, they are not trusted, and lose the ability to influence and lead. As women, we need to remind ourselves to smile, to have a softer approach, to be authentic.

And the real reason we should project warmth? The HBR authors found that "judgments of trustworthiness generally lead to significantly higher economic gains”. Sounds good to me – not just higher gains, butsignificantly higher economic gains.  I.e. money.  So loosen up a bit, be warm, and smile your way to a higher bonus.

 Pamela Mearsheimer is an Accounting and Finance specialist in Chicago, IL  She is currently studying for the CPA Exam
pmearsh@gmail.com | www.linkedin.com/in/pamelamearsheimer 

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Stephanie Izard Speaks On Building Your Brand, Taking Risks, and Following Your Passion

Posted By Administration, Monday, September 30, 2013
Updated: Friday, December 20, 2013
Stephanie Izard isn’t an imposing person. Short of stature, she blended into the crowds at PWCC’s first luncheon of the season on September 11, 2013. Her low-key demeanor also came across as she shook hands with PWCC members and guests. And as the featured speaker took the stage before 260 women, she admitted not having spoken to such a large crowd before.
 
 Yet Stephanie Izard is a giant in the Chicago culinary world. She has honed her skills in some of the city’s finest restaurants and her restaurant Scylla was named one of the 10 best restaurants in the country by Bon Appetit. Her restaurant Girl & The Goat was nominated for the 2011 James Beard Best New Restaurant Award and Stephanie was named one of Food & Wine magazine’s Best New Chefs. But what is just as impressive as her skills in the kitchen is her ability to stay focused, grounded, and true to herself.
 
After giving a brief history of her training and past work in restaurants, ranging from The Olive Garden in her early years to her own Scylla and her successful appearance on Top Chef, Izard focused on what it means to develop and grow her own brand.
 
After she won Season 3 of Top Chef, Izard partnered with the "Boka Brothers” to open her new restaurant Girl & The Goat. A short time later, Little Goat opened across the street offering a coffee shop, bakery, and merchandise in addition to the restaurant fare.
 
Izard emphasized the importance of making the right decisions when building your brand. It is okay to say no. It may be beneficial to turn away opportunities, even lucrative ones. At the same time, it is critical to take risks. But the fundamental first step is to understand who you are and what you – as an individual, a restaurant, a company, a brand – represent. 
 
Izard stressed the importance of taking each opportunity and reviewing it in light of one’s personal beliefs. She advised the audience to think of adjectives that described them and then to align themselves with brands and partners that are true to them. When you do this, not only will you have a stronger and more consistent brand, you’ll sleep better at night and you’ll have fewer regrets about the decisions you make.
 
Submitted by:
Roxana A. Sullivan | Partner at Sullivan & Savage, LLP

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What’s in a blog post?

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Updated: Friday, December 20, 2013

Blogs should have useful content and provide further insight into the employees or members that make up a company or organization.

The PWCC blog doesn’t have one voice. It has many voices from our members. It highlights our members’ opinions, things they find interesting, links to articles of interest, seasonal activities, advice, etc. People like blogs because blogs are written by people, not organizations.
 
Who am I talking to?
Blogs can be informational or editorial.
 
Imagine you are writing an email to a particular person. That is your intended audience. What do you want to tell that person? Are you sharing a recipe or a fun way to make it through the holidays without gaining weight? Are you explaining how to let go on vacation and leave work at work?
 
How do I choose a topic?
Browse other blogs for ideas. See what people are writing about to help generate thought. Or brainstorm with someone for topics. What do you do for a living? Can you provide tips or tricks to something about something within your industry? Are you able to further explain a concept that is commonly misconstrued? Perhaps you can share an article that further validates a point or opinion. You can provide a how-to for things you enjoy.
 
Here are my tips for blog writing.
 
· Be informal.
 
· Start with a purpose and draft an outline. 
 
· Have an opinion. This is yours, own it.
 
· Keep it short. Continue to make the PWCC blog easy to read and not super time consuming. Use the fewest words to convey information.
 
· Make great headlines.  No one will care to read the body if your headline doesn’t appeal.
 
· When providing lists, tips or tricks, make them bulleted! They are easy to read.
 
· When writing more than a couple paragraphs use subheads to make it easy to skim.
 
· If you can, use links and pictures to make it more interesting! People gravitate to pictures first.
 
Corey Gutwillig Cohen
Director, Business Development
Magnani Continuum Marketing

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Your Career – How Confident Are You, Really?

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Updated: Friday, December 20, 2013

As professional women, our careers are important to us.  We work hard, make a good impression, and go after our goals. But how confident do we really feel?

Women have advanced in position, influence, and compensation; yet I’m willing to bet that many women occasionally feel like a little kid when they walk into a room full of powerful people. I know this happens to me.

What are the costs of not feeling confident?

The most visible indicator of a lack of confidence is a change of body language. People who do not feel confident start to make themselves smaller. They begin to take up less space. They don’t "lean in” as Sheryl Sandberg would say, and they don’t emanate confidence to others.

In addition to withdrawing physically, less-confident people also withdraw from conversation.  Either they don’t speak at all or, if they do speak, their tone of voice and volume decrease. Instead of sounding strong, they sound weak and scared. Both women and men typically interpret this as indecision or lack of preparation.

The trickle-down effect of this withdrawal is that a less-confident woman may not propose a bold idea or voice her opinion. She may have a truly valuable suggestion, but if she fails to contribute, no one benefits.

I’m sure we are all guilty of at least one of these things from time to time. What is the solution? How do we overcome this?

Fake it till you make it.  Really.

It is some of the best career advice I have ever heard.  And it works!  Do you know how nervous I was at my first PWCC meeting? I felt so awkward.  But I faked it until the surroundings became comfortable.

The best thing you can do is to push yourself out of your comfort zone and bring on your acting skills. You will accomplish more, your peers will think more highly of you, and confident people are far more likely to be promoted than anyone else.

Give it a try and fake it!  Let me know how it worked for you.

by:  Pamela Mearsheimer

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