Get out of your own way!

I had a wonderful week attending the Connections conference presented by Exact Target. For many, the conference was a chance to interact with vendors and hear about new products, but it was slightly different for me. Marketing was my career in a past life, I’ve since moved on to internal communications and as I tend to do, am already looking forward to my next step in my career.

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Author John Green

I chose sessions such as “My Personal Journey: Inspiring Stories from Fearless Females”; “The Power of Personal Brand and How to Create Yours”; “Unraveling the Myths of Creativity”; “Using Communities to Drive Stronger Engagement” and “Propelling Your Career with Mentors and Sponsors”. The sessions I really loved were listening to Twitter’s Chief Communication Officer participate in a Q&A, hearing will.i.am discuss how his childhood impacted his decisions to be charitable now, listening to author John Green, who is so much more than an author and of course, seeing Mindy Kaling give the closing speech this afternoon. Can we say girl crush?

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Author John Green

Mindy is just as adorable as she is on every show you’ve seen her on. She’s hilarious and sweet and seemed authentic – which was a big word at this year’s conference. I love how she addressed being a female in a male dominated world, how she said to choose 5 people who really matter and ask their opinion versus listening to the negativity of everyone who has an opinion and how she talked about being confident.

“I find that saying the wrong thing in a very confident way is the key to everything”

Mindy reminded me today is that you don’t always need validation that your ideas are good. Being prepared and confident can make it automatically seem like your ideas are good. I definitely consider myself more of an “idea” person than a businessperson. Even so, I don’t always have people saying “exactly” when I speak, or agreeing with all of my proposals. But I am confident enough in what I know to sit at the table and speak up. Mindy told us that yes, as women, we are held back compared to men, but we need to stop focusing so much on that and focus on our work. If our work is good, then you’ll get more recognition.

IMG_5306 Mindy has worked her way up from a struggling writer to not just actor but writer, producer and director of her very own show. She’s living her dream. While most of us stopped dreaming of being famous after about age 11, we have other (much more realistic) dreams. Maybe it’s to own your own business. Maybe it’s to write a book. Maybe it’s to be the CEO of a company. Whatever it is, it’s within reach. Hard work pays off and Mindy demonstrates that.

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“That’s the tragic thing about being ambitious. As your success grows, so does your ambition.”

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So, I left the conference with very little product knowledge (enough to tell my boss that the user experience will be changing along with the interface) but with a ton of inspiration. I’m motivated to pursue more of my dreams; to not be scared of rejection (it’s inevitable); to step up my game; to demonstrate my value and expertise; and to listen to the voices that really matter. I feel very empowered right now, almost as much as when I read Lean In.

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I could blog a whole different post on how women don’t take as many chances as men. I could show you statistics of how we count ourselves out of jobs because we’re not totally qualified, whereas a man would go for it because he had some of the qualifications. We often let our ideas go unheard because of other voices in the room, and our fear of sounding dumb (you won’t!). As I got on the plane to leave Indianapolis, I opened Women’s Health and read an inspiring note from the Editor-in-Chief, Michele Promaulayko. She talks about clearing the confidence hurdle. One of my favorite quotes is, “even the mega successful [women] aren’t fearless – they’ve just been brave enough to push past that fear of failure.”

The Script

Life rarely hands you the perfect opportunity without you putting forth some kind of effort, but if you take chances and do the work, you have a chance to be successful at something you’re passionate about. I’m ready to dive back into my work and to do impactful work that aligns with my passions. You should get out of your own way and get to work doing what makes you happy, too.

*A few books I recommend if you’re looking: The Confidence Code, Lean In, How to Communicate with Confidence, Womenomics and anything by Deborah Tannen. 

Let it go

Sorry for all you Frozen fans, this post will not be about the beloved movie, but I do have it on my list of films to watch. Letting things go can make you a happier person. It seems pretty simple, but we all tend to harbor a little resentment about something, maybe hold a grudge over something that happened years ago, or can’t shake that angry feeling after being cut off in traffic. Unfortunately, even though you may be right in your feelings at the time, it doesn’t impact the other person the way it does you.

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My husband says I will die on my principles. He also says that sometimes I spend too much energy trying to prove a point. Anyone else do this? When I know I’m right, I want to make sure that others do, too. In fact, I rarely shout out answers unless I am 150% sure that I’m correct. But when I’m not listened to, not given credit, or someone argues (when I KNOW I am right), I tend to get ready for battle on the subject and continue trying to prove the point. I am also a sharer. Over the weekend, I shared a terrible experience with a local Charlotte Photographer. This photographer asked me to model some poses for her so she could practice them, and in exchange she would give me free headshots. Felt like a good trade-off at the time. I spent almost two hours in her home studio on February 23, 2014. I waited until March 3rd to ask her when I might get the photos and she responded that I would have them by the weekend (3/7). Without going through all the details and multiple times I attempted to contact her after that without response, I decided to share the story on social media. Upon doing so, I found others who had similar experiences with this photographer and also found reviews online of her poor communication and terrible customer service. The social media got her attention (as it often does). Within an hour, I had 9 shares of one tweet to almost 2500 followers. How’s that for a PR nightmare for a small business? My goal was not to cause the nightmare for her, it was to bring attention to how she was treating me (and other customers), and to get her attention on the subject. She responded (threatening legal action for my libelous truthful comments) and told me that she had lost my images and wouldn’t be able to provide them. She did offer a new session and that I could sit there while she edited the photos and get them then and there. A) I don’t have time for that B) I don’t care to work with her and C) I don’t think her work could be that good based on the rest of her business practices. The point is not about the photographer here, the point is about how much time and energy I wasted on this person. Time, reviews and word of mouth will sink her business, and I didn’t need to spend part of my weekend putting forth the effort I did. My husband told me to let it go and if I still wanted headshots, go to someone who is a little more professional and just pay fo them (great idea!).

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It’s not just with the photographer that I do this. If I have a bad day, I tend to think (and over think) what happened, who was involved and who should be responsible. I think we’re all a little guilty of this on some level. In order to be happy, we have to let go of those moments that steal our happiness. Let go of bad days, angry phone calls with your cable company, that driver who swerved in front of you, the TSA agent who slowed you down, and be more forgiving overall. Try to understand where others are coming from before you get worked up or upset. A lot of times we interpret things differently than the person speaking to us meant them. Maybe that text that said “fine” actually meant “that’s a good plan. I’m fine with it!” and not that they hated the idea. Trying not to jump to conclusions can help with our attitude and level of happiness. Try to assume that people always have the best intentions (without being completely naive), and see how that effects your outlook. Try to let go of any grudges you may be holding onto. Forgive people, especially for those things that really no longer matter. The longer you hold onto something, the more important it seems, but in reality, it’s just a tiny blip on your map of life. Just has happiness trumps money, happiness wins in the attitude arena. Take a deep breath, stop proving points until you’re short of breath, forgive, spend your energy doing something you love instead, and let it go.

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