women and success

7 signs you suffer from conditional success - and what you can do about it

Sometimes we treat success like it’s an If This,Then That (IfTTT) piece of software.

  • Awesome when you are focusing on productivity, efficiency or behaviour change (such as if I have a chocolate bar, I have to go to the gym (thanks Matt Church))
  • But lousy when it’s about making your success conditional on something that you may or may not have much control over. and
  • Extremely lousy when the very thing that you are restricting yourself from might actually be the catalyst for big change.

Here are some typical thought patterns that indicate you suffer from conditional success - 

  1. I’ll apply for my dream role after I've proven myself
  2. I'll put my hand up for that opportunity when I feel better prepared
  3. I'll ask for a raise only when I've finished delivering on this project 
  4. I'll change jobs after I finally turn the organisation / department around 
  5. I'll invest in a coach once I get a raise 
  6. I'll take a grownup gap year when I've got enough years under my belt 
  7. I'll hang in a bit longer yet and only take that holiday with my family, once I feel really worn out.

Well tomorrow never comes. And if you’ve done #7 then you probably spent the first week on annual leave recovering from a cold anyway. Plus there is far too much evidence available that supports the notion that successful people do it the other way around. They back themselves and invest in themselves pre-emptively then they become successful. 

So maybe it’s time to rethink your approach. 


WHEN THE CONDITIONAL APPROACH DIDN'T WORK


I heard a story the other day about an executive who waited until after they won a new role before they booked in with an Executive Coach. In their mind, the coaching was a reward for winning the role. Nice.  

However, during the course of salary negotiations for the new role, their new employer had negotiated the package down by a significant amount from the originally advertised offer, with cunning arguments and compelling tactics.   Not so nice.

For the executive, who now feels slightly ripped off but determined to do better at the next opportunity, a more confident, strategic and proactive approach might have been ...

"I've got the opportunity to really springboard here and negotiate the best salary possible for myself.  So instead of trying to puzzle it out myself, why not get support in advance to maximise the amount I'll be able to negotiate for myself in this transaction?"

Yes, it's a risk. But only in the short term. In the long term it is a smart 'n savvy investment in yourself.

FEELING LUCKY?

Sometimes we think that some people are lucky when they are successful. But I dispute that. Maybe instead of lucky they are incredibly focused and invest heavily the right things.  After all, as the old saying goes, luck is what happens when planning meets opportunity. And as Shonda Rhymes famously said - “I’m not lucky ..... call me badass”. 

Success_is_an_inside_job_amandablesingdotcom.jpg


MAKE YOUR SUCCESS UNCONDITIONAL


Don’t make your success conditional. Instead build in mechanisms that support your success preemptively - just like eating healthy, getting lots of sleep or exercising are preemptive support for your wellness and long term good health.  

So next time you hear your own mental rationale of "I'll do this once I've achieved that" start getting curious at your conditional thinking. And quite possibly you'll find you're putting the horse in front of the wrong cart entirely.

And one final point for you to remember, success is an inside job - if you wait until you feel successful enough you'll be waiting a lifetime.


Feminine leadership superpowers + unconditional success = priceless
 


Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

The Subtle Art of Selling Yourself

A couple of years ago I wrote a series of articles on salary negotiations (for women) - because I was working with a bunch of negotiation experts who were finding it challenging to negotiate great outcomes for themselves (ironically).

Right now I'm working with quite a few extremely talented advertising, marketing and communications executives - on selling the value of their work - ironically because they're struggling to sell themselves.

So if it's tough for them - don't be so hard on yourself when/if you too find it challenging!  And here are some insights to help you sell yourself far more confidently  .... and effectively.

If you want to increase your sales on the outside, you have to stop selling yourself short on the inside!
— Ungenita Prevost

 

The subtle art of selling yourself
 

We’re all selling something whether we think we are or not, whether we like it or not, or whether we want to or not.

In fact, we're pretty good at selling other people in most instances.

"This is Janine - she's great at delivering awesome. You'd be lucky to have her on your team. She's definitely a rockstar." 

However, in career advancement and leadership you're selling brand you -  and your ability to create a future that others will want to inhabit.   

"Err ..... this is me. I'm fairly good at delivering some okay sorts of results (insert nervous giggle). Last month wasn't that good actually but mostly we do great.... You should pick me. Go me!"

Yes, this tends to be far murkier water and we're frequently less skillful - unless we practice. And it all probably comes back to those hilarious, yet painful, years in the schoolyard where the sporty popular kids got picked first in the team and then the teacher had to intervene so as not to destroy the self esteem of some poor kid who would always be picked last. 

The need for subtle

For women the connotations of selling yourself are even more negative. There are lots of words that we use to shame women who don't quite get the self promotion balance right - bold, brassy and a braggart, to name just three. You don't even need a vivid imagination to recall some of the nastier terms you may have heard at the office that are sometimes used to keep ambitious women in their place. Usually followed up with a "Who does she think she is?!?"  type comment.

However, in order to level up in your career or tackle bigger leadership responsibilities you need to be able to sell yourself effectively.

So what can you do?

Over the long term there are three areas for you focus on .......

Your credibility - expertise, evidence and experience

Your influence - persuasiveness and ability to paint a picture that others prefer

Your likability - does your audience warm to, or identify with, you

 

Quick and easy

Or in the short term, you can simply get pitch ready. Yes, the dreaded elevator pitch. Ideal for those moments when you're caught off guard at a networking event, in a meeting, or maybe in that proverbial elevator with the boss. It's as easy as:

  1. The problems you solve - "You know when ....(insert problem)"
  2. The difference you make - "Well what I do is ... (insert 3 ways you make a difference)"
  3. The value that you deliver - "Recently, I  ...... (insert example/case study)"

Voilà!

Would love to hear your thoughts on this.  Drop me an email and get in contact if you want help.  

Better yet, have a crack at pitching to me with your easy 1.2.3. elevator pitch. I'll let you know how you go. 

And credit where credit is due - Antony Gaddie, a Melbourne marketing expert, was the inspiration behind the methodology.


Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

#1 Advice for Women Nominating for Awards

How to craft a winning Award nomination and why you (yes you) should be nominating.

One way to stand out in a crowd is to win, or be nominated for, an Award.

"Easier said than done" you say.

WomenShouldntWaitExecutiveCareer

And you could be right some of the time - but not others.

For the uninitiated you might imagine you need to wait for someone to tap you on the shoulder. It simply doesn’t work that way!  

In fact, you need to do much of the work yourself including putting your hand up to be in it to win it, getting out of your own way and talking up your own wins and achievements in delivering turnaround results or programs that make a bigger difference.

Why is this challenging?

We know from research that many women struggle with self promotion, self advocating and expressing their expertise.  We have a tendency to downplay our part in the wins and achievements of our departments. While we willingly and enthusiastically write nominations for our junior staff members, we hesitate to do the same for ourselves. And worse? We're far more likely to 'not want to waste anyone's time' (including our own) not necessarily seeing the big picture about the value and benefit of nominating in the longer term for both ourselves and the business.

In a nutshell, nominating yourself for an Award will require you to knock a bunch of stereotypical and socialised tendencies on the head and to:

  • back yourself,
  • sell yourself, and
  • articulate your 'special sauce' in a very public way.

Why is this important?

Because organisations with more women in the leadership team not only perform better overall with larger returns to shareholders, increases in performance, productivity and better risk management – but the men and women who work there are frequently better off as well.

"research with the Peterson Institute for International Economics recently found that companies with at least 30% female leaders can add as much as 6% to their net margins." Mark Weinberger,
Global Chairman & CEO, EY

 
But why Awards?

One of the issues that gets in the way for women applying for senior leadership opportunities is not being seen. Not being seen as ideal (traditional) leadership potential, as fitting in, or as having what it takes to make tough decisions. Women are also frequently in enablement type functions that are not perceived as essential to performance, nor as visible.

Forward thinking, progressive organisations are beginning to acknowledge this hidden talent issue and to bring in programs that help uncover and tap into non traditional talent as we saw in MckInsey's January 2017 article Finding Hidden Leaders.

Winning an Award (or even making the finalists list) helps your leadership potential to be seen - to get you (the difference you make, the problems you solve and the value you add) out of the wings and onto centre stage.

And even if your bid is unsuccessful, the process of nominating helps you;

  • build a great support network around your leadership aspirations,
  • to craft winning arguments that will boost your credibility and confidence, 
  • highlight the amazing results you deliver that are sometimes taken for granted.

Most importantly the process of gathering the evidence of wins and achievements can be re-purposed easily and skilfully for your next tilt at the C-suite.

'How to' advice for women from four experts on writing winning Award nominations

So to help you with your next nomination I've asked four experts to come to contribute with their #1 advice for women nominating for Awards.  Thanks to Janita, Kate, Kimberly and Michelle!

Janita Friend

Meet Janita a Corporate Communications Strategist and Consultant.  As you might imagine, Janita has a bunch of experience writing Awards nominations and has generously offered 5 tips for women writing award nominations

  • Spend quality time reading and considering all the questions so you can give the best and most relevant answers.   Give yourself plenty of time and be prepared to do several drafts to get it right – understanding what the award criteria are is a crucial element of the process.

  • Speak to a person close to you – a partner or colleague/manager -  about your career highlights.  If possible, ask someone to interview you to draw out some of your finest moments.

  • Don’t be shy – this is about promoting yourself, your talents and results – be bold and aim to hit them with the dazzling highlights up front.  Make it simple for the judges to read through and identify you as a contender.

  • Ensure you use the criteria outlined and use key words that relate (sound familiar?)

  • A good story gains attention.   Include any interesting parts of your personal life journey which may show adversity you may have had to overcome to gain your results.  For example, being a single mother, a widow, dyslexic etc. – although you may not wish to draw attention tothese things, they will provide a richer story which may give you the edge over other candidates.
    Want to know more about Janita?  Check out her website

Kimberly Palmer

Kimberly is a Marketing Expert with her own company, Brazen Productions. Kimberly has helped craft winning award entries for clients for Telstra Business Womens Award and also used to run the Business Award programs for the City of Port Phillip and City of Moonee Valley.

She’s even been successful with achieving funding via winning a Churchill Fellowship for herself so is well qualified in understanding the challenges you might experience when it comes to self promotion.

 Her #1 Tip is Quantify your achievements - with personality

Your first aim to grab the judges attention. Most judges are usually volunteers and reviewing award entries in very limited time. So don't take too long to get to the point!

Open your entry with what's special about your achievements - relative to your own journey but also relative to others in the space. Then remember, don't make it too dry, or too full of jargon. You want to get across your enthusiasm, personality - and even why you'd make a good ambassador for the awards program should you be a winner.”

She also says - spend time getting it right. Don't leave it till deadline day - or worse, after deadline day! Your first draft will be just that. If you're being judged on this work, give it the time and effort it deserves.

And finally - try to have more than one person proof read it - there's nothing worse than poor spelling or grammar, it's distracting from what you're really trying to say.

Connect with Kimberly via LinkedIn or her website

Kate, Janita, Kimberly & Michelle

Kate, Janita, Kimberly & Michelle

Kate Duckworth

Kate is Marketing Manager at Buzinga; An Award Winning Mobile Design and Development Company.  Her claim to fame when it comes to writing award nominations is that she has constructed and written multiple award winning nominations for Buzinga to be acknowledged for excellence in company culture, product design and innovation, resulting in a streak of 7 wins out of 8 nominations (!) including:

  • Top 100 Australian Fast Starter, BRW 2015

  • 9th Coolest Tech Company, Job Advisor, 2016

  • 4th Coolest Tech Company - Job Advisor 2015

  • Top 100 Cool Companies, Anthill 2016. 

  • Coolest Mobile Business, Anthill 2015

  • Best Australian Startup, Top 5, Startup Smart 2015.

  • Best App Design, 2 Apps, App Design Awards 2016. (Buzinga, 2016)

Kate's #1 Tip: Write with creative flair and engaging copy... Like you would a website or a blog post. 

 "People have an enormous emotional or impulse appeal that transcends logic and basic needs" - Dan S. Kennedy. 

Individuals who are vetoing your award applications are humans, with a job that you can imagine is a lengthy, repetitive and snoozy.

In my applications, I write with the intent to ignite emotion, whether it's a laugh, a smile or an engaging story they can relate to. 

And please, don't be vanilla... Leave that to the profit and loss section!  (Go Kate!)

 Connect with Kate on LinkedIn

Michelle Devanny

Michelle is the Communications Manager at Kiandra IT and has been involved and/or written many award nominations for both individuals and companies.

Michelle's #1 tip?  Answer the question using evidence (where appropriate …. which is most of the time!) and allocate the appropriate amount of time and effort to your submission.

Awards are an incredible marketing tool which can build reputation, validate capability and make you (and those that work for you) feel nice and fuzzy but participating in reputable awards programs usually involve a fairly in-depth process. Do not underestimate the time taken to articulate who you are, and what you’re about. If you’ve decided to enter an awards program do yourself/your business justice, and be prepared to do it properly. You don’t want to be skipping corners, rushing to meet the 5pm Friday deadline when everyone else is scrambling to get their submission in, which crashes the awards site!

Most importantly make sure you actually answer the question. The judges read a lot of submissions and they can tell the difference between marketing guff and substance, so where possible you should back up your answers with evidence. Independent evidence is invaluable — whether it is press mentions, customer testimonials or social media mentions — use real examples wherever possible.

Why not connect with Michelle on LinkedIn?

My advice?  After running, hosting or being part of various award processes over 8+ years I notice that sometimes nominees choose the hard row to hoe, doing it all for themselves. Instead, why not get some help from the experts?  Ask the comms, PR or marketing department in your organisation to get involved and help you with crafting your nomination.

It's a little known secret, but some organisations even have entire teams dedicated to helping other staff become recognised through external Awards processes. They may simply not know that you have an Award you are eligible to nominate for. So get out of your own way and get expert advice from someone in your business with a third person expert perspective. After all, it's not just great for you if you win, it's a business win as well!

Finally -

You've got to be in it to win it and sometimes more than once.  I heard on the grapevine that one of the 2016 Telstra Business Women of the Year Award winners announced she had nominated each year for seven years and finally won after seven attempts. And if that story doesn't give you the kcik up the butt you need to nominate yourself for an Award, then I don't know what will. 

Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

Vive la révolution! #ambitionrevolution #LookOutCSuiteHereSheComes #feminineambition

#success #career #visibility #standout #leadership#executivewomen #careerfutureproofing


Keen to read more? ... 

Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

Why executive women need to create a visibility strategy

Gone are the days when you turned up to work and put in the time, and in return got

  • a pat on the back,
  • a promotion, and
  • a payrise ... then waited a while longer while you marched towards the sweet release of retirement.

It simply doesn't work that way anymore - but neither do I think we really want it to. We all love stories such as the 90+ year old nurse still working and flourishing. I used to work with a 92 yo consultant who came into the office every day and advised on policy and protocol - an area where he had considerably more experience and expertise than the rest of the team put together.

Visibiility

However with the rise of the portfolio career, and where brand development is both for companies and for people, plus an era of self promotion you need to develop a few more powerful tactics.

Visibility

Visibility is a cool tool.  Staying ahead of the visibility curve is great for both you and for your business.  And here's the kicker - even if you don't do it particularly well, it's still better than not doing it at all.

Well executed visibility - rising to the top

Averagely executed visibility - staying afloat

No visibility - sinking

Strategy

I'm taking this one step further and saying we need to be strategic about this.  It's not enough to simply spread yourself thin at networking functions and golf games any more. You need to focus on what's most effective - separate busy from strategic and focus on the areas that are going to give you the most bang for you buck and deliver on the results you need. 

And in this day and age whether you are a business owner, a professional in a firm, or maybe on a fast track to corporate C-suite ascendancy - any strategy, even the wrong strategy, is better than no strategy.

Four rules of thumb to remember:

  • Work is not school - you won't get the corner office by being good or quiet
  • No-one promotes the stressed out, worn out and flustered looking executive with their head down up the back of the office
  • Results no longer speak for themselves
  • Stop being busy, start being strategic

Visibility and Strategy Unpacked

When you cross reference busy v's strategic and low visibility v's high visibility - you begin to see the picture.

Busy & low visibility (going nowhere) - head down, tail up, doing the job because it's the right thing to do. Historically this may have worked, but not any more. You will be bypassed and overlooked despite working hard and best intentions on your part.

High visibility but busy (going crazy) - leaves you worn out, overworked and potentially resentful as you feel like you've been hung out to dry for things that weren't even in your remit. When you're worn out and overworked, you are far more likely to lean out, pick up your bat and ball and go play elsewhere. And remember how after just two years in a business women lose their ambition more than men and are more likely to lean out? I wonder if this contributes.

Low visibility but strategic (going somewhere slowly) - you're being strategic about the approaches you make, very considered and highly professional. Quite possibly you're feeling a little frustrated as you see other younger players head on past you far more easily or you're simply bypassed by those who do know how to sell themselves.  Maybe you've turned down opportunities to tackle different projects, to speak, to write whitepapers or be quoted in the press until you feel better prepared or more certain. You tell yourself that it's better to have have more substance than flash, but can't help but wondering if you are doing something wrong. Sound familiar? 

High visibility AND strategic (the sweet spot) - where visibility meets strategy and sees you leading a team, tackling big substantive work or creating enterprise/industry wide change far sooner than you might possibly imagine. You'll have fine tuned a nuanced approach to talking up the problems you solve, the difference you in particular make and the value you are adding.

What needs to be in your visibility strategy?

Here are 13 ideas to get you started. The list consists of basically anything that aligns with your goals, dreams or ambitions that is going to see you shine or draw attention to you and your contribution. For women, we walk a perilous knife edge between flying our own flag and flagrant self promotion - so keep the need for nuance in mind as you go.  Nuance, not to be confused with retiring. Nuance - subtle, effective and (in this case) really smart 'n savvy.

1. Define what you want - work out what it is you want to be when you grow up. Don't panic!  In a world where careers are morphing and changing in more cyclical and circular ways, vertical career strategy is a thing of the past, so maybe work out what's next for right now and start there.

2. Accept responsibility - let go of notions of my work should speak for itself or others should be able to see the good work I do because it simply doesn't happen any more. Stakeholders in your career success are busy themselves. As Avril Henry said at the Women World Changers event in Sydney in October -

"The only person who is as interested in your career as you - is you! So do something about it."

3. Always be linking back to the strategy - your own, or your organisation's. Anything and everything you do should connect back to a why that underpins the reason you are at work. If you don't know what the strategic objectives are for your department or your organisation, or you haven't worked them out for your own personal brand, then go do that now. Turning up to simply pass the time and get a paycheck is not for those who have leadership goals or ambitions.

4. Put your hand up before you feel ready - don't wait to be asked or until you feel prepared to do anything on this list. Ever had the experience of trying something new only for it to become your new normal? Give it a crack and you might find

5. Don't hide your light under a bushel - let go of shy and demure, it doesn't serve anyone. If Susan Cain's Quiet taught us anything it was that introverts can indeed lead - and indeed, lead better than many in times of trouble such as the GFC.  So stand up straight, walk with purpose and confidence, develop a voice that can be heard in meetings, dress in colours that draw attention (well ...... maybe not purple but who am I to judge!), stop apologising and own your own stuff.

6. Develop your leadership personal brand on social media - once again help people to help you - if people can work out who you are and what you stand for by what you like, share, comment or write about on social it makes it far easier to help you.

7. Regularly report on what you do - make sure that you get a regular spot in your department/division meeting to report on the progress of the project or BHAG. Don't hide it. Don't wait to be asked. Volunteer.

8. Write up a case study - the beauty of volunteering for special projects is that it gives you material to reflect on and possibly teach others. Write up a case study and share in your team meeting, AND with your manager, AND on the intranet, AND on LinkedIn (with your disclaimer about views expressed etc), AND on Twitter, PLUS with other departments who are keen to motivate younger team members or who might be tackling the same issue themselves - or share even with your peak body. Find ways to spread the word.

9. Be proactive with your peak body or professional association. Again - don't wait to be asked. Volunteer to help. Many associations run on the smell of an oily rag and are keen to have proactive contributors or volunteers on special projects to help them maintain their momentum. In my time as CEO of SOCAP our volunteer committees rewrote the industry Standard for Australia and New Zealand and created an industry wide Core Competency Framework that became the go to reference point for anyone in industry. Several of the committee members then went onto consult on the International Standard. Make sure you get credited for the work in some way whether that's a listing on the website, in the magazine, the report, or even a more active role at the industry conference. And then share the results of your work back into your business.

10. Learn to pitch or speak in public - yes I know that most people that many people rate public speaking as their #1 fear (above dying in fact). But as part of a modern and successful career you need to learn to speak and also pitch ideas well. The flip side of leadership is followership - and if you can pitch or speak, creating a followership is far easier.  If you can't speak already, then sign up for public speaking training or send yourself to Toastmasters, but do get started. Make it a priority.

11. Be seen with the movers and shakers - make time to mix, mingle and network with senior level decision makers inside and outside of your business. You need to go to where they are if they don't normally come to you. Find ways to make sure you are included in discussions both formal and informal that happen about the future of industry or your business. Don't be shy. Volunteer an opinion whether you think you know the right answer or not. You need to be heard in addition to being visible.

12. Consistency trumps frequency - Establish a maintenance schedule for your leadership personal brand - it's not enough to speak on a panel once and then tick it off your list as having been there done that. It's not enough to write an article once and think that one article will do the job. You need to be flying your own flag over and over again. Repeatedly. It takes time. Your visibility strategy needs to be ritualised and feature as a regular appointment in your calendar. But beware, you don't want to become the the squeaky wheel whereby you saturate the airwaves with brand you. Once again, be strategic. Find the Goldilocks sweet spot - that balance between too little and too much - and stick with it until you get a chance to reassess.

13. Reassess every 6 months - start at the top and work your way down to make sure that your plan doesn't need tweaking and refining.

So there you have it. 13 tactics to try to help you build a Visibility Strategy. If this looks like too much simply start at the beginning and work your way through over the period of a year.  Or you could sign up for Executive Coaching where brand you is dealt with front and centre. 

Vive la révolution! #ambitionrevolution #feminineambition #LookOutCSuiteHereSheComes

Comments? I'm sure there are other things that you might be doing that may help others, so email me (or comment below) and let me know your thoughts.

 

 

If you enjoyed this please spread the word! Let's inspire women everywhere to keep their eye on the prize

 

  • I am the creator of The Ambition Revolution – the science and art of amping smart and savvy
  • I mentor busy professional women to ensure they remain smart, strategic and focused on the bigger game.
  • I also work with organisations who are trying to increase the profile of women in leadership, but are struggling to do so.
Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

What's your Force Multiplier?

Last week I wrote about Tipping/Tripping Points - that imaginary line in the sand where you go from "everything is wonderful" to "OMG, what's wrong with me!?" in one fell swoop.  

This week I've reflected on force multipliers - and if you don't have one, you need to go find one ... immediately.

A force multiplier is a military term for tools that help you amplify your efforts to produce more output. Basically, you get more done with the same amount of effort, or more bang for your buck.

In terms of my own force multiplier - it's yoga. When I manage to make time to practice yoga regularly the benefits are astounding ....

Yogalaptop
  1. I feel happier
  2. I'm far more creative
  3. My memory is better which gives the impression of being smarter and more in control
  4. I've got more energy and
  5. I'm pretty confident I'm a nicer person to be around (upbeat, less reactive, on an even keel)

Since getting back into a regular yoga practice it's as though I've taken my car in for a service. Everything is running far more efficiently. The benefits are manifold - both personally and professionally.

Okay, so I have a love affair with my yoga practice. But there is probably something in your life that does the same for you. Maybe it's cooking, spending time with your friends/kids, getting out in the garden, clocking up pavement time by walking/running/cycling, tinkering under the bonnet of your car or even writing. When you spend time doing this thing time drops away, you feel an increased sense of well being and back in control. Plus it gives you renewed energy to tackle big, hairy, ambitious projects again.

Health and well-being as one of the biggest issues cited by women for leaving the workforce
— according to Pat Milligan, Mercer's Global Leader of When Women Thrive at the Women World Changers Conference Sydney October 2016

 

So my question to you is:

"Why is it that when the proverbial hits the fan, our force multipliers are some of the first things to drop away?"

When we get busy we are far more likely to drop the very things that would help us cope (or even power through) more easily.  

As you know I'm a big believer in systems and routines the keep you successful. After all, you wouldn't keep Tim Tams in the cupboard if you were going on a diet.  

  • So what can you put in place that will help systematise your force multiplier?
  • What can you do to 'routinise' the things that keep you successful?
  • How can you make sure that you are prioritising the very things that are really important over the things that others expect of you, or your perfectionist self expects of yourself?

And do let me know, because your ideas maybe of huge benefit to someone else in this network.

There is an old Zen saying -

“You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes every day — unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.”

While meditation and yoga might not be your thing, the same principle applies. Don't stop doing the very things that keep you performing at your best at the very time you need them most.

Vive la révolution! #ambitionrevolution #LookOutCSuiteHereSheComes #feminineambition

Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

Five ninja success techniques to help you hit your straps more easily

The last couple of months have seen a bunch of my clients win some seriously big wins. (Go team Ambition!!) And it got me curious. Are there any common themes?

Ninja.com
  • Was is their age?
  • Was it the organisations they work for?
  • Or was it they work in masculine or feminine dominated industries?

And while it’s easy to put success down to IQ, luck or timing, that’s not what I can see is really happening. In fact, not at all.
 

So to help you achieve your own Big Hairy Audacious Goals more easily, here are some of the key themes in their approaches ......
 

1. A really clearly defined big goal or vision - with room to manoeuvre.

  • A vision of wanting to be CEO of an ASX listed organisation in 10 years time - means that the immediate short term tactics and timeframes around leadership, promotions and career progression are simple.
  • A vision around wanting to be "Head of .." – helps you define a clear pathway along which to travel – what to study, who to connect with, which peak bodies to be part of or what substantive work projects you need to put your hand up for

A study of a Harvard Business School class, demonstrated that people who wrote down their goals earned on average 10 times more than any of their classmates. This is big. Learn more here.

 2. A willingness to do what it takes - even if that made them feel uncomfortable.

  • If that meant late nights, weekend work in preparation and finding time between the cracks to craft an approach or to prepare for their session with me - then that's what they did.
  • If that meant six interview rehearsal sessions with me, then they booked six rehearsal sessions with me. And turned up for each one with a willingness to hear feedback, refine and improve.
  • If that meant letting go of attitudes, mindsets or beliefs that were getting in the way, then they simply let go. And yes, getting out of your comfort zone does feel uncomfortable. But remember, that’s where the magic happens!
I never dreamed about success. I worked for it.
— Estee Lauder

 
3. Zero excuses -  In fact excuses don’t figure in their vocabulary

And while that might sound a bit trite, it’s true.
For example:

  • “I’m too busy” translated into “How can I make this happen despite being busy?”
  • “My boss won’t let me” translated into “What do I need to do to get my boss to hear me?" or "Is there a way to to approach this?”
  • “My husband/partner doesn’t think I need this” translated into “I think I need to do this, so I made it happen. My husband/partner will thank me later when I land my next promotion or come home with a pay rise or am not whinging about work any more.”

 
4. #justdoitnow - Immediacy and urgency

They all had an approach of immediacy and a sense of urgency – rather than leave things til the last minute.  One big thing I noticed was that after a session with me, those who have been more immediately successful, have all done their actions within a few days of seeing me – despite having a 2 week window of opportunity. They simply made it happen as soon as they could.

One of the benefits of this is that they nearly always come back and ask for feedback on what they’ve done so we can fine tune and refine their approach between sessions and not waste another session waiting for progress.   If leadership is a priority for you, then prioritise leadership, and yourself.
 
5. And finally - Buoyancy - Conversations with these women are incredibly upbeat and buoyant.

They all have strategies that help them stay afloat, so to speak, even when the proverbial hits the fan.

Dan Pink in To Sell is Human talks about the critical nature of buoyancy in a sales process. Let's face it. When you're tackling your next big career goal, you are definitely selling. You are selling yourself and the value of your work up the business, or into a new business. Buoyancy is absolutely, categorically, critical.

So buoyancy is how do you remain buoyant on the notion of rejection? What do you do before? What do you do during? What do you do after?
— Dan Pink

Helping you hit your straps

FemAmbitionTrifecta

So if you're feeling like you haven't hit your straps yet, or your own goals feel a long way out of reach - then I'd suggest start adopting some of the principles above.  As always, remember:

  1. Hope is not a strategy
  2. Be prepared to make mistakes
  3. Be prepared to be uncomfortable, and
  4. Be prepared to do the work.

And I'm looking forward to hearing about your next wins and achievements!

My mission in life is to help women to play a much bigger game – change the world if you will – and do so with big ideas, big vision and big, audacious bucket loads of confidence.

Vive la révolution! #ambitionrevolution #feminineambition #LookOutCSuiteHereSheComes

Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

Eight practical win win strategies to help you negotiate a raise

“Work out what you’d like, double it, then add 20%.  That’s your asking price.”

I heard this line recently in an online forum.  It’s obviously a throw away line and not exactly science. But I wonder if every now and then we shouldn’t revisit our own perception of what we’re worth through the above lens? 

Certainly I use this formula as a discussion starting point with female clients as they start working on “levelling up” in their career.  Their reaction to the statement is probably the biggest window into what motivates them, their current perception of their own value and worth, along with where to focus next.

This is the third article in a series to help women negotiate better outcomes for themselves. 

  • The first was all about being able to articulate your own value. The reality is that people who “get ahead more easily” are far more likely to be great at speaking in language of value.
  • The second article brought together a range of pieces of research about women and negotiation and the issue of likeability (or lack there of).
  • And this third article is your “how to” guide – specifically how to prepare.  So instead of;
    • avoiding because you don’t want to rock the boat, or
    • giving up because you can’t deal with the thought of disappointment, or even
    • going in combatively and upsetting yourself and the other party,
      you simply go in with a plan, some options and a clear understanding a range of strategies that have worked for others.

The reality is though when we are negotiating our own salary or raise there are a bunch of assumptions, perceived and real, that we need to work around including:

  • Biases both conscious and unconscious including likeability or lack there of
  • Salary banding
  • Previous incumbent in the role
  • Industry standards
  • Recent financial performance of the organisation as a whole
  • Directives from the C-suite
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And when you are a fair minded individual who likes to consider the well being of others, it’s difficult to know whether or not to challenge these assumptions when you go in to negotiate on our own behalf.  So this particular article is a combination of the different strategies that I’ve learned from negotiation experts and researchers around the globe to help you negotiate more easily, and successfully, on your own behalf.

1.     Why not adopt a growth mindset?  Growth mindset – when you believe you can learn to do just about anything. You’ll just need to note the three provisos:

  • You’ll definitely feel uncomfortable,
  • You might even get it wrong or make mistakes along the way, and
  • You’ll probably have to do some work. 
“We like to think of our champions and idols as superheroes who were born different from us. We don’t like to think of them as relatively ordinary people who made themselves extraordinary.”
— Carol S. Dweck, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

If you understand the growth mindset then it somehow makes each negotiation conversation part of a learning curve, just part and parcel of getting ahead, rather than a personal slight or affront when you it doesn’t all go your way.  My suggestion? Win some, lose some, keep a cool head, then have another go.

2.     Reframe the conversation from a fight or justification conversation to a collaboration and problem solving activity.  You are helping your manager solve the problem of remunerating you as you would like, plus meet organisational objectives! When we do this it becomes more of a win win. It’s really hard to think that someone is “hard nosed” and “greedy” when you are helping them solve their problems.

3.     It’s not all about the dollar value:  In speaking with recruiters they tell me that sometimes people get hung up on the Big Number when in fact they might be better off emotionally and/or financially with asking for flexibility in working from home or starting/finishing late, or an extra week’s leave per year or additional training/mentoring or coaching included in their package. Flexibility around your thinking about these things might be more rewarding for both men and women all around.  I’m not advocating for women to accept less money than men doing the same role. Instead I’m advocating an honest analysis of your current situation. It may in fact be worth more to you to ask instead for other solutions.

4.     Do your research and align yourself with others:  Find out what industry benchmarks and standards there are, how you compare, what else is going on in industry and other case studies where things have been successful. According to Sheryl Sandberg of Lean In fame – if you refer to other perspectives it somehow lends legitimacy to your argument and demonstrates that you’ve thought this through.  When you refer to “we” it somehow adds credibility – you are part of a bigger picture.

5.     Cite Sheryl Sandberg: yes there is such a thing as a “Sheryl Sandberg effect”.  Apparently after the release of her “Lean In” book women were hitting up their boss for raises with lines such as “Sheryl Sandberg would be disappointed in me if I didn’t ask for a raise”.  Fact or fiction? I don’t know, but it does point to the fact that you’ve done your homework, you’re taking your career seriously as well as aligning yourself to a cause (the success of women everywhere).  It certainty can't hurt.

6.     Do it all at once: When you do negotiate (or renegotiate) do so all at once, not in dribs and drabs throughout the year.  Sounds counterintuitive doesn’t it?  When you are asking for things throughout the year you are trying to “win each battle” one issue at a time.  Apparently when you negotiate a package all at once you are more likely to be able to come to a solution that meets the needs of both parties.

7.     Make a plan and test it: Work out what your non negotiable items are and test your thinking as well, then document a range of scenarios in case they say yes to this item but no to that item. How might you respond?  How might you counter? How might they respond? How might they counter?  Negotiation expert, Carrie Gallant has a great template you can use.

Dan Pink in his book To Sell Is Human uses the term buoyancy and how important it is in remaining optimistic and agile in a sales environment. Well negotiating for yourself is in part a sales environment – you are influencing others to your way of thinking.  We an learn from this as we approach forming our plan.

“Ask yourself questions beforehand (“Can I succeed?”) rather than pumping yourself up (“I am the best”); they encourage your brain to come up with answers, reasons, and intrinsic motivation.”

8.     Eat, sleep, rehearse, repeat: Yes, you heard me, rehearse/roleplay/practice. 

Thinking about an apple, and planning what will happen when we eat the apple, is EXTREMELY different to actually eating the apple. 

You need to rehearse saying these things out loud. 

Long story short – many years ago when I was making my first foray into asking for a six figure salary my coach asked me to role play that “asking”.  She gave me the language and invited me to say it out loud.  I baulked!!  Then squeaked it out with a high pitched voice and an upward inflection which undermined my credibility immediately

Don’t assume you’ll be fine on the day. Find a trusted friend, coach or mentor and say these words out loud. Get feedback and say them again until you are comfortable and agile around the language.  Eat, sleep, rehearse, repeat.

I love Carol Dweck’s growth mindset work. She has inspired me so much when it comes to tackling goals and ambitions that are well outside of my comfort zone.  And I reckon her ideas on the growth mindset become almost like a self fulfilling prophecy – the more you believe you can make yourself extraordinary – the more you in fact become extraordinary.

So when it comes to tackling salary package negotiations for ourselves, which many people find uncomfortable, it's probably better to do it with a growth mindset and an understanding that you’ll simply keep on getting better at it the more you do it.

Vive la révolution!  #ambitionrevolution

 

 If you missed it - The F Word that Keeps Us Playing Small

  •  I am the creator of The Ambition Revolution – the science and  art of amping smart and savvy. 
  • I mentor busy professionals to ensure they remain strategic, agile and focused on the bigger game. 

  • I also work with organisations who are trying to increase the profile of women in leadership, but struggling to do so

Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

Three Smart Ways to Create Your Own Reality that Aren't "Woo Woo"

"Create your own new reality."

I hate the phrase. It jars, it sounds a little woo woo and  ........... (here's the kicker) -  you not only can, but probably should.

But for those of us who have been raised on a steady diet of waiting -

creating  your own new reality might be something that you believe is suitable for entrepreneurial types, extroverts and other people.  So  perhaps the following examples will show you that it's also right for you.

Women, socialisation and why it might hold us back

Creating your own reality -  takes energy and time and a propensity for thinking out side the square. It requires people to regularly not do things the way they've always been done. It requires a tendency to bend the rules, deal with uncertainty and cross over blurred lines. As women though, we've got a bunch of socialisation that sometimes gets in the way of thinking this way. 

“Both men and women suffer from it in different ways, but it does affect both sexes .......... With women they are more likely to be afraid of success – as well as failure – because they sense there will be a price to pay in other parts of their life. ...........  With men it is more ‘fake it, until you make it’. They think the syndrome is part and parcel of work life and they tend to push through it.” According to behavioural change consultant Suzanne Mercier

It doesn't have to be this way

In recent years I’ve come across three instances of highly successful women creating their own new reality.  Not only were they also successful in achieving their goals but the strategies are realistic, practical and provide us new ways of solving old problems. Each of them challenged my own beliefs about what was probable and what was appropriate. Yet each of these ideas excited me about what was possible.  In fact, these examples were part of a critical turing point in my own thinking -  that taking an active and participatory role in creating your own success, is not boasting, is not only desirable but in fact, mandatory for anyone with a skerrick of ambition.

  • Example 1:  I met a Life Coach and she had just been integral in winning one of her clients the Telstra Business Woman of the Year Award.  You guessed it. This super smart client in the wellness sector wasn’t leaving things up to chance but decided to tackle the rather daunting process with a coach who focused on confidence, accountability and the language of the business world to keep her in the running and make the effort worthwhile.  
  • Example 2:  Some years back a peer was appointed in a marketing capacity for an organisation -  and her main responsibilities for the year were to ………… (wait for it)...... help the female CEO win the Telstra Business Woman of the Year Award.  Once again, this smart and strategic CEO acknowledged that her skill set lay in running a company, not winning awards or objectively talking about her own great work.  Therefore she employed someone to tackle the task on her behalf.  
  • Example 3: I met an author in the final stages of publishing her first book.  Her strategy included forsaking her speaker fee at several rather large conferences in return for the organisation who had booked her to speak, purchasing books for all delegates – as presales.  And the purpose?  To help this smart and strategic new author reach #1 on the New York Times Best Seller list more easily.

For a list of possible Awards for you to nominate for, click here (as at 24 July 2015)

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Stop being busy and start being strategic

My best ideas never happen when I'm busy at work in front of the computer. In fact they always happens when I'm relaxed and taking a break from work.  If organisations were smart they'd realise this and instead of keeping their staff so busy running in and out of meetings, they'd insist on quiet time, reflective time or reading time. But I guess that the productivity of quiet time is hard to measure and introduces a whole new topic of trust (or lack there of) ...... and that's a subject for another day.  

There's a bunch of science on the immense power of down time, reflective time and mindfulness,  so I can't emphasise how important it is for us to stop valuing being incredibly busy and instead start working smarter -  allowing space and opportunity for creating your own reality.

Here are a few really easy examples you might try in the first instance:

  • Find a mentor or coach to help you work out what's important to you and to keep you accountable and focused on big audacious goals,
  • Pay an expert to write of your CV or LinkedIn profile,
  • Pay a marketing expert to write your media kit, or do your web strategy,
  • Many business leaders use ghost writers when they publish or have staff who handle their personal social media platforms.

Let's see the wood between the trees

So if you’re feeling stuck or frustrated in your role,  maybe you’ve been pidgeon holed in a career path and can’t see the woods for the trees. Possibly you’re even wondering why no one has noticed how well you’ve been working or why no one has pointed out that your inner potential runneth over.  You could wrestle with the issue all on your own, or you might choose to hire a mentor or a career coach to help you get there faster and more easily.

Vive la révolution!  #ambitionrevolution

  • I am the creator of The Ambition Revolution – the science and  art of amping smart and savvy. 

  • I mentor ambitious women and men to ensure they remain strategic, agile and focused on the bigger game. 

  • I also work with organisations who are trying to increase the profile of women in leadership, but struggling to do so.

  • Not already signed up?  Click here.

Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

The Importance of Dealing with Stretch when Tackling Big, Audacious Goals

Have you ever noticed that people tackle big challenges and opportunities really differently? I’ve been observing this lately as I hang out with a bunch of entrepreneurs and there appears to be a common approach amongst the entrepreneur set.  When approached with a new idea or big opportunity, they will frequently say "Hell yes, of course I can", then work out how to do it if and when they win the business.  And yet much of the rest of the population (including many women) are far more likely to demure until they feel better prepared.

The “Hell yes!” approach – so what do these people know that others don’t?

#1 They have a growth mindset

Dr Carol Dweck, Stanford University, introduced the concept of fixed and growth mindsets - with a growth mindset meaning those who understand that their abilities, capabilities and IQ are pliable, can expand and increase with challenge and stimulation. This growth mindset means you are far less likely to hesitate than those with a fixed mindset and understand you can do almost anything you put your mind to as long as you are prepared:

  • to make mistakes,
  • to be distinctly uncomfortable and
  • to do the work.

#2 They are agile learners

They understand that just in time learning is equally as valid (if not more) as old school learning. The ability to be agile represents the “ability to respond quickly to the fast pace of change” in your market or area - and to learn from experience without becoming rigid.  According to research by Korn Ferry:

"Companies with the most agile learners among their executive ranks have profit margins 25 percent higher than those of other, similar companies." (bold added)

Interestingly female entrepreneurs and C suite executives score really well in agile learning according to an Inc. article entitled Why Women Entrepreneurs Make the Best Leaders.

 #3 They understand of the “rules of the game”

It's as though these people have been let in on some different rules than others - and they have some innate understanding that this is actually the way the rules of the game are played. According to them, the rules of the success game include putting yourself out there whether you believe you are fully prepared or not.  Tara Sophia Mohr, author of Playing Big, writes about how men and women might interpret the rules of the success game differently with her research into the much quoted statistic from some internal Hewlett Packard research indicating that;

men will apply for roles knowing they only meet 60% of the criteria while women will only apply if they meet 100%.

And while in this instance I'm not writing about the differences between male and female brain biology, according to Mohr's research, it would appear that more men than women understand these rules.

 #4 They realise the importance of stretch

When you stretch, you grow and your brain operates much like your body. It’s an awful lot like training in the gym. When you push yourself a little harder or further each time, you achieve more - becoming stronger, fitter or more flexible. When you stretch your brain i.e. expose yourself to new ways of thinking, tackle new projects or big goals, you actually help your brain grow and your brain loves it - with the reward centres of your brain lighting up like a Xmas tree.  

#5 They understand the success and confidence correlation

These “champions” understand that success correlates equally as closely IF NOT MORE closely to confidence as competence.  It's as though they don't allow feelings of fear an discomfort to distract them from their main goal or trigger a flight back to compliance and competence based thinking - according to Katty Kay and Claire Shipman in The Confidence Code.

So what's your style?

So when someone offers you a big opportunity that might be outside of your comfort zone - how do you respond?   

Vive la révolution! 

  • I am the creator of The Ambition Revolution – the science and  art of amping smart and savvy. 

  • I mentor ambitious men and women to ensure they remain strategic, agile and focused on the bigger game. 

  • I also work with organisations who are trying to increase the profile of women in leadership, but struggling to do so.

  • Not already receiving inspiration to your inbox?  Sign up here!

Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months