Tag: life

In Case of Emergency Break Glass

Posted on March 29th, by Joan Axelrod in On My Mind, Personal & Professional Effectiveness. 2 comments

I sleep at night with the security of knowing that there is a box of snowcaps in my night-table.  This box of snowcaps has remained in my night-table unopened for over twenty years.  It has accompanied me through multiple moves, various trials and tribulations, and a multiple of life changes, players and personal iterations.

For those who know me personally, I live on carrot sticks and hummus. I rarely even eat chocolate.  So why the Snow Caps?  The answer is quite simple; it’s symbolic and synonymous for comfort.  It is for the same reason that when I was preparing for Hurricane Sandy I bought water, gas, flashlights and five boxes of snowcaps.  After all, if life was going to become challenging, I wanted to make sure I had my comforts available!

I have spent the past month, as I do the open of each year, cleaning (well organizing), purging, and setting the stage for the upcoming year. While cleaning my night-table I came across this ancient box, smiled, and began to contemplate the other “In Case of Emergency Break Glass” habits I have adopted over the years.  Further I pondered how important these survival habits, safe guards and rituals have become to my well-being and survival in today’s crazy, surprise laden, 24-7 world.

Looking back on simpler times, before the age of cell phones and constant internet contact, having an emergency contact list really had meaning.  When leaving the house as a pre-teen and young adult one was told to be home before dark and handed a couple of quarters so you could call someone ”In case of an Emergency”.  We all instinctively knew just who to call.  For me it was my Grandma Fanny.  She would get you anywhere, anytime, no questions, no judgment. Who is that person or those people for you?  Who will you call when the stakes are high and the chips are down?

It’s wonderful when your children become adults and you can have really honest conversations about what kind of parent you were when they were growing up, and how you continue to support them today. I have come to learn that I am an “In Case of Emergency Break Glass” Mom. What does that mean I asked? Apparently, when it came to the simply day to day stuff like teaching them how to change light bulbs, do laundry, boiling eggs and making beds neatly I failed my kids miserably.  After all we were always in survival mode, who could be bothered! Thankfully, everyone turned out great in the end. We skipped egg boiling and went right to omelets. We would be appalled if we got less than A’s in any of our classes, a project (present company included) or showed up late or unprepared to a game or practice!  We lived by the golden rule, “Do on to others as you want to be treated yourself”.  Most importantly, if you dropped any of us on the set of survivor I am sure we would all make it off the island.

Here are my favorite in case of emergency break glass habits and rituals:



I used to be the queen of running away from my issues.  NO MORE!

In fact I was so skilled at the art of self-deception that I have multiple degrees, a wall of certifications, a laundry list of accomplishments and success beyond my humblest comprehension, all to cover up for problems neglected.

Consequently, I have left shipwrecks of astonished people and boat loads of unanswered questions in my wake. Those days are over.

You can mask running with productivity all you want, but in the end you will need to face your demons and issues head on. Today is as good a day as any.

Slow down, dive in and face the music. This too shall pass!


Empty, Not Fill

As an ex-chronic runner, filler, busy making problem avoider, and collector of both people and things, I have actually made this one of my New Year Resolutions!

There is nothing better in times of stress, trial & tribulation, and deep contemplation to go on a Personal Purge.

What does this mean?  If you need to ask yourself more than once, “Should I hold on to this? The answer is NO.  This includes people places and things!


Don’t Isolate

Chances are if you run, you also hide.  Waiting till you feel better to contact your friends make no sense and defeats the purpose of having them?

Misery does require company.  There are others that have walked in your shoes, find them and they will comfort you.  Open up to the people you trust.  You will be amazed to learn you are not as unique as you think.


Know When To Let Go

Knowing when to let go is always a challenge and often what brings us to our “In Case of Emergency” state.

It is helpful to remember that

“Some people and circumstances present themselves for a reason, some for a season and some to stay.”

I have used this phrase to comfort myself, my clients, my children, and many a saddened friend when they did not get or lost their job, gone through a horrible break up, divorce or life just did not live up to their expectation.

Should I stay or go? Hold on or cut bait?

Knowing the difference is crucial and knowing when to let go is critical!

It helps to remember that life and relationships are dynamic, cyclical and fluid.  Be open to all possibilities, and keep your eyes open and learn to read the signs. The right people will actually seem to appear out of thin air.

Trying to make a situation work when it shouldn’t is futile, staying too long may be counterproductive and often destructive.  Trust and move on.

The people and things that are supposed to be there will. The ones that aren’t won’t.

Definition of insanity:  doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results!


Break the Rules

I am a definite do gooder, non-corner cutter, live by the golden rule type of girl, but desperate times may call for desperate measures.  In times of emergencies you just might be forced to cut a corner or two. Step out of your comfort zone or just push boundaries a bit to experiment with what is possible.  Hey you never know? You could stumble into something positive. Just be mindful that you don’t push too far and that you can live with the consequences of your actions.


Sweat the Big Stuff!

I am a firm believer that there isn’t an issue or problem that cannot be worked out through with good old fashion sweat and a pair of sneakers, bicycle, yoga mat, weights or whatever physical activity floats your boat. Once a gym rat always a gym rat.  I started my Entrepreneurial track as a personal trainer 25 years ago and have always kept a gym membership since, even though I prefer outside workouts (even in the dead of winter). I suggest you do the same. The point is not to isolate. Get up, get out, sweat and start your day right.  If you prefer working out at night then go straight to the gym not to your couch. Not to sound unoriginal…JUST DO IT!

I have recently developed a love hate relationship with Hot Yoga.  Seriously, who comes up with these things?  As if balancing all of your body weight on one leg while holding perfectly still for 60 seconds is not bad enough, now add the element of 104 degrees.  Sheer insanity!  Yet I show up every Sunday. Why you ask? Discipline? It’s good for me? I’m nuts? My logic, it is mental conditioning. If I can do an hour of yoga each week while being roasted alive, everything else that is going to happen to me will be uphill from there.



Along with my gym rat mentality is my zest for adventure. I am a definite adrenalin junkie and know this has served me well to help me through many rough patches.  For me stepping out of my comfort zone is most often around trying new kinds of physical activity. Parachute Yoga (I know who thinks of these things, but my favorite!), Mountain Biking (15 years ago before it was cool), Rollerblading (when they first came out) to name a few.  My son is still traumatized from when I would blade past his bus in middle school and people would say, “Isn’t that your mom?”  He would say no, as if there were many other rollerblading moms in the neighborhood.

Bottom line is pick your poison.  Live on the edge just long enough to get out of your head for a bit of a break.


Fun & Laughter

As hard as I work is as hard as I play. If you read my blogs, or perhaps know me personally, you know that I find the humor in even the most awful situations and topics.

I am a survivor but aren’t we all, we could not have gotten to where we are today without a few bumps or bruises.

I have surrounded myself with some of the best people in the world. Trust me; we have had no shortage of fun.  I have laughed at myself, we have laughed at each other, but most importantly we have never stopped showing up for life, and having fun, fun, fun.

I recently described a best friend of mine as a “Party in a Bag”.  This is such a great description of many of my closest friendships. Many of us don’t live in the same state. Our relationships take extra work. So we put in the time and the effort, schedule phone calls, we drive in traffic to see each other, we get on planes and when we arrive we make it count!  We laugh, we cry (if necessary) and we have FUN.

LAUGHTER, FUN, CONNECTION are truly the best medicine.


Calling All Contacts

This will sound like such a contradiction to so much of what I have preached, but I used to be in the habit of waiting till I fixed my problems and then reporting my progress back to my friends.  This is absurd!

I am happy to report that I am over this.  I will admit that I have had to call myself out to my friends on this habit and they know to reach out if they do not hear from me.

I recommend having regularly scheduled times to speak to out of town friends and specific times you meet your local friends and actually put it in your calendar.  This way it actually happens!!


Comfort Food

Surrounding yourself with creature comforts in times of trouble is a great thing to do, but remember when you popped that last snowcap, finished the bag of potato chips, and drowned your sorrows in a pint of rocky road you will feel no better about yourself the next day. News flash, your problems are still going to be there.

Remember Rome was not built on Fast Food and French Fries!  Think “Brain Fuel” and make healthy choices especially when the chips are down.  My rules of thumb, “If it does not fly, swim, grow or have a mother, don’t eat it.”   In other words, stay away from anything processed if you want to think clearly to work through your rough patches.

Do treat yourself but make healthy choices.  Like one glass of heart healthy Red Wine (good red wine of course!), or a square or two of dark chocolate.


Self Care

Times of trouble are no times to let yourself go.  In fact you should step up your game even more.  My sister-in-law and I have a running joke.  She will always say to me in my darkest hours.  “You look fabulous, how can I help”?

If you are a girl, don’t leave the house without make up, if you are a guy shave for heaven sake.

Keep up with manicures and pedicures, dye and cut your hair, schedule a massage, update your wardrobe.

This too shall pass and the last thing you are going to want to do when the dust settles is personal triage, nor should you require a full make-over once things have settled down.

Your grandmother was only partly right.  You should never leave the house without a nice clean pair of matching underwear. Only you shouldn’t do this in case you get in an accident, you should do this because it makes you feel good about yourself!


Spoil Yourself With a Little Retail Therapy

For me there isn’t a problem in the world that cannot be solved when I have found the perfect pair of new boots and a matching handbag.  This I know might not work for everyone.  I also don’t recommend retail therapy if your problem is in relation to finances!

Retail therapy comes in all forms and defined is purchasing anything large or small that makes you feel good about yourself, if even for a moment.

Truth be told my favorite retail therapy is gift giving.  I love buying gifts and sending my friends random things in the mail spontaneously.  No occasion required. I do this out of the blue when I come across something I think will be helpful, or just because it reminds me of them. I do this a lot so they no longer think it’s strange.  I highly recommend it.  It definitely gets you out of negative thinking for a while.


Adopt an Attitude of Gratitude

Every night before I go to sleep I write down at least three good things that happened to me that day and/or three things that I have to be grateful for.  It does not matter what is going on in your life, there is ALWAYS something to be grateful for at the end of the day.  As you start doing this, the positive things will out way the negative things and before your know it the tide will turn.



“What brings me to the mat can most often be worked out on the mat”


For those of you who have not read my blog the “Is the Finish Line Really a Dotted Line” please do.

Your face down in the ring moment is when your face is on the mat and you are down for the count.  The crowd is waiting.  What are you going to do? Stay down or get up? Let the other win or claim your rightful victory? This moment is golden; however, it is important to remember this moment is yours to claim and choose alone.

That is where the other mat has always come in for me, the yoga mat that is.  Here I can strip down the noise, adrenalin, anxiety, outside influences, and conventional wisdom to decide what I really want.

Find your means of peaceful contemplation.  Then ask yourself what you really want?  What is your gut telling you?  It is in those quite moments of peaceful contemplation that the healing takes place and the answers come.  Follow your voice.  Don’t the next right thing.

So in conclusion dear reader I wish you neither malice nor harm. I do hope that you read this blog and file it someplace safe and never need to use this list of “In Case of Emergency” tactics.  My list is safely nestled next to my snowcaps as you conclude. It is however an uncertain world and life will continue to throw us surprises and curve balls.  Today I do hope you wake up emergency free; nevertheless, just “In Case of Emergency” my list of tactics is my gift to you as you never know, “Maybe one will come up?”


About the Author:  Joan Axelrod Siegelwax, a previous guest contributor to Women of HR, is the Executive Vice President of Love & Quiches Gourmet, and the Founder and President of Powerful Possibilities Coaching. In her role at Love and Quiches Gourmet she leads the Human Resources Department with the primary goal of increasing employee engagement, accountability, retention and improved corporate culture.  Through creation of Powerful Possibilities Coaching, she has made these skills available to a larger audience through Transformational Executive Coaching, specializing in personal growth, organizational development, career coaching, leadership development, managing transitions, executive presence, personal branding, personal empowerment, life balance, organization and productivity.

Is The Finish Line Really a Dotted Line?

Posted on December 22nd, by Joan Axelrod in On My Mind, Personal & Professional Development. 2 comments

Why is it from the time we are children we are always striving to reach the next milestone. We can’t wait to lose our baby teeth, only to find we look silly and can’t successfully chew.

Reaching double digits comes next accompanied by gaining entry to a coveted seat at the grown up table. Where consequently we are introduced to chores and responsibilities and often where the conversation is quite boring!

Fast forward, we speed through our high school years.  Our new focus becomes getting accepted into to the college of our dreams.  We are warned by our family, teachers and trusted advisors that these are the best times of our lives.  We do not heed their warnings and fail to truly savor the simplicity of the time.

We then become excited for college graduation.  This is when real life will begin! We will build up our resumes, network and interview like a madman and woman.  The next thing we know we are drones on the train station platform, ordering coffee on auto pilot, and entering the Monday morning rat race.

Finally comes grown up life. True independence; life on one’s own terms. In reality this means mortgages, bills, car payments and more.  Often this is followed by cohabitation or marriage. “If only I was in a relationship and had kids then my life would really start,” might become the next goalpost or mantra. Like all other milestones, does anything truly prepare you for this? Who provides you with the warning labels and fine print?

So net net my dear reader is this; whether you are 10, 20, 30, 40, or 50, in Childhood, Adolescence, Young Adulthood, Marriage, Divorce, Parenthood or Old-Age, the one thing you can undoubtedly count on is that life will continue to raise the stakes.

What are you going to do when life throws you a curve ball? Are you going to lie down and take it or are you going to raise the bar?

One can never truly know what life has in store; nevertheless, you need to be prepared to face each challenge head on.  Always bear in mind that adversity bares vast opportunity.

Here are my favorite tips for dealing with life’s ebbs, flows, curve balls and bombshells while continuing to raising the bar:

  1. Recognize the signs:

Get real, life does not usually fall apart overnight.  There are signs. Do not ignore the red flashing lights from the runway.

  1. Read between the lines:

Look for the hidden signs. They are there, you just might not be looking hard enough.

  1. Be realistic:

Face reality.  Whatever the facts are deal with them head on.

  1. Get some rest:

Change is exhausting.  Get some rest and by all means schedule in some fun!

  1. Save yourself first:

When you get on a plane they tell you to put on your oxygen mask first. This is good advice.  If you are ok, you will have the strength to do what needs to be done. You can then help those around you get up to pace and follow your lead.

  1. Practice Self-Care:

This is no time to let yourself go!  Make sure to continue or adopt self-care rituals that helps revive and rebuild your energy stores. Exercise, Eat Well, Walk with a friend, Spend time outdoors, get a massage, and fill in the blank:_______!

  1. Fake it till you make it:

My late Aunt Phyllis taught me that if I did not know how to play tennis to get a great tennis outfit, learn how to jump over the net and then get lessons. “You will catch on” she explained.

I do this with everything in life.  I decide what I want to do or be next and then I the figure it out in the trenches.  Consequently I always get there!

  1. Be Your Personal Best:

Learn, Explore, Read, Stay Relevant, Repeat …………

  1. Outsourcing and Lifelines:

If someone offers to help you thank them and say yes! You do not have to be a hero. I have not done a load of laundry or a stitch of housework in the two years that I went back to school to change my career.  Relinquishing control is difficult, but necessary.  Something has to give!

  1. Let go:

There are things that you will need to let go of along your journey.  These may be people, places and things.  You cannot be all things to all people.  You cannot divide yourself too thin or you will lose focus and you may not succeed.  Remember you are the one on the Journey and you are the one that is undergoing Transformation.  Trust the process.  Let others catch up.

  1. Contact & Thank your Supporters & Personal Board:

You put a Personal Board together for a reason – this is it! During times of transformation you need your closest supporters and accountability partners the most.  They will keep you going, talk you off the ledge, cheer you on, and be your best sounding boards.  All this, while keeping you honest and sane.

My grandfather taught me at a young age the importance of finding the people you admired the most in life and your career and bringing them into your inner circle.  More importantly I learned on my own that in order to have a good friend you needed to be a good friend. I value my close relationships above all else in life, and give relationships my all.  I treasure each and every one of you. You all know who you and I know you are reading this.  Thank you, Thank you, Thank You!

  1. Welcome New and Fabulous Fellow Travelers!

Wow, the people you will meet!  Doctor Seuss might have said this first but boy was he right.  I have met the greatest people during my transition into my new career.  When I walked into NYU that first Sunday morning two years ago I did not realize the door I was truly opening.  I have met the greatest people, some I believe to be lifelong friends.  Through opening up to new networking opportunities I have again met fabulous people, joined a board and again made fantastic new friends.  I have had lunches and coffee dates that have been like warm comfortable sweaters and long deep exhales.  Yes, there are people out there that will truly get you, and get what you are going through.  Be open to them and let them in.  Your will expand and new opportunities will be endless.

  1. Steal and savor all and any Peaceful Connected Moment:

I coined the phrase Peaceful Connected Moment when I had small children.  By definition a Peaceful Connected Moment, is a very small window of time when the wheels stop, the noise in your mind slows if only for a moment, and you can savor a moment of quiet peace and contemplation.

You will know when one arises.  Learn to recognize it, and enjoy.

  1. Be willing to take a risk:

At the end of the day, when the preparation, contemplation, and analyzing is over, you must be willing to roll the dice.  (I can’t take credit for this, it came from a board member)

You must trust the “Net Will Appear” -Zen Saying


“Learn to Swim or Build a Boat” me 

  1. Let go of dead weight (kindly), but beware of the carnage:.

When you emerge from the rubble and dust yourself off, not everyone will be there to cheer you when you take your victory lap. This is ok. The ones that are supposed to be there will and the ones that aren’t won’t. That’s life.

You will survive.


My life has imploded and I have reinvented myself so many times, I can hardly recognize myself. This is a good thing; adversity has brought me great opportunity! I have been knocked down and have gotten up each time from my face down in the ring moments stronger, wiser and more resilient from the fight. I have faced adversity and won.  I have raised the bar each time and clearly understand there is no finish line or end game in sight.  There are only targets, goals and lots and lots of surprises. I am excited for every new challenge.  Bring them on, I’m ready willing and able!

I challenge you to do the same.


About the Author:  Joan Axelrod Siegelwax, a previous guest contributor to Women of HR, is the Executive Vice President of Love & Quiches Gourmet, and the Founder and President of Powerful Possibilities Coaching. In her role at Love and Quiches Gourmet she leads the Human Resources Department with the primary goal of increasing employee engagement, accountability, retention and improved corporate culture.  Through creation of Powerful Possibilities Coaching, she has made these skills available to a larger audience through Transformational Executive Coaching, specializing in personal growth, organizational development, career coaching, leadership development, managing transitions, executive presence, personal branding, personal empowerment, life balance, organization and productivity.

Comfort Zones

Posted on August 18th, by Jennifer Payne in On My Mind, Personal & Professional Development. No Comments

Over the past couple of years, I’ve been watching, observing, and talking with many people around me as they have wrestled with big decisions.  Some of these situations were personal, some were professional, some of them even on the level of life-changing.  As I witnessed their struggles with deciding which path to take, with which way to go, in most cases it became evident that the underlying issue they were striving to come to terms with was a choice between sticking with the known and comfortable, or venturing into the unknown, uncertain, and maybe just a little bit scary.


Why do we tend to linger in our comfort zones?

Think about your favorite blanket or sweatshirt. The one that on a cold and dreary day you can’t wait to snuggle up with. That feeling of putting it on or wrapping yourself in it and sinking down onto the couch…ahh, feels so nice, so warm, so safe…doesn’t it? It’s so easy to just stay there all day, in the warm, familiar comfort. Maybe drift off to sleep for a bit. Maybe just lay there savoring the feeling. Nothing else seems to matter.

But nothing much gets accomplished while you’re there either.

Comfort zones are much like that blanket or that sweatshirt. They are easy, they are familiar, they don’t require much work. They are our security blankets.


Why do we stay in the job that no longer challenges us? Because it’s easy and pays well? Because it’s easier and less scary than starting over somewhere new?

Why do we keep people in our lives that drag us down rather than build us up? Because we can’t imagine letting them go? Because it’s too hard to walk away?

Why do we stay in that relationship we know doesn’t work or bring out the best in us? Because it’s better than nothing? Because the thought of being alone is scary? Because we’ve already invested so much time in it, and well…it’s easier and less work than starting over with someone new?


We’ve all been guilty of it. Every one of us, at some point in our lives.

See, these comfortable things can feel good. We tell ourselves they are good enough. They are acceptable. They work for where we are in life. There may even be a solid reason we can use to rationalize staying there. Right? They could even be more than just acceptable….they could be…pretty good.

Pretty good, perhaps. But maybe not great.

Can we experience…do we deserve…something greater?


Do you ever wonder what could be?

Great things don’t happen in comfort zones.

Over the past few years, I’ve made a conscious effort to say yes to more opportunities. To things that might have scared me, that I might have thought I wasn’t good enough for, that I didn’t know enough about. I’ve said yes to things that the mere thought of gave me butterflies, in which my initial reaction was “I don’t even know where to start!” Because I know putting myself in these situations is what makes me grow as a person. Because those same nervous butterflies can turn into feelings of exhilaration and accomplishment, a feeling of being on top of the world.

But I also know there is still more I can do to push myself out of my own comfort zone. I still linger there too. It’s a work in progress.


What If?

“A ship in a harbor is safe, but that’s not what a ship is built for.”  Grace Murray Hopper

What if we took a chance? What if we mustered our courage, took a deep breath, and jumped?

What if we said yes to that opportunity? 
What if we got on a plane or in the car and moved to that new city?
What if we let go of what’s been holding us back from moving forward towards something better?

What if we did what scares us?

Maybe we’d land our dream job. Maybe our career would take a turn in a direction we never imagined possible, much less probable. Maybe we’d find happiness we never knew existed. Maybe we’d find the true love of our life.

It’s probably easier said than done. Strike that…it IS easier said than done.

But in that scary, unknown place….maybe that’s where the magic lives.

When your time comes, when that opportunity knocks on your door, will you be ready to take the leap? Or will you snuggle up under that cozy blanket and stay there “just a little longer….”?  Will you face and embrace the unknown, or settle for the path of least resistance and complacency?

Will you jump, or will you stay and never know?



About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP has over 16 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent acquisition and development in the retail grocery industry.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.

You Already Know What To Do

Posted on August 4th, by Rowena Morais in On My Mind, Personal & Professional Development. 1 Comment

You’ve surely come to the conclusion, at many points in your career, that your job is one of the toughest jobs around. Managing people, or more rightly, inspiring and growing people, is what you do. You don’t really want to manage people, and understandably enough, no one wants to be managed.

So, you’re really caught between a rock and a hard place.

What is this realm of people management really about? Sure, there’s a lot of terminology floating around, lots of buzz words, to get caught up in. There are futurists predicting trends and surveys and reports on all kinds of data.

We are not short on data.

So, between you and me, let me tell you a little secret. It’s a secret because you don’t always want to admit this to anyone else, let alone yourself. But it’s a secret that needs to be let out.


You already know what to do

Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.

~Eleanor Roosevelt


You have ideas

You just need to act on them. You cannot wait till you get enough people to see the vision you have for your team, for your organisation. If they all did see that vision, you wouldn’t be where you are right now. So stop waiting for inspiration or a big push to move forward. Give yourself the push you need. Bring that dream you have to life.


You are scared

You need to push through anyway. No one ever promised it would be easy and nothing worthwhile, strong, sacred or good ever is. But you cannot let the fear overwhelm you. As it grows, it will overtake anything else in its way and you will be a shadow of your former self.

This is what courage truly is – to be scared and to do it anyway. So embrace the fear. Accept it as part of the journey.


You already know what to do.


You don’t know what they think but you need only ask

There’s a fine balance between relying on your own intuition and and calling on the expertise of others. But the one thing you need to remember is that you do not have to have all the answers. You can ask, and if you do so, with compassion, integrity, honest determination and a real desire to know the truth, the answers will come to you.

Help may indeed come from the most unexpected places in your journey.


You don’t know where to start but that’s not your problem

There’s no guidebook for the trip you are about to take. There never will be. Even in situations where there are similarities in the journey or experience, there are still significant things that make the difference. So knowing there is no go-to manual, you are understandably nervous about starting this journey.

But this journey will be long and eventful. The problem does not lie in knowing where to start – the problem is simply getting started.


You already know what to do.


What’s in your bag of tricks?

Your journey – the years of experience cease to matter when compared to the lessons learnt so far. The ones you’ve held dear to you will help you. So keep your eyes and ears open to what comes your way.

Your determination – ask yourself how badly you want to bring your vision to life. And if its as strongly felt as I think it is, you just need to make a start. That first step is the hardest one to make yet it is pivotal.

Your curiosity – you have a goal, you have a plan for getting there. You know you will be checking everything, no stone left unturned.

Your consistent manner – this is not for the foolhardy. You’re going to get on this journey and you know what you need to do before you see the results you are gunning for.  You are prepared to wait, to endure, to persevere.

Your flexibility – you know that the plan is merely one of the first few steps to beginning the journey. But plans can, and should, be changed as and when they need to. You understand that, you are happy to pivot.

Ultimately, you are the best person to bring the vision you have for your team, for your organisation, to reality.  So, go forth and make it happen.


Photo Credit


About the Author: Rowena Morais is the Editor of VerticalDistinct.com, helping individuals develop their professional abilities and career to the fullest in either Human Resources or Technology. She is also Editor of the quarterly human resource magazine, Accelerate. She graduated from the University of Glamorgan, Wales with an LL.B (Hons) and is a regular blogger on personal growth.

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Staying Cool, Calm, and Collected in the Summer Heat

Posted on July 23rd, by Joan Axelrod in Wellness and Balance, Work/Life Balance. No Comments

“Summer time and the living is easy”. That is the tune we all hope to sing in the summer, unfortunately this is not always the case.   Balancing one’s personal life with professional responsibilities can become even more challenging when work loads and work pressures continue to turn on the heat!

Here are my favorite tips for staying cool, calm and collected in the summer months:

  1. Clean up your sleep hygiene– Even the scariest case load becomes easier to face after a good night’s sleep. Cool down the room, lower the shades, cut down on your caffeine consumption and cut off e-mail checks an hour before bed.  (Drops of lavender oil on your pillow can help.)


  1. Take a breath– We all over react from time to time. Add heat, stress and a touch of overwhelmed to the pot and it becomes a real pressure cooker! Instead of blowing the lid off the top why not STOP and take a deep breath or two or count to ten. When challenges threaten your composure this will help get your emotions back in check.


  1. Embrace the Light– Let’s face it, we all work too late. The good news is that in the summer we can stay at our desks until 7:00 or 7:30 PM and still have an hour of sunlight!  Think of all the great things you can do with this extra hour?  Take a run. Meet a friend or loved one for a drink or dinner at an outside restaurant. Take a walk on the beach. Garden or simply sit outside to finish up your phone calls and work, (if you must!).


  1. Stay hydrated– Soda, iced coffee, and iced tea might quench your thirst but they will dehydrate you in the long run. If you are like me, drinking gallons and gallons of water is a drag! Throwing in fresh berries, lemon, or even mint can help water go down easier.


  1. Keep it light– Nothing slows down productivity more than a heavy, greasy breakfast or lunch. Keep fruit, nuts and raw vegetables handy to keep temptation down.


  1. Turn it up– Nothing lightens the mood better than upbeat music. In the summer months why not turn on Reggae, the Beach Boys or Jimmy Buffet to lighten the mood in the office or at your desk.


  1. Take it outside– Instead of eating lunch at your desk why not grab a colleague and eat outside? If you need to work through lunch bring your work outside and handle a task that is less stressful.  Just being out in the fresh air and sunlight will help elevate your mood.


  1. Reconnect– Who have you been neglecting during the long cold months of winter? Summer is a great time to reconnect. Everyone is anxious to get out and enjoy the summer months.  Block time in your schedule for friends.  Summer months go by quickly. Blocking the time guarantees you don’t miss out.


  1. Disconnect– OK, you’re saying, now you have gone too far! This is the hardest suggestion but totally necessary to regroup and unwind.  Take a dedicated e-mail and cell phone break.  It does not matter if it is for an hour, during one meal, one morning, and one day or even just at the gym, detaching will do you well.


  1. Escape! Summer is a great time for a mini excursion.  Take a day trip to the wineries, the Hamptons, the zoo, the city, or upstate.  It doesn’t matter if you check into a local hotel and sit at the pool, getting away for a couple of hours or a day will help you rewind the clock.  If you can’t get away at least grab a good book and escape right on your couch or lounge chair.


  1. Pamper yourself. Self Care always elevates your mood, decreases stress and increases confidence.  Get a message, pedicure, manicure, facial, or try a cool new haircut.


  1. Layer it- Stress is bad enough, being overheated and stressful is even worse. The challenge of dressing comfortably in the summer is that every office, conference room or restaurant you visit is a different temperature.  You can be hot one minute and freezing the next!  Dressing in layers and carrying a sweater or scarf in your briefcase can help guarantee your comfort at all times.


Whether you adopt one or two of these suggestions or all twelve even the simplest shift in behaviors can bring about positive change.  Why not find a “Stress Buster” accountability partner in your office or professional network? They can help keep you on track and support you in turning these suggestions into habits.  Make it a great summer, enjoy, and make the most of the months ahead! Remember dessert spelled backward is Stressed,  always “Eat dessert first”!


Photo Credit

About the Author:  Joan Axelrod Siegelwax is the Executive Vice President of Love & Quiches Gourmet, and the Founder and President of Powerful Possibilities Coaching. In her role at Love and Quiches Gourmet she leads the Human Resources Department with the primary goal of increasing employee engagement, accountability, retention and improved corporate culture.  Through creation of Powerful Possibilities Coaching, she has made these skills available to a larger audience through Transformational Executive Coaching, specialing in personal growth, organizational development, career coaching, leadership development, managing transitions, executive presence, personal branding, personal empowerment, life balance, organization and productivity.

40 Tips to Enhance Your Life

Posted on June 3rd, by Kristin Kaufman in On My Mind, Personal & Professional Effectiveness. No Comments

We are at the mid-point of the year – which for me means a time to reassess and figure out where I am. Am I where I want to be? Am I heading in the right direction? Are we meeting our corporate goals? Am I meeting my personal goals?

As long as I can remember, my father has shared and sent my sister and me newspaper articles, quotations, and otherwise bits of information. This started when we were children; and now, at age 86 (my father) and 53 (me), he still selflessly and conscientiously teaches, shares, and helps me become the best person I can be. So, this month, in honor of Father’s Day, I am sharing one of the most recent gifts my father sent us. It may appear simple and basic; yet, the hard stuff is almost always the ‘simple stuff’.

The source of this list was our church bulletin, and was written by a woman named Lauren English. These are wonderful tips for us to print out – post on our bulletin boards, fridge, or screen savers. I am a believer that by seeing them and reading them – early and often – they seep into our consciousness whether we realize it or not. This particular list is divided into 4 focus areas; the tips that resonated with my stage in life right now, I have highlighted in bold.

My dad (and my mom for that matter) truly do live these suggestions. Sure, they are human and make mistakes like everyone…yet, I can honestly say that they do their best to abide by these suggestions which I believe is why at 86 and 85, they are healthy, happy, in love, successful by all metrics, and truly ‘aligned’ in life and to their Higher Power.


  1. Drink plenty of water.
  2. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a beggar.
  3. Eat more foods that grow on trees, and less food made in plants.
  4. Live with 3 E’s – Energy, Enthusiasm, and Energy.
  5. Make time to pray.
  6. Play more games.
  7. Read more books than you did in 2014.
  8. Sit in silence for 10 minutes (at least) a day.
  9. Sleep 7 hours a day.
  10. Take a 30 minute walk daily and SMILE while you are walking.


  1. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
  2. Eliminate negative thoughts and things you cannot control. Stay present in the moment.
  3. Don’t over do. Know your limits.
  4. Don’t take yourself so seriously.
  5. Don’t waste your energy on gossip.
  6. Dream more while you are awake.
  7. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
  8. Forget issues of the past.
  9. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
  10. Make peace with your past so it will not spoil the present.
  11. Smile and laugh more.
  12. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.


  1. Call your family often.
  2. Each day do something good for someone else.
  3. Forgive everyone for everything.
  4. For a learning experience, spend time with someone over the age of 70 and under the age of 8.
  5. Try to make at least 3 people smile each day.
  6. What other people think of you is none of your business.
  7. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Be a good friend.


  1. Do the right thing.
  2. Get rid of anything that is not useful, beautiful, or joyful.
  3. GOD heals everything.
  4. However good or bad a situation is – it will change.
  5. Not matter how you feel – get up, dress up, SHOW UP.
  6. The BEST is yet to come.
  7. When you awake alive in the morning – thank GOD for it!
  8. Be happy each and every day.

Last: Make it a great second half of 2015……we own it! Let’s make the next 6 months the BEST we can!!


Photo Credit

About the Author: Kristin Kaufman is founder of Alignment, Inc.™, formed in 2007 to help individuals, corporations, boards of directors and non-profits find alignment within themselves and their organizations. A prolific writer, Kristin’s first book, Is This Seat Taken? Random Encounters That Change Your Life, was released on 11/1/11 to national acclaim, and endorsed by Stephen Covey and John Maxwell, among others. Her second book in the series, entitled Is This Seat Taken? It’s Never Too Late to Find the Right Seat was released 1/13/15. It has already been endorsed by notables such as Marshall Goldsmith, Sean Covey, and Doug Parker, CEO of American Airlines. This book shines the light on late in life reinvention and encore ‘second half’s’ of diverse individuals. The individuals are in some cases widely known and others are somewhat  anonymous to the mass public. The common thread is their ‘post-50’ resurgence in life and in some cases their ‘fork in the road’ is quite serendipitous. Kristin’s third book, a sequel to ‘Is This Seat Taken?’ will follow later in 2015. Kristin is on Twitter as @kristinkaufman.

True Grit

Posted on March 31st, by Kristin Kaufman in Career Advice, On My Mind. No Comments

Recently, I stumbled across a compelling book written by Paul G. Stoltz, entitled Grit.

He explores the components for extraordinary achievement and what it took to make it happen. I found his exploration compelling, and certainly worth highlighting. He boils the key contributing factors down to: Growth, Resilience, Instinct, and Tenacity. In a nutshell he defines these traits like this:

Growth is your propensity so seek and consider new ideas, additional alternatives, different approaches and fresh perspectives.
Resilience is your capacity to respond constructively and ideally make good use of all kinds of adversity.
Instinct is your gut-level capacity to pursue the right goals in the best and smartest ways.
Tenacity is the degree to which you persist, commit to, stick with, and relentlessly go after whatever you choose to achieve.

I loved his succinct way to bottle the traits so many successful folks have embraced to achieve their dreams. Hi book also compliments the Ted talk offered by Angela Lee Duckworth. Angela explores what distinguished the super star 7th graders from those just eking by. What was the common denominator?  You guessed it: Grit.

Grit is a trait embraced by thousands of unsung heroes in life. One does not have to be a well-known war hero, CEO, or social entrepreneur to exhibit GRIT in their lives. In fact, my most recent book in the ‘Is This Seat Taken?’    book series, highlights 15 folks who very late in life created the life of their dreams, and every single one of them exhibited grit throughout their lives. They are as diverse as one can imagine – from a hospice chaplain to a recovering alcoholic to an unlikely late in life writer. I was inspired while researching and writing about each of these individuals. For example, take Jacqueline Qualls who was laid off at age 62, without enough to retire in the manner in which she desired, and then embarked on a completely different career to create a 7 figure residual income a short five years later. And that is just one example of tremendously resilient souls who have set the bar for each of us to follow.

So, what is the takeaway for application in our lives? Net: we each have the ability to CHOOSE GRIT. We do not control what happens TO us; yet, we do have the ability to choose how we respond to it. Whether we are a corporate middle manager, an enterprising entrepreneur, a single mother, a student struggling with dyslexia, or a recently laid off ‘late in life’ business person – nothing difficult gets accomplished without the toughness and perseverance to see it through. Grit is always at the heart of it.


About the Author: Kristin Kaufman is founder of Alignment, Inc.™, formed in 2007 to help individuals, corporations, boards of directors and non-profits find alignment within themselves and their organizations. A prolific writer, Kristin’s first book, Is This Seat Taken? Random Encounters That Change Your Life, was released on 11/1/11 to national acclaim, and endorsed by Stephen Covey and John Maxwell, among others. Her second book in the series, entitled Is This Seat Taken? It’s Never Too Late to Find the Right Seat was released 1/13/15. It has already been endorsed by notables such as Marshall Goldsmith, Sean Covey, and Doug Parker, CEO of American Airlines. This book shines the light on late in life reinvention and encore ‘second half’s’ of diverse individuals. The individuals are in some cases widely known and others are somewhat  anonymous to the mass public. The common thread is their ‘post-50’ resurgence in life and in some cases their ‘fork in the road’ is quite serendipitous. Kristin’s third book, a sequel to ‘Is This Seat Taken?’ will follow later in 2015. Kristin is on Twitter as @kristinkaufman.

Where Do You Start When You Begin With a Blank Page?

Posted on December 2nd, by Rowena Morais in On My Mind. 1 Comment

Simply, you start at the top and you go from there. One word at a time, which  then forms a sentence, which then forms a paragraph and before you know it, a whole page indeed.

What has this got to do with you and HR? A lot.


Consider this. You do have a blank page.


There’s the corporate vision of your company that you have been made aware of. There are the goals and aspirations of your team, whether they have made that known to the other teams, or kept it quiet. There’s the individual goals and dreams of each one of your colleagues, both your downliners and your leaders. And there’s you.

And you can start by being guided by everything that is out there.


But it would be so much better …

… for you to start, with what is within you;

… for you to not draw within the lines but to create the outline yourself first;

… to start with your vision and see how you can meld that with the vision of the organisation you are with;

… for you to start with what matters to you.


Because the truth is that what matters to you, does matter. And no one can tell you otherwise. They simply cannot push and prod and try to create visions, frameworks and models of how things should be, without it crashing into your own ideas of what these visions, frameworks and models should be.

So, to start with your own is to establish where you come from and to where you must go.


And how do you start?


Start with a dream. Start with an empty page on which you carefully lay your dream. Start with an unfettered dream as dreams that are shackled by limitations, placed by you or anyone else, simply will not do.

Let yourself wander around, go beyond and explore.

Consider what possibilities might be… and see what might happen as a result.

You are here to lead, you are here to inspire, you are also here to heal, to mend, to make anew.

To do so, you need to have the capacity to see things from a new perspective and to see possibilities where others see none.

To do so, you need vision and hope, you need a plan and you need to execute. No one said it would be easy. But easy is not the point, is it?

So, if you’re at the beginning, it’s exciting, hopeful and risky all in one.

And if you are in the middle, there’s always a chance to start at the beginning again. You need only think of the possibilities to make that happen.

How can a blank page scare you? How can a new job, new opportunities scare you? In so far as you see the limits and challenges far more than the possibilities of what may be.

So, what are you starting now? Where will you go from here?


Photo Credit

Rowena Morais is the Editor of HR Matters  Magazine, a quarterly print publication aimed at Human Resource  professionals.  She is also the co-founder and Programme Director at Flipside, a business services company with offices in Malaysia and Singapore, providing professional  certification training. Here, she provides strategic direction as well as  oversight on client training and corporate functional  areas. Rowena blogs about developing habits, execution, growth and personal  development. She lives in Kuala Lumpur with her husband, two  young kids and now, a newborn. Connect with Rowena at editor@hr-matters.info.

Women Can’t Do Anything Right! #BULLSHIT

Posted on November 20th, by Donna Rogers, SPHR in On My Mind. 2 comments

Women Can't Do Anything Right!

This sentiment is a belief I grew up with and entered the workplace with fully controlling my life. Of course, as a brand new college graduate entering the workforce I had no idea of its power and influence over me. I could not pinpoint nor did I know to look for such a belief that truly was debilitating at times and, if allowed, could have limiting affects on ones career success. All of that did not even show up on my radar until I was well into my career and actually quite successful. Little did I know it actually acted as a driver because I wanted nothing more to prove it was wrong.

As the first to graduate high school and college in my immediate family, I was an independent, semi-confident, hard working young lady that saw no boundaries. I looked at life as a challenge and had no doubts that anything or anyone would ever get in my way. So how can such a person have such a belief deeply embedded in her personality? Sometimes your deepest fear is your biggest motivator, but there are people who could have lived a very different life. Those are the people who let such beliefs eat away at them and affect their job performance as well as their personal and professional relationships. I was a lucky one. Well not really, because I have constantly had to work against that belief with positive self-talk. My professional career success has helped me have balance in my life when the rest of my life was falling apart.

I did not realize  this belief even existed until I was around 30 years old and I attended a multi-week self-help seminar (supposedly a management development program) with my boss and my boss's boss.  Odd combination of classmates when your deepest-darkest fears are allowed to come out and play. And play is what that belief has done for the remaining years of my life. Although, now that I am aware I have more control and can limit its affect on my life. Admittedly, I have definitely lost control on multiple occasions but the time frames are shorter and the relationships I have are deeper. So luckily forgiveness has been my savior. Not just my own about myself but also those I have hurt or reacted negatively toward because of my internal defense mechanisms. You know the whining voice in your head that says " I am WOMAN and I can do this right, I dare you to think or say anything that deny's that truth." When it affects my relationships I can more quickly put a halt to it and apologize versus blame the other person like I use to do more often. If my friends are reading this you may bring to mind certain interactions and say to yourself "Oh, that's why she went crazy that time". LOL!?

You see, my belief stemmed from childhood as I continuously overheard comments related to my biological mother, step-mother, and my fathers now widow.  The comments were not positive (almost never) and the words in this title were used quite often. Women drivers, co-workers in the office, and other family members of the same gender were also often ridiculed as well as both of the grandmother's I knew as a child.

The ridicule was not always in person. Often it was behind their back but certainly close enough and loud enough for young ears to hear and internalize. As you can imagine, more directly, "I" could never do anything right. I could not pick up the yard, make dinner, clean the house, care for my brothers, etc. "right"! (i.e. correctly). Not that I was a child or anything and should have been focused on school work and having friends (said sarcastically). You see, I started taking care of such things above that had previously been known as "woman's work" when I was just 12 years old. It continued through my 20th year when I moved out on a whim because I was so fed up with the lack of positive recognition for all that I was actually doing right. If I heard one more negative comment about me or any women, well who knows what I might have said or done.

Things like earning good grades, being a positive influence on my younger siblings, working outside the home to earn my own way through college, keeping the house, cooking dinner every night, answering the phone, etc. Growing up with so much negativity is bound to put a damper on ones personality and interactions at work as well as at home. We all know one heavily influences the other.

Long story short...my priority all during my teens was my family. If my predecessors could not do any of those chores right, I likely was set up for failure from the very start.   How many of us, as managers, hire people into a position without the skills to successfully do the job? How many co-workers, managers, friends, family do you know that are bright, successful and most of the time fun to be around, who have a defense as long as a football field? Have you ever wondered why? Have you ever shown empathy to that person? Have you tried not to judge them?  Will you forgive them?

Why do I share all this? Because, one should

-never judge a book by its cover
-always give a person the benefit of the doubt
-be understanding, be real, be authentic, be present, and above all be yourself
-realize perception is not always reality, and communication received is not always the intent
-get to know people as humans
-believe no one is ever perfect, not even yourself

In my humble opinion, the workplace needs to create an environment where employees can be real as long as they are respectful. They should develop managers who have potential even if they have flaws. Give an employee a chance to redeem themselves . Help them figure out what those flaws are and give them the tools to put them to work in a positive way that can help then make a difference for those around them.

No one is perfect, so as long as they are not in denial they can work it out. If you too are a victim of this horrible sentiment, please realize it can only be true if you let it. AND if it's coming out of someone else's mouth who is attempting to make you believe it, SHOUT OUT: #BULLSHIT -- walk away and never look back!


Photo Credit

About the Author: Donna Rogers, SPHR aka @HRWarrior. Donna is a full time Instructor at University of Illinois at Springfield, owner of Rogers HR Consulting and the immediate past Director of the Illinois State Council of SHRM. She has over 20 years in the HR field and currently teaches Human Resources Management, Organizational Behavior, Organizational Development, and Strategic HR Management. She practices what she teaches for almost 100 clients in the central Illinois area.

Happiness vs. Complacency – #NYSHRM14

Posted on October 1st, by Jennifer Payne in On My Mind, SHRM Chapters and Conferences. 2 comments


“If you limit yourself to what’s comfortable, you deny yourself what’s possible.”


This week I’m at the 2014 New York State SHRM Conference in my hometown of Buffalo.  At the time I’m writing this, we’re about three quarters of the way through the conference and have seen four of the five keynote speakers.  As you’d expect, and as is typical of conferences such as these, the keynote speakers had numerous what we would call “tweetable moments” – tidbits of information that translate very easily into 140 or less character tweets.  These are typically key ideas and calls to action, and if you search the #NYSHRM14 hashtag you’ll see many of them.  But amid all of the ideas shared by the speakers, I keep coming back to the one above.  This particular nugget came from Sunday night’s keynote Dan Thurmon, who entertained the crowd with his juggling and unicycling skills while encouraging us to live life “Off Balance on Purpose.”


I think this idea resonates so much with me because it’s something that is so easy to forget.  We get comfortable.  We tell ourselves that this comfort equals happiness.  But does it?  Is it happiness, or is it complacency?  I was reminded of Robin Roberts in her keynote at SHRM National this year, when she encouraged attendees to be thankful and grateful for what we have, but never, ever get content; always ask yourself if you’re ready for something more, something bigger.


The danger when we get complacent is that we stop challenging ourselves.  We convince ourselves it’s good enough.  It’s easy.  It’s routine.  We’re happy.  Right?  Right??  Or are we really just complacent?


In our personal and professional lives, in the midst of the frenetic pace many of us maintain, sometimes it’s just easier to be content with where we are.  Life’s pace can get tiring, and it becomes easy to say we don’t have the energy to push ourselves further.  It’s too much effort.  And besides, we’re happy.  We have the right balance.  But as Dan Thurmon reminded us, there is no such thing as sustainable perfect balance…and even if there was, it would get boring fast.


Are we happy? Is the illusion of balance really making us happy?  Or again, is it simply complacency?


When we’re complacent, we stop learning, we stop growing… we stop bettering ourselves, our lives, our companies, our personal situations.


Are we actually ready for more?  Do we deserve better?


Tuesday morning’s keynote Mark Murphy, author of “Hundred Percenters” aligned with this message by reminding us that “no great accomplishment happens within our comfort zone.” Great accomplishments are hard, require learning something new, and require pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone.  We can’t accomplish anything worthwhile without effort, without pushing outside what we know and what we’re comfortable with, without stepping into a little uncertainty.  I think that goes for each of us in both our personal and professional lives.  Keynote speaker Jennifer McClure shared with us a personal story about how and why should “step out” – to face fears, uncertainty, and even naysayers and just go for it; to believe in ourselves and take risks to strive for bigger and better things.


Stepping out can be scary….but I think it’s worth it.


So I ask you, what are you ready to do? What are you going to change?  What are you going to stop just accepting?  As HR professionals.  As business people.  As humans.


How are you going to embrace possibility?


Photo Credit

About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR has over 16 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent management in the retail grocery industry.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.