Tag: success

Truth In Advertising

Posted on August 30th, by Joan Axelrod in On My Mind, Personal & Professional Effectiveness. No Comments

In most instances people and situations present themselves at face value. We however ignore the signs. We see what we choose to see. Painting the scene with our biases, expectations, experiences, hopes, dreams and yes fears.  After all why not, we want what we want. Our wills are strong. Why let a little thing like reality cloud our persistence? Wouldn’t it be great if people and situations came with warning labels? Narcissistic however funny, introverted nonetheless brilliant, insecure practices sarcasm to cover?

This job will offer great growth opportunity: if you are able to leap small buildings in a single bound, navigate through layers of corporate culture, and be willing to relocate to Peru.

We read the warning labels, see the signs, squint through the fine print, yet we barrel through.  Our thought process; this time will be different. I will make it different.  I have the magic bullet.  Even more tragic, if I hang in there long enough things will change.

News Flash, they won’t. 

So what is one to do?  How do you learn to read the signs and see the red flashing light from the runway? Learn to be on the alert, not put on the blinders, or look the other way.  Here are my tips for reading between the lines to get to fine print:


Reality Check

Open your eyes. Let in the sunlight.  Smell the coffee.  Take a look around you.  Ask yourself what is really going on here?  Who are you surrounded by? How do you spend your days? Nights? Weekends?  Does your current career make you want to jump out of bed in the morning? Does it make you want to hit the snooze alarm? Are you truly happy?  Is this the life that G-D has intended for you?

Then ask yourself the following question:

What happens when you stop hitting your head against the wall?

Answer: It stops hurting


Red Flags/Warning Detonators

What gets your goat? Makes your hair stand up on end? Are like nails on a chalk board?  Are you aware of whom or what pushes your buttons? Do you have insight into whom or what installed them?  What kind of people and situations make you want to pitch your tent? Conversely, which makes you want to cut and run?

These insights can be so freeing! A roadmap to your psyche. The lyrics to your personal dance of intimacy.  This knowledge can be your liberator or your jailer. Either dooming you to repeat your fate, or educating you to freedom and positive choice.  Foot on the pedal or foot on the brake, inevitably the road will be long.  Right road or wrong? Straight road or curved?  I do predict some bumps, potholes, forks and ditches.  That’s when the roadmap and insights become so invaluable. Your ladder back to safer ground.

What is real and what is perceived? Your reality?  Their reality? The truth?



Limiting Beliefs, Fears & Inner Critics

I’m too old to go back to school.  No one is ever going to love me.  I am never going to make it to the C- suite.  Fill in the Blank!

Today is the day to rise up and fight back. Set up an erase and destroy mission. Slash old tapes mascarading as fears.  Talk back to your Self Criticism. Knock out the Inner Critics that haunt us all. I have been introduced to a myriad of Inner Critics in my coaching practice. A menacing and meddling bunch at that. I have personally exorcised, befriended and ultimately locked my own in the closet just to publish this and subsequent blogs. I GET IT!

Truth is you are not terminally unique. We all need to fight past fears to become our authentic selves,  and dare to be vulnerable.


Authenticity/Imposter Syndrome

I love the song Come As You Are.  Wouldn’t it be cool if we could cut to the chase, rip off the mask, wrestle our Inner Critics, mow down the Nay Sayers, and show up as our Authentic Self right from the start?  Ultimately that’s who is going to stay for the long haul.  Nonetheless, we brush on the war paint, suit ourselves up, strap on the armor and hide our true identity away from the world.  We fear that if people truly get to know us that they might not feel the same way.

At work they call it the Imposter Syndrome.  We claim our hard earned position and rightful seat at the table only to be riddled with fear.  What if our colleagues find out that we are a fraud?

It helps to remember that even superheroes have their strengths and weaknesses.  That is what makes them so intriguing.


Don’t Just Listen, Hear

When I do a communication workshop I start with this quote:

“The biggest communication problem is that we do not listen to understand, we listen to reply”, Unknown

Pretty powerful stuff!  Further, I impart my favorite communication tip, “Listen More, Talk Less”.  If I ended my workshop here my audience would have all they need to size up any situation, not to mention ascertain the essence of any individual.  G-d gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason!  Truth is we get enough intel and gut feelings to size up a person and situation in the first meeting. What we do with that intuition is in question here.


Preferences, Deal Breakers & Would Be Nice

You can’t always get what you want, but if you try, sometimes you get what you need.

What if we took the time to identify what we did and did not want in advance? Could we get closer? Imagine if we each created a list of the things we ultimately could not live without. Our must haves. Our core values.  Our essence. What makes us tick? Bingo!  This can work for relationships, jobs, homes, quite frankly anything.

What are your deal breakers? They are different for us all. What compromises will be too deep? What will cause you to break not bend? What is beyond your capacity to look the other way? Keep this list close to your heart because compromise here will bite you in the back later.

My personal favorites are the would be nices! These are the bargaining chips.  The icing on the cake.  Here you have enough of your wants in place. You are not compromising your deal breakers away. Hoorah, you get to add a few would be nices to sweeten the pot!

Pretty cool system. One must however keep in mind that life is an evolution.  This is the ultimate balancing act. We are all a work in progress. As we grow our list and the lists around us will shift as well.


Setting Boundaries

So we are where we are, and we are with who we are with, now what? Set boundaries.  These are the rules of engagement. A game book of what you will and will not allow.   Only you know what is truly off base.  What will be the final straw? Remember, what sends one person packing is different from the next. What gets one person voted off the island would not even raise an eyebrow for the next.  How do you set boundaries, you ask?

This used to be nearly impossible for me, but with practice it can be achieved.  In the beginning it was like a scary game of tag, only the stakes were much higher.  I would run in, say my piece, close my eyes, hold my breath, hope the world would not crumble around me, and then run out!  I would say, “This is how it isThis is how it is going to be. This is how I am going to show upThis is what I am willing to accept. Either you are going to accept me and this, or not. No one is going to die. (I cannot take credit for the last line!)

In the beginning setting boundaries did feel like death; nevertheless, no one died.  Some people accepted my boundaries, some people did not.  Some people stayed some people went. EVERYONE respected me more.


Time Test

One of my favorite songs as a teenager was Should I Stay Or Should I Go.  It should have been, Time Is On Your Side.  Now, I no longer look at life in absolutes.  People and situations as good or bad.  Right or wrong. Perfect or flawed. (I look at life from Both Sides Now.)  I have given myself the gift of imperfection, and I allow others and situations the same courtesy.

My coach gave me the greatest gift, the concept of AndSometimes we are just not ready to pull the trigger.  We might not have all the facts. The bandwidth, strength and gumption. The means to make a truly educated decision.  If that is the case you just may need to live in a grey area for a bit longer.  All of the pieces will fall into place, eventually.

It is helpful to remember that choices do not always boil down to Either, Or, sometimes life offers you a third choice, the And.  A middle ground, a time out, an experimental period, a compromise.  It is important to consider what appears life shattering now, might not be all consuming six months down the line.


Compromise, not Cave

There is compromise and there is being taken advantage of. Some folks have a higher pain threshold than others. Many give more than they get. I know this first hand for I am one of them.

One of my core values is to be “of service”. I was taught by my father at a very early age to give of myself, be charitable and not really worry if it is reciprocated. You will get your gifts later.

He could not have been more correct.  I have lived my life by this rule.  Volunteering and mentoring.  Leading my organization emphasizing service and personal growth. Supporting, nurturing and caring for my family and inner circle beyond measure.  I now have my clients to add to the queue.

I love to give.  I know I am appreciated. Anyone taking advantage, well, that’s on them.  My gift is seeing people happy, growing and moving in a positive direction. That’s why I love what I do.


Conscience Connections:

My New Year’s resolution was to make Conscious Connections.

I am a connector at heart and the consummate Networker.  THIS IS GOOD THING! Yet here we are talking about connecting at a deeper level. Conscious Connections are the holy grail of connection. They are about trusting our gut instincts to find our Tribe.

Here we put on our mining hats and tunnel past the red flags. We dig deep, and dare to be vulnerable. We get naked, remove our armor, and peel back the layers of our soul. We will finally find the perfect home. Safely we can unpack our steamer trunks, yet they will dare to stay. I’ll show you mine if you show me yours. I will pick you up when you fall. You will do the same.  I will not care who you are, where you come from or what you do. Nor will you.  Time will stand still when we speak and are together. Laughter will come in waves and tears can flow freely.

When you find this rare breed dear reader, rejoice.  Nurture, fight for and handle with care. For as hard as they are to seek, is as easy as they are to squander.


Rocking Chair Test

My niece was taught in kindergarten, “You Get What You Get and You Don’t Get Upset”.  I think that is utter nonsense and that teacher should be fired!  We all have control of our destiny.

We have the free will to choose the people and situations that appear in our lives. Conversely, we have the power to leave the ones that no longer serve us.  So what is the litmus test for sorting fact from fiction? Will from reality? Opportunity from Illusion?  I use the Rocking Chair Test.

I imagine myself at the end of my days. None of the day to day nonsense created through work, relationships, and difficult choices will matter any longer.  As I sit in my Rocking Chair all I will have are days stretched out in front of me. Time will be like a warm blanket safely covering me, so I can slowly and carefully contemplate my life’s choices.   I will ask myself; do I want you next to me?  Will we have brought each other happiness? Have we become better people having knowing each other?   Will this situation have a positive impact on me? Did it add meaning to my life and the lives around me? How did it serve? Did it make the world a better place?

Your answers to these questions are The Truth in Advertising and The Fine Print all wrapped up in one.

Think hard my friend, consider carefully, and then carry on.


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, specializing in personal growth, organizational development, career coaching, leadership development, managing transitions, executive presence, personal branding, personal empowerment, life balance, organization and productivity.

Disciplined Work, Lifelong Learning and Tikkun Olam {HR Leader Series}

Posted on August 24th, by Rowena Morais in Career Advice, Leadership, Personal & Professional Effectiveness. No Comments

Editor’s Note: Women of HR contributor Rowena Morais will be writing a series of posts over the coming months featuring successful HR leaders who talk about the habits made the biggest impact in their professional lives.  Today’s post is the first in that series.


Self-described kibitzer on all things enterprise HRM and HR technology, Naomi Bloom is well-known for having built the only vendor-neutral HRM domain model and application architecture “starter kits”. Her IP has been licensed across the industry from 1995 through 2013 and has been considered a primary contributor to many of today’s best practices in HRM enterprise software.  Her early start was as a Programmer at John Hancock Life Insurance in the 1960’s where she was trained in programming, software design and systems analysis.

I got in touch with Naomi to talk about the habits that led to her success because the research I had done indicated that she was renowned in the HR technology industry. With more than 17,000 Twitter followers, Naomi is a frequent speaker at HR conferences and the author of Human Resource Management and Information Technology : Achieving a Strategic Partnership.  Her industry contributions have been recognised with the IHRIM’s Summit Award and in 2011, and Naomi became a Fellow of  the Human Resource Policy Institute at Boston University.  Naomi’s BA is from the University of Pennsylvania, with a major in English Literature and a minor in natural science.  Her MBA is from Boston University.

In discussing the most powerful habits that Naomi has relied on, in running her solo practice over the last two decades, it was clear that the experience of her early years was impactful. She found the questions on habits particularly useful because it is important to see the distinction between habits and KSAOCs (Knowledge, Skills, Abilities and other Characteristics) – they are not the same thing.


Habit #1 – Disciplined work

The first habit Naomi drew reference to was her habit of disciplined work.

Her mother passed away when Naomi was young. However, she was surrounded by three generations of family and her grandmother proved to be a big influence on her.

“This early life taught me about the value of hard work, living up to commitments and about sticking to a schedule. I am smart but I’m not a genius. If you add good work habits to your normal habits though, this becomes a force magnifier,” she shared.


Habit #2 – Critical thinking  and lifelong learning

 This second habit is an interesting one for the fact that it’s a two part combo. It’s a challenge in itself to develop the mastery associated with thinking critically, let alone the dedication or quest for lifelong learning.

As Naomi puts it, “Lifelong learning is really about a commitment to always be vesting yourself in your skills and your knowledge.”

To never stop learning is a skill that may take a lifetime to develop and certainly, one that needs to be worked on with dedication, ambition and relentless energy.

Combined, this would mean being on the lookout to gain alternative points of view and  teaching yourself all kinds of new things. But where it all comes together is when you apply critical thinking to that whole process.


Habit #3 – Tikkun Olam

 Tikkum Olam is a Jewish concept which literally means “repair of the world” and is being interpreted by modern movements in Judaism as a commandment for people to behave and act constructively and beneficially.

Naomi explained it as representing a moral obligation, in every Jew, to leave the world a better place than they found it.

Overwhelming as it sounds, this may be achievable by ordinary folk because you are expected to do what you can.  You can do this by raising your child properly, by embarking on a recycling initiative or even doing volunteer work.  It would mean that if you had a dollar, you would give part of it away. If you could teach, you would devote some of your time to teaching someone else.


These were the three primary habits that Naomi referred to.


Were these habits consciously developed from when she was young?  She did not think so. Naomi was greatly influenced by the adults around her as she grew. Her father was an early riser – he worked hard and for long hours which meant Naomi did not get to see very much of him. She spent a lot of time with her grandmother, who being religious, imparted strong values  in her.

 It did not mean, however, that everything she was taught, was accepted so easily. There were things Naomi resisted.

For example, coming from a modest family, Naomi grew up at a time when there was a lot of anti-semitism in the air – you learned not to call too much attention to yourself.

Yet, Naomi couldn’t help crying out against the injustices she saw. As she put it, “I didn’t know it when I was a young kid but I realised in my late 20’s that I was a feminist from my earliest days. I rallied against the discrimination I saw; I just called it out”.

She almost got fired for asking too many questions, when early in her career, she discovered that men received more pay for the same work. She protested the Vietnam war, much to the chagrin of her family.  But the point Naomi made about all of this is that you are in charge of and responsible for your own life.

You get to a point in your life when you realise that you cannot blame your parents for where you are in life. You get to a point where you begin to accomplish things and – happily – you give yourself credit for that.

The habits you choose however – because it is a choice – are what will set you apart. And while Naomi considers herself fortunate for having picked up some really good habits along the way, you and I both know, these were choices she made for herself that have led her to where she is today.

What habits do you aspire to build that you believe will make the difference in your life?



Connect with Naomi Bloom on LinkedIn or Twitter

Read Naomi’s blog, In Full Bloom in particular, Reflections on a Long Career – a four part series of posts.


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.


I Need To Hire An HR Manager – Get Me Anyone!

Posted on July 5th, by Jacqueline Clay in The Funny Side of HR. 3 comments

Hi, it’s an HR Woman of a Certain Age again giving you my perspective on issues relating to the HR profession, with a tinge of humor.


Over the years, HR has changed for the better in some aspects and stayed the same in others.  There are so many areas that as an HR professional with over 20 years (actually 30…but who’s counting), in the business, I have seen experienced, expertise-laden, Human Resources leaders gain stronger credibility, professional strength and organizational influence. Many of us are seen as impactful, strategic business partners who are critical to the executive management of the organization as a whole.  However, this is not routinely the case and as such, I have a bone to pick.  Yes, I found a bone with quite a bit of meat on it that requires picking.


Let me start the “pick” by saying that HR Management is a PROFESSION.  It is not  something that is just done.  It is on the same caliber as other professionals who have undergone specialized training and gained experience in their fields of choice.  We have our own societies, professional groups and certifications that help keep us engaged, entwined, enlightened, envisioned and enveloped in the many facets of the field.  As professionals, we trudge through the labyrinths of the organizational halls providing the expertise necessary to carry out the business of human resources management in a manner that adds value, legitimacy and strategic acumen to the entire organization. We are able to do this because we have gained the education, training, experience and specialized knowledge required for our profession.  We didn’t just fall off the HR truck (similar to idiom “falling off turnip truck”) and begin our practice.


My question then becomes, why do companies feel that we are interchangeable with other professions or just general people lacking any knowledge or experience in the profession?   Would a company hire an accountant to handle their legal work?  What about a marketer to head up the legal department?  Would a company put someone who has no experience in business at all as their CEO?  No.  However, many companies feel it is fair, just and okay to put anyone who can barely conduct an interview as the leader of the Human Resources Department.


In my experience (vast as it has become), I have encountered situations where the head of human resources was someone who had no….count it….no experience, training or education in the field.  Not only did they lack the prerequisite knowledge of regulatory requirements or best practices in people management, they had no expertise in basic HR acumen.  However, this individual was given the power to conduct critical interviews, handle employee relations issues, develop organizational policy, engage in conflict management matters, etc.   Yes, it was horribly, haphazardly and in many instances that I witnessed (or was intimately involved in), illegally carried out.


Unfortunately, some (hopefully not many organizations) consider HR as a “throwaway” part of the business and anyone with a smile, the employee handbook and willingness to do the job is considered fit to handle the intricate, delicate and legally sensitive business of running their human resources department.   Organizations such as this are therefore, in many instances, infected with litigation and poor morale and riddled with distrust of management and employee lack of respect for the organization as a whole. The business leaders then scratch their cumulative heads in wonder.  Why is this happening to us?  I say, check out who you have running your HR Department and what role you allow them to play in the people management of the organization as a whole.  Do they have prior experience as a strong HR leader?   Are they fair, just and objective?  Do you allow them to be?  Do they have the expertise necessary to be a strategic partner that can offer insight in people management areas of potential organizational liability and exposure?  Can they provide you current best practice options?  Do they even know what “best practices” are?  Most importantly, do you provide them the opportunity to express and implement “best practices”, i.e., are they an integral part of your executive management team?


Business leaders, do not fool yourselves.  HR is a profession just like accounting, marketing, legal, etc.  If you want HR….get a true HR professional and not a poor facsimile.


Note:  no names were mentioned to protect the guilty!



About the Author: Jacqueline Clay is a freelance HR business consultant working with small and midsize organizations to assist them in meeting the challenging responsibilities associated with the full realm of HR management.  With  over 20 years leadership experience in all aspects of the HR business, she has helped organizations in a myriad of areas, including  on boarding, labor/employee relations, policy and procedure development, organizational effectiveness, coaching and training.  She holds a BA in Psychology from Fordham University.









When to Say “No”

Posted on June 9th, by a Guest Contributor in Career Advice, Personal & Professional Development. No Comments

Whether you’re just starting out in your career or whether you’re well into it, it’s important to take on new opportunities. Joining a task force, working on a cross-departmental project, taking on a group presentation to a new client . . . things like that give you a chance to find out what you like and what you’re good at. Taking on such projects tests your will and your fortitude, especially those projects that are likely to stretch beyond the usual forty- or fifty-hour workweek.

The key is to take on projects that you know you can complete. You need to feel confident that you can deliver. You don’t want to be the one who volunteers and then doesn’t carry her own weight. Whatever you take on, you have to follow through. You have to push yourself to do it, even if it means you might have to sacrifice your personal time as your work week extends to seventy or eighty hours for a certain period of time. The last thing you want is to sign up for an extra project and then be the one who always leaves early or never shows up. You don’t want to be the one who makes a lot of promises but never delivers. You don’t want to be that person.

Opportunities and risk go hand in hand, and saying “yes” to opportunity means you’re taking on some risk. Saying “no” also can be risky, even when it’s the right thing to do.

Sometimes you don’t have the luxury of volunteering for extra work. Your boss volunteers you instead, saddling you with a project or a presentation that you have little time for. Some of these projects might not be to your liking, or they might not provide you with the kind of visibility that will put you in line for a promotion. Sometimes you just know that there’s no way you can take on another project and give it your all.

So what do you do when you know the right thing is to say “no”?

The key here is to decline politely without actually saying “no.” One way to do this is to say something like, “This sounds like a great project, and I’d be happy to help. I’m working on Project X, Y, and Z right now, and so I could take this on early next month. Would that work for you?” or something like, “I’d love to work on this. Do you see this as a priority over Project A, which is due at the end of the week?” Responses like this let your boss know that you’re both enthusiastic and willing while at the same time prompting him to consider your workload and how much time you could reasonably dedicate to the project and still get the job done.

Saying “no” can be uncomfortable, but it’s often necessary. Only you know how much you can really handle. While you don’t want to be afraid to push yourself, it’s important to know when to say enough is enough—just so long as you say it in a way that keeps your good reputation intact.

About the Author: Jena Abernathy is a nationally recognized leader in human capital management, performance excellence, and organizational development. A sought-after speaker, she is a passionate advocate for women in executive and governing board roles. She has written for and been featured in a wide variety of media, including CNN, the Financial Times, CBS Money Watch, FOX Business, and the Miami Herald.  You can connect with Jena on Twitter or at www.jenaabernathy.com.

Not My Circus

Posted on May 26th, by Joan Axelrod in On My Mind, Personal & Professional Effectiveness. 2 comments


When you take off on a flight, the attendant always says the same thing: “In case of an emergency put your oxygen mask on first before helping the people around you.” This includes the ones you love!

As a road warrior I know this mantra better than anyone.  I heard these words every Monday morning for 17 years! It was the theme song of my undoing and then the melody of my road back home.

This, my friend, is the single best piece of advice in my tool chest of tricks. We all know I have a treasure trove of good advice, cautionary tales, analogies and tricks up my sleeve.  This one should not be ignored!

Recently, one of my favorite members of my Personal Board passed through town.  At an impromptu mini board gathering over fish tacos and red wine, she reminded me of another important saying, “Not my circus, not my monkeys!”

Wow, how powerful and freeing is that statement?  How thought provoking.

“Save yourself first” so you can save the folks around you. Further, “If it is not your circus and not your monkeys” where do your responsibilities start and where do they end? What is yours and what is theirs? What is helping and what is enabling? What is teaching and what is providing answers? Listening and lecturing? Loving and smoothing?

As a parent of grown children, letting go is a tippy ship at best.  Mission accomplished, although I type through tears, as my son officially graduates and moves the last box of clothing and mementos to Philadelphia next month to start his new career. Nevertheless, isn’t that the point?  If you do it right they should leave the nest! My son put his oxygen mask on first! He found his own circus and his own monkeys! Painful as his parting is, I couldn’t be prouder.  The coolest part is that we are going to meet every other week in the middle for a meal (once a foodie always a foodie). I will say that again. WE WILL MEET IN THE MIDDLE! (Hold that thought)

So if we are to put our “Oxygen mask on first,” and if it is  “Their circus and their monkeys” how are we to continue to show up for our family, friends, colleagues, society and the world in a caring and meaningful way while still retaining our boundaries?  After all, isn’t showing up fully truly the only way we can make an impact? How then will we still help the ones we love and be of service?

Here is my list of tips for putting on your oxygen mask first so you can show up for those around you while continuing to take care of yourself.


We are all a work in progress

Never stop growing, learning, evolving, exploring, asking, stretching, reading, expanding, scaring yourself, stepping out of your comfort zone! Repeat!

I am a life learner! I say that I am done getting certifications and degrees.  We all know I am lying. I will never stop learning!  I will never stop reading, taking courses and stepping out of my comfort zone.  I will never stop reinventing myself! We live, we learn, we grow and should repeat this process again and again and again!  Pay it forward by sharing your knowledge.


Be Your Personal Best

Whatever your aspiration, strive to be the best in class.  How do you achieve this? Simple, roll up your sleeves and put in the work!  Do the research. Do your homework. Network, Network, Network (even when you are exhausted). Stretch further than comfortable. Show up fully. Frankly, when you think you have done your best work possible, take one more pass through.  In conjunction, have no expectations of others. You won’t need to, you will be too busy leading by example.


Take Care of Yourself

I never end a coaching session without inquiring about my clients’ self-care rituals.  Why? Because at the heart of our work together, no matter what the topic, we can accomplish nothing if we are not taking care of ourselves.

It is the same reason that I watch everything I put in my mouth. Eat organic if possible (even when traveling).  Try desperately to get a good night sleep each night, and exercise regularly. I have dragged my yoga mat with me on every trip I have taken for all 17 years of business travel (oh the places we have seen!).  It took my limo driver until last year to figure out that I was not a heavy breather and I was meditating on the way to the airport!

Create a healthy routine and stick to it. A healthy life style will lead to productivity. You will become influential, productivity is sticky!


Listen More, Talk Less:

Don’t let the noise cancelling headphones, pile of work, the fact that I am typing, have my eyes closed, am facing the other way, or that I am actually sleeping dissuade you.  If I am in your presence (whether I know you or not) you will talk to me and I will listen. You will tell me things you have never told anyone, and I WILL KEEP YOUR CONFIDENCE.  I will give you advice, I WILL NEVER JUDGE.  Trust me I know things I could have gone my whole life without knowing, but rest assured when you utter the last word it is already forgotten.

When I go on vacation with my family I am instructed not to look up or make eye contact with anyone! (After all, it is their time).  All kidding aside this is the best gift you can give someone, empathy and understanding. A safe place to unload, and then let them go on their contemplative way to figure it out.


Energy Zappers/Energy Fillers:

Get in touch with the people, places, and trying that are sapping your energy and GET RID OFF THEM!  Okay, so this is not always practical. If it was, I for one would spend my days reading, doing yoga, cooking, gardening, hiking, mountain biking, eating at great restaurants and watching old movies.

We are all intimately in touch with what brings us stress; however, are you aware that there is a positive counter balance?

I am also a bit of a math geek, and a strong believer in that “What gets measured gets done.”  In fact if I was to get a tattoo (which I won’t kids, so you can’t) it would have that phrase.  As a result, I have invented the “Balancing Act” equation. (AP to follow)

How does it work? Make a list of everything that brings you stress and give it a numerical value. Then, come up with a list of energy fillers and do the same until you reach equilibrium!  I challenge you to balance your act! Leave others to do the same.


Speak Your Mind.  Don’t over communicate:

No one likes a nag and overstating the same point over and over and over again does not make it so.


Definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over again expecting different results.  This came up two blogs in a row for a reason!  Don’t hold back. Say it once. Hope you are heard. Move on.


Come As You Are

You cannot change anyone but yourself and you should not want to.  It is your responsibility to continue to grow and evolve, and it everyone else’s responsibility to do the same.  You should always strive to be your personal best and hope that the people around you continue to do the same.  At the end of the day you must accept people for where they are regardless of the level.  That is their choice.  Do not let it deter you from continuing to grow. I repeat, do not let it deter you from continuing to grow. Lead by example.


Drop the Mad

This is one of my personal favorites; however, be cautioned it does not always work! Nothing was ever accomplished through screaming, yelling and or trying to solve the world’s problems in one sitting.  Sometimes you just have to take a break from it all and have some fun.  If you can put together some peaceful connected moments you can get back to figuring out the world’s problems through a clearer lens.


Take Breaks

Step out of the drama! Get out of the ring! Take yourself out of the line of fire! Do it for an hour. Do for a day. Do it for a week. Do it for any amount of time necessary and practical so that you can clear your head and think.  Take as much alone time and thinking time required to make the decisions and put the actions in place that are right for you.  After all this is yours, not theirs.


Empty Vessels/Projects:

Oh how I love a good project!  I get that from my Grandma Fanny.  She always took in strays, and I am very much the same.  I have a 12 foot farm table and none of the chairs match.  Neither do the people that often pass through for the home cooked meals on Sunday.  My family and I often reminisce and say, “I wonder what ever happened to so and so. I hope it all turned out well”.

I bring this up as a cautionary tale. It is a gift to give, but it can also be trap.  Always give and open yourself to others, but remember it is a two way street.


So, in conclusion, what is yours, theirs and ours anyway?

Another favorite saying of mine is really a question. What happens when you stop hitting your head against a wall?  Answer, it stops hurting.  What is yours and what is theirs anyway?  Truth is, it is all yours and it is all theirs.  It is our job to be our best, it is their job to strive to do the same. It is our job to take care of ourselves. It is definitely their job to do the same.  It is always our job to show up fully. To be kind, caring, helpful (when asked), resourceful and always, always show empathy. It is their job to clean up their side of the street and do the same. Perhaps in time we agree to meet in the middle? Perhaps we don’t?  In the end the universe will take care of the rest.

From Entrepreneur to Leader: 6 Tips For a Successful Transition

Posted on April 5th, by a Guest Contributor in Entrepreneurship, Leadership. No Comments

To be an entrepreneur requires a special spark, and the urge to follow your own star rather than hitching on to the wagon train that’s headed towards someone else’s idea of success.  As HR people, we’ve all seen entrepreneurs in action, maybe even picked up the pieces after them as they drive the business relentlessly onwards!   


Entrepreneurs bring focus, energy, charisma, and creativity. Part of their success comes from breaking the rules and thinking outside the box. That’s great for a solo operator because the only person who suffers when things go wrong is the entrepreneur themselves — they burn their fingers, say ‘ouch’, learn their lesson and move on to the next thing.  


But to grow a business of substance, the entrepreneur needs to figure out how to work with other people. She needs to harness others’ creativity and energy rather than just relying on her own. Becoming a business leader is a whole new ball game. Here are my six tips to help those HR entrepreneurs make the transition into a leadership role:


1. Visualize Where You & Your Business Will Be

Where do you visualize you and your business will be a year from now and ten years from now? Create a picture in your mind of your successful self, dominating your market and running an awesome business. Don’t let doubts about juggling home life or anything else come in here — this is your positive vision of success and nothing should mess with it!


2. Set Goals and Stick to Them

Set yourself long-term goals, including business goals, financial targets, and personal development points. Break them down into shorter term goals so you’re always working towards achieving them. While you might be taking care of all aspects of the business in the beginning, as your business grows that will change. Look at where you will need to delegate work.


3. Let Go of Your Ego

Yes, I said it. You needed one to get  you this far, but don’t let it get in the way now that you’re bringing other people on board. It’s your business and you love it, but believing that you’re the only one who can run it will simply lead to self-destruction.

To avoid burning out, you’ll need to be comfortable sharing the responsibility of running your business. Invest your time and energy in hiring great people and training them so that they will be able to take on some of the load.


4. Hire a Great Team

Write a list of all the things that need to be done to grow your business. Tick the ones you’re good at and the ones you want to keep doing and make those into your job. Then hire great people to fill the gaps.

When you hire people to go out and represent your business, make sure they share your vision and values so they’re credible ambassadors. If they’re providing services or advice under your brand, they need to do it your way.

You know the theory, now go put it into practice! Create a company culture that you love and find others who love it too, and success will follow.


5. Keep it Flexible

Be open to working with people in different ways to meet the needs of the business. Use contracts creatively to flex the size of your team, so you keep your core costs low and bring in the right people when you need them.

You need a good network, so get out and meet lots of contacts. When you’re exploring working together, be clear about how much you’ll pay, what work you expect them to do, and how they should manage any client relationships.

Offer your associates a cut of the client fee if they bring some business to you. If you create a big enough pool of associates, you’ll always be able to call in a specialist when a project comes up. Best of all, you don’t have to sweat at the end of the month with a huge pay bill and not enough clients.


6. Remember Your Roots

Whether your roots are in HR, or somewhere else, remember what it felt like to be noticed by the top guy for doing a good job. You don’t need to understand Motivation Theory or  employee engagement measures to know how good it feels when someone says thank you. Stay meaningfully connected all the way down through your team, so that you notice when people are doing a good job. Tell them personally that you’ve noticed.

About the Author: Sharon Crooks is an HR Consultant and an expert in training business people and leaders to communicate effectively with their employees. Sharon is the co-author of a new book HR for Small Business for Dummies, which provides valuable insights into how to run a small business.

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.

How Do I “Hook Them”?

Posted on February 2nd, by Kristin Kaufman in Business and Workplace, Personal & Professional Effectiveness. No Comments

How do I ‘hook them’ when interviewing, vying for a promotion, or closing ‘The deal’?

As many may know, ABC has a real hit on its hands with The Shark Tank! The stars are a ruthless, shrewd collection of diverse, self-made millionaires who judge, qualify, and either select or ‘de-select’ budding entrepreneurs for further investment. If you haven’t watched it, you will either love it or hate it. This show can teach us a lot…..whether we are selling a concept, a product, or ourselves….let’s face it: who isn’t in sales in one form or another?

I have several clients who are currently interviewing for a new position/promotion within their existing company or in some cases other positions outside their current employer. Many are seasoned veterans who have not had to formally interview in quite some time. How can they get noticed and stand out when so many of the individuals they are up against are equally qualified? This is an art – not a science – as we all know. Yet, there are a few easy tips to keep in mind:

  • The devil IS in the details. So, when you are presenting yourself or your idea – in person, electronically, or in hard copy format – be polished in every way. No typos. Prompt thank you notes and emails. Be on time. Be prepared. All the details we often let go by the wayside the higher we climb in the corporate chain, COUNT. I am here to tell you – these small details and nuances matter.
  • First impressions count. How are you showing up….do you look and act successful? Are you confident? Do you act confident? (Not with false bravado and arrogance….with authentic knowledge of who you are and security that what you have to offer is of value.) Are you respectful? Are you dressed appropriately? Are you calm, cool, and collected? Are you well-spoken? Do you look them in the eye – personally and sincerely?
  • Have a compelling value proposition. What are you selling – about you or your idea? Why and who cares? What makes you and this product/service different? Who is your competition – and how do you ‘trump’ them? What need are you filling? What desire are you squelching? Why you? Why now?
  • Stay curious and open. Interviews and sales calls are often not so much what you tell them about you – it is what you ASK that makes the difference. Go broad and deep…industry, company, culture, leadership, current challenges, etc. The questions show your thoughtfulness (or lack thereof), and this is a sign of maturity and executive thinking.
  • Pre-briefing calls and phone interviews are not casual get-to-know-you conversations. Treat every interaction like it is the real deal. Smile while talking (they can tell….even if over the phone). Keep the energy high – without being an “eager beaver.” Be prepared and professional.
  • Know your stuff…..particularly the facts, figures, and data. If you are selling your concept, idea, or product – how much money have you made so far, i.e. what is your revenue stream? How much profit comes from that top line revenue number? How are you getting your product to market? What is your price per item? What percentage of that is profit? How do you plan to scale? What do you see your greatest challenges to be at this stage- and what do you recommend to fix it?
  • Raw, controlled, passionate enthusiasm. Areyou real? Do you LOVE what you are doing? Do you LOVE the product/service/job you are representing? Do you believe your offering is the ‘bees knees’ and will knock their socks off…..really?!!  Do you engage your audience like real people….and possible consumers? Are you meeting them where THEY are (not where you are)…i.e.: are you engaging them like the decision makers they are? Are you bubbling over…..in a contained, professional way? (Remember: energy begets energy….and enthusiasm SELLS.) Are you happy to be there?
  • Finally,have your answer to the “So what?” question well engrained in your mind. In other words…Why YOU? It is not enough to share what you have done, where you have done it, etc. You need to be clear on what it is that you uniquely offer and the results you can bring to the table. Full stop. In preparing for your interview, ask yourself at the end of every question asked – did I make it clear what I uniquely offered and delivered? If the answer is “I’m not sure,” then start over and create sharp, crisp answers which leave your mark.These steps guarantee nothing.However, what I know for sure, is that if we don’t hit each of these steps with all we have; we will never make it to 2nd base…..much less make a home run. Sure, there are at least a hundred more points of advice to offer in order to get that second round of funding, secure the non-profit donor in order for you to ‘break ground’ on the new facility, close the first multi-million dollar deal in a new account, or secure the promotion you have been working toward for years…..for whatever the sale is we are trying to make. Yet, those bits need to be developed and strategically customized for the sale.These steps are simply the basic blocks to get the door opened. Whatever profession we are in….software startup, non-profit organization, charter school system, or volunteer effort…..these steps are the constants. THAT is how you will be remembered when stacked up against others of equal tenure and experience.


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.

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.

7 Ways to Use Strategy to Your Advantage as an HR Leader

Posted on December 8th, by JP George in Business and Workplace, Leadership. No Comments

Human resources is an exciting field that offers leaders the ability to optimize their professional potential while inspiring employees to do the same. However, attaining profound success as an HR leader necessitates the consistent use of proven strategies and systems that will generate the ongoing growth and optimized operations you seek. With that idea in mind, you should consider the value of implementing some or all of these growth strategies:


  1. Optimize your meetings

It’s no secret that holding regular meetings is the key to ensuring that everyone understands the company’s vision and goals. However, this does not mean that all HR leaders have developed the great habit of optimizing the meetings they hold. Don’t commit this oversight. Developing and implementing strategies that will make your meetings more effective can have a wide range of desirable outcomes, some of which include enhanced daily operations, elimination of miscommunication, and the development of a company culture conducive to open discussion and debate. Luckily, there are hundreds of ways that you can optimize your meetings. Some of them include:


  • using PowerPoint presentations
  • holding virtual meetings
  • optimizing engagement by asking questions and requesting feedback
  • scheduling strategically so all employees are present
  • employee appreciation ideas for staff members who have performed exceptionally well


  1. Establish a vision

If you’re serious about operating effectively as an HR leader, establishing a vision is a must. The vision is important because it provides you with a simple yet thorough understanding of what you are attempting to accomplish. In many cases, HR leaders find it helpful to develop both a personal vision and a company vision. The personal vision involves you defining what you will do for the company as an individual participant within it. The company vision is much more than deciding on administrative items like who will provide your payroll software or cadences for employee appreciation. The company vision states how you and all of the other employees will work together to generate a specified outcome that promotes the organization’s perpetual expansion.


  1. Be more goal-oriented

In addition to establishing a vision, HR leaders who are ready to excel within the workforce must become goal-oriented people. No matter how internally motivated you are, it won’t matter much if you do not develop objectives and then work towards realizing them. Goal-oriented people are more effective in getting work done because they have a clear understanding of what they’re attempting to do and the steps they must take to get there. This is one of the reasons that the development of SMART goals has become so popular amongst career coaches. The acronym SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Sensitive.


  1. Prioritize for staff development

A company is only as effective as its individual employees are. Since this is true, HR leaders who want their organizations to succeed must focus on optimizing the personal and professional aptitude of their employees. This objective can be accomplished in numerous ways, such as providing staff members with incentives to operate in excellence and expedience. Holding regular “Employee of the Month” contests is a great way to make this happen. Consistently offering employees opportunities to enroll in ongoing education and training courses is another effective strategy you might employ. Also remember that employee recognition is an integral part of the staff development process because public praise motivates people to consistently operate in excellence.


  1. Update technology

HR leaders who are ready to take their companies to a new level of efficacy and excellence should focus on updating their technology. This strategic approach works for numerous reasons, including the fact that it enables your company to maintain a cutting edge image in the eyes of the general public. Finding great technological updates also makes life easier for your employees by enabling them to get more done, in less time, and in a more convenient manner.


  1. Take feedback seriously

The most successful HR leaders are so because they are regularly obtaining feedback from trusted counselors, mentors, bosses, and other important individuals in their sphere of influence. Since this is the case, strategize your own success by taking this feedback seriously and learning how to optimize and expedite everything you’re doing for the company. In addition to making the organization more effective, taking feedback seriously improves your efficacy and functions as motivation for employees to operate at a higher level of excellence.


  1. Think outside the box

Although the phrase “think outside the box” is trite, it’s stated over and over again because the methodology is oftentimes effective in helping people generate results, overcome obstacles, and break through barriers. With this idea in mind, make sure that you’re not operating in a conventional, cookie-cutter manner as you lead your staff. Rather, be open to new ways of thinking and acting that are relevant, effective, and fun.


If you’re an HR leader who wants your company to be a smashing success, you should know that thinking strategically is a great way to make it happen. Since this is so, be sure to consider using some or all of the strategies outlined in this post. Doing so will likely take your company’s level of excellence and efficacy to a new level!


About the Author: A previous guest contributor to Women of HR, JP George grew up in a small town in Washington. After receiving a Master’s degree in Public Relations, she has worked in a variety of positions, from agencies to corporations all across the globe. Experience has made JP an expert in topics relating to leadership, talent management, and organizational business.