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Cheers! 7 New Year’s Resolutions for Career Mobility and Life Success in 2014

New Year's Resolutions, 2014

It happens to me and to hundreds of people right around (or shortly after) December 25th and through about the last seconds before the clock strikes 12 on New Year’s Eve—panic. You embark on a series of ‘memory lane’ trips where you analyze the good, the bad, and the ugly that has transpired during your year, and is liable for your current status. Face it, even in your best year; there is usually at least one thing that is the perpetual thorn on your side. “If I had only done this…or if I had just done that…then I would have…” What? Been happier or more successful? Achieved more visibility at work? Gotten a raise? But alas, your apprehension cannot change the past. So, all you are left with are hours, minutes, or seconds before the countdown begins, and you must masquerade your worries with a glass of Prosecco, a party hat, and noise maker you’re hoping will drown out your anxiety. Just five minutes after exchanging hugs and kisses with those near and dear to you (or total strangers), angst creeps up on you once again. You feel as if you must end your festivities abruptly and rush home to ensure you don’t make the same mistakes you’ve made in previous years. You feel a sense of liberation in being able to start anew with a clean slate. Thus, we turn to frantically jotting down our New Year’s resolutions (same ones as the year before—lose weight, save money, find a new love, blah, blah, blah…), and vowing to really stick to them this year. Below are 7 New Year’s resolutions that should navigate you through a career (and life) journey that is enlightening, fulfilling, and profitable in the year ahead.

Replace Sighing with Meditation

We sigh when we are bored, fatigued, stressed, frustrated, or in deep thought. While sighing may seem like it instantaneously rids the body of taxing emotions, the after-effect lasts about as long as the last sound is heard. Instead, try meditation, as it is a great way to relax your body and quiet your mind. According to the Mayo Clinic, calming meditation can help you sleep better, focus better at work, and remain calm throughout the day. You can implement simple meditation techniques to the beginning, middle, or end of your day. Choose ‘Mantra Meditation’ in which you silently repeat a calming word or mantra, or ‘Mindful Meditation’ which heightens your awareness of the present moment. Explore ‘Progressive Muscle Relaxation Meditation’ by progressively tensing and relaxing (within 5-10 seconds) head-to-toe muscles throughout your body. Use the power of ‘Visualization Meditation’ to repeatedly focus on an idea, give it positive energy, and it will become a reality. Therefore, visualize yourself in career role two-levels higher than your current position and in time (less than you imagine), it will happen.

Believe in Fate

Is it coincidence, destiny, kismet, or fate? You may be one who scoffs at the idea of there being a predetermined course of events setting the stage for your life. However, if you find it somewhere inside you to believe in fate, you will discover a sense of peace in knowing that you don’t have to push so hard. It’s not like you’ll stop trying altogether. Yet there is some comfort in holding on to the thought that, “everything happens for a reason,” particularly when you don’t land the job or promotion you have been vying for. Embrace the thought that there is better waiting for you out there, and that you are meant to be available to take on some other challenge, some other relationship, or some other career opportunity.

Value Yourself

Ever hear the saying, “Other people tend to value you the way you value yourself.” How are you to compete for a new job opportunity, strive for a promotion, or negotiate your worth if you don’t truly value yourself? Yet in order to value yourself, you must perform the challenging task of self-evaluation. Without doing so, you run the risk of misaligning your capabilities and credentials. When you present yourself in an inauthentic way it is easily detected. Remember, false impressions are difficult to dispel. Start your self-evaluation by asking yourself the following four questions:

  • What do I do better than everyone else?
  • Why do I do it better than everyone else?
  • How do I do it better than everyone else?
  • Where do I do it better than everyone else?

Do Unto Others

Known as the “golden rule,” the saying “do unto others as you would have them do unto you (Luke 6:31)” is congruous with another popular quote, “Be nice to people on your way up because you’ll meet them on your way down.” Both adages allude and encourage kindness, generosity, and compassion. Oftentimes, even when you don’t possess power in title or seniority, you possess it in knowledge and education. Refrain from being condescending toward those around you, and as I’ve recently learned, “it is best to portray yourself as the second smartest person in the room.” Develop patience and empathy toward people, whether they hold the key to your future now or in years to come (or ever). Other times, you may possess full authority while inadvertently grooming someone who will surprisingly end up as your superior. Life has a funny way of catching up with you, getting even, settling it’s scores. Cover your bases by making no exceptions to the “nice” rule. You are bound to come out a winner.

Avoid Counting Other People’s Money

Noting will get people to resent you as counting their money. Whether the money has been earned, or inherited, it is completely, positively, and absolutely not your business to mention, speculate, criticize, other people’s abundance, regardless of where it is generated. This could be one of the most difficult things for all of us to do. We are, after all, human. Yet one thing I learned long ago from one of my mentors is that “money attracts money” and “success attracts success.” It’s a bit of yogic approach by which spiritual attracts spiritual. The moral of this being that genuine sentiments will only come back to bless you. So the next time you hear your laziest co-worker was awarded a promotion, refrain from letting it trigger jealousy. Instead, genuinely wish them well (even if only in your mind), and see how quickly you’re rewarded with good news.

Take Calculated Risks

A calculated risk is one you take after carefully considering the possible results. We take calculated risks every day—as small as choosing to indulge on an ice cream sundae (gaining weight vs. satisfying your cravings)—or as big as saying “I do” to the love of your life or saying “I accept” to the job of your dreams. There are pros and cons to every decision we make, and in some cases we rely on instinct to make decisions that have a whole lot more cons than pros. However, it is in fact these very risky decisions that help us progress to the next phase of our life—whether it be financially, relationship, or career-wise. The key to taking smart risks is to know exactly what you want out of the result today, then calculate how the outcome can continue to generate similar or greater positive results in 5, 10, or 15 years.

Develop Emotional Intelligence

We’ve all met at least one (well I’ve met way more than one) academic genius who is socially inept and unsuccessful in his/her career or personal relationships. Emotional intelligence (EQ) refers to making your emotions work for you by utilizing them in ways that produce results you want. Research conducted by EQ gurus indicates that individuals who exercise this ability experience a higher level of success within their social and professional lives. Hendrie Weisinger, a psychologist, organizational consultant and author of Emotional Intelligence at Work: The Untapped Edge for Success writes about five key factors that emotional intelligence is comprised of:

  • High self-awareness— the ability to tune into information about yourself
  • Mood management— the ability to manage your emotions or shake off a bad mood
  • Self-motivation— the ability to bounce back from a set back
  • Interpersonal expertise— the ability to relate well to others
  • Emotional mentoring— the ability to help others manage their emotions

Incorporate these 7 easy-to-follow resolutions into your everyday life on a basis of one-per-week for the next 7 weeks. Choose to embrace each resolution in sequential or random order—whichever way makes sense to you. Yet, do commit to following them through for the first seven weeks, then 7 months, and more. May these resolutions propel you out of a hum drum state and into a positive, hopeful, motivated, and confident new you throughout this New Year and beyond. Cheers!

Forget-Me-Not: 5 Ways to Have Recruiters Remember You (Fondly) and Finally Offer the Job

2013 beach new year photo 1
Welcome to 2013! It is refreshing to enter into a New Year of hope and prospect. This is especially true since 7.8 percent of unemployment numbers remained unchanged by December 2012, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Regardless, it is in our best interest to stay optimistic by continuing to strive for job opportunities that will not only provide us with a livelihood, but also a significant amount of personal satisfaction. Yet, how do we tactfully stay on a recruiter’s radar, and have them remember us even when the last interaction didn’t result in a job offer? Well, we know how the saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind,” and with such steep competition, we can’t afford to get lost in the shuffle. As my New Year’s gift to you, the following “Forget-me-not” ways are the five I’ve encountered as effective in maintaining a positive rapport with recruiters. Developing a “healthy” on-going relationship with decision-makers will often lead to reconsideration, and finally a bona fide job offer.

1. Handwrite Notes and Cards
In this techno-saturated job seeking age, a handwritten note may seem as archaic as watching black and white television. Trust me—it’s not. Finding the right stationary, writing instrument, gathering your thoughts, writing a compelling message, addressing the envelope, placing a stamp, and finally delivering it to a mailbox takes effort, and that effort can often move you across the finish line. First of all, your competition is not taking the time to do this. They’re too busy looking at the job sites and company portals, but you—you MUST strive to be different. Well-written, classically presented mail correspondence says a lot about your attention to detail, your initiative, and your finesse.

2. Acknowledge a Noteworthy Event

Social media gives us an exceptional advantage to learn information about recruiters that they choose to share through outlets such as Linkedin. Follow a recruiter’s progress, and acknowledge their promotion or new job. They may be in a better position to hire you in their new role. In addition, make note of special occasions such as birthdays or the anniversary of their tenure at their current company. Don’t worry, you’re not stalking. It’s public information. I for one, am a big birthday person, and welcome genuine celebratory messages of all sorts on…oh…well I’ll leave it up to you to look up the date.

3. Use the Six Degrees of Separation Theory

Popularized by John Guare’s play which premiered in 1990, and “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon,” the “Six Degrees of Separation” theory is one that places everyone six or fewer steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person in the world. Thus, a “friend of a friend” chain can be made to connect any two people in a maximum of six steps. Using this principle, you may be able to connect the recruiter with a viable candidate for a position completely unrelated to the type of job you are after. What’s the benefit? You identify yourself as a reliable asset for the recruiter, and you become a trusted member of their ‘go-to’ resource group. In addition, you will be helping the friend or acquaintance seeking a new opportunity. Nothing like a little bit of good karma; and you will certainly not be forgotten for your good deed.

4. Link, “Like,” Subscribe, or Follow
With so many social media outlets to stay fresh on a recruiter’s mind, choose one or several of such platforms to remain actively connected. Linkedin is my #1 social media site to “link” myself to any recruiter or business contact. Perhaps, they (or you) have a specialty page on FaceBook, and you can “like” one another, or you may opt to subscribe to the public posts on their personal FB page (so you don’t feel like you are infringing on their privacy). Through Twitter you may choose to “retweet” or “favorite” a recruiter’s job postings or any other valuable information in order to become an ambassador of the message they’re looking to convey.

5. Join a Mutual Online Networking Group

Chances are that if you are looking for a job in the finance or accounting sectors, the recruiter who has interviewed you at such a company is interested in groups within the same field(s). Become an active contributor of a group you may both have in common, and wow the recruiter (and other recruiters) by sharing interesting, witty, and/or thought-provoking commentary online. This provides a new and different forum for you to voice your opinions and distinguish yourself as an expert in your field. Beware of coming across as too opinionated or self-righteous. It will have an adverse effect. Instead, be diplomatic, concise, and most of all likable in your virtual presentation.

Remember to be patiently persistent…and you will not be forgotten. Make 2013 the year of change for the better. Good luck!

Career Confidante’s 10 ‘Go to’ Cyber Monday Shopping Sites for the Sophisticated Working Woman

Cyber Monday
Hard to believe that it’s that time of year again— the season to start showing your gratitude by shopping for presents that may or may not be appreciated. Personally, this year with Hurricane Sandy taking over eleven of my dimmest days and gas prices going through the roof, I am most concerned with saving money via the comfort of my computer. While I’ve promised myself to keep my shopping to the people on my holiday list, I am (as usual) tempted to place a thing or to in my shopping cart in the names of my children. I suppose that is why I’m particularly drawn to deals that require multiple purchases of the same item (one for me and one for you). Below are my 10 favorite Cyber Monday ‘go to’ sites with ideal deals for YOU and me. Happy shopping…and remember to shop responsibly.

1. www.BraSmyth.com offers some of the most beautiful intimate apparel for women looking for comfort, support and sensual appeal. Spend $125, Get $30, PLUS other great deals including $10 off all Bra Smyth Black Label bras, bottoms & bodysuits.

2. www.DVF.com is the home to the universal wrap dress as well as a myriad of feminine wardrobe pieces. Take advantage of an additional 30% off online and in store sale pieces. Inside Tip: If you don’t find the size you are looking for online, call the SOHO store and ask for Courtney Almeida @ 212.542.5754 and she will gladly locate the size for you.

3. www.Intermixonline.com is a multi-brand boutique of some of the trendiest and most exclusive fashion brands around, including one-of-a-kind and hard to find ‘it’ items. Enjoy 15% full price purchases that will surely make you stand out in any crowd.
Promo Code: Cyber15

4. www.SundanceCatalog.com is Robert Redford’s gift to the lifestyle consumer, with its vintage-inspired home décor, handmade jewelry and ‘no-fuss’ comfort style. Take 20% off orders over $100.
Promo Code: N/A

5. www.Papyrusonline.com carries some of my favorite stationery, greeting cards, personalized invitations, wrapping paper, picture frames, scented candles and other beautiful gift items. Enjoy 25% off your entire order, plus free shipping on all order over $75
Promo Code: CMONDAY

6. www.NeimanMarcus.com is a luxury department store that is not available to everyone at a moment’s drive, though I am lucky enough to be able to whiz over to the White Plains store within 20 minutes time. Enjoy purchasing regular priced women & men’s apparel, accessories, beauty, jewelry, corporate gifts and earn up to $500 gift card when you spend $200-$2000 or more.
Promo Code: GC4YOU

7. www.Sephora.com offers the latest and greatest in makeup, fragrance, hair products, tools/accessories, gift sets. They are offering a Free Mystery Gift online only. Enjoy a secret assortment of their top Holiday Beauty Picks—all housed in a Little Black Bag.
Promo Code2: SHIPNOW

8. www.LillianAugust.com has some of the most exquisite home furnishing and accessories available for women who enjoy beauty and style apart from their office and in addition to their wardrobe. Take advantage of 15% off all gifts and accessories
Promo Code: N/A

9. www.6pm.com is an exclusive online designer outlet of shoes, apparel, handbags, and accessories for women and men with deals 70%-80% off, plus Free Shipping on all Orders.
Promo Code: N/A

10. www.Bluefly.com is one of the original online retailers to sell fashion in a sophisticated manner and it is still my all-time favorite ‘go to’ off-price sites. They have taken 10%-40% off their entire site, plus free standard shipping.
Promo Code1: FALL40 ($200+ purchases)
Promo Code2: GET25OFF ($100 purchase)

Most promo codes are valid through mid-night! Don’t miss out…though I’m sure they’ll be some other type of marketing ploy to entice you to shop some more between now and December 25th.

Fall/Winter 2012-2013: Career Confidante’s Top 10 Office Friendly Style Picks to Get You Noticed at Work

Houndstooth_stock photo
Motorcycle-inspired jackets
Green peaccock_stock photo
textures in color green
Leather trim trench coat2
A-line Dress 2
Smoking Slipper Loafer2
oversized-coat-trend-fall_2012­_2One good thing the recession has done is rouse fashion designers to become more  pragmatic and value-conscious in response to consumer demand. Style-makers are resonating with the economic climate; presenting elegant, well-constructed, non-frilly, yet feminine options that are easily transferrable from runway to office. With these realistic standards in mind, catwalk models are finally sporting refined and redesigned traditional looks that are both fiscally and physically attainable. This fall/winter’s easy-to-wear trends cater to today’s busy career woman—“You.” The season’s blend of soft textures, jewel-tone colors, classic patterns, flowy silhouettes, demure hemlines, and contrasting trims pay attention to work-style convention, while adding just enough of a twist of modern panache.

This season you needn’t feel pressured to over-spend on an abundance of wardrobe pieces as you may already own most of what’s deemed a “must-have.” Instead, treat yourself to one or two of my top 10 office friendly style picks—sure to revive your existing wardrobe, guarantee a great impression, and get you noticed at work—without breaking the bank.

1. Houndstooth is the winning pattern of this season. This traditional black and white print pattern found in everything from dresses, skirts, scarves, coats, shoes, totes, and leggings works exceptionally well with jewel tone colors for a contemporary-chic look. The mini version of this print, referred to as “puppytooth” is suitable for the most corporate of office environments. Increase the scale of the print from medium to extra-large for an added splash of dramatic appeal.

2. Motorcycle jackets are not exactly what you would consider office appropriate in their original state. Reinvented in materials like buttery suede, lush wool, plush tweeds and modified asymmetrical zippers; the motorcycle jacket has earned its place as an alternative to the classic suit jacket. Particularly suitable for sporting in creative and fashion-forward office environments where business casual is acceptable in lieu of a suit. Choose a motorcycle jacket for business appeal that says, “va va voom!”

3. Green is the new “black.” Tones, tints, and shades of green seem to be popping up on the runway, editorial pages, retail, and e-stores. May the craze be partly attributed to global optimism for a rising economy? Perhaps so, but it is perhaps more coincidental than anything else. Regardless, I particularly love an emerald green and teal color combo. It bears the retro vintage look and feel of wild and feathery peacocks that communicates daring femininity—just what you need to bewilder your business adversary.

4. Textures are soft, nubby, tweedy, embroidered, and embossed—all of which are associated with opulence or comfort. High fashion work environments provide a natural setting for head-to-toe usage of these textures; while in ultra conservative atmospheres they may be designated to accessories such as shoes, belts, and handbags. Create interest and depth to fall looks by combining plain or twill weave textures with a variety of sumptuous textured weaves.

5. Cinched waists bring the illusion of an hour-glass figure to every body shape. Peplum dresses and belts on sweaters, jackets, and coats provide a slimming effect for thicker waists and a camouflaging solution for elongating or shortening torsos. Indented waists also appear more tailored and business-appropriate. Who doesn’t want to come across neat and pulled together at her next interview or company-wide meeting, right?

6. A-line skirts and dresses are influenced by the ultra-feminine fashions of the fifties introduced via designers like Christian Dior. With its narrow waistline and wide skirt, this silhouette reinforces the cinched waist. Paired with a short fitted jacket or cardigan, A-line skirts and dresses offer vintage style with an added advantage for women wishing to camouflage molded hips, midriffs, and buttocks. A-line skirts also balance shoulders that are considerably larger than hips. Select this look for after-hours company dinners and events for a touch of corporate class.

7. Oversized coats in bold colors and magnificent fabrics are a popular favorite this season. Adorned with details like oversized buttons, patch pockets, high-low hems, or funnel, inverted and shawl collars, these maxi coats will become your staple outerwear garment for business and play. Customize the voluminous look by accessorizing with a contrasting belt or streamline your appearance by pairing with cigarette pants, leggings, or jeggings.

8. Brooches are making their way back into your jewelry collection this season. Functional and decorative, an interesting brooch will get you noticed at the office and make you stand out at a networking event. Pin one to your lapel, shoulder, scarf, hat, or handbag and experience how much of a conversation starter a brooch can become; especially if there is an exciting travel adventure or an interesting story behind how it was acquired.

9. Leather/leatherette trim transforms the most ordinary garments and accessories into cutting-edge designer looking pieces. While all-leather apparel is typically not appropriate for business, a trace of leather on a vest, suit jacket, or trench coat offers just enough zest to update your image at work. Braided leather trims add even more visual interest and texture in a subtlety sophisticated way.

10. Smoking Slipper Loafers are this season’s most coveted footwear trend. Lasting comfort meets preppy styling—ideal for smart-casual business dressing. Choose these men-inspired flats over their feminine ballerina flat contender for a sophisticated look that is sure to earn you newfound admiration at work. Keep your feet planted firmly on the ground with slipper shoes that elevate your confidence.

Smelly Cat: Top 3 Hygiene Offenders + Ways to Avoid Being Crowned “Mr./Ms. Stinky” in the Workplace

Bad smellThere are countless reasons why you may be missing the mark on job interviews, or being passed up for more visible positions within your current workplace. You may be lacking credentials, experience, people skills, or “professional maturity.” It can take you months or even years to overcome such objections, but HYGIENE—the silent career killer—is one obstacle you can overcome in as little time as it takes to brush your teeth. Yet so many people would sooner get a PhD than address their VbBO (Very bad Body Odor). While travelling into Manhattan today in a not-so-well air-conditioned train, with 100 degree weather outside, a wretched human stench brought Phoebe Buffay’s (played by Lisa Kudrow on NBC’s ‘Friends’) rendition of ‘Smelly Cat’ to mind. If you don’t know who you are (you never do), the safest bet to avoid being crowned “Mr./Ms. Stinky” is to take a preventive approach. Unpredictably, seemingly innocent odors or flakes are liable to turn into near-suffocating and stomach-turning obstacles in your career. Following are three of the most common hygiene offenders and ways to dramatically improve your hygiene scorecard in business and beyond.

Body Odor
As our body temperature rises, our sweat glands come to rescue by secreting fluid, known as perspiration, to cool us down. It’s our built-in sprinkler system, if you will. Yet, if you are someone who tends to perspire a great deal it does not automatically mean you should not smell fresh. Surprisingly, the clear secretion produced by our glands is actually odorless. It’s only when the bacteria found in our skin and hair takes over the secretion that odor is emitted.
Combat body odor by bathing once or twice a day with an antibacterial soap rather than a lavender or musk scented bath gel that will only disguise your smelly syndrome. Pay close attention to areas like your neck, underarms, groin, feet, toes, and just about everywhere there is a crease or a skin fold for bacteria to linger. If you like particular floral or woodsy scents feel free to apply them after the use of antibacterial soap. You may also consider hair removal options to deter bacteria from finding a cozy home.

Bad Breath
Nicotine breath, empty stomach breath, sick breath, tuna fish sandwich breath, or poor oral hygiene breath will surely keep you at more than an arm’s length from a potential employer, co-worker, or client. Avoid thinking that chomping on a stick of gum will fix oral smells. It will only temporarily mask the problem and create bigger issues down the road (i.e. cavities and TMJ or lock jaw). Also, as far as business etiquette faux pas go, gum chewing is at the top of the list.
Combat offensive breath by flossing and brushing after every meal. Arrange visits to your hygienist every six months, even if your insurance only covers going once a year. You, your breath, and your teeth will be rewarded tenfold for doing so. Examine food choices that may be the cause of gastric issues which permeate through your breath. A tasty and practical solution if you’re rushing between interviews, appointments, or meetings is to eat a whole apple on the go. It will not only satisfy your appetite; it will also act as a natural flossing agent to dislodge food particles from your teeth.

Aesthetically unpleasing and embarrassing, dandruff is an uncomfortable condition that is often exacerbated by weather changes (cold to hot or hot to cold) and high-pressure situations like interviewing, or dealing with stressful deadlines. Poor food choices, lack of sleep, bowel dysfunction, and excessive use of hair products may also be responsible for aggravating dandruff.
Combat dandruff by choosing shampoos meant for dislodging the dry skin cells from your scalp. Maintain a balanced diet and choose high-fiber foods that help cleanse your system. Experiment with home remedies such as adding cider vinegar to your shampoo for cell removal, or massaging mineral oil into your scalp before washing your hair to help restore moisture. Regularly brushing your scalp also helps stimulate it and removes flakes. A combination of shampooing, conditioning, and eating right will alleviate this ever-frustrating challenge that may be branding you as the office outcast.