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I help seasoned professionals leave their ill-fitting work lives behind in order to find more aliveness, fulfillment, and ultimately, success that truly feels good. 

 

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What To Do When You Feel Stagnant or Restless In Your Career

Kelly Studer

business-man-sitting-on-step.jpg

I have a confession to make. Several weeks ago, it dawned on me that I was in a career rut.

Truthfully, I’d been in it for quite a while, I just wasn’t willing to admit it. Yep, the person who is supposed to help people get out of their career rut, had fallen into her own.

Everything was going extremely well in my business and at the same time, I felt restless and unmotivated. From the outside, it might have looked like I was doing fine but on the inside, I felt incredibly frustrated, confused, and aimless.

Turns out, this “rut” was exactly what I needed to reconnect with my work, with myself, and the people I love serving. I had to take a step back and diagnose what was going on. And then it hit me!

I’d reached a level of mastery.

To be clear, I’m not saying that I’ve mastered helping people find career fulfillment (ha…that would be like saying I’d cured cancer) but rather I was seeing great success with my approach with clients but began relying on it so much that I stopped pushing outside my comfort zone and trying out new things. I let the confidence in my abilities create stagnation.

It’s human nature to want to reach mastery in the things we’re passionate about and intrigued by. Nothing feels better than to reach that state of supreme competence. It takes hard work and the payoff feels fantastic!

Or at least it does for a while… and then it wears off.

In the “knowing” (AKA mastery), there is little room for learning or growth.

What if becoming an expert isn’t the point; rather it’s the journey to mastery that enables growth, an energized state, and a heightened sense of possibility and success?

Maslow’s “Stages for Learning” is what made it all click for me.  You're probably already familiar with it but here it is for reference:

levels-of-conciousness

This is how it played out for me.

Consciously Incompetent

When I first started my business, I was scared shitless. Simultaneously, it was terrifying and exhilarating and I busted my hump trying to figure it all out as quickly as possible. There was so much to do. I had to learn how to put a website together, market and brand myself, create service offerings, determine pricing, and the list goes on. Lots of work, not tons of payoff initially.

Consciously Competent

Once I got those pieces in place and was in my second year of business, I still felt like a novice but the more clients I worked with, the more creative and resourceful I became. I took classes to bolster my coaching abilities, launched a workshop on a topic I was passionate about, began doing more public speaking, and actually began to enjoy marketing. I hadn’t had this much fun in a long time!

Unconsciously Competent

By year three, I felt proud of the progress I made, the foundation I’d built, and my solid track record. Everything was going so well, it seemed crazy to change it, so I didn’t. I was still enjoying working with all of my clients, but before long, it felt like my internal fire had been snuffed out. To a certain degree, I had reached mastery in what I was currently doing. I fell into “autopilot” mode.

Having no internal fire is a serious bummer. It’s a sure sign there’s a yearning that isn’t being attended to. The comfort zone of mastery can be a great place to hide.

Now, let’s focus on you for a minute. Think back to a time when you were not exactly sure how to do something and you were excited about figuring it out. Perhaps, you were given a stretch assignment, you took a new job that was bit over your head, or switched to a completely different role or industry?  It could even be something you wanted to master for yourself personally.

What did it feel like when you were first starting out?

What about once you began to get a handle on it?

What did it stimulate and bring out in you? How would you describe your motivation level?

Take a few moments to sink into that experience.

Was there a point where you stopped learning and were simply doing? How long did it take to get there? How did it feel then?

Continuously, throughout our career, the key is to notice when the enjoyment of mastery has worn off and you’ve gone into autopilot mode. This is the time to ask yourself what you’re yearning to stretch into and then begin seeking out ways to make that happen. It could be reading a book, taking a class, hiring a coach, asking for a new project or role, or something as liberating as switching careers.

Take action by expanding into something unknown. Start a new journey towards something that will stretch you to the next level. You know you can do it. You’ve done it before and you can do it again!

Whether you’re feeling stagnant or restless now or think it’s right around the bend, I encourage you to be selfish in deciding what you want to master next. Make it all about what turns you on and sparks your imagination, creativity, and curiosity. Inevitably, your thirst for learning and growth will open up alternative pathways with new possibilities.

What’s one thing you could get the ball rolling in learning tomorrow? What’s calling to you? What are you so darn curious about?

If you hear yourself saying, “I should learn X or I should gain more expertise in Y”, then don’t do it. Let’s go for a thought that begins with “I really want to learn X.”

Seek out something that you are consciously incompetent in and enjoy the ride to mastery. Then, do it all over again once the afterglow of mastery has worn off.  Keep this up and you’ll never be bored again and will keep raising your game.

P.S. I’m going to practice what I preach. You can expect to see new offerings from me in 2015. I’ve begun developing new ideas and plunging into the discomfort of not knowing exactly how to do them. The autopilot button has definitely been switched off. Yay!

When Your Career Crashes, Find Your Inner Strength and Forge a New Path (Guest Blog)

Kelly Studer

headshot craig collinsA year and a half ago, I worked with Craig Collins for three months when he was struggling to figure out where to take his career next.  He'd just suffered a major setback and was clear that he didn't want to keep doing more of the same.  He also had no idea where to head.  He was depressed and STUCK.  His story (below), told through his own words, will take you on his journey beginning at a place of hitting the proverbial "career wall" and transitioning into one that brought unexpected success, purpose, passion, and aliveness. Don't miss one word...as I know that you will find your own story within his. His experience and triumph still gives me chills. I'm so honored to share this with you. 

(Destiny) is touched by that dark miracle of chance which makes new magic in a dusty world. – Thomas Wolfe, Look Homeward Angel

by Craig K. Collins

Roughly two years ago, my career took a shocking turn.

How I came to write a book – Thunder in the Mountains: A Portrait of American Gun Culture – and sign with a New York literary agent, then land a major publisher, is still to me a dark miracle of chance that I don’t fully understand and perhaps never will.

Just previously, I’d reached what I thought was the pinnacle of my career. I’d been recruited a couple years earlier to take the helm of a once-promising healthcare technology start-up only to discover that by the time I’d arrived, the company was out of cash, saddled with enormous debt and hounded by a flurry of lawsuits. Not one to turn tail, I took out my machete and hacked a path through the jungle. I raised an emergency seed round of capital, resolved outstanding debt and settled legal spats. I then recruited a blue-chip management team, secured a remarkable roster of customers, and topped it off by raising a $7.5 million venture round of funding.

“In the annals of startup turnarounds,” my Board Chairman told me two weeks before he fired me, “this is one for the record books. I’ve never seen anything like it. Great job.”

“Congratulations,” chimed another Board member. “It’s the kind of success story that’ll end up as a Harvard Business Review case study.”

Translation:

“I knew it was you, Fredo.”

And:

“Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.”

I’d done my job. I’d righted the ship. And now the Board had decided that the company needed a new skill set at the helm. So the Board Chairman, whom I’d personally recruited and hired two years earlier, sat me down and broke the news in a manner that was curt, crisp and professional.

It was a conversation that lasted no more than a minute. I never saw it coming. A bullet right between the eyes.

And the impact was sudden. My cellphone immediately stopped ringing. My corporate e-mail account was severed. Employees – all of whom I’d hired – put their heads down and averted their eyes as I walked out of the building.

IT’S ALWAYS DARKEST BEFORE THE DAWN

It was a Jerry McGuire moment.

It hurt. A lot.

So I did what any self-respecting, middle-aged unemployed person would do. I wallowed.

I went days without shaving. I skipped showers. I padded around the house in gym shorts and the same T-shirt I’d worn the day before. I ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for breakfast and bowls of cereal for lunch. I looked longingly at my cellphone, which sat silent and forlorn on the coffee table. I checked my e-mails. There were only sporadic pleas from companies like Southwest Airlines, which wondered why I was no longer booking flights with them.

What I started to realize is that I didn’t want to find another “start-up turnaround” job.  “Where do I go from here?”, I pondered. I didn’t have a clue.

A week passed. Then two. Then three.

One morning before leaving for work, my wife walked up to me, her high heels click-clacking on our hardwood floor. She shook her finger in my face and proclaimed, “This is ridiculous. You need quit feeling sorry for yourself. Suck it up. Do something.”

She was right. I needed something to focus on – something I could devote time to. So I turned on the TV.

Over the previous three years, I’d been working 60 to 80 hours a week. I’d been a man on a mission, wholly devoted to The Cause. I’d been oblivious to the cultural cacophony exploding around me.

I first slipped into something familiar and strangely comforting: The Sopranos. I’d watched every episode every week since the series had first premiered. But now with streaming video, I discovered the art of binge watching. So, starting with Episode One, I watched. And watched. And watched. Took me about two weeks to make it through every Soprano season. It was awesome. And enlightening. All the scheming, jockeying and back-stabbing reminded me a lot of the start-up world, only without all the guns, shovels, severed fingers or dead strippers – not that some VCs and tech founders don’t secretly long for such clear and definitive solutions.

After my Sopranos binge, I kept the momentum going, delving into new and long-ignored (for me) cultural touchstones. I found them all equally engrossing. Breaking Bad, Weeds, Dexter.

Then I hit a wall.

The thought finally occurred to me that I might be depressed.

So I turned to the Internet for a quick diagnosis and perhaps an even quicker cure.

An article in Psychology Today listed things to avoid after a job loss lest you slip into severe depression: Avoid isolation. Avoid lethargy and inactivity. Avoid negative emotions. Avoid going it alone.

Whoops. Whoops. Whoops. And whoops.

MAYBE I CAN’T DO THIS ALONE…

Even though I was depressed, I was aware enough to know what I’ve always known: We do not journey through this world alone. And when we find ourselves lost, we must cease wandering and reach out for a guide – another human who might show us the way. It takes a large helping of humility to reach your hand out and ask for help. Yet, counter intuitively, it is in this moment of vulnerability that we find the wellspring of our strength and resolve – two crucial accessories to take with you for the long journey out of the maze.

I rifled through my database of executive coaches and emailed Kelly Studer out of the blue. She was an executive coach – or Career Stylist, as she calls herself – specializing in helping people discover and transition into more fulfilling careers.

She booked me for a series of one-hour weekly appointments over Skype and then immediately gave me a series of assignments that were heavy on reading and personal-assessment.

Given my current state, I figured I’d at least give this a whirl. Either way, I now had an assignment, a purpose, a task – Something To Do.

I turned off the TV for the first time in weeks and read. Then I went for a run. I read some more and the next day went to the gym to play hoops with some friends. I spent the week, reading, running, assessing and hooping.

I logged onto Skype and told Kelly my tale of corporate woe.

“Wow,” she said. “That sucks. So now what?”

“What do you mean, ‘now what?’ Weren’t you listening?”

Translation: “Let’s dive into the morass. Pick at the scab. Relive the past.”

She would have none of it.

“No,” she said. “Let’s talk about what’s really true about you and then take that into the future.”

Over the next few weeks, we spent time diving into my natural talents as well as my core values in order to gain clarity on what made me unique, am most passionate about, and what I needed to honor to feel good.

“Ok great but now what?”, I thought to myself.

TIME TO STOP TALKING, START DOING

 A few sessions later, Kelly pointed out this consistent thread of writing throughout my life.  She mentioned that she’d read a Business Journal profile of me online where I mentioned that my secret ambition was to write the great American novel.

“Oh, that,” I laughed. “You read that? It was just some off-the-wall thing I told a reporter about a year ago.”

“Well, it must be something,” she said, “Because you said it in an interview and to a reporter, no less. So tell me about this secret ambition of yours.”

“Ha. It was something I wanted to do when I was 21, but now that I’m 50, not so much.”

“And why not?”

“Well, because when I graduated college with a degree in English and after four years of reading and writing about Shakespeare, Hemingway and Proust, I opened the newspaper to the want ads and looked for job listings under the heading of Great American Writer. There were none. So I went to work, made some money, got my MBA, and made some more money. It’s hard to be an actual writer, let alone a Great American Writer.”

“But you’ve always had a job where writing is central to what you do. Writing is one of your real strengths, isn’t it?”

“Uh, yeah.”

“OK. So for next week, I want you to write something.”

“Something?”

“Anything.”

“What do you mean?”

“You tell me,” she continued. “What moves you? What compels you? What fires your passion?”

“Hmmm,” I thought. “Well, I’m pretty ticked off about the gun issue in this country. I think it’s fairly tragic and appalling.”

The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting had taken place three weeks before.

“Yes?” Kelly said, nudging me to expound. “And how would you write about that?”

“I don’t know,” I replied, thinking out loud. “I grew up with guns in the rural West. I’ve hunted since I was young. And I accidentally shot myself with a .30-30 rifle when I was 13. So I’ve always had a different perspective on guns than just about anyone I’ve ever known. I have a deep understanding of them and the culture surrounding those who embrace them. Everyone just seems at a loss to explain the horrific deaths of these children and every attempt to give meaning to it seems insignificant and pointless. I think I could write something that might help. Maybe.”

“You’re kidding. You got shot? That must have been scary and…painful.”

“Yeah, don’t ever do it. It really hurts.”

“OK. I’ll do my best to avoid it,” she chuckled. “So what form do you think this writing assignment might take?”

“I dunno,” I mused. “Maybe an op-ed piece for a newspaper. I think those are usually around 900 words or so.”

“Great,” Kelly said, sealing the deal. “And how will I know that you’ve done it?”

“Well, I could email it to you.” I offered.

“Fantastic! I can’t wait to read it.”

“But I thought you were supposed to be giving me career advice. What does writing an op-ed piece have to do with my career? It’s not like I’m going to be a writer.”

“Perhaps, but that’s not the point. You’ve done enough thinking.  It’s time to get moving. Put one foot in front of the other. Feel passionate about something. Sometimes the path forward isn’t obvious. And sometimes things that don’t seem related are.”

“Uh, OK,” I shrugged. A minute later, we hung up.

“Hmmm,” I thought. “Guns.”

I went for a run. I thought about guns. Every day for two months I thought about guns. Each week, Kelly pushed me for my op-ed since I clearly hadn’t emailed it to her. Each week, I told her I was working on it in my head.

When she’d finally had enough of my excuses, Kelly threw down the gauntlet.  She told me that I couldn’t schedule our next session until I finished the assignment that I’d agree to.

Reluctantly, I got to work.

The next day I plopped down in my favorite La-Z-Boy chair and opened my MacBook Air. I put my fingers on the keyboard, took a deep breath, closed my eyes and thought back to October 19, 1973 – the day of my hunting accident. I’d just turned 13 and was on a deer-hunting trip in Northeastern Nevada with my dad, brother and stepbrother. Everything was still vivid in my mind – like yesterday. I could see the brilliant yellow of the aspen leaves quaking gently against an impossibly blue October sky. I remembered it all, especially the pain, for which there was no adequate description. The memory of it all was so real and raw that my foot began to throb as I sat in the chair.

I opened my eyes, took another deep breath, and began to write.

I quickly typed letters, which became words, which became two sentences, which became the opening lines of Thunder in the Mountains:

“The shot cracked sharp through the crisp October sky. It boomed once, echoed twice and tore off into the distance like the fading hiss of a car racing toward the horizon.”

THE GLORIOUS MOMENT WHERE YOU NO LONGER WANT TO TURN BACK

After writing those first two sentences, a path opened before me. I had no idea where it might lead. I plunged ahead, if for no other reason than to satisfy my innate curiosity.

I wrote another sentence. Then another and another and another. By the end of the first day, I’d written roughly 7,000 words, or about 30 pages. I knew about 15 pages in that I’d just done the best writing of my life. I also knew that I not only had an entire book in me, but also that I now possessed the skillset and natural talents– carefully honed over decades of related work – to not only finish this project, but to also sell it, market it and deliver it to the world alive and robust.

Over the coming days, I was a man obsessed. Gone was the slacker TV binge watching. In its place was a fully energized, rejuvenated individual using fully his entire mind, body and spirit. In short, I was once again working. In the zone.

I would write from 5:30 a.m. to around noon every day. I’d then go for a run, during which I’d contemplate what I’d just written and muse about what I might write tomorrow.

This continued every day for three weeks, at the end of which, I scheduled my next session with Kelly.

“So you still haven’t e-mailed me your op-ed piece,” she began.

“That’s because the assignment got a little out of hand,” I replied.

“Out of hand?”

“Out of hand.”

“How so?”

“Well,” I said, “I blew through the 900 words and still had plenty more to say. So I wrote a book.”

“WHAT? A book?! Really?”

“Yeah, it just sort of happened. I’m not sure how. Or why. No one’s more surprised than me. It’s all kind of surreal.”

A NEW PATH, A NEW BEGINNING

I quickly sent my manuscript to a contact in the publishing industry who’d been pestering me for nearly 15 years to finish writing a book – any book. From there, they sent it to a leading New York literary agent, who immediately signed me as a client and then helped me land a publishing contract with Lyons Press. It’d taken an astonishingly short five months from having tapped out those first two sentences to becoming a bona fide author.

So here I stand, far down a path I’d never intended to take – not this late in my career and my life. It is a path, I suppose, that had lain before me for years, perhaps decades, though I’d not taken the time to properly see it. In a way, the path found me, not visa versa.

Depression can be a dangerous condition if it lasts too long or goes too deep. But in its mildest form, it serves a purpose, I believe. It can be a way for your body and mind to force you to step back, take some time, reorient yourself and perhaps discover the multitude of paths that beckon. And when the dust settles and you you’ve had time to reflect and you’re able to see with greater clarity, you’ll almost certainly take one.

Is my path scary? Yes. Is it filled with uncertainty? Yes. Can I see what might lie ahead? No. Regardless, I move forward, if for no other reason than sitting and waiting and worrying is not a long-term option for anyone who wants to move ahead and build a career. I am sure, though, that this path that opened up to me so inexplicably also perhaps saved me. It invigorated me. It gave me purpose. It filled me with passion. It put me to work. Most of the time, that’s all anyone can ask from a path.

Perhaps I shall be telling this ages and ages hence. But with each passing day, I grow more and more confident that it won’t be with a sigh.

EPILOGUE: MY TIPS FOR GETTING UNSTUCK

Based upon my own personal experience, I would offer the following eight points of advice to anyone who finds themselves amid the turmoil, disappointment or depression that accompanies career disruption or even stagnation:

  1. Take Your Time (at first). Grief and loss are something of a natural process. Step back from your situation, don’t dwell on it, and refrain from making any hasty or rash decisions. Put your life in idle, if you can, for a couple weeks or maybe even a month.
  2. Take Care. Pretty simple mom-advice. Eat well. Exercise. Sleep. Get out of the house. Be around people. Refrain from overeating, drinking alcohol or watching TV.
  3. Reach Out. Job loss or career change can be terrifically stressful. It sometimes seems like it’s too much to handle for one person. That’s because it usually is. Find a coach (obviously, Kelly would be my recommendation), mentor, or friend. This isn’t a time to find a pal who might happily wallow with you in your pool of misery. Rather, you want to pair up with someone who isn’t trying to solve your problem for you but will push you to try new things and try on different perspectives.
  4. Find a Project. Doesn’t have to be a moon launch. In fact, it shouldn’t be anything close. Rather, it should just be something you like and brings you satisfaction. Something (gulp) fun. Doesn’t have to be in your “career” related. Preferably something small and manageable.
  5. Create Accountability. There’s a huge temptation to make a list and start doing things. But there’s also the danger that your list might go unchecked. And then you’ll just feel worse. By having another person assign you tasks or hold your feet to the fire on the ones you said you wanted to do, you’ll not only receive some much-needed direction and a strong nudge, but you’ll also be accountable and more likely to be proactive and get something done.
  6. Take that First Step. Sounds easy. But it’s not. In fact, it’ll be the most difficult part of the process. But do it anyway. No matter what.  Try not to overthink things. Just start doing. Put one foot in front of the other. Once you start working on your project, don’t stop. Push yourself forward.
  7. Look for Connections. After you’ve really built some momentum, lift your head up. Look around. You might be working on a project that’s way out in left field from your career. But in all likelihood, there are similarities, bridges and connections. Ponder them. Embrace them. Soon you will begin to see paths that lead you back to your original career trajectory or even something that’s different but parallel.
  8. Circle Back and Repeat. Touch base with your coach often. Discuss your thoughts. Talk about the future. Make a plan. Take another step forward. Then another. And another. You’re on your way. 

Craig K. Collins is a San Diego-based author and entrepreneur. His book Thunder in the Mountains: A Portrait of American Gun Culture (Lyons Press) is available now on Amazon.com and in bookstores nationwide. He is also President & CEO of Boost Academy, a wildly innovative educational technology start-up that promises to transform the tutoring market for math and science. He just completed a 10-city national book tour and has appeared coast-to-coast on TV, radio, print and the web. Don't miss his piece on Huffington Post

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UdDX-mjTuWE

 

4 Ways to Approach Negotiating…Without Relying on "Karma"

Kelly Studer

Satya- -Maria.jpg

A few weeks ago we all heard about Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s misguided comments at the Grace Hopper Conference when he was asked to give advice, to a room full of women, on the best way to negotiate for a raise. He said, “It’s not really about asking for a raise, but knowing and having faith that the system will give you the right raise.” He went on to say, "That might be one of the initial 'super powers,' that quite frankly, women (who) don’t ask for a raise have. It’s good karma. It will come back.” Satya + Maria

Naturally, when this blew up in the media, it was in his best interest to apologize and recant what he said, which he did in a letter to Microsoft employees and via Twitter.

Satya Nadella Tweet

Ok, fine. Whatever.

This whole thing really got me thinking though and I couldn’t stop processing it. What frustrated me most about Mr. Nadella’s comment about women relying on karma is that it completely missed the mark in understanding women’s frustration and confusion around how to negotiate and ask for a raise in the first place.

How I heard his message was, “ladies, we don’t want you to ask for a raise, we will give you one, if and when we feel you deserve it. Be patient.” Research shows that most women buy into this philosophy anyway. Thanks, Mr. Nadella, for helping to perpetuate a message that doesn’t serve or inspire us, and in fact, takes us back 30 years! Grrrrrr.

Research shows that men ask for what they want four times as often as women do, which has led to them obtaining higher salaries, even if just by a small percentage, yet it adds up over time. I’m going to hazard a guess that karma didn’t get them higher salaries than women.

Several years ago, I’ll never forget when my boyfriend, at the time, told me that he made $50K over the top range of the role he was in. I was flabbergasted…and also very curious how he made that happen. He said it was simple…he didn’t want to be promoted to the next level (too much bureaucracy) but was a very high performer. He leveraged this by realizing that if they wanted to keep him, they would need to make it worth his while. He made $50K his target and kept fighting for it until they gave it to him. Truthfully, my reaction was “You can get paid over the top of the range?” It made me start to wonder how many times I put boundaries around what I thought was possible and then decided it wasn’t even worth asking.

Women are also reminded that asking for a raise (or something we want) can backfire on us and put us in a poor light. Apparently, it makes us appear greedy and ungrateful. Men don’t acquire the same stigma against them…they come across as confident and assertive. If that’s true, then for women, negotiating for what we want feels dangerous and scary. After hearing my boyfriend’s story, I was intrigued but also convinced that it wouldn’t go so well for me if I tried the same thing. I told myself that I have a great job, why rock the boat and risk being seen as greedy. I’m probably not as high of a performer as him. The list of things that would keep me from getting a raise added up until there was no desire to ask and take the chance in the first place. And so I didn’t. It makes me crazy now wondering what could have happened if I’d gone for it.

Sadly, for women, it becomes much safer to stay quiet and be grateful for what we already have. And so the gender salary gap continues…

In order for shifts to take place, it is required that we all play a part in modifying our behavior. We need to try something different. This is not just up to us women to fix. We need a movement, not the government to implement laws that solve the gender salary gap issue. Does it even feel right to be paid equally when we all bring something a little different to our job?

The point is to be paid what we’re worth regardless of gender.

With conscious effort and awareness, there are four super simple ways to start moving the needle.

Women: Start Asking More Often

All too frequently, we make assumptions that someone won’t give us something that we want. We play out the scenario in our head and all we hear is “NO”. We can hear all the objections. So we don’t bother to ask. We stay safe, carry on, and the resentment and frustration builds. It doesn’t bring out our best self or best work. There is a cost to not asking. And it’s not just being denied what we’d like to have. Bottom line, get into the practice of asking for what you want. Recognize the assumptions and potential objections you are bringing and ask anyway. You’ll learn some valuable information no matter what! Start small and then build up to a bigger ask.

Women: Help Other Women Negotiate

As much as I hate to say this, women aren’t always the best at encouraging and supporting each other. If we aren’t a confident negotiator ourselves, we can have a tendency to shoot other women down when they negotiate with us, or worse, suddenly see them as aggressive and unlikeable. Here is your chance to recognize her for taking the risk, even if you can’t give her what she’s asking for.

Men: We Need You To Support Women Too

Much like women need to support other women, men have an opportunity to encourage women to negotiate as well. If you notice that a female employee isn’t asking for what she wants, nudge her to take the chance. Remind her that she might not get what she wants but by swinging out, she’s letting others know that she doesn’t want to get cheated and deserves more. When she does negotiate, please try to empathize with how difficult it might be for her. Find ways to help her be at ease and let her know if you’re happy that she’s initiating the conversation.

Expect to Hear No

This might seem counter-intuitive but part of negotiating is expecting to hear “no”. The good news is that it’s only the starting point. Most people’s reaction to a request to change something is not usually “definitely…let’s do it!” It’s human nature to resist change. Expect the resistance and then stay. Stay through the resistance and get curious about it. Give the other person time to think about the request and come back to you with additional thoughts or a decision. A negotiation can go on for days, weeks, or even months. A negotiation is rarely complete in one conversation. I also believe it is in our nature to want to please other people. We don’t really enjoy saying no. By giving things time, you might be surprised by what opportunity can arise that wasn’t there before….all because you asked.

Is there something you’ve been wanting or needing for a while but convinced yourself that you’ll never get it? This is the time to ask. Step up to the plate and swing. If you rely on karma, the best you can hope for is getting walked to first base. So swing that bat, swing for the fences. You might strike out once in a while but keep stepping up and swinging. That’s what negotiating is all about. Keep swinging for the home run.

Doing This One Thing Will Help You Advance Your Career Instantly

Kelly Studer

Wouldn’t it be valuable to know how others perceive you and whether you’re having the impact you intend? We all want this! We want to know what’s working and what’s not, so we can make intelligent choices and be more successful, confident, and influential in our careers.  We need to know what makes us special as well as what’s getting in our way, so that we can have maximum impact and make a difference.

You have skills and experience that people rely on but that’s not what gets you ahead in your career or noticed in a bigger way.  Being clear on your impact (positive and negative) and then adjusting accordingly is crucial to advancing your career.

You want to know the secret for how to get this valuable information and insight?

There’s one thing you have to do and it’s easier than you can possibly imagine and yet most people don’t do it.

Demand Feedback…All The Time  

In late April, I was blessed with the good fortune of attending a 5-day workshop in Lyme Regis, England, which was centered on how to inject creative mastery into any business situation. It was lead by two genius guys, Chris Barez-Brown and Matt Bolton-Alarcon, from Upping Your Elvis 

That's Chris on the left, Matt on the right.

The results were shocking.  Nearly everyone discovered that their most authentic self was their most powerful and compelling version but they needed the feedback to really “get it” and understand its impact. It was as if they were finally given permission to be themselves. “More of that!,” they declared to each other every day. They also became acutely aware of their gaps and behaviors that reduced their effectiveness. Excellent!  They knew what to turn the volume up on and what to turn it down on.

For most of us, we wait to ask for feedback until the end of a project, after a big presentation, or during a performance review cycle.  We hope for unsolicited feedback, which doesn’t come as often as we like.  Becoming skillful at asking for feedback regularly, gives you the opportunity to pivot and make a bigger impact NOW!

The Secret Sauce

I’m going to share with you the exact script you should use to demand feedback.  It’s so simple, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it before.

Step #1:  Identify one person or a small group to demand feedback from with whom you’ve had any kind of substantial interaction (e.g. brainstorm discussion, leading a meeting, 1:1 strategy session).  As soon as the interaction has concluded, ask this question: “Hey, do you have 2-3 minutes to spare?  I’d love to get some quick feedback.”

Step #2: Once they’ve said yes, you say, “Ok, I’d like know one thing that I did BRILLIANTLY and one thing that I could do EVEN BETTER.” Use those exact words.  Do not replace them with anything else.

Step #3: Listen intently to their answer and say, “Thank you.”  There’s no need to agree, defend, or validate anything they are sharing with you. Of course, if you need more clarification, ask for it.

Objections and Pitfalls

Sometimes people have a hard time sharing feedback on the fly.  They might find it easy to tell you what you did brilliantly and shy away from helping you learn what you could do even better, especially face to face.

If this happens, give them time to think of something (I mean it - silence is an amazing tool - let them fill the space).  Try not to let them off the hook if they say, “Hmmm. I can’t think of anything you could do better.”  Remind them that feedback is really important to you and you’d appreciate any insight, big or small. They will come up with something if you are willing to wait a moment for it.

Collecting feedback only from certain categories of people is also short-sighted.  Demand feedback from everyone...upper management, direct reports, peers, clients, etc.  You want feedback from all levels and directions.  You even want it from people whom you don’t particularly like.  Don’t be picky or particular about who you demand it from.

The Incredible Benefits

The feedback you receive tells you as much about the other person as it does about you.  Demanding feedback helps you better connect with others because it sheds light on what is important to them.  It is colored by their own experiences, biases, and opinions, which provides a window into what they care about and value.

Since each person who gives you feedback is basing it on what matters most to them, it goes to show that you need to demand feedback regularly from lots of people and collect themes, not specific dos and don’ts. (Example themes: ability to boldly state what no one else is willing to say, easily shift the mood in the room to create more engagement and participation, put others at ease, ability to gain instant trust and credibility, etc.)

Once you take stock of your themes, you’ll be able to determine what to turn the volume up on and what to modify or eliminate.  The feedback is for your benefit so don’t ignore what you’re hearing.  Integrate your discoveries as much as possible and experiment.

Most importantly, keep asking for feedback to see if your adjustments are working.

The more you practice, the better you get at it...and it will become one of the best career development tools in your toolbox.

Pretty soon, performance reviews will seem completely unnecessary (there’s nothing new or surprising to learn!) and promotion becomes more likely and frequent.  Your brand will resonate in a clear and powerful way.

The answers you are looking for are available to you any time and from anyone.  You just have to ask.

My challenge to you is to demand feedback 3 times in the next week.

Will you take on this challenge?  What is the one thing that might hold you back from demanding feedback and what would you need to overcome it?  Share with me in the comments.

_______

P.S. If you’d like to learn more about my experience with the workshop and a few of the totally amazing tools I learned, you can check it out over on the Upping Your Elvis blog.

Are You Coachable?

Kelly Studer

scorpion-pose_kellystuder.png

It was a Tuesday morning and I was having a perfectly delightful conversation with my friend, Heather, when it took an unexpected turn.  I don’t even remember what we were talking about but she suddenly interrupted me in the middle of a sentence, looked me right in the eye, and asked, “Are you coachable?” At first, I didn’t understand her question.  Huh?  What did she mean? What was this in reference to?  Instead of asking her to clarify, I sat with it.

Am I coachable?

After a few moments, I flashed back to when I was a gymnast and spent all of my free time outside of school training for competitions.  Memories of me falling off the beam and bars or stumbling on the floor exercise sprung into focus.  I would stomp around in utter frustration and I’d curse myself for screwing up.  I could throw quite a fit!

My coaches would try to give me helpful tips and advice but I refused to hear it. I would get insanely worked up even by the tiniest of mistakes. Recovering to a place where I could learn from those mistakes and try again was not in the realm of possibility.  Once a mistake was made, I was ruined for the rest of the practice.  If I wobbled or fell during a competition… forget about it.  I couldn’t get back on track with the remaining events.

Was I coachable?  Ha!  Hell no.  I was a perfectionist who had to get everything right.  If I let someone help me, guide me, or point me in another direction, that would mean that I’m not doing something right.  I also saw guidance as a sign of failure on my part.  I loved it when my coaches pushed me hard but would shut down and not accept advice when I couldn’t perform a skill well.

As I look back, I realize that I had the natural abilities and potential to be a great gymnast, but because of my attitude and lack of coachability, I was only a good gymnast.

I’d been like this with most things in my life.  MUST GET IT RIGHT!  Had I missed the most important lesson in life?  What if being coachable is the key to greatness?  What if the ability to accept feedback graciously…no wait, accept it with enthusiasm, curiosity, and gratitude was the path to success?

Recently, a good friend (and colleague) of mine was sharing his experience with leading a 3-day workshop for the first time.  He was paired with a co-leader who had led these workshops many times before and would be guiding and mentoring him.

I asked him how it went and if he felt like he did a great job.  He laughed and said, “No! I screwed up at least 100 times.  My co-leader was giving me feedback all day long. It just kept coming.” To my surprise, he then went on to tell me how much he loved getting all of the feedback and he couldn’t wait to lead the workshop again soon.  He was so excited he could barely contain himself because of the learning and growth potential ahead of him.  He said it was one of the best experiences of his life.

Ah ha! This is what coachable looks like.

Another thing I realized is that being coachable is a choice.  Choosing to be open to new, better, and different ways of doing things is a way of pushing down on the accelerator of your career. Aiming to “look good” and “get it right” is like hitting the brakes.

Once I personally stepped into this idea of being coachable, I was floored by how freeing it was.  I became less fearful of making mistakes and more enthusiastic about how much I could gain from it. When I got really curious about other's suggestions and trying them on for size, it opened up possibility in unimaginable and rewarding ways.  I started becoming a better coach myself, achieved goals that had eluded me before, and even rocked the scorpion pose in yoga class.

I had tried this pose so many times before with no success.  In fact, it took nearly 11 years of my (rather uncoachable) yoga practice to get here.  I kept attempting the pose the same way over and over again, thinking it would eventually work.  I would beat myself up for struggling with it. As it turned out, allowing myself to be coached was the key, complete with landing on my head several times!

http://youtu.be/e5EE-30Ad4c

How about you? Could you be more coachable?  Here are some questions to ask yourself to test your coachability:

  • Do you get defensive or resistant when people offer suggestions or feedback?
  • Do you beat yourself up unnecessarily when you make a mistake?
  • Do you pretend to be open to helpful hints but then continue to do things the way you’ve always done them?
  • Do you have a tendency to figure how to do something new on your own rather than ask for help or guidance?

If you answered yes to two or more of these questions, you have an opportunity to become more coachable.

We are told all the time to fail early and often but rarely does our ego let us go there.  It’s scary!  Will people doublt our credibility?  Will they still respect us? Will they give us another shot? If you’re willing to stay open and flexible, eager to grow, the ones that count will. 

It’s when we fail or make a mistake and put ourselves in ego jail that we’re less desirable to work with. Think about it. When you're less open to feedback, people stop giving it as freely. Don't you feel uncomfortable giving feedback to people who reject it or defend themselves against it?   As you can imagine, when we get less feedback, we lose the opportunity to grow and stretch.  

Be willing to challenge your own resistance.  Be approachable and receptive.  Be a great listener.  Have a willingness to learn from anyone and see possibility in other’s advice or perspective.  Be curious, grateful, and appreciative of other’s suggestions - they are gifts being offered to you.

And most importantly of all, stay through the sting of any feedback.  Like a woman in labor, the contraction is terribly uncomfortable for a time but it passes.  Ultimately, those contractions lead to the birth of something new!  

It’s never too late to choose to be coachable.  Transforming from good to great is absolutely within your reach.

What do you want to choose now? What can you do in the next week to be more coachable and open to new ideas for greatness? Tell me in the comments below, and feel free to ask me for advice too!

The 6 Steps You Need to Take to Land an Introduction

Kelly Studer

You know that applying to jobs online is not the best way to go about getting a job.  You also know that it’s the easiest and most painless yet the least likely way to land your ideal job.  If you’re going to get your foot in the door at the companies that excite you most and have job openings that make your heart pound, then it’s going to require some networking and getting an introduction (or two). You’ve done the LinkedIn research and seen who’s connected to whom at companies you’re targeting.  Then, you sit there and ponder how to get someone you haven’t talked to in years to introduce you to someone they know at a company you’re dying to get in with.

You may have even already tried and didn’t get much of a response or any real tangible help.  You might even be secretly wishing that you had kept up a stronger network for the past few years so it wouldn’t be so damn awkward reaching out to people now.  But here you are.

It really hit me that this was a more pervasive problem than I realized when I got an email recently from someone that I hadn’t seen or spoken to in over 10 years.  It was from a former colleague who is now very senior in his career and works as a top strategy consultant to Fortune 500 companies.

Out of the blue, he emails me asking for an introduction.  (The email below is just one example of introduction requests that I’ve received over the years that have really missed the mark.)  I’ve discovered that it doesn’t matter how experienced someone is in their career, they can still be shockingly bad at networking and making connections.

Bad Intro request

Being on the receiving end of this “request to make an introduction”, I noticed that it really miffed me.  I LOVE to help people out but I wanted to delete it and pretend I never got it.  It actually made me a little angry.

Why angry?  It’s simple.  I hadn’t heard from this person in a decade and he suddenly comes out of nowhere and asks me to do something for him.  He doesn’t really ask me how I’m doing or have any interest in me.  He doesn’t tell me what type of opportunities he’s looking for.  He doesn’t even know what my relationship is with the person with whom he wants the introduction.  There is no attempt to reconnect with me in any meaningful way.   I feel like he’s using me for my connections and it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Of course, I know this is not his intent but it is his impact.

Perhaps this makes me sound a bit selfish but is it really?   We want to help people who care about us.  We want to go out of our way for someone who shows us even the tiniest bit of gratitude and appreciation.  We want to help other people succeed whom we have a relationship with in some way.  Bottom line, we love helping out people we like.   It feels awesome!

The good news is that I’m going to walk you through exactly what you need to do to make asking for introductions easier and strengthen your network at the same time. 

You want to take the approach of “go slow to go fast.”  The rule of thumb is to build a genuine connection first, get to the ask later.

Here’s my simple step-by-step approach to getting that introduction from someone you don’t have a close relationship with already:

  1. Make it about them:  Once you’ve identified someone you want to ask for an introduction, think about what would compel them to respond and get back in touch with you.  Put yourself in their shoes.  Comment on what you noticed they've been up to (check out their LinkedIn profile and/or Google them) and what impresses you about it.  Ask how they are doing.   Be curious about what’s going on in their life or career.
  2. Do not ask for the introduction in the first communication: Let it be their idea to help you.  Could you use some advice, insight, or opinion? People love to have their ego stroked and rarely turn away from giving advice.  It’s okay to mention why you got in touch with them…maybe something along the lines of starting to look for a new opportunity and your interest in reconnecting with people you respect.   If there’s any “ask” here, it could be to grab a cup of coffee or chat on the phone.  Easy and breezy.  You are not asking for an introduction yet…creating a genuine (re)connection is most important at this stage.
  3. Accept their offer: After you’ve heard back from them, take whatever the most natural next step is, whether to provide more information, set up a time to meet, or ask more questions about them.  If you haven’t heard back after your first outreach, send them another email a week later with a link to an article that made you think of them or something interesting that came up since the first email.  It’s a non-offensive and thoughtful way of saying, “hey, me again, let’s connect.”
  4. Follow through:  Once you’re “in” with your connection, I guarantee if you communicate clearly what you’re looking for in your next opportunity, they will offer to make an introduction (or refer you).  If they don’t offer, go ahead and ask for it at this point.  Be specific.  Let them know how you could use their help.
  5. Make it as easy for them as possible: If there is a job posted that you’d like to be considered for, be sure to share the link.  Provide them with a brief paragraph on you (high level background and what you’re looking for next), so they don't have to write it themselves when making the introduction to their connection.  Of course, they can choose not to use it or tweak it to sound more like they wrote it but it's a thoughtful thing to do.  And don’t forget the resume!
  6. Be insanely grateful: …for anything (literally anything) someone does to help you.  Follow up after they've helped you and let them know what happened.  People love to know that their help made a difference.  And if it didn't, they might try again.

This approach pretty much works for any kind of help you might need to ask for in your career (or life) from those whom you don’t have the closest connection or relationship.  Don’t hesitate to ask, just keep in mind the steps to creating a win-win situation.   It’s simple, easy, and works every time.

As a side note, I gave direct feedback and advice to my former colleague who sent me that not-so-successful introduction request and asked him if he’d like to try again.  Within two hours, he responded with gratitude for the feedback, admitted that he finds this part of the job search very difficult, and wrote me a whole new email.  I promptly responded with an enthusiastic, “I’d love to chat with you.”  We set up a 30-minute call a week later and I discovered that there are quite a few other people I can introduce him to that would be better than the one he suggested.  It is a win-win for both of us!  I feel great being able to help him and he feels more supported in his job search.  All it took was a few minor tweaks to his approach.

Are You Throwing in the Towel Too Soon?

Kelly Studer

Back in December, I got this idea to do a business planning retreat.  I pictured it being a small group of entrepreneurs who would come together for 3 days to play, co-create, and design what’s next in our businesses.  There would be bottomless mugs of hot coffee, slippers, inappropriate language, and “aha” moments.  This retreat was going to rock! I had a few entrepreneur friends in the Vancouver area and thought it would be a nice change of scenery to head up to Canada.  One of my friends offered to host the retreat at her gorgeous beach house.  Jackpot!  Before long, there were seven of us onboard and we’d set the date for January 18-20.

Finally, it’s Friday morning on January 17th and I wake up with a smile on my face.  I’m going to Vancouver tonight.  Yeehaw!

Well, not quite.  Around 3:00pm, I learn that my Friday evening flight was cancelled and rescheduled for 6:20pm on Saturday.  NOOOOO!!

This was a retreat that I had planned and I wouldn’t even be there for the first day.  I immediately started thinking about everything I was going to miss out on and feeling completely out of control.  If only this airline hadn’t ruined it for me…

I called my friend’s house to share the bad news and was ready to say, “Go ahead without me” when she said, “No way.  You’re still joining us tomorrow. Let’s use Google Hangout.”  Despite some initial resistance (aka feeling sorry for myself), I agreed to give it a try.

It worked like a dream.  On Saturday morning, the group set “me” up on a chair and sat around it so that I could see everyone.  We proceeded as if I was there in person.  Around 4:00pm, I signed off and headed to the airport to catch my flight. The excitement started building again knowing that I’d be there with all of them soon.

Nope.  Got all the way to the airport, was waiting at the gate to board, and the flight was cancelled again. You’ve got to be kidding me!!!  Again?  No no no no NOOOOOOO!

I was offered the wonderful option of trying again on Sunday morning for a 7:00am flight but decided to pass.  I thought the universe was trying to tell me something.  This just wasn’t meant to be.

Still in shock, I returned to my car in the long-term parking lot.  As I turned on the engine and started to back out, I burst into tears.  Then, 20 seconds later, my theme song came on (“Brave” by Sara Bareilles) and I couldn’t help but smile and laugh.  And then cried even harder.

I felt so robbed! I was flooded with feelings of disappointment, sadness, and rage. This was not how it was supposed to go.

Has this ever happened to you?  You had everything all planned out and you get served up a big ole curve ball?

The choice I ultimately made was to be a part of that retreat no matter what.  The Google Hangout had worked the day before, so why not continue to use it for the next two days?  That’s exactly what I did and it was thing of unexpected beauty.

I got my own hot mug of coffee, set myself up on my couch, and dialed in.  What came out of the next 18 hours together blew my mind.  My amazing group even brought the computer to the dinner table on Sunday night so we could eat together.  In the end, my presence and commitment was rewarded through contributing to the group and being pushed to my growing edge in my business.  The retreat exceeded my expectations even though I never made it to Vancouver.

We’re all met with circumstances out of our control that can be unbelievably disappointing and frustrating.  When I was faced with this, I realized that I could either take myself out or find a way to stay in.  There was still a choice to make.

So, why am I sharing this story with you?  I’m sharing it because it ended up being a profoundly transformative experience in my life.  I was determined to find a way to get value out of something that I thought was no longer available.  I made a conscious decision to handle myself differently.  When I made this a priority, I had an “aha” moment.

In the past, I would have let my emotions get the best of me and stayed in a bad mood for way too long. I would have found a way to blame myself while also playing victim.  I would be unwilling to forgive myself and others for a long time.  I would stew and bring a lot of negative energy.  I wouldn’t take responsibility for my impact.

This time around, I took a step back and asked myself a few questions about how I wanted to deal with this “out of my control” situation and became really curious about the answers.  Ultimately, these questions helped me make a powerful choice and saved me from throwing in the towel.

If these questions made the difference for me, then hopefully they can make a difference for you.  Here they are…

What’s the gift in this?   I used to hate when people asked me this question because I didn’t want to find the gift.  I wanted to wallow in the misery.  Yet, interestingly enough, if you really try to answer this question, you’ll discover that what’s happened isn’t as bad as you think.  You’re not going to die.  This is not life threatening, even though it might feel that way emotionally.  Go ahead and roll your eyes…and then still answer the question.  It offers a powerful way to turn your thoughts around and find possibility buried in the despair.

Who do I want to be right now and what impact do I want to make? When you ask yourself this question, it enables you to take a step back and look at yourself.  Yeah! Who do I want to be? Pissed off and yelling at people who don’t deserve it?  A crybaby and blubbering idiot? It’s important to feel your emotions and experience them.  However, this question offers you the chance to make a different choice in order to honor yourself and recognize the impact you will have on others.  Will your bad mood contribute to others?  Will letting go of your anger or sadness allow you to be more present and creative?  Decide who you want to be in this experience and this moment.  It’s totally up to you.

What do I need to do to stay in the game?    The easy thing to do is to take yourself out.  It’s easy to walk (or run) away and hide or give up altogether.  It might feel like the thing you want to do in the moment but it strips you of the opportunity to test your resilience and strength.  If there’s still time on the clock, then figure out how to keep playing.  The most successful people stay in the game despite setbacks (e.g. Steve Jobs, Nelson Mandela, Hillary Clinton, etc.).  For me, I had to let go of my anger and resentment and check back in with why I wanted to plan this retreat in the first place.  Once I remembered my goal, my head cleared and I was able to accept my new reality and re-engage.

Life is going to hand you a shit sandwich sometimes.  Your ability to recover can be one of the most powerful ways for you to show up as a leader and live the life you desire.

Sick of New Year's Resolutions and Arbitrary Goal Setting? Try This Instead.

Kelly Studer

Two fellow entrepreneur friends, Laurie and Jeremy, were coming over to my place for a “2014 strategy planning” day a few weeks ago.  It had been on the calendar for months.  The expectation (that I made up in my mind) was that we should each walk away from it with our individual plan and vision for the year, including financial goals, milestones, deliverables, and what resources we’d need to succeed in our businesses.

That’s not what ended up happening at all.  Something much better happened instead.

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Up for the Down Stroke: Getting Out of a Funk

Kelly Studer

KellyStuder_Sparrow.jpg

I made a decision several months ago to spend 6 weeks living and working in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  I wanted to see if I could effectively run my business in a foreign country, making it “location independent.” In fact, it was one of the reason I started my own business.  I wanted to honor my values of adventure and freedom in a major way. Brilliant idea, right?  Everyone, including me, thought so.  “How totally awesome!” “I wish I could do something like that.” And the occasional, “Seriously? How does that work?  Do you have clients in Argentina?”  No, I don’t have any clients in Argentina (yet).  I have Skype, Google Hangout, and Facetime!

I jumped on a plane on October 19th.

Everything about it was supposed to be amazing.  I’d gain a perspective that would open up new ways of seeing things.  I’d be inspired by a different culture and way of living and come home with tons of motivation and a strategy for 2014!

By the end of week one in Buenos Aires, nothing about this adventure felt inspiring or motivating. It was like the air had been let out of my tires. I felt lonely, isolated, confused, and wondering if I made a mistake.  I couldn’t even find anything to like about Buenos Aires.  I slipped into a depression-like funk.  And of course, I was mad at myself for my “pathetic behavior” which only made things worse.  Oh, and I caught a nasty cold.  No surprise there.

Yet, this is exactly what I needed.  I begged for and fantasized about this change and had forgotten about the slump that naturally comes with it.

Whether you’re exploring a career transition, taking some well-deserved time off, just started a new job, or made a recent big change in your life, it’s not uncommon to feel fired up and optimistic one minute, and the next start to question everything when it’s not turning out your way.  When unemployed, it’s even easier to slip in this funk for longer periods of time.

Big changes bring discomfort.  The experiences and feelings that come with it are rarely convenient or welcome and they certainly leave us confused and frustrated.  Our instincts tell us to flee.

This is not the answer.  The discomfort tells us that there is something unknown to discover. What is waiting for us on the other side is learning, growth, and beauty.  The comfort zone is full of stagnation and boredom.  We have to remind ourselves us of this when we’re in the unpleasant mess of it all.

Because I was not going to let this Argentina trip be a bust, I started experimenting.  Here’s what I discovered that ultimately worked for me and I hope will for you too:

  1. FEEL IT – The worst thing you can do is sweep your feelings under the rug and pretend you’re not having them.  Let the emotions wash over you. Lean into it and be curious about what’s there.  Acknowledge how you feel and give yourself permission to be scared, sad, angry or disappointed.  There’s nothing wrong with feeling this way.  You’re human! Ignoring these feelings, on the other hand, will not help you face the discomfort and move forward. You’ll stay stuck and frustrated.
  2. USE A LIFE LINE – This is not a time to figure it out on your own or pretend you’re not going through a rough patch.  The only person who expects you to be “strong” is YOU.   The strongest thing you can do is reach out to a trusted friend, family member, or coach who is willing to listen and help you get a new perspective.  You need someone to reflect what they are seeing and offer you some alternatives.  Nothing helps you get out of your own shit faster than connecting with someone who loves you and wants nothing but your happiness.
  3. BE PLAYFUL – Come up with one fun, playful thing you can do each day when you’re in a funk.  It doesn’t have to be anything big or time-consuming. Get into a playful mindset (dare I say, silly?) and then act on it. For example, I decided that I needed to get out of my apartment (I was going crazy being all cooped up) and hit the famous ice cream shop on the corner. On the way out, the Spanish-speaking doorman tried to strike up a conversation but I don’t speak a word of Spanish.  On a whim, I tried to ask his favorite ice cream flavor so I could bring it back to him as a surprise. He was so happy and appreciative.  That brief 10-minutes of fun buoyed my spirits.  Bringing fun and playfulness into your day is like experiencing a cloudy day when the sun breaks through.  When you feeling really low, ask yourself, “What’s something fun or unexpected I could do right now?” Then, do it!
  4. RECOVER WITH POSITIVITY – We’ll never avoid slumps and periods of extreme discomfort.  The key is recovery…and the faster, the better.  The bizarre thing is that we often want to stay in the valley of emotional negativity even though we hate it there.  Why? It’s easier to be hard on ourselves, feel hopeless or tell ourselves stories that we can’t do something.  Ironically, the uncomfortable thing is to think positively, be kind to ourselves, and picture how we really want things to go.  Recover back to positivity…and fast.  You don’t have to believe the positive thoughts at first but keep focusing on what you want to be true (not what you think is true).

Jack Sparrow was spot on.  These 4 steps won’t always work the first time around, so you may need to rinse and repeat to get a new attitude.  It’s not easy to get a new attitude!  It took me about 3 cycles to finally break free, watch the clouds part and feel the sunshine again.  I persevered because everything turned around magnificently and it will for you, too, if you give it a shot and get the upper hand on that funk.

Which of these techniques have you tried or are considering?  Which one(s) would help you overcome your funk?  Share your brilliant ideas in the comments!

The 70% Principle for the Perfect Hiring Fit

Kelly Studer

I firmly believe that most hiring managers are hiring the wrong people and most job seekers are trying to get hired for the wrong jobs.   

If you’re on the hunt for your next (much better) job, I want to give you a few tips on how to make sure your job is a fabulous one past the first six months.  For hiring managers, I want to share with you how you can set yourself up for hiring a great employee who will stay motivated, productive, and happy for the longer term.  

Here’s what happens all the time…

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Does Your Career Have An Image Problem?

Kelly Studer

The way we dress at work is one of the least talked about subjects.  When it is discussed, it’s almost never with the person directly, especially when the image is not favorable.  No one wants to touch this subject with a ten-foot pole.  It’s so damn uncomfortable for everyone involved and an often-avoided conversation. 

 

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The Most Important Relationship in Your Job Search

Kelly Studer

During my corporate career, I spent many years as an in-house recruiter.  What blew my mind was how many candidates didn’t take their first interview with me very seriously.  Many were ill-prepared and underestimated the importance of our conversation.  I got the distinct feeling that I was seen as an impediment, just someone to bypass. 

 

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The NEW Elevator Pitch

Kelly Studer

You meet someone for the first time.  Maybe it’s at the coffee shop on the corner, at a cocktail party, a seminar, or a networking event.  After exchanging names and commenting on the scene, this new acquaintance asks, “So, what do you do?”  

Now is the moment for your elevator pitch!  And yes, it’s the one thing you have totally NOT been working on but always plan to…someday.

 

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Ladies, Are You Ready To Play Bigger? My Q&A with Tara Sophia Mohr

Kelly Studer

Have you ever had an experience of meeting someone for the first time and realizing instantly that your life is about to change? Well, that’s what happened when I met Tara Mohr last August.  Since we’re both solopreneurs and have a shared mission to help as many people flourish in their careers (and life) as possible, it created a wonderful bond.  Every single interaction I’ve had with her since has been full of learning, growing, and laughing (she’s very funny).  Basically, she’s a rad chick. 

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Is Your Brand Standing In The Way Of A Promotion?

Kelly Studer

Have you ever been passed over for promotion, time and again, despite being a top performer?  It’s frustrating beyond belief, isn’t it?  Believe me, I know.  I went through it myself at Google.  I kept taking on more and more but there was no promotion in sight.  It was baffling to me at the time.  I kept telling myself that I was terrible at managing upwards but I’m not totally sure that was the cause of my stagnation. I had a brand issue.

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The Shocking Truth About Job Postings

Kelly Studer

You are talented, successful, and have amazing talents, skills, and experience, yet you find yourself looking at job postings and saying to yourself, “Oh, I don’t have the experience they are looking for.  I’m not qualified for this job. I shouldn’t even bother to go after it.  I’d never get hired for this job anyway.” 

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Career Development Supermodel-Style: My Interview with Christy Turlington Burns (Part II)

Kelly Studer

You might think that a world famous supermodel doesn’t really need to worry about career development.  Well, that is unless you’re talking about Christy Turlington Burns.  As you’ll see in the second part of my interview series with her, Christy knew at a young age that she wanted to do something to change the world, she just wasn’t sure how. 

 

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