Friday, November 21, 2014

Use Your Language to Empower Your Life

Yesterday I had the pleasure to hang out with some amazing women from the local "Lean In" group and after the event, I had a great conversation with a young professional woman who had an interview today for a new position.

Be Confident and  Empower Yourself
As we chatted in our group, she practiced some of the things she planned on saying in the interview and some feedback that I gave to her was the inspiration for this post.

As I've mentioned before, I am a strategy and leadership coaching consultant of my own firm and so collaborating on the success of women is a core service.  I have noticed how much the language of people is really important but I think we all aren't necessarily aware of it.

For the young lady I'll call Rebecca (not her real name), she mentioned that in the interview, there would be a point where she'd say:  "If you don't mind, can I ask you a few questions?" (Note: she had done some research and was well prepared for the interview.)

My response to her was why doesn't she re-phrase that to "I have a list of questions I prepared for the interview that I wanted to ask so that I can more clearly understand some of the responsibilities of the position."

Do you see the difference in the language?

The reason this is important is that from my 15+ years working in corporate, I was constantly confronted with not only my own language and how I presented myself but also, I observed the language of my female colleagues.

An Example of How Your Language Can Hurt You
For example, I would spend closed door time with a female executive colleague before a quarterly Board presentation or a team project. My colleague would speak with confidence and assured-ness due to preparation, their knowledge and experience...even if they were nervous, they were prepared.

It never failed that as soon as my female colleague was at the presentation, her language would completely change!

My colleague's language would go from strong language in our closed door prep meetings of: "We exceeded our projected numbers by 30% for the quarter and even though we see challenges from our competitor's new product line, we are preparing in advance to focus on our core customer relationships and our marketing efforts."

To once my colleague was speaking in front  of (normally) an all white male Board meeting: "I think we did a good job this quarter because we increased our numbers by 30% but Jimmy (punting to her male colleague) has stated that we need to be more proactive with the threat our competitors presents."

Do you see the difference in the language?

And this matters!  I can't tell you how many executive management and human resource meetings I have sat in where management was not confident in the decision making and leadership skills of my female colleagues.  This was due to the language my colleague used and how they presented themselves (not because of their results which should have mattered the most).

Best Tip for Using Your Language to Empower Your Life
Understand that your language tells other people how to perceive you.  And because of that, YOU are in control of what that perception is, whether positive or negative. So don't see this as a negative, see this as a point to be empowered.

For example, if you know you are up for a promotion and one of the key requirements is the ability to connect people, at least 6-12 months before you apply for the position, at every single meeting with your manager (or person who will influence the selection of the person getting promoted), you use the words/phrases like:
  • "I was happy to connect our team for project X by doing __"
  • "I really enjoy connecting with other departments...."
  • "Connecting with people is something I really enjoy..."
Do you get it?

YOU be empowered to train that banker, manager, HR department, potential partner, etc. of what you want the outcome to be based on who you are using your language BEFORE the actual point of decision and before you know it (mark my words) those people will start using that language about you!  It will start appearing in your performance reviews, in meetings, etc.

For more helpful tips on being great in the workplace whether that's empowering your language or other practical tips, don't forgot to sign up for a one-on-one coaching session with me!

Be great and empower your life with your language!


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

An Inspiring Story and Tips for Proving Your Doubters Wrong

Recently, I was inspired by the Inc. cover story (by Lindsay Blakely) of Jessica Alba in a feature about "How to Prove Your Doubters Wrong".  I was inspired by the story because no matter what you are choosing to do in your everyday life that is driven by your passion (or necessity), at some point, you will have doubters.

Jessica Alba of The Honest Company
Inc. Interview Quick Summary
See full interview here and summary below:
When actress Jessica Alba first conceived her idea to launch a line of nontoxic household and baby products in 2008, skeptics tried to push her toward the same tried and true starlet formula: Why not just be the face of a new perfume? A few years later The Honest Company is expected to pull in more than $150 million in revenue in 2014, has a reported $1 billion valuation, and is poised to go public. Take that, Hollywood.

I founded The Honest Company on this idea: Everything that touches you and your family--everything in your home--needs to be nontoxic, needs to be effective and beautiful to look at, and needs to be affordable. Wouldn't it be great if you could pick five things and get them delivered through a monthly subscription?

Everyone I approached was skeptical. There wasn't one person who said, "Yeah, that can happen." I heard "Just do one thing really well and then you can expand" a lot. But I wanted this to be a whole lifestyle brand. 

Friends want to help you, but they're also going to be the most critical. We launched with 17 products. Even my husband, Cash, thought the idea was too big.

Whenever I tried to sit down with them about it, they would just get this glazed look on their faces. They see you only as something else. But all that just gave me fire to move forward."
My Example of Dealing with Doubters
Doubters come in the form of people who love you, people who misunderstand you, people who are envious of person who has ever successfully accomplished something will be able to escape the fact that a doubter will speak against that invention, that creative solution, your triumph after many months of hardship, etc.  Expect it.

The difference between success and failure is your reaction to adversities, including doubters.

In TCW Press Room with Diana Nyad
For me, I recently had an experience that came from being driven from doubters.  For eight of my 12 years of schooling, I was told by English teachers that I'd never be a great writer. I was told this because I write very conversationally as opposed to according to proper English prose.

Imagine my excitement and fear when I decided to create this blog knowing that I'd have to write and be vulnerable to people who may have an opinion of my writing skills (or lack thereof). 

My fear was silenced when, for example, I walked into the Austin Convention Center last week to cover the Texas Conference for Women (TCW).  My press coverage included working alongside journalists, news outlets and other amazing bloggers.  My smile and excitement for the day wasn't just for the events taking also gave me a deep set of satisfaction knowing that I am proving all those English teachers wrong with every great blog post I create!

And I can't explain the extreme pleasure I had when the media director responded that my coverage of the conference "was wonderful" and their social media folks tweeted it to their 10,000 followers! Nice!

Tips for Dealing with Doubters
KNOW that any great endeavor is going to include fear.  However, don't let that fear get mixed with the opinions of doubters.

Be clear about your truth.  Like Alba, her truth was clear in that she knew The Honest Company would offer something different that would resolve an unmet need.  The hard part was then building the company, people and processes...but her truth never changed.

Never stop giving grace to yourself.  Any pathway is littered with failure, confusion, disappointments, etc.  These things doesn't mean that your goal is not worth pursuing or that you should give up.  Most people talk about extending grace to others but in this instance, I'm referring to extending grace to yourself!

Know the source.  Opinions are going to come regardless.  One of the most wise things I've ever heard from a friend's Mom is to know the source.  For example, someone may have a strong (even valid) opinion of the viability of a goal but be cautious of "accepting" that opinion into your truth.  I have had people give me opinions about the viability of my company but knowing the source helped me filter that the person "failed in business" (and therefore, that opinion is coming from a bitter place) or is not doing the same type of business I'm doing.  No thanks!

Be encouraged, believe in your truth and most importantly, don't ever stop believing in yourself and the impact you can make on our world...


* No copyright infringement intended in summarizing Inc. story.  Also, Curva-Lish is a Brand Ambassador/partner with The Honest Company.  Therefore, Curva-Lish will earn a commission for all purchases using links above.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Make 2015 Your Year!

In addition to being the creator of Curva-Lish, I am also an strategy advisor, volunteer, and life coach with more than 15 years of experience working with women in leadership, as a strategy advisor and lifestyle coach.

For the holidays, I am offering a unique opportunity to be coached one-on-one by me that is not only at a greatly reduced rate but also, it will allow me to seasonally employ a single mom who needs work during this holiday season.

This holiday special is intended to get you set to have the best year of your life for 2015.  Don't approach your year with the same mind-set, goals and wishes as you have in years past.  Let me be your coach and strategy advisor to create an effective plan that can:
  • Clarify your personal and professional vision so that you can assess the effectiveness of how you spend your time
  • Assess your intentions and how they impact the results you are getting (or not)
  • How to deal with fears and activities that steer you away from your goals
  • Create a vision board that is updated and that correlates to your evolved goals and what you want to achieve
  • Exercises that will help you be more courageous and take actions towards your maximum potential
2015 is Your Year!
This special allows you to have up to four 30-minute one-on-on sessions with me and includes exercises that will cause you to have breakthroughs in key areas of your life and/or profession.

Don't let 2015 be a replay of 2014, 2013, 2012 or's time for you to experience your biggest life with someone who is living hers and can save you money and time running in circles to experience yours...and it is all at a discounted price that will seasonally employ a worthy single-mom (to help me with company projects).

ONLY $199*

Click on the link above and let's get started!!!!


* Pre-pay required, nonrefundable.  You will be contacted within three business once payment received! 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Super Gathering of Women that Changed Lives!

Johnita Jones, President, TCW and ExxonMobile Executive
Get ready to buckle your seat belts as I recap the Texas Conference for Women (TCW) that was as big as Texas!  Not because of its sheer size, although there were over 6,000+ amazing women in, it was Texas sized because the themes from every direction at the massive Austin Convention Center was that when you empower a woman, it changes a home, community, business, board, nonprofit and government!

Upon entering the convention hall on Thursday, the first thing I noticed was how beautifully diverse the attendees were carrying their gift bags around scurrying to the next not-to-be-missed session.  There were all races, background, ages, career levels and interests represented.  Surely the hard working organizers, including the founder of the conference First Lady of Texas Anita Perry and conference president Johnita Jones are aware of their reach after 14 years and over 80,000 attendees.

#DesireMap Creator Danielle LaPorte
For this post, I wanted to give you the experience and feel of the conference so that you can catch the fire that was also re-ignited in me after a day of hit-you-hard love, empowerment, high-fives and pats on the back.

While there was no way I could ever make it to each session, I wanted to share some brilliant nuggets that were themes throughout the day:

One of the most refreshing quotes from a session was from Danielle LaPorte, Desire Map creator and accompanying "Creating Goals with Soul".  During my session listening to her and taking notes, someone asked about her thoughts on "work/life balance".  Without hesitating, LaPorte said she thought work/life balance was bullsh*t and a myth.  LaPorte went on to say that she believed the pursuit of work/life balance is causing more stress than the actual feeling of imbalance.  

I wish you were there with me to know the sigh of relief, cheers and high-fives that occurred around the room of about 1,000 session attendees.  I spoke with an executive with FreeScale Semiconductor after the session and asked what part of LaPorte's speech she liked the most and she immediately said the work/life balance part.  With tears in her eyes, she said LaPorte's comment made her feel better about herself and her inability to achieve the "lean in" balance that LaPorte also stated was a myth.

LaPorte ended her session with " wants you to win.  And then you'll realize it is your soul that is calling you (to a life that wins) listen up, get closer, and decide to rise."  Yes!

Surviving and believing with the gracious Tamara Mellon:  Mellon was perhaps the biggest surprise of the whole conference for me.  I was very familiar with her background but the graciousness in which she spoke during her interview with Soledad O'Brien and her responses to my inquiries were deeply authentic.

Soledad O'Brien, Anita Perry, Diana Nyad, Johnita Jones
During her O'Brien interview, she shared how most people don't believe they can relate to her because she not only comes from money but she married a man with wealth.  Even though she didn't have a want for anything, she shared how she created Jimmy Choo so that she could prove to herself her own worth!

Mellon also shared how she battled self-esteem issues and for the longest time didn't want to be the face of the Jimmy Choo brand even though she was doing most of the heavy lifting to operate the company.  For years no one knew she was the mastermind until she became brave enough to "own it" and get acknowledged for the hard work.  We were all inspired and could relate to what it means to get up the courage to "own it" in our lives whether we literally own the brand or if it's as simple as speaking up to voice our contributions.

In response to my inquiries to Mellon regarding how can women show more authenticity in their lives no matter if they are a stay at home mom, politician, board member, or community advocate, Mellon stated, "Authenticity is being true to your values. Being honest and staying with your values."

When I asked Mellon her thoughts on what has motivated her she said, "The first thing that motivated me was the fear of not being able to take care of myself. Don't give up.  Your passion is the most important thing you have.  And if you follow your passion, then the rest will come.  Do what your passion is even if it's cooking, working for a charity or picking the kids up from school.  Follow your passion."

A Fireside Chat with Diana Nyad
One of the highlights of the conference was a "fireside chat" with the very frank and real Diana Nyad, endurance swimmer and author.  Before our chat, I had already heard all the buzz from attendees from her compassionate and honest keynote lunch address.  Scores of women were very moved by her heartfelt desire to "use her platform to impact humanity".

What was shocking was that during the keynote lunch, Nyad shared (for what I believe is the first time publicly) that she had been traumatized when at 14 years of age her beloved mentor and swimming coach raped her.  The shock around the room was palpable.  She went on the encourage women that no matter what happens or what someone says or does, don't ever give up on something that fuels you and that you deeply care about.

Women Receiving Coaching Sessions at "Coaches Corner"
During our fireside chat, Nyad brought tears to the eyes of every person in the room with her direct responses to how she views authenticity and doing your part to help humanity.  She also shared, "There are over 7 billion people in this world who don't have choices (what they can drink, eat, or sleep due to poverty)."  She went on to say, "The thing that I hate to see the most is when you have perfectly capable people sit on a couch while their lives passes them by.  Get up and do something!  The heroes are not the people who will necessarily ever be rich or famous. The heroes are the people who do something for someone else!"  Wow!

Other highlights I experienced and observed during this awesome whirlwind of a day included:
  • There was a "Coaches Corner" sponsored by the International Coaches Federation that I participated in with a lovely executive banker from Plano.  We immediately delved in on transitions of life and she was a source of encouragement to keep pursuing my dream.
  • "Resume Review" focused on helping women by reviewing their resumes, getting clarity on what jobs they wanted to either pursue or transition to or how to best be positioned for a promotion.  There were some powerful things happening through my 10 minute observation.
  • I was truly delighted by the "Young Women's Program" track that included talks about "Turning Your Dreams Into Reality" and an inspiring time discussing Alexis Jone's "I Am That Girl".  Jones created the organization to advise young women to be the best version of each of us and not to let the bombardment of messages make young women question who they are...brilliant!  I loved knowing about this program track because when I interviewed college attendees Joey H. and Jaquelin H., they both expressed their fears and with living up to expectations and their future in finding the right career paths.
  • The "Small Business Roundtables" included sessions led by expert facilitators including Jeanne Corrigan.  I met Corrigan and her passion for working with clients on how to market to women through her company Mosaic Insight Group.  Corrigan's session included marketing to women from customer service to storytelling and contest promotions.  She shared how a woman is very brand-loyal and can be an enthusiastic brand ambassador to her friends, family and colleagues.  It was insightful and a must for any business that markets to women.
There was an onsite book store that featured some of the best works by the speakers and I have tracked the ones I would highly recommend to you based on where you are in life:

One of the sold-out sessions was "How to Become the Social Entrepreneur of Your Own Life" which had 3,000 attendees packed into an overflowing convention room.  The session were centered around "Teach a Woman to Fish" and how women who are passionate about changing the world can use their talents by leveraging their professional skills to make a difference in the nonprofit world and globally.  The attendees LOVED this session!

"Playing Big: Find Your Voice, Your Mission, Your Message" was also a very popular book and theme from the conference.  Author Tara Mohr saw how women were "playing small" in their lives and careers, were frustrated by it, and wanted to "play bigger."  While not all women aspire to end up in the corner office, every woman aspires to something. "Playing Big" offers tools to help every woman play bigger—whether she’s an executive, community volunteer, artist, or stay-at-home mom.

Kerri Zane was a hoot in the session I attended where a panel discussed "Survival Strategies in a Lean In World'.  Zane is the author of "It Takes All 5" about a single mom's journey to get her life back! The book is a guide to getting your life back on track by healing the whole woman inside and out. The book is centered around using the Five-Finger Philosophy which encompasses the physical, emotional, spiritual, mental and sexual part of every being for an authentic and renewable "REAL"ationship.

"A Path Appears" co-authored by Sheryl WuDunn, the first Asian-American reporter to win a Pulitzer Prize.  Her book is a narrative of how everyday global citizens is transforming lives everyday.  WuDunn and her husband are also the authors of the ground-breaking book "Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide" which I'd highly recommend!  Both books will inspire you to assess how you can do more to impact others on a small scale or bigger...

Tamara Mellon's "In My Shoes: A Memoir" is recommended because it will inspire entrepreneurs building their companies.  The central theme is based on advice from Mellon's dad who told her never to let accountants run her business.  The struggle between “financial” and “creative” would become one of the central themes as Mellon’s business savvy, creative eye, and flair for design built Jimmy Choo into a premier name in the competitive fashion industry.

I hope post effectively captures for you the essence and themes that I kept hearing over and over from the day regarding fears, joys, transitions, designing a life of meaning and impact and overall, evolving to be whole women who makes contributions that positively empowers our families, communities and places of work.
Michele Ruiz (far right) "Leveraging technology is pathway to profit!"

This conference is a must attend and if I were you, I'd make it a goal to attend the conference next year because after 14 years, there doesn't seem to be any signs of it lowering its level of exceptional and powerhouse speakers and empowering experiences that changes the lives of women...


Thanks kindly to Getty Images for all the photos and permission to use, including help from Julia Ballantyne (Media Affairs Director).

Friday, November 7, 2014

Win an Ivanka Trump Gift Prize from Neiman Marcus

Ivanka Trump Gift bag
As I posted earlier today I spent time with Ivanka Trump at Neiman Marcus yesterday.

Neiman Marcus kindly donated three gift bags that includes a "Be Brilliant" journal from Ivanka Trump and a full sized bottle of her Ivanka Trump eau de parfume spray.  I will also include the October issue of MORE magazine and some other goodies!

All you have to do is support our "Girls Leading" effort by purchasing a t-shirt for your chance to be entered!

The t-shirt was apart of our feature about girls and women choosing to lead and you can see it here.

So support our campaign and get your name entered.  We'll have the drawing by November 15th and you will  be contacted by us!

Thanks immensely for your support!


Meeting Ivanka Trump & Asking for What You Want

Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting the ever gracious Ivanka Trump for her Dallas appearance at Neiman Marcus Northpark.  Although the purpose of her appearance was to debut her new jewelry line, I was so interested in meeting her because to entrepreneurs like me, she is a true inspiration of what it means to build a brand and try to do it while balancing life's other obligations.

Ivanka is not just a Trump nor is she just a rich fashionista going to parties all the time.  She is a dedicated mom, business savvy negotiator and all around generous person of her time to those who she knows finds her an inspiration among the jungle of doing business with mostly men.

Having Fashion Fun
Right before I went to the event, I had just read one of Ivanka's great blog posts on how to negotiate and ask for what you want!  It is an empowering read and here are my favorite to-do's from her blog (find the full blog post here):

Most negotiations are the beginning—or the continuation—of a long-term relationship, and there’s nothing worse than being in a relationship with someone who feels like they’ve been screwed.

Called a “natural born dealmaker,” by her father, Donald, Ivanka has earned her reputation as a formidable negotiator.  Ivanka credits meticulous preparation, an even temperament and a genuine love of the game as some of her secrets to success. Here, a few of her top tips for—graciously—getting what you want:

Photo Credit: Ivanka Trump
Set Your  Goals in Advance
Know what you hope to achieve prior to negotiating. It’s the golden rule, and the one most people fail to heed. Without a plan, you allow the opposing party to define your goals, instead of the other way around.

Know Your Opponent's Objectives
The most valuable thing you can do is correctly identify the other person’s top priorities. Often, they’re not at odds with yours; you can give them what they want and they feel like they’ve won, at little cost to yourself. Yes, negotiating is about money and the bottom line, but a lot of times, it’s much more emotional and complex than that. Realizing that the economic outcome may not be the other party’s top priority will enable you to achieve better results than you may have anticipated.

Do Not Negotiate Via Email
Fashionable Dallasites
It’s a cop-out that benefits the weaker party by allowing them to avoid a direct confrontation and take more time to craft a strong response to their weak position. I always prefer to speak face to face, typically in my own office (home court advantage!).

Listen More Than You Speak
When people are uncomfortable, they start rambling as a way to fill the space. Some of the strongest negotiators I know just sit back and listen. The more they don’t engage or discourage the other person from feeling uncomfortable, the more likely the other person is to slip up and offer information they otherwise would have guarded.

Practice When the Stakes are Low
Go into a boutique and try to get a discount. Call the phone company and threaten to switch providers if they won’t give you a deal on your service going forward. When the stakes are low, it’s a great time to work on your skills. Plus, it can be fun. As I said earlier, you don’t get what you don’t ask for.

Business Owner Camille and I
If you also want to work on your negotiation skills and be bolder in asking for what you want, I have found invaluable advice in the book "Women Don't Ask" by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever.  It offers great advice for every women no matter her career or board.

Be brave, ask for what you REALLY want and be Curva-Lish!