Caroline Dowd-Higgins Career Coach • Author • Speaker Sat, 30 Aug 2014 17:37:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Confidence Part II – Change Your Body, Change Your Mind Sat, 30 Aug 2014 17:33:54 +0000 You may recall the scenes in The Sound of Music where Julie Andrews, as Maria, is trying to summon her confidence as she prepares to interview for the governess post with the Von Trapp Family.

I love Maria’s feisty, go-get-em attitude. She’s terrified, but she holds her fear at bay by dancing down the road taking big steps and making big, bold gestures – waving her guitar and satchel in the air as she sings “I have confidence in me!”

It turns out Maria had the right idea.

In addition to taking deliberate action (see previous post, Confidence On Tap – Part 1), Harvard Social Psychologist, Amy Cuddy, says that making those big, bold movements can go a long way in actually building our confidence levels.

In her TED talk, Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are, Cuddy explains that simple power poses can strongly influence how you’re perceived personally and professionally.

In her research, Cuddy found that when study participants practiced expansive, alpha-type movements (think queen of the hill) before meetings where evaluations were involved (eg: an interview or a date), they felt more confident in themselves, and were perceived to be more confident by others.

Cuddy says power poses such as reaching arms in the air in a victory dance ‘V’, or spreading feet with hands on hips ‘wonder woman’-style – any position that makes full use of the body’s wingspan– can increase good hormones (testosterone), lower bad hormones (cortisol), and increase overall confidence levels.

Acting ‘As If’

When my coaching clients first hear of Cuddy’s “outside/ in” approach, they’re often hesitant  – thinking that, in order to be confident on the outside, they have to, first, change the way they feel about themselves on the inside.

Cuddy addresses this chicken/ egg conundrum in her TED presentation (with over eighteen million views and counting), sharing her findings that ‘faking it to make it’, or ‘acting as if’ you have confidence through expansive movements and stances can carry you through until you are truly feeling confident in yourself.

According to Cuddy, it’s common for women, especially, to get caught up in what she calls the imposter syndrome – fearing that someone will discover they’re not really as confident as they seem. “It’s really about faking it to become it,” Cuddy counsels the audience. Cuddy says that, by continually practicing confidence poses, the outer feeling begins to internalize and becomes second nature.

Take Two Minutes

While Cuddy is not suggesting striking power poses in an actual interview or date situation, she does recommend taking just two minutes to expand your body into powerful ‘alpha’ positions in your office, an elevator, or restroom stall – wherever you can take a private moment before heading into a situation where you want to be at your best.

My coaching clients have put Amy Cuddy’s ‘outside/ in’ confidence building techniques to work before interviews, presentations and meetings, and I have used it as well to get those good hormones flowing – and with great success. I encourage you to discover this ‘low-tech life hack’, as Cuddy calls it, for yourself. All you need is privacy, some powerful poses and two minutes!

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Your Working Life Podcast with Bernd Schoner Sat, 30 Aug 2014 17:31:57 +0000 Bernd Schoner, author of The Tech Entrepreneur’s Survival Guide will help entrepreneurs navigate the life cycle of a tech start-up from inception through finding investors, hiring employees, and earning a profit as a sustainable business

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What’s Your Career Super Power? Sat, 30 Aug 2014 15:38:21 +0000 Everyone has a super power, a special skill or strength that makes you unique and gives you energy and self-confidence in the career world. Identify your super power and thrive!

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Confidence on Tap – Part I Sat, 23 Aug 2014 15:39:42 +0000 As a career consultant, I’ve coached many clients who’ve suffered from a debilitating lack of confidence, and my best advice – born from experience – is to take action.

Moving through my own career transition from opera singer to university director, and, additionally, to author, speaker and coach, has tested my confidence mettle, to say the least, over the years.

I went from high confidence – singing on stages all over the world – to days spent in career limbo where my confidence was in the proverbial basement and all I wanted to do was wallow in self-pity.

Taking action is what saved me, and it’s one of the best, most effective, antidotes for low self-confidence that I share with my clients. When I was at my lowest point, not knowing where I was headed next, taking consistent steps forward – no matter how small (or scary) – helped build my confidence little by little, and helped move me onto a new, more fulfilling career path.

The Confidence Code

In the book The Confidence Code, authors Katty Kay and Claire Shipman are also proponents of taking action to build confidence, and they have the research to back it up.

The book takes the reader on a fascinating journey examining confidence from all angles – from gender differences, to nature vs. nurture, to genetic connections – and illustrates, through interviews and research studies, what’s impeding our progress in this area and how we can improve.

Give It Your Best

One of the studies I found particularly interesting in The Confidence Code centered on women simply not trying.

In a laboratory setting, when men and women were given the same series of difficult puzzles to solve, the women didn’t even attempt to solve them if they weren’t completely confident in their abilities. The men, on the other hand, pushed forward to solve the puzzles despite not being sure of all the answers. In the end, when the women were finally asked to try solving the puzzles, they performed just as well as the men.

Kay and Shipman point out that choosing not to try, due to a lack of confidence in our abilities, is holding us back in our careers, and in life in general.

Exit the Comfort Zone

The foundation of The Confidence Code, according to Kay and Shipman, rests on the action principle – with their motto being, “When in doubt, act.”

The authors explain:

“Nothing builds confidence like taking action, especially when the action involves risk and failure. Risk keeps you on life’s edge. It keeps you growing, improving, and gaining confidence…Action separates the timid from the bold.”

If you’re looking to take more action in your life, here are five confidence-building steps that can help:

1.  Do one thing that scares you everyday. Make a call, or send an email for an informational interview. Start small and build.

2.  Join a professional organization. Toastmasters, Kiwanis, or the Chamber of Commerce are excellent places to develop confidence through speaking and leadership roles.

3.  Network. Actively participate in area groups to widen your circle of contacts and support.

4. Volunteer. Getting out to help others is a good way to start the ‘action’ ball rolling.

5. Meditate. A walk in the park or sitting quietly can help connect you with the next best action steps to take.

Kay and Shipman point out that confidence accumulates by taking the steps, doing the work – succeeding and failing, and doing it all again. The Confidence Code makes it clear that action is the answer.

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Your Working Life Podcast with Marci Shimoff Sat, 23 Aug 2014 15:37:16 +0000 Marci Shimoff, New York Times best selling author of, Happy for No Reason teaches individuals how to take responsibility for their own happiness and develop happiness behaviors.

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Get Moving! 6 Tips to Help You Exercise at Work Sat, 16 Aug 2014 18:24:52 +0000 Earlier this summer, CBS Sunday Morning did a story on a trend making a difference in offices across the country…instead of simply working at desks these days, employees are working out at their desks…on built-in treadmills. Since I’ve been doing my best to incorporate more exercise into my workday, and encouraging my coaching clients to do the same, this struck a chord.

According to the story, treadmill workstations are popping up more and more in an effort to get sedentary workers moving. This new type of desk allows users to make calls, conduct meetings, peruse quarterly sales figures, and answer email – all while getting daily exercise. While I’d been aware of these work/walk stations, it was great to actually see them in action.

Reporter Mo Rocca interviewed his colleague, CBS News Producer Mark Sturchio, at his treadmill desk, as well as Cosmopolitan Editor-In-Chief, Joanna Coles as she was logging steps in her office during an editorial meeting. Both were enthusiastic proponents of walking while they worked. Coles, in true Cosmo editor fashion, went so far as to call sitting at a desk all day “the new smoking.”

With serious health issues such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease on the upswing, it’s more important than ever to keep moving during our workday. The National Institute of Health recommends making it a point to move every thirty to sixty minutes for better health, mood and overall productivity.

I encourage you to do some form of exercise at regular intervals throughout your workday. If a treadmill desk isn’t in the cards for you, check out these six tips to help get you moving at work.

1. Daily commute. It’s ideal if you can ride a bike or even walk to work, but if that’s not possible, exit the bus or train a stop or two early and walk the rest of the way. If you drive to work, park at the back end of the parking lot to increase your opportunity to walk.

2. Talk in person. Go old school, and walk to a colleague’s cubicle to talk face-to-face instead of sending an email.

3. Take fitness breaks. Each time you finish a task, reward yourself by getting up to stretch or do specially designed desk stretches. You can use your lunch or coffee breaks as an opportunity to exercise as well.

4. Drink more water. Besides it being just plain good for you, drinking water at work ensures you’ll be getting up for bathroom breaks throughout the day – offering more stretching opportunities.

5. Team up for exercise. Find exercise buddies who are committed to finding ways to keep moving during the workday. Lunchtime stretch sessions or power walks are always more fun when there is companionship and support.

6. Go for walking meetings. Schedule a ‘moving’ meeting by inviting colleagues to walk stairs or laps around your workplace to burn calories and stretch. It can be an invigorating way to stimulate conversation and ideas.

We spend three-quarters of our lives at work, so finding ways to get exercise during the workday can make a big difference in health and total wellbeing. Get creative with ways you can exercise at work, and get moving!


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Your Working Life Podcast with Lisa Orrell Sat, 16 Aug 2014 18:22:49 +0000 Lisa Orrell, author of Your Employee Brand is In Your Hands, is also known as the generations, relations, and leadership expert. Learn how to become your own best self advocate at work.

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2014 Indiana Governor’s Conference for Women Sat, 16 Aug 2014 18:21:31 +0000 The Indiana Governor’s Conference for Women will be held on October 21st at the JW Marriott in Indianapolis. Register today!

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Your Working Life Podcast with Thomasina Skipper Sun, 10 Aug 2014 17:44:54 +0000 Thomasina Skipper, Insurance Agency Growth Specialist and President/Owner at Thomasina Skipper Insurance Agency. Join us for a frank and authentic talk about navigating the politics, salary inequity, the personalities, and realities of the workforce as a woman.

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Strike a Power Pose and Boost Your Self-Confidence! Sat, 09 Aug 2014 19:24:02 +0000 Great posture exudes self-confidence so strike a power pose and send a message to the world that you are strong and in control!

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