Caroline Dowd-Higgins Career Coach • Author • Speaker Sun, 19 Oct 2014 18:55:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Your Working Life Podcast with Geri Stengel Sun, 19 Oct 2014 18:55:17 +0000 Geri Stengel, authored Forget the Glass Ceiling: Building Your Business Without One. She is President of Ventureneer a content marketing and research company that helps companies generate visibility, thought leadership and loyalty.

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The Art of Failure and Why It’s Good for You Sun, 19 Oct 2014 18:42:07 +0000 Years ago I was in an interview for a big freelance opportunity and my almost future boss asked me – “What was your biggest professional failure?” The question really freaked me out since I did not want to expose my vulnerable side or my true weaknesses. I was trying to land the job and show him why I would be a rock star hire. I fumbled through the rest of the interview and left feeling deflated and lacking confidence for job that I knew I could do very well.

My professional evolution into a self-confident and empowered career woman has been slow and steady. I can honestly report that I am still a work-in-progress and always will be. That bungled job interview taught me a valuable lesson. The interviewer was trying to see if I had the humility to admit that I failed, the ability to bounce back and learn from my mistakes, and the courage to move forward. I was so stuck in not wanting to expose my flaws that I blew a teachable moment for me and for my almost boss.

In my career, I juggle a hybrid of responsibilities as an intra-preneur in my day job and my entrepreneurial world of public speaking and consulting. It’s exhilarating, challenging, rewarding and sometimes really scary. I often feel like I am flying without a net but I have since learned to embrace failure because no matter what happens, I choose to move forward. Failure should not be a mark of shame, but a badge of honor showing the world that you are willing to try again.

Here are some of my failure lessons that may help you navigate the next bump on your professional road.

Assemble Your Support Group. It’s no surprise that failure hurts emotionally and often bruises your ego the most. Make sure you have unconditional supporters in your life who will let you talk it out, work through the pain, and help bring you back to emotional normalcy. Active-listeners are essential as you process your failure and begin to learn from these mistakes.

A Twenty-Four Hour Pout Period. Whether it’s a lost job, a denied promotion or a failed business, give yourself time to grieve this loss. Deepak Chopra wrote very eloquently that healing takes time and denial makes healing take longer. He suggests spending minimal time commiserating and indulging in “what if” scenarios and making a clean break with the past so you can focus on the future. I give myself a 24-hour pout period when I can really rant, rave and vent my emotions. It’s cathartic and clears the deck emotionally for what is next.

Give Up The Guilt. As a forty-something woman, I can finally say with confidence that guilt is a useless emotion. It took me a really long time to get to this point but I’m here and I’m never going back to succumbing to guilt. Skip the shame, we ALL fail. Shit happens and sometimes things don’t work out as we planned. Welcome to real life! Embrace constructive criticism, fight perfectionism because it’s unattainable and debilitating, and focus on what you do well – not what others think. Chances are, the others are not really thinking about you anyway. Move on!

Take a Risk. Take the time to unpack your failure and figure out what you have learned but don’t let the set back deter you from moving forward. If you stop taking risks you will become inert and lose your mojo and your nerve. Be a disruptive innovator, take a chance again and learn how to fail forward. Go big or go home!

Remember that all successful people have dealt with failure. Steve Jobs was fired from the Macintosh division of Apple. J.K. Rowling was turned down 12 times by publishers for her Harry Potter manuscript. Decca Records turned down the Beatles and Oprah Winfrey was fired from her first newscaster job because she got too emotionally involved in her stories. Enough said.

I wish you great success in your professional future. When you fail – celebrate it for what it is and move on!


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Your Working Life Podcast with Chris Duchesne Sat, 11 Oct 2014 00:49:44 +0000 Chris Duchesne, VP of Global Workplace Solutions for discusses how to attract and retain top talent in a competitive marketplace.

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How to Gain Trust With Your Colleagues Sat, 11 Oct 2014 00:42:57 +0000 Building and maintaining trust in the workplace is vital to a healthy environment where colleagues feel valued and respected. Attempting to build trust amongst employees has become a major challenge for many organizations and lack of trust often leads to disgruntled colleagues and frequent turn over.

Lisa Carver from Associated Content shared these practical tips for establishing and maintaining trust at work.

  1. Always be transparent. Let your colleagues know what you are thinking (about work) by expressing your motives so people are not left guessing what your next move will be. By making your motives public knowledge you are more likely to get buy-in and support than if you leave people curious about your intentions on the job.
  2. Don’t say things behind a colleague’s back that you would not say to them in person. The two-faced personality at work results in mistrust that is very hard to reverse. If you feel the need to discuss a difficult situation, or point out a mistake, talk to the offender in person and in private to ensure that you are trustworthy whether or not they agree with your message.
  3. Be true to your word. If you make a commitment to do something – do it! This validates that you are true to your word and dependable on the job. Life happens as do extenuating circumstances so when these situations prevent you from doing your job, be clear with your colleagues and supervisor about why so your trust is not compromised.
  4. Always let people know what you stand for. Whether they agree with you or not – your colleagues will always know what you are likely to do in a certain situation and therefore will be willing to share what they would do which translates into a respectful environment where all ideas are worth discussing.
  5. Demonstrate consistency. It’s important for your co-workers know that you have some degree of predictability. This expectation will help others to trust what you would do in certain situations.
  6. Show competence in your area of expertise and always continue to improve and expand upon your knowledge and skills. This will allow others to trust you in your area of expertise.

Trust can be hard to gain but the journey is tougher once the trust is lost. Communication and transparency are the keys to establishing and maintaining trust in the work environment from all rungs on the hierarchical ladder within an organization.

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Thrive! Webisode Series with McKenzie Goodrich Sun, 05 Oct 2014 21:37:58 +0000 Thrive! is my new webisode series featuring interviews with inspiring women around the globe. Meet McKenzie Goodrich, owner of Shine Insurance as we talk about her life as a working mom, business owner, and empowered woman.

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Your Working Life Podcast with Mary Quist-Newins Sun, 05 Oct 2014 20:28:12 +0000 Mary Quist-Newins, is a Certified Financial Planner™ and financial industry academic who is also the President of Moneyweave, LLC. She is committed to providing comprehensive, independent and well-thought-out advice about how to be better prepared in your financial life.

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The Power of a Career Brand and Why You Need One Sun, 05 Oct 2014 20:18:02 +0000 As a career coach, I often work with people that brand products or services for an organization but have no real awareness of their personal professional brand and why it matters. It’s time to take stock of your own brand and use it to achieve your career goals.

Your Story Matters – when was the last time you checked in with colleagues, or your boss to ask how they perceive you professionally? If their response does not match how you want to be seen in the workplace, then it’s time to revamp your professional brand and create the story you want others to know about you.

I coached a working mom, a lawyer who recently returned from a maternity leave to find that her co-workers started to treat her differently. She felt minimized and was not sought after to work on complex cases because she had been “mommy tracked” by her firm. She was frustrated since she was very serious about her career and aspired to advance to a partner role in the firm.

Accurate and powerful branding was essential for this woman so she could be in charge of her own professional story and not succumb to the inaccurate perception of others that she was less focused on her career now that she was a mother. She took control and created the story she wanted others to hear and tapped the power of her professional brand. By systematically telling her version of her story to the stakeholders in her professional world, and by exhibiting behavior that reflected her brand, she was able to redirect their misperception. She made it very clear that she was on the partner track – not the mommy track.

Ask Your Circle of Trust – in order to do a brand audit you should ask people whom you trust at work and beyond to give you candid input about how they perceive you in your professional setting. Can they articulate your strengths and why you bring value to your organization? If not, your lack of brand focus means you need to ramp up your visibility and professional presence now.

Be Promotable and Recruit-able – reflecting on your brand is great for personal transformation and growth, and gives you a heightened self-awareness but it also makes you visible. Being top of mind with the powers that be in your organization (and beyond) empowers you to be recruit-able and promotable. Do others know what you do really well?

Perception is Everything – There is no reality – only perception! It’s not just what you say or do well – but what you are NOT saying or doing that drives your brand. Who do you aspire to be in your career and how do you want to be perceived? You need to clearly envision it first and then create a brand that showcases you at your best so others see you in this light.

Brand Evangelist – I coach job seekers on how to tell their story and empower their network with sound bytes they create so well meaning people can spread the word and help make connections on their behalf. You need not be looking for a job to empower your brand evangelists. People you work with should be able to talk about what you do well in the organization and why you are a valuable employee. They should know what differentiates you from the pack, your area of expertise, and the results you drive to add to the success of your company.

Manage Up – don’t assume your boss knows what a rock star you are at work. He or she is busy doing their job and unless you are causing a problem they may not notice all the great work you are doing the other 11 months of the year beyond your annual performance review. Send your boss a brief monthly email with a punch list of what you accomplished and your stretch goals. It’s a great way to keep them informed regularly about your ROI. If you supervise others, be sure to teach them how to manage up to you!

Be a Thought Leader – the core of your brand is articulating what you do really well – and what you love in your job. The sweet spot is what you do incredibly well that your company really needs. You must then position yourself as a thought leader and act like a publicist to get the word out about your expertise. Use social media, present at conferences in your industry, take media interviews as an expert in your field and become known as an influencer in your career field. Be searchable online with content you want others to find and become known as the go-to guru for something unique in your skill set.

Create A Culture of Advocacy – it’s great to be recognized by others for a job well done. You can systematically create a culture of advocacy and support in your organization by sharing well-deserved kudos about your colleagues directly to them and to others with whom they work. Be a cheerleader for good work and watch how the culture shift of advocacy creates a positive work environment. We don’t recognize others enough and if you start this trend, I promise you will begin to benefit from the reciprocity of others who recognize your efforts.

Take Your Power – power is not given, it’s taken so create your brand and project it out into the world loud and clearly. You need not go to the dark side and become an obnoxious bragger when tooting your own professional horn. Practice humble confidence and remember that you earned your successes, accolades, and well-honed competencies through a lot of hard work.

It’s time to focus on you since nobody else will. Your professional brand is your responsibility. Enjoy the process and remember that self-promotion is essential since the career world is competitive and survival of the fittest still rings true. Create your story and control your professional brand.


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Your Working Life Podcast with Julia Tang Peters Thu, 02 Oct 2014 23:17:28 +0000 Julia Tang Peters in her book: PIVOT POINTS identifies the five pivotal decisions every leader must make, pinpointing decision-making styles that can advance or stall careers and organizations.

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Your Working Life Podcast with Connie Kadansky Sat, 27 Sep 2014 17:05:12 +0000 Connie Kadansky is a Professional Certified Coach and Owner of Exceptional Sales Performance talks about the power of sales and the value of coaching in every career.

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Leadership Action Steps Sat, 27 Sep 2014 17:00:38 +0000 Whether you are an emerging or experienced leader, everyone can use a refresher about how to keep your leadership skills sharp. Check out these action steps for leadership success.

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