April: Beauty, Butterflies, & Transformation!

April is my favorite time of year!

During the month of April, Dress for Success Worldwide celebrates the transformation of our women at our annual Something to Share Gala.

For this special event, our women get glammed up with the help of Bobbi Brown CosmeticsDavid Meister, and lia sophia.  I love to see them sparkle on this occasion, because the beauty which they exude on the outside is truly a manifestation of the beauty that they have discovered on the inside.

During the month of April, buds become flowers, caterpillars become butterflies, and women rich with potential become women overflowing with power.

Speaking of power, this month’s featured Power Woman is on a mission to transform the plight of women in business. Sheryl Sandberg, the celebrated COO of Facebook, now adds author to her résumé as she publishes her new working woman’s manifesto, “Lean In.”

Dress for Success had the privilege of speaking with Sheryl about her mission to get women to come together in support of one another’s individual and collective success. After learning more about her “Lean In” philosophy, and talking to her about our longstanding Professional Women’s Group (PWG), we soon realized that the women of Dress for Success have been leaning in for years! Now isn’t that Something to Share?!

April is the month of transformation and today I celebrate the transformation of YOU!

Whether you are at the beginning, in the middle, or nearing the end of your journey, know that I, along with the full family of  Dress for Success, believe in you!





Joi Gordon is the CEO of Dress for Success Worldwide 

Leaning in with Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg is leading the working women’s revolution and shattering the glass ceiling.

As the token obstacle for women in the workplace, all of us have heard of the glass ceiling, and a few of us have even broken through it.  You know what I’m talking about. In male-dominated fields, there’s this unspoken rule that only select women get to squeeze through the cracks of corporate America and hang with the boys. In the worlds of technology, finance and politics, just to name a few, men seem to rule the workplace.

Facebook COO and power woman Sheryl Sandberg knows that there’s only one solution to this dilemma, and she’s shouting it from the rooftops: We need more female leaders in the workforce! So polish up your resume and break out your power suit, because Sheryl is calling on you to help her lead the charge.

Sheryl may have broken through the glass ceiling a long time ago, but she’s far from content sitting in her cozy California office. With so few women leading today’s major companies, it can be lonely at the top, so she’s giving you the secrets to her success in her groundbreaking new book, “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.” This month, she spoke with Dress for Success about the revolutionary message of “Lean In” and where exactly you fit in.

Just a few weeks after Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, Sheryl came into the world destined to take one giant leap for womankind. Graduating with a degree in economics from Harvard University in 1991 and later earning her M.B.A. from Harvard Business School in 1995, Sheryl skyrocketed past her male classmates to climb the corporate ladder.

In 1996, Sheryl served as the Chief of Staff to then U.S. Secretary of State, Larry Summers, a former professor of hers at Harvard University. After four years in the White House, Sheryl joined Google, Inc., working as their vice-president of global online sales and operations. Finally, Sheryl teamed up with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as the company’s new Chief Operating Officer in 2008, landing her on Forbes’ list of the top 100 women who run the world.

Today, “Lean In” is inspiring women everywhere to be their own boss and call the shots in their career. Since its release, more people than ever are talking about whether men in the workplace are truly recognizing a woman’s worth, but not everyone thinks the way we do business needs to change. After all, women started working outside of the home long before Rosie the Riveter said, ‘we can do it!’ So, do we really have anything left to achieve? Dress for Success certainly thinks so, and Sheryl is inclined to agree.

“I admire Dress for Success’ Professional Women’s Group (PWG) program. The goals of Dress for Success and ‘Lean In’ are well aligned given our shared interest in offering women encouragement and support to build thriving careers.”

Just as our Professional Women’s Group gives the fierce female professional the guidance she needs on her journey to success, the messages of “Lean In” apply to women looking for their big break in any field. “I believe the messages in ‘Lean In’ are universal. Women need to own the power they have, learn how to negotiate for raises, and get the pay they deserve,” Sheryl told us.

Not only is Sheryl giving women the tools to start their careers off on a strong note, but she’s also giving them her full support. Through Lean In Circles, women can create a group of 8 to 10 friends who they’d like to join them on their path to personal and professional growth. Circles give women a chance to network and bond with each other about the tough obstacles they may face, amazing accomplishments they’ve made, and all the priceless lessons they’ve learned along the way.

“Circles are small groups that meet regularly to share and learn together. Lean In provides an online space that makes it easy for your Circle to get organized and stay connected. I encourage you to make your circle your own and decide what works best for you. All Circles are motivated by the idea that we often achieve more in groups than we do as individuals.”

Circles are a great way to connect with other women who are on the hunt for the perfect job, looking for that extra boost to jumpstart their career, or simply wanting to reach out to fellow women in need of a helping hand.

Sheryl explains that “Lean In Circles can benefit women of every background and stage of their career. It is an opportunity for women to come together in small groups to share stories and discuss topics to help you achieve your own goals. Connections built on trust and the value of meeting, sharing and learning transcend socioeconomic barriers and can help all women move toward more fulfilling careers.”

And, more fulfilling careers lead to more meaningful lives. But, how do we get there? LeanIn.Org wants to help you every step of the way. The website not only gives women the support of their own Circle, but also the inspiration, education, and expert advice we’ve been searching for ever since we first heard that cherished lyric: “anything you can do I can do better, I can do anything better than you.”

As a wife, mother, and one of the most influential people in the world, Sheryl is redefining the work experience for every woman, challenging us to lean in to our ambitions with full force, and reaching out to women like you to put an end to the man cave in the workplace. Through international organizations like Dress for Success and Lean In.Org, we’re reminded that, while many women struggle to overcome life’s obstacles alone, together we can get back on our feet and affect change not only in our careers, but in the world in which we live.

For more on Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In,” check out our Book Shelf column or visit the Lean In website!

Cashing Out Your 401K

Financial Advice By: Carmen Wong Ulrich

Q: I know that 401-Ks are supposed to be for retirement, but I could REALLY use that money today. Can you please explain the fees/taxes that are associated with liquidating your 401-K and are there any exceptions in the laws that would allow me to use my unemployment status to avoid them?

A:  I realize you may just need access to those funds to, for example, stay in your home.  Of course, I’d rather you not touch that money—it’s your future.  And if you simply cash-out a 401k or other retirement account, you can get hit not only with taxes, but severe penalties that can wipe out 40% or more of your balance.  If you need it that badly, get to it the right way—by applying for a hardship withdrawal.  This kind of formal withdrawal allows you access to the funds in your 401k, but without the penalties, only the taxes.  For more information on hardship withdrawals, you can read all about it on the IRS website!   Good luck!

About the writer: Carmen Wong Ulrich is the co-Founder and former President of ALTA Wealth Management and a Professor in NYU PolyTech‘s school of Finance and Risk Engineering. She is an author and the former host and co-creator of CNBC‘s “On the Money,” and currently the money advice columnist for Good Housekeeping, a contributor to MSNBC and CNN as well as a frequent expert guest on ABC’s “The View.

Book Shelf: Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In”

Sheryl Sandberg knows how to start one compelling conversation. You know Sheryl from her reputation as the tenth most powerful woman in the world, and you’re pretty sure you saw her on the cover of Time Magazine last year. What you didn’t know, is that Sheryl’s success can teach you a valuable lesson, and it all starts with her new book.

Just released last month, “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead has already gained wide recognition for its powerful message: The world needs more female leaders, and women must enthusiastically pursue their ambitions if they wish to become leaders in this world.

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO and former Google VP, is no stranger to speaking out on women’s issues. In her 2010 TED talk, Sheryl addressed the lack of women in executive positions with a witty humor and the facts to back to it up, single-handedly putting women’s issues back on the map in the corporate world.

Three years later, Sheryl published “Lean In,” your guide to getting behind the drivers seat of your career. Today, Lean In has become a full-fledged movement, and she wants you to join her on the path to a brighter, more prosperous future for all women.

Not convinced? Check out the rave reviews by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and media mogul Oprah Winfrey who all praise Sheryl for her refreshing perspective on leadership within the workplace.

“Lean In” is a must read for women of all backgrounds. Its empowering message will push you to set your career plans in motion, make it to the top of your profession, and never look back.

Lean into this good read today!


Power Walking: Striving for Success One Step at a Time

Just because walking is something you do throughout the day everyday, don’t underestimate the benefits of what a little walking can do. Whether you’re rushing to pick up the kids on time, hurrying between meetings at work, or strutting your stuff in your favorite shopping mall, a brisk walk can give you that extra boost of energy you need to take on the rest of your day with a positive attitude and a sharp mind.

According to the American Heart Association, walking for at least 30 minutes a day can reduce your risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, and breast and colon cancer. Walking can also improve your blood pressure and help you maintain a healthy body weight.

Walking even provides more benefits outside of your personal health. In today’s environmentally conscious world, more and more people are choosing to decrease their carbon footprint by leaving their car in the driveway and walking to get where they need to go. You can power walk around your neighborhood, take the scenic route in your local park, hop on the treadmill for a quick workout, or call your girls and start a walking club!

Next month, Dress for Success is walking to empower success-driven women to become healthy in all aspects of their lives, and we’re inviting you to walk with us! The Power Walk for Dress for Success is the nation’s only 5k walk dedicated to celebrating women on their way to economic independence and, this year, it’s happening in more than 35 cities in six countries around the world. Haven’t signed up yet? No worries! Just visit the Power Walk website and register today!

The Power Walk is a great opportunity to start walking, but how do we motivate ourselves to keep going when there’s not a cheering crowd waiting for us at the finish line? We have to remind ourselves why we got going in the first place!

1. Walking is free. You don’t need an expensive gym membership to get exercise. You can walk just about anywhere, anytime, and get a great work out in without spending a dime.

2. Walking is easy. Anyone can walk! Choose the rhythm and pace that’s right for you. Walking is the perfect exercise for those of us who may not consider ourselves the athletic type.

3. Walking is a great stress reliever. Taking a walk by yourself is a great time to take some deep breaths, think out loud, and clear your head.

Choose to walk because when we make a commitment to a healthier lifestyle, we make a commitment to create a better self.