August: The Sky Is the Limit

Sometimes life takes you on a professional detour.  Sometimes you reach one career destination only to find out it wasn’t the right place for you.  And sometimes you just can’t seem to figure out where to go in your field.  Many women walk through the doors of Dress for Success with these same occupation obstacles and we are happy to help them navigate themselves—and you, our dear readers—to calmer seas.

The path to economic independence can have many twists and turns, but with determination to reach that destination, you can definitely make it there.  And it’s actually the journey that makes reaching this destination so rewarding.

That’s why this month the Dress for Success Blog is exploring the theme of travel.  We’ve tapped into the expertise of some of the most respected names in the travel industry to find out their secrets to success.

How did Travel + Leisure Editor-in-Chief Nancy Novogrod find job security and career contentment over her last two decades leading the magazine? Find out how the who’s who of Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants achieved suite success. We even have suggestions on how to properly prepare your boss and coworkers before you leave for a vacation!

And just remember, when it comes to your financial future, the sky’s the limit.  Enjoy your journey!

Joi Gordon, CEO of Dress for Success Worldwide

Nancy Novogrod: The Bon Vivant Brand Leader

Traveling from job to job is the norm for most people—by the time baby boomers had reached their forties, they had already worked about 11 jobs, and most millennials have worked more than six jobs by the time they turn 25—but Nancy Novogrod is not like most people.  As the Editor-in-Chief of Travel + Leisure magazine, Nancy has spent the last two decades traversing valleys and peaks, both literally and figuratively, as she transformed the print publication into a multi-platform, global media brand.  Earlier this summer, Nancy announced that she’d be retiring from Travel + Leisure, but before she embarks on her new adventure, Dress for Success caught up with her to find out her secret to job security and career contentment and how her travels led to a lifetime of growth both personally and professionally.

Fresh off a plane from Positano, Italy, Nancy’s soothing tone and relaxed attitude is anything but what you’d expect from someone who travels to an average of 30 countries a year while managing the production of the top magazine in the travel industry.

“I often feel like I have two or three jobs at one time,” Nancy laughs.

Contrary to today’s roving media culture, Nancy has held her position for 21 years.  And it was a relatively short, but rigorous journey to the top. Right out of college, she began assisting at the New Yorker and later became a reader in the magazine’s fiction department. From there, she assumed a role as book editor for Clarkson Potter and went on to replace Anna Wintour as the Editor-in-Chief of Condé Nast’s House & Garden. In 1993, Nancy took over at Travel + Leisure, which has become the most popular travel publication, boasting 6.5 million readers worldwide.

As the official representative of the Travel + Leisure brand, Nancy flies to the far flung corners of the world to speak at events, meet with clients, research new places and ideas, as well as maintain her responsibilities to the magazine. She is “always on,” as she says, multitasking to edit articles and layouts in route everywhere from Hong Kong to Botswana.

Constantly interacting with diverse people and cultures, Nancy has adopted an open approach and sense of flexibility that has allowed her to grow with her career. As Editor-in-Chief, she is in charge of the look and feel of more than just the magazine, but the overall Travel + Leisure brand. And with a career that spans multiple decades, you are bound to go through changes, but the added fluid nature of media and travel makes for a very dynamic work environment. Nancy not only adapts, but constantly stays ahead of the curve to keep Travel + Leisure at the forefront of its competition.

“One of the inevitable effects of travel is that it broadens your perspective and increases your acceptance of difference in people and places, bringing the world closer to you—and you closer to the world,” she says.

Over the years, she has been forced to reimagine and reinvent the magazine multiple times, not only navigating advances in technology through the social media revolution, but also riding the wave of current events. Major geopolitical crises like 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and the rise and fall of the global economy, drastically altered the public’s worldview during Nancy’s career, but her openness to change and development has kept the brand relevant.

Bearing a responsibility to her readers, Nancy says, “The idea that my staff and I could be impacting the understanding of the world, for such a large population is thrilling, but also gives you a huge sense of responsibility. Rather than just being in charge of content that is compelling and inspiring, I need to be mindful about the realities of the world in a very interesting and responsible way.”

Despite the intensity of her job, Nancy has a calming air about her—keeping her cool amidst deadlines and perpetual jet lag. But, she insists it is the very hectic nature of her schedule that actually allows her serenity.

“I just don’t have time to obsess about certain things, for instance I’m a very fast shopper,” she jokes.

Consistently juggling the unpredictable nature of travel has given Nancy a ‘roll with the punches’ kind of attitude. She is able to devote her time and efforts strategically while abroad to avoid any missed deadlines, maintain editorial approval and an active voice in Travel + Leisure.

As an ambassador for the brand, Nancy deals with people from all walks of life on a daily basis. Her experiences have shaped her into somewhat of a diplomat over the years. “In the travel world, there is a great deal of emphasis on proper manners, genuine hospitality and appropriateness,” she says.

Simple etiquette allows Nancy to present herself in a manner that is respected universally. She takes comfort in the similarities of people across the world, advocating that travel is a “force for good,” which teaches the interpersonal skills to transcend any obstacle.

Of all the skills Nancy has acquired, it is the ability to balance her home and work life that keeps her successful and fulfilled.  From a very young age, Nancy credits her mother for instilling ambition and a sense of adventure that has been instrumental throughout her career.  A well-respected woman in the retail world, Nancy’s mother also traveled consistently for work.

“She had a tunnel vision that allowed her to eliminate distractions,” Nancy says.  But her devotion to her career sometimes left a void in family life. Emulating her mother’s passion, Nancy is careful to maintain a work-life balance and learned early on that it’s a constant struggle to keep both as priorities.

“I have tried to be a real mother to my kids, someone who is always attentive to their problems and needs, but there are compromises along the way. Sometimes it was simply a matter of working in bed after my children went to sleep, but other times, less happily, it meant missing the occasional soccer game,” she says.

It is Nancy’s honesty about her humanness and ability to admit shortcomings that allow her to achieve success in all aspects of her life.  True to form, Nancy’s step down from Travel + Leisure, is not a retirement, but simply onto the next endeavor. Keeping up her usual pace, she already has a book proposal in the works and hopes to pass on some of the lessons she’s learned through a memoir that will focus on women, power and style.

Much like a plane steadfastly steering through a storm, Nancy has been able to weather many rough patches in the publication industry and is now coasting through clear skies.  From each experience throughout her time at Travel + Leisure, she has learned, she has adapted and she has grown.  Nancy has spent two decades in search of the perfect destinations—and while the fountain of youth still has yet to be discovered—it seems that she has stumbled upon the foundation for building a successful and stable career: learning, adapting and growing as your company does the same.

Suite Success: Tips from the Top of Kimpton Hotels & Restuarants


During this year’s 10th anniversary celebration of our Success Summit, a few of the “who’s who” from Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants stopped by the Hotel Monaco in Alexandria to share some quick tips on how they achieved Suite Success– and how you can, too!  Take a look at what they had to say and let their advice empower you on your own success journey!


Getting the Most Out of Your Money When You Travel

Financial Advice By: Carmen Wong Ulrich

Q: I have finally saved up enough money to travel out of the country for the first time in my life (yay!), but now I’m wondering what the best thing to do with my money is once I get there.  I’ve read terrible stories about people withdrawing cash from the local ATM’s, only to be given a ridiculously low conversion rate, or using their credit cards and being charged an insane fee.  I don’t have a lot of money to spend while I’m there and will definitely be sticking to a budget, so I just need to make sure that I am getting the most out of my money.  Should I just pull a bunch of cash out before I go and plan on using that while I’m away?

Saving money on conversion rates is only one aspect of spending money during your travels out of the country.  Safety is a big issue as well as foreign transaction fees.  For example, though you should take some cash for taxis and smaller transactions, the extra bucks you may spend using a credit card for everything else acts as a kind of insurance.  It’s insurance that someone can’t pickpocket or purse-snatch their way into your whole budget!

Here are other tips to save when you travel outside the U.S.:

  • When converting cash:  Avoid airport exchanges and hotels.  You’re trapped ‘prey’ so they tend to have some of the highest conversion fees around.  Instead, convert cash at home, before you travel, at your local bank or credit union.
  • Watch out with your plastic:  If you need to take out more cash while you’re away, stick to a no-fee debit card.  But, do NOT use your debit card to make purchases while you’re away.  Debit cards can have higher international transaction fees than your credit cards and most importantly, they don’t offer fraud and purchase protection by law like a credit card.  And it goes without saying that a prepaid card can also hit you with monster fees, so leave those at home.
  • Let your travel companion be your lowest—or no-fee—credit card.  Look into your credit card terms and take along with you the card with no foreign transaction fees.  Some cards can add 2% or 3% to every swipe, which can really add up.  And make copies of the back and front of your cards and ID’s to leave in your hotel safe or another location, just in case you lose anything.

Happy trails!


Carmen Wong Ulrich is a personal finance expert and author of The Real Cost of Living.”

Dear DFS: How Do I Get My Boss to Leave Me Alone While I’m on Vacation?

Dear DFS,

The last time I took a vacation from work, it seemed like my direct supervisor never stopped calling me and my vacation really wasn’t much of a vacation at all!  I understand that there are times when emergencies come up, but I really feel like my boss stepped over the line.  I am planning on taking another vacation this month and I would like to ask my boss to please only contact me if the matter is urgent, but I’m afraid that he’ll think I’m not dedicated to my job and that this could be held against me.  Should I just suck it up and just deal with the interruptions on my vacation or is there a way that I could bring this matter up with him in a polite manner?

Hoping to get the R&R that I deserve, 


Portland, OR

Dear Sammy,

It’s great that you have a vacation on the horizon! We all need time to rest, relax, and recharge our batteries so we can give our best and take pride in our work.

As someone who has been on both sides of the equation – as part of a support team – and as a supervisor – my advice is to take a proactive approach that lets your boss know:  1) you put a high priority on your responsibilities and 2) you really want to unplug during your vacation – you deserve it!

If your group doesn’t already have one, create a one-page ‘Work in Progress’ (WiP). The WiP should include any projects you’re working on, their current status and next steps, any team members collaborating, and the projected completion date in an easy to read format.  It’s also really helpful to include a list of vital contacts, too, including phone and email, that your boss or a team member can contact directly in your absence, should the need arise.  I’ve included a sample WiP here for your review.  

Creating this document will probably take you an hour or so, but it will ensure you won’t be bothered with anything other than emergencies during your time away (let’s hope there aren’t any!) – definitely a positive return on your time investment!  If you work with a team, make sure to review your WiP with them before you meet with your supervisor to ensure everyone’s in agreement, so that there’s no confusion when you’re away.

Once you’ve completed your WiP and reviewed it with your colleagues, reach out to your boss about a week before your scheduled leave.  Let them know that you’ve been proactively documenting your current project status and would like to review with them prior to your time away from the office.  They’ll be elated!  Share the WiP and contact list document and ask if they have any questions or any loose ends they’d like you to tie-up before you leave.

When wrapping up your meeting with your supervisor, share that you genuinely enjoy the work that you do and respect their professionalism (if this isn’t true, you should spend your vacation time looking for a new position!).  Express that during your last vacation, you take responsibility for the fact that you hadn’t prepared thoroughly prior to leaving and this led to them reaching out to you for information they needed, but that you’ve taken the proper steps to make sure that everything will ruin smoothly while you’re away.

Ask for feedback. Does your boss believe the WiP provides a thorough overview of current projects?  If they agree, let them know that you’ve shared the WiP with your co-workers and that they are happy to answer any questions your boss may have during your absence. Tell them that you really believe you’ve done a better job preparing this time, making your absence easier for everyone, and you look forward to your vacation with this access to pending project and contact information listed in the WiP.

If it’s your company’s policy, make sure to create an out of office auto-reply email that states when you’re leaving, when you’re returning, and who can be contacted during this time. Here’s a quick sample: “Thank you for your email. I am out of the office and will return on Monday, August 25. If you need immediate assistance, please contact Tamara Jones at 222-222-2222 or Thank you for your patience during my absence.”  

Additionally, create an outgoing voicemail message for incoming callers with the same details. I know it seems ‘understood,’ but confirm with the colleague to whom you’re forwarding incoming communication that they will follow up with those emails/calls initially reaching out to you.  During your meeting, let your supervisor know these tools are in place for emails and calls.

On your last day in the office before leaving, double check with everyone that the information you’ve provided is clear and thank them for their support during your much-anticipated vacation! And share that you look forward to supporting them when they have their time away from the office! ‘Team work makes the dream work’ is one of my favorite sayings!

Remember when you return from leave to thank your supervisor and colleagues for their support! If you can, it’s a really nice gesture to bring in a treat for the team to enjoy – cookies or cupcakes in the break room with a note from you – “Thanks All! Vacay was AWESOME! You Rock!”  – goes a long way to ensure your next leave will be smooth sailing!

Sammy, I hope this information is helpful to you and that you have a tremendous holiday!

Make it a Successful Day!

Vicki Bowen Hewes, CEO

Dress for Success Columbus

How to Look Like a Million Bucks While Flying Mile High!

It can be difficult to maintain a polished look from even your home to the office during these summer months, but add in a few hours on a flight and you’re taking the chances of a fashion catastrophe to a whole new level! But this doesn’t mean you can’t look chic and sophisticated while flying sky high. We aren’t saying endure your neighbor’s drool in the next seat while constricting yourself to heels and a starchy suit, but appearance is still important, especially when traveling for business. Research shows that flight attendants are more likely to dole out extra attention to well-dressed and neatly groomed travelers. So we’ve broken down your business travel stressors into a few easy steps that will leave you confident, prepared and maybe even upgraded to first class!

Dress Like a First-Classer, Even When Flying Coach

So how do you look professional, kempt and still remain comfortable on a flight? The key again is to dress in layers. This is practical for temperature control, as well as presentation.

Choose breathable fabrics such as cotton, silk or linen. Other synthetic fibers act as incubators for sweat and can make you feel even dirtier on a long trip.

Bottoms: Try a pair of ankle dress pants or an ‘A’ line skirt that won’t be constricting.

Top: Pair with a blouse or loose fitting tank and add a blazer overtop. The blazer will give the outfit a touch of professionalism and style, but is easily removable to accommodate conditions while traveling.

Shoes: Choose a pair of slip on flats or low heels that won’t have you tripping over drink carts in the aisles. The flats can slip easily into a carry-on and be swapped for a pair of heels if you have to run off to a meeting. If it’s colder, try wearing a pair of low-heeled boots and save room in your luggage.

Accessories: Light-weight scarves work great for any season and won’t weigh heavy on your body like a necklace or dangling earrings. If you can’t part with the bling, store it in your carry-on and put it on after the trip.

Maintaining Healthy Hygiene While Mile High

Face: Exfoliate your skin the night before and then apply moisturizer the next morning to combat the dry air on planes. Dead skins cells can block the moisturizer from actually absorbing in the skin. While on the flight, ask for an extra cup of ice with your beverage and wrap a cube in a napkin.  Hold it under your eye for a minute to decrease the inflammation that adds to a jet-lagged appearance.

Mouth: Not only does it feel like the Sahara in there, it probably also has a sour taste from ‘option 2’ on the mid-air menu. Try snacking on a green apple or ask the flight attendant for a lemon wedge.  Both have a tartness that activates salvation and a natural cleansing.

Hair: Blow-dry your hair the night before or the morning of your flight to add as much volume as possible. While traveling, use a neck pillow to protect from flat hair while relaxing. Don’t forget to stash some dry shampoo and hair spray in your bag for a quick touch up on your way out.

Makeup: Try to avoid applying too much make-up before a long flight and focus on bright neutral tones to accent natural features. On your way out of the airport, stop in the restroom and apply some mascara to your top lash, but skip the bottom, to avoid adding to any dark circles.

Full-body: The idea is to trick your body into staying hydrated and full when you’re not expending much energy. The air is usually dry and poorly circulated on a plane, so drinking water or even coconut water, which has an added electrolyte boost, will keep your body looking and feeling good. Also, snack often and strategically. Portable snacks like nuts have omega-3 fatty acids that will do wonders for your complexion and keep you full longer.

Have some travel tips of your own?  Tweet them to us at @dressforsuccess!

The Success Diaries: Christina Gmyr

Dear little Christina (with your head in the sky and your heart full of dreams),

You have a million questions right now, and that’s okay. Even at such a young age, you’re already concerned with whether or not you’re on the right path in life, but you have so many dreams that you’re not really sure which to pursue, and that’s okay too.

I’m here to tell you that every path you take is the right path.

Second guessing your decisions will only bring anxiety and frustration. Every decision you make will change you, help you to grow, and make you wiser. That’s the beauty of life, so you should heed my advice, but you should also keep moving forward with the confidence that whatever choices you make will be good ones, as long as you learn from each and never give up.

1. Stay optimistic

I say this first because it is essential to your future success, overall wellbeing and every relationship you ever develop in your life. Keeping your chin up and trying to see the best in every situation will be extremely challenging at times, but always worth it, I promise.

Learning to not only ‘roll’ with the punches, but also to LAUGH with them, will be what keeps you sane and makes you a positive person that people enjoy being around.

2. Don’t worry what others might think

You will eventually decide that a conventional lifestyle doesn’t work for you, and you’ll make the plunge into self-employment and digital nomadism.

70% of people will think that what you’re doing is wonderful, brave and fascinating, but 30% will criticize you for it, telling you that your choices are immature, dangerous, short-sighted and stupid. Don’t listen to them! If you feel happy, fulfilled and challenged by your life decisions, why does it matter what anyone else thinks? It doesn’t. They are judging or criticizing you simply because they are envious, or because your life doesn’t fit into their shallow worldview.

You do you, and don’t apologize for following your dreams.

3. Accept that pain isn’t always bad

Sure, whether it’s physical or emotional, pain hurts and when it’s happening to us, we wish that it wasn’t. Trust that it will get better, and each struggle you face in your life will turn you into a more resilient and understanding person.

There will be injuries that change your life, and the emotional struggle will be just as intense as the physical one. Give yourself time to heal and never lose the courage to persevere. You will end up with permanent screws and plates in your body, and the pain might force you to break down and cry three times while climbing a volcano in Sicily, but it won’t stop you from reaching the top.

There will be deaths that shake you to your core. You will feel regret and profound pain for a long time, but because you pride yourself on “being strong” you will try to bottle it up and move on. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, however, in order to truly move on you will need to address the grief and understand that it is now a part of who you are, and that’s not such a bad thing.

You are not broken, you are just different. This devastating period in your life will change you for the better, and will fuel some of the most amazing accomplishments of your life.

4. Forgive

Forgive yourself for your flaws, insecurities, and failures. Understand that you are always harshest on yourself, and learning to silence your inner critic is crucial to your happiness.

Forgive your family, your friends, your bosses and even acquaintances for any shortcomings they have. No one is perfect and you must trust that everyone has their own struggles and histories that have influenced who they are today.

5. Health is within your reach

You will fight for most of your life to be in good health, and it will seem so elusive at times that you consider giving up. Don’t! You will be healthy and you will find a helpful doctor one day, but until then keep fighting for health.

The best thing you can do is keep eating healthy, exercising regularly, researching your condition, and meditating to relieve stress. Don’t despair – all will be well if you just keep pushing forward.

6. Accept yourself as you are, but never give up on personal growth

It will take you years to understand your own personality, quirks and desires. In fact, you’ll always be changing so this will be a life-long task. Someday you will finally come to the conclusion that you are an outgoing introvert, and eventually you’ll learn to embrace it. Don’t feel bad if you don’t feel like making plans with your friends one weekend because you need “you time.” If they’re true friends, they’ll still love you next weekend.

Just because you get more comfortable in your skin and develop a better understanding of your true nature, doesn’t mean you should ever stop pushing yourself to grow. Gentle encouragement and self-love are the best catalysts for self-improvement.

7. Rumors and hearsay are meaningless

If you read or hear something whether it’s on the news, on the internet or something your best friend tells you, make sure you do your own research before making up your mind.

Prejudice and narrow-mindedness are rooted in uneducated beliefs. Never stop educating yourself and keeping your mind open to the world.

8. Don’t be afraid to change your mind

It’s unreasonable to assume that you know your life path at age 12. It’s even unreasonable to expect to know exactly what you’ll do or who you’ll be at 18, or even 25. Open yourself up to new experiences, and with those, your personality and desires will change. That’s okay!

You will have a plethora of jobs, some you’ll love and others you’ll loath, but not only will you gain important skills from each, they will teach you things about yourself that you never knew.

Also, don’t be afraid to leave a job or a relationship once you have realized that it is truly time to move on.

9. Be open to unlikely friendships

You will meet people that you aren’t particularly fond of because your personalities don’t quite mesh at first. Don’t write them off! They might become your best friends one day, and even if they don’t, there is always something valuable to learn from everyone you meet.

Everyone has a story and a past. No single person is better than anyone else, so always be open, friendly and kind.

10. Commitment can set you free

Sounds like a bit of an oxymoron, doesn’t it? You don’t realize this now, but difficult circumstances in your life will cause you pain and, as a coping mechanism, you will develop a fear of commitment. Don’t let this define you.

Don’t let your past define you, don’t let your pain define you, and certainly don’t let your failures define you.

Allowing yourself room to understand your heart and true passions is important, but when the time comes, do not fear committing to the right career, the right guy, the right path. There is so much to learn from each of these experiences, and although pain and failure are an inevitable part of life, they do not detract from the personal growth you’ll achieve.

Stay strong and trust your instincts, and your future will be even more incredible than you imagine.

11. Suck the marrow out of life and do so unapologetically

This last bit of advice is self-explanatory and will become something of a life motto for you. Latch on to it and never forget.

Christina Gmyr’s love of travel was ignited after the tragic death of her lifelong best friend, but it wasn’t until after being hit by a car and leaving behind her job in the NYC finance industry that she discovered her passion for site design, writing and inspiring people.

She is now the founder of the inspirational e-magazine & blog, Fleeting Life, which aims to empower you to create the amazing life you deserve. It is an eclectic amalgamation of content focused on travel, wellness, entrepreneurship, and personal growth. She loves connecting with readers, so feel free to reach out to her via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!

Nina Sovich’s “To The Moon And Timbuktu”

As smart, driven, career women we are constantly looking onward and upward. It’s been over a half a century since our mothers, grandmothers and maybe even great-grandmothers stood up from behind the typewriters, ditched their sweater sets and raised us to believe self-fulfillment could trump security and settlement. But as progressive as we are, most of us can’t help the guilt that comes with feeling a little boredom or insecurity in our lives. It’s a tale as old as time, right?

But author Nina Sovich’s travel memoir To The Moon And Timbuktu proves we are still dreaming and we’re not alone. The book shares her story of leaving behind a career, relationship and conventional life of security for a spontaneous journey in self-discovery. Certainly not the first woman to search for a life beyond front desks and white picket fences, Nina’s memoir is a fresh reminder for all women that it’s normal to wander and sometimes getting lost can lead to the greatest discoveries.

An American woman living in Paris, Nina found herself stifled in a premature marriage and depressed by the old-world monotony of her city. She longed to return to a life of spontaneity and adventure that she spent in the Middle East as a young graduate. Inspired by her mother, an idealist who traveled to escape the humdrum realities of a suburban housewife, Nina had an insatiable curiosity to explore. In an effort to save her marriage and rejuvenate her spirit, she left behind a career as a high brow reporter and set off on a pilgrimage through West Africa, with the ultimate goal of reaching the legendary region of Timbuktu.

Throughout the memoir, Nina’s raw description of the outside lands she encounters lets us escape and indulge in our wildest travel fantasies about Africa. Meanwhile, her experiences are underwritten by an internal struggle with contentment that not only allows us to relate to her journey, but become a part of it. Nina’s palpable approach to writing puts us in the landscape as fellow travelers who feel her nerves, excitement and awe. While she encounters cultural taboos and struggles with the preconceptions of a western upbringing, Nina offers historical insight, but keeps her tone real throughout. She speaks as the everyday woman facing the realities of culture shock, solo travel and self-realization.

Though she eventually returns to Paris to start a family, Nina never quite quiets her freewheeling spirit. To The Moon and Timbuktu is a necessary and refreshing read for anyone who has ever felt stagnant. Nina’s words serve as a reminder to all of us that taking time to ourselves is never wasted and finding true success means first finding self-fulfillment.