A Lot Rides on Teamwork

By: Reesa Staten of Robert Half

Early in my career with Robert Half, I joined a cycling team organized by the company for a two-day charity ride through California’s Napa Valley wine country and Sonoma coast. It was a great way to meet colleagues and raise money for a good cause (in this case, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society). Over the years, the work friendships I formed on that first ride and subsequent team events have benefitted me professionally and personally.

I kept biking, occasionally taking vacations that included bike tours. This summer, I completed RAGBRAI (the Des Moines Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa), a weeklong, 468-mile ride across the state of Iowa. As an Iowa native, the ride had long been on my wish list.

I bring up the ride in a career column because I learned a lot about teamwork on this journey. I also learned the value of having personal goals in addition to your professional ones. For years I had put off signing up for RAGBRAI because it fell on one of my busiest weeks at work. It was easier to push off the ride than to try to explain to colleagues who would need to cover for me that I wanted a week off to ride my bike. And, yet, as it turned out, my colleagues were happy to help — and even a little inspired by my commitment to putting in the weeks and months of training it takes to prepare for a major endurance event.

I am not an athlete by nature, so my first hurdle was making room for training. Exercise doesn’t generally top my list of things to do after a long day at work. I eventually had to book appointments with myself just so it was on the calendar. And that was the secret. By prioritizing exercise and training the same way I prioritized other aspects of my life, I was able to find the time to get active. As I grew stronger physically, I found I became sharper in my job. I also had more interesting stories to tell friends and family that did not revolve around what I did at the office that day!

I admire people who have mastered work-life balance. The ones who can successfully juggle career demands and family obligations, make time for volunteer activities with a local church or nonprofit, and maintain an active fitness regimen. Work has always come first for me, often at the expense of being a well-rounded person in other aspects of life. I learned this summer that making time for myself made me better in all aspects of my life, including my career.

I also realized teamwork extends beyond the workplace if you have developed strong ties with coworkers. My office colleagues regularly asked me about my training progress. When an injury sidelined me for a few weeks, my inbox was filled with emails encouraging me to keep going. On my birthday, my office was decorated with inspirational messages and cycling photos to get me excited about the ride. I am fortunate to have an amazing group of colleagues — but I’ll bet many of you work with people who are equally engaged in helping you be successful in whatever you pursue.

I was in touch with the office at several points during the seven-day ride. Not for business updates, but to share photos from the various towns along the way. And I will pay it forward the next time one of my coworkers needs support to help reach a goal — at work or outside the office.

I had an amazing time riding RAGBRAI — it was physically challenging, but just like my coworkers back at the office, there was a support network of fellow riders at every stage. People are like that. It’s human nature to want others to succeed. So don’t be afraid to share your goals.

Chances are there is something you have always wanted to do, but work or family obligations have held you back. If you have a personal ambition, find the time to make it a reality. Your goal may or may not relate to your career. In either case, don’t put it off. You are capable of more than you imagine — and you have more support than you realize.

If you’re reading this, you are most likely already part of the Dress for Success network, and you know firsthand the support available to you from DFS staff, volunteers and fellow clients. Helping others reach their full potential is embedded in the mission of this organization. Use the resources available to you to gain the confidence and support you need to reach your goals.

And don’t forget to leave a little personal time, just for you.

Reesa Staten is senior vice president of Corporate Communications and director of workplace research for Robert Half, the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm. Staten has been writing job search advice for more than 15 years and oversees Robert Half’s extensive workplace research program. Write to her at reesa@roberthalf.com.

Volunteer Your Way to a Healthier You!

‘Tis better to give than to receive, according to the old adage, but did you know giving your time can actually give you a longer lifespan. Studies show volunteering can reduce the risk of death by 25%, improving both physical and mental wellbeing.

Providing support for those who need it allows for a sense of purpose and meaning that may not be fulfilled by our regular jobs or relationships. Volunteering can offer new skill sets, exposure to different fields and the opportunity to forge new relationships. These experiences help to boost self-confidence and morale, which can lead to higher productivity at work.

This same sense of usefulness bolsters positive emotions and lowers stress levels that effect you on a physical level. A reduction in stress helps to boost immunity and stave off diseases. By donating time and engaging with others, you gain perspective and a larger world view, which reduces risk of depression and instills a sense of belonging.

As women, we statistically volunteer at a higher rate than men and, with benefits ranging from higher functionality to lower risk of heart disease, volunteering may just be one reason why we are outliving our male counterparts.

There’s no better time to give your time than now, so look up your favorite local charity (we can definitely think of a good one!) and see how you can help out .  You’ll be doing both them and you a favor!

Don’t Just Be a Soccer Mom, Be a Soccer Player!

Many of you may be proud soccer moms, but you might be surprised to hear that there are benefits to getting out there and kicking the ball around with your kids. Soccer is an easy sport to pick up, and most people have so much fun playing that it’s easy to forget you’re also working out.

Soccer is great for fitness and cardiovascular health. Its biggest health benefit comes from the fact that soccer forces you to keep moving. By forcing players to shift between walking, running, and standing still, soccer builds strength, flexibility and endurance. The sport is also known for lowering body fat, improving muscle tone, and increasing coordination. By simply grabbing a ball and kicking around with a friend in the park, you can easily start getting all the benefits of this fun sport.

Don’t be afraid of being inexperienced either, soccer is designed for all skill levels. In addition to the awesome benefits soccer provides for your body, the sport is also a great way to make some new friends. Soccer is all about teamwork. In fact, unless you chose to practice by yourself, the game itself requires you to work with others. It is a great way to meet people and exercise with friends.

Besides just a more toned body and new friends, women benefit from many other side effects of this great team sport. Soccer teaches its players to think on-the-go, a habit that is great both on the field and can easily be carried into the boardroom. While at first running and kicking the ball at the same time might bring out the clumsiness in all of us, don’t give up, you will also most likely see an increase in your concentration, persistence and self-discipline skills after only a few games. And don’t forget, like most physical activity, soccer provides an opportunity to increase your confidence and self-esteem. So join a game and let loose those weekly stresses from the office by scoring a few goals on the field.

Here are a few tips on how to get started:

 

  1. All you need is one piece of equipment: a ball! The soccer field can easily be substituted by backyards, streets, or beaches. So head to your local sporting goods store or Walmart and pick up a soccer ball to start practicing.

 

  1. A game of soccer doesn’t require a large number of people; it can be as simple as playing with a few friends. Or you can even practice your kicking skills all on your own!

 

  1. If you find that you love the game, most cities have free pick-up teams. Pick-up soccer is a great way to meet other individuals in your local community who enjoy the sport and the work out that comes with it. Can’t find a team in your town? Be bold and start one yourself!

Boost Your Productivity While on Your Lunch Break!

It’s 12:45 p.m. and you’ve worn out the refresh button on your email. It’s probably time to take a lunch break! Though most of us find time to scrounge up a sandwich and a cup of coffee in our allotted hour, we often spend the rest of the day waiting for the caffeine to kick in before we see 5 p.m. roll around, but with these handy tips below, you can now turn off the automatic timer on the coffee pot and take an actual lunch break that will boost your energy and productivity, naturally.

It’s Time to Make Time:

In order to maximize your lunch break, you must first take a break. The key is to actually schedule a time in your calendar to eat and refresh. If you set a time at the beginning of the day, you will be less likely to forego lunch when you get hit with an impromptu meeting or project. Skipping meals to be more productive will actually have the opposite effect. Not eating for several hours will cause your glucose levels to drop, which gives the body nothing to convert to fuel and leaves the brain running on empty.

Unchain the Desk:

Pulling some left over oyster crackers from your side drawer and snacking while continuing to research does not constitute a lunch break, nor will it help you concentrate when you hit afternoon crunch time. Around 2/3 of all workers eat at their desks or skip lunch all together. This makes you more likely to snack all day on sugary, high fat foods that provide a quick spike in energy, but ultimately leave you unsatisfied and lethargic throughout the day.

Step Away from the Screens:

Stepping out of your office and away from your computer to eat will help stimulate new thoughts through a change of scenery.  But in the age of smart phones, most of us have our computer by our side at all times. We are constantly stimulated and straining our eyes to see small images on a screen. This sensory overflow can cause headaches, lack of concentration and a shorter attention span. In order to actually feel the effects of a break, try to resist the urge to surf the internet or check social media during lunch, this will allow your system to recharge and you’ll return to work more alert.

Get Physical & Get Outdoors:

We know getting to the gym during your lunch break can be daunting, so it’s a good thing taking a walk outside not only has the same effect, but is actually more beneficial. Walking increases creativity, and a walk in the park can reduce stress, improve concentration and encourage a positive attitude. The scent of flowers and foliage has a calming effect and being surrounded by Mother Nature allows you to feel an innate sense of protection and therefore relaxation—and you get a nice dose of Vitamin D, which will help lift your spirits.  A 20-minute walk is even said to provide the energy equivalent to a cup of coffee!  Summer won’t be here forever, so make the most of it while you can!

The Success Diaries: Robin Arzon


Dear little Robinskie,

Things will get real. Really good, really challenging, and really overwhelming. Divorce is real. Death is real. Resilience is stronger. Your backbone is powerful and steadfast. You get it from your momma.

Start before you’re ready. Two weeks after quitting your legal career and successful law firm gig, you’ll book a flight costing more than rent to the London Olympics, on a gut instinct. That trip will change your life.

For a kid who forged notes to get out of gym, you’re going to run a lot – a dumb amount. It’s going to become your life’s work as an Ambassador of Sweat and ultramarathoner to run more miles than your little brain can compute. You will redefine who an athlete is and help others do it, too.

You’ll decide to run five marathons in five days to raise money for multiple sclerosis research. It will change you. That person who said you run “funny” in 6th grade is an a**hole. You curse a lot. That won’t change. And it’s all good.

Happy is something you DO. Create yourself every moment. You and only you are responsible for your happiness. Life is happening now, now, now.

1. Trust your struggle.

The path to success is circuitous. And it’s juicy. Enjoy the iterative process of the journey.

2. Write your story using fear as fuel. 

Does it get your blood pumping? Does it make you nervous? Then that’s the challenge you were meant to encounter. Own the pen to the story you’re writing. Your passions are not accidental. Pursue them.

3. Listen to the little voice inside.

You’ll be a corporate lawyer until you’re not.

You’ll be into eating meat until you’re not.

You’ll be in love until you’re not.

You’ll be sad until you’re not.

You’ll be rejected until you’re embraced.

Meet your emotions where they are. Honor them. It all passes.

The little voice inside that said you could live alone in New York at 17 years old was right. It’s still your happy place.

4. Endorphins are better than Botox.

Your body unlocks passion and potential. Honor it with sweat. Create laugh lines. Screw the stretch marks you’ve had since puberty. They are your warrior stripes.

Your body will do such amazing things that you’ll no longer mind those chicken pox scars. You won’t even mind when your pancreas stops producing insulin, suddenly leading to a Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis. In fact, it’s going to make you feel so full of gratitude that you’ll be happy for a lifetime of not a single ailment, hospital stay, or broken bone.

The key to your power is the flame in your belly.

5. Superheroes are real.

Seek those who fan your flames. Surround yourself with people who make you proud and humbled in their presence. Your mom really is always right.

6. Get lost. Find yourself. 

You will travel the world, get lost, find yourself, and leave pieces of you from Africa to Turkey. The best walnut ravioli you will ever have is in Florence down the little side street with no name that you discovered drunk on red wine. Savor it.

7. Let things go. You have to put what weighs you down to fly. 

You’ll pick up baggage on these travels, the bad kind, the abrasive stuff that makes people jaded.

Put the bags down. Those wounds are not your story. Ask yourself: will this matter in a month, or a year? A decade? Lighten your load.

You are not baggage claim.

8. Hold on to your Porch Swing Posse.

There are only a handful of people who you’ll imagine sitting with you in silence on a porch swing. They are everything. You like to be right. But you’ll love them more. Have enough ego strength to say “I’m sorry.” In business and in life, relationships are IT.

9. Do epic sh*t. 

For example, and in no particular order:

Belly laugh. Jump off cliffs (literally, like that time in Brazil). Shatter limits. Embrace the insatiable curiosity that keeps you up at night. Eat cherries. Dance until you’re delirious, even in the living room. Listen to lots of 90s hip hop. It never gets old. Save your mixtapes. Stay up for sunrise. That never gets old either. Call your mother.

10. Fail. Big.

Failure means progress. The people who haven’t failed, haven’t lived. Experientially, it’s rough, but that’s where the good stuff lies.

Girl, you’re in for a real life Choose Your Own Adventure. Make it spectacular. Manifest thoughts into things with action.

Sit on the porch swing in 50 years with salacious, powerful, inspiring, goose bump-inducing stories to tell. Learn the power of “no.” Own your “yes.”

Above all, do more of what makes you happy. Sometimes, it really is that simple.

xx.

@RobinNYC

Robin Arzon is a corporate lawyer turned Ambassador of Sweat, running coach, cycling instructor, and ultramarathoner. A former social media producer for Nike Women, coaching athletes is my passion. SHUTUPANDRUN, her blog,  is for athletes who think medals are the highest form of Bling. Fueled by the ethos that there is no finish line, her life’s mission is to redefine, reform, and rethink possibility through movement.  For more about a life lived in sweat, visit www.robinarzon.com or follow @RobinNYC on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook!

 

Staying Fit, One Step at a Time

One of our main goals in the Fun, Fit & Free column of our blog is to help you find low cost to no cost ways to live an active lifestyle. When money is low, gym membership fees can feel especially high. But with a creative look to the world around you, you might discover that opportunities to exercise are all around!

This month, since we are focusing on work and labor, we encourage you to really work it, and trade in elevators and escalators for good ole’ fashioned stairs.

Opting for the stairs over more modern means of height climbing can be a time-saving and calorie-burning exercise that you can easily incorporate into your life. In today’s busy world, who has time to wait on crowded elevators to finally reach your floor and carry you off to your  destination? The stairs are always waiting and willing to help you get to the top!

As far as the health benefits go, you don’t have to take our word for it. A study by Preventive Medicine found that taking the stairs regularly  for  12 consecutive weeks yielded the following the health benefits:

  • Increased their stamina
  • Reduced waist circumferences by approximately 2%
  • Lowered weights by almost 1 %
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Lowered “bad” LDL-cholesterol

So go ahead, climb your way to the top.  Because after all, there are no shortcuts to success, you have to take the stairs!

Yoga: Transform Your Workout with the Exercise That Swept the World!

In the spirit of our focus on travel this month, Dress for Success is exploring a fitness routine that’s not only a vacation from the typical workout, but also a vacation for the mind: yoga!

Long before The Beatles took America by storm in The British Invasion and hippies painted the world a psychedelic rainbow, yoga became the universal symbol of harmony and peace. Originating in ancient India, the practice of yoga has since traveled across the globe. Now, in almost every city, you can find a welcoming yoga studio encouraging you to get your “zen” on and bring out your inner yogi.

 All around the world, yoga is known as an exercise that gets the mind and body in tip top shape. The endurance required to maintain any classic yoga pose is a great way to work on strength-training, while yoga’s repetitive motions offer aerobic exercise without putting too much strain on the body. That back pain you feel getting tighter every day? Just a few yoga classes can work out all those spinal kinks, thanks to yoga’s focus on alignment and posture. Yoga is also a proven stress reliever and women who practice yoga tend to leave their workout feeling calm, refreshed, and confident.

And the sense of community built around yoga is just as strong as the sound mind and body it promises to provide. Most women have found not only that yoga has helped them make new friends, but that the people they practice with serve as a source of encouragement when they push themselves to reach new goals in the yoga studio and in life. The perks of being a yogi don’t stop there. Besides new friends, a relaxed mind and a toned body, one of the best benefits of yoga is something every woman on the path to success needs more of in her life—a good night’s sleep.

Still not sold on why you should start incorporating yoga into your workout regimen? Here is one more reason why yoga has stood the test of time: it is very cost-effective. Yoga only requires one piece of equipment: a mat! Budget-friendly yoga mats can be found at discount stores like TJ Maxx or Walmart for less than $10. Not ready to commit to a yoga mat purchase before your first class? No problem! Many studios provide their yogis with free mats when they sign up for a session, or many have rental mats for just a few dollars.

 When it comes to finding a place to practice, there are many affordable options. If you prefer group workouts, studios across the country like Yoga to the People offer donation-based classes with a typical contribution of around just five bucks.  You can even try giving your community center a call, and find free outdoor classes in the summer at your local public park! Yoga DVDs and even good ole YouTube are other inexpensive options that will allow you to reach your yogi goals right in your living room.

With all of these benefits and affordable ways to practice, there’s no reason not to give yoga a try. But if you need a little extra motivation to get started, here are a few tips:

 1. Get back to basics. Start by taking deep, patterned breaths for 15 minutes each morning. Focused breathing is a key component of yoga and by making this step a part of your morning routine you will already be on your way to becoming a regular yogi.

 2. Don’t give up! Remember that yoga is a continuous practice and a growth process. It’s okay to be challenged at first. You will get there.

3. Bring a friend! Yoga is all about community and what better way to try something new than with your best bud!

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.