The Success Diaries: Georgina Burke

Dear Geo,

To the most outgoing, bubbly girl in the world, there are so many things that I want to tell you!

You are at such an awkward stage of your life right now and it doesn’t help that you stand out like a sore thumb. You tower over your friends at school and with your loud laugh and large personality, it’s hard not to notice you. I want you to know that the people who bully you, the people who shove you to the ground and hurt you both physically and emotionally, are not worth your tears. You have a family and people around you who love and support you, so ignore the bullies and stay true to yourself!

No matter what you’re doing or feeling, remember to stay focused, never take shortcuts and always dress for success because you never know who is watching. The way you present yourself is a reflection of you, so stand tall and be confident in your own skin. Be consistent and kind; a simple courtesy can begin a lifelong friendship. Being the best role model for yourself will not only impact you, but everyone around you.

Geo, you have so much to look forward to! There are going to be some bumps in the road, but once you realize all you have to offer to your friends and the world, I promise, you won’t look back.

Take each day as it comes, live in the moment and hold no regrets.

XOXO,

Geo

Georgina Burke is an Australian model represented by Jag Models. A former pageant star and equestrian athlete, Georgina was discovered in Australia at age 17, and has since moved to New York. She is the U.S. brand ambassador for Torrid and has been featured in the pages of Vogue Italia. A style-guru, Georgina is passionate about fashion and has spoken out about the need for size diversity in designer clothing. 


Being Emotional Intelligent Benefits Your Work

Thanks to Brighton School of Business and Management for these awesome statistics! Find out more about the great work this school is doing at www.brightonsbm.com!

Dear DFS: How Do I Look for Work During the Holidays?

Dear DFS, 

I was laid off last month and have been tirelessly searching for a new position in my field, but unfortunately, no luck yet. I am starting to get concerned that I will not have a job before the New Year and I know companies aren’t focused on hiring during the holidays. How can I continue to be productive in my job search over the next couple months?  

Thank you for your help, 

Alexis

Nashville, TN

Dear Alexis,

We wish you much SUCCESS on your job search and know how difficult this transition can be.  It sounds like you have a goal to find a job by December 31st!  You are already motivating yourself to stay focused and move forward!  It’s easy to say you are searching for a new job, but by giving yourself a deadline – it will keep you motivated in trying to find a new career.

Here are just a few tips to stay focused and motivated to move yourself forward:

Make a plan.

Have you researched area companies you are interested in working with?   Are there any job fairs coming up in your area?  Are there any corporations expanding or looking for new employees?  Retailers, restaurants and hotels are currently hiring for temporary holiday employees. It may open a door to something new, keep you busy during this time of year and/or lead you to new connections in your community or industry. Here is a recent article regarding the upcoming 2014 4th Quarter: http://jobs.aol.com/articles/2014/10/02/seasonal-hiring-full-time-jobs-boost/

Do your research.

Companies may look great on paper or sound great to talk about – but have you actually talked to employees that work there?  Find out what the culture is like within the organization.  Are you focused on staying in Nashville or are you open to moving to a new community in Tennessee or outside of Tennessee?

Sometimes a foot in the door is well… a foot in the door. One of my first jobs out of college was working as a receptionist at a financial institution.  I then found other opportunities available within the company.  By year two, I had moved up to the cashier position: balancing and depositing incoming checks and stock certificates for client accounts. By year three, I had been offered a position as a sales associate: working with the brokers and clients and preparing portfolios for account reviews. Year four, I studied for and passed my Series 7 test and became a registered sales associate. Year five, I moved over to a new company and found a job I absolutely loved and looked forward to everyday. I loved working with the broker and the clients.

I eventually “retired” from the corporate world and became a stay-at-home mom.  While looking for a place to donate my suits, I found Dress for Success and Des Moines was a targeted area to launch an affiliate. Four years later, I am glad I had the opportunity to find a new passion and be surrounded by so many dedicated people in the community.  When one door closes another one is opening.

Stay connected and have your elevator speech ready.

Are you using LinkedIn?  Have you attended any networking groups in your area (Chamber meetings, Business Networking and Referrals, Referral Leaders International groups)?  Have you been invited to any parties, fundraisers or other events?  When you were employed at your last position, did you have contacts with other companies?  Do you have friends or family at companies you are interested in applying for positions?  Do you volunteer with any local organizations?  It looks like a local Dress for Success in Nashville is in the start-up phase.  Feel free to reach out to them to see how you can help get the doors open. It will show your next employer you are helping in your community during this transition period and staying engaged. Or find another organization to help volunteer with. Many organizations love a commitment of just a few hours a week; it will keep you motivated and give you something to look forward to while you are searching for your new job.

Any time you are networking or at an event and people ask what you do, be ready to respond with a 30-second pitch!  Sell yourself!  And be specific!  Connections may open the door for you, but they need to know what you are looking for. They may know of a position opening at their company and/or have some good contacts for you.  Make sure to thank them for taking the time to listen and remind them to keep you posted on any new opportunities (by email is great and keep it brief!).

Social media.

If you are using LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to make connections – remember – your future employer may also use these tools as well.  Do not post things on social media you would not want your future boss to know about you.

Being laid-off from a position is a difficult transition, but stay positive!  This could be just the break you need to find a new passion, to meet new people and to open a new door.

To your SUCCESS,

 Jody White

Executive Director, Founding Partner

Dress for Success Des Moines

How To Power Lunch Like A Boss

Guest post from the the wonderful ladies a Like a Boss Girls!

Success isn’t always about what you know – but it’s often about who you know and what THEY know.

Learning from people who’ve been there and done that is invaluable. They have wisdom, inspiration, useful advice and sometimes even useful-er admonitions.

Asking for an informational interview or for an opportunity to meet doesn’t have to be hard.  There is nothing wrong with contacting someone you’ve never met. However, every business person puts a value on time. Before they commit to a meeting, they want to be certain that time is going to be wasted. If you’re contacting a complete stranger, ask for something that promises to be shorter than lunch. Ask for a phone call or a discreet amount of time (no more than 30 minutes) at a location convenient for them.

If you do have some connection, be sure that you point this out in the first sentence of your email or phone call. Even better, include it in the first five words: “Dear Ms. Benson, Theresa Scanlon suggested I reach out to you…”

After you establish your association, get to the point and don’t be wishy-washy about it. “I’d love to bounce some ideas off you” is meaningless. If you want to find out more about someone’s pioneering marketing techniques, say it straight out.

For their convenience you can always ask to meet at the person’s office. But if you really want this to be the start of something big, try inviting this new would-be mentor to lunch. (Avoid the whole fighting-over-the-check situation by casually noting that this is your treat. “If you have time this week, I’d love to take you to a quick lunch.”)

While your first business lunch can be nerve-wracking, it gets easier each time. Just keep it simple and take it bite by bite:

THE LOCATION

This is not the time to get all hoity-toity. Not only will suggesting a five-star restaurant with a seven-course meal come across as pretentious, it requires a greater time commitment than most can accommodate. Remember, a tightly-scheduled CEO won’t want to spend three hours at lunch no matter how charming you are.

Choose an eatery that doesn’t clash with your brand. If you’re launching a new yoga apparel line, suggesting that you grab a bite at the Heart Attack Grill will raise eyebrows. You want to demonstrate that your organization’s values are consistent with your own.

Since you’re the primary beneficiary of this lunch, you’re the one who travels. If possible, suggest a restaurant within ten minutes of your guest’s workplace.

THE ORDER

What to eat? Don’t over-think it. There are however, some items to steer clear of: food that’s likely to wind up decorating your shirt (pastas with sauce, chips and salsa, chili) and meals that take a long time to prepare (like risotto), for example.

Keep the special food requests to a minimum. Even if you’re a lo-carb lactose-intolerant pescatarian with a peanut allergy and have to ask for changes. While one or two substitutions are fine, asking the chef to completely remake a dish to suit your needs sends the message that you are high maintenance and difficult to work with. If you’re afraid you won’t be able to find something you can eat, go online, check out the restaurant’s menu and choose something ahead of time.

If there’s absolutely nothing you can ingest without sending written instructions to the kitchen, do everyone a favor and simply go out for coffee instead.

THE WRAP UP

Unless the conversation is flowing like the Niagara, look to wrap things up around the 45-minute mark. This may mean forgoing dessert and coffee. Take a cue from your “date”; ask if they have time for coffee/dessert.  If she/he is in a rush, have your credit card ready as the check is delivered and hand it over after taking a quick glance at the bill.

Just as important as the actual lunch is the day after the meeting. Be sure to follow-up with a thank you email, letting your dining companion know you appreciate their time. These meetings can and should be mutually beneficial. Offer up something to show your appreciation, even if it’s just mentioning some of the things you learned and how you’re going to follow-up.

Always remember: The real power in power lunching lies in the magical alchemy of connection!

For more tips on how to live, work, and rock like a boss,

check out Likea BossGirls.com!

Poise in the Workplace

Guest Post by Jennifer L. Scott

Do you know what your most valuable asset in the workplace is? It might not be what you think. If you acquire this asset, you will instantly stand out in your job as a valuable employee. People will take notice of you for all the right reasons. You will command respect, no matter what your position in the company is.

So what could this mysterious asset possibly be? I’ll give you a hint: it’s not something that you can buy. It has nothing to do with money. I’ll give you another hint: it’s something that anyone can have. Yes, anyone. Here’s one last hint: it is something you can’t quite put your finger on, but when someone has it you just know there is something special about them.

The asset I am talking about is poise. Poise is a graceful and elegant bearing in someone. Poised people have good manners, good decorum and present themselves well. This is such a valuable asset in the workplace because all of these traits show that you are reliable, dependable and committed. Your behavior and the way you present yourself puts others at ease, whether they realize it or not. Poise is powerful because those who have it command respect.

A major part of poise is personal presentation, not only with good posture, diction and eye contact, but also with how you dress and how you express your personal style.

Every morning when you get dressed, you make a choice of how you would like to present yourself to the world. As a poised person in the workplace, your wardrobe choices should be appropriate, professional and reflect your individual style. You do not need to buy expensive clothes or even have a wardrobe filled with lots of clothes to do this. You just need a few key outfits that fit you well, are appropriate for your job and reflect your personality.

If you are unsure what your true style is, it is a great idea to pick neutral, basic clothing. You can always inject personality with your accessories like scarves or jewelry. If you work in a conservative office environment, for example, you can never go wrong with classic looks like a simple, black dress, navy or beige trousers, a white blouse or a black blazer. These items can be worn in so many different ways with many combinations that you will never get bored of, but can feel confident in. The great news is you can find outfits that meet this criterion at any price range.

We all make visual judgments every day and your employer, customers and coworkers are no different. As we work on our poise, our newfound changes will be reflected in our wardrobe choices and set us up for success in whatever career we choose.

Jennifer L. Scott is the New York Times bestselling author of Lessons from Madame Chic, At Home with Madame Chic and Polish Your Poise with Madame Chic (Simon & Schuster) and creator of the blog The Daily Connoisseur.

She is a contributing writer for Huffington Post Style and has been featured on CNN, BBC, and CBS News, and in The New York TimesVanity FairUSA TodayNewsweek, and The Daily Mail. She lives with her family in Los Angeles, California.

Fall in Love with Your Hair!

Guest post from Beautiful Textures™ Celebrity Stylist Felicia Leatherwood 

It’s been said that fall is “a second spring where every leaf is a flower.”  Summer may be coming to an end, but fall is a season of promise and a great time to consider a new hair style to usher in the “second spring.”   Proper hair care and maintenance are essential to looking good and to maintaining overall hair health.  “Hair whisperer” and stylist to the stars Felicia Leatherwood is working with Beautiful Textures™ to offer up a variety of tips to ensure that your hair is at its best for the new season. Humidity? Not a problem. Sun exposure? Covered.  Dryness? Moisture is on tap, thanks to Beautiful Textures’ innovative hair care solutions for women with curly, kinky, coily or relaxed hair.

  1. Up the moisture, say good bye to dry. Use moisturizing shampoos and conditioners to avoid breakage.
  2. Read labels and avoid hair products containing alcohol and other drying ingredients.
  3. Make timefor deep conditioning treatments. Despite the warmer temperatures of late summer and early fall, textured hair requires extra moisture at this time now more than ever.
  4. Be good to your ends, get regular trims and in between use products enriched with ingredients like jojoba oil.
  5. Protect, protect, protect. Limit use of heated hairstyling tools and if you must, use a leave-in conditioner for added protection.
  6. Take a break from regular shampooing to allow hair to absorb natural oils. When you do shampoo be sure to finish with a cool rinse to seal the hair cuticle.
  7. Consider a new approach to managing your hair texture. Try Beautiful Texture’s new Beautiful Textures Naturally Straight Texture Manageability System™. This allows you to manage your hair texture your way with a simple four-step process that can be done at home without harsh chemicals.
  8. Say goodbye to frizz and control your curls. Despite our best efforts, curly hair styles can easily become frizzy without the proper preparation. Consider lightweight curl products such as Beautiful Textures Curl Definer. 
  9. Shine, shine, shine. Whether it’s sunny or showering, hair should be shiny and glossy. Make dull locks shine with treatment aids that also promote growth. Try Beautiful Textures signature Shine & Silken Growth Oil.
  10. Stay hydrated – healthy hair begins from the inside. Drink plenty of water to promote healthy skin, hair and scalp.

The Success Diaries:The Skimm’s Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin

Dear Danielle and Carly in 2006,

Your life is pretty, pretty good. Keep on eating that pasta because it’s going to be a while before you’re back in Italy.

You two just met on a study abroad trip in Rome. You’re having a great time not talking about the real world that comes after graduating college. And you should. Because real life gets real pretty quickly.

Now, get ready for a shock. It turns out your news internships pay off. You both end up getting jobs at NBC News after college. So breathe. But you end up quitting them. To start your own company in your mid-20s. Less than 10 years after graduation, you’re both running a new media company with 14 full-time employees. And you start it from your couch.

Oh yeah, you become roommates too.

You don’t go to business school. You don’t go to law school. And you don’t get better at math. Sorry. But you do start a media company with the experience you gained from your time at NBC News and turn it into something that your friends trust to get their news from. Life gets really busy, really fast. You end up relying on your family and friends more than ever — but you see them less.

Here are some things you should know:

Take a coding class. Now.

Computers and tech don’t go away. They just become more important. Don’t worry so much about learning to shoot and edit your own video and learn how to code.

Take that trip you’re putting off.

Life doesn’t get easier after graduation so have fun now. Be crazy. Don’t think about tomorrow.

Breathe.

Things end up working out, just not in the way you expect. And that’s OK.

Learn how to deal with stress. And take care of yourself.

Neither of you are great with dealing at stress in general. But you’re going to have to figure out coping mechanisms. And the sooner you try them out, the better.

You’re not always going to know what to do or what lies ahead.

And you just have to deal with it.

Be nice.

To people you just met. And to people you don’t know.  It’s a good way to live.

Sleep.

You’re not going to get a lot of it later in life.

That’s it. Everything else you’ll learn along the way.

Carly and Danielle first met while on a study abroad trip in Rome. Post-college they were reunited through an internship at NBC News. Self-proclaimed “news nerds,” they realized reading the news is a hobby, and not everyone has the time or interest. Bonding as colleagues, friends and roommates, they decided to start the Skimm, an email newsletter with sharp and witty editorial that’s designed to get you up to speed on current events and breaking news. Sign up for the Skimm here.

Best Practices for Using Credit Cards

Credit Card Basics – Tips that Can Help

Guest post from The Simple Dollar.

Signing up for any one of the best credit cards is a piece of cake, but do you know how to optimize them? Unfortunately, figuring out how to use the features your credit card offers isn’t always easy. Many times, the terms and conditions of the most lucrative perks are buried in the terms and conditions. Meanwhile, the rewards programs can be difficult to decipher, and the points, hard to redeem.

If you want to get the most out of your credit cards, the first thing you should do is arm yourself with information. These tips and strategies can help you do just that:

Read your credit card’s terms and conditions

The easiest way to gain a full understanding of what your card has to offer is to read the terms and conditions front to back. Many times, a slew of interesting tidbits regarding your rewards program and perks will be hidden in there. And if you don’t read the terms, you may never know about them. The bottom line: Read your card’s terms and conditions, as well as any other applicable paperwork or information on their rewards program, if you want to fully understand all that your card has to offer.

Optimize card usage based on features

Let’s say you have a credit card that offers primary rental car coverage for free. Whenever that’s the case, you should always use that card for rental cars. Why? Because it offers coverage equal to, or better than, your own car insurance policy – and all for zero cost. Meanwhile, if you should happen to get into a wreck or take on damage, you wouldn’t even have to turn the claim into your own car insurance policy. This is just one example of how to optimize card usage based on features, but there are plenty of others. When you have more than one credit card, it often pays to use different cards for different purchases if they offer certain types of coverage you can benefit from.

Research your rewards program

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard someone complain that they had trouble redeeming their airline miles. The thing is, if they had done any type of research ahead of time, they would already know that airline miles are incredibly difficult to redeem, especially during peak travel times and within a few months of departure. This is where it pays to educate yourself. If you plan to sign up for a card that is tied to a specific program, such as an airline or hotel chain, you should first have an idea of what you would want to redeem your points for – and if it’s even possible. If you don’t want to be tied down to a specific rewards currency, you can also opt for a cash-back card, or a card that offers flexible rewards, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card.

Report Unauthorized Charges Immediately

In a world where more and more purchases are being made online, it is actually quite common for thieves to get your credit card number and use it to make a “test” purchase to see if you’re watching. This has happened me several times. Even though I watch my credit card accounts closely, I have occasionally come across a charge I didn’t make. When that happens, you need to report it to your credit card issuer immediately. Call the number on the back of your card and tell them about the fraudulent purchase. You won’t be liable for a penny if you report it immediately, and your card issuer will rectify the situation by issuing you a new card with a new account number.

Keep a Folder for Travel Documentation

When you’re traveling within your own country or abroad, you should always use a card that offers trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance as a card member perk. However, if you need to file a claim, you will be much better off if you already have all of your travel documentation in one place. In most cases, filing a travel insurance claim is free and easy – you do, however, need to have all of your documentation ready. So keep a folder on hand, and use it to store every piece of documentation you come across as you prepare to travel. You never know when you will need to file a claim, and you may be asked to present things that are hard to replicate later – paperwork like your paper boarding pass, train ticket, hotel reservation e-mail, or flight cancellation notification.

Take Advantage of Your Free FICO Score

Certain cards, like the Discover it® card, offer a free FICO score as a perk for their members. This is a great benefit that is often overlooked. To get the most out of it, keep any eye on the fluctuations in your credit score as you receive it on your statement each month. Look for huge dips in your credit score, and if that happens, try to find out why. Meanwhile, if your credit score is slowly increasing, you can rest easy with that knowledge.

Don’t Be Afraid to Get Multiple Cards

A huge misconception in the world of credit cards is that it is bad for your credit to have more than one or two cards. Because a large percentage of your credit score is based on your balance-to-limit ratio, having a large credit limit spread over several cards and a zero balance can actually be better for your credit score than just having a few cards. Meanwhile, carrying more than one card can also help you leverage the different benefits and perks that different types of rewards cards have to offer. For example, you could get a hotel card for free hotel stays and a cash-back card to help you pay for the gas to get to your destination.

Check Your Credit Report Once Per Year

In order to get the most out of your credit cards, it is essential for your credit score to remain high. That’s why it’s important to check your full credit report at least once per year. Fortunately, you can get a free copy of your credit report from the three credit reporting agencies – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion – once per year through the government-approved site, www.AnnualCreditReport.com. once you get your free copy, take some time to read through it and ensure that all information reported is correct. According to the Federal Trade Commission, you can dispute incorrect information found on your report with any of the three credit reporting agencies. The FTC offers information on how to dispute incorrect information on their website, and offers a sample letter you can use.

For more information on best practices for using credit cards, visit The Simple Dollar.

Don’t Stand in Your Own Way: The Definitive Guide to Self-Confidence

By: Reesa Staten of Robert Half

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.” 
― Henry David Thoreau

April’s thought-provoking blog entry from Joi Gordon explored the relationship between gender and confidence in the workplace, noting that structural support of the unique needs of working women may play an even larger part than gender in determining whether someone reaches her full potential.

I’d like to stay on the subject of confidence because it’s an important one. In the business world, confidence can propel you to the top of the list of contenders for a job opening. The absence of it weakens your chances of being hired, no matter how qualified you are.

Whether you are looking for a new job, hoping to advance in your current one, or just want to be taken more seriously at work, a little self-assurance goes a long way.

In the course of a career, many things can chip away at our confidence, such as a job layoff, long period of unemployment or being passed over for a promotion. But confidence breeds confidence. If you can maintain your stride — and your positive attitude — in the face of these challenges, you’ll show others they can place their confidence in you.

Research has shown that women often have a more difficult time with this than men do.  An often-cited internal study by tech giant HP found that women applied for jobs at HP only if they were 100 percent qualified. Men, on the other hand, were likely to put their hat in the ring if they met just 60 percent of the hiring criteria. Maybe it’s the perfectionist in us, or the tendency to follow the rules to the letter. For many women, myself included, it doesn’t occur to us that some rules are actually guidelines. The confident person seizes the opportunity to ask for an exception to the rule if he or she can make a strong case for it. In other words, if the job fits, fight for it.

As a manager, I frequently make hiring decisions, and I regularly evaluate an individual’s readiness to take on new assignments or increased responsibilities.  Aptitude is always the first thing I look for, but self-assurance is a close second. Talent and confidence are a powerful combination.

Two books published in the last few years address the confidence equation head on: Lean In. Women, Work and the Will to Lead by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance — What Women Should Know by journalists Katty Kay and Claire Shipman. Both books discuss the unique challenges many women in the workplace face as they pursue leadership roles. And, in many cases, we are our own worst enemies.

How can you increase your self-confidence? Start by setting yourself up for success. Here are five suggestions:

  1. Don’t assume there is someone more qualified than you for the job. It’s easy to talk yourself out of applying for a promotion or a new job. You may tell yourself it’s not worth your effort because someone out there surely is more qualified. But what if you’re wrong? What if you are the right one for the job? You won’t know unless you put yourself out there.
  2. Work on your presentation skills. Make sure you are communicating with confidence, whether you are sharing your ideas in an informal setting or speaking before a group. Can you make your case articulately, concisely and with passion? Demonstrating self-assurance inspires others to want to follow you.
  3. Don’t assume others know how great you are. I have a friend who applied for a promotion at her company. She lamented that during the interview when she shared her many accomplishments with the hiring manager, he was surprised. He had not realized how hard she had been working and all she was contributing. Make sure you are getting credit for your good work so managers think of you first when new opportunities surface.
  4. Start small. Little victories are still victories. Volunteer for small projects at work and give 100 percent of your attention to them. By completing these tasks successfully, you’ll build up the confidence to take on more. And you’ll be showing others you can deliver exceptional results. Positive feedback from coworkers and customers is a proven confidence-builder.
  5. Walk the talk. Make sure your words are backed up by action. Being overly boastful or making false claims is just as damaging to your career as a lack of confidence. Always present the best version of you — and stay true to yourself in the process.

The next time you feel your confidence wavering, don’t let it get the best of you. You would be surprised at how even a little self-assurance will open doors for you at work and in your personal life. You have everything to gain from reaching for that next opportunity — and so much to lose if you let fear stand in your way.

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.