5 Ways for Women to Build Their Personal Brand

5 Ways for Women to Build Their Personal Brand - The Well Dressed Life
For many of us, September is the real New Years. Take some time to evaluate your goals from the beginning of the year and seize the opportunity to head into the fourth quarter with a solid plan of action. If you haven’t spent time thinking about your brand, making sure how you come across is congruent to who you are, and creating your narrative, now might be a perfect time. For years I traveled the country working with companies and their teams, talking to them about the importance of a personal brand and sharing strategies to create authentic ones. That experience gave me some incredible insight into the inner working of most American businesses.  

For several years I traveled the country as a personal brand expert. I worked with companies and their teams helping them craft authentic, strategic messaging. We covered everything from tips on how to dress to how to leverage social media to stand out in a crowded market.  That experience taught me so much and gave me some incredible insight into the workings of some of the top companies in America. Today, I still do a bit of that work, but my main focus is this site. 

With the summer coming to an end and the fall on our doorstep, now might be the perfect time to evaluate your personal brand. Paying attention to how you come across and making small adjustments may be the leverage you need to reach all of the goals you set at the beginning of the year.

5 Ways for Women to Build Their Personal Brand

As women, building our personal brand is more in-depth and complicated than finding a heel we can stand in all day and swiping on a long-lasting lipstick. Don’t get me wrong, both help you look and feel your best, and feeling confident in our appearance can be a game changer in how we come across, but there are so many other elements that need our time and attention.

Learn to Market Yourself 

A personal brand is built on simple marketing principles. You can use the same strategies you would use to market and sell a product for yourself. As yourself: 

How do I want to position myself?

What makes me different and unique?

How do I solve problems better than others?

How can I highlight my strengths and negate my weaknesses?

It’s a lot to consider and is only complicated more by the underlying and overt bias that women face in the workplace.

Appearance is Only Part of It 

Here’s what I know for sure: when it comes to your appearance, you have to look put together, updated and modern. Looking dated, frazzled and overwhelmed is the kiss of the death for women in the workplace. You’ll be written off before you even open your mouth. Is it fair? No. But it’s a fact, so if you want to win, and gain leverage, take it seriously. It’s the easiest strategy to implement.

Gone, however, are the days of “power dressing.” Some of the most successful business people in modern history wear jeans and tee shirts. But most of those individuals not only have power, they have ownership.  Basic principles of dress still stand in most industries, so pay attention to the culture and use how you dress as a form of messaging.

Today, we’ll dive into a more nuanced conversation about how to establish a reputation as a leader and get what you want. Building a strong reputation is the first step in creating the brand.  As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

I use to have a boss who lived to tear her team down in a meeting.  She would challenge every single sentence we uttered. She liked to embarrass us in front of her boss, and act like, “See what I’m dealing with? They are so incompetent.” 

I quickly realized her behavior came from a place of  insecurity.  I decided to out game her and came to meetings with every data point we could ever need.  While it is an extreme example and was undoubtedly unhealthy while it was happening, I learned a valuable lesson: know your stuff inside and out

Set yourself up in the eyes of others as a content expert. By showing up overly prepared, no matter how poorly she behaved, I gained the respect of everyone else in the room.

Before a meeting do your research. If it’s a new client, find out their language pallet.  What words do they use? How do they refer to themselves, what are the titles they use, how do they view their hierarchy?  Search news feeds and social media to see what they are promoting and try to find out what has been newsworthy in their world.

If you’re going into a sales meeting or pitch, have as much well-organized information as possible at your fingertips, and know how you are going to answer tough questions.

Go above and beyond in your preparation , it will always pay off.

Do you look overwhelmed?  Are you frequently late to meetings? You may not even realize it, but you are doing yourself and the other women in your office a huge disservice.

First of all, no one cares why you are late, especially if it’s happening on the regular. If you happen to be late, and it’s a fluke, apologize for it but don’t go into the dirty details (and please, don’t roll in with a Starbucks). Assume there is someone else in the meeting who had a similar morning and was able to make it in on time, and skip the sob story.

Optically, take a minute to assess how you are showing up. Are you carrying multiple bags? Are your arms filled with books and papers? If you are walking around fumbling and frazzled you’re just feeding a stereotype. Instead, corral your things into one streamlined bag so you have a free hand to greet others.

A composed first impression is worth its weight in gold. 

Take a minute to pull yourself together before you walk into a room to appear composed. It makes a significant difference in how you will be perceived.

We are emotional creatures. It is our innate ability as women to practice empathy and compassion that will truly change the world for the better. Feelings are a good thing, and have their place in the professional world. But watch how your emotions come out.

If you find yourself reacting, deep breathes are the key to your success. While it may feel great in the moment to respond with your first flipped thought, it’s a bad strategy long term. As a leader it’s important to take a pragmatic approach since your behavior, attitude and energy will deeply impact your team.  

This seems like common sense but in real life offices it’s astonishing how many leaders (both men and women) fain the flames of drama whether they know it or not. 

Finding the balance between using your ability to build connection through emotion while maintaining your composure is the key to success.

Habits are hard to break but one worth the effort is our tendency to use limiting and tentative language. 

  • Don’t start your sentence, with “I might be wrong but” or “You may have already covered this but.” 
  • Stop saying you’re sorry for nothing. Swap out, “Sorry, I don’t understand,” with, “Please clarify what you mean by.
  • Receive compliments with confidence.  Instead of, “Oh, I can’t take the credit, it was such a team effort!” say something like, “Thank you, I’ll share that with the team.

It’s a simple but powerful change.

Don’t Ask Permission

You know the saying, better to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission. Whether you want to start a business of your own or create an initiative in your office, don’t ask just do. You can seek strategic support but don’t ask if something you want to do is ok and don’t ask for opinions when you don’t need them. 

Once you’re in a position with some autonomy take full advantage to create and change the things you can control. 

Don’t ask just do.  No one is going to offer it to you; you have to take the lead.

Too many women are worried about there not being enough space for everyone, especially in the corporate world. But this attitude does nothing for making the workforce a friendlier place for all generations of women. Being firm and strong, and kind and generous is possible. You can practice empathy and compassion, and still be highly respected and effective.

The more successful women there are in the world, the better off we all will be.  Become a champion of other women – be known for it. If you are a senior leader in your office, mentor a group of young woman.  Create your own version of a “boys club.”  Set up a monthly coffee with a small group, or organize a dinner so you can talk frankly about your challenges and how you manage them, answer their questions and guide them.  If you work for yourself, be generous with your knowledge and connections.

When you support other women, you not only build up the next generation, but you are enforcing your brand as a champion for change.

How to Brand Yourself as a Thought Leader

How to Position Yourself As a Thought Leader
How to Position Yourself As a Thought Leader

Continuing our How to Brand Yourself Series with a conversation on thought leadership. Whether you work for yourself or a company, you can increase your profile by taking inspiration from some top industry experts and stand out as a leader in your field.

Thought leadership is a buzzword thrown around by just about everyone in the corporate and entrepreneurial worlds. It’s a fancy way of calling yourself an expert in a specific field or area of thought. Of course, in a world of spin and social media, everyone and their mother is calling themselves a thought leader and, of course, I’m here to tell you few are, and even less are willing to put in the work to get there. These days anyone with a laptop can call themselves an expert. That’s not a bad thing. I would never have the business I have today if I didn’t have such easy access to technology and the ability to create reach. But it does lead to an oversaturated market and a lot of noise to have to break through, which is why positioning is everything.

Brene Brown, Gary Vaynerchuk, Seth Godin, Sherly Sanberg, are all examples of true thought leaders. They are vastly different in content, delivery, and style, but they share one critical piece of common ground: they have incredible research, life experience and a unique point of view. They are not regurgitating old facts and sayings. Instead, they are creating a brand new topic and category. Brene didn’t wake up one day and decide she was going to be an expert in vulnerability. She spent two decades of her life learning, researching and exploring that topic and everything that funnels into it. It’s why she was the one sitting under Oprah’s oak trees on Super Soul Sunday, and not someone else.

So what can thought leadership do for your personal brand? Simply put – everything. There’s a lot of noise out there. Spend five minutes on Facebook, and you are inundated with a variety of “experts” from content marketing, and direct sells, to financial management and spirituality. I even recently discovered a woman who will teach you how to “live like a French woman,” and I’m pretty sure she’s from the Midwest. The point is, you can become an expert in anything.

You don’t have to want to rise to Oprah-interviewing-you status to benefit from owning some expertise. Maybe you just want to elevate your profile at work or build a local business. You can use the same strategies as the famous thought leaders to help you rise to the top of your category, in a relevant, and commercially profitable way.  Because the more you are top of mind and sought after the more you’ll be presented with better opportunities and make more money.

Today, we’ll talk about some simple tips and strategies on how to brand yourself as an expert now and in the future.

How to Brand Yourself as a Thought Leader

 

How to Build Your Brand as a Thought Leader

Define your topic.

This takes longer than you might think so have patience. For a long time, I assumed my topic was fashion, but it never felt 100% right. Over time, I realized that the first half of my career exposed me to working women all day long and that my real passion was making our lives easier and creating conversations about issues related to women who work. Stick to your gut on this. You’d be amazed at how many emails I get telling me to “stay in my lane” and only talk about clothes. I don’t know why other women feel like they have a right to tell me what to do, but I know I’m not alone in this experience. I can tell you for sure that it wasn’t until I became clear on what felt right to me that my business came into its own.

Let your topic and passion evolve. Your journey will take many turns so stay open to where you might end up.

Analyze the current playing field.

Spend some time figuring out who is already an expert in that topic. Do you agree with what they say? What can you add that they aren’t covering? It’s not only essential to understand your competition, but by researching them, you’ll be able to articulate what makes you different and find some inspiration on how to position yourself.

Don’t be discouraged if your specific category feels crowded. It likely will be, this simply means you have to work harder and more creatively to stand out, but you can do it.

Write, write and write then read, and read and write some more.

Collect your thoughts and experiences, provide advice and solutions to issues you see in your industry and start to gather research, whether it’s yours or someone else’s (obviously always give credit). Keep a journal to jot down notes as they come to you. Some thoughts take time to come together, and you don’t want to forget anything. Read everything you possibly can so you understand all points of views and can reference emerging research and statistics.

This blog started years ago as a marketing piece for our image consulting business, and over time, became the business itself. I always say if I can figure this out anyone can.  In the beginning, I didn’t know anything, but over time I defined my voice and felt more confident in my abilities. Nothing will happen over night.

Being an expert is not only about your personal intellectual property but your grasp of existing, industry research and your ability to relay it to your audience. 

Catalog your work

You have to share your work, which is scary and vulnerable but essential for your success. Start to publish your writings in blog posts and share them on different social platforms. If you are an HR professional and have thoughts on modern and creative employee benefit packages, write a post and share it on LinkedIn. If you’re an interior designer, create a blog and attach it to your website. Create weekly tips about color trends and design choices, provide resources, and then share your posts on Facebook and Pinterest.  Be sure to have a strong understanding of social media. Leveraging it will be the key to your success.

It’s important to put yourself out there. Share your work and share it frequently. The more you do it, the more natural it will feel.

Pay your dues.

I hate to sound like a fuddy-duddy, but you have to pay your dues no matter how old you are. If you are starting out on this journey, your age doesn’t matter. Whether you are 25 or 55, you start off at the bottom and have to work your way up. There is no hack to avoid it.

When I first started our business, I said yes to every single request I received. From MCing charity fashion shows, attending every networking event in the tri-state area and speaking at morning mom groups in the basement of a synagogue, I made the rounds and was paid ZERO dollars. It was all part of learning how to speak and articulate my message. That was a decade ago. Now I travel the country speaking and make a real living. But I wouldn’t be doing this now if I didn’t hustle the way I did back then.

Know what you are getting into. You won’t wake up and be considered an expert. But if you put the time into building your brand, it will pay off.

Becoming an “expert” in a big or small way isn’t for everyone.  If you find yourself at a point in your career where you want more, and you are starting to feel the weight of your competition, or unsettled in your current situation, implementing a few of these strategies will help you stand out.  If you work for yourself, being top of mind is essential to your success.  As women, we need to get comfortable with talking about ourselves, owning our power and sit comfortably in your expertise. Doing so will change the way we work and will set the path for other women to do the same.

Why You Need to Pay Attention to Your Personal Brand

Why You Need to Pay Attention to Your Personal Brand
start typing

While writing this blog every day is a big part of my life, it’s not my “real” job. The gig that pays the bills is entirely different. For the last seven years, I’ve made a career as a professional speaker and consultant, traveling the country working with companies and organizations, talking to leaders about creating a compelling and authentic brand either as a company or an individual. It’s a topic I’m passionate about, especially for women.

I thought, since it’s the summer, we would start a series for the next few weeks focusing on crafting and implementing a personal brand strategy. September often begins the busiest time of year. Why not use the slower pace of the season to spend some time evaluating your reputation and make sure it’s reflective of your very best self.

No matter where you are in your professional and personal life balancing both is hard, and sometimes those challenges negatively impact us. Not that it’s fair – at all. My husband is as involved in our girls’ lives and our community as I am. When he flies home early to coach a softball game, it’s looked at positively. He’s considered a good guy (which he is), and it furthers his position as a leader and an asset to his company. He becomes more likable.

It was an entirely different narrative when I told my old boss I was pregnant with Maddie, and she turned to me and said, “that’s a problem.” Having a young family, at the time, made me less of a team player.

What I encountered in my first pregnancy and the culture I witnessed early in my career is the reason I started my own business and why I feel so strongly about giving women tools to help navigate this often complicated topic. Luckily, times have changed, but we’re still not operating on an even playing field.

Today, we’ll talk about why having a clearly defined and modern brand is so important.  Can having a brand prevent overt or passive sexism in the workplace? No. But it can help position you as a leader, and the more women we have in leadership roles, the better chance we have at lasting cultural change.

Many people assume your reputation and your brand are one in the same. I look at it a little differently. Everyone has a reputation but a brand you craft.  Figure out who you are, how you want to be seen and where you want to be and work backward from there.

After years of working with professional women, below are four easiest things you can do to start to get your brand on track.

Why You Need to Pay Attention to Your Personal Brand

Embrace Technology

Despite countless studies showing that women are building a new economy one Instagram account at a time, there are just as many who don’t use, engage or understand social media at all.  If you’re looking to build your brand in the modern workplace, you need to at least understand the power of social media.

Social is more than bikini pictures on a boat in the middle of the Mediterranean.  It provides businesses with a channel to connect and sell directly to the consumer, recruiters a place to find new talent and a vehicle for companies and individuals to tell their unique story. It’s not going anywhere, in fact, it’s only going to get bigger.

A lack of understanding or disinterest in established and emerging technology sends the message that you are not as modern and informed as your competition. Spend some time learning about how each platform works. Make sure you have a completed  LinkedIn profile, and at a minimum, can explain the purpose of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

 

Become Unflappable 

“Unflappable” is a term I picked up from my dear friend Maribeth, and it perfectly describes how I strive to try to carry myself. Like everyone, I’ve learned some hard lessons over the years. What I know for sure now is that freaking out, even when you feel it’s warranted, even when you’re right, does you no good. Coming across as angry, frustrated, stressed or overwhelmed, only hurts your brand, will never prove a point and doesn’t get you what you want.

Every time I’ve flown off the handle, or just looked strained, was because I was at emotional capacity. Here’s how you can set yourself up to be “unflappable”:

Regular workouts – The best cure ever for stress.
Reworking your schedule – Eliminate unnecessary commitments, learn to say no.
Stop responding immediately – There is a ton of power in silence, give yourself a minute or a day to collect your thoughts.
Set boundaries – Ignore non-urgent late night texts, hold steady to a schedule, you don’t have to be available 24 hours a day.
Get organized – Find a system that works for you whether it’s an app or paper planner, set your workspace up for success, clean your bag out weekly, you’ll not only function better, but you’ll instantly appear more pulled together.

Learn Communication Skills

Some basic communication skills can help set you apart from your competition and colleagues. There is an entire industry that focuses on helping people become more clear and concise communicators. Below are three easy skills and techniques to get you started:

Avoid oversharing – People tend to say too much to either show off their experience or to fill dead air. Instead, be discerning in how and when you speak. It’s much more powerful to say less and when you do speak have it mean something.

Stop using tentative language – Women especially use tentative language, and all it does is dumb us down. Avoid starting your thoughts with phrases like, “This might be a stupid idea,” or “I might be wrong but.” Why would you position yourself like that? Be firm in your speech, and state your opinions with conviction.

Try to limit filler words – We’ve all heard them, and we all use them, but too many will make it hard for people to understand what you are saying and you’ll lose your listeners attention. Start to pay attention to the words you cling to (like, so, um, uh), and practice eliminating them. It makes a world of difference in not only how productive you become as a communicator, but you also come across more confident and composed.

Manage Your Wardrobe

How you dress matters whether you like it or not.  People notice how you look before you ever open your mouth, so it’s important to set yourself up for success. Of course, I love the topic of personal style, but not everyone does, and that’s okay.  Just focus on looking modern and tailored.  When you’re clothes are dated, it is assumed that you and your knowledge is dated as well.

Have your clothes altered to fit your body (the one you have right now, not the one you had five years ago), make sure your shoes and bag are current and in excellent condition, keep yourself groomed – chipped nails and messy hair sends the message that you can’t stay on top of details. Finally, incorporate more tailored pieces: swap a cardigan for a casual blazer, trade your khakis for a navy pant, small changes make a big difference in your professional appearance.

Follow the rest of the series here:

5 Ways for Women to Build Their Reputation and Personal Brand

How I Built My Business as a New Mom

Whether you are trying to build a business, are in the midst of career growth, or going back to work after maternity leave, “balancing” our professional lives with motherhood, especially with babies and toddlers at home, feels almost impossible. I was newly pregnant with Maddie, who turns 11 in April, when I quit my steady, decent paying job and started my first company.

In my first three years of business, I had two babies, and it was rough. I was exhausted, overwhelmed, anxious, guilt-ridden and had no idea what I was doing – at work and home.

Now that my kids are older, I look back on that time and realize just how hard it was. Hard, but not impossible. With some planning and perspective, you can do both without going crazy.

Here are a few ways we pulled off the impossible, built a long-standing business and didn’t mess up our kids that badly … yet.

New Mom

Get Rid of Childcare Guilt

My parents were instrumental in the early years of the business because they stepped in and watched our girls regularly. This was a gift, especially in the years before they were old enough to go to preschool. It allowed me a few uninterrupted hours of work knowing my kids were in the best possible care. Once they were old enough, they went to full-time preschool.

Of course, I had epic guilt in both scenarios, but you have to adjust your perspective so you can be productive. When they were with my parents, I would remind myself how fortunate they were to spend that kind of time with their grandparents. And at school, they were having a blast and making a ton of friends.

Years later, it’s easy to see how unscathed they are. They have a beautiful relationship and tons of memories with my parents and their exposure to so many different people at such a young age helped them grow into confident, articulate little ladies. So as much as I wanted to be around them 24 hours a day, my absence didn’t ruin them, our relationship, or their ability to function in the world.

Failure Is Not an Option

It’s amazing what you can accomplish, how brave you can be, and how hard your hustle will become if you go at everything as if failing was not an option. This thought drove me every day and still does. It helped me get out of my own way, stay focused and never give up. So even if I had a small failure (and I had small and big failures all the time), I never viewed it as the end, I just created a new strategy for success. If you take on this philosophy, you’ll be amazed how quickly you get things done and how fast you’ll reach your goals.

Carefully Select Your Friends

I don’t mean to feed into the mommy wars, but I’m here to tell you they exist and can be painful on either side. Every working mother has heard things like, “I just couldn’t leave my baby all day!” or “It’s nice you’re okay leaving her, it would be too hard for me.” And, I am sure, stay at home moms have heard equally condescending comments from working moms.

I’ve always tried to practice the idea that we’re all in this together, and have to do what’s best for our families. That doesn’t mean though, that comments like that don’t sting, and that I didn’t sit on a flight flying somewhere to see a client,  sobbing because I thought I was a terrible mother.

Starting your own business adds a layer to this narrative. Not everyone is going to think your idea is brilliant, many won’t understand, and heaps will be jealous that you’re brave enough to go for it, which is why it is so important to find other mothers who speak your language.

I found it didn’t matter if my friends were professionals or not. You just need mom friends who get you. Once you do that, you not only have the emotional support system you need but also a safe community for your kids.

You are Going to Give Up A Lot

All entrepreneurs give up a great deal in the beginning. There is a ton of upfront sacrifices when you start a business, and it’s frankly not any fun. You might skip vacations (we did), and nights out (yup).

More than that, you will likely not have the same as some of your friends. I remember early in the business when many of our friends were moving into their big single family, new construction homes in the suburbs. For as much as I never cared to keep up with the Joneses, I was dying inside.

It’s hard not to use your friends as a barometer of where you “should” be in life. We were living in a tiny house, with two active toddlers, and we were bursting at the seams. But we knew we didn’t want to risk over-leveraging and needed a little more time to build up our financial foundation. Even though we were smart and practical, I felt like an epic failure, especially for the girls.

Fast forward ten years later, I would do it all over again to have what we have now. Because of our patience and diligence, we were able to turn that tiny home into an investment property, bought a fantastic forever home and have traveled extensively with our kids.

Be okay with temporary sacrifice for the life you want for you and your children. Not only will it all work out, but it will likely exceed your expectations.

Put the Kids First

This is both a mindset tip and daily practice. Remembering why you are doing what you are doing is how you will get through the tough times. I genuinely believe my decision to work is the best choice for our family and I’m passionate about showing our girls by example that women are capable of anything. So when I have days when I want to give up, which are often, I remind myself of my “why.”

When I refocus and not make it about me, it’s easier to get back on track.

Practically speaking I did, and still do, little things to make sure they know they are our number one priority. For example, my husband and I both have regular dates with them. Something as simple as a trip to Starbucks, or just taking one of them to Target for some uninterrupted time together makes all the difference.

We have dinner as a family, with no technology just about every night, and we’ll go out to dinner once a week to alleviate some of the stress around cooking and clean up. On their birthdays, one day around the holidays, and one day in the summer after school lets out, we have a whole day with each of them. We call them “day dates.”

It doesn’t make up for the time we are gone, but it does communicate that they are the most important people in our lives.

Follow Your Own Rules

Stop comparing your family to others. Everything looks easier when you’re looking from the outside in, but everyone is dealing with something. No family is perfect, and no one has this all figured out.

Once you realize that you have autonomy over your life, you’ll gain control and feel confident in your choices. You also free up a lot of much-needed headspace and will feel a weight lifted.

Be Transparent and Celebrate Your Victories Together

Perhaps my most important piece of advice is, once your kids are old enough, talk to them about what you are doing. Explain to them why you work, what you do, and how it helps your family. Even though my business is very much my gig, and my husband has his career, we view it as a family business.

Since my girls were little, I would tell them what I was doing, who I was working with and why it was important.

At this point in their lives, they don’t know any different. I know I am teaching them work ethic by example. But more than that, they feel equally invested in the business. They understand the importance of its success and that the more you work and nurture something, the better it becomes.

So when something positive happens, I share it with everyone, and I can see their genuine excitement.

Take Care of Yourself First

My advocacy of self-care stems from how little care I took of myself when my girls were babies. I didn’t have maternity leave, I ignored my mental health and because I had a slim frame thanks to good genes, I also ignored my fitness for years. Eventually, it caught up to me and showed up in all kinds of negative ways in every aspect of my life.

Self-care doesn’t mean a full day at the spa (though that helps too). It’s as simple as a bath before bed, 10 minutes sipping a cup of tea and reading, or going to a cardio class for 45 minutes.

It’s also not being so tough on yourself and monitoring your internal dialog. We all have days when we wish we accomplished more or weren’t the mothers we want to be. Don’t beat yourself up. Even on your worst day, you’re still doing more than most.

So if you are in the midst of the crazy, unpredictable journey that is entrepreneurship, or if you are working insane hours at a job to get to the next level, or if you just kissed your baby goodbye at daycare drop off, don’t give up.

Believe in yourself, believe in your dreams, know you are a great mom, and that one day those little buggers are going to tell you just how proud they are of you.

It will be all worth it in the end.

 

 

How I Deal with Imposter Syndrome as a Female Leader

How I Deal with Imposter Syndrome

I am the walking poster child for Imposter Syndrome. So often, when I write a blog post, stand off stage before speaking in front of a few hundred people, go into a meeting, hop on a call for what could be a fantastic opportunity, or face a challenge my mind is filled with:

“I have no idea what I’m doing.”

“I’m in over my head.”

“How did I convince so many people that I’m an expert?”

“Everyone is going to realize I am a total fraud.”

 

I live at the intersection of brazen ambition and crippling fear and doubt. While I feel like an anomaly, the idea that someone thinks they are a fraud, despite evidence to the contrary, is the very definition of “Imposter Syndrome.”

If you share these thoughts and beliefs, you’re not alone. According to a 2015 study in the International Journal of Behavioral Science, it affects almost 70% of people. If you’re in a leadership position or are an entrepreneur, you’re even more likely to deal with it.

In fact, the idea has been tossed around that imposter syndrome isn’t not a syndrome at all, but a by-product of success.

I’ve always found it fascinating that my mind would swirl with self-doubt, yet my actions went in the opposite direction. On the surface, I have it all together, but on the inside, well, that’s a different story.

Do you ever feel the same?

When I feel overwhelmed with doubt, which is often, I turn to a few strategies I’ve learned along the way, to give me the push I need to move forward.

These aren’t cures for the feeling of inadequacy, but a way to keep on going.

How I Deal With Imposter Syndrome

How I Deal with Imposter Syndrome

Believe Your Press

As women, we are often raised with this idea that humility equates to being ladylike. That somehow deflecting our success is the proper thing to do. You see it all the time: from the female leader complimented on a successful project who shares the credit with everyone else (whether it’s deserved or not) to the fifth grader who acts like her math grade is “luck,” and not hours of study and practice.

I catch myself doing this often. A few weeks back a good friend of mine complimented my hustle and called me an “inspiration,” and I replied by saying, “Really? I have no idea what I’m doing.”

We have to start rewriting our internal script and flipping the narrative around. If you did something amazing, own it, if you look fantastic, own it, if you’re generally a badass, own it.

When I’m feeling extra unworthy, overwhelmed or starting to psych myself out, I revisit my good press. I have a box in my office I call “love notes.” It’s filled with every note, card, and email from former clients and readers I’ve received since the day I started my business. It’s an in-my-face-reminder that no matter what my mind is telling me, my success is pretty undeniable.

Related: Interrupt Anxiety with Gratitude 

Celebrate Small Wins

There is a particular kind of exhaustion that comes with the constant vulnerability of being an entrepreneur. Everyone knows that feeling when nothing is working, and you start to use every misstep or hiccup as a sign from the universe to quit.

When I find myself in this place, my internal dialog goes straight to, “See, it’s all falling apart.  It was never going to last.” I turn into, as my dear friend Maribeth calls me, an “emotional flogger.” (Isn’t that the best term?)

Instead of focusing on all the little things getting in your way, focus on all the little things working out. This helps me keep the negative speak to a minimum. It can be anything.

For me, some days it’s reviewing the increase in our readership since last year. How small changes and updates made a big difference. Other days it’s as baseline as falling asleep knowing all the laundry is folded and put away.

It goes back to flipping the script and staying positive.

Do it Anyway and Bribe Yourself

Imposter Syndrome lives in your mind.  It’s not an actual disease. The best “cure” for it is movement.  The more you move forward the less power you give the conversation in your mind.

What I find works the BEST is acknowledging you are having these thoughts, take a deep breath, and refocus your attention to your work.  It sounds simple, but it takes a tremendous amount of discipline to keeping going.  The more you do it, the easier it gets.

Because I’m basically a five year old, I give myself little rewards for completing certain tasks.

Sometimes I get incredibly nervous before a speech.  It’s so bad I could convince myself to run away, or fake my death.  Instead, I think back to all my successful speeches, remind myself that I’ve yet to be booed off stage and promise myself a celebratory glass of champagne when it’s over.

When I’m struggling with content for the blog or think everything I write is crap, I set aside a few hours to focus on work, and then meet a friend for dinner.

It gives me something to look forward to and focuses my thoughts away from the negative and on to something positive.

Know it Happens to EVERYONE

I’ve been fortunate over the last ten years to meet some incredibly successful people.  Whenever I have the opportunity, the one question I always ask them is, “When did you stop feeling like a fraud?”  And every single time the answer is, “I still do!”

Knowing that this feeling of inadequacy is a natural response to pressure and success makes it easier to move past and get on with your agenda.

Knowing you’re not alone is often the best remedy.  As women, we are in a powerful, watershed moment in so many ways. I have talked to so many women, heard from so many readers who are thinking of stepping into something new and different, whether it’s going off on your own, or taking on more responsibility in an organization.

Don’t let your thoughts of inadequacy hinder your future. We all feel like we are frauds at some point.

Related: How to Brand Yourself as a Thought Leader 

Don’t Dumb Yourself Down

I’m just going to say it: I know what I want, where I want to be and what I’m doing, and so do you. The only thing in any of our way is ourselves. Work on letting go of your negative self-talk. You’ll be more productive and your confidence will increase.

Don’t let your thoughts of inadequacy hinder your future. We all feel like we are frauds at some point.

 

Tips to Be a Successful Work at Home Mom

Tips to Be a Successful Work at Home Mom
Tips to Be a Successful Work at Home Mom

Whether starting a business, working as a freelancer, or running a side hustle, more and more women are mixing motherhood and entrepreneurship. Being a work at home mom is a topic near and dear to my heart. I was 26 years old and six weeks pregnant with my oldest when I started my first business.

I had no clue or idea what I was doing, but what I lacked in experience (and money) I made up for in hustle and determination. All I knew was that I wanted to be a present, available mother and that I didn’t want to compromise my career.

Now, 11 years later, I am passionate about encouraging other women to make life choices congruent to who they are and architect a life that feels authentic and genuine. It’s the reason I write this blog. If we can inspire you to start a business, hit the gym, read a good book or help you find an outfit you feel fantastic in, I feel like we are adding value.

These days it seems like we are inundated with headlines promising the secret to four hour work days or videos of some over-caffeinated woman claiming she’s discovered the formula for “balance.” It’s so frustrating because women are being sold this false idea.

It’s almost like we’re being told, if it’s not easy for us, we’re doing it wrong. But there is no shortcut to success. Living a big, full life isn’t easy. But just because something is difficult doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.

Here are a few of my hard-learned Tips to Be a Successful Work at Home Mom.

Tips to Be a Successful Work at Home Mom

Tips to Be a Successful Work at Home Mom

Manage Your Mindset

Accept that you are going to be different. It’s not like you’re some kind of special snowflake, but you’ll definitely feel a bit like an outsider. You’re not a stay-at-home mom, and you’re not clocking in at a 9-5 job.

At many points on this journey, both will seem like epically better options than what you are trying to pull off. Working for yourself means you are responsible for everything and that breeds a lot of stress.  You’ll find your way, just know you’re not alone in feeling a bit like a freak.

This is why the next point is so important.

I keep a clear vision of what I want my life, and my family to look like, the kind of mother I want to be and a sense of gratitude for the opportunities we have because of my work top of mind. You need to know your why to push you through the rough patches because there are going to be a ton of them.

A note of caution: If your why is to get rich quick, play the lottery. You can certainly build wealth, but it’s a slow, steady and strategic process.

Keep a Firm Yet Flexible Schedule

Sticking to a set work schedule is essential. Early on, when my girls were babies and toddlers, I worked early in the morning and late in the night when they were asleep. When they napped, I caught up on emails and did some housework. Every few months evaluate if the current schedule still works, because as the kids schedule changes, so will yours.

Life becomes infinitely easier when they are in school all day. When you’re able to take advantage of the school day use it primarily for work. Schedule errands and other activities for after school or on the weekends.

But as we all know, sometimes shit hits the fan and our days are upended. There will be sick days and snow days; days you’re walking around like a zombie because you were up all night and all the general chaos of family life. When this happens, take a deep breath, do your best to focus on what needs to get done and surrender to the day.

Take all the help

You cannot do everything. Many women feel like they should and are guilty when they can’t. Asking for and accepting help is the key to your success. When your mother-in-law offers to take your kids for a few nights, say yes. Ask your neighbor across the street to watch the kids for a few hours while you’re home so you can have some uninterrupted time to work. Don’t just use help to get work done, use help to rest and take care of yourself. I was the definition of sleep-deprived early in my business if it weren’t for my parents helping, I would have burned out fast.

Buy help if you have to

I use to think “doing it all” was economical. Especially when I wasn’t making much money. The day I realized how wrong I was is burned in my memory. Maddie was around 6 and Ava was 4. My husband, of course, was on a business trip. I was having a terrible day, nothing was working out, and I was convinced I should never have left my “real job.”

On top of that, the girls were giving me a real run for my money; I had nothing to make for dinner and piles of laundry were everywhere. As I sat in the middle of their playroom, I didn’t know if I wanted to scream, or burst into tears, but I clearly remember thinking, “this is ridiculous.”

I needed a reset. So I rounded up the girls, dropped off every piece of laundry (at that point I didn’t know what was clean or dirty) to the wash and fold and took us out to dinner.

At that moment I would have paid anything for someone to get me back to center or at the least make me a cup of tea and put me to bed. Outsourcing isn’t just a way to buy back your time; it’s also a vital act of self-care. And you need to take care of yourself, so you can care for your kids and your business.

Give yourself physical and mental space

Any article you read about working from home will tell you to designate a workspace and for a good reason. Establishing a workspace and stocking it with everything you might need to be productive will help you get into your work groove quickly. That’s super important when you are working with limited time.

Something as simple as working at your kitchen island, with a box of essentials next to you, is all you need when you’re getting started.

Now and then, get out of the house. When your schedule and available help permit, escape to a local coffee shop or sit in the park with a notebook for a few hours. You need the change of environment. You’ll unlock your creativity and feel recharged.

Think outside the box

One of the great things about working for yourself out of your home is that you are in charge.  While it’s very helpful to follow a standard work day, you can also do some things that work specifically for you.

For example, on Mondays, I keep my schedule clear.  I will not schedule any meetings or phone calls.  I use the day to get set up for the week, write, schedule my marketing, maybe take an online course, do some admin work.

In the same spirit I try to keep all of my conference calls to one or two days during the week. By scheduling certain activities into blocks of time, I get much more done. Experiment with different systems until you find the one that works for you.

Now that I’m over a decade into this, I know it was the best decision I ever made.  Sometimes I feel like I work all the time (because I do) and it’s not always easy. There are days when you will take a conference call in your bedroom closet. You will bribe your kids with whatever they want to give you one more hour to work. You’ll drop your laundry off at the wash and fold because you just can’t do one more thing.

This isn’t suppose to be easy, or everyone would do it.  With all the craziness, you’ll still be able to spend quality time with your kids.  You’ll be able to be part of your community, volunteer at school, and be there for the important moments.

If you have a dream in your heart, pursuing it will make you a better mom. You’ll inspire others and will help create a world where women are empowered to live a life defined by them and no one else. Write your own rules and see how the life you really want unfolds in front of you.

How to Bounce Back From Failure

HOw to Bounce Back after a Failure
How to Bounce Back After Failure - The Well Dressed Life Blog

When was the last time you failed at something?

Me?

Yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that, and all the time. From failed marketing attempts, and new business opportunities that crashed as we were launching, to saying yes to the wrong client, and bombing on stage, I’ve failed at just about everything.

Be it big or small; I fail spectacularly on a regular basis.

I’ve been an entrepreneur for over a decade. While failure comes with the territory, it does start to get old. Lately, I feel like I could use a break. Not a”break” as in a rest, but a break like I would love to live a few weeks without something going wrong.

Everything takes longer than it should, costs more, and the rules are always changing. Once I think I have something figured out, it’s dated, and I need to learn a new formula or process, which inevitably leads to more failure.

Failure is just part of life.

If you have your own business, are reaching more senior roles in your career, or are a parent, failure is a constant. The only way to grow and be successful is to get the failures out of the way.

Often, when I do something for the first time, I do it knowing I’m going to fail, but I know I will learn something, so I do it anyway.

Instead of letting failure or even the fear of failure keep you stuck, there are things you can do to help bounce back and move forward. I use to look at failure like the universe was proving a point. My inner voice would come at me hard:

“See, I told you that was a terrible idea.”

“Why would you think you could do that?”

“You’re a loser; you should just give up.”

A soundtrack of my self-flogging greatest hits would play on a loop in my mind. Sometimes it would take weeks for me to regain my momentum. I was not only incredibly unkind to myself but wasting a ton of time and energy.

Because I hate being stuck, I hate wasting time, and my livelihood depends on a positive, healthy state of mind I had to figure out how to change my narrative. Luckily, I’ve had a lot of professional help. I think therapy is a powerful tool that allows you to figure out the root of why you’re experiencing certain feelings.

Here’s what I’ve learned to do:

 

How to Bounce Back after Failure

Take Responsibility

Practically, you need to recognize and process where you messed up, so you learn the lesson. This is more difficult than it sounds because it requires you to be objective, and if you’re like me, it’s easier if it’s 100% someone else’s fault.

Which, of course, is never the case. So figure out your ownership, ask yourself why it happened and how you can do better next time.

Let everything else go.

Understand the Alternative

We have two options. You can wallow in self-loathing or move past it. When I finally understood that I have a choice in how I react, I got my power back.

GAME-CHANGING. If you don’t move past your failure, your only alternative is misery. Seems like an easy decision when you put it like that, right?

Embrace Your Emotions

While you don’t want to wallow, you’re allowed to have feelings. Give yourself the time you need to be mad, upset, or disappointment. Recently, I watched the Ted Talk, The Gift and Power of Emotional Courage, and it’s a powerful reminder that feelings are okay and necessary.

It’s helpful to learn what you need to do to process your emotions. Because all emotions show up eventually, and you don’t want to take it out on the people you love.

Sometimes if I feel worked up or angry, I go to a challenging fitness class. I just discovered a boxing class and can’t imagine how many times I’ll use it when I want to beat the crap out of something.

Other times I want to be with my thoughts. I had a particularly disappointing day last summer and drove to the beach by myself for a few hours and came home feeling a million times better.

Do something cathartic to process the feelings, don’t keep them bottled up.

Focus On Something Else

Perhaps the most helpful way to process failure is to jump into something else. Doing so is a way to ensure you keep putting one foot in front of the other.

When I think back to some of my most epic failures, they were over before I knew it because there was something else in the pipeline that needed my attention.  Work on multiple projects, have other commitments, and keep perspective by volunteering within your community or a local charity.

No One Cares

If your failure feels embarrassing, understand that no one is paying that much attention. Certainly, if you fail at something and need to make it right, do so immediately. But if you’re worried about what other people think, you need to shrug your shoulders and be proud of yourself for trying.

It’s been my experience that the only people with a lot of negative things to say are the same people who have never tried to do anything great in their lives.

Find Your Faith

You don’t have to be religious or spiritual to find a little bit of faith in the universe. When I look back on my biggest failures, the ones I wanted so desperately to be successful, I not only understand where I went wrong but I can see how things tend to work out for the best. Every success and failure sets you up for your next step.

Sometimes you’re not suppose to go down a particular path. Other times you’re suppose to learn a lesson and gain knowledge. But that doesn’t mean that you won’t go down a better path, or that you won’t succeed the next time you try.

Join the conversation and let us know below in the comments how you cope with failure.