Category Archives: success

Why do ambitious women have flat heads?

stolen ideaDon’t you hate it when you a male colleague says the exact SAME thing as you and gets zero pushback?  Even worse, when he gets credit for YOUR idea!

I don’t need to tell the ladies that this subtle (and not-so-subtle) sexism happens all the time.  It is beyond frustrating, as this guy found out when he switched email signatures with a female colleague for two weeks (via FairyGodBoss.com).  He said he

was in hell. Everything I asked or suggested was questioned. Clients I could do in my sleep were condescending. One asked if I was single.

[ed note: we’re guessing he means clients whose work he could do in his sleep.]

In this great TED talk, tech pioneer Dame Stephanie “Steve” Shirley says that ambitious women have flat heads from all of the pats placed on our pretty little heads by otherwise well-meaning but patronizing men.

She tells the story of how she got tired of the constant rejection and second-guessing, so began to sign her business correspondence with “Steve” instead of Stephanie and voilà.  Attitudes adjusted.

It costs companies big bucks to continually doubt and dismiss the ideas of their female employees (and account managers, advisors, directors…)

Just one of many examples I could give from my career in finance: I contracted for a company to advise them about an upcoming transaction.  I duly researched the options, assessed the risks and opportunities and presented my recommendations in a report.  Then they did nothing.

A month later the company proceeded to hire a Big 5 accounting firm who told them exactly what I had told them.  The (male) account manager at the Big 5 firm even told me that he didn’t know why they had been hired, as they had proposed the same conclusions with the same plan of execution as I had recommended four months earlier.

Then he chuckled and said “but we’ll take the fee!”  I knew their fee was 20x my fee for the same advice. I feel no shame in admitting I wanted to throttle him (& the company execs) at that moment.

You can bet this six-figure mistake is being repeated daily at firms far and wide.

What to do?

This article by Jessica Bennett (via goop.com) has some good strategies for dealing with common career underminers as

  • the Manterrupter (women are interrupted twice as often as men, even worse for women of colour),
  • the Bropropriator, and
  • the Womenemy.

For example: to deal with the Bropropriator (aka the guy who ends up with the credit for your idea), reclaim ownership of your great idea with the “thank & yank”.

You yank the credit back by thanking the person for liking your idea: “Thanks so much for picking up on my idea!”  A little public appreciation for him, original credit back to you.

Did you know we’ve put together a resource page full of helpful advice and strategies like these?  Check out Movin’ On Up here.   One of my faves for getting that raise: before beginning, remind them that being good at negotiation is a required skill for success in your role.  It makes them less likely to penalize you for negotiating (as research shows women are both less liked and penalized for negotiating salaries).

Unfortunately, it takes conscious thought and strategy to navigate these problems successfully.  Grinning and bearing it simply isn’t effective.

We hope these tactics are useful to you in your quest for equality at work.

To your success,

Melanie Love, CFA
Founder & CEO

Captain Klutz

Hey you! Long time no see! Remember me? Its Melanie Love, founder and CEO of Front Room.

I built this company because like you, I had a need that I couldn’t find in the market. I wanted clothes to wear in a business environment that would also keep the girls under wrap, while looking stylish and polished. I couldn’t find what I needed, so I launched Front Room.

We came to market in June 2015, with our first collection of tops and blouses for women DD-JJ+. It was a hit with all of you who, like me, were sick of feeling ignored by retailers.

Unfortunately in September 2015, September 17th actually, I was hit with sudden onset vertigo. I haven’t been able to drive, or fly, or really do much work since, because nausea, dizziness and migraines brought on by activity or light really put a damper on things. Then, I made matters worse this July when I cracked my head (just call me Captain Klutz). That made it concussion number 3 in 3 years! Now I have post-concussion on top of my vertigo. So, my friends, this means that I need to take a break to heal my melon. I can’t run a company with only 10 minutes of screen time, five times a day.

Because of this, I’m going to have to put Front Room on pause for an indefinite amount of time, but…

I’m going to re-open the shop, with EVERYTHING 33% off, for a few weeks, so pick up those items you’ve had your eye on. The storefront will go offline October 8th for new orders. I will accept exchanges or returns until October 31st.

I am also actively looking for a partner to help me in the business. Someone who is passionate about fashion and knows about clothing/garment manufacturing and/or retail marketing and distribution. Those areas are NOT my passion, I just want to wear polished pieces that fit! I do have a passion for business so I am happy to run the corporate/number-crunchy side (when I’m able to return to that). We’d appreciate your suggestions or referrals via email , LinkedIn or on Twitter.
I will hopefully be back to you in some future version, because I did have a whole fall lineup of new duds to bring to you that I just couldn’t get done.

In the meantime, you can shop the store and let me know if you have any great partner referrals for me.

Thanks for being part of the Front Room family. We’ll talk to you soon.

Warmest regards,
Mellie

untitled-design

Packing Solutions for Large Boobs

I hit the road this month for meetings, and to attend SheEO’s Purple Carpet event celebrating the final five funded ventures.

Work travel with an event thrown in is a challenge for any woman. When you’re a #fullbust IMG_1403#womeninbiz it can be harrowing. What happens if you lose your luggage (because of course you pack your PERFECT BRA!!) or spill something? Its not like we can just hit the mall and replace it!

Here’s a photo of me in the best (of the worst) white blouse from 15+ tried on the mall. I would feel very self-conscious wearing this to meetings! (& can someone please explain WTF those pockets are for??)

Here’s what I packed to make sure I’m covered for this trip:PackingPicFramed
1. Packable Puffer
2. Black Peplum Top – comfy as a sweatshirt with way more polish.
3. White Silk Utility Shirt – dress it up or down
4. Patterned Sheath Dress – zip up & go!
5. Dark Denim
6. Dark Trousers
7. Pencil Skirt
+ 3 pairs of great shoes
= at least 7 different outfits for casual, corporate and cocktails in a carry-on. Accessories give even more looks.
I wore my long coat on the plane to reduce bulk & keep warm on the usually freezing plane.

I use these awesome GoToob refillable bottles for my liquids. They’re silicone, come in different sizes, are TSA-approved and have never leaked.

What do you pack? Share your work travel essentials with us on Facebook or Twitter.

PS The patterned sheath dress is still on sale but only til Feb 29th. Get yours here!

To your success,
Melanie & Front Room HQ

Myth-Busting & Mentors

Melanie Love & Sandra Sing Fernandes

Melanie Love & Sandra Sing Fernandes

I grew up believing the myth of the self-made (wo)man.

One part of how this myth shaped me focused on the “self-made” part. I truly believed that to succeed and to have actually earned that success, you had to do it all yourself. This came with a sidecar: that asking for help was absolutely verboten .

I was lucky enough to work for some very successful men in my early 20’s. I saw that if they had a problem, they picked up the phone and call someone for help. They didn’t ruminate or get stuck trying to figure it out themselves – their only thought was who they would call first.

The first time I saw this my ill-informed younger self thought “Geez, this guy doesn’t do anything himself, he’s always calling for help. What an impostor!” Thankfully the Universe was persistent in providing examples for me and I worked for other successful men who did the SAME thing.

It dawned on me that this wasn’t a failure – it was the key to their success! There is no such thing as a self-made man or woman. It takes all kinds of help to be successful in life. Unfortunately, a lot of us aren’t great at asking for help. We don’t want to look dumb, weak or incompetent.

It takes a village: a team working with us towards our goals, advisors to keep us out of trouble, been-there-done-that mentors to show us the way, accountability partners to hold our feet to the fire, friends and family to cheer us on and dust us off when we’ve hit the dirt.

So when I put my hand up (via a social media contact) and got the opportunity to have lunch with an Alberta business icon, I chose Sandra Sing Fernandes – named one of Alberta Venture magazine’s Top 50 Most Influential People for 2015.

A former model and graduate of New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology, Sandra worked her way up in the fashion and art worlds. She is the founder and Creative Director of Western Canada Fashion Week and the Editor-in-Chief of Phabrik Magazine.

A free hour with an industry mentor? Sign me up!

I resisted the urge to try and impress her, instead laying my problems and obstacles at her feet along with my vision for the future. It worked – one hour turned to three. I got all sorts of feedback and even better, an open door to ask her about my future issues.

Who do you call for help? Do you have all the cast required for your epic production? Where else do you need support?  Leave a comment below, on Facebook or on Twitter.

To your success,
Melanie & Front Room HQ

To read the full interview, click here.

For more on mentorship and success check out the article links we’ve gathered on our Movin’ On Up Pinterest board here.  We’ve also got outfit suggestions that are corner-office ready and the handbags to go with it.

www.bustygirlcomics.com

Fashion is Dealing with Big Breasts – Good News & Bad

Big boobs were in the news a lot this week; Reformation launched a boob-friendly line, then there was reaction to the lack of large cup sizes and most recently a young actress shared her decision to have breast-reduction surgery.

Ms. Winter cited being really uncomfortable with all of the focus on her assets, the bullying/harassment, and feeling crappy because nothing fricking fits when you’re stacked.

We feel ya sister!  By no means are you alone in your experiences.

big boobs small boobs not happy

The grass is always greener – c/o Busty Girl Comics

My own experience is similar to Ms. Winter: I developed quite early and was treated WAY inappropriately for my age.  My first bra (at age 10, grade 5) was a 34C and boy was I bullied at my elementary school.  It made it worse that I am tall-ish  (I hit my current 5’7″ at 11). I was mistaken for 17 at age 11 and hit on by men of wildly inappropriate ages.

I was (and am) subjected to tacky and tasteless commentary from both men and women – including well-meaning friends and family! Catcalls from strangers + Are they real? How BIG are they??  I bet you don’t do yoga..har har.  Why don’t you put those things away? How long since you’ve seen your feet? sigh…

All of this goes back to why I started Front Room: because how we look dramatically influences how we feel.  Even when you’re a gorgeous young actor with the world in the palm of our hands. .. or a senior lawyer at a law firm.  Or a politician. Or an analyst on Bay Street, as I used to be.

If clothes don’t fit quite right we don’t feel great and don’t put ourselves out there as much as we should.  We absolutely MUST put our hands up because too many of us wait until we feel completely ready and let opportunities pass us by.  (See my post from last week for more.)

It is a problem that people can’t focus on our message for ogling the mammaries.  People judge us, within seconds.  So we need clothes that fit so we can be the total package, rather than the chick with the big rack… what did she say again?? Helloooo…#eyesuphere!!

One solution is a reduction.  I can’t imagine doing it though times I have been sorely tempted, pun intended.  I totally get why women do it and applaud their courage to go under the knife.

The other solution is clothes designed for big boobs.  GASP!  What a concept.
How about clothing tight enough to show you’re a woman, loose enough to show you’re a lady?
Clothing with no pulling, no gaping, and no exposure of boobs or bra sound good?  Wish granted.
This is exactly how I designed Front Room clothes to fit.

So shop now!  Give your self-esteem a boost. (Most commonly heard from the changerooms:  “Oh my GOD. It fits!  I have a waist!” often followed by a heartfelt thank you to be finally included in fashion.)

What have you got to lose? We’ve got an awesome return policy that is WAY better for our subscribers (as in free*).  So yes, you want to get on our list.

To rocking what you’ve got,
Melanie & Front Room HQ

*For prompt returns. See our Customer Happiness page for full details.

Throw Your Hands Up at Me!

The mighty Queen B. was on to something there.HandsUp_img
You read the posting for the new job or board position and think, “I couldn’t possibly.  They won’t pick me.  I don’t check all the boxes.  I’m not qualified enough.”

Let’s review, you’re:

  • One smart cookie.
  • Educated, in both classroom and industry.
  • A quick study, all that info gets sucked into your big brain like magic.
  • Dedicated doesn’t even begin to describe your work ethic, and
  • You get it.

So why aren’t you putting your hand up more?

Yes, the volume on the Itty Bitty Shitty Committee that lives in your head is going to get loud.  It’s going to ask you, “Who the hell you think you are…” Don’t let the impostor thoughts stop you before you start.  If you wait until all the boxes are checked, the opportunity might be lost for good.  As the brilliant Seth Godin says “You need to press the buzzer before you know the answer.”

What are you waiting for?

The guys don’t wait.  They barely bother to consider if they have the qualifications – as with sports, they let the refs tell them whether they should be in the penalty box or on the field.  They don’t opt themselves out first.  They put their hand up to get picked, then figure out how to get it done.

Put yourselves in the shoes of the person filling the posting.  Do you want somebody who already knows how to do everything the job demands?  No way.  They’re going to be bored and have no place to grow.  They’ll be mailing it in until a better opportunity comes by.

Sure, you might not get picked.  You might have to convince somebody how your skills translate so you’d be a great asset for their organization.  At minimum, putting your hand up increases your visibility and might lead to being top of mind for the next great opportunity.

What are you holding back from really going for?  Put yourself in the running and give yourself a shot.

To your success,
Melanie

For more on this topic, read Bruce Kasanoff’s take in Forbes, “If You’re Competent, Its time to be Confident”

Screw up? Permission granted.

As an entrepreneur, the myriad of things that need to get done can be overwhelming to say the least. From pricing logistics to hiring photographers and dealing with product delivery dates, there’s a lot going on – even before the doors open.

I’m a recovering perfectionist so it would be all too easy for me to get stuck trying to get it “just right” and “evaluate all my options”. Going down that well-worn road of perfectionism can turn one of those tasks into a dead-end pretty quickly.

Ah yes, paralysis by analysis. And if a Chartered Financial Analyst isn’t good at analysis, then who is? Well, a lot of us are actually – especially any impostors lurking amongst us.

Not only does it seem prudent and useful, it also serves as an excellent avoidance strategy.

I would remind myself that I don’t need to be an expert, I need to get the job done. (My mantra of late: Good things come to those who hustle.)

Even that little reminder wasn’t always good at getting me unstuck. I’ll just look into one more option… and another loop around the dead-end.

So I did something I would have never ever considered before: I gave myself permission to screw up.

I don’t have time to become an expert in every discipline my small manufacturing business needs to thrive. I decided instead that my job was to launch the business to the best of my abilities, then course correct as needed.

Some succinctly refer to this strategy as Ready. Fire. Aim. It is all too easy to prepare, prepare, prepare and never pull the trigger.

Now, I pull the trigger. I do the task justice and move on. Once I have more information, I can change or adapt as needed for my growing business.

Got a great tip that gets you unstuck when you’re facing overwhelm or paralysis by analysis? Let me know in the comments below.

To your success,
Melanie Love
Founder & CEO

New to Front Room?  Want more content like this?  Want early access to our sales, pre-buy opportunities for upcoming styles and *free return shipping? Get on the list here for your all-access pass.

Open Wide

Happy New Year!

I hope that 2015 brings you many opportunities to open wider to your brilliance, to love, to joy.

I wish that 2015 be a year you grant yourself even more acceptance.

So many people use resolutions as a tool for beating themselves up, as though they need fixing. (You don’t need improvement.)

Still others won’t be truly happy until they’ve achieved their goals.  When I lose those 10 lbs I’ll be happy!!  (Happiness is both a choice and a habit.)

I’m not saying you shouldn’t celebrate your wins.  If losing weight is a goal of yours and you achieve it, put on the Prince and party like its 1999!

Neither am I saying we can’t grow or stretch ourselves out of our comfort zones.

What I am saying is that you can be really happy, as in right now.  I’m saying that those things you might be putting on pause until you’re ­­­­­­___________ can’t wait.  The Universe is waiting for you!!

I’m saying that you don’t need to wait to be “improved” to take the risk and speak up in the meeting, ask for the raise, talk to the handsome man in line for a  latte.  You’re deserving of it right now.  How do I know?  Because you want it.

If you follow the “I’ll wait until” logic, then Oprah shoulda just waited for those next 10 lbs to come off before she made her move?  Ed O’Neill should have waited to audition for the Dad/Grandpa role on the popular TV show “Modern Family” until he was in better shape?   Hell no!

So don’t you wait either, puh-leeze!  You’ve got magic to work and the size of your skin suit (or whatever you think needs fixing) has ZERO to do with your ability to work it.  Good things come to those who hustle.

Yes, we mortals do feel better when we look good.  I’m guilty of it too.  It is partly why I started this clothing line: look good, feel better.

Just know that sometimes choosing to shake off the guilt about being “flawed” and feel better anyway makes you look positively radiant, and if that isn’t motivation to go dancing on the glass ceiling I don’t know what is.

I’m SO glad to have you along for my ride and the long awaited launch later this spring.  Fabrics are ordered, factory space booked…  your new closet go-tos are only a few months away!

To your stellar 2015,
Melanie & Front Room HQ
More than clothes, confidence.™

New to Front Room?  Want more content like this?  Want early access to our sales, pre-buy opportunities for upcoming styles and *free return shipping? Get on the list here for your all-access pass.

Getting nitty-gritty about gratitude

In honour of US Thanksgiving, I am trying out a new gratitude practise today (via Marie Forleo).  Turns out the more specific and detailed we are about what we are grateful for, the more impact it has on us and contributes to our well-being.

I am truly grateful for all of the people who put themselves and their experiences out there so the rest of us can learn from them.  It could be in any field: health, emotional well-being, success… whatever.  They overcame their personal hurdles and told us about it so we wouldn’t have to feel alone or figure out the same stuff all by ourselves.

In fact, that is exactly why I write about success on my website – not because I know it all, it is because majority of success comes from the six inches or so between our ears.

“Ninety percent of the game is half mental.”
-Yogi Berra, American baseball legend

Despite my book-smart big brain, I have had a LOT of beliefs and behaviours that were not serving my quest to be successful, to make a difference in this world.  I had to get the frick out of my own way (many, many times).

I share my journey so that if you’re stuck where I’ve been stuck, you can unequivocally say to yourself “if she can do it, I can do it!”.  So that if you’ve been there and got the t-shirt, you’ve got company.

Specifically, here are a few of the teachers I am grateful to (and for):

T. Harv Eker.  I am grateful to him (and his team) for really opening my eyes and having such a direct, in your face approach.  It was what I needed to wake up and start understanding the meaning of self-responsibility (as in I create my life, life doesn’t happen to me).  I still use many of the tools he teaches in his free seminar the Millionaire Mind.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Marie Forleo.  Marie really supports and encourages entrepreneurs in her B-school program and her free videos on YouTube.  While the course is fantastic and definitely helped me, I love quotes and she gives a few doozies in B-school that really had some immediate shifts for me.  This one by Martha Graham rocked my world and helped me deal with my terror of putting myself out there as a clothing designer.

Jack Canfield. I thought of myself as a big thinker until I read his book The Aladdin Factor and undertook the task of writing 101 wishes of the things I wanted to be, to do and to have.  The first time around it was hard to get past twenty!  It was absolutely the antidote for thinking small.

Tim Ferriss.  I laughed my way through the Four Hour Work Week.  He presents such great tools and ways of reframing what is possible in all of his books.  I am so grateful for the clarity I got around my hidden desire to be full-out and engaged in projects and then take mini-retirements, instead of toiling away for someday.  I love how he is all about results, and getting results fast.  My impatient self is very appreciative.

My grandfather.  While he didn’t always practise what he taught, there isn’t very much that I’ve put into practise that he didn’t tell me about first.  He definitely primed the pump so I was ready for all of my later teachers and tried to give me the foundation to fulfill the greatness he saw inside me.

Do you have a favorite person, book or course that really shaped your path to success or helped you overcome a personal issue?  I’d be honoured if you’d share in the comments below.

To your success,
Melanie
CEO & Founder, Front Room
More than clothes, confidence.™

New to Front Room?  Want more content like this?  Want early access to our sales, pre-buy opportunities for upcoming styles and *free return shipping? Get on the list here for your all-access pass.

Perfectionist? I know your dirty little secret.

If you call yourself a perfectionist, you’re not alone.  I am a recovering perfectionist myself.

Oh, perfectionism has its perks:  high standards and expectations of quality, attention to detail, a striving to always be better.  You’re the go-to person to get things done because people know you’ll get it done right the first time.

As a result, many perfectionists wear this trait as a badge of pride.  I know I did.

The switch got flipped for me when I heard this:

 “If you consider yourself a perfectionist, listen up.  You aren’t really a perfectionist, you’re an imperfectionist.  You don’t go around looking for everything that is right and perfect, you go around looking for the flaws and how things are falling short of your expectations.”  (paraphrasing mine, via T. Harv Eker)

That statement stopped me in my tracks.

After all, I thought of myself as a positive person.  Positive people don’t go around looking for what’s wrong with everything.  And yet it was true.  I did look for flaws and ways things could be improved, mostly in myself but inevitably in others too.  Oh, and things too.  Did you notice that picture is a tad crooked?

It got me to thinking about the dark side of perfectionism, how it might not be so key to my success.  After all, focusing on the negative is the exact opposite of what successful people are supposed to do.

Some of the bad habits that go along with perfectionism:

  • Procrastination and its cousin paralysis by analysis come into effect a lot when everything needs to be just so.  Often guilty as charged.
  • Failure to launch.  Younger me would get so overwhelmed by the all of the grand ideas I had for a project that I would start and stall out or worse, I wouldn’t even try for fear of disappointing someone or fear of it not being good enough.
  • Inability to internalize the ‘attagirl, unless the execution was flawless.  They loved it but I’m still thinking about the font mistake on page 6.   Saying thank you without qualification and owning it is still one of my biggest challenges.

If you’re thinking that this sounds pretty closely related to the impostor syndrome, you’d be right.  According to Ms. Young, perfectionism is one of the coping strategies to help us impostors to avoid being found out.

In my next post, I’ll let you in on some of the strategies I use to get out of my own imperfectionist way.

To your success,
Melanie
CEO & Founder, Front Room
More than clothes, confidence.™

New to Front Room?  Want more content like this?  Want early access to our sales, pre-buy opportunities for upcoming styles and *free return shipping? Get on the list here for your all-access pass.