Tag 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

Checking in with our Goals

The turn of a new year is a great time to check in and realign our goals. Hands down, one of the best tools for setting goals and weeding out the unimportant is Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map.

Danielle turns traditional goal setting on its head and asks us to figure out how we want to feel most of the time (safe, badass, powerful, brave, joy, peaceful, etc.). Then, and only then, can we decide what things we want to be, do and have that will bring us those emotions most of the time.

This powerful tool for self-connection helps us walk a more authentic path, aligned with our heart’s desires instead of what society says we “should” do, be, have or want.

Whatever those things are, research shows that it is our relationships, our deep connections to others that pack the most impact on our long-term happiness. Women are luckier than men in this regard, we seem to have both an instinctual ability and societal permission to be open and connect on an emotional level.

We women have no problem dishing on deeply intimate issues, but do you know how much your friends make? The last time they asked for a raise? This oft-taboo topic for women means we’re probably leaving money on the table. If we start having open discussions about salaries, bonuses and other perks, this intel can be used to help level the playing field, eradicate the wage gap and ensure we earn our worth.

To your success,
Melanie & Front Room HQ

Dreaming of a Perfect Holiday?

Dreaming of a Perfect HOliday

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is easy to get sucked into the quicksand of “perfect” at this time of year. As a recovering perfectionist I have to be vigilant about superwoman syndrome* at the holidays.

Whether it is the near-constant media pressure to pick out the perfect gift, have the picture-perfect family holiday or setting our intentions for a flawless 2016, expectations of ourselves and others are high.

We also compare ourselves to our past and to others while taking stock of the year. This process can degrade from constructive evaluation to beating ourselves up pretty quickly, increasing the pressure to up our game.

It is easy to get derailed in doing more and more to quell the fears that we’re falling short or worse, failing entirely.

Here’s how I get a grip:

Stop. Comparing. It is a well-documented fact that happiness is relative – we’re happy with what we have until we see that somebody has more, then somehow we’re less happy. One of the best cures is gratitude. When I get nitty-gritty about gratitude and my stress melts like snowflakes on my tongue.

Play by my own rules, not what society dictates I “should” do. Come back to your core priorities, the ways you want to feel most of the time (great tool : the Desire Map workbook by Danielle LaPorte, free in December). If what you’re stressing about acing isn’t one of those 3-5 things and doesn’t serve you in getting there, ditch it. If you can’t bail, do it justice and move on.

Practice the art of saying no, politely and with integrity (no white lies). Thanks to Marie Forleo for this gem from Bob Burg who dishes on how NOT to say no, along with his script for declining with class.

I hope you can pause during the holidays to gently redirect, recharge and fully absorb how much you accomplished this year.

All the best for a wonderful holiday, whatever your wonderful is.
To your success,
Melanie
Founder & CEO
Front Room

*You know… the superwoman who can do it all without breaking a sweat! Make the from-scratch allergy-free** four-course meal plus allergy-free cookies, treats and snacks; evaluate the business and get the upcoming years’ strategic plan done; find the just-right hostess gifts to go to the parties with the great hair, makeup, manicure, outfit and shoes; remember my networking tips because at heart I’m an introvert and homebody; make sure the wrapping paper doesn’t clash with the tree décor because I’m a bit neurotic that way; read  and apply all those books I’ve been meaning to read to grow my business… on and on.

** I’m trying to figure out if I have food allergies or possibly an auto-immune condition.  I am allergic to corn for sure and currently avoiding gluten and nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, etc.)  Turns out corn is in pretty much everything, including gluten-free foods (corn is gluten free) and baked goods (most baking powder has cornstarch in it).

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.

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”

Power and hanging in

Ever had those times when you wanted to pull your hair out in frustration?  Me too.

Been having them a lot lately as the production of this first season has been going much more s-l-o-w-l-y than it was supposed to.

I am really disappointed that I haven’t been able to deliver the product to you in April as planned.

The first two styles will be done tomorrow (a mere six weeks late – GAH!) and I pray to all that is holy that the completed garments measure up to our specifications.

The other four are all being sewn on the factory floor right now so there is progress… The Vancouver factory tells me that the rest will be done within two to three weeks (but they’ve said that before).  Sigh.

Kind of makes you wonder why the hell I signed up for this anyways??

There is so much power in being able to look comfortable in a conference room.”
– Ilana Glazer (actress on Broad City)

Preach it sister.  There is power in looking comfortable, even more so when you feel comfortable.

I founded Front Room so you can march into that boardroom and close like a boss, without worrying about the boobage wreaking havoc on your wardrobe.

As soon as humanly possible, Front Room HQ will get product photography done and the online storefront up.  Rest assured we are scouting other North American options for future production.

Thanks for your support, truly.  It means the world to me that you believe in this crazy idea of mine.

To hanging in there,
Melanie
CEO & Founder
Front Room

Melanie & the Big Fish

This week I bring you a little humour at my expense. Since you’re in the BBC (the big boob club) you’ll totally understand where I’m coming from with this story.

So there I was: at lunch with a prospective client. Not just any prospective client mind you, a big fish. This particular fish is also besties with one of the biggest fish in town so winning friends and influencing people was on my mind for sure.

We’re having an enjoyable time, getting to know each other and mixing business with pleasurable conversation with ease. The sushi was fresh and delicious.

And then… it happened. I commit sushi sabotage and drop a piece in my soy sauce/wasabi slurry. It splashes some on the table but a quick survey says all else is fine. I pick it up and carry on, laughing about my chopstick carnage.

Big Fish politely informs me that I’ve got something on my shirt. I look down and see nothing out of the ordinary so I say nope, I think I’m good.

Big Fish says nothing further and we finish what I think is a successful lunch meeting.

I return to the office and hit the washroom before heading to my desk. I look in the mirror after washing my hands and see there is a HUGE greenish brown stain on my shirt, right around my belly button area.

Now I haven’t seen this area without a mirror since I was twelve and my big boobs got in the way.   I looked down and saw clean shirt (and the extra snaps holding down the fort between the straining buttons) but the stain was well hidden under all that real estate.

O.M.G. Not only did Big Fish tell me I had a stain, I looked down and said nope, all good here. #fail #shootmenow

I recover from my horror enough to call Big Fish the next day and he ends up becoming a client, perhaps out of abject pity but a client nonetheless. A worthy shirt sacrifice!

If you haven’t seen it already, here is a quick vid about a few of the other problems only those of us in the BBC really get. I could add a dozen more to the list, how about you?

Product launch update: the factory is sewing up a storm and the goods will be on their way in a couple of weeks.   Newsletter subscribers will get a password-protected preview of the online store before the end of the month.

To laughing at our #bigboobprobs,
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.