Archive for category: Of interest

Bev’s Tips on Compliments

 To keep the compliments coming

learn to accept them gracefully.

I grew up believing the proper way to respond to a compliment was with modesty.  If somebody said, “What a pretty dress,” my response was something like, “Oh, this cheap old thing?”

When I was a young lawyer, if I worked long hours on a tough memo and a partner said, “You did a nice job,” I was inclined to answer in the same way.  I’d belittle my efforts by saying something like, “No big deal” or, “It was really a team effort.”

My typical response was wrong in so many ways.  For one thing, it reframed the partner’s assessment of the quality of my work.  Instead of reading my mind and understanding that I’d struggled hard to produce a first class draft, the partner would tend to take me at my word and recall the project as not a big deal.

Beyond that, when I deflected a compliment I drained the energy from what should have been a positive moment.  When the partner offered kind words, I made him feel a little bit bad, instead of a little better.   And I denied myself the benefits which a compliment can bring.

It wasn’t until I became a manager myself that I understood how the compliment exchange should go.  To your brain, receiving a compliment is a reward, like a little cash, and research suggests that you perform even better after accepting a reward.  So your first step after hearing a compliment is to pause for an instant, and get the full value of the moment.

When you do open your mouth to respond, you have two goals: to reinforce the positive evaluation that led to the compliment, and at the same time to make the giver feel good. Here are suggestions for accepting compliments on your work:

  • Say “thanks.”    Begin your response by saying “thank you.”  And sound like you mean it.  Even if a little voice in your head says, “I don’t deserve it,” or, “He doesn’t mean it,” ignore your doubt.  Smile and express appreciation for the compliment.
  • Show your pleasure at a job well done.  It’s not immodest to acknowledge satisfaction with good work.  After saying “thanks,” you might add a brief phrase like, “I’m proud of this one,” or “I’m so pleased that I could help.”
  • Share the credit.  Although you don’t want to deny your contribution, you don’t want to hog the limelight, either.  If it truly was a team effort, share the praise. Add a simple comment like, “I couldn’t have done it without Tom – he was terrific.”
  • Return the compliment.  You can prolong the nice moment by offering a compliment in return.  Say something like, “Your good advice made such a difference.”  But this only works if your words are sincere.  Fake praise can be just another way of deflecting a compliment.
  • Keep it short. When the compliment exchange goes on too long it can become uncomfortable.  If the flow of praise feels unending, it’s OK to turn it off with a light comment like, “Aw shucks.  That’s enough now.  You’re making me blush.”
  • Manage your “impostor syndrome.”  Sometimes high achievers find it extremely difficult to hear praise, believing they don’t really deserve it.  If you feel like an imposter, and not really good enough to deserve such kind words, ignore your discomfort and accept the compliment gracefully.  Then try these easy techniques for learning to be comfortable when your work gets rave reviews.


Bev’s Tips have been arriving as a zine on Tuesday mornings about 20 times a year since 2004. For more Tips, sign up for the zine, go to the zine archive or visit Bev’s blog. We’d love to hear your comments here on, or email Bev at:

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Bev’s Tips on How to bounce back when they say “no”


Hit by professional rejection?

Try these tips for handling it.


A highly qualified professional went after his dream job. “Paul” has a solid record of extraordinary career success and he was confident about being the winning candidate.  Then he felt devastated when he didn’t get the job.  Paul wrote me about the intensity of his reaction. 

“I hate how this news makes me feel,” Paul said. “Not only did I miss out on a job that I really wanted, but the company hired someone against whom I stacked up very well.” 

“Aside from frustration and sadness, I also have second-order emotions regarding this decision,” Paul said. “Namely, I’m angry at myself for feeling sad and frustrated. These aren’t becoming emotions of a gentleman, and certainly I know rationally that they aren’t the ‘right way’ to deal with rejection.” 

That was a couple of months ago and Paul is feeling much better. He suggested that his struggles and our dialogue about career rejection might be useful to others trying to get over a career disappointment.  These tips helped Paul, and we hope they might help you in handling career rejection:

  • Know that pain is normal.  As someone who has read a lot of history, Paul realized that all great leaders faced setbacks on their paths to glory.  But that knowledge didn’t help him feel better.  He was embarrassed about experiencing such pain from something that happens to everyone. “I understand your frustration and the other emotions swirling around,” I said to Paul.  “This is a normal passage for all high achievers.  Everybody gets rejected eventually and the pain is tougher when you are not used to it.”  Knowing it’s OK to feel bad was helpful to Paul, and he chose to let go of those secondary emotions, like guilt for feeling grief.
  • Write about your pain.  A useful way of dealing with pain is to examine it.  When you carefully notice details about your pain, you start to feel some distance from it.  I suggested that Paul take notes about his pain.  I asked him, “What does it feel like to be sad and frustrated? Describe your feelings precisely? Where do you feel stress in your body?  What are your repetitive thoughts?  Are you making it worse by projecting what this blow means for the future?”
  • Share with your inner circle.  A key to Paul’s rapid recovery is the support he received from his partner and a few close friends.  “I found it really helpful just to share my anxieties with them because good friends who know you well can help you maintain perspective,” he said.
  • Understand what you lost.  When you face professional rejection, some of your sadness is a sense of loss because you don’t have the opportunity you sought.  But sometimes people feel awful about not getting a job they didn’t even care about.   They like winning and feel rejected whether or not they wanted the prize.  It may help you refocus on the future if you can be specifically identity what really hurt.  Are you mostly concerned about the opportunity, the prestige or the money?  The more clearly you understand the cause of your disappointment, the better you will be at articulating and looking toward your next goals.
  • Keep a gratitude journal.  One of the best antidotes for negative emotion is gratitude.  Research has demonstrated that when you feel grateful the part of your brain associated with anxiety quiets down.  You can pull yourself out of a bad place by focusing on the things in your life and career that are going well.  A useful exercise is to take a few minutes at the end of every day to write about five aspects of your work life for which you’re grateful.
  • Be gracious in defeat.  While Paul was honest about how he felt with a trusted few, for most of the world he put on his game face and avoided any show of disappointment.  That worked out well for him, and one of the executives involved in the negative decision helped make a connection that led to a job that’s an even better fit.

In the depth of his despair, Paul asked, “What’s the silver lining here?”  One answer is that you can learn how to navigate career transitions, and overcoming setbacks is part of the learning process.  And, I said, “now that you finally have this big disappointment out of the way, you’ll start to build up antibodies for the next time, like with chicken pox.”


Bev’s Tips have been arriving as a zine on Tuesday mornings about 20 times a year since 2004. For more Tips, sign up for the zine, go to the zine archive or visit Bev’s blog. We’d love to hear your comments here on, or email Bev at:

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Bev’s Tips on Stiletto Networks


Hey, women professionals:

Want career synchronicity?

Network with other women!

“Synchronicity” is the term psychologist Karl Jung coined to describe those times when meaningful coincidences seem to bring you what you need. When synchronistic events pile up, Jung said, it’s as though you’re being supported by an unseen helper.

I can roughly graph the times in my career when synchronicity was in full flow.  From my early job as Ohio University’s director of women’s affairs, through my years as a Washington lawyer, lobbyist and executive, to my decade as coach and consultant, I’ve enjoyed periods of peak synchronicity. In these times opportunities abound, resources appear when I need them, and life feels abundant. 

I also can create another graph of my 40+ career years.  This one measures the intensity of my networking with other women.  If I compare the two lines – one for career synchronicity and the other for Old Girl networking – they seem to match.  My graphs illustrate that the most exciting, productive years aren’t necessarily the ones when I’ve worked the hardest or been the most disciplined.  What often seems to trigger the times of great flow is the energy I put into networking, particularly with other women.

Journalist Pamela Ryckman started noticing women of all ages harnessing the power of a new breed of professional networks.  Intrigued by the trend, she began writing about a wide mix of women’s dining clubs and other groups, particularly in New York and California.  She followed the trail to more cities and the result is her new book, Stiletto Network: Inside the Women’s Power Circles That Are Changing the Face of Business.

“I started to discover dinner groups and salons and coworking and networking circles in major cities across the United States,” Ryckman says.  “In almost every case, the women thought they were alone in assembling clusters of dear, smart girlfriends who met regularly to learn and share.”  But in fact there are so many groups it’s starting to look like a movement.

I don’t think the phenomenon of women’s support circles is as new as Ryckman suggests, but I enjoyed her description of how the tide of female power groups is rising.  “They talk nonstop about business.  And while their companies span the industries – from finance to real estate to fashion to art – they’re almost all Web-based.” But “it’s not like they’re all work and no play…Never has the Women’s Movement felt less like a jaundiced faction and more like a party.”

Tens of thousands of professional women are meeting regularly, reaching across generational and institutional lines, and sharing information, advice and contacts.  And the energy and excitement they share seems contagious.  Ryckman describes woman after woman whose career takes off, with one synchronistic opportunity after another, as a result of her Stiletto Network.

It’s worth noting that these groups are not anti-man.  “Networks are meant to extend one’s scope, not restrict it,” Ryckman says.  “Savvy gals may unite on occasion, but they don’t cut themselves off from the dudes.” Women want to help each other build rich networks, including with powerful men.

The circles exist to provide peer-to-peer support and don’t welcome just anybody.  Some mentioned by Ryckman have membership policies sounding perhaps too much like the restrictive clubs that served the Old Boy Network.  “For Stiletto Networks to be relevant and desirable, they must be rooted in shared experience and true sympathy – which means they must have some form of exclusivity.”

What makes the new groups particularly interesting is the absence of hierarchy and emphasis on collaboration across industries and skills sets.  “The horizontal networks women have built over time just happen to be the same networks society now wants and needs,” Ryckman says. They are about being “collegial, collaborative, checking your ego at the door, and trying to work on solutions.”

The circles are so varied that your experience may not align with Ryckman’s account of how the women’s network works.  But if you’re a woman, I bet her book will make you want to start a group, or tweak the one you already love so it can foster even more career synchronicity. 

Ryckman’s tips for starting a Stiletto Network include:

  • Think diversity.  Don’t just round up your best buddies. Draw women with diverse skills, in different fields.
  • Believe in magic.  Don’t worry much about the goals or agendas.  “If you get dynamic ladies talking or walking or drinking, exciting things will happen.”
  • Use technology to facilitate.  After the event, share information and continue the conversation through email and social media.
  • Systemize “asks and offers.”  Women may have trouble asking for help.  A process for making requests or offering assistance makes groups more effective.

If you’re part of a Stiletto Network, or want to create one, I’d love to hear about it.


Bev’s Tips have been arriving as a zine on Tuesday mornings about 20 times a year since 2004. For more Tips, sign up for the zine, go to the zine archive or visit Bev’s blog. We’d love to hear your comments here on, or email Bev at:

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Bev’s Tips on strengthening your career by building your leadership brand

Strengthen your future career by

 building your leadership brand now


Want to start today to prepare for success later?  Be methodical about creating a stronger brand. 

Your brand both shapes and influences how people the talk about you, how they evaluate you, and their willingness to trust you.  It says something not only about who you truly are but also about what others think you can accomplish. 

A good way to prepare for both challenges and opportunities is to build your brand as a leader.  Your reputation as a leader begins long before you are managing a team or holding a fancy title.  Even if you’re a solopreneur or a junior staffer, you can be known as a leader.  You’re showing leadership any time you spot a problem, create a plan to solve it, and then execute your plan.

Your leadership brand sets you apart from the competition.  In part, it’s based on your special strengths and accomplishments – the way you actually solve problems.  Beyond that, it reflects the personal qualities other people see in you – their expectations about your problem-solving and other abilities.

To build your leadership brand, identify the personal qualities you want to be known for.  Then take steps to develop and display those qualities.  This process can help you define and build your brand:

Step one:  create your leadership vision.

A simple way to create a vision of the kind of leader you want to be is to list the personal qualities you’d like to be known for. 

To start, identify the personal qualities that matter most to you.  These steps can help you craft a list of leadership characteristics that feels authentic:

  • Notice consumer brands you love.  Think of several brands you trust and would recommend to a friend.  For each one ask yourself: what makes this brand great?  For example, I am a Starbucks fan, although their coffee isn’t my favorite.  What I love is that Starbucks is reliable, friendly and generous with perks like WIFI and comfortable seating.  So I would add qualities like consistency, friendliness and generosity to my list.  Consider which brand qualities you want reflected in your reputation as a leader.
  • Think about leaders you admire.  List five leaders who have influenced you, whether they were teachers, colleagues or historic figures.  Then list their important personal characteristics. Here are words and phrases many people use in describing leaders they admire:
    • Positive
    • Energetic
    • Supportive and empowering of others
    • Self aware
    • Reliable
    • Organized
    • Always learning and growing

        Consider which of these descriptors you want to add to your brand.

  • Ask what would feel good.  Imagine several colleagues are talking about the quality of your work and the kind of contributions you’re making on a project.  What would you like to hear them saying about you?  Add those words to your list.

Step two: study your list. 

When you have a list of the leadership qualities you want to be known for, post it in a conspicuous place. And carry around a copy.  Look at your list frequently, including each morning. When you’re faced with a challenge or decision, study your list and see if these qualities might simplify a decision or inspire action. 

One technique I like is imagining what I’d be like if I did possess all the qualities on my list.  I summon up a mental picture of a sort of UberBev, much stronger and wiser than the Bev I see in the mirror.  And when I’m faced with a tough decision, or maybe I’m just feeling lazy, I ask: what would UberBev do?

Step three: practice acting this way

A key to building your brand is practicing the attitudes and behaviors that will earn the reputation you want.  If you’re working on a few characteristics, try a flavor-of-the month approach.   Go to your calendar for the rest of the year and note a characteristic that will be your theme for each month.  Let’s say, if it’s May you’ll work on reliability.  Write “be reliable” on your May calendar in whatever way works best for you. 

Now here’s the most important part. Think of a specific behaviorial change that could demonstrate and bolster the characteristic of the month.  And take at least one step a day to create that change, perhaps in the form of a new habit.

I client I’ll call John heard in a 360 review process that his colleagues didn’t feel they could count on him.  They liked him and admired his creativity, but were annoyed by his tendency to lose track of the time.  “You never know if John will show up,” someone said.

Understanding that his reputation could be blocking his way to a promotion, John wanted to become known as a guy you can rely on.  He decided that for one month he’d attend every staff meeting and arrive at each meeting on time, as a way to demonstrate reliability.

Because tracking performance helps turn a new behavior into a habit, John created a log. He noted each meeting scheduled in the month, whether or not he attended it, and if he was on time. If he was late he said by how many minutes.

 At the end of the month John felt he’d made progress but was still struggling to organize himself to get to meetings.  So he expanded the log, creating room for comments on why he was late or unable to attend, and how he handled the situation so the team wouldn’t be inconvenienced. After a few more months John was comfortable with his new patterns and felt people were taking him more seriously.

In my next blog, I’ll talk more about  building new habits.


Bev’s Tips have been arriving as a zine on Tuesday mornings about 20 times a year since 2004. For more Tips, sign up for the zine, go to the zine archive or visit Bev’s blog. We’d love to hear your comments here on, or email Bev at:

Follow Bev on Twitter. Connect with Bev on LinkedIn.


Bev’s Tips on Looking for needs, as you seek your next act

 Gen. Robert E. Lee,

higher ed innovator,

 inspires encore careers

Has the tumultuous job market got you fretting about what to do next?  You’re not alone.  And among the folks wondering about their next career are millions of Baby Boomers.  Many don’t plan on early retirement, but they worry age discrimination or technological shifts might block their way to a new phase. 

Now me, I’m an optimist.  Not only have I weathered several reinventions, but through my work as an executive coach I have a close-up view of people finding satisfying second and third acts.  I was contemplating the new phenomenon of encore careers a few months ago, when we visited Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia.  

As I mused, we wandered into the lovely Lee Chapel & Museum, where we saw the office in which Gen. Robert E. Lee actually worked during his last years.  It struck me that encore careers aren’t all that new, and Gen. Lee is a fine example of how reinvention is possible no matter how badly your current career may endAfter suffering an extraordinary defeat, Lee became a peacetime visionary and stimulated the reform of American higher education.

Just 20 weeks after surrendering at Appomattox, Lee was inaugurated as president of Washington College, in Lexington, Virginia.  As Charles Bracelen Flood describes in his moving book, Lee, The Last Years, the general had hesitated for several weeks about whether to accept the job.  He didn’t know whether his health could stand the strain.  He hated aspects of the role, like fund-raising and public speaking.  And he thought he still might be charged with treason.

The college was a shambles, emerging from the war years with no money, buildings still occupied by Federal troops, and only about 40 students.  Lee didn’t take the job because it seemed like a promising opportunity.  What moved him to sign on was his understanding of a larger mission.

 In urging Lee to accept the job, the college trustees had appealed to his sense of duty, arguing that the future of the former Confederate States of America depended on its ability to train its young men. On the day after his inauguration, Lee wrote, “I think the South requires the aid of her sons now more than at any period in her history.”

So within months after his crushing defeat as the general in command of all Confederate forces, Lee looked to the future and launched his encore career.  In the last five years of his life, he revitalized and reorganized the College that, after his death, would be renamed “Washington and Lee University.”  Moving beyond the traditional approach to higher education, he envisioned a program of “practical education” that would train young men to rebuild the South.  An innovator who knew how to recognize and implement others’ good ideas, Lee redesigned curriculum and introduced new fields of study, like business and journalism.

Lee’s achievements in higher education influenced universities throughout the nation.  At the same time, he became a model of how to accept defeat.  Lee’s extraordinary career transition, following crushing defeat, exemplifies one of the most important attributes of resilient careerists: When one path leads to a dead end, they dig deep, focus on a big goal, and start taking steps.

Encore career lessons from Gen. Lee:

  • Don’t obsess about the past.  Instead of giving in to sorrow about all that was lost, within weeks after Appomattox Lee shifted his focus to the future.  Flood says: “To a Confederate widow who was expressing hatred for the North, he said, ‘Madam, do not train up your children in hostility to the government of the United States.  Remember, we are all one country now.  Dismiss from your mind all sectional feeling, and bring them up to be Americans.’”
  • Look for a way to make a difference:  Lee didn’t set out to win personal kudos as an educator.  He looked around the post-War South and saw a pressing need: a new generation of engineers, manufacturers, journalists and others with the skills to rebuild the economy.  If you’re contemplating an encore career, think about the issues that really get your juices flowing.  Is there some way you can contribute to change, and make the world a better place at the same time you earn an income?  (For more on creating an encore career with social impact, visit
  • Connect with others.  Lee knew he needed help to rebuild the college, and he quickly reached out to friends and even strangers throughout the United States.  His first big supporter was Chicago inventor Cyrus H. McCormick, who sent a check for $10,000.


Bev at the entrance of Lee Chapel, Washington and Lee University, in Lexington, Virginia, December 2012.

Bev at the entrance of Lee Chapel, Washington and Lee University, in Lexington, Virginia, December 2012.


Bev’s Tips have been arriving as a zine on Tuesday mornings about 20 times a year since 2004. For more Tips, sign up for the zine, go to the zine archive or visit Bev’s blog. We’d love to hear your comments here on, or email Bev at:

Follow Bev on Twitter. Connect with Bev on LinkedIn.


Bev’s Tips on Leaning In

Successful women leaders

manage the way they “lean in”

March 19, 2013 * Number 185

I’m enjoying the controversy Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has stirred up with her instant bestseller, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to LeadSandberg argues that, despite gender biases still prevalent in the workplace, hesitating and offering excuses won’t get women anywhere. She urges women, instead, to believe in themselves, fully engage, step up and “lean in.”

I generally agree with Sandberg.  As a career coach I often speak with extraordinary women who, after years of disparate treatment, feel hesitant and uncertain when their talent suggests they should act like confident and determined leaders.

But we can’t ignore the cautionary note from some critics. The New York Post’s Andrea Peyser wrote, “Sheryl preaches a mantra that seems destined to get women fired, not promoted. She says that women who fail are not assertive, demanding or needy enough… At a time when a woman feels lucky just to have a job, here comes Sheryl, blaming the purported victim for being passive.” 

Sandberg herself says that it is not always the time to “lean in.”  You have to pick the moments when you take charge.  And you have to be aware of the traps.

Sandberg nailed one of the problems in her chapter 3, “Success and Likeability.”   Sociological research demonstrates what many women leaders have learned the hard way.  When men are assertive and seem confident other people tend to like and admire them. But when women act the same way others may find them pushy and not likeable.

In one experiment, students read about a successful venture capitalist.  Half the students read about “Heidi” and the other half read an identical story describing “Howard.”  Howard came across as an appealing colleague.  But Heidi, although respected for her accomplishments, was seen as selfish and not “the type of person you would want to hire or work with.” 

I have seen this time and again in the written annual evaluations of women clients.  The boss writes up their accomplishments, making it clear that they met their goals and even did extraordinary work.  But then he adds a note like this:
“But she needs to be aware of how she is perceived by her colleagues.  Her aggressive behavior tends to rub people the wrong way. She should be more careful about ignoring hierarchical boundaries and she shouldn’t spend so much time networking.”

In other words, hard-charging women leaders get the job done, but then they are criticized for the behavior that makes their success possible.  So what’s a girl to do?  Here are tips for managing the likeability trap:

  • Act like you’re not afraid.  As a woman, you’ve been slapped down for assertive behavior that would be rewarded if men did it.  As a result, you may fear stepping into the limelight.  Sandberg suggests you ask yourself, “what would you do if you weren’t afraid?” Then go do that. 
  • Don’t sweat criticism from “them.” As you move up the ladder, not everyone will be your fan.  It will not hurt you if “some people” think you are too pushy or assertive.  It says more about them than about you. Stick to your values, focus on the organization’s mission, help others where you can, and keep building your network.
  • Connect with other women.  If your organization still has a gender bias, it’s vital that you network with other women.  They will bring you support and information about threats and opportunities. Mentor them, and you will find that many mentor you in return.
  • Seize opportunities.  Sandberg points out that women often want to be super prepared before they take on new challenges. Men are more likely to jump at new opportunities, and get ready on the fly. It’s time for some women to move closer to the cutting edge. Stop worrying so much about credentials and expertise.  If you spot something interesting and new, find a way to get involved, and learn as you go.  Jump in, then lean in.
  • Watch your language.  It’s sad but sometimes it’s true.  When he talks about what he needs or has done it sounds confident, but when you do the same, it sounds egocentric.  Sandberg suggests that you frame things more collectively, using phrases like “women need” or “the team did this.”
  • Deliver the work. Sandberg’s success is tied to her history of working for strong bosses and producing the work they wanted.  The first rule is always to know who your bosses are, know what they want and need, and give it to them.  If your boss is a sexist jerk then it may be time to move on, even if the only way out is a lateral shift.  But while you still have the job, keep doing good work.  If nothing else, your achievements will help you get the next job.

If you want to read more about “Lean In,” check out Kerry Hannon’s article for


Bev’s Tips have been arriving as a zine on Tuesday mornings about 20 times a year since 2004. For more Tips, sign up for the zine, go to the zine archive or visit Bev’s blog. We’d love to hear your comments here on, or email Bev at:

Follow Bev on Twitter. Connect with Bev on LinkedIn.


Bev’s Tips on How to Plan a Career Side Step

Want to find a different job?

Here’s a plan for getting started.

Last week I received an email from Susan, a woman in her 50s whom I’ve not met.  My impression is that she wants to find a different kind of job, while remaining in the same broad career field.

“I am physically fit and healthy and plan on working eight to ten more years.  I want to get out of [this] environment, have a different set of responsibilities and make more money.  Can you advise me?” Susan asked. 

Well, that’s a big question. And if Susan were a coaching client I’d start by asking her lots of questions in return.  However, in case an investment in coaching is not be an option for Susan, I told her I’d take up the challenge of suggesting steps that might lead to a career shift. 

This post is my plan for Susan. I hope you enjoy these suggestions, as well, and I’d welcome your comments, suggestions or requests regarding other topics.

If you want to stay in your broad field, but find a different kind of job, here’s a plan for getting started:

  • Write a big list.  Start by listing everything you want in your next phase.  Dream about what would be great not only in your job, but also in the rest of your life.  Sometimes we think we want a career adjustment, but part of what we’re seeking may be available without a job change.  For example, if you’re bored or lonely, you might create a richer life by pursuing new interests in your free time.  Or, if you love your job but want more income, you might consider a side business. 
  • Organize your list.  Break your comprehensive list into categories of what you want, like “health and fitness” or “social life,” as well as “ideal job factors.”  You are creating this broad picture partly because it will help you to see that not everything must be found through your work.   But this is exciting: when you create positive change in any part of your life it’s likely to bring new energy to your work life.  I see it with clients all the time.  When you make progress in one area, like your fitness program or your social activity, it has a positive impact on your work life
  • Commit to small steps. Once you have your categories, start moving slowly forward in each one. Decide how many steps you’ll take each week, for each category. It’s important to find a realistic pace, and stick with it.  For example, you might decide that each week you will:
    •  Pursue your job search by taking three steps.  The first week might include (1) going out for coffee with a friend, (2) spending 20 minutes doing research on the Internet, and (3) working on your resume for 30 minutes. 
    • Start exercising by walking for 20 minutes three times during the week.
    • Take one social step, like making a phone call to arrange a future dinner with friends.
  • Do research and notice trends.  While you’ve been busy in your day job, you may not have been tracking developments in your professional area or in fields that are just a step or two a way.  Your job-related steps should include looking around, seeing who is making contributions, money or headlines.  Read everything you can, but don’t stop there.  Look for conferences and associations where you can learn from people working in fields not far removed from yours.
  • Network methodically.  On your list of steps will be the names of people who might be willing to brainstorm with you.  Include not only those you’ve known well over the years but also professional acquaintances who seem career savvy.  Then work your list. Set up coffee dates, or find other ways to visit with just about anybody who might be able to spot trends or suggest opportunities.  Ask your contacts if they can suggest others who might be willing to talk with you. If people are too busy to help, they’ll let you know.  And, if they are willing to chat, know that someday you’ll be able to return the favor or pay it forward with another job seeker.
  • Engage on-line.  Social media now are playing a huge role in the hiring process.  Job seekers today are at a disadvantage if they don’t at least have LinkedIn profiles.  And Twitter is a tool that will allow you to connect with recruiters and others you might not be able to reach by phone or email.
  • Learn something new.  Taking classes is an excellent way to pick up new skills and broaden your perspective.  When you are engaged in learning, it helps you see your routine work in new ways and become more creative. And certifications earned through course work can demonstrate your commitment to excellence.  Taking classes at a local college could have the additional benefit of broadening your network.  But if there’s no convenient local option, there are many good providers of distance learning.
  • Volunteer.  If you want to build additional skills, look for ways to get new kinds of experience.  A good starting point can be to join clubs or service organizations.
  • Find a buddy.  Making a career shift can be a lonely process. Find a friend who also is engaged in reinvention and meet regularly to share ideas, networks and encouragement.  You don’t have to have similar careers.  Somebody in a different line of work might offer a new way of looking at things. 

Networking roundup: Building your social network is a big part of preparing for a career shift.  If you want to read more about networking, here are suggestions:

4 networking tips for busy people

Make requests to make friends

A strong network supports career resilience

Work that conference

Tips from great networkers

6 surprising networking tips


Bev’s Tips have been arriving as a zine on Tuesday mornings about 20 times a year since 2004. For more Tips, sign up for the zine, go to the zine archive or visit Bev’s blog. We’d love to hear your comments here on, or email Bev at:

Follow Bev on Twitter. Connect with Bev on LinkedIn.


Bev’s Tips on Networking for Busy People

4 Tips for building your network,

even when you don’t have time!

You probably know that a circle of positive relationships is important for every aspect of your life.  Being connected is good for your mental and physical health, and it makes life more enjoyable.  In your professional life, a strong network can be vital.  Connected people stay in touch with trends and opportunities during the good times.  And when a career crisis comes, your network can help you spot the next move and go forward. 

But what do you do to strengthen your network if you don’t have the time or energy for one more project?  Try these networking tips for over-burdened professionals:

1.    Listen & notice.  You probably have casual contact with people throughout your work week.   But in many interactions you’re not fully engaged.   Instead of listening, maybe you’re thinking about what you’re going to say next, or perhaps you’re worrying about another project.  Like most of us, you’re often so distracted that you’re not taking full advantage of your opportunities to connect.  Get more from your routine conversations by becoming more mindful of what others are saying.  In each conversation, focus all your attention on the other person.  If your mind wanders, bring it back to the moment.  You might try arriving at meetings one minute early, and devoting that minute to listening to the person sitting next to you.

2.    Use every occasion.  When you are in networking mode, it makes sense to vary your patterns and get out more often.  But don’t think of “networking” occasions as special events that you attend just once in a while.  Great networkers engage with others wherever they go.  Every time you are out and about, whether it’s at a PTA conference or the gym, there’s a chance to meet somebody who could become a friend.  The goal is to connect with people as often as possible, in a genuine way.  And when you meet somebody new, do follow up, even if it is just with a two sentence email saying what a pleasure it was.

3.    Try a little social media.  My clients sometimes say they don’t want to try social media because it takes too much time.  But I urge most of them to at least sign up for LinkedIn.  At a basic level, LinkedIn operates as both a simple on-line resume and an easy-to-manage interactive address book.  By joining, you make yourself available to folks who may want to reach you.   And you acquire a tool for staying in touch with contacts, even if they move around.  When the time is right, you may choose to go further and mine your LinkedIn network for new connections and useful discussions.

4.    Give and ask for help.  The essence of networking is exchanging help and support with other people.  In a brief, positive interaction, you might simply share a smile or a kind word with the other person.  A key principle is to remain alert to small, easy ways you can add value in any situation.    Look for opportunities to offer a little assistance, or make someone’s day by saying  “thank you.”  At the same time, routinely ask for help.  For more about the smart way to build your network by requesting help, please read my recent post on


Bev’s Tips have been arriving as a zine on Tuesday mornings about 20 times a year since 2004. For more Tips, sign up for the zine, go to the zine archive or visit Bev’s blog. We’d love to hear your comments here on, or email Bev at:

Follow Bev on Twitter. Connect with Bev on LinkedIn.


Bev’s Tips on Managing Your Brain

Unleash the power of your mind

to change your brain &

foster surprising achievement

Not long ago, we were taught that your brain is hard-wired and losing cells daily, and there’s not much you can do to change it or slow the process of decline.  But recent breakthroughs in neuroscience research suggest that the human brain is far more flexible, resilient and open to change than anyone ever thought.  You can manage your brain, helping it to grow beyond its current limits.  Your brain can evolve and improve throughout your lifetime, supporting the development of new skills.

Recent years have brought a wave of books that reintroduce us to the brain and explore its amazing potential.  In two of my favorites, leading scientists use ordinary language to describe how the brain works and how we each can use our mind to manage our own brain, whether we’re seeking greater achievement or a happier life.

Perhaps the most intriguing is by Alzheimer’s scientist Rudy Tanzi and prolific spiritual and medical writer Deepak Chopra.  Their book is “Super Brain – Unleashing the Explosive Power of Your Mind to Maximize Health, Happiness and Spiritual Well-Being.”

“The human brain can do far more than anyone ever thought,” Chopra and Tanzi say. The brain is malleable. Because of its “neuroplasticity,” your brain is constantly changing.  And you have the power to promote and help shape that change.  This can be the “golden age for your brain,” they say, and you can develop a “super brain.”  Your super brain will help you to thrive on activity and change, staying in a good mood despite the unexpected.

The Emotional Life of Your Brain” is written by another influential neuroscientist, Richard Davidson, and respected science writer Sharon Begley.  You can train your brain to shift your “Emotional Style” to one that is more resilient, positive and aware, according to Davidson and Begley.  Your Emotional Style is your way of responding to experiences and challenges, and is governed by identifiable, measurable brain circuits.  Through simple exercises and practices like meditation, you can rewire your circuits and change the way you function on a daily basis.

Here are 4 tips for using your mind to transform your brain:

  • Manage your thoughts.  “The first rule of super brain is that your brain is always eavesdropping on your thoughts.  As it listens, it learns,” say Chopra and Tanzi.  In other words, if you think limiting thoughts like, “I can’t remember a thing,” your brain will perform in a way that is consistent with your expectations.  But you can push your brain to a higher level of performance, including by “trading out toxic beliefs,” adopting a higher vision and enthusiastically learning new things.
  • Become more adaptable.  Highly successful people, like Albert Einstein, aren’t simply more intelligent than the rest of us.  According to Chopra and Tanzi, they use their brain in a way that is keyed to success.  And the “key is adaptability.”  Einstein developed the strengths of “Letting go, being flexible and hanging loose.”  Instead of remaining stuck in the same old behaviors you, too, can become more adaptable.  You need to stop repeating what never worked in the first place.  And “See righteous anger for what it really is – destructive anger dressed up to sound positive.”
  • Express gratitude.  You can make your Emotional Style more positive through exercises that promote well-being, say Davidson and Begley.  They suggest you “Pay attention to times you say ‘thank you.’ When you do, look directly into the eyes of the person you are thanking and muster as much genuine gratitude as you can.”  And at the end of each day journal about your moments of gratitude.
  • Try mindfulness meditation.  By meditating, you can change your brain and become more self aware and resilient.  Davidson and Begley suggest you try out mindfulness meditation with a simple technique involving awareness of breathing:
  • Sit upright on the floor or a chair, with a straight spine and a relaxed but erect posture.
  • Focus on your breathing, on the sensations it triggers in your abdomen and throughout your body.
  • Focus on the tip of your nose, noticing the sensations with each breath.
  • When you are distracted by unrelated thoughts, simply return your focus to your breathing.


Bev’s Tips have been arriving as a zine on Tuesday mornings about 20 times a year since 2004. For more Tips, sign up for the zine, go to the zine archive or visit Bev’s blog. We’d love to hear your comments here on, or email Bev at:

Follow Bev on Twitter. Connect with Bev on LinkedIn.


Monkey Business, Unequal Pay & Fairness

I’m attending a course on negotiation at Harvard and we were shown a  one-minute clip from Frans de Waal’s TED talk on Moral Behavior in Animals (full video here):


Capuchin monkeys are fed different foods and the monkey fed a less desirable food has a surprising reaction to it.