Tag Archives: Managing careers

My Advice on Career Day: Believe in Your Own Voice

By Jeanne Corrigan

Last year, I started volunteering for a non-profit called GENaustin. It’s a great organization that supports girls in making good choices as they navigate through adolescence. One of the activities that GENaustin sponsors is Career Week, an open forum between professional women and middle school girls.

I’ve signed up to speak and I’ve been thinking about what I might cover in my 15 minutes. I love the work we do at On Your Mark and I will talk about that but I also want to share my thoughts on communication because I think it’s so important in career success. Three points I’ll hit on are:

1. Listening is important but so is talking.
There’s a great blog post by Whitney Johnson about how business women sometimes hesitate to speak up to share their experience or own their expertise. When women listen more than we talk, we don’t contribute as much of our own value to the discussion. I love her summary – When we listen, we acknowledge others’ experience and expertise. When we talk, we acknowledge our own. Success depends on learning to do both.

I will encourage the girls to find something they’re interested in, learn all they can about it then challenge themselves to find ways to share what they know.

2. When you talk, do it well and with confidence.
As part of my work, I present findings and recommendations all the time, often to large groups. I’m comfortable with that so my focus is on the message, not my own performance. My advice to the girls will be to think about ways they can speak with more confidence and strength. Just putting themselves in the situation where they speak in front of people – like a speech class or theater group – is good practice. It’s an investment that’s sure to pay off, whether they want to become a scientist, teacher, financial genius or even a market researcher.

3. Ask yourself first, and then seek the input of others.
Many women seem to figure out what they think about a certain subject or problem by talking it through with other people. I identify with this because when I’m faced with a question or a decision, my first impulse is to pull people in to talk about it. I’ve learned that, for me, I have a stronger voice in the conversation when I pause, take a minute to really consider what I think and what’s most important to me and then seek others’ opinions.

I’m excited to meet these girls and talk about my career. But I’m equally excited to explore their strengths today and the paths they might take tomorrow.

Own Your Story

By Jeanne Corrigan

I attended the Spark & Hustle Small Business Boot Camp earlier this month as part of the Texas Conference for Women. The day was focused on small business owners, and those who wanted to be, and there were some great speakers. Samantha Ettus’ discussion  about personal branding in particular has really stayed with me. What hit home was we can all do more to control how the world sees us by paying close attention to the story we’re telling about ourselves.

This is equally true in our business and personal lives. Knowing our strengths and framing our story to best showcase those strengths goes a long way in managing our overall impression. Sounds simple, right? Not necessarily new or groundbreaking. But so few do it. Think about it – can you name anyone in your own circle who actually does this well? Women seem to have an especially hard time “curating their story” as Ettus calls it. Because we are connectors, we often focus more on the other person and feel uncomfortable or inauthentic if we’re touting our own strengths. Authenticity is also often translated as being totally honest and many women feel less than honest if they edit their story to focus only on the high points. Also, to be successful in communicating our “brand,” we have to believe wholeheartedly in the best version of our story. And summoning that kind of confidence can be a stumbling block for some.

My business partner, Brenda, and I went through this “storytelling” experience recently where we needed to come up with the best version of the On Your Mark story. We created a series of videos about the business – what we do, our experience and why our clients work with us. It was fun to take some time to assess and communicate our strengths, talk about what we’ve done and basically, tell our story in a confident and positive way.

Women business owners need to be bold, to stake claim to their expertise and stand strong while communicating everything they have to offer.  No one is going to do this as well as you, so think about your greatest moments and how you can craft them into your story. Say it out loud to yourself. Run it by friends or trusted colleagues. Get comfortable with telling your story in a new way. And then come back and tell us how it went.

His and Her Workload: Conflicts in Equality

By  Jeanne Corrigan

Time magazine ran a recent cover story called “Chore Wars” about the division of labor in married couples and how men may finally be matching up with women on workload hours.  The article cited multiple studies that have shown that when all hours of “work” (both paid work outside the home as well as housework and child care) are accounted for, the totals for men and women are nearly equal. This was true for couples with and without children, and it contradicts the conventional wisdom that women carry a significantly greater portion of the workload than their working husbands.

There are a few questions rolling around in my head after reading the article:

While it’s clear that both women and men work hard, does some of women’s belief that they do more stem from the fact that work hours at the office and work hours at home have different demands and rewards?

  • Moms with full-time jobs, particularly those with young children, do in fact have the largest total workloads. And women may perceive that they are doing more because they have the bigger share of hours doing chores and caring for the kids than their partners, in addition to paid hours at the office. While they probably feel it’s important that a parent be at home and spend that time with their kids, working moms often feel unappreciated and exhausted in the short run as a result.

Is it any wonder that many working dads feel like they just can’t win?

  • Studies are showing that men feel more and more conflicted in the role of provider and involved father.  A report from the Families and Work Institute speaks to the pressure men are experiencing, citing that 68% have experienced problems with their employer because of conflicts between their job and their duties as a parent, and 72% report that their income would decline if they worked fewer hours.
  • So while wives want their husbands to come home earlier and help on the home front, the husbands are concerned about the impact that could have on their career, and their ability to provide for the family.

Are these couples talking to each other clearly and realistically about how their family is going to manage work-life balance?

  • While it’s a complicated issue, I do think a lot of the conflict comes from unmet (or unstated) expectations. The bottom line seems to be that whoever is the primary financial provider for the family will likely spend more hours at work. Historically, this provider role has primarily been the husband’s but that is one more element in this equation that is in transition.

It’s clearly a complicated issue and the household dynamic continues to evolve and change. It’s important to look at the reality of the situation and appreciate each person’s contribution but it seems to me that there’s a lot more to reaching equality than just balancing total hours worked.