Three Strategies for Teleworking

The Coronavirus has made its presence known, and we’re all doing our part by social distancing and teleworking to make sure we keep it under control and contained. But if you’ve never teleworked before or aren’t used to it, it can be a significant adjustment.  That being the case, here are 3 things you can do right now to make teleworking more palatable, and maybe even enjoyable for yourself!

I. Create Physical Separation

One thing most people don’t think about is where to do work. You do your work in the living room while you’re watching TV, or on the dining table where you eat dinner, or in bed. A little known fact is that creating physical separation between where you actually do work and where you live your life and spend quality alone or family time is a huge contributor to stress levels. 

Your brain associates places with stress as much as it does the actual actions that happen in them. Creating that separation tells your brain, “It’s time to work” in your working space and, “It’s time to relax” in your other space.If you can create a physical location in your home where you either do all or a significant majority of your work, you will be less stressed while spending time in other parts of the home. 

II. Schedule and Observe Breaks

When you’re working from home, it’s easy to get caught up in work and end up working longer, more continuous hours.  It’s comfortable, you may be in your pajamas, and you can make yourself tea or coffee whenever you want and eat lunch while you do your work, right? Sure, but that will add significantly to your stress levels. 

Set specific times to take breaks, whether it’s to take a walk by yourself or with your dog, or whether it’s just to step away from the computer and get a break from the screen. This will create mental breaks that your mind needs throughout the day in order to keep working. Also make sure to not eat in front of your computer because then you’re not really taking a break from work at all.

III. Create a “Mindfulness Commute”

The last suggestion is a less obvious one because most people don’t think of their commute as being “a break” from anything. Many of us deal with traffic or frustrations while we’re commuting to work, but what you may not realize is that the time you spend commuting to work is time away from work, generally.  So create a “mindfulness commute” to work. It doesn’t have to be anywhere near as long as your regular commute; it just has to be long enough for you to create separation between your home life and your work life. You can even just walk from your bedroom to your office area and say to yourself, “time to go to work” before you engage in a breathing exercise.  Even if you have a small home and your work space is just a small corner of your apartment, you can still take a few minutes to yourself to breathe and mentally prepare to begin work. When you break for lunch or when you’ve finished work for the day, take another few minutes to mentally bring yourself back down from the day to relax and be home again.

Putting It All Together

I know it can be tempting to just jump in and start working from home from wherever you normally sit at home without giving it too much thought. The problem with this is that when you get used to that, you won’t have any place to really find solace away from work.  Eventually, you will integrate work into every physical space you inhabit, and that won’t be healthy. Instead, make sure to create the physical and mental space between your home life and your work life, and you will find that the stress becomes easier to manage.

Dhru Beeharilal, GUAA Career Coaching Partner

Taking Back the Narrative

“Everything can be taken from a [person] but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” 

– Viktor Frankl

Our situation with COVID-19 is one that can fill the most calm and steady of us with fear and uncertainty. What will happen to me, my family, my community? My job? Those most vulnerable? Because we biologically need and feed off of connection with others, we’re also affected by the thoughts, emotions, energy and narratives of other human beings and our collective narrative. Emotional contagion is a powerful phenomena. 

We look to our communities to help make sense of world events, but at times, we can be more drawn into fear, reactivity and stress that ultimately doesn’t help us. The inverse is also true: we can be calmed down by our communities and not all fear is negative. 

And yet, in a time when we feel like we have very few choices and the world is deciding how we live, we do still have a choice in the story we tell ourselves. We can choose where and on what we put our attention; how we interpret the data and information coming in. 

Here’s a method to get centered, to reflect and begin to rewrite the story you’re in right now:

  1. First, check in with yourself. Find a place to sit and be still for a few minutes. Step outside into the natural world if you can. Take a few deep breaths. Lengthen your inhales and your exhales. Notice where you’re connected to your chair, the floor or the ground outside. Starting at the top of your head, scan down through your body. Without judging, what do you notice? Where do you notice it? You can place a hand over your heart and your gut to check in with both parts of your body. What is your body trying to tell you?
  2. Second, take a few minutes to reflect on how you are currently feeling and reacting. I feel…what (emotion)? In light of that, what is it that I need right now? Listen to the answer, whether it be a feeling, a word or phrase, or even an image that comes up. Consider writing it down so you can pull it out of your brain to more effectively process it.
  3. Third, take a step back. What’s the story you’re living in right now? If you’re having trouble imagining that, think of how you would simplify the elements to share it as a headline. What role are you playing in that narrative (victim, hero, frustrated bystander)? What’s your aspiration for changing that? What changes about your behavior if you can stand in that narrative and look at the world that way? What are some small ways that you can create that new narrative? Example: Instead of feeling obligated to respond to my phone, I can silence my notifications and take the morning off from reading texts or material that amplifies my stress. 

I’m well aware that we can’t erase the world’s events right now with a little thinking. However, we can take ownership of where we do have the most power: our freedom to tell the story our way.

GUAA Career Coaching Partner Miranda Holder

On Fear

Dear fellow Hoyas,

Over two decades ago, I was diagnosed with cancer.  I was in my 20s at the time, and I would like to share with you how I have learned to deal with uncertainty.

Uncertainty as we all know produces fear.  A common reason for this fear is the tendency we have in the absence of certainty to imagine worst-possible scenarios.  For me, fear shows up in two ways.  One is concrete, and the other is general.  Concrete fear is helpful.  I recognize it because it moves me to act productively.  Over the years, it has motivated me to eat well and keep my doctors’ appointments.  More recently, fear has moved me to stay on top of the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and to prepare my family for social distancing, and if necessary, sheltering in place.

General fear, on the other hand, feels more like I’m circling the drain.  It produces lots of spinning, but no helpful (and sometimes unhelpful) moves.  When I notice it, I know now to address it using one of the following approaches.

The first is to pay attention to my thoughts.  If I am imagining worst-case scenarios, for example, I try to remind myself of all the times I have worried and nothing bad has happened.  My great-uncle used to say that people are terribly one-sided.  We suffer in anticipation of bad outcomes, yet we rarely celebrate in anticipation of good ones, even when the odds are similar.

When questioning my fears doesn’t work, I shift to acceptance.  I experience feelings as having both a mental and a physical component.  When I am afraid, for example, I get a knot in my stomach.  If I stop what I am doing and focus all of my attention on the physical sensation (rather than the subject of my fear), the sensation passes.  Typically, it grows and then fades in less than a minute as long as I don’t try to interrupt or control it.

Lastly, when these strategies don’t work, I turn to distraction.  Centuries ago, the French philosopher Michel de Montaigne wrote about our natural capacity for distraction.  We’re really good at it, and in times like these, we may as well use it to our benefit.  If you have work, then work.  If you’ve been putting off learning a hobby, use the extra time now to develop it.  If neither of these appeals to you, do something that feels more generative.  My distraction these days is to enjoy funny videos sent by my family in Spain.  They are finding ways to laugh and that is a salve.

If there is a silver lining to all of this, it is that we are all going through this together.  We don’t have to wonder why somebody is having a hard day, and instead of reacting, we can respond with understanding and care.

May you be well,

Yolanda Ruisánchez Gruendel (L’95)

Learning to Bounce by GUAA Career Coaching Partner Friderike Butler

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I sent my email subscribers a challenge at the beginning of the month, encouraging them to practice bouncing.  I didn’t mean the kind of bouncing that children do on backyard trampolines though! The art of the bounce is all about practicing resilience when your “20 seconds of Insane Bravery” do not yield the results you were hoping for.

Sometimes risk taking may bring you standing ovations and sometimes you will hear cat calls and boos. Some of your ideas will have enthusiastic fans and some will bring out the harshest critics – and the most outside of the box ideas are likely to generate both.  Setbacks, letdowns and brutal criticism are practically a given once you begin to take risks, so developing the skills to recover gracefully and learn from them is vital to your growth as a leader.

How do you learn how to bounce?

  1. Explore your fears

Practice getting used to wins and losses, seek praise and reproach, get used to getting call-backs and being ignored. One way of doing this is to reflect on a feared outcome and ask yourself the question, “and then what?”. For example, if you are afraid you may experience severe criticism for your action, think about what it would feel like if it actually happened, and if the criticism came from someone you really respected. Ask yourself what would happen next? How would you respond? Keep asking yourself the “so what?” or “and then?” questions until you get to a place of accepting whatever the outcome is or the anticipated outcome becomes so outlandish that you realize the fear is overprojected, e.g. they will hate the idea, I will lose the gig, I will not find other work, I can’t pay the bills, I will be living in a tent in the woods… This is a great journaling exercise that can help you to uncover the real and imagined fear that is holding you back from stepping out in risk.

  1. Accept the existence of non-fans

It’s important to work on letting go of wanting to be liked by all and being known as a “nice person”. Ultimately, people are responding to the tape that is playing in their own head and their response is not a reflection of your worth and often not even an indication of the value of your idea. Learn what you can from your experience, allow people to have the reactions they have, mourn an unrealized opportunity if you need to and then turn to your next opportunity to reach for what you believe in.  Practice not responding immediately to negative comments (especially on social media platforms!) to give yourself time and space to assess whether that response really warrants any energy back from you. Try and notice if there could be different ways to interpret another person’s comments or responses. Is there anything that you can take away from it that will aid your leadership journey?

  1. Seek candid feedback

For an even riskier way to practice the bounce, take this practice outside just your personal journaling time and invite some real feedback: Ask someone who is NOT a raving fan of yours for candid feedback on a recent project, action, or behavior. Listen and ask open-ended, non-leading questions: What worked for that person and what didn’t? What was the perception on the receiving end? Are there suggestions for alternative approaches? Thank your conversation partner for the feedback. Allow the message to settle. Consider what is being said to you, whether you see validity in the comments and how it may help you handle a situation differently in the future. Take valuable comments and consider how to put them into action. Put the rest aside. Walk on. Really. Walk away from the comments that were not helpful to you. Shake them off. Take a deep breath. Connect with yourself and feel that you are still whole, with immense talents to share and valuable contributions to make.

  1. Cherish support and praise

On those rare occasions when you do get standing ovations after your moment of insane courage, enjoy the moment! Accept the praise graciously and thank those who contributed to the excellent outcome. Tease out what exactly lead to the success so you will be able to draw from the experience in a similar situation in the future.

Tigger

REFLECTION & ACTION

  • What is the criticism that you are most afraid of? What fear is triggered? What do you believe the criticism or failure would uncover?
  • What are other ways you could interpret criticism? What may be going on in the other person’s world may have played into a harsh response?
  • What part of the criticism is constructive (you agree with it and you can choose to do something about it) and what part is puzzling, unhelpful, perhaps ill-spirited?

Questions about this exercise or other leadership capacity building practices? Contact me via email or even better, schedule a free Discovery Coaching Callwith me! I love talking with people!

T.I.A.R.A.: 5 Points to Keep Your Cool — GUAA Career Coaching Partner, Theresa Garcia

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Many of my mid-career coaching clients identify a desire to show up in business meetings more powerfully and confident, while quickly establishing warmth and authenticity.  They are often the youngest leader in the room.  They know their content cold and their expertise is unquestioned.

Just as they stand to speak, close the sale, or question the viability of a proposed action, something terrible happens. They may go week in the knees, feel their heart racing or break out in a sweat.  Their mouth may inexplicably go dry, and they report that momentarily, they forgot what they were going to say.  What happened?  They were caught in an emotional hijack.

When asked, “what can I do in the moment to regain my composure and stay focused?” My counsel is to “put on your T.I.A.R.A.”.

The T.I.A.R.A. framework represents five actions to regulate emotions to regulate the brain’s immediate, unconscious, protective response to a perceived “social threat” – like public disapproval and rejection (Eisenberger, Lieberman & Williams 2003).  The 5-point framework includes:

  1. Take an alternative approach
  2. Improve the situation
  3. Attention- selectively focus
  4. Reappraise the situation
  5. Adopt a positive expression

Take an alternative approach
The simplest action to regulate emotion is to not take the anxiety-ridden approach in the first place. What approach would feel more comfortable, cause less stress and better utilize your skills and strengths? Applying your strengths successfully results in increased confidence which releases brain chemicals including serotonin, endorphins, oxytocin and dopamine. These chemicals influence the feeling of safety, calmness, and happiness which keep you centered.

Improve the situation
To reduce anxiety, you can improve the situation by taking actions like arriving at the meeting room in advance to get a lay of the land, testing the sound and projection equipment, and placing an extra bottle of water strategically near your selected seat. Prior to giving a presentation, you can learn something about the other participants and call on them by name. This encourages greater interest and participation.

Attention – selectively focus
What grabs your attention and takes you off point may be an unexpected interruption or reaction, like seeing your boss looking down at his/her phone. By quickly refocusing your attention away from the distraction to someone familiar, or simply concentrating on your breathing will slow your heart rate and reduce anxiety which will provide your brain the necessary moment to regain composure and focus.

Reappraise the situation
Often our fears cause us to tell ourselves a negative story about the situation. In a split-second, we decide whether another is friend or foe, and whether the situation is to be feared or desired. You can regulate your emotions by thinking about the situation in a way that makes you feel less negative or shift the story in your head to one more positive like, “she’s just tired.” Reappraisal is a powerful way to regulate emotion.

Adopt a positive expression

Fake it to make it.  Deciding to adopt a positive outlook and employing one of the emotional regulation techniques described above will help you to get through the emotional hijack.  Most important, do not suppress your emotions.  Suppression increases your negative emotion, increases stress, and puts you on the defensive, which reduces cognitive function. Name it to tame it. Acknowledging the emotion,
reduces its power over you.

Now, adjust your T.I.A.R.A. and get back to business!

(Butler, et al. 2003, Gross & John, 2003)

Interview with Dirigo Advisors Founder Patrick McGinnis

Full Name & Georgetown School and Year

Patrick J. McGinnis, SFS ‘98

Professional Title & Organization

Author, The 10% Entrepreneur and Founder, Dirigo Advisors

Career

What has been the most rewarding moment of your career?

Combining all of the experiences and lessons learned from investing in fast growing companies on five continents into a book that encourages everyone to be an entrepreneur without quitting their day job. My goal was to reach a global audience and that’s been truly rewarding. The book has been translated into a bunch of languages and I’ve spoken on the topic of 10% Entrepreneurship in a diverse set of places, such as Argentina, Uganda, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Mongolia.

What do you wish you had done earlier in your career?

I wish I had been more open to working on side projects as a way to explore interests, learn, and generate opportunities for upside. I was heads down and all-in on finance, which didn’t work out so well during the 2008 financial crisis.

What trends do you see in your profession or industry?

Entrepreneurship is going global due to the falling cost of innovating and the now indisputable fact that talent is borderless. As a result, you don’t need to be in Silicon Valley or New York or London to succeed. You can be almost anywhere.

What is the hardest thing you have ever done professionally? 

I’m credited with coining the term FOMO while I was a student at Harvard Business School. Staying focused, even when it’s not fun or profitable to do so, never gets easier.

What is the best career advice you have ever received? 

Find something you want to be known for it, write about it, establish your authority on the topic.

Hilltop Memories

How has Georgetown shaped you?

I like to joke that I have the most SFS career I could have imagined. Without question, the intellectual foundation and language skills that I got at Georgetown are fundamental to everything I do. I all have been heavily influenced by the values of cura personalis and social justice that I discovered on the hilltop.

What was your favorite professor or class at Georgetown?

“International Political Economy” with Prof. George Shambaugh and “Problem of God” with Julia Lamm

What is your favorite Georgetown memory?

Winning a ticket to see Bill Clinton speak at Gaston Hall my freshman year. I loved that Georgetown gave tickets out so democratically. It is still the greatest speech I have ever seen in person.

Your Inspirations

Who is a source of inspiration and strength to you in your life and why?

If you pay attention, you can find inspiration all around you, even in the little things. I try to pay attention and stay grateful for the little things.

What is on your desk right now?

A Oaxacan black clay skull from a great store called Tienda MAP in Mexico City. It’s a good reminder to make the most of each day.

Who is your favorite author? 

F. Scott Fitzgerald

What is one part of your daily routine you couldn’t live without?

I hate monotony, so I rebel against routine, but no matter where I am or what I’m doing, I will always start my day with a cup of very good coffee.

Final Word

What are your words to live by?

Always make sure to have more than one string to your bow.

Building Your Reputation. Stand Out to Get In.

Guest Post by: Jen Dalton for Brand Mirror

What is a personal brand, and why does it even matter? Put simply, your brand is your reputation. It’s the words that people think of to define you. It’s how relevant you are, and what conversations you are a part of. It’s how you stand out from others. If you don’t define your personal brand, others will define it for you, and this is why being in charge of your brand matters.

Brands create an emotional connection. When people think of Volvo, they often don’t just think car, they think safety. Apple is no longer just a fruit, but an innovative technology company. And you can’t think about Nike without thinking sports or speed. What emotional connection do people have when they think about you? There are actionable ways to control that, so let’s go over a few.

Understand Where You Are Today

First, we need to do some foundation building. To define your personal brand, we need to look at the Three D’s: Discover, Design, and Differentiate. Start with doing some self-reflection.

  • Ask yourself questions like: What do I want to do? What is the impact I want to have? What are my skills, strengths, and values? Where am I? Where am I going?
  • Think about 5 words that you think describe you, then go and ask your friends, family, even clients what their words for you would be. Compare the two, and think about how you might align them better.
  • Take a Digital Inventory. Google yourself and see what shows up. Ask a friend to search for yourself on LinkedIn by name, and then by role, and see where you show up. How hard is it for someone to find you?

It’s important to understand where others think you’re at because others’ perception of you is the reality of your personal brand.

What Do You Want People To Say About You When You Are Not in the Room?

Now, onto Design. Here we can look at some actionable steps to take towards designing your own brand. After you’ve figured out how people define you now, think about the ways you WANT people to define you. These are the words that will make up your Brand DNA. Think about how you want to show up, and start to design that brand. Be consistent. Does your work space, the way you dress, how you show up in meetings, and how you interact with others align with your Brand DNA? George Bernard Shaw said, “Life is not about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” Look at your LinkedIn page – is it telling a story about your brand, or is it just a copy of your resume?

If you’re having a hard time designing your Brand DNA, make your signature storyboard. Go through your history and find pictures that mean a lot to you emotionally, where you really liked the person you were at that moment. If you’re not visual, think of words or phrases where you really deliver in a powerful way. This can make up your storyboard, and this will help you define your brand promise. A brand is, essentially, a promise, so take time to create your Leadership Promise Statement. What can people expect when they work with you? How can you present this to people in, say, networking scenarios? When you introduce yourself, what do you say? Take this Promise of Value and make sure it’s consistent online. Show evidence of it everywhere. Prove it to everyone who looks.

Own What Makes You Unique and Different

Next, you need to Differentiate yourself from everyone else. What is your position? Look back over your storyboard and your Brand DNA and figure out what you have offered in the past that nobody else could’ve done. Figure out who your audience is. What companies do you want to be a part of that inspire you? What boards do you want to be on in your community? Taylor your brand to be approachable to your audience. Who are your competitors and who do you look up to and why? Spend some time researching them, how they got where they are, what exactly they’re doing. Figure out what their brand is.

Now you can start creating value and opportunities for yourself. Think about what you should be talking about. Should it be company related? Or perhaps about your passions, or your particular set of skills? Does what you have to say matter, and will people care? Is it relevant? Are the right people seeing you? How can you get them to care AND share what you talk about? Who are the leaders and influencers writing in the same space? These are the key elements that make up your Digital Brand. You can also create opportunities for yourself offline. You can join a board or volunteer in an organization. You can interview people in your same space and blog about it. You can network with others, and look for places to share your insights. You can look for speaking opportunities and webinars.

Plan Your Work, and Work Your Plan

Remember, timing is everything. Create an editorial or visibility calendar for your brand – where to be, when to write posts and blogs. You want to stay visible. In many cases, out of sight is out of mind. Make sure that your content is easy to share and re-purpose. Write about other people, companies, and organizations. Be sure to tag them when you post your content. This creates opportunities for others to share and help make you more visible. Write about others and help them be visible. Share helpful articles. Give shout outs on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. Write recommendations on LinkedIn for people and on Google+, and Facebook for businesses. Send thank you notes, and provide recognition. Be genuine. Don’t expect things in return. Contribute to your brand by giving to others. Above all, be authentic. Authenticity contributes greatly to your personal brand. It’s easy to tell when someone is being disingenuous, and that puts a big hit on their brand or the way we think about them. Although you may plan a lot of your communications, be spur of the moment too and share things real time.

Lastly, monitor yourself, and listen to what others are saying about you. Continue to search yourself on Google and LinkedIn. Ask people to describe your brand periodically to check up on yourself. Do your own self-reflection when you can. Keep control of your brand, the emotional connection people make to you, by monitoring yourself using the steps above. Remember, although you are not a product, you do have a reputation and people will decide to work with you and help you based on your brand.

“People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember you how made them feel.” Maya Angelou

Be a noisebreaker, not a noisemaker.

Jen

How To Handle Difficult Conversations

Guest Post by: Christine Brown-Quinn, The Female Capitalist

Do you shy away from having those conversations that are truly uncomfortable, whether that be about a pay rise, performance or a particular conflict situation? Have you ever over-practiced the conversation in your head, and in the end hesitated to actually deliver the message as the timing no longer seemed ideal?

While having difficult conversations may seem natural to others, it’s really a skill any of us can learn… and the sooner the better! Not taking action of course doesn’t resolve the issue. In fact it makes matters worse as we tend to internalise the stress, increasing our anxiety levels and decreasing our ability to successfully navigate the situation. And worse yet, that difficult issue just got bigger as we haven’t dealt with it on a timely basis.

Those conversations that we dread having are actually the ones that can change the trajectory of careers. That certainly was the case for me – my ability to embrace those tough talks defined me as a senior professional. The key is to adopt the right approach to get the outcome you’re looking for.

Here are my top tips for tough conversations:

1. Bring your best self – schedule those conversations at a time when you’re feeling the most rested, positive and calm. Also think about what might be the best timing for the person you’re going to have the conversation with. You want to have their full attention.

2. Capitalise on positivity – begin your conversation with a ‘power lead’ – think about something positive to say about the current situation. What’s working well? What are you feeling energised about?

3. Be curious about the other person –cultivate an attitude of discovery and curiosity. Have the intent to learn as much as possible from the conversation. While you do want to have the end goal in mind, remain open and flexible on how to get there.

4. Share the bigger picture – provide context and background to the issue you want to discuss. This shows respect for the other person and de-personalises the issue.

5. Build up your muscle – strengthen your abilities by doing. The more tough conversations you undertake, the easier it gets. While the issues or content of the conversation may be different, with practice your stress levels will decrease, and thus your ability to master the situation will increase.

As I built up the habit of having these tough conversations, I had much less anxiety about having the conversations, and was calmer when I did have them. Each conversation gets easier and you actually start to enjoy the possibility that these interactions can be game-changers, making our work place (as well as personal relationships) that much more fulfilling, enjoyable and fun!

 

Six Rules for Effective Networking

Guest Post by: Sandra Buteau, GUAA Coaching Partner

If you cringe as soon as you hear the word “networking,” you should know that you are not alone. Many of us in the world feel the same way. During the course of my professional career as a leadership and career coach, networking has been a recurring theme discussed in practically every single one of my coaching engagements. No matter where you are in your career, you need to embrace networking to expand your professional reach or move up to the next level.

Last month, as a guest Webinar speaker for the Georgetown Alumni community, I encouraged participants to view networking from a different perspective and consider it as a way of making connections, talking to people, seeking information, and building community by interacting with others. Think about it not only as a great opportunity to hear fresh ideas and open doors to help you progress in your career no matter your profession, but also to develop new friendships whether on a personal or professional level.

Some individuals have a natural talent for interacting with other people in professional and social settings while many others struggle and agonize at the thought of putting themselves out there. The good news is that networking is a skill that anyone can learn if you are committed to it and challenge yourself to go out of your comfort zone from time to time.

To help you navigate the process of making connections effectively, I present to you my 6 Rules for Effective Networking.

1. Bring your true and authentic self to any networking efforts. Do not pretend someone you are not.

2. Instead of being afraid of making connections with strangers, change your frame of mind to view networking as sharing, learning, connecting, having good conversations and interactions with others.

3. To be an effective networker you must first adopt the attitude of a giver. Give every person you meet your undivided attention. Listen carefully and ask open-ended questions seeking to learn as much as you can about the other person to support or offer your help with no expectation that something will be given to you in return.

4. As you are building and maintaining your personal network, focus on quality of the relationships. Networking is not a numbers game. If you are planning to attend an event, avoid committing yourself to meet everyone that you come across. Be prepared to devote time and energy to develop meaningful and long-lasting connections.

5. Think of networking as a two-way street. Effective networking requires “sharing.” Someone helps you out today and you help them out later.

6. Always be prepared to make connections. Be open to starting conversations and speaking to everyone around you. You will be surprised that when you ask someone to tell you their story, amazing connections can develop.

What do you commit to do today to move forward in your networking journey?

Freelancing Won’t Help You to Build Wealth

Guest Post by Patrick J. McGinnis, a venture capitalist and private equity investor who founded Dirigo Advisors, after a decade on Wall Street, to provide strategic advice to investors, entrepreneurs, and fast-growing businesses. He is the author of the new book THE 10% ENTREPRENEUR: Live Your Startup Dream Without Quitting Your Day Job.

The gig economy is here, it’s real, and it’s global. As many as 53 percent of Americans can now be classified as freelancers. While that number includes your (hopefully) friendly Uber driver, it also encompasses a growing number of white collar workers as well, who offer legal, financial, accounting, or design services on demand. This is a direct result of recent instability in once-staid industries like law and finance that has pushed many professionals out of firm life and into consulting roles. As a result, software giant Intuit projects that temporary workers will represent 40 percent of the workforce by 2020. It seems that in the future, nearly half of workers – no matter the color of their collars – will be free agents.

While the rise of the “gig” economy, as the growing dominance of freelancing is often called, has been great for consumers and small business owners, it isn’t necessarily good news for the people providing all these services. Freelancing offers flexibility and a home for workers displaced by the changing labor market, but it also suffers from a fundamental flaw: When you’re a freelancer, there is no company stock plan. You get paid based on the hours you work and nothing more. You have no ownership in any of your projects and you don’t have the possibility of owning a share, even if it’s a small one, of something that can grow in value over time.

Given that reality, how can you make the most of your time as a freelancer in the gig economy?

 Think like an owner

When you’re a freelancer, you are also, in a fundamental sense, an entrepreneur. Over time, you will build a list of clients, expand your network, and assemble a track record of achievements that are your own. In that sense, freelancing can offer a path to building your own firm, so it’s never too early to establish credibility before the wider world. That means taking some time to create a brand, build a website, design a logo, and order slick business cards. Thanks to the sharing economy and inexpensive online platforms, you can accomplish most of these tasks by investing a few days and a couple of hundred dollars. You can also legally incorporate your company quickly and easily with a minimal investment of capital. Even if you’re not yet sure whether you plan to work for yourself over the long term, you’ll always have these resources if you want to moonlight on the side.

Be a 10% Entrepreneur and look for opportunities to earn sweat equity

Don’t restrict thinking like an owner to your own firm. You can also endeavor to own stakes in other people’s businesses as well. Specifically, you can become a 10% Entrepreneur, allocating at least 10% of your time and energy to offering your services in exchange for shares of a company – commonly known as earning sweat equity. This practice is relatively common because most startups have more to offer in the way of equity than they do in cash. As a result, there are many services, such as advising on a business plan or legal documents, making critical introductions, or creating a logo or website, that young businesses will consider as an in-kind capital contribution in exchange for stock.

While it it naturally riskier than simply walking away with a pocketful of cash, getting paid at least partly in equity can be surprisingly lucrative. Take the case of David Choe. Choe is the graffiti artist who took stock in Facebook as payment for murals he painted at their headquarters. Today, those shares are worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

With freelancing here to stay, thinking like an owner, with respect to your business, as well as the businesses of others, can represent a powerful strategy to build long-term wealth. Not every company you work with is going to be the next Facebook, but as you gain experience, you will learn to spot the companies that are poised for growth. Not only will these companies become reliable clients, but if you earn sweat equity, they can also become long-term partners.

Interview with the Co-Founder of Solemates Monica Ferguson (B’00)

What has been the most rewarding moment of your career?

There have been a lot of rewarding moments as an entrepreneur, but I think when Oprah Winfrey devoted a half page in her magazine and called my invention/product “genius”. It was great.

What do you wish you had done earlier in your career?

I wish I had learned basic HTML/CSS earlier in my career.

What trends do you see in your profession or industry?

As a retail brand, we are constantly navigating the changing face of brick and mortar retail (i.e., its decline), as well as how to strike the right balance in the digital space with the investment that goes into our branded website in a world dominated by Amazon.

What is the hardest thing you have ever done professionally? 

For sure it was the decision to leave Goldman (the second time) to start my company.

What is the best career advice you have ever received? 

Be comfortable being uncomfortable.

How has Georgetown shaped you?

Georgetown helped me understand what it was to have the courage of my convictions; and the importance of acting in accordance with my beliefs.

What was your favorite professor or class at Georgetown?

Advanced Financial Management (unlikely a common answer). It was the first class that showed me how numbers tell the story of a business. Accounting did not do that for me!

What is your favorite Georgetown memory?

Any memory that involves spending time with my friends; whether it was a class project, a dinner, or just sitting around our house. It was all so much fun.

Who is a source of inspiration and strength to you in your life and why?

My parents. They raised 4 children, have demanding careers, more friends than they can handle, and they have always made time for everyone and everything. I am inspired by their work ethics, sacrifice, and their energy.

What is on your desk right now?

An old fashion (paper) date book, an amazon Echo, a bottle of Smart Water, a to-do list, and a mess of sample products and packaging.

Who is your favorite author? 

Amor Towles, Jonathan Franzen, and Kristin Hannah

What is one part of your daily routine you couldn’t live without?

Coffee and exercise

What are your words to live by?

Gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder (Gilbert K. Chesterton), but I erroneously attributed it to David Brooks for years.

 

Interview with Halo Top President and COO Doug Bouton (COL ’07)

What has been the most rewarding moment of your career?

If I had to choose, I think the fact that we employee more than 100 people right now. It’s very rewarding to create great jobs for great people.

What do you wish you had done earlier in your career?

Unfortunately, my “career” has largely been Halo Top so not sure I would’ve done anything differently. I went to law school out of college and practiced law for a year or so before Halo Top. My legal background helped tremendously with the founding of and raising money for Halo Top so can’t say I even regret that aspect of my short career.

What trends do you see in your profession or industry?

There are plenty of trends in the food industry. When Halo Top started, it was in the middle of the healthy eating trend that continues to this day, which Greek yogurt largely spearheaded. In that sense, we’ve been fortunate to have the right product, right time – aligning with food/beverage trends like low-calorie, high-protein, and low-sugar. As far other trends, non-dairy/vegan is a big one that will last for a long time. I suspect things like gluten-free are more fad than trend and will pass but time will tell.

What is the hardest thing you have ever done professionally? 

The first few years of Halo Top were really tough, really stressful. I would’ve been easy for my business partner and me to give up. Persevering through those 3-4 years, in hindsight, was probably the hardest thing that I’ve done professionally. I’m also most proud of what we’ve done and what we’ve accomplished because I know personally just how hard and precarious it was. We could just as easily not be here today, Halo Top wouldn’t exist, and I would be personally bankrupt if we didn’t catch a bunch of lucky breaks and keep on keeping on.

What is the best career advice you have ever received? 

If you’re not happy, stop talking about it and make a change.

How has Georgetown shaped you?

Georgetown has shaped me in more ways than I can count. I think the two most important ways in which it shaped me are:

  1. critical thinking (especially as it relates to self-reflection)
  2. holistic education

Georgetown was the first time that I was really challenged to critically think about all of my beliefs and opinions, and the importance of critical thinking – in business and in life – cannot be understated in my opinion. Georgetown also emphasized the importance of a holistic education – focusing on activities, relationships, and social education beyond the classroom.

What was your favorite professor or class at Georgetown?

Professor McKeown – Problem of God

What is your favorite Georgetown memory?

House parties, Georgetown Day activities, 2007 Final 4 trip to Atlanta, pretty much all of my theology classes. Too many to count.

Who is a source of inspiration and strength to you in your life and why?

The easy answer is my parents. The values they taught me, the work ethic they instilled in me, and the love and support they have given me are the main reason why I am who I am and have accomplished what I have accomplished.

What is on your desk right now?

Papers, clutter, and more crap than I care to admit.

Who is your favorite author? 

Don’t really have one. I read anything – biographies and other non-fiction, fiction, fantasy, sci-fi, etc. Literally anything.

What are your words to live by?

Pick just about any Drake lyric.

Follow Your Instincts to Find Passion

Guest Post by: Christy Steele (C’06)

What was your favorite activity as a child? What was easy for you? These might sound like frivolous questions, but consider for a moment what truly brought you joy. Was it finding frogs in the pond? Drawing with colored pencils? Banging on the drums in music class? Solving math problems? The answers to these questions can reveal valuable information that will help you build a meaningful and fulfilling career.

As an artist and producer in the media industry, I have taken many left turns and woven multiple interests and skills into my work. I pursued my love of photography after college and found a job working as a photographic coordinator at National Geographic Magazine. I worked with world-renowned photographers, learned from experienced photo editors, and discovered that I have a passion for visual storytelling. Since leaving National Geographic, I have directed photo shoots for Science Magazine, worked on documentaries and television series for Smithsonian Channel, Animal Planet and Travel Channel, created videos and websites for individuals and small businesses, completed a post-baccalaureate pre-medical program, and acted on stage and in films.

Each time I make a decision about leaving a job or working with a new company, I try to determine whether I will feel fulfilled and engaged if I take the opportunity. Here are four guiding principles that I use when making decisions.

Ask what brings you alive.

If you can’t remember what excited you as a child, simply list activities that you love doing. This can include caring for a pet, organizing dinner parties, traveling, baking, or watching movies. As you consider all of the activities that bring you joy and satisfaction, you will begin to see common threads. Steven Spielberg once said “the hardest thing to listen to, your instincts, your human personal intuition, always whispers, it never shouts. Every day of your life you have to be ready to hear what whispers in your ear.” When you start incorporating the activities into your life that bring you joy, your soul will begin “whisper” to you.

Have a mission!

When you choose to follow your instincts and pursue the things you love, it may not lead you down a straight path. When you encounter uncharted territory, your personal mission statement will become your guiding compass. As Tony Robbins suggests, “If you have a big enough why, you can figure out how to do anything.” If you have a strong enough reason for wanting to get a new job, move to a new country, or start your own company, it will be harder for obstacles and setbacks to stop you.

Ask lots of questions.

Talk to as many people as possible who share your passions. Also talk to people who are passionate about their work even if their work does not align with your interests. Passion is contagious, and these conversations will inspire you and give you ideas. People love to talk about what brings them alive, so let them! These conversations will help you put your own interests, skills, experiences and passions into a greater context. They will also help you make meaningful connections. Through my documentary film series, Uncovering Passion, I put this practice into action by talking to dozens of people who love their work. I created short documentary films with some of these people and published them at uncoveringpassion.com.

Create space for great insights!

In order to identify what brings you alive and hear the “whispers,” you must cultivate a sense of peace and quiet in your body and mind. The best way to start doing this is to simply focus on your breath for a few moments every day. There are simple and powerful energy and breathing techniques like Emotional Freedom Techniques (also called “tapping”) and Presence Process that can help you reduce stress in your body and deal with negative emotions. But any activity like taking a walk, doing yoga, or putting your bare feet on the earth is a great start.

Follow your instincts and trust yourself. While your passions may not instantly translate into a successful job or career, following these principles will open doors and make life more fulfilling.

Lawyers: Maximizing Your Mobility

timon-studler-63413-unsplashGuest Post by: Inti Knapp

As legal recruiters, we work closely with employers to fulfill their lateral attorney hiring needs. Without exception, when legal industry employers describe their ideal candidate to us, they specify the following three criteria:

Level of Experience
In the legal job market, it’s possible to have “too much” experience because more job opportunities exist for junior to midlevel attorneys. That’s because most law firms and corporate legal departments have a pyramid structure, with more attorneys at junior levels reporting to fewer senior attorneys at the top.

For example, if you are a law firm associate wanting to move to a different law firm, the easiest time is when you have 2-6 years of legal experience. Once you have 7+ years of experience, law firms have fewer lateral openings at your level, unless you have a book of portable business.

If you are an attorney wanting to move in-house, most openings are at the corporate counsel/senior corporate counsel level, requiring typically a range of 5 – 15 years’ legal experience. Of course, attorneys with even more years of experience make moves in house, but often they are surprised they have fewer opportunities than earlier in their career.

Practice Area
Depending on the economy, some practice areas are more marketable than others (for example, in a booming economy, transactional work like M&A and IP licensing is busier than bankruptcy or litigation). After you have practiced law for a couple of years, you can market your experience to law firms that need a lateral attorney hire to hit the ground running with minimal training. If you want to change law firms, you’ll get more traction when your practice area is in demand, so don’t delay a job search even if you’re buried in work.

Consider also whether you want to go in-house, because certain practice areas are more attractive to in house legal departments. If you have the ability to choose your practice area, and want to go in house someday, be aware there are more in-house openings for transactional attorneys than litigators. Although lawyers of all specialties go in house, attorneys with desired areas of expertise—such as corporate or tech transactions—typically enjoy more opportunities to join startups and corporate legal departments.

Credentials
For better or worse, the legal industry is credentials conscious. Law firms and corporate legal departments ask us to present candidates from “top” law schools, with “top” grades, or from “top” law firms, as defined by that particular employer. As attorneys get more senior, law school pedigree becomes less important as law firms focus more on whether a candidate brings portable business, or whether the attorney has good training in a high-demand specialty.

Conclusion

If you are considering law school, or a current law student, consider how your choice of law school and practice area may impact your future job prospects—attorneys rarely stay at one employer their entire career. If you are a practicing lawyer who wants to change employers, be alert to your best windows of opportunity in terms of your experience level, practice area, and local economy. With strategy and forethought, attorneys can maximize their opportunities to make a fulfilling lateral move.

Inti Knapp (F’95) is Managing Director at Harris Legal Search in Seattle. Her search firm has placed hundreds of attorneys nationwide, including general counsel and in-house counsel at companies, and partners and associates at law firms. Inti has shared her legal recruiting expertise as a published author and speaker, presenting to law schools such as the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Georgetown University Law Center, and the University of Washington School of Law, and professional organizations including the Association of Corporate Counsel. Prior to becoming a legal recruiter in 2004, Inti earned her B.S.F.S. from Georgetown University and J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania School of Law, and practiced litigation at Perkins Coie. She lives in Seattle with her husband, John Knapp (F’93, L’97), and two young children.

Speaking Tips: Last Things First

Guest Post by: Dean Brenner (C’91), The Latimer Group

Have you ever led a meeting, handed out the slide deck, began discussing the topic and while still on slide 1 or 2, most of your audience has already flipped to the last slide? I’m sure you’ve seen this before… Perhaps you’ve been the one flipping to the last slide, or perhaps you were the frustrated presenter. It happens all the time.

One of the questions I get asked most frequently is, “How do I prevent people from automatically skipping to the last slide?”

I usually respond by asking, “Why do you think they go there first?”

Everyone usually says some version of, “They want to see the summary information right away.”

And then I usually say, “Then if they want to see the last slide first, why do you put all that info on the last slide? Why make them wait?”

Business storytelling is counter-intuitive. This is not like a movie or a good book. The point is not to keep your audience in suspense until the very end. The point with business communication, especially in the 21st century, is to get to the point quickly, explain to people where you are taking them, and then backtrack just enough to explain to them how you got there.

Don’t make your audience wait. It will be better for them, and they’ll pay closer attention to what you have to say.

Good luck.

Dean Brenner (C’91) is a recognized expert in persuasive communication, and is the founder and president of The Latimer Group, an executive coaching and training firm that that specializes in creating powerful communication skills. Dean and his colleagues offer coaching and training to a global client list of Fortune 500 companies. In addition, Dean has written two books on effective communication, and is currently working on his third. Dean lives in Connecticut with his family. To learn more about Dean and The Latimer Group, please visit TheLatimerGroup.com.

 

 

From Surviving to Thriving

Guest Post by: Linda Hardenstein

“I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing, but I do know this isn’t it.”

It’s frustrating to be unsure about your career path, or to be unhappy at work. Especially when you have talent, knowledge, skills, and abilities to contribute.

“Making it Work” Doesn’t Work

Being miserable in your career causes stress and burn out. It can have a profound, negative effect on your health, your relationships, and your wellbeing.  I found that out the hard way when exhausted, overworked, and burned out, I fell down a flight of stairs on the way to a business meeting. I heard my neck crack and wondered if I’d ever walk again. The emergency room brought a stark reality into focus – I was miserable. I had no life. It was time to stop tolerating unhappiness and start living!

How did I go from just surviving to thriving in my career? Here’s 5 steps I took, and you can too:

  1. Decide. There is great power in letting go of what is no longer benefitting you. Deciding to release what’s in your way opens the door for what’s next to show up.

“Everyone has been called for some particular work and the desire for that work has been put in his or her heart.” – Rumi

  1. Find Your Purpose. Each of us is born with a distinct set of talents and gifts with a special role to play and a unique contribution to make. Knowing your purpose shows where you fit. It helps you understand where you don’t. One of the quickest and easiest ways to discover your purpose is with the unbiased guidance and support of a career coach.
  2. Align With What You Were Born to Do. You can’t help but live out your unique design. The problem arises when you’re doing what you are designed to do in a job, or a place, that doesn’t resonate with who you are. If you’re at odds with something — a boss, a co-worker, your company’s mission, work that takes away from living the life you really want, or a lack of recognition for what you contribute — you’re out of alignment with who you are. Doing work that is in alignment with who you are, brings ease, joy, a sense of meaning and accomplishment.
  3. Be Open. Giving up what you think you “should do,” or going against what a well-meaning parent or teacher told you to do, isn’t easy. For fulfillment, meaning, and motivation, let go of who you thought you should be. Be who you are.
  4. Take Action. Once you’re clear that it’s time to find the right job, synergies and opportunities will line up to support your intention to fulfill your purpose. Inspired action will lead you to the next step and the next one. Before you know it, you’ll be thriving in your job and life because you’re doing what you were born to do.

Linda Hardenstein, MPA, PCC, coaches professionals to find their purpose and authentic careers to have more meaningful lives. Contact her at linda@lindahardenstein.com.

© Linda Hardenstein, 2018

Procrastination

Guest Post by: Yolanda Gruendel, GUAA Coaching Partner

Every so often, my eye catches the paperweight on my desk.  It reads, “you can do anything but not everything.” It was given to me by a friend and fellow graduate of the Law Center a few years ago.  When she gave it to me, she confided that she had purchased one for herself. We laughed. Two peas.

On one level, we know we cannot do everything.  We simply do not have the time. And yet, we behave as if we could.  We gauge success by whether we are able to cram everything into our days and feel overwhelmed when we can’t.

Not being able to get to everything necessarily means that on any given day, we are procrastinating.  To focus on some things, we delay or delete others. It is not a matter of whether we procrastinate. The only question is whether we procrastinate absentmindedly or deliberately.  Those of us who procrastinate absentmindedly tend to value all activities equally and focus on the immediate. Whatever event or distraction captures our attention hijacks our time and energy as well.  When that activity is over, we dedicate the time we have left to our remaining commitments or never bother to circle back to them.

Other people procrastinate more deliberately.  They know the to-do list never ends so they sequence activities based on their relative importance.  They resist getting carried away by unexpected events. They keep their focus on the vitally few important activities that matter most, and they put off, outsource, delegate, or eliminate altogether the other tasks.

It is a relief when you finally accept that you cannot do everything.  I always knew it, but at the moment of choice, often opted to take on more.  I wasn’t trying to do everything, just this one additional thing. My commitments mushroomed.   The realization that something needed to change forced a critical internal conversation about what mattered most to me and which activities contributed or detracted from these priorities.  I try to maintain my attention and energy these days where it matters most and measure each activity or commitment accordingly. As for the rest, well, I’ll get to it later.

Hoya Highlight: Andrew Ahn (S’02)

Senior Business Strategy Manager, Sony Interactive Entertainment (PlayStation)

Career Reflections

What is the best career advice you’ve ever been given?
“Talk is free” – never turn down an opportunity to just talk with someone.

What is the hardest thing you’ve had to do professionally?
Completely resetting my career by switching function and industry.

What has been the most rewarding moment of your career?
Working in an industry that is closely aligned with one of my lifelong hobbies.

What do you wish you had done earlier in your career?
Invest in growing a professional network.

Your Time on the Hilltop

What was your favorite class at Georgetown?
“Map of the Modern World”

What is your favorite Georgetown memory?
Making lifelong friends who continue to accompany me on my life journey.

How has Georgetown shaped you?
Georgetown has empowered me with a strong combination of critical thinking skills, the ability to navigate day-to-day realpolitik, and the best of friends.

A Day in the Life

Who or what is a source of inspiration and strength in your life and why?
God gives me the strength and clarity of mind to discern what is truly important in life.

What is one part of your daily routine you couldn’t live without?
Hanging out with my kids.

What is on your desk right now?
A PlayStation 4.

Who is your favorite author?
J. R. R. Tolkien

Words to live by?
Have more than thou showest, speak less than thou knowest.

Hoya Highlight: Deanna Blackwell (C’14)

Owner & Founder, Gloria Becca

Career Reflections

What is the origin of your company’s name?
Gloria Becca is named for women from both sides of my family. My maternal great-grandmother Rebecca was a seamstress who gave me my first taste of fashion: I spent time with her in her basement while she sewed and would allow me to use fabric pieces to make clothes for my dolls. My maternal grandmother was also named Rebecca. She was also from the south and maintained that looking good was a symbol of confidence and pride. Lastly, my paternal grandmother is named Gloria. I’d play dress up in her closet with my sisters as a child and loved exploring her makeup and perfume collection. These women all dressed in elegant ways that we don’t see anymore. Part of their daily routine was making sure they looked their absolute best before they stepped outside into the world. That pride in appearance and elegance has been a huge inspiration to me, and I feel I’m paying homage to my family through my company.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
My older sister works in HR and has her MBA. I remember her saying “it’s not who you know, but who knows you.” This struck me as being profound because it’s true – it’s all about who is thinking of your business and your brand and what you’re producing. When people are talking about wedding dress companies, I want them to be talking about Gloria Becca!

What career advice do you have to share with others?
This comes from my grandfather, who was also an entrepreneur: “As long as you know there will be a point when you’re not always going to get it right, and as long as you know there will be moments of failure, you’ll be fine. You won’t have unrealistic expectations of always getting it right.”

What has been the most rewarding moment of your career?
Being in the custom clothing world and in bridal specifically, I’ve gotten to create gowns for weddings and incredibly special moments in peoples’ lives. I feel a strong sense of reward when someone really loves their gown.

We service most of our brides remotely through technology, and it’s a pretty techy process! We create 3D avatars of shapes and sizes of brides’ bodies, and we mail their dresses to them. I don’t always get to see the faces of my brides when they first put on their dresses, but when I do, it’s really awesome!

What’s the hardest thing you’ve done professionally?
Deciding to become an entrepreneur and start a business! Fashion is not an easy field to get into – it’s really hard and it takes a lot of energy, patience, trial, and error. It’s a test of will and strength. The initial startup phase is incredibly hard and the overall entrepreneur lifespan is really short. Knowing that businesses often crash within the first couple of years is scary, and the competition is fierce.

One thing I learned quickly is that you have to show your face and personality more instead of hiding behind your computer. Clients don’t want to connect with a computer; they want to connect with you. So, I make a point to get out and socialize in the community and network often. Authenticity shines through, and you can’t be afraid to introduce yourself to strangers!

Your Time on the Hilltop

Who was your favorite Georgetown professor?
My favorite professor—Gwendolyn Mikell—changed my life. She is truly a gem on the Hilltop! She’s the first African American to receive tenure on Georgetown’s main campus and the work she’s done over time is incredible! She encouraged me to major in Anthropology, and instilled a strong sense of self-confidence in me. She made it ok for me to explore, to study the African diaspora, and to think about the use of Anthropology in the arts and in fashion. She helped me look at fashion in a totally new way: it’s not just fabric, thread, and style…fashion is the reflection of culture.

What is your favorite Georgetown memory?
During the warmer months of the year, my friends and I loved to bring out blankets and laptops onto Copley Lawn to enjoy the weather (even though wifi didn’t reach that far!). These outdoor “study sessions” usually devolved into just hanging out and socializing with friends, playing music, and having a great time.

How has Georgetown shaped you?
Georgetown instilled a strong sense of confidence and “you can do it” attitude in me. Coming from Georgetown you feel like you can do anything! You can have a crazy idea, and people from Georgetown will support you. Through Jesuit values, contemplation in action, and focusing on social aspects of life, my education encouraged me to think about how I can contribute to the greater good and make a difference in society. Georgetown really makes you feel like you can do anything as long as you are grounded in values and have the drive to keep going.

Something really important to me when I started my company was how we were going to give back and how we were going to make a change in the world. In the fashion industry, there’s gross abuse of resources, abuse of labor, and lots of waste. All of our dresses are made in the USA and our labor force is local people who are here in Philadelphia. We strive to meet standards of sustainability and responsible resource management.

A Day in the Life

What is on your desk right now?
I work from home preparing the designs and patterns before sending them to our amazing dressmakers. Usually you’ll find me working at my dining table. There I have my laptop, my sewing machine, sewing supplies, sketchbooks, and a cup of tea. My workspace is not conventional: I’m surrounded by supplies, big rolls of muslin and silk fabrics, and a Swarovski crystal chart that I have handy to reference at all times. Even when I’m not sketching or working on a dress design, I sit at my table. It feels good to always be in a space of creativity!

Sewing machine with pin cushion and scissors . dress sketch with pencil and pen

What is one part of your daily routine you couldn’t live without?
My husband Jordan (also a Hoya) says “make sure you’re doing a life-giving activity every day.” I love fashion, and being in this world was a life-giving activity before it became my job. Now that it’s my job, it’s turned into something different, so I need to find other things that are life-giving so that I continue to love my work. I love to run, walk, garden, and cook, and it’s important to do something that I love that’s not fashion-related. If you do too much work-related stuff, you’ll burn out and get tired.

I also try to stick to a schedule so that I can spend time with my husband and my friends, watch TV, relax, etc. There’s this perception that entrepreneurs have to be working 24/7, and I try not to do that by giving my day designated start and end times as much as possible.

Who or what is a source of inspiration in your life?
God first and foremost. Work is tough, but when you feel passionate about something and you put in the effort, and you see things eventually lining up, it’s proof that God is working on your behalf.

Who is your favorite author?
Toni Morrison.

Words to live by?
“Work is a form of worshipping God.” Remember that, and you’ll always put out your very best.

Hoya Highlight: Deanna Singh (L’04)

Chief Change Agent, Flying Elephant

Career Reflections

What is the best career advice you’ve ever been given?
Chart your own course, and always do what you think will have the most impact.

What is the hardest thing you’ve had to do professionally?
Pivot to something different when I knew I wasn’t in alignment with my purpose. Lots of people advised me to, “Go for the title! Go for the money! Suck it up!” I tried, but I was never good at it. For me, being in strong alignment with my purpose gives me confirmation that I’m doing the right thing mentally, spiritually, and intellectually. Especially when I was young, it was tough to move away from a comfortable job to pursue work that was in alignment with my purpose. But now, I can’t imagine working any other way. Once you’ve acted in your purpose and know how good that feels, it feels awkward to be out of it.

What has been the most rewarding moment of your career?
There is no one big rewarding moment – instead, there have been lots of small rewarding moments. The common theme throughout all these moments is that I feel rewarded when I get to see other people thrive. Knowing I had some small part in helping people get to where they want to be is incredibly fulfilling. In my career I teach, I write, I support amazing organizations, coach social entrepreneurs, I give presentations, and I help deliver babies as a doula. All of these provide me with moments when I am able to help others reach their potential.

What do you wish you had done earlier in your career?
I would have started writing earlier. There is power in putting pen to paper that I didn’t fully understand until later in my career. I’ve always really liked writing, but I never thought about it as something I would pursue professionally by becoming an author. Writing really came out of my desire to be more efficient and effective. So many people were reaching out to me for guidance on similar topics, and I was struggling to find the time to respond to all the questions and to share insights with everyone. So, I wrote books! Personal Hustle and Boy and Girl of Color came out of this desire to be responsive to all the questions I was getting. These books allowed me to participate in helping to change existing narratives, and to respond to everyone who’d written to me. There is so much power in the written word and through writing I’ve gotten to address deep issues: equity, inclusion, empowerment, etc.

Your Time on the Hilltop

Who was your favorite professor at Georgetown?
There are too many to name them all! But Dean Bellamy, Professor Roe, Professor Emma Jordan and Professor Edelman were some of my favorites! I kept the materials from Professor Edelman’s class for over a decade, and I found myself referencing articles he shared with us in my work. I had a chance to visit with him in Fall 2018 when he was on a book tour, and I finally got the opportunity to thank him for the impact he made on me. He did an amazing job of making us look at things objectively and providing us with the historical context we needed. I am very grateful for the opportunity to be around so many brilliant people!

What is your favorite Georgetown memory?
The program my classmates and I developed in our Street Law class comes to mind immediately. We were tasked with putting together a Street Law program for Milwaukee, WI, and we spent the whole semester creating this project. Finally, we got to come to Wisconsin and implement it. Now, the project is in its 15th year of operation!

I also fondly remember the people who worked on campus at the Law Center – especially the security guards. There were four security guard who knew me by name. Knowing they were looking out for me and that they took the time to know who I was made a big difference.

Finally, as part of the Black Law Students Association, I helped to organize the largest demonstration ever at the Supreme Court for an affirmative action case that was brought before the Supreme Court. Leading that as a student with the support of others on campus was amazing! I was called to the podium to speak in front of thousands of people on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The history and impact of that moment hit me hard – where I was standing and why I was standing there. That whole experience was made possible by my being at Georgetown: I got to use the city as an extension of campus.

How has Georgetown shaped you?
I loved that I found a place that nurtured me to use my law degree in a non-traditional way. My professors and fellow students and alumni were all encouraging of how a law degree can be used toward the greater good of others.

A Day in the Life

Who is a source of inspiration and strength in your life and why?
My children. I see the way they look at the world and their vision of how the world could be. I want to make their vision a reality. They see a world where people are treated with respect and love and encouraged to be creative.

What is one part of your daily routine you couldn’t live without?
Starting every day with 15 minutes of prayer and reflections of gratitude, followed by cuddling with my kids.

What is on your desk right now?
I always keep a picture of my family within my line of sight. At the end of the day, they and God are who measure me and that it’s their opinions that matter the most.

Who is your favorite author?
Toni Morrison

Words to live by?
At the end of my life, I want to be able to tell God I’ve used everything given to me. I use this desire to guide my life. I ask myself all of the time if there is something else I could be doing that would be more impactful? How do I multiply the blessings, opportunities and experiences I have received?

Building Your Interpersonal Skills: Change the Lens

Guest Post by: Miranda Holder, GUAA Coaching Partner

Improving your interpersonal skills is about changing your point of focus. I studied art alongside literature in college and spent as much time as humanly possible in the darkroom. I will never forget the blissful feeling of my brain shutting off and my hands taking over. In a photo, much of the power of the image comes from where and on what you choose to focus.

This same principle is true of our interpersonal skills. When we try to appear capable socially or interpersonally, our focus is on ourselves because that’s what concerns us. It feels counterintuitive, but letting go of your internal dialogue and turning your focus on the other person is what strengthens those skills. Your subject can feel when they have your complete attention. We are hungry to be seen, to be heard and to have someone truly give us their energy. Whether or not we are aware of it, we are also looking for a real connection. You have amazing internal muscles that you can strengthen as you practice this: the muscles that support deep listening and attentiveness to another.

Reflect
Although we studiously avoid it, a little reflection for yourself can go a long way. Take a moment and a few deep breaths. What do you feel concerned, nervous or anxious about in social situations? If you could wave a magic wand, what would change about those situations to make you feel excited or comfortable about them? What support systems can you create to help you? What assumptions are you making about other people in social situations? The answers to these questions may provide you with some insight that help you personalize your plan.

Plan + Prepare
If the thought of extemporaneous speaking makes you feel queasy, take a few minutes before you head to an event and write out a few questions to which you are genuinely interested in hearing the answer. This will help internalize them for you. You can keep them on your phone if you blank when you walk into the room! Come prepared with a few anecdotes for yourself, as well. What’s exciting you these days? What are you surprised about, or what you have learned recently that interests you? Do you have a goal that you’re working toward? This way, you’ll have something prepared for the lull in the conversation.

Listen Deeply + Let Go
Nearly all humans are not listening, not really, even when their mouths are shut. They are listening enough to be thinking about how to respond with their own thoughts, because that’s what we’ve been taught. It can feel utterly nerve-wracking to not prepare what we are going to say in advance. This lack of listening kills our ability to be present.

If you listen deeply, a question will naturally come up from inside. It will be there for you as you open your mouth to speak: coming up from your gut, your intuition or your heart as you process what you’re hearing. Deep listening often leads to more interesting questions and a better connection to your fellow human.