Category Archives: Growth

Ripping the Band Aid off

It’s been about a week since I spoke at the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce Professional Women’s Luncheon about Career Empowerment. Talk about getting out of my comfort zone. Speaking about empowerment got me fired up to keep that momentum going (vision boards, anyone?) and hopefully, the event got the attendees motivated for 2019 as well. I got so much positive feedback afterwards; these are a few points that seemed to hit close to home for people:

• “When I graduated from college, I’ll be honest, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Not that I admitted that to anyone at the time.” I was really honest with the audience about this and a lot more. Let’s be real, we don’t always have it all figured out. But as I said, we don’t always say that out loud because we think that everyone else has it all figured out, so we should too.
“Please stop apologizing.” After sharing my own story about quitting my job to be home with my oldest daughter when she was sick as a baby, I reminded the audience stop saying sorry. Stop apologizing for taking time off to be at home with your children or for changing careers or trying the entrepreneurial life and failing; what you’re really doing is devaluing that experience. Be proud of your path.
“Tell everyone.” I could have done another TED talk on the power of your network but for this talk, I focused on the power of your network to keep you accountable. “It’s like marathons – if you tell everyone you are going to run one then you have to actually run one because everyone is going to ask you about it. My network has been unbelievable in terms of supporting me. They’ve reminded me when times have gotten tough that I could do it and they’ve had my back.”
“At some point, I had to rip the band aid off and go all in. I have never taken a bigger risk than the one I did in June when I quit my full-time job to pursue career and admissions consulting and the start-up life.” Now, here’s where my vision board comes in. For that year plus when I was working full-time while building Best You and helping build Kruted, I was mostly just keeping my head above water. Now that I’ve quit and have more time to focus on what were once my side hustles, I can do a lot more than just keep my head above water. Getting up on stage in front of 300+ people was a huge accomplishment for me and I’m already brainstorming what other goals I can conquer in 2019.

Happy Holidays! Here’s to an amazing 2019!

Tell Me About Yourself…

I know what you are thinking – do I have to? Yes, you do because in all likelihood, you’ll be asked this question numerous times during the interview process. In most initial interviews, it’s the default launching point and nailing this question goes a long way towards creating a spark with the interviewer, getting them onboard with the idea that you could be a great fit and ultimately, moving you forward in the process. This is also a question that gets asked and answered in networking situations so it’s important that you nail this one.

As a recruiter, I can’t count the number of times that I’ve asked this or the number of  candidates who have been ill-prepared to answer it. A few tips and things to remember when you ultimately must tackle it:

  • Don’t wing it. Practice (out loud) what you are going to say in advance. You don’t want to stumble over your words while you make it up on the spot.
  • Don’t recite your resume. This takes way too long and goes into way too much detail for what should be a relatively high-level answer. Average time to shoot for: 2 minutes. Any longer and the interviewer has likely zoned out.
  • Personalize it Part 1. You are not a robot. The recruiter or hiring manager genuinely wants to get to know you. Consider mentioning a hobby or community involvement. You never know which detail will be the one to build that connection but doing your homework on the interviewer will help. You can bet that if I’m interviewing someone and they make a connection with me about Boston, Colby College, educational access or hot yoga, my ears perk up.
  • Personalize it Part 2. Your answer should be customized for the role and company. When preparing what you’re going to say, go back and look at the job description. Which skills/attributes are highlighted? Be sure to speak to these things in your answer.
  • Past, present, future. Consider this simple format for telling your story. Take the interviewer on a journey with you – where have you been, what are your biggest accomplishments/achievements, what crossroads are you at now and where do you want to go? Some questions to ask yourself as you piece this story together (because you’ve promised me that you aren’t going to wing it!):
    • What have I done?
    • What am I passionate about?
    • What did I learn, develop or accomplish?
    • What am I interested in doing next?
    • Why did I take that particular step/make that move?
    • Why am I sitting here today?

While it might change slightly from situation to situation, here’s how I’m currently structuring mine: I have almost 20 years of experience managing recruiting and HR programs for a variety of industries – legal, non-profit, consulting and financial services. Across all of my recruiting roles, I’ve focused on helping hiring managers to identify best fit candidates for roles from entry-level to c-suite. After moving from Boston to Raleigh 6 years ago, I decided that I wanted to stretch myself outside of corporate recruiting and use my skills in evaluating candidates in a new arena so I joined the admissions committee at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University. Today, I use my background in recruiting and admissions (and the knowledge of knowing what hiring managers, recruiters and admissions officers are and are not looking for) combined with my passion for working one-on-one with people (most HR people will tell you they are part therapist) to now help my clients put their best foot forward when applying to college or grad school or approaching the job search process.

Need help developing yours? Drop me a note at



Let’s Get Uncomfortable

Comfort Zones. We hear about them all the time. More specifically, we are always being told that we need to get out of them. Makes sense, right? If we stick to only what we know, we get only what we’ve always gotten. So, if you want to grow, find your comfort zone. Then get out of it. Easy, right? Not so much. For starters, where exactly does your comfort zone end? How far out of it do you need to go to grow? What if we get outside of our comfort zone and it’s horrible? And most importantly, what do we hope to gain from this uncomfortable process?

The answer to the first three questions is simple: We don’t know. The answer to the final, crucial question is even simpler: More you. And a better you.

If we met today, you would likely never believe that I long had (and sometimes still have) a fear of public speaking. And I mean fear. The kind that makes me wish I were anywhere but right there at that moment, hives and all. I never liked being the center of attention. It started to become a problem in college. And by that, I mean that it started to hold me back. Suddenly, the idea of raising my hand and having all eyes in the room on me was horrifying. What if my answer was wrong or people didn’t agree with my opinion? So, I never raised my hand, even if I did know the answer. And those moments when I did get called on, I turned bright red and stumbled through the answer. I missed out on standing out to and developing relationships with professors. I missed out on being my best me in college.

And it only got worse from there. When I started working, I listened and tried never to speak. When forced to, I could feel the flush creeping up my chest, neck and face while waiting for my turn. I actively avoided opportunities that required any amount of public speaking, even if the role was a dream come true. This inability to speak up was hurting my career. And it became a self-fulfilling prophecy: The more I avoided speaking in public, the more anxious I became when I had to. The more anxious I became, the worse it went the next time I spoke. And on the vicious cycle went.

Until I finally became sick of that feeling. I finally decided that there was absolutely no reason for this fear to continue to rule me, and prevent me from being my best self. I realized that I wasn’t “unable” to speak in public; I was unwilling to be imperfect. I have always admired people who are bold, people who weren’t afraid to be “wrong” in front of others. And I was determined to learn that skill just like they had. I started small. Speaking up more at work. Taking the lead in 1×1 conversations with peers. Then with my boss, and eventually senior management. Presenting to a small group in the office went from causing full-fledged panic attacks several days before, to only causing a minor panic attack the morning of. I realized that when I was stopped worrying about the hives, I could focus on the fact that I actually knew what I was talking about and that people were interested in my opinion. It felt like a leap of faith but I had to trust myself and realize that I was good at my job. Next came the previously unimaginable: voluntarily speaking at meetings and running small training sessions, which eventually led to the realization that I had left that fear far behind me, in a comfort zone I can barely recognize anymore.

I learned a lot about myself from pushing myself to do what was uncomfortable. I won’t tell you that I love public speaking now. I don’t. However, by pushing myself outside my comfort zone, I’ve opened the doors to new opportunities, projects, this website, this career.

After all, the world doesn’t end when I don’t know an answer, or if someone disagrees with my opinion. So, let’s push ourselves together.

For more on getting uncomfortable, check out this great HBS article. She speaks my language.

Brace Yourself: Feedback

This guest blog is written by Ted Johnson, who has been in executive recruiting for 20 years. 

Feedback has somehow transformed into a four-letter word. “Can I give you some feedback?” has never in the history of human interaction been followed by: “That was amazing! Keep doing it exactly like that.” Which makes the common response of tensing up and wanting to scream “EVERYTHING YOU ARE ABOUT TO SAY IS A LIE!” completely understandable. Sort of. After all, feedback is a form of constructive criticism; which is a form of criticism.

But your goal isn’t to avoid criticism, is it? It’s to grow personally and professionally, which you recognize requires acute awareness of your areas for development and not just focusing on your (perceived) strengths. Therefore, to stay true to your personal and professional goals, you must get comfortable with receiving feedback. That begins with understanding what it even is. And isn’t.

Feedback IS Feedback IS NOT
Neither “positive” nor “negative” A personal attack or commentary on you
Either accurate or not An instruction manual
The perspective of one person The world’s view of your flaws

Now that we better understand what it is and is not, let’s discuss some important tips which you should incorporate into any feedback conversation:

  1. Take a Deep Breath. The natural response for many, as discussed above, is for some form of the fight or flight response to kick in. It shouldn’t be, but it requires effort to retrain yourself. Feedback isn’t synonymous with confrontation so, slow down, take a deep breath and remember that this is a learning opportunity. Not an attack.
  2. Then Stop Thinking. For many, once the feedback is delivered, we will immediately start wracking our brains for examples of when we committed whatever unforgivable sin we are being accused of committing. Simultaneously, we will begin mounting a defense by scanning our memory for examples that contradict this claim. “She’s telling me I talked too fast? The horror! Wait, I definitely didn’t talk too fast because I distinctly remember telling myself to slow down at 9:52am…” By now, you’ve missed most of the feedback. And you’ve definitely missed the point.
  3. Instead, Listen. This sounds easy. Maybe it will be for you. But if you are going through the common loop outlined above, I promise that you aren’t listening.
  4. Thank Them. It may sound counterintuitive but we only give feedback to those whose development we care about. No one spends time giving feedback to and taking an interest in the growth of someone they don’t think will ever accept and apply it. And frankly, feedback isn’t easy for everyone to deliver. So, this usually shows a significant commitment to the recipient’s development and should be respected accordingly.
  5. Reflect Later. As mentioned above, in the moment, your only job is to carefully listen to the feedback being offered. Only once you are in a place to think about the message, should you reflect on the accuracy and usefulness of the feedback. This step is crucial as it requires you to be completely honest with yourself. Is this something you have heard from multiple, trusted sources? If so, it’s likely accurate whether you think it is or not. Would accepting this feedback and incorporating it into your performance have a positive impact on your growth and development? If so, it’s likely worth taking it to heart.

Applying these techniques isn’t easy. It will take time, especially steps 1 & 2. But with this basic framework, you will be better prepared to engage in any conversation in which feedback is delivered. This will allow you to recognize the value and takeaways embedded in it, and you will be one step closer to being your Best You.