How My ‘Binders Full of Women’ Roll

October 17, 2012

Last night’s presidential debate raised the critical issue of how ‘new’ women in power still remains in 2012. Whether you are contemplating the sound bite of “women in binders” or that Gov. Romney would be sure to let his female cabinet members go home in order to prepare their families’ dinner—the fact remains that there is a tremendous amount of antiquated and deeply offensive stereotypes that we are all working to dispel as women seize their rightful power and continue to break though glass ceilings.

Here are some of the *real* themes and quandaries that the women, whom I call my ‘Leading Ladies’ who I am blessed to work among, those who are hugely aspirational while also deeply devoted to finding their joie de vivre outside of work, are considering today:

  • Where do I look for inspiration when the few C-suite females at my company are not people whom I envy in regards to how they appear to be managing the idealized balance of work/life?
  • I have found so much satisfaction in my professional life; I have never had the desire to have children of my own.  I find that this highly personal decision can almost seem offensive to people.
  • How can I find a partner to share my life with when my professional success, so far, has completely intimidated those whom I have dated so far?
  • How do I negotiate with my family of origin that I am the one who is seeking a senior level role, while my partner wants to be in more of a supportive role-when this is breaking with our family’s norms?
  • How do I remain loyal to my values while working within a company whose culture is in direct opposition to those values?
  • How can I avoid becoming part of the rat race of life, when I want so much and have so far to go in reaching my goals?

This list could go on forever; I would love to know what you as a leading lady are struggling with and how you are working to overcome society’s false expectations of you as a woman seeking to own her power. Join the conversation. Let’s dive in together and figure it out.


Stanford Study: Act Like a Man To Get Ahead

October 1, 2012

A fascinating article was published in the NY Times yesterday: “The Myth of Male Decline” by Stephanie Coontz. Ms. Coontz cites countless facts and stats on how women are still grossly underpaid and under-represented in high levels of business and government, essentially where societal policies and ensuing change is instituted.

After reading this article, I was most struck by the absence of the reasons the majority of women opt out of big business and I assume big government:

  • By mid-career, most women value flexibility and intrinsic reward over the limits of a traditional staff position where they are dictated by their jobs how accessible they can be for their families. Secondly, many women crave a more internal satisfaction from their work by mid-career and are lured to opt out of their corporate career to pursue their own business or a creative endeavor.
  • Just because women now represent almost 40% of F/T workers in management but only 4% of the CEO’s in Fortune’s top 1,000 companies—doesn’t mean they are not as successful as their male counterparts who choose to stay in-house. Again, it’s all a matter of what success looks like for you. If that is being able to be home with your children part time and pursuing the rise of your own business (or not), then our hat is off to you. Think of the incredible role model you are serving as to all those around you.

Where my work comes into play is assisting the women who are mid career and who do want to continue on to executive roles, whether as part of a large corporation or within their own businesses. I am focusing my research and writing today on the particular skill set that these women need to intentionally develop to help them break through the stark glass ceiling.

To this point, a recent study released by Stanford Business School cites:

Women who display masculine traits, and know when not to, get more promotions than men states a recent study released by Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Do you agree? As a woman in business, were you aware that you are embodying your male counterpart’s traits: confidence, aggressiveness and assertiveness when you are jockeying on your or your teammate’s behalf?

Are we really so juxtaposed that women cannot be seen as self-possessed, highly aspirational, visionary strong leaders that we have to be referred to as possessing male traits to do so?
Many of my clients do report that they notice a sharp difference in the way that their male counterparts effortlessly yet persistently cite their accomplishments. In contrast, my clients note these reasons for not doing the same:

  • They think their ‘win’s’ should speak for themselves
  • They struggle with humility when they attempt to self-promote
  • It does not feel natural to be so self-touting

What do you think? Do you identify with these reasons for not acting more assertive and self confident when it comes to seeking a promotion, a salary increase or getting higher visibility projects? If so, what do you attribute this to—your gender or your personality?

Moving Into Your Fear: The Key to Your Career Evolution

June 15, 2012

A common inquiry I receive is how to move towards doing things (at work) that truly get your juices flowing and adrenaline rushing (like, say when you first started a new school, or job, etc.)  I find that the secret to staying inspired and on top of my game, is by always moving into new and unique opportunities that appeal to *me* and that are flanked with a side of *healthy discomfort*.  Once I recognize both of these elements, I know this is an opportunity for me to evolve but to do so I am going to have to endure some growing pain(s).

It is human nature for all of us to get entrenched in executing competencies in which we feel safe and comfortable and very, very familiar.  Of course, there are obvious reasons for this practice: it’s what we become known for and people around us simply expect the same ‘output’ from us day in and day out.

So, what happens when you find yourself yearning for a fresh experience or role in the ‘ol daily grind:

  • Perhaps you are curious to put on a sales hat for your company or your own business and experiment with a totally radical way of attracting your customers
  •  Or maybe you watch others roll out a show stopping presentation and you think to yourself—‘Hey, I’d love to be a dynamo public speaker like them’
  •  Or maybe instead of managing the client side of your business, you want to jump over to the creative, production department

Here are some simple ways to begin to move into the discomfort of possibly being seen as not totally perfect as your try on new skills:

1)      Identify a few people in your network who seem to be masters of this new skill/experience you are looking to try on yourself.

2) Propose lunch or a drink after work with these folks so that you can find out more information and tips on how you can move into this new realm yourself.

3) Compile a simple list of steps you need to take to move you towards your new end goal

4) Figure out ways that you can begin to practice this new skill(s).

5) Ask for feedback and be prepared for the fact that it is going to take time to feel comfortable and proficient again in this new practice.

 *If you take nothing else away from this blog, remember this:

Healthy fear will always be a by-product of moving into the unknown. It will never go away. The key is to move into the fear with the knowledge that it will lead you to the sweet reward of inspired and gratifying work.  Being on top of your game is not easy work, and it is a path taken by few. So, what’s next on YOUR radar champ?

Your Right to Unbridled Success: Permission Denied Lessons in Self-Sabotage

April 11, 2012

It can’t really be that simple can it? You are telling me I am the biggest barrier in my way of achieving unbridled success? Yes.  According to my expert colleague, Gay Hendricks, author of “The Big Leap” as well as my own experience witnessing my client’s journey as well as my own, I can unequivocally testify that I, you, we are the singular road block in our own way on the road to __________(insert your own dreamed end state).  It is our unconscious world that holds on to early seeded beliefs and relational patterns that can forever set the unrealized stage for the extent to which we will allow ourselves to achieve happiness, success, creative freedom…

Hendricks offers some spot on questions to ask ourselves when we are attempting to identify exactly what erroneous and deeply internalized beliefs we have about ourselves that are holding us back TODAY from leaping toward that greater pie in the sky.

Take a look at these statements/questions and let me know which trigger for you the key to why you are denying yourself permission to unbridled success:

“I cannot expand to my full creative genius because something is fundamentally wrong with me”

“I cannot expand to my full success because it would cause me to end up all alone, be disloyal to my roots, and leave behind people from my past”

Did I break up the family’s spoken or unspoken rules to get where I am?

Even though I am successful, did I fail to meet the expectations my parents had of me?

“I can’t expand to my highest potential because I’d be an even bigger burden than I am now”

“I must not expand to my full success, because if I did I would outshine _________ and make him or her look for feel bad”

Bringin’ It In 2012

December 30, 2011

My hunch is that you all are going to absolutely ‘kill it’ in 2012. Sure this is merely one woman’s intuition, however a) I have a pretty strong sense of where many of you are at and b) I am darn talented in sensing these types of things accurately. Now, 2011 has been an ugly/hard/tragic/challenging ______ (you fill in your blank) year for the many of us in some way or another.  Can I get an amen?  And in reaction to this adversity, we have all learned that we must adapt, whether we like it or not, to the new economy or be left far, far behind the lead pack.  So, much has been re-thought and revised and now, now my friends is time to put the pressure on the gas and go for it 2012.

If I am ahead of any of you with this action plan, here’s a simple formula:

Gain clarity on YOUR 2012 Plan

+ Develop the necessary confidence to

+ Execute Your Plan


= You killing it in 2012 (sweet!!!)

2011 has been a year filled with abundant blessings for myself both personally and professionally.  My husband and daughter and I welcomed a second daughter into our family and I am enjoying the opportunity to work with the type of incredibly bright and inspiring clients I had aways hoped to attract. Now with blessings comes responsibilities and I have had and continue to be challenged by the complexity of my life at home, putting natural limits on how much I can extend myself to my clients and business development. This has and will be a central theme in my life and one that I know there is no one solution. I share this with you because I want you to know that I share in your struggles to ‘have it all’ and at the same time refuse to back down on my career ambitions while also totally loving being a mother to our girls.  It’s not easy, but it is possible, eventually.

So tell, me what will YOU be toasting to on December 31, 2012?

I am hoping that I will be beyond the development stage of an internet television show as well as continuing to develop clients in Oregon and California.

What are you bringing to 2012?

My E-Book Outline (very rough draft)

September 29, 2011

Becoming Your Own Leading Lady:  Reflections on Personal Leadership

By Katie C. Kelley

This book is for the woman who yearns to be her own leading lady.  Some leading ladies are already living life on their own terms and are inspired by a belief that only they can truly leave behind their own unique legacy.  This type of lady can feel responsible to pay forward all of the blessings that have been bestowed upon her through her relationships and experiences and believe that there is no one else that embodies her particular vision.  This responsibility, while awesome in its midst can also become very overwhelming over time, as women devote so much of their energies as caretakers and tactically focused in their day-to-day life.  There are also some leading ladies who have yet to pinpoint their vision and intentions for their life, and will appreciate the chance to use this book as a way to get in touch with these foundational steps in building toward their inspired life.

The genesis of this book evolved through my experience working as a leadership coach with women in business. I created the assessment based on themes that I continually noted that were both serving to move these women along in their journey as well as stagnate and dilute their potential.  I will add that selfishly, I also have been personally motivated to finally put this book into motion for my own well being. I juggle the hats of a highly motivated professional with big dreams, mother to two very young daughters, and wife to name a few and am no further along in the process of striking the proverbial balance than anyone else.  My dear friend and business partner, Cindy explains to me that rather than ever finding a balance in it all, to think of life as walking along a tightrope and working to make sure I don’t lean over too far too one side so that I fall into just one part of my life.

This book is the first in a series of three that will span my business modules: Personal Leadership, Interpersonal Effectiveness and Business Leadership.  This first ‘Personal Leadership’ book will cover the core foundation from which our personal initiatives and global outlook are established.  Look upon it as a journey to revisit parts of yourself that you may be taking for granted or perhaps parts of you that are so ingrained that you forgot that are actually malleable and can be ‘tuned’ up.  Our personal foundation encompasses the dynamics of our earliest relationships, our cultural practices and the orientation we have towards the world and ourselves.  The beautiful aspect of life is that we never stop growing and that there will always be an opportunity to begin again, to be re-birthed as well as a chance to re-affirm who we are to ourselves and want we want from this life and what we want to put forth into it.

Let’s begin…

 Part One:  Take Your Own “Leading Lady Personal Leadership Assessment”

Part Two: The Four Cornerstones of Your Personal Foundation


Narrative:  We will begin by exploring the bedrock from which your value system and your relationships were born.  We will take an inventory to determine if what matter to you the most is showing up in your life.  We will work towards designing a plan so that your intentions are being actively sought after, rather than merely yearned for.  We’ll explore the power of setting one’s aspirations far beyond reach, all the while keeping your eyes on your prize, your ultimate intention.  If you are not feeling so inspired, this should get your fires burning!

Section One Takeaway:

  • Identity of your  values and talents and where they are showing up in your life
  • An opportunity to ponder your most desired life, at home and work
  • An understanding of the power of setting stretch goals
  • A chance to re-engage with your divine inspiration


Narrative:  We will journey into your single most important relationship, that with yourself. The regard with which you view yourself has the greatest impact on the way that you then look out onto the world and others and in turn their reaction to us.  A review of the data on positivity will highlight the value of self-fulfilling prophesies and clarify the significance of maintaining a steadfast sunny disposition as a success tactic.  We’ll exercise the power of self-expression in an effort to explore the ways that you might be limiting yourself.  Finally, we will journey from our most internal core to the external self to investigate how our image impacts our outside world and whether that is aligned with our intentions.


Section Two Takeaways:

  • Insights around how your self perception impacts the way you view the world
  • Awareness around your resilience and how you navigate challenges
  • A gage on your positivity and how that effects your initiative taking
  • Appreciation of the value of expressing yourself
  • Clarity around how rules and roles are influencing your modus operandi
  • Consideration of the impact that your presentation has on the world


Narrative:  This third section delves into the evolution of how our values and self-image impact our lifestyle and quality of self-care.  This is a critical piece for leading ladies who wear many hats and need to ‘show up’ in various capacities throughout the day, often giving much more than receiving.  Timing is everything so we will investigate how cued in you are to optimize windows of opportunity versus saying ‘yes’ to every invitation.  These particular reflections can never be overstated for leading ladies, as preservation is everything.  Our ultimate intention is sustainability.

Section Three Takeaways:

  • Inventory of your overall self-care regimen
  • Recognition of your priorities and whether you are honoring those with time and space
  • Awakening to your flexibility and alertness to action
  • A self-prescribed barometer test to determine stress levels


Narrative:  Not only is it lonely at the top, it’s frankly not as fun. We all need our own villages to support us, hold us accountable and cheer us on when the going gets rocky.  We will explore your current network and outline the various roles that need to be filled so that you are surrounded with an army of followers, leaders and comrades.

Section 4 Takeaways:

  • Inventory of current support network
  • Tips for identifying and contracting peers, experts and mentors
  • Plan for developing a personal advisory board

My Executive Development Journey with “A Seat at the Table”

June 17, 2011

I completed an 8 month women’s executive development program by The Link for Women’s Cindy Tortorici called “A Seat at the Table” yesterday along with eight, now life-long friends.  Throughout this odyssey, I developed my overall career vision, cultivated my influential voice and formalized my community of peers, experts and mentors. In other words, I found ‘me’ and my well needed tribe and baby, do I have plans!  As my Dad simply stated, “Katie, you have never been short of dreams” 😉

The premise of this particular program is that as women aspire from middle management positions to senior leadership roles, there is a tendency to remain focused on being tactical as this is what resulted in us achieving our merits to date. However, the onus now as leaders is to think with vision, develop strategy and to effectively delegate the tactical to those who now report to us.

Here are some of the most valuable lessons I learned along this journey:

Build in 30 minutes of time every day to simply think and plan and then act strategically about your business (phone/email off-solo activity) (See Doug Mendenhall of Spark!)

Before you can lead others, you must first understand how to lead yourself and that means knowing what your personal success patterns (see Susan Clark of Heartspark) are and what your ‘why, how and what’ are (see Simon Sinek)

Take time out to evaluate how ‘balanced’ your current life is with regards to your career, $, health, your partner, your family, your friends, your personal time. Then, design a more ideal balance chart that you want to strive towards over the next year.

If you are not happy with what you are doing and/or who you are doing it with, there is no one else who is responsible for changing those two factors besides yourself. Take responsibility for your own happiness and success.

Don’t make assumptions about your future until you have truly turned over every stone and knocked on every door. Success awaits only those hungry enough to seek it out.

Understand what people come to you for and what drives you throughout all your relationships and journeys.  Let that answer inform your path towards even greater success.

Figure out who you need on your Advisory Board for strategic support, information resources and your particular project team. The higher you get, the more support you need to achieve the dream.

Understand what your body and soul are telling you about your journey and then better align yourself so that you are getting the holistic support you need.

Leverage your unique strengths as an influencer.

Understand what makes you compelling and what then supports evidence for that fact.

Be a risk taker versus a risk talker.

What else would you add to this list?