Does Your Haste Make Waste?

November 20, 2012

It is that time of the year, where the fervor of the holiday season coupled with the frenzy of all that I’d like to wrap up in a 2012 bow, can get the best of me. How about you?

I served up my own self inflicted lesson in ‘haste makes waste’ last week when my ‘doing’ vastly outweighed my ‘strategic thinking and planning’.  A botched video production afternoon and a couple miscommunications with colleagues and clients were the resulting road kill.  Nothing irreparable of course, but certainly a wake up call to remind myself of what is most important and what must really be de-prioritized or shed altogether.

How do you stay grounded? How are you keeping your eye on the ball when you are getting pulled in so many different directions? This is actually a critical issue for women in general as they work towards taking on more senior level roles: the struggle to shed their familiar tactical orientation in order to make room for strategic thinking and planning.  We women have been socialized to make copious amounts of lists and ratchet it down with glee throughout our days. We love getting taking care of business!

For me, as mother to two wee children and the owner of my own business, the to-do list always seems endless. Prioritization is critical, but even still, there can almost never be enough discipline inflicted in deciding how to spend my time and resources.  Unfortunately I seldom know if I have veered off of a productive path until repercussions are felt, much like they did last week.

Here are some simple ways I stay focused and disciplined:

  • Diligently manage my calendar: (e.g. send emails to folks I am meeting with the next day to confirm meeting details, I have become much better at determining whether a meeting is even needed in many scenarios as well as learning to graciously decline the folks who ask me for coffee to ‘pick my brain’, lean towards spacing out meetings vs. packing them all together)
  • Work out at least 4 times a week (that’s where I do my best thinking)
  • Check in with my husband (my coach) monthly (I tell him what I am focused on in my business and review how I am spending my time to hear his feedback. He always has a totally different perspective than I do, which is why I married the guy, he’s the ying to my yang)
  • Give myself mini deadlines for projects with ample time built-in to get things done, so that rather than operating from a place of stress, I am operating from a place of pride for getting things done ahead of time. It works!

What works for you? How do you ensure that your haste does not make waste?

Secrets for Success from my Hollywood Comedy Writer H.S. B.F.F.

November 13, 2012

I had the privilege to interview my high school best friend Gloria yesterday for my forthcoming book, Road Rules for Leading Ladies.  Gloria Calderon Kellett is a comedy writer in Hollywood who has had enormous and ongoing success ever since she dipped her toe into Tinsel Town 11 years ago. She started out as an assistant for Academy Award winning Writer/Director Cameron Crowe and has gone on to sell original pilots to CBS, ABC, FOX & TVLAND.  She also wrote on successful shows such as “How I Met Your Mother,” “Rules of Engagement,” and is currently a writer and producer on the new show “Devious Maids.” The picture atop is Gloria and I on the day of my wedding in Atlanta getting ‘beautified’ for the ceremony. She was my matron of honor.

She observes themes in Hollywood that get in the way of more women having greater success in senior level writing and performing roles.  These are exactly the same themes that prevent women from consistently succeeding in many other professional industries at a senior level.

Gloria kicked off the call stating:

Katie the most important thing for women to understand is that they have to be their own warrior.  You have to fight for yourself and self promotion is critical.

I see a lot of women being uneasy in this realm. Particularly in Hollywood, you need to constantly ask people to read your scripts, come see you perform-and for women who find their work to be so personal—they can get really uncomfortable if they see it as setting themselves up for personal disappointment or even rejection if people don’t show up or worse don’t laugh at your jokes.

Speaking for myself, women have to get past taking their work so personally. Men seem to be less sensitive about their work…and thus more successful in a lot of ways.  You have to raise your masculinity in this regard.

For me, I recognize that I am a sensitive person, I do have thin skin but I think my sensitivity is part of what makes me a good writer, once I recognized that I was not ever going to be able to thicken my skin, I seriously considered if this was the business for me. I decided it was, so then I asked myself how am I going to weather the storm?

Once I realized it’s not personal, it’s a business—things really shifted for me for the better.

Secondly, in order to be consistently successful you can never get comfortable.  You have to constantly put yourself in a state of discomfort. Because in Hollywood, even if you get a writing or an acting gig, anything could get cancelled the next day.  You are never allowed to ‘sit back’, ever.  No matter who you are.

A third point Gloria wanted to stress was that she saw a stark difference between herself and her male counterparts because many of them had a wife;meaning someone at home supporting everything that they did and helping them keep their life in order so that these men can go and focus on their work.  For Gloria, and so many power house women I know like her, hiring an assistant changed her life for the better in this regard. Now, she says, “I have a wife,” in addition to a doting husband who has a busy career as a top cartoonist (  This added support allows her to buy time so that when she gets home after her 12 hour days at the Disney studio she doesn’t have to schlep to the grocery store, etc, –rather she can be present with her young family (yes, she has a 3 month old son and a daughter in primary school).

Thank you Gloria for sharing your story with us and for being a part of this book—you are a hero to us all!

Are You a Leading Lady? If so, let’s Connect.

October 29, 2012

A very happy Monday morning to you all my lovely lady friends!  For those of you in Hurricane Sandy’s path, know that we are all holding you close in mind and heart as you endure your next 24 hours.  For your mental nourishment, I have a challenge for you all.  I am now deep in the throes of my winter book writing process and I need *your* help.  I am currently collecting aha moments, quotes, anecdotes, lessons learned from leading ladies all over the country to include in this aforementioned writing project.

1st Question: Are you a Leading Lady?

A leading lady is highly ‘aspirational’ professionally, meaning corporate climbers or entrepreneurial types and are seeking greater joie de vivre both at work and in life.

2nd Question:  Is this your Leading Lady Problem?

When leading ladies, of whom I consider myself one of, find ourselves mid-career, we can often be conflicted about how we want to spend the next 10-30 years of our professional lives, we consider the impact of what we want for our own family and then we are met with tinges of the glass ceiling or the impact of the incredible delusion that we ourselves can do it all.  Compounding the societal and organizational limits that we find ourselves bumping up against, there also is a significant difference in our skill set and intuitive strengths that men simply are better practiced in and are not as conflicted about personally which allows them to outperform and outshine us professionally as a group.

3rd Question: Could this be a solution to your Leading Lady Problem?

The intention of this book is to support you in this tightrope walk by teaching you specific personal and professional development tools and lessons that are critical for your continued career success. Together, we are co-creating a relatively new paradigm for women *consistently* breaking through the glass ceiling so that one day there won’t have to be a “Women of Google/GE/Nike, etc” group or a “Conference for Women in Business”, rather these conversations will simply be part of the mainstream dialogue.  Until then, we have our work cut out for us.

My Request to You:  As I stated at the top of this blog, I am looking for quotes, commentary, anecdotes, examples of how *YOU* have overcome these golden lessons below or how you are currently managing them at your workplace today:

  • Career clarity so that you can set you career planning sails accordingly
  • Confidence to ask for what you need and go after what you want and deserve
  • Embracing change and risk taking with a optimistic and innovative approach
  • De-personalizing the art of business and business relationships, just enough
  • Developing organizational and industry influence
  • Effectively delegating and letting go of always being the ‘doer’
  • Continually practicing visioning, strategic planning and executing
  • Negotiating and/or by passing office politics
  • Building your own specific network to support you and your career aspirations

Lastly, do not hesitate to reach out to me and ask me any questions that you have, I always love to hear from my leading ladies! My email is

Keep on trucking my fine lady friends!


Power for Women is an Inside-Out Job

October 25, 2012

An aha moment struck me upside the head following my morning television segment a couple of weeks ago. I spoke about ways that women can be more powerful (Katie Kelley’s ABC Segment on How to Be More Powerful At Work). My revelation was that I did not address in that segment the fundamental building block necessary for women to be powerful.


Power for women is an inside-out job.

What I mean is that your ability to stand up for yourself and own the power that is rightly yours is directly related to your self image and the level to which you have accepted and embraced all that is uniquely YOU. This is drastically different for men, in general.  Men seem to compartmentalize their sense of self with the power that is theirs to own.

For women, we entangle the two.

We mirror our self worth outwards to the world and look for self fulfilling prophesies to confirm our worst fears about ourselves.  This has got to stop.  The only way for you to take control of this vicious cycle is to identify whether this is a reality for you and if it is, take control of it by diving into personal development work and start doing the work to help you seize your power, from the inside out.

Here’s one of my often referred to quotes from my graduate school days:

“The first dyadic relationship that a child has with their caretaker will be foretelling of their sense of self and their relational self throughout their lifetime.” (VanderKolk, 1987)

The truth is that our earliest relationships build the foundation of our relationship with ourselves and with others.  Assuming that we had confidence that our caretakers would provide us with the necessary safety and nurturing we needed during that fragile state, we are able to develop confidently and positively into mature, well attached adults.  If this was not the case in your early life experience, there is always an opportunity to re-establish that trust in others, it’s just going to take some hard work.  My advice to you is this is something that you think you struggle with (overall trust and security issues with others and frankly with yourself), then I urge you to engage in therapy so that you can explore exactly how your early life experience is impacting your life today.  This will very likely be one of the more challenging parts of your life that you are forced to tackle, but I guarantee it will also be the most rewarding and satisfying parts as well.

Go forth women and own your power!

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.

A Sneak Peak into My Forthcoming Book for Emerging Female Leaders

October 9, 2012

Friends, would you do me the honor of scanning though this rough outline of my forthcoming book and let me know what you think.  This book is designed for emerging female leaders who are shooting for the stars, either with their own businesses or within a large corporation. They aspire to senior level roles or as their own CEO, but they also are passionate about their life outside of work and more than anything, the sacred tribe that they surround themselves with for joie de vivre!

Would love feedback on any of these topics and am looking for quotes and anecdotes from YOU to include in the book. Enjoy!

First Phase: What do I want next?

Overview: Women face a vastly different set of pathways mid career than their male counterparts. I believe that the main reason for this differential is based on our contrasting values. Many mid career women value flexibility and intrinsic reward in their work life over role status and even salary.  Whether or not you are managing your own young family at this time, can often play a very critical role in where you most want to spend your time and resources.  Also, the deficit of positive senior women leader role models impacts many mid career women decisions to cease from climbing their company’s organizational ladder.  Why continue on a road where you are not seeing any like minded and like valued positive role models along the way?

In this section we will dig into some exercises to help you uncover what is your largest driver and how this motivation can help you determine what your career trajectory can look like.  Secondly, we will discuss ways that you can then assess whether you are in the right place and how objectively you can assess your skill set and our value in your marketplace.

Key Takeaways:

  • Analysis of your values and how that impacts your career/life planning
  • Clarity around your drive and motivations and what success looks like for YOU!
  • Review of your role models/mentors/sponsors and why you admire them
  • Assessment of whether you are in the right company (culture & growth) & right role
  • Determination of your worth in the marketplace
  • Completion of your career plan


Second Phase: What are the specific leadership competencies that women mid-career must develop in order to break into the next level of success?

Overview: Women have only been in the professional management realm for about three decades.  Thus, we are still negotiating what it means to be a female leader as well as figuring out ways to break through the ever constant glass ceiling. Of course there is a subset of women who are outliers, but in general women mid career can get stuck in mid management roles because they do not have the same leadership skill set as their male peers that is mandatory if they want to break into senior level roles.  In this section we will tackle those core competencies that will help you reach your career plan in a more effective and empowered way.

Key Takeaways:

  • Consideration of your overall resilience and attitudes towards risks, change and failing
  • Review of your ability to de-personalize work relationships
  • A clear understanding of how confident you are based on varying contexts and relationships
  • How to clearly communicate and effectively self promote at critical meetings
  • How to increase your personal power base in order to have organizational influence
  • How to effectively delegate and become less of a micro manager
  • A plan to make sure you gain access to critical people and opportunities related to your career plan
  • How to negotiate office politics
  • Tools to help you and your team focus on visioning and strategy skills
  • Guidelines for how best to negotiate your next role and compensation

 Phase Three:  How do I sustain my success?

 Overview:  Sustainability is just as crucial for women as reaching their career goals.  I believe the reason for this is two-fold: first, we are often juggling many other roles outside of our career and secondly, because there is not nearly as an established old girls network as there is for men, it can become a very lonely and isolated existence as a female leader.  In this final section, we will tackle what you need to guarantee your ongoing success as it relates to being a self-possessed and inspired leader both outside and inside your professional worlds.

Key Takeaways:

  • How to be feminine in a male dominated work environment while still holding respect
  • How to actively build and maintain your tribe (childcare, financial planning, social life, prof. network, extracurricular interests)
  • Creation of ‘Signs and Symptoms of Your Impending Burnout’ worksheet for friends & family
  • Ensuring a plan for personal development and nourishment
  • Begin to flesh out your exit plan  (long term career planning)

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?