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?

How Hurricane Sandy Awoke My Compassionate Self

November 5, 2012

Hurricane Sandy has devastated an area of our beloved country that is near and dear to my heart.  Seeing parts of the area lay in total destruction, particularly Staten Island and Queens, and continually hearing about how people there are still suffering in dire conditions right now, has AWOKEN my compassionate self.  I imagine I might not be alone in this vein, which is why I wanted to share my reflections.

As I am gathering items to send with a friend who is flying out to NYC tomorrow to help in the recovery efforts, I realized there are people who are staring into my window at the stop lights here in Portland who are looking for the same kind of basic support.  Why is it that I am pulled so strongly to aid those who are 3,000 miles away from me, when within a stone’s throw, I am avoiding eye contact with a homeless person who is merely asking for change?

I know all the naysayers have their hardened and cynical beliefs that the ‘everyday’ homeless person is likely going to use any funds I give them to fuel their addictions.  I try to convince myself that that’s the case every time, I turn a blind eye to them.  However, what if it’s not, what if they really are a single parent who has fled their hometown from an abusive partner and is trying to piece together a life, just as their cardboard sign says?  Why do tears stream down my face when I watch ABC news coverage of the Hurricane Sandy share stories of elderly people stuck in high-rise apartments with no electricity, water or food for days on end but then I will ignore those asking for a little support right in my backyard?

I don’t have the answer to this question. I imagine a social psychologist would be able to formulate a theory around a ‘numbing’ of our consciousness that we all develop when we are continually exposed to a similar request. However, I am going to try to make a commitment to do some of the things I think about doing as my ‘better’ self: things like loading our car up with boxes of granola bars and extra winter clothes even shoes to hand out when those much less fortunate and I come eye to eye at one of those stop lights again.
Has anyone else noticed these same phenomena? How have you reacted in light of Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath? What are you doing differently now in your community?

Finally, here are two local NYC offices that are accepting resources for those affected by Sandy. The money and items you send will go directly to NYC residents and thank you for sharing this information:

Tunnel to Towers Foundation (Staten Island based Foundation)

Or make an online purchase and have the following items sent directly to City Council Member James Sanders Jr., 1526 Central Ave, Far Rockaway, NY 11691.  These are the items in need: blankets, warm clothing, socks, rubber boots, diapers (esp. toddler sizes), formula, wipes, water, flashlights, batteries.

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!


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)

Why My Meeting with Katie Couric Today Matters

September 20, 2012

Ever since I lived in New York City in my late 20’s, I was told repeatedly how much I resemble the likeness of Katie Couric as well as embodying her bubbly personality. The fact that my name used to be Katie Curran was simply the icing on the cake.  We used to park in the same garage on the Upper East Side and without prompting, the garage attendants would insist we were sisters and were always trying to coordinate us running into each other.  I even submitted a video to the Today Show when they hosted a contest for people who were told they reminded them of her.  Sadly, no such luck in getting to meet her then.

Fast forward a decade and here I am in town for 3 days for a work event. I figured why not give meeting Katie Couric one more shot while I am here. So, I went onto her new show’s website and submitted a request to see her new show. Would you believe that her assistant called me and said they’d offer me tickets for today at 3 p.m.. Of course that is right when I have to begin to run the seminar I am here to teach at Google. So, alas another chance meeting lost.

In light of the fact that I am a regular contributor to a morning ABC show in Portland, I arranged to observe “Good Morning America” this morning and who unexpectedly was a drop in guest? That’s right, my alter ego Katie!!!! I literally thought my heart was going to burst out of my chest with excitement at finally being feet away from her.

She did a quick 4 minute piece about Yeardley Love, the UVA Lacrosse player who was violently murdered by her estranged boyfriend in 2010. This is a story near and dear to Katie as she is a UVA Alum and is trying to bring attention to the fact that 1 out of 3 college aged girls are victims of dating violence.   Admittedly, it was a bit awkward segueing to my fan worship interlude.  However, I was determined not to let this chance meeting go undocumented so I was able to get this picture snapped of us before she was shuttled out with various handlers. I simply told her how much I look up to her and appreciate her work (minus having Jessica Simpson on as her debut guest last week). She was exactly they way I imagined her to be, very warm and sweet.  She kept repeating how nice it was for me to so clearly googley-eyed for her.  I imagine she get’s that reaction alot.

Here is why my meeting with Katie Couric today matters to everybody else:

  • As trite as it sounds, anything is possible. Who is your Katie Couric? What are you doing today to make inroads to meeting them?
  • I was able to make this happen through my relationships and by continually asking questions. Never stop uncovering the path towards your pie in the sky.
  • There is no such thing as a dead-end.  I have been trying to meet Ms. Couric for over a decade. Ironically, my chance brush with her today was totally unexpected and complete serendipity.
  • Now that I have met my namesake, I can clear the path for even greater heights. The overall meaning I take from it is that the only thing getting in my way of achieving my long-term goals is……..nothing at all.  “To the moon Alice!!!”

Why Relating is More Powerful than Transacting

September 16, 2012

Welcome back friends and a very wonderful Sunday to you all.  How was your week?  I had a particularly eventful and meaning-rich week (September 11th, published my first paper with my father, attended my first ‘Back to School’ night for our daughter’s preschool) and did not have to work hard at all to see a critical way that last week’s inquiry rang true for me.  I will take this as a rewarding sign that this newly established and evolving format, which I am letting my intuition and my heart guide me with, is exactly where I need to be and, I hope it is for you as well.

This week’s photo: Also in following with the theme of this blog, I am going to share pictures of my life, not random stock photos from the internet that highlight my theme.  This post’s picture is the last decent photo I can find of my family and I. This was a celebration night after my brother had successfully defended his dissertation from University of Washington (yup, I have a brother who is a PhD in genetics).  Sorry to my dear husband who is not included in the photo! I wanted to pay homage to my Dad this week in honor of our article.

Last Sunday, I left off asking you to reflect on two related questions for your week ahead:

How can you begin to share a deeper side of yourself at work and at home this week?

What gets in your way of doing this more frequently and honestly?

It was fantastic to hear from a variety of you through various channels that you were curious if it was appropriate or even relevant to share more about yourself or your opinions about the content of your work with your peers and customers. We talked about your concerns for the implication of doing so and what the costs could be for taking such a risk. You were boldest in voicing your curiosity of the benefits of sharing a deeper side of yourself as work.

My related AHA moment this week that re-enforced to me the lesson of why it is so powerful and critical to disclose personal meaning along with the content of your work:

I taught an all day seminar this week with my business partner.  I was the lead instructor this week and this is our second time to run this particular seminar series.  My partner is always helping me better streamline and blend my curriculum as I am a research nut and if left to my own devices I would do a data dump.  My partner, Cindy is fantastic at providing me with feedback but this week when we were debriefing she said to me, “Katie, it can feel transactional sometimes when you simply cite other people’s research.  You have so much personal and professional experience to draw from as it relates to the research you share.  You need to take a moment and reflect for your students on what each takeaway means for you.  This way, your students will be more comfortable sharing their own experience and less self-conscious of their own reactions, etc.”


There it is, there is the golden egg, that I wanted to provide to you with this last inquiry. And my universe, simply dropped it in my own lap for us all.  The key lesson here is that by being less transactional and more relational, you will connect and resonate with your peers on a level that aids in their particular adult learning process. As adults, we need to personalize our learnings in order to truly make a transition that is long-term and not merely cerebral.  Being able to do this for and with your clients and partners will stand you miles apart from your competition. I guarantee it.

Let me know if this resonates with you and if you have any other questions around how the entire group benefits when you take the time to offer your personal reaction and feelings about a matter at work.

My inquiry for this coming week is:

How do you elevate your game?

When tasked with an unprecedented (meaning bigger or higher profile than you have ever taken on before) role or project—how do you successfully prepare and execute?

Contacting Katie:

I am eager to hear your response to this inquiry as well as other questions you have.  Please email me at

Have a fantastic week friends.  I can’t wait to hear about all your successes and breakthroughs.