Working Wardrobes’ Smart Women Speaker Series with Financial Guru Laila Pence

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2018 Laila Headshot Working Wardrobes Smart Women Event

At the age of 12, Laila emigrated to the U.S. with her mother, arriving in New York.  Her father joined them a year later, and the rest of her family joined in the following years.

Her first job was selling hot dogs and knishes on the Staten Island Ferry, at the age of 14. She credits her mother, who always told her “there’s no limit to what you can do,” with giving her self-confidence. After her family moved to California, Laila attended UCLA and had a full-time job as a waitress while she attended school. She met a man who gave her a job selling tax shelter annuities to school teachers and she shadowed him and learned on the job. Her first paycheck was $4,600 for one month, which she immediately deposited in the bank.

At a conference shortly after, she met Karl Romero who became her mentor and offered her a job which doubled salary. He helped her get licensed as a CFP® (Certified Financial Planner®). By age 22, she was making $100,000 a year.

Today, Laila is co-founder of Pence Wealth Management which she formed with her husband, Dryden. An avid sports fan, Laila is a dedicated wife and mother and very proud to be able to provide great care for her original cheerleader – her mother!

At Pence Wealth Management, her husband heads their in-house asset and investment management, and together, they manage their clients’ portfolios so that they have more control – especially when the market is down. One of her most poignant pieces of financial advice?  “Don’t wait for retirement to enjoy your life!”

Other very important pieces of advice that Laila offered were: “People don’t care what you know, they want to know that you care” – something that she imparts to all her new employees – and the traditional wisdom of: “If you want to Working Wardrobesgo fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.”

Smart Women is a women’s giving collective which supports the work of the nonprofit Working Wardrobes. New memberships are currently available (and are entirely tax-deductible), along with tickets to upcoming Speaker Series events.

For more information, please visit workingwardrobes.org/smart-women/ .

Make the Most of Your Meetings!

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Typical managers spend nearly 40 percent of their work hours in meetings, not to mention the time spent preparing (and recuperating).

A survey of business leaders showed:

-33 percent of time spent in meetings is unproductive.

-75 percent of the respondents said it is “almost essential” to have an agenda, yet they use them only 50 percent of the time.

-Only 64 percent of meetings achieve their intended outcome.

A disciplined approach to making the most of meeting time will help to maximize team effectiveness.

Set an objective:

Answer these three questions.

What, ultimately, do I want to achieve by this meeting?

What, specifically, has to be accomplished by the end of this meeting?

When the meeting is over, how will I know whether the meeting was a success?

Use your answers to define your meeting’s objective. Then make participants aware of the objective up front. Make sure the key people attend are the key people and are the ones with the knowledge and experience needed to accomplish the meeting’s objective.

Arrange for the proper facility: Little things (how the room is arranged, the room temperature, or whether there’s coffee or not) can make a tremendous difference in the success of a meeting.

Write an agenda There are numerous ways to accomplish this task. Have a planning committee set the agenda, or send out a pre-meeting survey asking people to list one to three topics they want to discuss. When writing an agenda, put the most important items at the beginning. The agenda should be distributed far enough in advance so participants can adequately prepare for the meeting. The agenda should state the date, location, start, and finish time, topics to be covered, the expected outcome (information only, discussion, or decision).

Make the Most of Your Meetings Advice for achieving successful business meetings time allotted to each topic. Studies show that productivity decreases sharply after about an hour and a half of meeting.

If you must have a long meeting, provide adequate breaks.

Keep the meeting on track Consider using a facilitator or getting a team member to serve as timekeeper. If a facilitator is not used, the meeting leader is responsible for keeping the meeting on course and adjourning on time. You could also assign meeting roles to facilitate progress such as chairperson, note taker, timekeeper, or observer.

You might also allow the participants to suggest agreements for the meeting before the meeting begins, like those listed below.

– One person speaks at a time
– No side conversations
– Everyone participates
– Listen as an ally
– Set time frames and stick to them
– se a consensus decision-making model

If, as the leader, you notice that only a few are contributing, you can direct a question to others, such as “What do you think about . . .?” Should discussion stray from the agenda, you should ask, “Is this subject relevant?” and have the group determine if it should be added to the agenda or saved for a future meeting.

Summarize the meeting In closing, the leader should summarize the group’s accomplishments, review action items (including who, what, and when) and, thank everyone for their participation. The summary of the meeting should be appropriately documented and distributed to team members and key stakeholders.

Reprinted with permission: The Lindenberger Group, LLC.

First-time leaders need to stick to these 4 truths to succeed

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Congratulations! You have just been promoted to a leadership role in your company. You have aspired to be a manager and leader throughout your career, and you have finally achieved it. Now, here’s the bad news.

Research conducted by CEB shows that 60% of all new managers fail within the first 24 months of their new position. And the main reason they fail is that they were not trained properly on how to manage other people and be an effective leader in the first place. You don’t want to add yourself to that statistic, do you?

As a first-time manager, your job is to focus on building trust, engagement, and culture within your team of direct reports. Effective management is about a lot of other things, too, but at the end of the day, culture and the way people work with each other on your watch is what has to come first. The people you work with have to trust you and believe in the culture you are building before they can believe in and ultimately execute the strategy you are giving them.

In my own career, the people I looked up to the most or learned the most from were individuals who cultivated that sense of trust. They engaged with me, and other team members, on a personal level. They welcomed a direct connection. And they took it upon themselves to get to know me and see me as more than just someone they were managing.

This past year, I took on a new role within SAP as head of Partner and Small and Mid-Size Business (SMB) Marketing. I am responsible for a team of 100 people across four or five levels within the organization, spread across four continents.

After reflecting on what I appreciated most about my own managers, I wanted my new team to know I was always available for a one-on-one chat, whether the conversation was work-related or not. My belief, and what I have learned from my managers before me, is that in order to build trust if someone on your team needs to talk, that relationship needs to be a priority.

Once you have trust as your foundation, you can begin helping your team adopt these four things necessary for them to be successful.

Show (don’t just “tell”) people how to have an urgency for change

Companies that succeeded in the past oftentimes struggle to find their next big leap forward.

I have been at SAP for 14 years, and I have witnessed moments (just like any other company) where new strategies and changes are adopted immediately and effectively and other moments where new strategies and changes are forgotten and tossed by the wayside. When changes don’t get implemented, it is not necessarily because they are more difficult to execute. It is often because the environment, the team, is not prepared in order to internalize that change.

In a metaphor, “change” is sort of like planting a tree.

First, you have to prepare the ground (your team’s culture), so that it has the best chance of growing and flourishing the way you would like it. Second, you have to show people how and why the changes you are proposing matter. People need to see and understand for themselves the long-term impact—not just be given a task with minimal visibility of the larger strategy. And third, you as the manager need to make each and every person involved see how they fit into the bigger picture. Human beings need to know why their part matters, and how their individual efforts impact the efforts of the group.

What tends to happen instead is new leaders take a seed, throw it onto rocky ground, and say, “Here’s our new strategy.” They offer minimal explanation into how or why it matters. They don’t help people see how their individual efforts matter. And then they get frustrated when nobody feels a sense of urgency to implement the changes into their daily responsibilities.

You have to put people first, always

The only asset we truly have is our people. Our people are who keep the company moving forward, our people are who keep our customers and partners engaged, and our people are who collectively create the entire energy and culture of the organization. This means it’s my job, and the job of all the other managers, to ensure our people feel happy, motivated, and like they’re making an impact. It’s our job to make sure they don’t feel like they are being lost in the shuffle of the company’s fast-moving environment.

Celebrate as a team. If one person or a small group of people accomplishes something, allow everyone to be part of that milestone. This will make the success more meaningful for those involved and stand as motivation for everyone else.

Support the efforts that don’t succeed. When team members go outside the scope of what is “normal,” try their hand at something new, and fail, their courage to be wrong is the quality that should be highlighted—not the failure itself. It’s the Thomas Edison principle. Your team might fail nine times out of ten, but that 10th time, you all may invent the light bulb together.

Hold people accountable by acknowledging their intentions. At the end of the day, people are human beings. Sometimes, we’re wrong. The manager’s job then is to create a space where being wrong is okay—but to also hold people accountable to ensure the idea was given its best effort.

Create a culture of openness and sharing

Oftentimes, the best ideas will come from your team—not you.

As a manager, you have to be the one to set the bar higher for your team. I’m not just talking about the goals team members set for themselves, but how they go about achieving them in the first place. Effective leadership is not just about “knowing the answer” but being able to facilitate conversations in a way that allows the best ideas and “answers” to unfold on their own. Every project and initiative your team takes on, ask yourself, “Have I raised the bar enough? Did we go beyond what was expected, and do something we can be proud of?” The more your team can lift itself because of the culture you have built and the expectations you have set, the less you will have to continually do it for them.

Unfortunately, a lot of first-time managers (and even seasoned managers) don’t allow their teams to achieve their full potential, because they get wrapped up in their egos.

They feel like unless they are the ones to come up with the idea, they aren’t going to have a job anymore. Or, they need to feel like they’re running the show and being seen as the leader, instead of taking a step back and letting the best idea (from whomever) emerge on its own. They say they want to collaborate but, in reality, they want to be the center of attention. As a result, the team reciprocates and feels like their efforts don’t really matter. They learn to just sit back and accept things as they are, instead of helping push the bar higher and uphold the team’s standard for excellence.

As a manager, your number one job is not to be the smartest person in the room. Your job is to essentially organize the room, and make sure the right people are working on the right things, together. From there, your job becomes about having an open mind, listening, and deciding who needs who else in order to be most successful.

Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.

Hot job! Taco Bell offers $100,000 salaries and paid sick time

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Wanted: Restaurant manager. Competitive salary: $100,000.

The six-figure sum is not being offered at a haute cuisine location with culinary accolades, but rather at fast-food chain Taco Bell. In the increasingly tight U.S. labor market, the company is betting a higher salary will help it attract workers and keep them on the team.

The Yum Brands Inc.-owned chain announced Thursday that it will test the higher salary in select restaurants in the Midwest and Northeast. It will also try a new role for employees who want leadership experience but don’t want to be in the management position. Current salaries for general managers at company-owned Taco Bell restaurants are between $50,000 and $80,000, according to the company.

Workers at company-owned Taco Bell restaurants nationwide will be offered at least 24 hours of paid sick time per year, the company also announced. According to a spokesperson, Taco Bell previously offered paid sick time only to managers and is now extending that offer to all employees at company-owned restaurants who have had their jobs for at least 90 days.

It’s another example of how stubbornly low unemployment is changing the face of fast food, which for decades has been seen as the quintessential low-wage job. Restaurants including Olive Garden owner Darden Restaurants Inc. and Shake Shack Inc. have recently reported that labor inflation is hurting margins.

In November, the unemployment rate fell to 3.5%, matching the lowest since 1969, while average hourly earnings climbed and exceeded projections.

Continue on to the Los Angeles Times to read the complete article.

 

This is the most essential trait you need to land any job

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Hiring manager interviewing potential candidate for a job

There’s no denying the value of having relevant experience and a winning personality when you’re looking to land a new job. However, a recent study conducted by TopResume confirms there is another quality that employers find even more attractive when making hiring decisions.

When asked “Which of the following is most important in a candidate?” nearly half of the recruiters and hiring managers cited potential as the number-one factor, beating out experience (37%), personality (16%), and education (2%).

But what, exactly, is potential, and how can you demonstrate this trait to prospective employers during your job hunt? While there are various definitions floating to describe a “high potential” (HiPo) employee, it ultimately boils down to two qualities: problem-solving skills and a willingness to learn.

SOLVE PROBLEMS CREATIVELY
Managers are always looking for people who will bring solutions, rather than problems, to their departments. These are the types of hires who will provide the most value to the company, no matter if the position is in customer service, public relations, or engineering. Employers across all fields want to find workers who will face challenges head-on and seek creative solutions, rather than avoiding the situation or ignoring it entirely.

DESIRE TO LEARN AND GROW
Thanks to the fourth Industrial Revolution’s rapid pace of change, expertise has a shorter shelf life than ever before. In fact, according to Dawn Graham, PhD, author of the book Switchers: How Smart Professionals Change Careers and Seize Success, most of us will be forced to become career switchers at some point in the future because of these constant changes. No wonder employers are interested in candidates who have the willingness and ability to grow and adapt to new circumstances and challenges in the workplace. The best employees are lifelong learners, people who actively seek out new experiences, knowledge, and feedback to increase their skills and add value to their organizations.

THREE WAYS TO DEMONSTRATE POTENTIAL
Our research confirmed that most employers evaluate these qualities in a candidate based on what they find on a person’s résumé and during the interview process. Here’s how you can show hiring managers you’ve got the potential they’re seeking in their next top hire.

PREPARE PROOF POINTS
Anyone can declare a knack for tackling problems or a love of learning on their job application or during an interview. However, if you want to convince recruiters you possess these desirable skills, you need to offer proof.

Start by brainstorming a list of examples in your career when you demonstrated creativity in order to solve a problem, learn a skill, or meet a goal that benefited the company. For example, perhaps you gave yourself a crash course in blockchain technology to prepare a pitch for a potential client that your team successfully landed. Or maybe you delved into YouTube videos or took the initiative to complete an online course to quickly learn a new skill that was required to successfully complete a work assignment.

Spend time fleshing out the stories that best illustrate your skills. Then, determine which of these stories can be woven into your résumé or your interview responses.

MAKE SURE YOUR RÉSUMÉ LEADS WITH RESULTS
Review your list and flag the stories that resulted in an achievement or a contribution that benefited your employer, such as lower costs, safer operations, greater profits, happier customers, etc. These will be the most appropriate examples to incorporate into your résumé.

Use the bullet points under your résumé’s Work History section to highlight these successes. Where possible, begin each bullet point with the result of your efforts and then describe the actions you took to achieve such a result. This is known as the “result by action” format. The “action” part of this bullet point is your opportunity to specifically demonstrate how you leveraged a specific skill to provide value to your former employers.

In the cases where you completed training programs, courses, or certifications to expand or deepen your skill set, be sure to include these professional-development activities in your résumé’s Education and Professional Development sections.

PREPARE FOR BEHAVIORAL-BASED INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
Employers often ask candidates to describe how they behaved during a particular situation in the past in order to gauge how they might perform in a similar situation in the future. The sample behavioral interview questions below are designed to help interviewers assess your ability and willingness to adapt, to think creatively, to solve problems, and to take initiative—in other words, your potential.

Describe a time where you had to solve a difficult problem. How did you handle it?
-Tell me about the first job you ever had. What did you do to learn the ropes?
-Give me an example of a time when you had to think on your feet in order to delicately extricate yourself from an awkward situation.
-Tell me about a situation in which you recognized a potential problem as an opportunity. What did you do? What was the outcome?

Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.

Are Your Communication Skills Up to Par?

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smart african black female employee speaking at diverse meeting

Whether employers are hiring someone to make sandwiches, sell shoes, run science experiments, or repair plumbing—communication skills are always on the “must-have” list.

But what exactly do employers mean by “communication skills,” and how can you tell if you have them?

Here are some high-impact communication skills to check yourself on or work to develop, whether you’re looking for work or already have a job.

Face-to-face still matters

Although workplace communications are often online, well-rounded communicators need to be effective in face-to-face conversation, e-mail, on the phone, and—if used by the employer—text.

Communication needs vary by position, but most jobs require some face-time interaction with managers, coworkers, or customers, and employers appreciate an employee’s ability to bring their A game in person.

How well do you connect in face-to-face interactions? Some scenarios include:

Do you greet coworkers and welcome customers?

Extend a handshake at interviews and when meeting clients?

Participate and stay engaged when your team is gathered for meetings or events?

Are your non-verbals showing interest and engagement? Consider these points: Make eye contact, nod or smile when you agree, and use open body language; avoid crossing your arms and turning away from the other person.

Be intentional in your communication

When you start your communication from a purpose of understanding and how the other person might receive it, your communication will be clearer and more effective. When you analyze your job, or the job you’d like to get, consider these points: Who needs to understand what you have to communicate?

Possible targets for your communication might include: your manager, coworkers, the public, customers, students, patients, or others involved in the work you do.

What purpose does your communication serve? For example, do you want:

Customers to buy your product?

Patients to understand their medication?

The public to attend an event?

Your manager to know you’ve accomplished your goals? Once you know your intention, think about what kind of message your audience would respond to. Examples could include: Posting flyers in a neighborhood where your target customers live, writing a fact-filled report that shows how your work performance met job goals, creating a video that patients can re-watch, showing how to use medical equipment rather than to trying to explain complicated instructions repeatedly, texting reminders to students to register for classes.

Treating others professionally = good teamwork

Employers want their work teams to succeed, which typically means that team members get along, participate fully, and resolve conflicts when they do come up. The employer benefits and generally everyone on the team has a better experience. If you make assumptions about a team member, and they’re not the most positive, ask for clarification and clear the air after a misunderstanding to help build trust and keep the team functioning.

Do you let your team know when you need something or don’t understand something? Ask managers for feedback so you know what they need? Share information that would help others on the team?

Respect shows up in what you do and what you say. Do you speak positively about others on the team? Are good manners a priority with customers and coworkers? Do you make room for other people’s ideas?

In your team interactions, do you contribute to finding solutions? A team works better when members look for areas of agreement, and let unimportant differences go so the team can move forward together.

If you’ve decided your communication skills need some work, it’s never too late to brush up.

Source: CareerOneStop

How to write the best résumé for 2020

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To turn your résumé into a high score résumé, highlight your personal bests and top career achievements. From the top of your résumé down, focus on your next level: the job you want next, not the job you have now. And punctuate your story of how you made it this far by crafting each bullet point into an accomplishment with a success verb and a number. Entice potential interviewers by providing quantified, proven results that detail your successes.

YOUR HIGH SCORES
High scores are very useful for understanding someone’s mastery of a game, a sport, or a skill. The person who can type 145 WPM has a built-in advertisement of their prowess with this statistic, and it attracts attention from people looking for that skill. Similarly, your résumé is an advertisement for your capabilities and should promote them by showing what you’ve been able to achieve in your job to date.

Whether it’s accounts won, servers maintained, leads gained, or warehouses managed, all of our activities in our professional careers can be quantified. By sharing your specific high scores rather than vague duties, you give your future boss the ability to understand how far you can run, how high you can jump, in your career.

When you start to think in high scores, you’ll banish boring phrases such as “seasoned executive,” “responsible for,” and “managed.” And you’ll recast your experiences to include the most exciting and impressive outcomes you’ve achieved in each area of your job. Share your high scores attained, achievements unlocked, and badges won to attract your future boss’s attention in 2020.

YOUR NEXT JOB
The summary at the top of your résumé should be all about your next job, not your current one. Your war stories about achieving a new personal best in Tetris, tennis, or the triathlon don’t start with a boring recitation of the first time you played the game, so your professional summary shouldn’t summarize the old times. Focus instead on your next challenge.

If you’ve been a director of marketing for four years and are ready for a promotion, your professional headline should focus on your next role: “VP, brand marketing.” By declaring who you are going to be next, you’ll be appealing to bosses in the market for a VP. Spending this precious space on your current level is a missed opportunity. After all, you don’t need to advertise for the job you already have.

YOUR BULLET POINTS
Each bullet on your résumé should show a high score that is a significant achievement in your role that demonstrates your skills and capabilities in practice. Each bullet point should be constructed with a success verb and a specific numerical accomplishment in that job.

Typical résumé advice says to use active verbs, but that’s not enough. Some active verbs are bland and do nothing to help persuade a future employer. “Managed,” “established,” “defined,” and “performed,” are all considered active verbs and are frequently used on résumés. But these aren’t good verbs for communicating your high scores. You wouldn’t say “I managed a little character through a variety of levels,” or “I performed various moves in the game.”

Success verbs that show you as the hero of your own story are better. Words like grew, increased, shrank, optimized, gained, or minimized make it clearer how you’ve achieved your high scores and why you might do it again.

Everything in business comes down to the numbers: profit and loss, stock price, or market share. That’s why it makes sense to convey your worth to your future boss in numbers in your high scores.

“Show, don’t tell” is the best advice. Within the confines of confidentiality, your bullets should provide specific proof to support the skills and accomplishments in your professional summary. Simply asserting you’re good isn’t persuasive. For each bullet, describe the accomplishment with specific details. Those specific results, specific stories, and specific successes will resonate most with future bosses.

Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.

New Biz Owner Adds Family Into Fold; Becomes Franchisee With #1-Rated Mobile Flooring Franchise

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Sheri Landry poses in front of her mobile floor coverings showcase van

Sheri Landry needed a change from her 20-year corporate career in the automotive industry. But she’s certainly not going it alone in her new venture since launching operations as a franchise owner with Floor Coverings International, visiting customers’ homes in a Mobile Flooring Showroom stocked with thousands of flooring samples from top manufacturers. Landry is the owner and handles outside sales while her husband, Greg, is her business partner and sales manager.

Her sister, Vanessa Koger, is the business manager. And as if she hasn’t had enough going on, the 44-year-old Landry – whose past business experience includes sales, service and marketing – recently earned her master’s in Communications from the University of Michigan-Flint. “I just wanted more in life,” said Landry, a Lapeer, MI resident and mother of two. “I decided I wanted to work for myself for the next half of my career

Landry’s objective was to find a business that helped solve other people’s problems, especially since in the past she had encountered issues of her own in finding reliable contractors. Landry also has a passion for design and making an old space feel new again. “My motto is ‘helping people fall in love, one floor at a time,’” she said.

In Floor Coverings International, Landry found a company that has tripled in size since 2005 by putting a laser focus on consumer buying habits and expressed desires, its impressive operating model, growth ability, marketing, advertising and merchandising. Floor Coverings International further separates itself from the competition through its customer experience, made up of several simple and integrated steps that exceed customers’ expectations. Those steps include educating and consulting with customers to get a clear understanding of how they use their floors to best be able to make a personalized recommendation, a solution unique to each and every homeowner- NOT whatever is in stock in the warehouse, product that has been sitting there for who knows how long, product that is being pushed to everyone. “We want to make the experience fun and as unique as each person and space,” adds Landry.

ABOUT FLOOR COVERINGS INTERNATIONAL

Floor Coverings International is the #1 Mobile Flooring Franchise in North America. Utilizing a unique in-home experience, the mobile showroom comes directly to the customer’s door with more than 3,000 flooring choices. Floor Coverings International has 150-plus locations throughout the U.S. and Canada with plenty of opportunity for continued expansion in 2020. For franchise information, please visit flooring-franchise.com and to find your closest location, floorcoveringsinternational.com.

3 easy ways to meet your 2020 money goals

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Chances are your goals for 2020 will include everything from becoming more physically fit and sleeping better to achieving new career ambitions and becoming financially healthier.

So how do we avoid these goals turning into empty promises? And when it comes to your money, what is actually realistic? There is no one-size-fits-all model for financial wellness. Instead, it’s about starting where you are, setting goals that drive behavior change, and ultimately following through.

Here are three things that you can do today to improve your financial future.

Cut unnecessary spending

Most of us have unnecessary expenses that we can cut. The trick here is to find a few expenses that you can live without that don’t negatively impact your happiness. For example, I need to be well-caffeinated during the day, and I enjoy a nice glass of wine after work, so obviously I’m not going to cut my coffee or alcohol budget. My friends, colleagues, and husband can thank me later.

That said, I enjoy running outside, and I have used my gym membership exactly once in three months. It’s time for that membership to go. In that vein, think of all of your expenses that are well-intentioned, but you’re not using. Or identify a free alternative, such as using audiobook subscription services or library apps instead of buying books. There are great services out there that identify your recurring payments. First, check with your bank to see if they do it, and make a goal to cut a few of those if you can.

And it’s not just the small stuff. The neighborhood you live in, public versus private school for kids, and whether you can cook (as opposed to eating prepackaged or takeout food) all have a significant impact on your finances.

Consider a side hustle

It’s never been easier to take on a side hustle. Getting started can be as easy as decluttering your closet and selling items you no longer use on eBay, driving for ride-share services such as Uber or Lyft, or putting your skills to work as a freelancer. While I don’t recommend it, dumpster divers are even seeing success selling stuff on Amazon.

The beauty of a side hustle is you can spend as much–or as little–time and money as you have. What matters is that you pick something that works with your schedule, skills, and maybe even a passion that you’ve ignored for too long. The key here is to be intentional. Use the extra money to accelerate debt reduction, or save for a down payment on a home to get out of the rental cycle.

Another often-overlooked side hustle is getting more money from your current employer. If you haven’t received a raise in a while or are killing it in your current role, consider asking for more money. Just make sure you are asking the right way.

Automate where you can and commit to cash

Good financial hygiene is crucial to your financial health, and this means avoiding late fees, overdraft charges, and other penalties. Where possible, automate any and all recurring monthly expenses, such as your mortgage, utilities, and cell phone expenses. Late fees add up and impact more than just your bottom line.

And although it may seem crazy, try committing to cash. Studies have shown that when we have to pull out cash to pay for groceries or other daily expenses, we’re more careful about how much we spend. Set yourself a challenge. Commit to using cash for a short period of time and see how it feels. You may be surprised by how much less you spend.

Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.

This is the one question you should ask before setting a New Year’s goal

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three professionally dressed women

It’s goal-setting season, and many of us are looking to switch things up in our working lives next year. This can be tricky because, even when you know it’s time for a change, it can be hard to know exactly where to start and what to do. Sometimes, it’s hard to define what it is we want to change in our career. We just know it’s not fulfilling us in the most important ways.

Not all career goals require big changes. Some may be achievable without moving into a different role or switching employers, especially if you work for a company with a robust learning culture. In other cases, the onus may be on you to do some self-directed upskilling before you’re truly ready to make progress toward your goals.

Fill in this blank to more crisply define exactly what’s driving you:

I want to _______.

Grow in my current role

If you’re happy with your employer and functional area, that doesn’t mean you should coast along until something forces you to act. It’s always smart to keep building upon your skills.

Look to what more seasoned coworkers are doing that you could add to your skill set. See if there are new technologies or tools you can get a jump-start on learning, even before your job demands them. Ask your manager if you can schedule a career conversation for them to advise you on where you need to develop your expertise in order to increase your impact—or snag a promotion. Make sure you talk to someone on the learning and development (or HR) team, so you’re aware of any development opportunities available, and let them help connect you to educational resources aligned to your goals.

Move into management

If you’re eyeing a transition into management, keep in mind that managing people is very different from performing an individual job function. The hard skills that got you where you are today won’t be enough to prepare you for the responsibilities that come with managing direct reports or, perhaps, an entire team.

The competencies that separate the best managers tend to be those we refer to as soft skills or people skills. They’re things like problem-solving, relationship building, emotional intelligence, and effective leadership. Again, I recommend speaking to your manager and others in your professional network and asking them where they believe you need to grow in order to become ready for management. This isn’t a goal you’re likely to achieve all by yourself, so identify the sponsors who can support you in this endeavor.

Pivot to something completely different

If your career goals involve moving into an entirely new field, you’ll likely need to do work on your own to assemble the requisite skill set. I’m lucky enough to be at a company whose business is connecting people to learning resources that can help them meet their career objectives. Our culture supports the learning needs of all employees—whether they want to grow in a current role or try a new discipline—but this isn’t the norm.

At many companies, employees can only access training related to their functional area. If that describes your situation, avail yourself of the wide variety of learning resources out there, from online courses, videos, and books to in-person workshops, boot camps, and industry associations.

Completing coursework is just part of the journey, however. You’ll still need to be able to demonstrate you’ve mastered those newly gained skills, so seek out programs that include practical exercises and projects you can share with a hiring manager.

Grow my influence and impact

Maybe your career goals are less about your actual work and more about the broader role you want to play in your organization. You want to elevate your influence, market your expertise, and maximize your contributions.

As with a move into management, I recommend brushing up on your soft skills here. To grow your influence, you need to forge connections with other influencers in the organization and be able to articulate the value you bring. And come with your own ideas for where your expertise can be leveraged for maximum benefits, such as serving as a mentor, engaging in peer-to-peer learning, or being a consultant to other teams.

Not sure

Maybe you’re feeling restless but undirected. You know your current position isn’t cutting it but aren’t quite sure where to go next. That’s okay. I have ideas for you, too. Depending on where you are in your career, I suggest asking yourself some questions to help clarify your thinking and set you on the right path heading into 2020.

At every level
Am I still learning something new every day?

Entry level
What skills do I need to excel in my role?
Are there skills my role requires that I don’t have?
When I look at colleagues a level above me, is that something I want to be doing?

Midlevel
Does my role leverage my strengths?
Do I want to work toward becoming a manager?
Do I enjoy the work I do?
Am I progressing in my career the way I imagined?

Leadership level
Am I still challenged in my role every day?
How am I supporting and empowering my people in their roles?
Am I happy with the balance that I have between work and life?
How can I bring others along with me as a leader, or be a mentor?
Am I ready for the possibility of working many more decades into the future? What are the implications for my current and future roles?

Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.

Use these words if you want to advance in your career, win praise, and get noticed

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Professional black woman looking towards coworkers

You know how men dominate science, with more professorships, higher salaries, more research grants, and more citations? A BMJ study of 6.2 million science articles between 2002 and 2017 shows that male authors tout their work much more than female authors—and that their studies are then cited more frequently, particularly in prestigious journals. Though you could swallow this as yet more downer gender-inequity news, it’s also confirmation that self-praise leads to career advancement. And you can do it too!

When in doubt, go with the word “novel,” which male scientists are quite fond of, using it nearly three times more often than their other favorite words, “unique,” “promising,” and “favorable.” Note that these words express positivity, newness, and specialness, but are not over-the-top direct praise: Words such as “phenomenal,” “groundbreaking,” “spectacular,” and “astonishing” were rarely used, indicating that overflaunting is not necessary.

Women overuse the word “supportive,” as in my research is supportive of prior findings, which is the equivalent of wrapping one’s career in a wet blanket. The researchers write that “the data suggest that women and men use positive words in a similar fashion, but that women use them less often.”

So there you have it. Your mouth’s new favorite words for your work are:

novel
unique
promising
favorable
robust
excellent
prominent
encouraging
remarkable
innovative

Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.