Job Interview Jitters: Try A Dose of Mindfullness

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When we lose ourselves in a stressful moment — a workplace situation can quickly escalate from challenging to completely overwhelming.

For many of us, job interviews are a common scenario that can trigger strong responses; anticipation, excitement, trepidation, even extreme anxiety.

If you’ve sat in the interview chair, you are likely aware of the struggles we all face to remain calm and focused. As much as we might attempt to stay composed our minds can race out of control, just like a runaway train. Managing ourselves through this stressful dynamic is key.

Could the concept of mindfulness possibly help all of us through the challenge of an interview? Recent research tells us that it can.

Tough workplace scenarios can cause our “fight of flight” response to kick in — and job interviews qualify. Labeled “Amygdala Hijacks”, by psychologist Daniel Goleman, these moments are characterized by a neurological process where our “rational brain” (Neo-cortex) becomes overpowered by our emotional brain. This renders us in a weakened position to deal with many situations effectively.

Mindfulness — is defined as, “The psychological state where you focus on the events of the present moment.” — and allows us to observe the events of our lives from a safer distance, without necessarily reacting in that moment. One key element, is the notion of equanimity, or “non-reactivity” to the events happening around us. Mindfulness tells us to pay attention and acknowledge both one’s inner experience and the outer world, without labeling what is occurring as good or bad. It allows us to absorb what is going on around us.

Discussed at length, concerning its impact on both our psychological and physical well-being (See here), mindfulness can help us remain balanced in many situations that might normally derail us. One recent study links mindfulness to effective workplace behavior. The research revealed that mindfulness may help with roles that require a series of decisions in quick succession — not unlike the multiple decisions/responses we face during a job interview. Managing our automatic responses, and re-focusing that energy toward staying composed is key.

How might mindfulness help us during an interview? Above all, you want to represent yourself accurately. Regrets concerning what you may have forgotten to mention, (or did mention and didn’t mean to reveal) can prove critical. During interviews we can become overwhelmed and “lose our heads”, losing focus on the goals of the conversation. (You might also find yourself either rushing ahead or reviewing your last answer, for example.) Above all, if you fail to remain fully present, you may miss important conversational cues that will help you to represent yourself well.

We needn’t wait for our next interview to develop techniques to become more mindful. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Practice the art of “micro-meditation. These are short periods of time to stop (perhaps when you feel yourself becoming anxious) and become fully present in the “here and now”. For example, while waiting for the interview to begin (seems these things are always delayed), utilize the following acronym taught at Google: S.B.N.R.R. — Stop. Breathe. Notice. Reflect. Respond.
  • Tame the “inner voice”. Don’t let an inner monologue take over during the interview. (For many of us this is negative.) Be aware of a “less than supportive” inner dialogue that might rear its ugly head. Consciously interrupt it and replace it with a less judgmental voice.
  • Refocus on your ultimate goal. Remind yourself of the purpose of the interview: to accurately portray yourself as a contributor. We all have topic “triggers” that cause us to lose focus and react. Monitor your reaction to these topics, and remind yourself to stay ahead of your usual response pattern.
  • Stay in the moment. While we can’t halt the interview for a quick meditation break — we can silently “tap ourselves on the shoulder” to remind ourselves to remain fully present. When you feel your mind racing ahead or meandering back to something already said, mentally pause and “tap”. (As suggested here, plant a reminder to help you re-calibrate, such as wearing your watch upside down.)
  • Bring along a mental list. Enter the interview with 3 or 4 critical points that you wish to leave with the interviewer. Use mindfulness techniques to pause, circle back and ensure that these key points are brought into the conversation.

How do you stay calm and focused during an interview? Share your strategies.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist. She is a charter member of the LinkedIn Influencer Program. Her thoughts on work life have appeared in various outlets including Talent Zoo, Forbes, Quartz and The Huffington Post.

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To Move Forward — Be Constructively Critical (of Yourself)

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We all like to think that we do things well — and a strong belief that we have the skills to succeed helps us in most workplace situations. However, there can be unwanted “glare” that can create a gap in self-knowledge.

In fact, our own confidence can impede us from looking at our own behavior with a constructively critical eye.

Succumbing to bias concerning our own workplace strengths is an easy dead end to face. Moreover, the areas that we most value in ourselves (and derive the most satisfaction) — can be the most heavily protected. As a result, we are less likely to look for opportunities to examine our skills critically. In fact, research has shown that we tend to view our own skills more positively than our peers see us. So it is possible to be unaware that a problem may be on the horizon.

Organizations that have enjoyed success — can blindly stop looking toward the future. People that have proven expertise, can also stop looking for avenues to grow. It is a looming weakness that we all should consider. It is important to realize that meeting our goals, does not ensure our continued competence. Only a keen eye and professional development, can help us stay in the groove.

So I’ll pose these questions

  1. What skills do you personally value most at work
  2. Have you paused to critically examine your performance in these areas recently?
  3. Can you identify an element that could improve?
  4. How would you improve? What actions would you take?

I challenge you to look at your own skills critically and find a strategy to stay “skill healthy” longer-term.

What did you identify?

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist and workplace strategist. She is a charter member of the LinkedIn Influencer Program. Her thoughts on work life have appeared in various outlets including Talent Zoo, Forbes, Quartz and The Huffington Post.

Disrupting a Short-Cut: Understanding (Unintended) Bias

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By: Kristin Backstrom

Bias. Stereotyping.

Ugly words, indeed.

However, the positive aspects of bias play a valid role in our day-to-day lives that is, at best, under appreciated.

Let’s take a moment to explore how the process of bias might have developed — along with a strategy to successfully disrupt negative bias and stereotyping at work.

Through millions of years of adaptive evolution, our brains have evolved to make things a little easier for us to process our world. First of all, there is a ton of information that comes straight at us every single day. (Our filters allow only 2-3% of it in. Yes, that’s right. Most of the stimuli that comes our way, we don’t ever address.)  With just the small bit that does come through, we tend to process it in one of two ways.

One —  through quick, effortless thinking — and two, through deep, thoughtful, slow work that takes much more time.

In most situations (about 95% of the time) we engage in quick thinking methods to lighten our brain’s processing load. One of these methods is the dynamic of generalization. An example of generalization would be how we learn to open doors by pushing on them — so that’s how you approach doors day in and day out. (Then, one day, you’ll be flummoxed by a door that you have to pull to open it.) Because our brains use this “short cut” to keep it’s processing time available for other things.

Other developed values, beliefs, and attributes contribute to the situation. This is of course, is where bias is born. (Read about 20 common forms of bias, including stereotyping, here.) It can simply become too much of a good thing,

While it would make sense to reduce all cognitive short cuts to eliminate bias — think of the difficulties we would have getting anything done — if we never relied on any of our past experiences to make sense of our world.

The challenge is this: It’s difficult to change a generalized belief once it becomes installed in our brain. While change can occur, this requires the deliberate, hard work  that our brains only engage in approximately 5% of the time.

So — one effective method is to kick-start more deliberate thinking, by providing people feedback about things they may say or do, that can open a door to modify generalizations.

Bias can creep in to our workplaces is during the hiring process, for example. Have you seen a CEO on board members who seem to be a reflection of them? Because of how we sort our world, we tend to hire people we like us, because they make us feel comfortable. We trust in them the idea that ‘our intuition’ tells us they are a good fit.

But this is where our “short cuts”, “short out” and negatively affect our decision-making. Without additional information (assessments, interviews, etc.) mistakes are often made. It makes sense to guard the hiring process by slowing down seeking information to make sure that predictive analytics, rather than gut instincts – are driving the hiring.

Again, kicking in that slow, deliberate thinking helps move bias out of the way.

If you personally experience bias or stereotyping at work, this can be extremely frustrating. It’s important to remember to keep emotions in check and offer specific feedback to inform a more deliberate process. Describe the situation where the bias occurred, identify the specific behavior, and explain the impact this has on you and others. For example: “Joe, last week at the staff meeting you told everyone I was really helpful on the project I was tasked with.  While I do appreciate the compliment, when you tell others that I (as a woman) am helpful, you’re casting me in a supportive role rather than a leader role.  This supports the unconscious stereotype that women aren’t leaders.  So, while it was a nice thing to say, I’d appreciate it if you would describe my contributions in terms of the work to be done. Perhaps instead you could say “Karen successfully managed the project time line to complete every objective.”

That substitute language might seem long-winded. However, it’s purpose was to be specific about what happened and also provide an alternative for the future. This signals the need for the slower, more deliberate thinking.

And remember… this is dialogue, not debate.  There doesn’t have to be a clear winner.

The goal is to simply create new levels of awareness — and that’s more than likely to happen over time than right on the spot.

However, that is how we change minds.

Have ever struggled with bias or stereotyping?

Read more about it:

Dr. Kristin Backstrom is a business psychologist who works at the intersection of human behavior and motivation, and business goals.  Dr. Backstrom works with leaders to build their emotional intelligence, competencies and skills, supports them in building effective teams, and guides them in aligning strategy, goals, mission and people to ensure success.  She is passionate about helping women achieve their career goals, and offers mentorship for professional women to help them overcome obstacles in their path and reach objectives.

Live.Work.Think.Play shares observations concerning a wide array of topics from running a company — to the perfect fragrance. It is designed to share lessons learned from a variety of perspectives.

What Kind of Career Growth Are You Seeking?

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In today’s world, career paths have been described as “boundary less”. We build careers and seek fulfillment by collecting varied experiences — across organizations, managers and work content. However, what we are seeking growth-wise at specific points in time will often guide that direction.

Ultimately, we seek situations that offer alignment with our current career vision.

Through years of speaking with individuals about work and career, I have observed combinations of elements (such as change vs. stability) that describe different types of growth “states”. We might flux in and out of these states — depending on our life situation or goals — and none would be considered “right” or “wrong”. Interestingly, some contributors seem comfortable remaining in one state for an extended period of time. while others might shift to meet their evolution.

Here are just a few I’ve observed. Please share any others in comments.

  • Future forward. There is a longer-term passion in the distance. In this state, you may currently hold a role aligned with education and experience — yet there is another career step in your “back pocket” serving as a strong motivator. Whether this entails preparation for a desired pivot or perhaps becoming an entrepreneur, we are building infrastructure for the miles ahead. Gaining skills to ensure the dream becomes a reality is a key imperative. Organizations can contribute by building foundational skills and the opportunities to build networks.
  • Creative calibration. You are primarily happy…but. This trajectory can involve a single direction or path — as long as we have the opportunity to add or delete tasks that meet our need for challenge/creativity. (It’s a bit like a central core with satellites orbiting around it). We might incorporate a flow of industry research or expand our “career mission” to create more interest. Appropriate expansion of the horizon is critical to avoid disengagement. There are multiple benefits for both the employee and the organization.
  • New progressive. You want to break the mold. Literally. While here, you desire to build a new, possibly “morphed” career path, integrating novel or disruptive elements (such as technology) smack into your current area of expertise. We would have the opportunity to allow skills co-exist, that others may never envision together. A high tolerance for ambiguity and exploration, along with a healthy dose of “progressive ambition” coexist — as the steps of this path reveal themselves only as time passes.
  • Steady-state. Healthy stability is the name of the game here. Contributors desire a specific role, while maintaining a strong, singular path for an extended period of time. We are less likely to job hop — but may move along with a specific group of contributors focused or an area of interest. Working on longer-term initiatives is often the hallmark — and contributors find this very satisfying.

Above all, knowing thyself is critical. Individual contributors (and organizations alike) should build awareness concerning how our needs evolve over time.

To explore your growth state needs, ask these questions:

  1. Are you leaning toward stability or change/challenge at this point in time?
  2. Have your growth needs tended to shift significantly over time or have they remained constant?
  3. Recall a time when you were satisfied with your career growth. How did your growth needs align with your role?
  4. Think of a time when you were frustrated, overwhelmed or disappointed with your path. What was happening?
  5. Do you lean towards being proactive or relatively passive, where career growth is concerned?
  6. How might voicing your needs, affect the possibilities?

So — where are you? Have I missed a growth state? Share your story.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk writes about life and career as an Influencer at LinkedIn. Her posts have also appeared at various outlets worldwide including US News & World Report, Forbes, Quartz and The World Economic Forum.

Live.Work.Think.Play shares observations concerning a wide array of topics from running a company — to the perfect handbag. It is designed to share lessons learned from a variety of perspectives.

 

Why It’s So Hard to Leave a Job (Even the Ones We Secretly Hate)

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Photo Credit: Jacqueline Zaccor/ @jakeezaccor

Most of us have experienced moments where we struggle to move forward. We may have detected that something vital has shifted, yet we hang on to a role (or a freelance gig or a team membership) that doesn’t really suit us.

In many cases, the signals to explore alternatives are completely missed. Often overwritten by our dismissive inner monologue.

So we remain.

Long after it is time to say goodbye.

After years of hearing stories of jobs that do not fit (and even worse bosses & organizations), I now hold a strong view that career moves are an inevitable occurrence. Not unlike the coming of the sunrise or sunset, we can count on these changes. If we could somehow learn to accept their presence as something new and positive — not unlike new technology  — we might learn strategies to capitalize on the temporary destabilization. (Of course, life, family and finances must be considered carefully.)

The payoff is well worth the journey; an endpoint that is adaptive, aligned and affirming.

Ultimately, when we find the energy to move on to seek a better fit — it is often for the best.

These are transitions — not sentences after all.

If we can accept changes in styles, markets and devices — why can’t we embrace the evolution of ourselves and our own career?

There are beliefs that convince us to acquiesce our power and stay put. I’d like to challenge a few of these in this forum.

  1. We are subtlety conditioned to “hang on” and forgo risk. Yes, a miraculous in place improvement is possible (a bad boss might move on, for example). However, in many cases, forgoing risk in the short-term, is a hand ill-played. This is what we fail to acknowledge: In many cases, the psychological contract which serves as the baseline for a healthy employee-employer relationship, has already been irrevocably broken. When we fail to recognize this and remain, we ultimately risk being physically present at work — yet mentally absent.
  2. We secretly hope that everything in our lives (including ourselves) will remain static. Of course, this predisposes us to be unhappily surprised at each and every turn — as change is going to happen. To complicate things further, we are notoriously inaccurate about how we personally evolve over time. (How often do we stop to envision our “future self”?)  Truth: The roles that fulfill us now, may not be the same roles that might excite us five years on. As Daniel Gilbert has shared: Your history does not end today. (Learn more about the “End of History Illusion” in the video below.)
  3. We feel that seeking a role which better aligns with our needs/strengths is frivolous.  Oh wow. Don’t get me started. On some level, many of us think this quest is a “pie in the sky” mantra. So, we avoid the entire conversation — and with that neglect, any hope of a better option even in our current organization. (Yes, we have to be mindful of our responsibilities. Yes, the culture of an organization can also stand in the way.) When we are early in our career for example, we might feel that we are glued to our college major or first role. When we shift with time, we feel a pivot is irresponsible. Ultimately, much is left unsaid and undone. As the gap widens between who we are and what we do — everyone loses.

We should be ready and willing to embrace how we change.

Moreover, organizations should encourage and facilitate its exploration. This can be accomplished through heightened awareness.

If we do not prepare, I fear we will not be ready for what inevitably arrives.

Our next chapter.

When was the last time you reflected on how you have evolved? Share your observations here.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk writes about life and career as an Influencer at LinkedIn. Her posts have also appeared at various outlets worldwide including US News & World Report, Forbes, Quartz and The World Economic Forum.

Live.Work.Think.Play shares observations concerning a wide array of topics from running a company — to the perfect fragrance. It is designed to share lessons learned from a variety of perspectives.

Beating the Imposter Syndrome

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Feelings of self-doubt can plague all of us.

In rare cases, these harbored doubts can threaten to derail our work lives.

The internal chatter and disconcerting “pangs”, can become quite vocal as we approach (or settle) into a new challenge. Actively considering a method to neutralize the negativity, is both worthy and necessary.

There is a name for this dynamic: The Imposter Syndrome. First documented by psychologists Suzanne Imes and Pauline Rose Clance in the 70’s (read the source research here which explains how family experiences can serve as an instigating culprit), it illustrates how high achievement doesn’t automatically translate into a deep sense of confidence. We can harbor experiences that make us feel vulnerable and unworthy. In fact, some us fear being discovered as less than competent (even a “fake”) as we progress career-wise.

When suffering from the syndrome, internal doubt concerning whether an individual is deserving or worthy of success can dominate your thoughts. Research examining this dynamic, recorded greater anxiety levels for those who identified as “imposters” before a challenge and greater loss of self-esteem after a failure. Others examining IP as it affects us career-wise, found that IP decreased career planning, career striving and the motivation to lead — all of which can spell real trouble for development.

You’ve likely heard the urban legend of a freshly minted groups of MBA students at a prestigious university. On the first day of lectures, a professor inquired if they entertained the thought that their acceptance may have been in error. (Surprisingly, the majority of students raised their hand in response.)

They had unceremoniously diminished their hard work and accomplishments to something as capricious as an office error.

Many if us diminish our own successes in this manner.

The truth is this, I’ve been there — and in all likelihood you’ve been there, as well. We must make every effort to squelch the negative inner voice, as it attempts to trump our hard work. In fact, we should unpack the “whys” and “hows” of the syndrome.

Self-managing these pangs is an important task.

Some elements to consider:

  • Challenge the source of your doubt. This a worthy, yet very tough question to answer. In many cases, past experiences are so ingrained in our daily lives that we have forgotten to challenge them. Has an early career failure or unhealthy family dynamic plagued you in some way, for example.
  • Watch the stress of transitions. Feelings of anxiety can accompany new surroundings and periods of uncertainty. Recognize this is completely normal and will likely pass as you become more settled.
  • Challenge the “perfection” trap. Feelings of doubt can be fueled by the penchant to achieve perfection. Try to determine if perfectionist tendencies cloud your judgement concerning your knowledge set, skills and experience.
  • Consider the facts. Take a deep breath and examine the facts. (In fact, sit down and review your accomplishments.) There is likely much more evidence that you are competent, than not. Remember, that an organization chooses to engage you, betting you will succeed — rather than fail.
  • Process setbacks in a healthier manner. Failure is an ever-present possibility — and the greater the challenge ahead, the more likely your protective mechanisms will kick into high gear. Yes, there is a chance that you might fail. However, if all does not go well — be careful to “unpack” the low points without sacrificing your own self-image.
  • Monitor self-talk. What normally dominates your thoughts when you have an opportunity on the horizon? Excitement? Doubt? Negativity? Monitor (and auto-correct) the dialogue marching through your head.
  • Share your concerns. If you have nagging doubts about a specific element of your work life, put the cards on the table with someone with who can offer an impartial opinion. Go there and discuss perceived weaknesses. This may offer you a needed perspective.
  • Still doubtful? Focus on skill building. If you still have a suspicion that you may actually be lacking somehow (even though others may not share that assessment) explore methods to satisfy your inner critic. Carve out strategies to help you feel comfortable and build confidence. (Brush up on skill sets, circulate your ideas for review/comment, etc.) This may do your workplace “soul” a world of good

Read more about this topic:

Live.Work.Think.Play shares observations concerning a wide array of topics from running a company — to the perfect fragrance. It is designed to share lessons learned from a variety of perspectives.

Startup Life: How Being Employee No. 3 Was Definitely Worth the Risk

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Jumping from college to a start-up environment is no small feat for any individual. So, when we set out to find out what laid the foundation for Alyssa Patzius’ current path — we quickly realized that we had forgotten one key question; What was it like to be present at the earliest phase of a thriving organization’s existence? (Alyssa joined shortly after after Kelsey Raymond and John Hall started the company in 2011.)

Alyssa is Influence & Co’s VP of Client Success, where she oversees and supports the sales team, while developing big-picture strategies for growth. She has evolved through a number of roles at the organization, beginning with the title of Senior Account Strategist. But as you’ll find here, her family’s unique experience with risk  — was a career game-changer.

I’ve kept editing to the bare minimum in this post so you don’t miss a single note about her story. In this case we’ll start with a follow-up question right at the start.

Follow-up question: What was it like being employee #3?

Being employee #3 gave me an opportunity to be apart of the long-term vision of the company. The company is essentially just as much mine as the co-founders  — because I have really been there with them since the beginning. It gives me a sense of ownership that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

I still remember every detail of all three of us sitting around a whiteboard trying to map out the future structure of the company. (Side note: We were completely off.) But as a 21 one year old, my input was being heard.

That would have never happened at any corporate job.

I also had to get comfortable very quickly with acting like I had been in certain situations when I never had. I took on the role of our first account strategist, working directly with clients. (Kelsey and John had been doing this in addition to sales and everything else founders deal with.) But there was no playbook and very few processes to rely on. I worked directly with CEOs of companies and I was seen as the expert in content.

That learned confidence is one of the key elements that I lean on as a female leader. It might get you into a corner every once in a while, if you haven’t done your homework. However, for the most part people do believe me and listen when I speak. I feel it all stems from those imperative learning years.

I also had to be mindful of burning out. We were working very long hours. Once we started to really pick up clients, I was working with 30 companies, plus hiring and training new account strategists to start to build our client services team. My job never stopped! (My now-husband, then boyfriend, said one day to me that I wasn’t actually with him. Even as we were watching TV, I was on my ever-present computer. I worked every night every night, and he was getting concerned. It was a real wake-up call that I needed to learn how to establish a balance.)

The following year I stopped working at nights, and become even more effective.  I valued my time — and when I was working during the day, nothing was going to distract me so I might enjoy my time at home. (I had to battle with feeling guilty knowing that my co-workers may be working all night while I wasn’t.) But over time, I began to see that I was much more effective. Two years ago, my Mom admitted that she really didn’t think the company would last. She was awesome though — and never told me she was skeptical. My brother-in-law took a risk to join a young startup, and he said he was comfortable jumping on board because he was so inspired by the success Influence & Co. has had over the years.

I love that not only that I owe so much to Influence & Co. for my professional development, but that my risk inspired other people to do what they love.

  1. What key factors came together that helped you to find your current path?

My career path may seem somewhat risky to an onlooker. However, looking back I feel like I made safe choices along the way.

When determining where I would go to college, I had my hopes set on doing something different from everyone at my public high school in St. Louis. I was determined to head out-of-state, but when push came to shove I wanted to study journalism. To say “no” to the best journalism school in the country, The University of Missouri, would have been detrimental. So I followed the crowd.

My father brought an internship opportunity to my attention during my senior year of college. One of his friends had a daughter who was looking to hire someone to help run an organization that supported local entrepreneurs. I really didn’t want to be the person who needed my father to set me up with an internship, so I didn’t pursue it initially. (I hadn’t needed him for opportunities prior, why should I need him now.0 However, I begrudgingly took the interview and immediately clicked with my new boss and landed to role.

As graduation approached, my grand plan was to land a sexy PR job in the big city. Instead — I took a role to stay with the startup I had been interning with where I went to college.

On one side, I see a path that leads me on a very direct/safe route. I haven’t strayed from journalism or content (or even Missouri). You can also look at the other angle and see someone who took the risk to graduate early, study abroad, take a job at a startup (with no guarantee of success) and a super low paycheck.

I’ve had to reflect on my career expectations for my early in my adulthood and recognize that I couldn’t ever have imagined what would come my way. I may have never left the state, but I took a risk and bet on myself, an idea — and the people around me.

Today, I am a senior leader at one of the fastest growing companies in America.

There is nothing safe about that.

  1. Did you have a mentor? A teacher, boss, relative, etc. — that impacted your career/life direction?

My mother and father have been imperative mentors throughout my life. At a young age, I watched my father leave a very lucrative role, because he didn’t believe in the culture and the way management was expecting him to treat his people. He had just moved our family back to St. Louis. Now he had to set out to start his own sales training business. My mother stayed at home to take care of the family. Despite being out of the workforce for some time — she was the backbone of the business and the family. She explained to us that we were taking a risk financially to start the company and how this might impact us. (We may have needed to move to another house.) Her continued transparency, helped me become comfortable with risk and taught me how to talk about finances. Over time, I came to idolize those who started their own businesses.

Fast forward: We did not have to move across the street. My father eventually sold his business. He is now the global sales manager for his largest customer.

Note: My mother is still the first person I call for management advice.

  1. None of us are perfectly suited for our own path. What aspect of your own personality or work style serves as an obstacle? How do you manage that challenge?

My gut feelings and instinctive decision-making skills, rarely let me down. It is one of my strengths. However, I have had to learn to slow myself down and think through every possible scenario to make the best decision. Snap decisions were necessary when we started Influence & Co., but today we have 75 employees. Communication around the why and how we make those decisions is crucial to buy-in across the company. If I cannot explain the rational thought process to my team — they could lose trust in me.

I have had the support of our co-founder, Kelsey (Meyer) Raymond, as I tackle this aspect of my personality. She has shown me that this was strength in crunch time . However, if we are proactive (and thinking ahead) there was no need to rely on gut or instinct. I learned that I was actually doing a disservice to my team — instead of feeling proud of being that “get shit done” person.

  1. If you had an observation concerning what separates those who love their work, from those who do not — what would that be?

An interview question that I discovered comes to mind.

Question to candidate: Tell me about something you love to do.

Follow up question: Why do you love the idea of working in [X Industry] for me?

You should observe if they speak with the same passion for both answers. f their eyes “light up” in the same way — they really want to work for you.

If people love what they do, they can’t stop talking about it. When my co-workers and I get together outside of work, we have to start the conversation off by saying “We aren’t going to talk about Influence & Co. today.” Thirty minutes later, someone has an idea for the business they want to throw out there.

  1. With success can come complacency. How do you draw energy from your successes and stay grounded. How do you stay sharp for what might come next?

Once you have tasted success — you never want to lose it. We have experienced 5 very successful years at Influence & Co. However, there is a real chance that the next year won’t be the same. If you become complacent, you become obsolete. It is much easier to be the underdog — than the giant.

I have had to become more comfortable facing the things that didn’t go well in my role or on my team. You won’t really absorb what defines that success for you, if you don’t remind yourself what it feels like to fail.

We have recently had a down sales quarter. It has been a hard few months learning how to pull my team out of that down-slump. I have analyzed the data, played scenarios over and over in my head and examined where I might failed my team as their leader. Just in these last weeks, sales are coming in at a fantastic rate once again. (I forgot how sweet it was, to ring the bell in my office that signals a close.)

If I didn’t make myself feel the failure, the sound of that bell wouldn’t feel nearly as great.

  1. In your world, what activities or tasks most energize you? What advice would you give to young women in college concerning finding the right career path?

Coaching my employees is the most energizing aspect of my role. Nothing makes me happier, than helping one of my sales team members think through how to approach a conversation or alleviate one of their leads hesitations in a genuine way.

Over the last two years I have moved into a sales management role. I started my own career in account management — working with clients directly and supporting those who worked with our clients.

I see so many women flocking to marketing and communications that could be fantastic in sales. (We are still trying to debunk the stigma of cold calling and aggressive cultures to attract women to the sales industry.) I really believe that women are the key to changing the image of sales. Plus, I have seen that women have so many of the characteristics that set people up for success in that role. They are self-starters, organized multi-taskers, great listeners, compassionate and good at building relationships.

I challenge young women to consider a career in sales.

I think they would be surprised how rewarding it really is. And who doesn’t like controlling your own paycheck?

  1. Lastly — what is your favorite book and why?

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight is my favorite book I have read this year. (It didn’t hurt that I read it in Costa Rica.) Shoe Dog tells Phil Knight’s story of how he founded Nike. As an athlete and sports buff, the business was the perfect combination of entrepreneurship and fitness. The book reads like a gripping story.

Once finished — I was inspired to get to work!

Thanks Alyssa.

Live.Work.Think.Play shares observations concerning a wide array of topics from running a company — to the perfect gift. It is designed to share lessons learned from a variety of perspectives.