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Sometimes You Just Have To Be In the Room

Sometimes You Just Have To Be In the Room

Yesterday I had the honor of attending. the second annual Recognizing Women in Government and Public Service Conference hosted by the Government Finance Officers Association for the Washington Metropolitan Area. The conference was attended by more than 200 women and featured keynotes and panel discussions.  Here are some of the notable takeaways that resonated with me from the conference:

  • Escalate your power by being vocal about who you are and what you do.
  • Bring younger women into various business sectors and teach them to be forceful, gracious, professional and thought leaders.
  • Sometimes the “glass ceiling” isn’t the problem, it’s the “sticky floor”. Look at who is in your network and review your access to resources and knowledge.
  • Don’t shy away from challenges. Challenges are opportunities for growth.
  • The only limitations you have are the limitations you put on yourself.
  • Don’t talk yourself out of an opportunity before you get started
  • Take full advantage of your teams’ skill set and encourage an atmosphere of learning
  • You have to go out and look for opportunity. It’s not going to knock on your door.

When asked how to obtain success, here’s what some of the panelists had to say:

  • Rise to the occasion and do the extra work. Ask for the extra work and then excel at it.
  • Be persistent.
  • Articulate and package your value proposition so that you aren’t put into a box.
  • Find a sponsor, someone who will speak up for you when you are not in the room.
  • Stop being overly critical of yourself. Look at your assets (your skills and what you do well.
  • Impact others. Embrace civic duty.  Impact your community.

Barbara Lang, President + CEO of Lang Strategies, LLC gave the morning keynote “Women and the Power of Negotiation” shared these thoughts:

  • Negotitation means navigating challenges, keeping a level head and achieving the goal.
  • Challenges and test shape who you are.
  • While you may think you are lucky to have a job, the company is lucky to have you.
  • Sometimes you need a reminder that you aren’t as good as you think you are. Learn from the experience.
  • Have a BHAG – Big Hairy Audacious Goal and tell others about your goals so that they can hold you accountable.
  • Sometimes it is tough to go against what is popular.
  • Find the win/win solution for everyone.  What is the happy medium.
  • Never settle and rid yourself of self-doubt.
  • Never be afraid to work outside of your comfort zone.

Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole, Director of the Smithosonian National Museum of African Art delivered the afternoon keynote and imparted these jewels of wisdom:

  • She who teaches must learn and she who learns must teach.
  • Mentorship is important for women. Mentors encourage you to go beyond what you think you are capable of.
  • If you are chosen as “a first” for a position, you have the responsibility to make sure you are not the last.
  • You must be willing to admit what you don’t know and be committed to learning.
  • When you stop learning, the best part of living is over.

Yes,  I know this post was longer than most, but when I hear good advice, I feel the need to share it with others. I hope you have


read something that inspires and motivates you.

With love,

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P.S. Here’s the list of panelists…pretty impressive group 🙂

Melinda M. Bolling, Director for the DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs

Marva Jo Camp, Attorney, Marva Jo Camp & Associates

Marcia Griffin,  Founder and President of HomeFree-USA

Karen Hawkins,  CEO, Department of Finance for Montgomery County, MD

Lily Qi, Assistant Chief of Administrative Officer for Economic and Workforce Development, Montgomery County

Ana Recio Harvey, Director,  Department of Small and Local Business Development, District of Columbia Government

Lavonn Reedy Thomas, Community Affairs Manager, Prince George’s County, MD

Carla A.  Reid,  General Manager,  Chief Executive Officer, Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission

Tonia Wellons,   Head of Global Partnerships, Peace Corps

Fear of the Spotlight

Fear of the Spotlight

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Spotlight

With the all of the “let me share every single second of my day” platforms available, being afraid of the spotlight might sound like an oxymoron. Social media allows people to share themselves 24 hours a days, several times a day and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. We all know at least one person who shares their thoughts, goals and aspirations on a regular basis. Then there are some who can be in a room full of people, have a great product or service and will not talk about it. I want to ask you a question, what are you afraid of? Fear of failure can be debilitating and paralyzing. But the opposite of that is allowing your subconscious thoughts to manifest themselves without outward solicitation. You will become more confident that the path you’ve been following is filled with purpose and there is nothing to fear. As much as you would like to stay quiet and in the shadows, collaboration allows your purpose and gift to be shown to others and give you multiple opportunities to be in the spotlight without requesting it..without campaigning for it..without having success envy..

When it is time for you to be in the spotlight, you might be nervous but you won’t be uncomfortable. I firmly believe that your gifts will make room for you and when they do, make sure you take a bow.

With love,

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P.S. Speakers and the agenda for the Work Your Package Women’s Conference 2016 to be announced soon. Reserve your seat today: www.workyourpackage2016.eventbrite.com

 

 

 

Thou Shall Not Alter Thyself For Applause

Thou Shall Not Alter Thyself For Applause

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When I started writing this blog I thought I had to have a certain niche or gimmick to keep people interested. I was afraid to speak the truth in fear that I might upset someone or alienate some readers or even heaven forbid get a negative comment. Let’s just pause right there. Repeat after me…Thou shall not alter thyself for applause. Thou shall not wait for validation from others. Thou shall not internalize someone else’s insecurity and make it your own.

If you are round stop letting people tell you that you are square. Stop apologizing for your journey. Stop explaining your dreams. Stop expecting people to understand the nuances of all the aspects your life. The people who “get” you and support you 1000% do not need convincing…and they will give you a standing round of applause without prompting. They will applaud your efforts whether you are temporary in the gutter or brilliantly shining while covered in glitter. Do you want applause based on a fabricated notion of what others think you should be or who you were destined to be? The authentic you is a heck of a lot better than the fake you. It’s why I’m so damn transparent. It’s why I share my failures along with my successes. Altering who you are to fit certain audiences will lead to misery and confusion. You deserve better…

With love,

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Registration for Work Your Package Women’s Conference 2016 is open! Reserve your seat for only $99. Register today at www.workyourpackage2016.eventbrite.com 

 

 

 

5 Things That Need to Stop at Work…Right Now

5 Things That Need to Stop at Work…Right Now

Annoying-coworkers

I’ve worked in various industries for some great companies. While their mission statements and strategic goals might have been different, they have have one thing in common…employees that display horrible work behavior. Here’s the top 5 behaviors that really just need to stop. Not now, but right now.

1. Unproductive Gossiping – Yes, there’s such a thing as productive gossip. Talking about a new project or initiative and how it will improve workflow process or boost employee morale is productive gossip. Gossiping about the latest office romance? Unproductive, unnecessary and makes you look bitter. Also, making stuff up just to sound like you are “in the know” makes you appear desperate for attention. You have better things to do.

2. Taking Credit for Work You Didn’t Do – I can’t believe people still do this and think that they can get a way with it. If you are working with a team to complete a project, make sure you publicly thank the ENTIRE team even if you think you did all of the work. Trust me, you’ll be respected and people will want you on their team in the future. The cute BCC on feature on emails is used more often than you think. Don’t let work karma bite you in the butt.
3. Arriving to Meetings Late – Just stop it. Seriously. It’s disrespectful to the meeting organizer and the other attendees. I do my best to arrive to meetings early. I don’t like to keep people waiting because it’s rude. My supervisor has a standing rule that if you are late, you have to either sing, dance or tell a joke. Don’t be the source of entertainment or laughter. Learn how to manage your 168 and get to meetings on time.
4. Coming to Meetings Unprepared – In my opinion, this is worse than arriving late. If you are facilitating a meeting, make sure you have an agenda. No one wants to sit through a meeting while you try to wing it. If you are responsible for an item on the agenda, make sure you have everything you need to contribute to the meeting. Want to be a superstar? Distribute materials ahead of time so that the attendees can come to the meeting feeling prepared and ready to contribute to the conversation.
5. Being a Naysayer…ALL THE TIME – Negative Nelly. Debbie Downer. Nervous Norbit. Buzzkill Bobby. Whatever your name is, please know that you are sucking the life out of your co-workers. Your constant negative comments about every idea suggested by a co-worker doesn’t make you the “devil’s advocate”. It makes you look like the most insecure person in the office. Get some ideas of your own instead of wasting time finding something wrong with someone else’s idea. Instead of saying, “No, that won’t work” try saying “That sounds interesting. Can you tell me more?”
I would love to hear what bad work habits/behaviors you like to see added to the list.
With love,
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Did you know registration for Work Your Package Women’s Conference 2016 is open? Did you know you can reserve your seat for only $99? Register today at www.workyourpackage2016.eventbrite.com 
Where I Go To Get My Mojo

Where I Go To Get My Mojo

I love to read as much as I love write and there are several blogs that make it worth my while to sit down and enjoy some coffee or some wine (depending on my mood or time of day).

In no particular order or catagory, here are some of the blogs I’m inspired by:

The Middle Finger Project – The best way to describe this blog is to use the creator’s words “This is the hotspot for anyone striking out on their own, growing a business or venture, and looking for fresh, interesting ways to make anybody care.  The word “newsletter” is officially banned, and we throw banana peels at terrible internet marketing fads like “download my eBook.” Because nobody wants your free goodies, unless you’re Ciara or Petey Pablo, and even then.” Snarky and in your face, she says the things you wish you could.Profanity aside, I think she’s brilliant.

Daily Worth – Their goal is that all women see money not as a source of stress and anxiety, but as one of freedom and empowerment. Investing doesn’t have to be complicated. Saving is not selfish. And spending doesn’t have to be accompanied by guilt.

Corporette – Corporette is a fashion and lifestyle blog for women lawyers, bankers, MBAs, consultants, and otherwise overachieving chicks who need to look professional but want to look fashionable.

Fitness Fashionista – The blog got its start aa a way to document her weight loss journey. Now it’s about an overall lifestyle shift that covers ALL different aspects of life from physical to financial.

With love,

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P.S. Have you registered for the Work Your Package Womens Conference 2016?  A weekend-long conference in intimate setting with limited seating. Reserve your seat today.

Be Proud of Your Battle Scars

Be Proud of Your Battle Scars

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In Dr. Brene Brown’s New York Times best-seller book, “Daring Greatly” she opens the book with one of the most poignant passages I’ve ever read. Taken from Theodore Roosevelt’s speech “Citizenship in a Republic” which was delivered at the Sorbonne in Paris, France on April 23, 1910, the passage reads:

It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again,

because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;

who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

The book “Daring Greatly” is all about how the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent and lead. There are joys and pitfalls of being vulnerable. The joy is that you feel free to be yourself, imperfections and all and present them to people around you hope will accept them and love you anyway. Or to paraphrase Dr. Brown, “be able to carry the weight of your story”. The pitfalls include being judged, ridiculed, ostracized and talked about based on presumptuous assumptions based on hearsay.

The one thing I have found to be true is folks will talk about you and they have never been in the arena. Hell, they have never been on the block of the arena or better yet don’t know the name of the arena. They criticize you but they have never done what you are trying to do. Your critics don’t matter. Your critics do not know what defeat feels like because they don’t have the courage to go into the arena.

If you are in the arena, I applaud you. Continue to shine bright even when others wish, hope and pray for you to dim your light to make them comfortable. While there are naysayers standing on the outside of the arena criticizing you, there are also people watching you go in and fight, come out battered and go back in the very next day who are inspired by your determination and focus. To quote a wise friend, it doesn’t matter if you throw glitter or shade, there are some people will never like you. And that’s okay. Your purpose and achievements do not require applause or the approval of people who never have and probably never will step one foot into the arena.

With love,

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Five Ways to Boost Your Personal Brand

Five Ways to Boost Your Personal Brand

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What does Apple, Google, Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, FedEx, Southwest Airlines. General Electric and Microsoft all have in common? Amazing brand recognition.  So how you boost your personal brand? It’s not as hard as you think.

  1. Create your own personal website or landing page. Believe me, this is not as hard as it may sound. In many cases it can be done for free or very little cost. For as little as $10 per month, you can create a site without knowing any coding language.  Having a personal website will allow you to have a space put up a virtual resume and any project samples that showcase your skills.
  2. Create slide share presentations. SlideShare is a great way to put up content about your area of expertise.  If you are not familiar with Slide Share, take a look at what other people have shared. Some of the best presentations have very little copy and more images to convey the message.
  3. Create a YouTube video channel.  If you have a smartphone, you have the capability to record a video. YouTube has an editing section is easy to use once you spend some time learning the different tools available.  With one video you can introduce yourself, your knowledge, personality, and creativity all in one place.
  4. Complete your entire LinkedIn profile. If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, you are doing yourself a disservice. HR reps around the world are viewing LinkedIn profiles. A well-done profile is almost a prescreening process for jobs and even promotions. Business owners use LinkedIn to decide if they should do business with you.  Much like a personal website or landing page, LinkedIn allows you to showcase your body of work and the steps you have taken to get to where you are at in your career.
  5. Start a blog. You can use sites like Tumblr, Blogger, and WordPress to create a free blog page. Your topic can be on anything that you enjoy and you can choose to write commentary, give advice or just show images. It’s your blog, you can do whatever your want….as long as it strengthens your brand.

Do you have any tips for personal branding? Share them below in the comments.

With love,

 

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Accept Disapproval

Accept Disapproval

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Graciously and enthusiastically accept that others will disapprove, no matter what you do. And delight in the freedom of doing whatever you know is right for you.

The sooner you understand, accept and embrace that no matter what you do, there will be someone who will not be pleased or will tsk tsk with disapproval the sooner you can get over it and continue to do what makes you happy.

“Thank you for bringing that perspective to my attention”….a loaded statement that conveys respect on the front end followed by a “shut up” on the back end. I’ve used that statement during pivotal moments in my life. Marrying my husband after dating for what others thought was a short time. Moving to another state and becoming a first time homeowner. Undergoing infertility treatments…twice. Taking time for my heart to heal after my grandmother and father died within two weeks of each other instead of focusing on a job search. Hosting a women’s conference. Writing a book. Hosting another conference. Writing a weekly blog. Planning another conference. You see where I’m going with this? If I didn’t delight in the freedom to do what was and is right for me, I would be robbing myself of joy.

Don’t let the naysayers (I’m not referring to the necessary Naysayers on your personal board of directors) and the negative nellies keep you from doing what you know is best for you. Don’t give three damns about what they have to say. Do you. Be extraordinary.

With love,

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Is Your Money Acting Funny?

Is Your Money Acting Funny?

imageDo you have a financial hangover from the  holidays? Are you trying to figure out which bills will get paid and which bills will have to wait until next month?   Are you hoping your tax refund will be enough to pay off any extravagant purchases you made for your family or for yourself? If so, you are not alone.  According to Forbes, Americans were estimated to spend $630.5 billion this past holiday season, 3.7% more than last year. Unfortunately, a huge portion of those purchases will be made on plastic and causing some of us to carry even more debt.

To help all of us out (Yes, I’m including myself), I’ve put together a list of websites and blogs that provide advice and resources for personal finances. I’m not endorsing anyone and I’m not getting paid for providing links to these websites or blogs. I hope you find some information that will help you make better financial decisions or help you create plan that gets you closer to your financial goals.

Get Rich Slowly – Named a top blog by both Time and Money magazines, this blog is based on the philosophy that building lasting wealth takes time.

Wise Bread – The tagline of the blog says it all, “Living Large on a Small Budget”. The blog cover a broad range of topics.

Money Crashers – They offer logical and sensible advice for all ages and stages in life including investing and small business.

Michelle Singletary – She is a nationally syndicated columnist for The Washington Post and her column “The Color of Money” is carried in over 100 newspapers providing a laymen’s insight into personal finance.

Kiplinger – In addition to providing personal finance tips, they also provide business forecasts. There is a variety of content from slides to news columns to videos.

Banking Sense – Provides valuable information without using overly technical jargon. It promote a sense of community by encouraging readers to interact and comment so they can learn from each other.

Cash Money Life – Featured on websites such as The Wall Street JournalThe New York Times  and MSN Money this website is a reliable source of advice on personal finance and small business.

If your favorite financial blog or website isn’t listed, please leave the link below in the comments 🙂

With love,

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Work Your Package Women’s Conference 2016

Work Your Package Women’s Conference 2016

The 3rd annual Work Your Package Women’s Conference will be held on Friday, September 30 to Sunday, October 2 in Laurel, MD.  The roster of speakers is shaping up to be a cornucopia of subject matter experts whose main objective is to make sure you leave the conference spilling over with optimism and ready to be extraordinary.

Here are some quick facts about WYP2016:

  • Convenient payment plan
  • Beautiful, newly renovated venue
  • Subject matter experts in personal development, career, health and wellness and finance
  • Four meal options over the course of the weekend

Find out more and reserve your seat by clicking here: http://ayannacastro.com/work-your-package-womens-conference-2016/