Category Archives: Professional Development

Just Say Thank You

If you follow me on social media, you know that I was recently promoted to manager. It’s a career milestone as spots don’t come around that often and I actioned specific feedback to get here. It brought many emotions: I’m so very proud of myself and have endless gratitude for all those who invested in my development. And yet, after the initial shock and awe worn off, it felt weird, almost awkward to share my news. But why?!

I’m not a fan of talking about myself or being the center of attention. So all this attention has been hard for me. Every time someone congratulated me, my instinct was to deflect and find a way to make it about them. I was aware of what I was doing and after a friend called me out, I started to just say thank you.

I’m a big believer in humility, yet it turns people off when you start explaining why someone shouldn’t be giving you a compliment. Here are a few of my observations on why you should just say thank you:

  • You should acknowledge the other person’s opinion, regardless of your reaction to it. Clearly, the person has thoughts that should be validated.
  • Don’t turn a positive thing into a negative one. By saying thank you, you’re continuing to keep the good vibes flowing versus deflecting, which deflates the conversation.
  • Gratitude is good for your mental and emotional wellbeing. So by saying thank you to said compliment, you’re increasing your positive emotions as well as the other person’s. You can also use the thank you as a segway to how the person may have helped you achieve the goal they’re referring to. Win-win for both parties!
  • Um, hello, did you ever think you deserve said compliment?! You’re not cocky or gloating if someone is recognizing you! Perhaps that dress does look fabulous or someone witnessed the hard work you put in to get your promotion. You’re allowed to stand in your sun as long as you wear sunglasses.
Public recognition can be hard. Ease it to it and tell your inner circle that you’re working on it. Give them permission to (kindly) call you out when you start to deflect. Please share any other tips as I still struggle with this!



Honing Your Craft

Earlier this week, I was fortunate enough to attend the Training Magazine Top 125 expo and gala. I was one of ten people to be picked as a representative of my company. I’m so glad I was able to go!

At the suggestion of a colleague, I arrived in Atlanta early in order to attend the expo. I’ll admit I was a bit overwhelmed as I walked into a giant room with numerous training and development professionals. I wasn’t entirely sure where to begin. But, I knew my time was limited so I had to make the most of it!

I walked around the expo, looking at the booths and engaging with other professionals. I naturally gravitated towards booths that discussed the use of social media to enhance employee engagement and overall learning. As you can probably tell, I enjoy social media and am interested in how to use it more efficiently. My other favorite part of the expo was the pop-up bookstore that had tons of books at a discounted price. I came home with four new books to read!

The welcome message as we entered the gala.

The welcome message as we entered the gala.

I haven’t begun to distill down all of the information I received at the expo. That’s a full weekend project! The big takeaway for me was the importance of honing your craft. Even if you’re a more junior employee, it’s vital to invest in yourself. Raise your hand and ask for those developmental opportunities! For me, I’m not 100% sure what my craft is or the exact direction my career will go in (no one actually knows this). But I do know what interests me and how it can apply to the projects I’m currently working on. I’d recommend we all take a step back, figure out our interests, apply them to our project and then find different opportunities to build upon those skills.

Later that night, I attended the Training Magazine Top 125 Gala. What an incredible experience! It was

My co-worker and I all dressed up for the gala.

My co-worker and I all dressed up for the gala.

awesome to see other companies who value learning, development and training. It was also a good reminder of how much my company invests in its employees. Sometimes, we are so busy with our heads down that we forget what motivates us to do the work we do. My 24 hours in Atlanta was a reminder to keep my head up, looks for development opportunities that will help me hone my craft while also helping my team achieve its collective goals.

How do you invest in your professional self? Share in the comments section below!

Financially Fearless: A Levo League Event Recap

This past week, I finally attended a Levo League event. Levo is a community of passion women working to help one another. They sponsor all types of events across the country to better professional women. Tuesday night I attended one such event called Financially Fearless, which was led by Alexa Von Tobel, the CEO of Learnvest, a company centered around affordable financial planning. What a great night discussing an important topic!

First, it was great to network with the Levo ladies. All poised and energetic, they were so welcoming and happy to hear my story. After some chatting, Alexa began her talk, centered around the her, Financially Fearless that ties to her company. In short, Learnvest is a budgeting tool with help from a certified financial planner. The book (and the Learnvest plan) provides simple but effective tools to help you manage your money. Alexis broke down each step, with charismatic humor and true passion.

Alexa sharing great tips at the event hosted by Levo League

Alexa sharing great tips at the event hosted by Levo League

Step 1: Focus – You need to sit down and figure out where your money is going. Track all of your spending (the Learnvest app can help). You should look at your credit cards and how often you use them as well as your 401K plan and credit score. My personal favorite points from Alexa on this topic included setting up a separate email account for all your bills and for having calendar alerts for all payments.

Step 2: Focus – Know your after taxes income and your expenses. Remember there should be money left after paying your bills. Another great point: Just because you make more money doesn’t mean you’ll save more. If your pay and spending both continue to increase, that won’t solve any financial problems.

Step 3: Plan – Make sure you have an emergency savings account that you do not touch. This should be for true emergencies, not needing a new dress for an upcoming event. The goal should be to constant financial stability.

Step 4: Build – Alexa described this as the dream phase. Set financial goals for the future and plan out all of those crazy things you want to go and do later on in life.

Step 5: Protect – Alexa emphasized that this probably the most important phase. Look at all of your insurance policies (home, health, car, etc) and make sure you are getting all benefits of the policy. Once you have a full-time job, health insurance is a must and so is renter’s insurance if you rent. Favorite quote here? “Unused credit cards are a hacker’s dream.” Amen!

Step 6: Maximize – This part was all about investing, which honestly gives me some anxiety as I don’t fully understand every piece of it. The most important concept here is to invest money in a variety of assets but only do it if you can afford to leave it in the market for a five-year minimum. This way, you’ll have a shot of investments turning a profit.

Alexa's best selling book!

Alexa’s best selling book!

Step 7: Achieve – The final phase is about being prepared even if life changes. Alexa gave a great analogy: The way you manage your health meaning going to the doctor, taking vitamins, etc., should be the same way you approach being financially responsible. You need to pay attention to it!

Alexa’s 45 minute chat was jammed packed with information, realistic examples and helpful tips. Her passion for making financial planning affordable is clearly apparent. I can’t wait to read her book and start using the LearnVest app. Expect an update once I do!

Is Being Busy a Badge of Honor?

It has been two months and a day since my last blog post. This fact saddens me but the reality is I haven’t had time to fit writing into my schedule lately. Depressing to a degree, but the truth nonetheless.

Over the last two months, I’ve been to five different states, worked three different events and have had to make the choice on what the priority was that minute, hour, day and week. Some might call this busy and I did too, until I read a powerful article from the Harvard Business Review, sent to me by an esteemed colleague. The two-page article, “Why we Humblebrag About Being Busy,” should resonate with anyone who’s ever said “Oh I’m so busy,” in response to the simple question “how are you?”

busyThere’s so much to obsessed over in this article. You can bet that mine is highlighted, underlined and has been read approximately four times. In short, an epidemic is occurring where people are so proud of being busy that their lives are becoming a giant rat race of more. The more bubble, as author Greg McKeown suggests is enabled by “smart phones, social media, and extreme consumerism. The result is not just information overload, but opinion overload.” That thought, opinion overload, struck me as the greatest factor aiding the growth of everyone’s more bubble.

The opinion overload epidemic has been aided by advancing technology that allows us instantly post on a zillion different forums how late we’re working or actual photos of the work we have left to do. Twenty years ago, people didn’t feel the need to share about their overtime because there wasn’t technology for them to make this private information public. Now, it’s a constant competition of who is the busiest and when translated that means the most successful, happy, satisfied or important.

McKeown suggests four helpful tips to become more of an Essentialist or the type of person who actually read books instead of strolling through Facebook before bed. I’d like to add two more suggestions on how to become an essentialist:

1) Stop playing the comparison game. It does not matter what someone else is doing at work, at home, for their community or on the moon. This is your life, your journey to forge and I bet you are doing just fine.

2) Believe in balance. Some days, I have time to write  a blog post and exercise, but not all will be like that. Some days work wins and others my family come first. Priorities are allowed to shift as often as you need them to.

I am no where near being an essentialist but this article has inspired me to try harder. Being busy aka not sleeping, missing family time and being generally unhappy is not the badge of honor I want to wear any more. Join me in the essentialist movement and please share your tips below!

I’d like to add two more: work smarter, not harder and stop playing the comparison game. Most supervisors are not going to hover over your desk as you work. They trust you to get the work done in the most efficient, best way possible. Maybe that means you work 7 a.m. until 4 p.m. Or maybe you go to yoga on your lunch break. Figure out how to be more efficient and make that your routine. Working more hours does not always make you more productive.

Oh the comparison trap, how it ruins lives! Please do not scroll through Facebook or any other social media site and compare yourself to your co-workers, neighbors, relatives, friends, etc. It unhealthy and unproductive to make comparisons when no two lives operate in the same way. We each need to live our own life, on our terms. Sure, it’s fine to want more but not at the expense of your health, family, sanity or anything other life necessity.

Professional F.O.M.O


F.O.M.O or fear of missing out is something we’ve all experienced. Personal F.O.M.O gives you that annoying little pang of pity. Oh my friends are at Coachella and I’m not. Boo hoo! But professional F.O.M.O leaves you feeling anxious, frustrated and confused. The consequences are much more far-reaching when you feel like you’re missing out on your career.

First, let me state that I love my current job. The projects I work on challenge me daily, I work with some of the best people around and I’m doing work that helps people. I don’t want to leave my job, I just don’t know if I want to stay forever. Fear. Of. Missing. Out.

The plan all through college was to enter the public relations industry upon graduation. It felt (and looked on paper) that I did everything right. But the road took me elsewhere and for that, I’m beyond grateful. Still even with a great job that includes traveling, I still feel like I’m missing out. I look at my two best friends as well as pretty much everyone I graduated with and wonder about all of the what if’s. Such a short time ago, I had everything figured out. Now I have no clue where to go from here.

Admitting my professional F.O.M.O isn’t easy. I don’t want to sound ungrateful for my current job nor do I want to sound like I’m complaining. Life is good and I’m certainly developing a wealth of transferable skills. But someone please tell me how I build media contacts when I do not work with the media?

What also contributes to my F.O.M.O condition is my inherit need to plan. It’s just in my blood: the color-coding, making plans, setting goals, knowing what’s next. But right now, I have no idea what the future holds and am desperately trying to become comfortable with that.

I’m trying to manage this F.O.M.O by recognizing it’s normal not to know exactly what you want. I’ve also written professional goals to achieve at my current job. As far as keeping my public relations edge, I utilize Feedly to compile a great list of PR blogs and publications to check on my commute home. I’m also trying to network through social media to possibly set up informational interviews. Hopefully, all of this will help keep my F.O.M.O at bay!

Throughout this F.O.M.O journey, one thing is evident: comparing yourself to others will just drive you crazy. Everyone’s path is different and unique to them; it doesn’t make one way right and the other wrong. I need to figure out what I want and how to get there without worrying about what my friends are doing.

Have you experience professional F.O.M.O? How did you cope? Please please please share your thoughts in the comments below!

A Knowledge-Filled Saturday

As a young professional, I am always looking for ways to expand my knowledge and grow my industry expertise. This is occasionally challenging because I do not work within public relations. While I love my current job, I still want to maintain a breath of public relations knowledge and keep up-to-date on industry trends.

The schedule for the day!

The schedule for the day!

Luckily for me, I was invited back to Temple University this past weekend for the TU Invitational hosted by Temple PRSSA, one of my former student organizations. While the event was for students, I am so glad I attended. There were four speakers, each with a different PR specialty. Below are the “quick tips” I learned from each.

  • Cassandra Bailey from Slice Communications was the keynote speaker. You couldn’t have picked anyone better to kick-off an event! Cass was energetic, passionate and real. My biggest takeaway from her presentation was to break the process and be different. You shouldn’t change yourself to fit within a role or company. People want someone authentic, interesting and who challenges the norm. I adored her ideas and hearing that being different is a positive when hiring people.
  • I then went to Jessica Lawlor’s breakout session about personal branding and blogging. I read Jess’ blog religiously and worked with her during our PRSSA days at Temple, so I was really pumped for her session. Jess managed to pack so much info into her session without overwhelming us. She walked through various social media sites, outlining what essentials we should focus on to help build our personal brand. I was also beyond thrilled to hear the you don’t need to have a niche blog to be successful. I like to write about a lot of topics and according to Jess, that’s a good thing, as long as you are providing useful, fresh content. Overall, it was an awesome session and now I have a ton of ideas for my social media profiles and my blog!
  • After lunch, Steve Cameron from Air Products spoke to the group about a variety of topics. Steve has been in his role for several years so it was interesting to hear his perspective on how the industry has changed. Obviously, social media is the biggest advancement for PR professionals. Steve presented a social media decision tree for both personal and business use. This visual was so helpful in articulating the questions that need to be asked when figuring out how a company can utilize social media. The personal portion of the tree provided insights on the company’s social media policy; much easier to read than several convoluted paragraphs!
  • Our final speaker was Scott Tattar from LevLane, a PR agency in Philadelphia. Scott spoke about corporate social responsibility (CSR) and how it is now an essential for companies. CSR is the bottom line and should serve as a marketing tool. I found it interesting and refreshing to hear his insights because not all companies think like that. A good CSR program is focused, so even if you are a large corporation, you shouldn’t support a million charities. It also empowers the customer (or employee) to do something rather than to just write a check. Lastly, it should be in line with the company’s mission. For example, Coca Cola should not back a cause like childhood obesity since their product is soda. Scott’s session was my favorite of the day because it was a topic not addressed frequently.
All of the PRSSA alum with the chapter president.

All of the PRSSA alum with the chapter president.

We all went and celebrated a successful event after it was over. I was so proud of my former student organization for putting on a great event where I learned so much. My day reinforced the importance of continuing to learn even as a professional. Hopefully, I’ll get to go back to next year’s TU Invitational!

Do You Believe in StrengthsFinder?

Last week in Chicago, my team completed the StrengthsFinder assessment and discussed our results. It was remarkable to see the variety of strengths between the eight of us. We covered almost all of the 34 categories and no two people had more than two strengths the same. This team activity sparked my interest in StrengthsFinder and made me want to share my findings.

StrengthsFinder is an assessment that asks you a series of questions and requires you to respond in an instance. The timing is intentional so that people do not over think their answers. As its name implies, the assessment focuses on a person’s strengths not their weaknesses. Their research found the a strengths-based approach increases a worker’s confidence, direction, hope and kindness towards others. You receive your top five strengths after you finish the assessment.

I’ve done the test in college and completed it again right before Chicago. Shockingly or not, my results were the same as previous times. Below is a brief description of each of my top 5 strengths.

  • Achiever: You must accomplish something every day and have more drive than more people. You have a fire burning inside of you that causes a relentless pursuit of your goals.
  • Developer: You see potential in all people, believing that each is a work in progress. Your goal is always to help people experience success.
  • Restorative: You are energized by solving problems, practical or conceptual. You enjoy bringing things/people back to life.
  • Empathy: You can sense the emotions of those around and are able to see the world from their perspective.
  • Input: You are inquisitive and collect things. You are curious about the world and are interested in continuing to learn about it.

My strengths literally hit the nail on the head. When I read the descriptions and calls to action, I could not believe how accurate they were. Each of my strengths plays a role in my personal and professional life. Knowing them and how they can become weaknesses has been extremely helpful. Any group of people, whether it be a team at work or a set of friends, should take the StrengthsFinder assessment. It helps each person understand themselves and those around them better. The assessment also cites what strengths work best with other strengths. Tips are given on how to work with all 34 types as well.

The StrengthsFinder assessment is only one of many tools to help individuals cultivate their strengths. I found it to be very beneficial and am glad my team discussed the results. Do you have any experience with StrengthsFinder? Did you find it helpful? Share your thoughts!

The ABC’s of a Business Trip

Greetings from Florida! I am on my first official business trip at a two-day conference in Orlando, Florida. I’ve gotten to meet both the professionals who hired me in addition to many other employees and external facilitators. In only 24 hours, I’ve learned quite a bit and have been kept on my toes throughout the day. There are so many aspects that go into making a business trip successful. Based off of my first experience, here are a few of my ABC’s of a business trip.

Arrive on time: Being on time for your flight and then all of your sessions is extremely important. There will be lines at the airport and prep time needed before sessions. Getting to your destination on time also shows that you’re dedicated to your role during the trip.

Bring your patience: Something will go wrong. Actually, seven million things will go wrong. It’s inevitable and usually out of your control. Just remember to take a deep breath, put on a smile and figure out a solution before having a heart attack.

Comfortable everything: More than likely, you will be on your feet for a solid 12 hours while working a conference or event. You must ditch being fashionable and aim for being comfortable yet professional. Steer clear of tight pants, itchy fabrics and super high heels.

Dive in: All hands are on deck during a conference. You need to keep an open mind and volunteer to help in any way you can. Sometimes that might mean picking up printed materials or giving an impromptu welcome greeting. Either way, be ready for anything.

Friendliness goes a long way: People will remember how polite you were or how you always had a smile on your face. Even if you are exhausted, be friendly and courteous to everyone you meet. It makes their experience more positive and you don’t know if you’ll interact with these people again. If you make a positive first impression, people are likely to remember you in the future.

I’m really enjoying my first business trip and am learning new things every minute of the day. I’ve notice that paying close attention to detail is crucial when working a conference. In just one day, so many little things had to be adjusted for an overall better experience. The little details are what sets certain conferences apart from the rest.

What other tips do you have for traveling on business trips? Share them with me!

Broadening My Board of Directors

I can remember sitting in one of my first college classes listening to my professor talk about building your board of directors. I was confused; what did I need a board of directors for? I was just an 18 year-old freshman who didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do with my life. At this point, my board of directors consisted of my mom, my best friend and the professor from this class. Luckily, I’ve built up my board of directors during the last few years.

During college, you don’t realize how many relationships you establish and maintain. From professors to professionals, if you do it right, your list should be very long. Throughout my college career, I made sure I got to know professors and introduced myself to every professional that spoke at our PRSSA meetings. By the time I graduated, I had a nice group of contacts. I had used these people as my board of directors, asking them questions about classes, internships and anything else I needed help with. However, after graduation, I wanted to take my board of directors to the next level.

When I started my job search, I would send tons of resumes out each week via email or online applications. After a few months of that failing, I started reaching out to my board of directors. If they didn’t know of any jobs, they gave me the name of someone who did. Within the last two months, I’ve talked to about 20 people. Each has given me advice about my résumé, cover letter and the job search in general. These connections have proven much more effective than just sending my résumé everywhere. During this process, I’ve grown my board of director from primarily Philadelphia contacts to contacts in New York, Washington D.C. and Chicago.

I never thought something I learn during freshman year would turn out to be so helpful. I’m glad I paid attention to what my professor said and used it to my advantage. Making contacts and building relationships, both inside and outside of your field is always going to be beneficial.

How have you built your board of directors? Feel free to share your tips and stories with me!

Date Night with Grandpa

I am beyond blessed to have both of my grandparents as a part of my life. Well into their eighties, both Grandma and Grandpa are active and enjoy life to the fullest. So when Grandpa didn’t want to go to his Sons of Italy meeting alone Tuesday night, I was completely willing to tag along and more importantly, drive at night.

I had no idea what to expect at this meeting. Grandpa is very much a jokester and didn’t provide any details other than there would be pizza. But, once everyone got settled, it was clear that their meeting resembled many meetings I sat in during college. During most of my college career, I was an active member of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) and sat on their executive board my senior year. Sitting in the Sons of Italy meeting quickly reminded me of my PRSSA e-board days. Here are some of the parallels I found between the two:

  • Organization: The president had an outline of what she wanted to discuss and tried very hard to stay on topic. She also handed out fliers with upcoming dates and information to all the members. Back in PRSSA, our president prepared agendas for us and kept us on topic (or tried to!). In both instances, being organized helped to get things accomplished.
  • The Importance of Fundraising & Recruitment: During Grandpa’s meeting, there was a lot of talk about how to fundraise and recruit new members. Their chapter was really struggling with both. I gave a few suggestions that PRSSA used however it proved to be harder since their members are older and not all about social media. But, it showed me that fundraising and recruitment are important to every organization and can be challenging at times regardless of the type of organization.
  • Having fun: We probably had too much fun at our PRSSA executive board meetings but so did the Sons of Italy. Grandpa cracked jokes the entire time, people responded with witty comments and everyone laughed. My personal favorite was two ladies arguing about how one saved a seat for the other and she completely walked past the seat and her friend who saved it. This was a weekly occurrence at PRSSA e-board meetings.  So was kicking each other under the table!

My experience at the Sons of Italy meeting was enlightening and fun. I was reminded that there are other organizations out there besides professional ones and they function the same way. Running a meeting, regardless of the topic, requires certain skills and ideas that must be discussed. I’m so glad I got to spend the night with Grandpa and plan on continuing date night in the future.

Grandpa & I at my birthday last year. He’s the best!

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