Throughout the majority of my life, I’ve lived with an extreme level of social anxiety – like projectile-vomit-all-over-Brooks-Brother’s-suits-at-an-industry-networking-event level of anxiety.
I love meeting new people in small settings and learning about other’s life stories, but a tech conference filled with abrupt, in-yo-face “Let’s connect!”, “What’s your valuation?”, “Who’s on your client list?” makes me want to ditch the whole event agenda, hole up in my hotel room, and Wikipedia local historical sites.
It’s that bad.
I began my entrepreneurial journey in the era of boom or bust tech-based startups. The markets had crashed, national employment was in the crapper, and this thing called the internet was exploding almost overnight.
The popular business gurus hailed as the poster boys of success were the extremely extroverted, snake oil salesmen peddling “success” to all of us nearly-bankrupt professionals like a crack dealer cruising Beale Street.
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Until ten years ago, I had never actually met a professional woman – an educated female that made a living wage. Growing up in fundamentalism, I was raised in a culture that did not acknowledge gender equality and restricted women to very limited roles as wives and mothers. I had no idea what developing a career involved or even how to get started. The majority of my homeschool education had been focused on the domestic arts – childcare, cooking, cleaning, etc. – and neglected subjects like math, science, and finance (all the things you wouldn’t find in the job description for a housewife).
My junior year of college, I finally encountered a real-life professional woman – a visiting professor of biochemistry. She was confident, educated, and owned her own house. I knew I wanted to be just like her, but I had no idea how to get there.
Cultivating supportive mentoring relationships has been a total game changer for my career.
Benefiting from my mentor’s insightful input into all my major professional decisions – both employed and entrepreneurial – has provided much needed encouragement and guidance as I navigate my professional journey.
Finding an experienced mentor that’s a good match can present quite the challenge, especially if you’re a young professional just now building your own network.
Good news: there’s several mentor-matching websites available to millennial professionals for FREE!
If you’re currently seeking a mentor to help guide you along your entrepreneurial career, consider these five mentor matching sites: Continue Reading…
I’m a “Yes” person – it’s been my standing default response to just about anything, even stuff I really didn’t want to do.
Here’s just a sampling of the “I’m saying yes but really want to say no but don’t for god knows why” scenarios I’ve found myself in:
- “Want to eat grilled alligator for dinner, Hannah?”
- Gulp. “Yes,” I meekly respond, silently gagging inside.
- “While the semester starts this Monday, we were thinking you could add on an additional three hour course to your teaching schedule. Want to?”
- Cringing at the thought of creating an entire new course in 48 hours, I whisper a quasi-confident “Yes.
- “I know we agreed on a smaller campaign, but the board decided we wanted something bigger and we want it to start next week. You can do that, right?”
- Another (hesitant) but near-automatic “Yes” reply, as I mentally make a list of all the weekend plans I have to cancel to pull off this client’s request.
All I had to do was say “no”, but I didn’t.
Instead, I felt as though there was only one answer I could say, regardless of what I wanted to do or not do – “Yes.”
Job hunting is the worst.
Rejection after rejection after rejection has become the norm for even the most talented of professionals.
Having your entire career scrutinized by people that don’t know you, don’t care about you, and are probably driven by their many subconscious biases regarding “people like you” isn’t fun.
In fact, recent studies indicate unemployment is a little more than nauseating – it can have disastrous effects on your health and relationships (not to mention finances).
As a job seeker, it’s hard to keep your chin up when you feel like putting your best foot forward simply results in being knocked to your knees – over and over and over. Continue Reading…
In 1997, a distinguished surgeon named Don Miguel Ruiz, authored an incredibly inspiring (yet rather small) book that spent over seven years on the New York Times Bestseller List – The Four Agreements.
One of my entrepreneurial mentors recommended the book to me, during a particularly challenging period of growth within my consulting company. Always down for a good read, I immediately ordered the book devoured its golden nuggets of wisdom in one sitting.
While not a very spiritual person at the time (I was raised in extreme fundamentalism, emerged as an atheist as an adult, and eventually found my way back around to New Age spirituality), the impactful concepts of Toltec inspired wisdom shared throughout the book emerged as incredibly applicable to my very millennial career.
So here are four ways in which Don Miguel’s Four Agreements impacted my career: Continue Reading…
I recently had the opportunity to take part in a career panel for graduating seniors. Following the Q&A sessions, I was approached by a handful of girls, eagerly peppering me with questions about what it was like to be “the only woman” in the very male dominated world of business.
Truth be told, after years of being “the only woman” in countless meetings, conferences, and educational events (minus the exec’s secretaries), I’d grown accustomed to being the only one wearing heels.
Women are grossly underrepresented in business leadership within American culture. The Wall Street Journal recently reported on a study highlighting the reasons why women are passed over for promotions by the masses, and why female CEOs (currently at 4% of Fortune 500 leadership) are about as frequent a sighting as the endangered Lesser Prairie Chicken. Continue Reading…
By Jen Oleniczak Brown, Founder of The Engaging Educator
There are some days I would like to clock the person that told me to follow my passion.
Seriously, hear me out – imagine being a person that was perfectly comfortable going to a survival job day in and day out. You go to work, you do your job, you go home. No thoughts about something more. No worries about potential or dreams or wants. Just 9-5, in and out.
(Un)Fortunately, I was and am a super motivated woman and started a company that teaches people how to be better communicators through improv – and one of the largest challenges in our students I’ve seen as a facilitator involves the very thing that pushed me here: wants.
So therein lies the question – do you know what you want? And even more – do you know how to get it?
We live in a digital age – it seems as though everything is online these days, including networking. Forget Chamber Coffees, Meet and Greets, and the Elk Lodge; millennials are networking, but they are doing online.
While popular social media platforms – like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram- can be used for networking purposes, they aren’t really set-up for developing professional network, and one’s attempts to “connect” can come across as rather spammy.
Good News: There’s a variety of network-specific apps with easy-to-use connectivity functions and a user base of like-minded professionals eager to grow their networks.
Here’s a listing of seven networking apps every millennial professional should explore: Continue Reading…