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A Love Letter to Dilma Rousseff

“I once saw a photograph of Dilma Rousseff at age 22,” wrote Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, the first female President of Argentina, in an article to Time magazine. “She was standing in front of a 1969 military tribunal made up of judges hiding their faces with their hands. She exudes defiance. The roles appeared to be reversed: it was Dilma who was indicting, not only the military, but an establishment complicit in the injustice of excluding the majority from power during the two-decade rule of the generals.”At 22, Rousseff’s dark hair was already rocking her classic pixie-cut. And with her thick lenses framing her eyes, she might otherwise appear to have been an unlikely heroine – if not for that same stubborn defiance being reflected in every inch of her expression, making her lovely. The photograph is a famous one. You would think the judges might seem happier at having finally caught “the Joan of Arc of the guerrilla movement,” as she was known by military prosecutors for her integral role in the armed revolutionary struggle of several groups against Brazil’s military dictatorship. Yet those judges were hiding while Rousseff held her head at an obstinate tilt, faced her indictment photo dead-on, and went to jail, where she was brutally tortured there for her devotion to the cause. “We fought and participated in a dream to build a better Brazil,” she has said. Fast forward nearly forty years, and Brazil has come a long way toward that dream, in large part because “…The woman I got to know in 2003,” writes Fernandez de Kirchner, “…possesses the same commitment as the girl in that picture.” There are countless reasons to love Dilma Rousseff, 65, and not just because she’s the first female President of the world’s sixth-largest economy, and arguably the most powerful woman in the world. Although, no lie, that is a pretty big one. Few of us could have faced the things she has and come out with those results, rather than being cowed by a dangerous regime. They forbade her from engaging in political activity after her release from prison, and expressly closed many doors to her. But we love her because she fought that opression by lying in wait for her political moment and seizing it when it came. When the dictatorship lost its grip on Brazil, she became active in one of the few opposing partisan groups, working her way up over the years to the senior levels of government. We love her because, in a political arena dominated by men, from which she had previously been barred, and with all eyes on Brazil as one of the world’s emerging great powers, she rose to Presidency and has stood her ground on her convictions and has made a commitment to gender equality which has led to a record number of women in high-profile positions of power and one-third of Brazil’s Cabinet being comprised of women. We love her because she’s done it all with the same iron-will that refused to be cowed by the judges at that military tribunal. This ladies, is what you might call “the ultimate alpha female” . Not convinced? Here are a few more reasons to love her:
She’s always the brains and fuel behind the operation “[Former President] Lula realized that she kept things moving.” – Franklin Martins, guerrilla fighter-turned-minister.

Though she has since tried to deny it, there are a number of reports from her past guerrilla days which cite her as one of the masterminds behind several revolutionary schemes conducted by the Marxist rebel groups who took on the dictatorship. She was one of the most wanted fugitives in Brazil as early as 1967 and her eventual capture three years later was seen as a triumph for the military regime. Rousseff is far from ashamed of her radical past but insists her role was mainly political and organizational.

Her radical stance has mellowed since her youth but those experiences were something that served her well later in life when she began climbing through the ranks of government and holding powerful offices. Her intelligence, managerial skills, and courage in facing difficult situations when they arose caught the attention of then-president Lula as early as 2002. Once he appointed her to be his Chief of Staff she became his protégé and her own presidential campaign started from there.

She always makes the choice to fight, rather than surrender “I voted for Dilma because she is a fighter. What we need is a fighter in the presidency to continue…Lula’s efforts.” – Estevam Sanches, pizza-parlour owner in Sao Paulo.

She did not have to entangle herself in a war against Brazil’s military regime. She could have kept her head down. Rousseff was born to a position of relative privilege in the upper-middle class of Belo Horizonte, the city in which she grew up. Her childhood dreams ranged from being a ballerina, to being a trapeze artist, and somehow guerrilla warfare didn’t make the list. She was in high school when she truly became aware that the “world was not a place for debutantes.”

The political situation in Brazil was getting worse at this time: the military’s generals seized power in a political coup and declared a reign of terror during which they suspended the civil rights of the people. It’s easier to stay out of conflict when it doesn’t directly affect you. Many would argue that it’s smarter too. But Rousseff couldn’t.

Not even when she spent three years as a political prisoner being tortured for information on the whereabouts of her fellow activists. “They gave me a lot of electrical shocks,” Rousseff has said. “I began to hemorrhage, but I withstood. I wouldn’t even tell them where I lived.” Her silence was not for nothing – at the time the “mysterious” disappearances of subversives was almost commonplace.

She paves the way for powerful women to succeed her “Given a choice between a man and a woman with the same qualifications, she prefers to hire the woman.” – Gilberto Carvalho, head of the presidential office.

Rousseff makes a point of appointing women to powerful positions within her office. Her advisory circle is, with one exception, comprised entirely of women. Previously, the political parties were always claiming they couldn’t find enough qualified women.  Now “[women] are strong in government, and we have the president to thank for that,” says Marta Suplicy, the vice president of the Senate.

She’s a Power Mom “What is important about my being President is that now all girls can aspire to be President, and it will be seen as completely normal.” – Dilma Rousseff

Rousseff was listed at number two on Forbes’ list of “The World’s Most Powerful Moms 2012”. A mother for decades and a relatively recent grandmother, she has faced her share of personal problems as well, not the least of which being her recent divorce from her husband of nearly 30 years, Carlos de Araujo. Their only child, Paula Rousseff Araujo, currently holds office in Porto Alegre as the Labor Prosecutor.

Paula could have few finer examples.

It’s Money Season: Five Steps to Less Stress in Your Money Life

Seasons change – winter, spring, summer and fall. We have a holiday season, hockey season and bathing suit season and we have Money Season.  Each brings up specific images, memories, decisions and actions.

With the January to April Money Season upon us, images and memories will come up and decisions will need to be made. We have all had to make choices around our money and we have all certainly made good ones and bad ones over the years.  For many, Money Season is cause for extra stress and anxiety.  A BMO study showed that the looming March 1st RRSP (Registered Retirement Savings Plan) deadline causes stress for 60% of Canadians, often causing them to make rash decisions. More than 70% of Americans say that tax filing is “stressful” or “very stressful” and studies show that this stress leads to health issues, more fatal car accidents and more challenging relationships.

Reduce your stress, get better results, and have more fun with your money by making the time and taking action now – before the deadlines arrive.  Here are five great steps that you can take to make your Money Season merry.

Your life does not get better by chance. It gets better by change. ~Jim Rohn

Get clear on what is important We spend all kinds of money on things we don’t care about, and often don’t even want because we don’t have a compelling reason not to. Instead of following the oft-given advice to tracking expenses, start your money life game plan by getting clear on what is important to you.

When you have a compelling reason to do something differently, it will change the way you think about your money. Your priorities, dreams, and goals can guide your Money Season decisions. Brainstorm the dreams you have and the goals you will achieve to get there.  Start by matching your money to your goals, instead of spending on things you don’t really care about.

Have a conversation We don’t talk about money in our society.  More than 60% of us are spending more than we make or living close enough that a late paycheck would make us nervous, but we don’t talk about it.

Start a conversation. Talk with your spouse, your best friend, your banker, a financial advisor, or a money coach.  Just start talking. Whether you are on your own or you are making financial decisions with a spouse, schedule time to look at your money life. Set up a regular Money Meeting and use it to create your game plan, make decisions, tackle the tasks, and adjust the plan. Grab the Money Life Toolkit for an agenda with which to host your own Money Meetings.

Divide and Conquer Spread out the money crunch by contributing regularly instead of trying to come up with lump sum amounts. Set up monthly savings amounts into your RRSP or Roth IRA (Individual Retirement Account) avoiding having to come up with it at the deadline.

If you have a business or work on contract, set aside 25-40% of what comes in for your income taxes and other deductions, so you aren’t scrambling in April.  Check with your accountant for the percentage that makes the most sense for your situation.

Look at your big annual expenses and divide by twelve to set aside an equal amount each month, ensuring that the money is there when you need it.

Use your tax return to get closer to your goals We seem to forget that our tax return is our own money being returned to us.  It is not found money or free money or a gift from the government.  When we see it as free money, we think about it differently and often spend the money before it even arrives.  Article after article will show you how you can blow that tax return on stuff and more stuff, but this year, do it differently.

Go back to your compelling reasons and consider how you can use that money to bring you closer to your goals.  Consider paying down debt, pre-funding expenses, or saving towards a great goal. You could use it to create an emergency fund, or make a lump sum payment on your mortgage. Still not sure?  Here are nine ways to use your tax return to get you thinking.

Plan something fun Take a break from the planning, organizing, and decision making to enjoy life!  It is easy to get into a funk around your money, which can filter into the rest of your life.  Keep your spirits up and remind yourself why you are doing all of this anyway.

Get out of the house with someone fun – your spouse, your kids, your girlfriends. Go for a hike or skate in the park. Go to the art gallery or out for coffee. Host a potluck or organize a euchre tourney.  Plan something cheap and cheerful and fun  – play, laugh and celebrate life.

This Money Season, make new decisions.  Take new actions and create new images for the future.  Small steps lead to big results.  Work hard, play hard, and create the money life that works for you.  Enjoy!

Positive Thinking for Positive Profits

You wouldn’t think negativity was such a conversation-starter, would you?

When asked, most people want to believe they’re the type to focus on the positive things.

That is the ideal.

We all know consciously that it’s what we should aim for, but think about it the next time you’re talking to someone. How often does your mind jump to something negative, which you then bring up, even if it’s just to bond with others over complaining about that thing? It’s perfectly normal, enough so that we don’t usually think about it – but it’s also telling.

One of the biggest energy vampires in our midst is what I like to call “negative focus.”  If you’re like me, you can get easily sucked into it.

Sometimes, it goes like this:

You see somebody you know well and you say, “How’s it going?” And they say, “Not so well, I have a cold.” And if you’re like me you might be tempted to say, “Oh yeah… I think I’m going to need a root canal.” And they reply with something like, “That sucks. Hey, did you hear that this coffee whitener causes brain tumors?” “No kidding? I heard this new carpeting is linked to foot cancer.”

And it goes on from there. You build a mutual bond of misery.  And it can really drain your energy to have those kinds of conversations.  It doesn’t mean you don’t take action when needed, but to dwell on the negative is a great way to adversely affect all areas of your life.

Research shows negative focus in one area of life can affect ALL other areas. A wide variety of university research studies have now proven that negative focus affects all areas of your life. For example, if you dwell on the state of the economy it might make you more likely to catch a cold. If you dwell on what you dislike about your boss, it can make you less resourceful when faced with a client issue. In other words, all kinds of negative focus adversely affects your health, productivity, creativity, and happiness. In fact, negative thinking is directly linked to digestive problems, allergies, moodiness, and ADHD. Over the long term negative focus has been linked to financial problems, poor relationships, depression, suicide, cancer, and dementia.  And yet, despite all this research, many people still get stuck there regularly.

Why people let negative thoughts run their life. If you think a certain thought often enough it can become like a program in your mind. Then it can run on autopilot the rest of life until you change it.

The mind is full of programs for good and useful things, and also for bad and destructive things. For example, knowing how to tie your shoes or drive a car are both useful programs. Without the mind’s ability to go on autopilot like this you would have to relearn those things over and over again. The down side is that your mind can also store programs that undermine your success in life and create phobias. For example, if you once forgot your lines in a school play and the other kids made fun of you, this may have stored a program in your unconscious about fear public speaking. As an adult, when you have to speak to a group you freeze up, which affects your health, your career success and on it goes.

Consciously imprinting a better program changes everything. The human mind tends to be like Velcro for negative experiences and Teflon for positive ones.

Neuroscientists say this is a primitive brain response.

Our brains are not totally evolved to be in synch with modern times. For example, if you touch fire and burn yourself, the brain imprints that experience deeply so you don’t do it again. If you see a great sunset, the brain doesn’t see this as necessary for your survival so it won’t imprint it so deeply. The problem with this kind of mind system is that humans tend to remember many more negative experiences than positive ones, giving you the overall impression that life is dangerous and unpleasant. Whereas, if you imprinted the positive memories as much as the negative ones you would notice they probably far outweigh the negative.

The mind will base expectations about the future on past experiences. So, if you have more positive memories imprinted, you expect a better future. If you expect a better future you are more likely to be confident, relaxed, and creative about how to deal with challenges.

3 tips for breaking free:

Luckily, the brain is very malleable and you can remold itself as necessary. That is best done by installing new software, or positive memories, in your brain that will override the old programs. Here are 3 tips for doing just that:

1. Look for the silver lining: The next time something challenging happens ask yourself, “What’s good about this situation?” Every challenge has a good side if you look for it.

Questions like this will direct your mind away from just the negative and allow you to view it from a positive perspective as well. This can be an invaluable habit that leads you to a better life because you will see opportunities that other people are missing.

For example: Someone hacked my Gmail account and sent a message saying I was mugged in the UK and needed money sent to a bogus email address. It was sent to all the people I had ever sent a message to on that account, so at least 500 people. I had to spend hours dealing with it. I finally asked myself, “What’s good about this situation?” My answer? I got to reconnect to people I had been out of touch with for a long time, which I loved doing. 2. Really think about what’s good: Put a notepad next to your bed, and each night before you go to sleep write down 8 things you appreciated about your day.

It only takes a minute and can imprint the good memories in your unconscious.

Hundreds of people have reported to me that after just 21 days they noticed symptoms such as moodiness, low motivation, and even physical pain in the body decrease significantly.

For example: Just write out 8 things you appreciate about yourself, others or life circumstances each evening, such as:

  •   My relationship with my kids

  •    De-cluttering my desk

  •    Managing to fix my computer problems

  •    My health is better today

  •    My recent vacation was wonderful

  •    My job is interesting right now

  •    Seeing my hockey team win

  •    Having a roof over my head

3. Choice Repatterning: Doing the activities above can produce amazing results. And, if you want to make sure your goals manifest in a big way as soon as possible, I highly recommend listening to the guided meditation everyday. This is a recording that you would listen to for 15 minutes every day for 30 days. It helps you imprint positive programs in your unconscious mind and dissolve away limiting beliefs, so that you are more likely to achieve your goals.

These can be goals such as:

  •         a health or weight loss goal

  •        improved sales and performance at work

  •        more clarity about what’s next in your life

  •        a better relationship with a key person in your life

  •        moving on from a setback in life

         …and much more. Chances are that if you have an issue in your life it is because you have an unconscious program working against you.

Choice Repatterning is like installing better software in your internal computer so that it overrides the bad programs—creating a life that is more fulfilling to you.

So don’t let negativity permeate all areas of your life just because our brains are wired for it.

Negativity isn’t inevitable!

Wiring can be faulty, and when it is, it’s rewired for better functionality.

You can do the same for yourself! Make the healthy choice to root out those negative impulses when they come, and consciously turn your mind to focus on the positive silver linings instead. Soon, that will become the new normal for you – you actually will be the kind of happy, positive person you want to be, and you won’t ever look back.

*Repurposed by Amy Kisaka, a staff writer for Goddess Connections publications Women Who Run It and How to Put the Fun Back Into Dating.

Teaching our Children to Fail in Life

What are the chances that your son or daughter might strike it big one day and start raking in the millions? I think if they did, for every parent it would be like our biggest goal being brought to fruition – if you can’t be the millionaire in the family, your child being one is the next best thing – and you’d probably love knowing that you did everything to help them get there.

What if you found out that you not only didn’t help them, but you actually hindered them from being rich?

Not just you, but your child’s teachers, the school’s curriculum and its values… Kind of wrecks the daydream, doesn’t it?

When I travel the country speaking to high school and college students about exactly what they need to do to become financially successful in life I always begin my presentation by asking three questions:

“How many want to be financially successful in life?” “How many think they will be financially successful in life?”

Almost every time I ask these two questions every hand rises in the air. Then I ask the magic third question:

“How many have taken a course in school on how to be financially successful in life?”

Not one hand rises in the air, ever.
This happens every time I have asked this third question. Clearly every student wants to be successful and thinks they will be successful,  but none have been taught by their parents or their school system how to be financially successful in life. Not only are there no courses on basic financial-success principles, but there are no structured courses on basic financial literacy.

Children are being raised to be financially illiterate, to be poor and to fail in life.

Is it any wonder that most of us in North America live paycheck to paycheck? That most of us accumulate more debt than assets?  That many people are losing their homes? Is it any wonder that most Americans cannot afford college for their children and that student loan debt is now the largest type of consumer debt?

According to The Institute for College Access & Success’ Project on Student Debt, the average student loan debt is $25,250.  This debt forces college graduates to postpone buying a home and starting a family.

The second worst thing about this problem is what children are being taught by their parents and the school system. They are being taught that rich people are bad.

You think I’m wrong? Just ask your child if they have ever read Robin Hood in school. Most likely the answer will be yes. Then ask them if Robin Hood is a good guy or a bad guy. Most likely your child will say “good guy”. In fact, they very likely consider him a hero. The fact that Robin Hood was a thief who stole from others is irrelevant. He took from the rich and gave to the poor. That, children are taught, is okay because poor people are good, rich people are bad, and poor people are thus “entitled” to that rich person’s money and wealth. Our schools are teaching children that striving to become wealthy in North America is bad.In other words, the American Dream is a bad thing.You see manifestations of this “financial success is bad, the 1% are bad and the 99% are good” mindset in things like the Occupy Wall Street movement and the Buffet Rule. You cannot pick up a paper these days without seeing some article on the wealth gap. Clearly this wealth gap needs to be addressed. But current measures to address the disparity between the rich and the poor are poorly thought out and simply will not solve the problem of poverty. The real solution is to equip our children through education at home and in school with tools that enable them to become financially successful in life.

So how do we do this? Parents and our schools need to work together to re-educate our children, both through formal education in the schools and informal education at home. In the home, parents could teach their children in the following ways:

1) Set limitations: Limit T.V., social media and cell phone use to no more than one hour a day. And limit junk food to no more than 300 calories a day. Punish children when they lose their tempers so they understand the importance of controlling this very costly emotion.

2) Teach children the importance of relationship building: Have them phone friends, family, teachers, coaches etc. on their birthdays and send thank you cards for gifts or help they received from anyone. And parents and children need to set aside at least thirty to sixty minutes a day to talk to each other. By talk I do not mean through Facebook, or on the cell phone, but face-to-face, real talking. The only real quality time is quantity time.

3) Teach children to manage money: They need to learn this. Require your children to save at least 25% of their earnings or gifts they receive. Open up a checking account or savings account for them and force them to use their savings to buy the things they want. They need to learn that they are not entitled to things like cell phones, computers, fashionable clothes, flat screen T.V.s, etc.

4) Teach children that education is not limited to school: Require your children to read one to two educational books a month, outside of school-mandated reading. Have them participate in at least two non-sports-related extracurricular activities at school or outside of school.

5) Teach children how to manage their time: They should be required to create daily “to-do” lists and these lists need to be monitored by parents. The goal should be to accomplish at least 70% of their tasks on their daily “to do” list.

And through formal education at school, the curriculum should be made to include:

1) Goal-setting and goal-reaching: Require that children set monthly, annual and long-term goals. Reassure them that mistakes made in reaching (or not reaching) these goals are good, not bad. Children need to understand that the very foundation of success in life is built on learning from our mistakes.

2) Work ethic: Work ethic is critical to success in life. Require working-age children to work or volunteer at least ten hours a week.

3) Exercise: Have the students exercise aerobically 20 – 30 minutes a day. This improves their health, burns calories and delivers desperately needed oxygen to the brain and vital organs.

4) The value of financial success: Teach students that seeking financial success in life is good and a worthwhile goal. Children need to learn what the American Dream is (unlimited opportunity for financial success) and taught that it is a great thing.

Financial success is not a secret. Wealthy people do certain things every single day that sets them apart from everyone else in life. Wealthy people have good daily-success habits that they learned from their parents. These daily habits are the real reason for the wealth gap in our country and the real reason why the rich get richer. Unless we teach our children good daily-success habits, and level the playing field, the rich will continue to get richer and the poor will continue to get poorer.

Yet we frequently don’t teach them these “rich” habits. Fact is, the values in place in our society, the ones currently taught in our schools’ curriculum and backed by parental guidance, make it more of a lucky gamble than anything that children will be financially successful in life. If they’re lucky, they’ll learn these critical skills on their own, outside of their regulated education, and they’ll appreciate the value of said skills when they’re still young enough for these habits to take hold in their behaviour and become permanently ingrained. Only if they’re lucky… and that shouldn’t be the case!

Ten Deadly Business Mistakes

One mistake- that’s all it takes to crash your life down around you.

One dumb move… that’s all it takes.

And I absolutely hate it when I see smart people do dumb things!

You can spend your entire life building up your business and working your butt off just to see one dumb mistake cost you everything and leave your career derailed from its tracks. Or overlook one little thing and it could cost you your business, and it can be almost impossible for businesses to recover from failure. Your reputation is on the line, and not only is it vital to your success, but it can be easy to blow with just one screw up.

Unfortunately, it happens all the time in business. For example, you see smart marketers who never leave enough time for a proper launch. I’ve seen content providers who continually blow all their money by building out a product without any research or testing only to find out it is NOT a sellable product. This one is my personal favorite – entrepreneurs who think they know it all and can do it alone. And, to me, this is one of the saddest scenarios. Why? Because so often their ideas are great! And they work hard, but they just don’t know what they don’t know. So instead of being widely successful, their businesses fail. I have seen this a countless number of times over my 25 years of working with and watching hundreds of entrepreneurs. I thought about how I could help you prevent these stupid mistakes, so I put together a list of…

Ten Deadly Mistakes that Entrepreneurs Make That Destroy Their Profits, Morale and Reputation:

1) You Do Not Have Clarity of Vision: If you do not understand why your business exists, then how can your customers, your team, vendor and joint venture partners? You need to create a mission statement. Your mission says why you do what you do. Your statement needs to pass the t-shirt test (when people would proudly wear it on a t-shirt). And never subordinate your mission in order to get money!

2) You Do Not Create Core Values for Your Company and Employees: Your core values dictate how you do business everyday. Remember to never subordinate your core values in order to get money. You need to keep your morale in check and never stray from it.

3) You Do Not Understand the Need for an Org Chart: An organizational chart not only adds structure and efficiencies to your business, but it clarifies who and where an employee should go to solve a problem or present an idea. You’re wasting your time and everyone else’s if no one knows this. I know so many entrepreneurs that have an entire office full of employees, yet the chart below still represents their hands on work responsibilities.

4) You Do Not Create Job Descriptions: Entrepreneurs tell me all the time that they need help. Yet when I ask them what the person would do, they look at me like a deer caught in headlights. You cannot possibly hire the right person if you do not know what you want them to do.

So before you can initiate your search, you have to come up with, and write, a job description for the person you want to hire. If you have never done this before, start by writing down everything you think you want your new employee to do. List their responsibilities. And next to each responsibility, write down the necessary skill. Be specific.

Once you know the characteristics of your ideal employee and can define the job and the skills that employee needs… you start looking.

5) You Confuse a Passionate Idea for a Sellable Idea: When people ask me for advice on what their business should be, I tell them two things:

  • Something you have experience in

  • Something you are passionate about

Once you have narrowed that down, you must confirm that your idea is sellable. Just because you love it does not automatically qualify it as a good idea. Your idea must be sellable – meaning, do people want what you are selling? To answer this, just do some simple keyword research. If you have at least 10,000 look-ups a month, then go for it.

6) You Do Not Pay Yourself: Most entrepreneurs do not factor their own income into their financials and business plans. They live with the attitude that they will take whatever’s left at the end of each month. Don’t develop that attitude and make sure you’re giving yourself an income.

7) You Do Not Know Your “Keep The Doors Open Number”: Most entrepreneurs have no idea of the “real” cost to run their business. This is a big problem because it leads to never understanding the health of your business. Are you growing? Is your business succeeding the way you want it to? Sit down right now and write out EVERY fixed cost you have, including paying yourself. Once you have done this divide that number by 365. And there you have it – the amount of money you need to bring in each day to keep your doors open.

8) You Suffer from Shinny Penny Syndrome: If you have a tendency to bounce from one “cool” project to another, you are not alone. However, this will break your business faster than anything else. You see, when you have several projects 50% done, that yields you zero revenue. However, one project 100% done brings money in the door. So wait until a project is fully done before moving on to the next one.

9) You Don’t Understand the Value of Giving Away “Ownership” of the Company: Now this does not mean for every person. It means for someone (or a couple) that will take the business to the next level. Think about it- you can’t get past that 2 million dollar level. If someone could come in and take you to 5 million the first year, it would be completely logical to give up 50%. It’s a numbers game, my friend! Just remember 100% of nothing is still nothing. Don’t let your ego prevent you from having a real business.

10) You Avoid Confrontation: Too many entrepreneurs are way too concerned about being liked and have a hard time being proactive when it comes to uncomfortable situations in their business. If there is a problem you need to confront it. Better yet, if there is a potential problem, jump on it before it comes a problem. Letting problems fester tends to lead to:

  • Bad Deals

  • Bad Employees

  • Bad Company Morale

Remember, it is business and there are always ways to handle even the most uncomfortable situations with tact and respect.

If any of these situations sounds familiar to you you need to get yourself out of there as soon as possible. If that means bringing someone in to help you, then take advantage of the options you have available to you. Once you stop making these mistakes, all of which are completely fixable if you catch them in time, you’ll see an increase in your business success. People will want to work with you, your company’s morale will get a huge boost, and your profits will increase.


Are You Addicted to Being Average?

So you’re stuck.

Settled in to a career where you know you could be doing better, but you stay where you are because it’s comfortable. You put in so much time, but you don’t get rewarded for your efforts. In fact, your efforts are almost unseen. You feel bored at work because you settled for a job that didn’t challenge you enough. You ran into some troubled times and didn’t want to risk going through that again, so you stuck with a job you feel safer with. You made some sacrifices, but it was worth it because you’re getting by and managing with what you have. And that’s enough for you…

You are addicted to being average. When you get into the habit of your addiction, it’s hard to get out of it. You become comfortable and you remain settled in your average job while you let your hopes and ambitions become merely a dream. This ends here. Make those dreams your goals and complete them. It’s time for a challenge. Rise above your average life and start living to your fullest potential. Take that leap you’ve never had the guts to take. Break your addiction today and become exceptional.
Deborah Dubree is an expert at breaking away from average. She went from being a receptionist with just a high school diploma, to being CEO and owner of a successful construction company. Excelling in climbing the corporate ladder, she’s even written a book called AVERAGE IS AN ADDICTION, From Mediocre to Millions! aimed to help people get out of the lives they settled for. Deborah Dubree spoke with Women Who Run It’s editor-in-chief, Fiona Fine, and shared her secrets and advice. Steal her top five pieces of advice and break away from your own average!
1. Be Courageous and Gutsy Dubree managed to work her way up to own a construction company, and now she runs a coaching business, as well as a regular talk show on Kwammie Lassider Sports Talk. How did she do that? As she puts it, “I bet on me.” Dubree credits her ability to ask, “Why not me?” instead of, “Why me?” The difference between these questions will give you the mindset for pushing yourself up the ladder. Believe in what you offer someone, instead of doubting why they would want to choose you. Stop worrying about what other people are thinking or saying about you and do things for yourself. Don’t doubt yourself. Just do it. “I said, ‘I’m doing this for me,’ and I went after it,” says Dubree.

2. It’s Not all About Qualifications Dubree says she sees people all around her who are intelligent and talented who remain stuck at their average jobs in their average lives. They reach excellence, briefly doing something great and worth the recognition, but then they come back down from it. She notices that they all take a familiar pattern, which always ends with them settling for the position they are currently in. They choose comfort instead of risk. Dubree didn’t have a degree or any technical training before she entered the construction business. But she had confidence, and she took the risk. While education is always a benefit, it’s not going to secure you anything. You could be smarter than a rocket scientist, and as educated as one, but if you never take a risk you’ll be addicted to average forever.

3. Find Your Self-Identity Moving up the ladder is not entirely about your intelligence or talent. You need an edge. Dubree says, “We all have an edge, and the edge is really who we are. The problem being is that most people have forgotten who they are.” When you’re stuck at average, you lose track of who you are. Figure out what your edge is. Your edge is your leverage to get ahead in the world. Look at what areas in your life you can leverage and which areas need to be improved on to include leverage. Within your self-identity, you have an edge that will put you ahead of the others. Find it. Dubree named her coaching company “Clear Edge” because of this. She says it was the edge that moved her forward.

4. The Six A’s The six A’s are Dubree’s steps to take for the process of moving your life up the ladder. If it’s time for a change, follow these steps first. This is where she says you need to make a decision about where you are and where you want to be. If those two don’t match up, you need to break away from average.

  • The first A is admitting what areas you’re average in.

  • The second A is asking what you need to do to start breaking away from the average and how you need to be behaving, thinking, and feeling to achieve this. Changing your behaviour and your way of thinking is one of the most effective things you can do.

  • The third A is to access your imagination. Open up your mind and see what you want to see. Create the end result you want in your imagination before you start, so you can visualize what you want it to look like.

  • Then act in the real world to make it match up. This is the fourth A: action. Take action and start the steps to success. Take any action that has held you back in the past and act on it.

  • The fifth A is assess. Take a look at what you’ve done so far and figure out what worked and what didn’t. You need to be doing more of what went well. The things that didn’t go so well need to be looked at and you need to figure out what you should be doing differently.

  • The sixth and final A is to appreciate. Dubree says you need to step back and appreciate everything, even what didn’t work. If it went right, appreciate that it did. If it went wrong, appreciate that you had the opportunity to do so and you have the opportunity to make a difference.

5. Emotions as Signals Emotions are always labeled as good or bad. But Dubree says, “emotions are not good or bad. Emotions are just signals.” And you can use emotions in a beneficial way when you’re moving up. “If you’re having a negative type of emotion,” says Dubree, “it’s a signal that you need to make a change.” Analyze what caused your emotion, whether it was negative or positive. You need to change what makes you feel bad. It sounds like a simple concept, but it’s important. Then, manipulate your brain into generating a positive emotion. This can be done through first deciding what state, mentally and physically, you would like to be in. Dubree says next you need to ask your mind a question, because your mind needs something to focus on so it doesn’t wander off into negative thought territory. Think, “What would it take for me to be at my best right now?” The answer your mind will come up with will encourage you. Dubree’s advice for this is, “the mind will give you negative responses if you ask it negatively.” So feed your mind positivity and you’ll power through all those stressful situations.
Don’t let your life fall through the cracks. Take control of your life and keep moving up. If you’re sick of being in an average life, rise above it and get to the place you want to be. Dubree did it, so you can too!

Investing in Your Image is Investing in Your Career

Have you ever convinced yourself to buy something by arguing that “it’s an investment piece?” “Black Louboutin’s will never go out of style… they must be worth the $500!“

We’ve probably argued this with expensive purses, technology and work attire. The truth is that they can definitely be considered investments – in you and your career!

Your image is an important part of how seriously you are taken in the business world but do we make sure our image is in tip-top shape everywhere? Sometimes we forget about another professional space where we may get even more attention, the internet. Even worse, our image is all we have on the web! If we aren’t projecting a good one then we’re probably being overlooked.
Be honest; does your LinkedIn profile have a photograph? Or are you one of those people who chooses (or can’t be bothered) to not to upload an image? If you opt out of including a headshot, the message you are sending to the professional world is not a good one. It is not a beauty contest, but more of a way for you to be identified, as well as for others to check out your professional persona.
We’ve all heard the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words,” but some of us don’t consider it when choosing a photograph. For example, it should not be a photo from your best friend’s wedding that visibly shows your hand being cropped out of a champagne toast shot. Another thing I see often are photographs of couples. This is a major faux pas if you are looking to get hired or advance your career. Keep the couple shots on the wall in your home. Employers are only interested in you, not your significant other.
A lot of people panic when contemplating getting their photos taken. It’s important to find a photographer with whom you feel comfortable and can relax with during the shoot. While you don’t need to spend an arm and a leg, investing in a professional photographer will give you visibly better results than having a friend photograph you with their iPhone.
Your professional shot will come in handy for LinkedIn and other social media sites and can also be used on your organization’s website if applicable. You will find countless ways to use your professional photo, so consider this as an investment in your career.
Here are some tips for your professional photos regarding clothing, makeup, and jewelry. Keep in mind your attire should match your industry.
What to Wear
  • Wear clothes that are comfortable and well-fitting that make you look and feel great.

  • Turtlenecks are almost always a bad idea since they crowd the face.

  • Clothes should be neatly pressed or fresh looking.

  • Avoid busy patterns and large lines/stripes.

  • Choose colors you wear well that accentuate your eye color and skin tone.

  • Different necklines will change the shape of your face. Bring a variety of different shirts/blouses to see what works best.

Make-up/Hair for Women
  • Even if you prefer a more natural look – you need some makeup to allow your face to pop in the photo.

  • EYES:
 Well-groomed eyebrows are a must. Enhance eyelashes with black mascara. Dark brown eyeliner is a natural alternative to heavy black eyeliner and compliments all eye shadows.

 Don’t be afraid to add a little color on the apples of the cheekbones. It will really brighten up the appearance of the face.

  • FACE:
 Use both SPF-free moisturizer and foundation to prevent reflection and to enhance skin’s natural glow. Use a translucent powder to set.

  • LIPS:
 Lips are best in reds, berries, and browns. No frosty pink. Glosses in any berry color work well. Even if you never wear lipstick, a little color will really make your smile stand out. Your lips are an essential tool for effective communication.

  • If getting a haircut or new hair style, make your appointment at least 2 weeks prior to your portrait session so you feel comfortable with your hair.


  • Keep jewelry simple – small is better, even with the new bold styles.

  • Avoid jewelry that would distract from your face or that looks dated.

  • The picture is about your face not your jewelry.

  • Be prepared to remove facial piercings or multiple ear piercings unless this acceptable in your industry.

Do your research to find the best fit for you since photography is an investment in your professional future. Ask for examples of their work and call references to learn about what to expect on the shoot. Since digital images are the norm, ask to see some of the shots during the shoot so you can adjust your smile or pose before the session is over.
Practice your smile and poses in the mirror in the privacy of your own home before the shoot so you become comfortable and relaxed. You want your photos to really look like the authentic you so enjoy the process and smile!
If you’ve ever convinced yourself to buy expensive clothing or technology, all in the name of your career, then a professional photograph should be a no-brainer. Be a model for a day and let your professional demeanor and hard work show through the great image you can send out. The web’s a big place, don’t let yourself get overlooked!

Are You Your Worst Supporter?

Edited by Lesley Cornelius
I first learned about the Impostor Syndrome in 1983 while in grad school. I was sitting in class one day when another student rose to present the findings of a 1978 study by psychology professor Pauline Clance and psychologist Suzanne Imes called “The Impostor Phenomenon Among High Achieving Women.”

What Clance and Imes had found was that many of their female clients seemed unable to internalize their accomplishments. External proof of intelligence and ability in the form of academic excellence, degrees, recognition, and promotions was routinely dismissed. Instead, success was attributed to somehow “fooling” others into thinking they were smarter and more capable than these women believed themselves to be. Rather than offering assurance, each new achievement and subsequent challenge only served to intensify the ever-present fear that they’d somehow managed to slip through the system undetected and it would be just a matter of time before they’d be FOUND OUT.

“Oh my God,” I remember thinking, “That’s me!” What I would soon discover is that I was hardly alone. In fact, early studies by Dr. Gail Matthews suggest that up to 70% of all people have experienced these feelings at one time or another. It’s also not just women. Subsequent studies have shown that the Impostor Syndrome impacts both genders and all races equally.

People who experience the Impostor Syndrome come from all walks of life. They’re executives, police officers, attorneys, sales reps, artists, engineers, teachers, clergy, doctors, students, therapists, and actors. According to Clance, you’re more prone to Impostor feelings if your success came quickly. The writer who publishes a best-seller right out of the gate, the rookie sales rep who lands the major account, or anyone who’s experienced rapid success are more likely to experience feelings of fraudulence. The thought process here is, “I don’t know how I did it the first time, so how could I possibly repeat that success?”

You may also be at-risk if you are a first generation professional, have high achieving parents, work in a job that is atypical for your gender, work alone, work in a creative field (actor Mike Myers once confessed that, “I still believe that at any time the no-talent police will come and arrest me”), or you are a student. Impostor feelings can be particularly acute if you are the first, or one of the few, women or people of color in your field or job setting, where you’re seen as a representative of your entire group. Not having the luxury to be “average” or to fail as an individual unconnected to your social group can lead to intense feelings of self-doubt and fraudulence

Are You an “Impostor”? To the outside world, you appear confident and competent. Yet inside you secretly worry that others will find out you are not as intelligent and capable as they think you are. Each new challenge promises to be the “big one.” You fear that every new project, presentation, or interview is the time where you will finally be unmasked as an impostor, fake and fraud. See if you can recognize these other warning signs of the Impostor Syndrome:

  • You tend to blame yourself when things go wrong. There’s a famous cartoon where a woman trying to zip up her pants says, “I must be getting fat.” In the next panel a man with the same problem says, “Hey, there must be something wrong with these pants!” Sound familiar? When things go wrong on the job, you fault your supposed lack of intelligence or skill when it could just be an impossible deadline. Worse, you tend to personalize your mistakes and failures. So when your boss says your report was inadequate, what you hear is, “I’m inadequate.”

  • You use hard work to cover up your supposed ineptness. There’s nothing wrong with good old-fashioned hard work. However, you persevere over even routine tasks as a way to protect yourself from being found out. You are driven by the belief that the only reason you got to where you are today is because you had to work harder and longer than everybody else. If you let up for even a minute, you fear the “jig” will be up. After all, you believe if you were really intelligent you wouldn’t have to work so hard.

  • You fear success far more than failure. The thought of actually succeeding can be far more stressful than failing. After all, the higher up you go, the higher the stakes get as well. Expectations will be higher. More people will be counting on you. There is farther to fall.

  • You believe your success is a fluke. Sure you’ve gotten good grades, awards, degrees, a prestigious job… but you can explain all that. In fact, you’ve become quite adept at chalking your successes up to such external factors as luck, timing, charm, computer error, the supposed simplicity of the task (“If I can get a Ph.D. in astrophysics from MIT, anybody can”), or to other people’s efforts, pity or stupidity.

On the one hand, we Impostors need to appreciate the incredible creativity that goes into thinking this stuff up! At the same time,  if you’re constantly explaining away your success, you have a serious problem don’t you? If you are unable to claim your accomplishments on a gut, visceral level, then when you’re confronted with evidence of your abilities, it’s emotionally unclear to you how you got there.

Waste in the Workplace The Imposter Syndrome, although experienced on an individual level, can and does interfere with the job effectiveness, productivity and advancement potential of those encumbered by it. This should be of great concern to managers because it affects a company’s greatest resource – its employees. The syndrome can become an expensive problem when it results in:
  • An untapped labor pool: The men and women who experience “Imposter-ism” are less likely to feel qualified for promotions. Hence, they are less inclined to compete for advanced positions. They are more apt to fall into the “expert trap,” remaining in jobs in which they are comfortable and knowledgeable, but have clearly outgrown.

  • Employees reluctant to take risks: Imposters are more reluctant to pursue new ideas and to take business risks which could benefit their companies, and more reserved  about offering potentially valuable insights, ideas, opinions and solutions to problems because they fear being wrong or exposing their “ignorance.”

  • Procrastination: Imposters are also more prone to production-delaying procrastination; “putting off” is a coping mechanism which allows them to postpone the moment of awful “truth,” finding out that they can’t complete a project satisfactorily.

  • Employee stress: The anxiety of expecting to be “unmasked” can cause stress-related problems. Billions of dollars are wasted on its symptoms: low productivity, absenteeism, haphazard communication, below-par performance and sickness (studies show that people under stress are more vulnerable to disease).

In addition, employees caught in the Imposter Syndrome are more likely to see constructive criticism as proof of their ineptitude, rather than use it to improve their skills or increase their knowledge. In turn, they are not as motivated by praise and positive feedback because they dismiss compliments, crediting their accomplishments to luck, personality, or outside help.

How do we combat The Impostor Syndrome? Fake it ‘til you make it. Now and then we all have to fly by the seat of our pants. Instead of considering “winging it” as proof of your ineptness, learn to do what many high achievers do, and view it as a skill. Don’t wait until you feel confident to start putting yourself out there. Courage comes from taking risks. Change your behavior first and allow your new found confidence to follow.

The Missing Pieces of YOUR Success Picture

Suzanne Evans is a force to be reckoned with!

She is a coach and consultant who teaches over 30,000 women in her wealth and business building program (https://womenwhorunit.com/HellYeahMarketing), she transformed herself from a secretary who was $100,000 in debt to “multi-millionairess” – surpassing the 7 figure mark in only 3 years! Her company was ranked by INC. as #225 of the 500 fastest growing companies of 2012 and again this year in 2013. She is an entrepreneur, a role model, a businesswoman, a performer, a loving partner, a lover of the finer things in life (including Manolo Blahniks), and… she can swear like a trucker (in other words, she’s my kind of woman!). She is truly a woman who runs it, which is why I was thrilled to get her to talk leadership, mentorship, and some of her surprising keys to achieving business success.

What came out of our conversation were a few expletives, a good laugh or two, and some of what I consider to be several of the most important questions any woman in business should ask herself and therefore I asked of Suzanne:

“Do you recognize a mentor when you see one?”

Not a ridiculous question when you consider how some women view mentorship in business today. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg spoke in her book ‘Lean In’ about younger women, building their careers, who seem to be under the illusion that finding a mentor will be the key to their own success and who go about aggressively pursuing those who they feel can fill that role for them. Suzanne felt that was a “forced, misguided approach and that mentorship comes about in a much more organic way.”

Suzanne embodies those sentiments in her own life, feeling that women need to realize that mentors come in all forms and are of all ages. Recognizing those who have truly mentored you comes with age and maturity. Suzanne not only attributes her own hard-working entrepreneurial parents for teaching her to persevere and achieve, but recognizes mentors from throughout her life – from a famous basketball coach she admired when she was 8, to a manager she worked under in her teens who taught her to be a great and motivational leader, to a college professor who taught her how to be a person that other people truly wanted to be around.

Some of Suzanne’s current mentors include those she has never met; authors she has studied, even those whose own core ideas may seem diametrically opposed to her own. She attributes keeping an open mind and employing a good filter in order to “take what is useful to you and your business from those who you may have otherwise dismissed”. If you can be open to mentorship coming from new and unexpected sources, you can be opening yourself up to a world of knowledge and experience.

“Do you believe that hard work equals rewards?”

Again, a question whose answer may seem self-evident but it can be easy to confuse “do what you love” with “work less, be a success.” After all, our society is all about taking the easy road and the quick path. The brutal truth is that there is still no replacement for good, old fashioned hard work. Suzanne attributes her own unprecedented work ethic to her entrepreneurial parents who always committed to doing whatever it took to achieve their goals, believing that with hard work, you will always get what you need when you most need it. Suzanne herself feels that you do not need to be the smartest person in business, the most talented or skilled, but you do need to ‘outwork’ everyone around you. She quotes actor Will Smith (again, a mentor in an unlikely place) who said “The only thing that I see that is distinctly different about me is I’m not afraid to die on a treadmill. I will not be outworked, period… You’re getting off first, or I’m going to die. It’s really that simple, right?”

“How do you deal with pressure?”

The fact is that if you are looking for success in the corporate world or as an entrepreneur, you are at times going to be put under a lot of pressure. Do you perform under pressure or does it paralyze you? Are you a slow and steady person or do you thrive under deadlines and crunches?

Suzanne describes herself as a “pressure perform” personality, to the point where she admits that for her “nothing good comes out of planning.” For all the great plans and long-term forecasts, when it comes to crunch time, she will always go with the flow because she believes that her best results come from spontaneity. But – and this is crucial, no matter your style – the key for Suzanne has been to learn her boundaries and her tipping point, where she knows that she needs to step away from a situation. If you have been working on adrenaline, if you are making that sprint to the finish line, know when it is time to bow out and have a beer!

“Are you a dreamer or a realist?”

If you think there is just one answer to this, you would be wrong. Suzanne makes a strong point for being both. Realism means knowing the financials, managing your staff, knowing how to run a business, working hard. But it is the innovators, the dreamers and the creators who truly make things happen. She again quoted Will Smith, who says “Being realistic is the fastest path to mediocrity.” (as she said – it must be Will Smith day). Letting your dreams seep through the cracks of reality, that’s where the magic happens.

Suzanne spoke about reading Suze Orman’s book Women and Money, specifically a chapter on how to know when to give up on your business. She laughed and told me she was grateful she hadn’t read the book 5 years previously because she may have very well given up based on Orman’s advice. But, the dream was too big to let go. Suzanne persevered, and look where it has taken her. Dreamers and innovators she believes, change the world – and these are two things at which women, in particular, excel!


5 Reasons To MOOC

Mid-life career challenges or career change often calls for developing new skills, discovering career fields that resonate with you, or sharpening your learning curve. One opportunity that is easy to overlook: Take a free MOOC course.

If you’ve been anywhere on the planet recently, you probably know about MOOCs. MOOC stands for Massive Online Open Courses (Source: Wikipedia). Professors from top universities have been offering courses online through ventures such as edX and Coursera. Some have started offering certificates to people who complete the requirements, take exams and follow specific procedures to document participation.

MOOCs are delivered as a combo of video and audio: a professor lectures into the camera and you hear the sound via computer (I prefer headphones myself).

Besides video lectures, you get a host of materials: access to background reading (sometimes at no cost except download and printing), quizzes to keep on track, exams, and discussion forums. The quality of the forums varies widely and all the tests and quizzes are optional. You can commit seriously to a course or two or dabble in half a dozen.

MOOCs can become addictive, if you’re the kind of person who always wanted to be a permanent student. Many people find they’re turning to MOOCs instead of their formerly favorite television program.

MOOCs are not for everyone. If you’re a totally visual learner, you learn by reading. In that case you can take notes and refer to your notes afterward. If you’re an auditory learner, you’re in luck.

All that aside, here are 5 reasons to MOOC:

1) Learn a marketable skill. If you’re disciplined and motivated you can get free training in programing as well as other skills. Coursera has offered Python programing. Udemy offers a wide variety of online courses at moderate investments on topics like Adobe Photoshop, web development and social media for startups.

2) Fire up your brain. We rarely engage in conceptual thinking or get out of our intellectual comfort zone after finishing school (lawyers and some other fields excepted). After a few online courses, don’t be surprised to find you’re thinking differently and asking new questions. You might find your grasping new material more easily and confidently (especially if you choose challenging courses).

3) Expand your creativity. Creativity thrives on change and novelty.When I study a topic that’s far removed from marketing and business, I get more ideas for my business.

4) Prepare for a degree or certificate program. Are you thinking of signing up for a degree program? Getting an industry certificate? If you’ve been out of school awhile, you might be a little concerned about getting back into the study groove. MOOCs are risk-free: you’ll get used to digesting new material and responding to test questions (if you choose to take the quizzes and tests).

5) Recognize your true interests and aptitudes. Do you find yourself drawn to courses in literature, social sciences, or science? Even if you’re an omnivorous course taker, you’ll find you tend to read certain material faster and do the assignments in some courses more readily than in others.

Of course responding to a course isn’t necessarily a predictor of satisfaction for careers in that field. I know many people who hated their professional training but loved their careers afterward.

Still, you’ll realize that your brain naturally grooves in some courses and not others.

For instance, programming requires a strong attention to detail and high frustration tolerance. Much as I’d love to be a techie, I suspect it’s just not in the cards for me. Social sciences – understanding how people act and why they make choices – remains my true niche.