Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Meeting Notes

Meeting Notes is a weekly feature. Here we will dish on tidbits, news, and important things we thinking Working Girls should know. So scroll down to hear what we think you should glean from this work week.
  • ForbesWoman recently published a list of the best/worst places for a working mother to live and raise their children in the U.S. Minneapolis came in at #1 with Washington DC coming up at #2. Rounding up the worst cities were Las Vegas, Orlando, Jacksonville, and Miami. [ForbesWoman]
  • Rachel Zoe's old assistant, Taylor Jacobson, left Rachel Zoe's company about eight months ago and has now opened her own business. To read more about her life after BravoTV, read here. [NY Mag]
  • Researcher Laurence Shatkin recently analyzed Bureau of Labor stats to see which are the fastest-growing jobs for women during this height of unemployment. #1 on the list was a home health aide, #5 dental hygentist, and #11 pharmacy technician. Looks like medical fields are the place to be. [Forbes]

Monday, July 26, 2010

Taste of Summer

Here is a simple salad when cooking for one in the summer heat. I personally come home from work famished and this salad is sweet, crispy, and filling when you add chicken (try shredding a rotisserie or even pre-made Short Cuts by Purdue)

*Lettuce (from a bag obvi, I LOVE Butter Lettuce)

*Green Grapes (cut in half)

*Walnuts (or any other nut you prefer, try the candied nuts you can buy from Emerald in your local grocery store, or make them yourself using a recipe such as this one)



*Strawberry Vinaigrette (or any fruity dressing)

*Splash of Balsamic Vinegar

The mixture of the salty nuts, sweet grapes, crispy lettuce, and tangy craisins simply tastes like summer, not to mention the bright colors which studies say help you enjoy a meal more and make you feel more satisfied when finished!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

This may be an out of the ordinary statement ... but guess what?

I had a GREAT work week! Yup, you heard right. I mean, who says that?

It started off a little sketchy. One of my clients had some pretty bold news that he wanted to go out first thing Monday morning. I wasn't sure how the press would take it, but let's just say that this super influential journalist in my client's industry who has 1,300,000+ followers on Twitter actually read my email pitch and decided it was worthy enough to tweet about. A tweet? May sound minuscule to some of you, but lemme tell you, this guy's influence and credibility is NUTS. As soon as that tweet went out, views on our press release jumped from 700 (which I was already pretty happy about given our other press releases usually averaged 300 views) to 11,000 views in less than 24 hours. WOA. Amazing!! Needless to say, this translated into a ton of online sales, and not to mention crazy exposure, for my client who was just peachy pleased as could be. Yes!!

Lesson learned: I almost didn't reach out to this industry expert guy. In my mind, sending an email to him was like sending an email to some other worldy being like Dr. McDreamy or whoever. Unlikely that it would even get opened, right? But I went for it, and look what happened! This can apply to any of us. When an idea may sound too far-fetched or if you have low confidence in your abilities, don't listen or give in to those negative thoughts. Go for it, and be bold. You never know when it will pay off.

Second cool thing that happened. PR people often have to deal with spending hours and hours writing a press release with perfectly worded sentences and strategically placed paragraphs that go through layers and layers of approval, tailoring creative quotable quotes from company execs that get tweaked a bazillion times, and then when all is done and finalized, at the very last minute, guess what? More changes! It's probably the worst process in the world. Anyway, the point is to get the finished product, this immaculate document, into the hands of a journalist who will use the info to write an article. Ha, "use" is a loose term here. Journalists often twist things around, misquote, and get the info all wrong anyway. Well, not "wrong" per se, but just not what you or your client intended the article to say ... yeah. Over time, I've learned not to write a press release for your client, write it for your journalist. Write it in his/her language and tone and with his/her audience in mind. Anyway, so imagine my surprise and utter glee when I see my own headline from the press release I wrote copied word for word as the title of one journalist's article. Yeah!! In fact, the first sentence of the article stated, "I hate to steal headlines, but this one from [client's name] was just too good." O. M. G. Nicest work compliment ever.

Lesson learned: Sometimes it's easy to get caught up in "rules." A lot of the time, those rules are old and don't make sense anymore. Such as, writing a press release that's completely stuffy and reads like a computer manual. Don't be afraid to question the rules. Have you guys seen, How To Train Your Dragon yet? (Such a cute movie.) There's a lot to learn from that Hiccup kid.

And finally, the third great thing that happened to me this week: I landed a new client! Whoopie!! This new client is an amazing artist, and while I've never done PR for an artist before, I'm way, way excited to take on this new challenge.

Sigh. I wish every week was a fantastic week. These are far and few between, that's for sure, but when it does happen, don't hesitate to celebrate. I know it may feel weird, it's more natural to complain about work than to rave about it. But, that's why we're working girls, right? To kick butt! Now have a great weekend everyone, and look forward to Monday with vigor!!!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Be Careful What You Wish For

This post comes to you this week from the intersection of excitement and apprehension thanks to a phone call from my CEO. Apparently, his assistant resigned and as he scanned the vast pool of internal talent, his eye fell upon my dim cubicle! He's asked me to consider taking the position as his assistant. As I mentioned here, I've practically had one foot out the door for months. With absolutely no hits on the freshly polished resume floating out in cyberspace, I had been thinking of some creative ways to sorta "reinvent" myself in my current company but this was definitely not on my radar. I was looking for a challenge, some new responsibilities but this is . . . EPIC.

The CEO. The big leagues. We're talking a complete lifestyle change. For a "career" assistant with no higher aspirations in her working life than to be that indispensable support to a high powered executive, this is the dream opportunity. But, this role has also left in its wake a long line of assistants that, while initially energetic and full of promise, all succumbed to the vicious press of the enormous volume of emails, phone calls, scheduling, meetings, after hours work and all the other tasks that come along with supporting a busy CEO. Thus, my apprehension.

I meet with him tomorrow to give my final decision. While the responsibilities and expectations will be exponentially greater, the opportunity is the holy grail for a career assistant like myself. I feel like a contestant on Who Wants to be a Millionaire down to the million dollar question with no life lines left.

I can stay in my current role or take this huge leap. What's that saying . . . be careful what you wish for?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Meeting Notes

Meeting Notes is a weekly feature. Here we will dish on tidbits, news, and important things we thinking Working Girls should know. So scroll down to hear what we think you should glean from this work week.
  • Want to earn more over your lifetime than other people in the US? Then move to NYC. A recent study conducted by NYC's comptroller's office estimated that a female college graduate will earn more than $184,000 than their peers in the rest of the country. [New York Times]
  • Abercrombie & Fitch employees are annoyed by a new policy that requires them to work six hours instead of five before getting a half-hour break. For someone who worked holiday hours at The Gap - let me tell you, this new policy sucks. [NY Mag]
  • New census data from 2002-2007 showed that women-owned businesses had the "largest numerical increase...up 1.3 million, to a total of 7.8 million." By 2007, women owned almost one in three businesses in the US. [Jezebel]

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tattle Tales

You’ll have to forgive my lack of personal posts lately. You see, work has been ridiculously stressful for the past couple of months. After running around like a mad woman all day, the last thing I want to do when I get home is sit down and write about work. I’d rather not relive the last 10 hours of madness, thankyouverymuch. My coworker once told me that summer is the craziest time of the year. She wasn’t kidding.

On top of all the craziness, we had our quarterly reviews last week. It was a time in which we got to “informally” sit down with our boss and have an open conversation about strengths, opportunities for growth (AKA weaknesses), etc. I spent a good chunk of time preparing for it so I could be on my toes in front of my boss, and I came to the meeting with a clear picture of what I felt my strengths were and what I could definitely work on.

So imagine my surprise when my boss chimed in about my weaknesses, not only agreeing with the ones I had, but adding to them and citing specific examples I didn’t even know she knew about. As in, things I had talked to my coworkers about. And small little hiccups I has encountered during my first 6 months on the job. And things that were overheard one afternoon. And a reaction I had in a meeting two months ago. And a flustered tone of voice I used once. I mean, really?!

I’ll be honest, I was a bit hurt because I could pinpoint exactly who said what. It was like they told on me. Who does that?! One example was when I vented a small frustration to my closest coworker. It blew over 10 seconds later, but somehow my boss knew about it and questioned me on it. Really?!

As the list of seemingly insignificant incidences continued to grow, I became more and more discouraged. I thought I was getting along great with my coworkers, but now it seems like they take everything I say and do and tattle on me. I understand that my boss might ask them how they think I’m doing, but it seems a bit excessive to be that detailed. Maybe I’m the crazy one here, but when I get time to sit down with my boss, I would never think to talk about my coworkers, especially in a negative sense. No way. One-on-one time is precious, so I use it to talk about my work, my goals, upcoming projects, etc. Silly me.

I understand that it was a review and was meant to provide me with opportunities to improve my performance. I get that. But honestly, it left a bad taste in my mouth. Now I feel like I have to watch everything I say and do with everyone I work with. I feel like I can’t vent or swap war stories anymore because I’m sure they’ll just turn around and tell on me. I have a complete lack of trust in my coworkers now, and it’s making me feel tense every time I’m with them. It’s like walking on eggshells all day long.

So, Working Girls, what do you think? Have you ever been in this situation? Should I talk to my coworkers about it? Or should I just try to keep my distance from now on?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Are You A Daddy's Girl?

I am! But not just in the 'cry until I get what I want' kind of way. (Just kidding Dad-I know you're reading this at work!) This article from the NY Times talks about how much of an influence father's have on their daughter's careers. Studies were conducted to compare number of sons who follow in their father's line of business to the number of daughters.

The article states that more daughters are following in their father's career footsteps now than they were a decade ago. Perhaps it is due to increasing communication between dad's and their little girls and the passing down of career skills, values, and lessons father's have learned in the business.

I also think the increase in 'keeping it in the family' business is due to the fact that more women are becoming more confident in their abilities and are more career-driven than ever before. And who better to go to for advice than the most influential man in every girl's life.

My dad has worked in the media business in NYC since he was 18. When my sister graduated with her business degree from a "practically ivy league" university as she so humbly refers to it she immediately went to work in the city, in the same company, where my father was working at the time. Was he the reason she got the job? It sure didn't help. She has moved up in the business and continues to even though he has changed companies. I do have to admit I do get a little jealous when they talk about the latest media scandals and who fired who and what client just sued for $5,000,000,000. (Can you tell I don't work with adults?)

I am incredibly lucky to have such a supportive father. I tried Communications when I was in college, figured I would land a job before graduation (I did have an offer from the radio industry I interned for, not to boast!) then I decided to go back to school to get my teaching certificate. Something my dad had no experience, advice, or connections to. He did, however, tell me to go for it, which was probably the best advice I've ever gotten. He said he wanted me to wake up in the morning and enjoy going to work and if a classroom, instead of a corporate office, was where I wanted to spend my working days then I should do it. "Why no?" he'd always say when I began to doubt if I was doing the right thing with my life. He said there is no right and wrong when it comes to job experience, that's the whole point!

My mother was a teacher, a high school typing teacher mind you, but she only worked for a few years before she met my dad, got married, got pregnant, and never had to work again (can you sense my jealousy?!) She definitely can relate to me when I complain about my feet hurting and my head pounding and losing my voice calling kids on the playground. But times have changed. She never had to deal with disrespectful toddlers (you think I'm kidding?) and their accusatory parents ("My child had a nightmare last night, what did you do to him?" - true story) so it's hard when I want advice or sympathy or some helpful hints on how to move up on the teaching ladder and don't have a family member to relate to, but I do have a hard working father who, although he doesn't have to change diapers at the office, he definitely deals with some people who act like children throughout the day!

So although I'm not in the same industry as my father, I was definitely inspired by his working attitude and his values when it comes to complications, confrontations, and other issues in the work place. So what about you other girls? Are you inspired by your father? Maybe you work for the family business, hoping to take it over some day? Or maybe you do something completely unrelated to anyone in the family! Share your experience with us!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Let's Go Shopping!

While I sit here melting at my computer ... ugh, what is up with the weather lately?! ... I'm excited today to help answer a Working Girl reader question! It goes something like this:

"Hey Working Girl! I just got my first job and I need to know where to buy clothes. I've found that Express has some great pants, but I'm having the hardest time with tops. Is it so bad that I want something more classic vs. all the cutesy, frilly, ruffle-y stuff that's out there?"

I'm a big believer that it's not about where you shop, but knowing what you're looking for. As a newbie in the working world, the first thing you want to do is shop for some "business basics" before you go shopping for those fun tops. Check out the short clip below about how to dress professionally on a budget with tips from the Editor-in-Chief of ELIZA Magazine:

How to Dress Professionally on a Budget -- powered by

So once you've got the basics down, you can shop for items that will allow you to easily mix and match to get the most out of your wardrobe. Purchasing a variety of fun tops is a great place to begin. Get creative. Choose unique patterns, be a little more bold in color. Below are three of my favorite looks:

Comfortable, yet dressy: I love tops like these because while the loose and airy cut will ensure comfort, the shiny fabric makes it dressy and professional. While you may think fitted tops are attractive, oftentimes they are most uncomfortable and all that tugging and pulling every time you stand or sit down is unattractive. A top like this obviously looks great paired with a pencil skirt (part of your business basics), but will also look fabulous under a blazer or over your Express pants sinched at the waist with a belt or even a wide black ribbon.

A top with pop: Dressing professional can be fun, don't limit yourself to stuffy button-down shirts. For example, look for tops with a little extra flair to it like this button detail with a pleated bib. Again, a top like this will look great under a blazer, a cardigan or a shrug, and then if you get warm, you can take off that extra layer and still look chic. You don't have to succumb to over-the-top ruffles to make a statement, but at least look for something that's different than what you already have in your closet and that makes a subtle statement.

Go sailing: Lastly, one trend that I am loving is the nautical-inspired look. Bold navy blue, black or red striped tops paired wih metallic accessories and/or a dark blazer is a timeless look that can make any working girl's wardrobe exciting and classy.

(Mostly I'm thinking the left or far right image applied to your working girl wardrobe, the middle one not so much.)

What are some of your favorite office looks?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Budgeting Happiness

Now that I'm making more of an effort to get my finances under control (brown bagging it to lunch instead of eating out, downgrading my cable, etc.), I've found myself in quandary after quandary when it comes to pinching pennies. There are just some things I feel I DESERVE! Sure, I could polish my own stubby fingernails and skip the $30 full set offered at the shop sitting so teasingly close to my office but the fact of the matter is, I LIKE manicured nails. And not only that, I like the experience of getting them manicured; everything from carving out the time in my generally hectic life to actually make it in, sitting in a comfy chair for an hour while mind numbing TV plays on a flat screen overhead, having my nails fussed over and groomed by someone who has been trained in the art of doing so and of course, the finished product. When my nails are freshly done, I seem to walk taller, feel more confident, actually behave more like a woman wielding her share of power in the world. So, while the budget takes a hit, the value of the service far exceeds the price, in my mind anyway. Some things are just not worth doing without in the name of saving a few bucks.

Imagine my delight when I flipped open this month's issue of O Magazine (another purchase that I could probably do without but refuse to) and discovered an article on exactly this subject. In The Joy Dividend, Martha Beck waxes poetic about her love for ridiculously priced coffee beverages from a little international company that will remain nameless. In an effort to save, she invested in one of those at-home numbers and now watches it collect dust as she heads out for a "mochaspressomacchiatoccino." She'd rather fork over the cash in the coffee shop than fuss with a machine at home. The psychic value of an item (or experience) can far exceed the actual value and its up to the individual to make that determination. Here's a simple matrix to go by:

  1. Top Dollar Items: "I really NEED it and I really LOVE it."
  2. Bottom Dollar Items: "I really NEED it but I don't really LOVE it."
  3. Remaining Dollar Items: "I don't really NEED it but I really LOVE it."
  4. No Dollar Items: "I don't really NEED it and I don't really LOVE it."
Basically, categories one and two are needed items so they must be budgeting for accordingly. Spend top dollar only on things you both need AND love and by love, Martha means that soul stroking, mind easing, heart racing kind of love that adds value to your well-being. I need a cell phone and having one with web capabilities and all the bells and whistles is important to me so I spent top dollar to be sure I had a phone that met my needs and that I absolutely love.

Spend bottom dollar on the things you must have but don't really care about one way or another. Buy generic, clip coupons, seek out sale and clearance items, whatever you need to do to spend as little as possible on necessities. That frees up cash for category three.

Once those things are out of the way, then you're free to go after the things you don't necessarily need but absolutely love, my bi-weekly manicures for example. And category four is important primarily as a reminder. If you don't need it and you don't love it enough to marry it, put it down and back away. Purchases like this--mindless, heat of the moment grabs--are what cause us to have packed closets full of clothes we never wear, shoes still in boxes, trinkets collecting dust somewhere. Hoarders have to start somewhere you know!

Its not just about stuff either. Concert tickets to that once in a lifetime show. A dream vacation after a particularly rough year. Experiences up the joy quotient as well. Elizabeth Gilbert, author of one of my favorite books, Eat Pray Love, talks fervently about her love for travel as one might describe their love for a child. Liz didn't mind taking odd jobs, waiting tables, etc. just to be able to save money to take months long jaunts around the globe. What she made from those odd jobs was far greater than any salary a corporate career could offer. Those funds bought freedom, exploration, adventure. See, there's that psychic value thing again.

Once you get to a point where you realize what you must have, what you absolutely love and what you can definitely live without, a whole new type of financial game plan takes shape. Its not just about saving a few dollars here or there or making random purchases and dealing with the guilt afterward. When you strike that delicate balance, you can turn those hard earned dollars into to real, soul nurturing purchases while keeping the lights on at the same time!

(Ok, before I go, let me invite you to laugh until you cry at this hilarious email exchange.)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Meeting Notes

Meeting Notes is a weekly feature. Here we will dish on tidbits, news, and important things we thinking Working Girls should know. So scroll down to hear what we think you should glean from this work week.
  • Apparently perfectionism has its drawbacks! According to research in, participants who had a "high perfectionism" factor to their personality had a 51% increased risk of premature death compared to their laid-back counterparts. [NY Daily News]
  • Last Tuesday, a group of Swedish feminists burned 100,000 Swedish kroner (about $13,000) to protest the pay gap in Sweden. The group chose this particular amount of money to represent the funds women don't receive every minute in comparsion to men. [Jezebel]
  • A new study found that 8 out 10 young career women say they would freeze their eggs to delay motherhood and forge ahead with their work. [Express UK]

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The TV Super Mom vs. The TV Anti-Mom

You wake up at a ridiculously early hour and pop right out of bed, fully awake. You get ready, get your kids ready for school, and then make breakfast for the whole family. Once you send everyone off with perfect little lunches, you head to work. You win a few cases, cure a few patients or cover a few award-winning news stories. You pretty much save the world. Then you go home, cook a meal fit for Food Network, spend some time with your family, and teach a few valuable life lessons along the way. Then, after reading a few pages of a book and kissing your darling husband goodnight, you go to bed, not at all tired considering everything you’ve tackled that day.

Piece of cake, right? Well, if you were a working mom on a TV sitcom in the 80's and 90's, it was
that easy. Case in point: Clair Huxtable. She was a high-powered lawyer, married to a well-loved doctor, raised 5 happy, healthy kids, and always had things under control. She never really even got mad, for goodness sake. She just spoke calmly and evenly, and won every argument without raising her voice. Totally realistic, right?

And she’s not the only Super Mom we grew up with on TV. What about Maggie Seaver? Loving mom to Carol, Mike, Ben, sometimes Luke (the young Leo, hot stuff) and later Chrissy. The youngest Seaver child just popped out one day halfway through the series, magically grew up overnight, and poof! everything was back to normal. Maggie had a happy family, blossoming career and no real drama.

If you look back, those awesomely 80's shows we all know and love were riddled with Super Moms (and Dads—I’m looking at you, Danny Tanner) who could juggle careers, family, chores and big life lessons without even batting an eye. Sure, it’s a nice idea, but is it realistic? Not really. At least not now. So it’s no wonder that the days of these miraculous mothers are long gone.

And that’s exactly the point of The Hollywood Reporter’s recent article “The Rise of TV’s Anti-Mom”. Today’s TV moms are as real as it gets. Tired, struggling, neurotic, depressed, anxious, obsessive. Sure, they’re not pretty traits on paper, but they’re real and much easier to relate to. And in today’s society, that’s what counts. Working moms, and heck, even stay-at-home moms, don’t always have it all together, especially these days. TV is a reflection of our culture, so it’s only natural that TV moms feel the real pressures and stresses that real women face every single day.

Women no longer want to look up to fictional moms who do everything perfectly, setting up an image that’s impossible to achieve. They want to see characters who have faults, fears and pressures, just like them. For example, remember when Pam (Beasley) Halpert was so exhausted from late nights with baby CeCe that she fell asleep at her desk? Haven’t we all been there before?

Or what about Claire Dunphy who, despite being a stay-at-home mom, has her hands full all the time with her family's high jinks and hilarity. Remember when she tried to show off her fabulous mustache-wearing husband and Jager-covered kids to impress her old coworker? Or when she fell asleep instead of getting Phil his iPad? Or what about the romantic Valentine's Day role-playing game that went horribly and embarrassingly wrong? The list goes on and on, and honestly it makes me laugh even thinking about them. But they're real-life situations and real-life feelings that today’s women can identify with, and that’s what makes for good TV.

So what do you think, Working Girls? Do you miss the days of 80's and 90's Super Moms? Or do you appreciate today’s real-life Anti-Moms? Do you think today's shows portray women in a negative light? Was it okay for woman to try to be perfect and have it all, like Clair Huxtable and Maggie Seaver? Let’s hear what you think!

Monday, July 12, 2010

ABC, it's easy as 1,2,3..

Like I've mentioned in my previous posts, I was unemployed last year for 6 months and to pass the time I watching a lot of TV. A lot. Especially the Food Network which really inspired me to experiment in the kitchen.

I pledge to you Working Girls that I will do my best to mimic WG1's "Cooking For One" posts with yummy, easy, and cheap recipes to entertain your family, friends, and loved ones and/or concoctions that are made especially for a single working gal. I will try my best not to vent about recipes gone wrong but I will let you in on some of my cooking secrets and tips!

I thought I'd start out my first cooking post with an easy, crowd pleasing, party dip! It is great for a summer bbq, or any other time of year. I call it ABC dip (see? I even incorporated my occupation into this one!) which stands for Avocado, Beans, and Corn because that's literally all it takes to make this delicious blend..


4 avocados, diced

1 can white corn, drained and rinsed

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

2 limes, squeezed

2 teaspoons garlic salt


1. Combine ingredients in a bowl and enjoy with chips, such as Tostitos Scoops. Add more lime and/or garlic salt if desired. Feel free to multiply this recipe so it can be the star appetizer of your party!

Helpful Hint: Pop the limes in the microwave for 10-15 seconds, roll them on the countertop before cutting. This will get the juices flowing and give you more bang for your buck!

Cooking for One?

Add this dip to some chopped tomato, red onion, and romaine lettuce and bring to work as a Mexican-inspired lunch. OR..

Throw some egg beaters in a pan and use the mixture as a stuffing of a healthy omelette. The beans and avocados will give you protein-fueled energy and the corn give it a sweet twist, you won't miss the cheese at all (unless you're obsessed with cheese like me, add the mexican blend you can buy in a bag at the grocery store!)

See? I told you I was going to make this easy, fun, and delicious! Enjoy!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Left Behind

Sometimes it's hard for me to believe that I've been living in Chicago now for a year and a half, which also means that I've been at my current job for a year and a half as well. In that small time frame, I have had three bosses, three titles, and I have moved desks four times. When I moved to my current desk I found something unexpected and that was three best friends who really feel more like sisters.

At my old job in New York City, I had a lot of friends my age (and some not so close to my age) and we hung out a lot...but always at work. We were "at work" friends and we joked about this a lot. We didn't hang out outside of work and there wasn't any real reason for this. It was most likely just because we had other groups of friends and our time to hang out was at lunch during the week, not at brunch on the weekends.

When I first started my job here in Chicago, I found that things were similar. I had friends but they were purely "at work" friends and we didn't cross the boundary. And then I moved desks for the first time and I found myself sitting in a cubicle next to tons of young people. And slowly but surely we found ourselves hanging out. At first it was a lot of going away dinners or happy hours celebrating good news. And then that evolved into dinners out and happy hours for no reason.

My most recent desk change came with the biggest difference. I was moved into an office with the other two Project Managers at the office both of whom I was already friends with prior to the office move. Our office literally looks like a dorm room and if you added bunk beds we'd be all set to go back to college. A guy at work jokes and calls it our "sorority house". The three of us quickly became inseperable. We worked together, talked about everything together, went to meetings together, and were even hanging out sometimes on the weekends.

E & L (names omitted to protect the innocent) are two of my very best friends. And they are leaving me behind for new adventures. Commence sad, pouty face.

L just recently had a baby who E and I are obsessed with. We visited her in the hospital, took her a meal last week to catch up, and she calls us Aunties. And honestly I do feel really close to her and her baby - E & I were there for the whole pregnancy and that baby is like a part of our little sorority. L has been on maternity leave now for about a month and she won't be coming back until September and while she thinks she wants to come back to work for the camraderie and to have a routine, I have a feeling that coming back to work will take a back seat to her new baby boy.

As we speak, E is in Ohio interviewing for a new job because after three years in Chicago she wants to move back to her hometown.

I have to admit that it's been really hard to be supportive as I watch my two closest friends at work (and outside work as well) move on with their lives and on to new, exciting adventures without me. I've considered my own new adventure, but I know in my heart that I'm not ready for a next step. I'm content where I am and in the job that I am doing.

But I can't shake the feeling that it's hard being left behind. And it's incredibly hard letting these girls go even though I know I have to.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

My 10 Year Reunion Update

Well, ladies. I went.

Back in May, I posted a long nervous rant about going to my high school's 10 year reunion and I wanted to thank you guys for your encouragement and feedback.

So my final verdict? 2 out of 5 stars. Lame-ish. Could have spent that money on cute metallic gladiators instead. Looking back, the only good part was my date: my best friend from high school. And thank goodness I didn't bring my husband. The spouses there looked five times more uncomfortable than I felt and guaranteed a hundred million times more bored.

Why it stunk:

1) My graduating class was pretty large, I'm talking 500 students! Even a 50% turnout would have been cool. But how many ended up showing? Oh ... 85 people. Weak!! The chances of me wanting to catch up with anybody in attendence was pretty slim. Turned out to be very true.

2) It only took one look around the room (which was a sectioned off portion of a community college gym, mind you) to see that not a single guy I dated or even went on one date with, was there. It caught me a little off guard that this was something I noticed right away, I'm happily married and had no intentions of chasing an old flame, but I thought it would have been very interesting, fun maybe? to see one or two of these guys and laugh/chat about old times. Am I weird?

3) The mingling was so awkward, just as I had pictured. What made things worse was that as soon as you got there, there were round tables and people were seated wherever they pleased while a buffet-style dinner kept people planted in their seats and not up and about talking to people. I really wish there was something of a cocktail hour first so that people could mingle a bit more and then be seated for dinner. It took major guts just to think about going to another table to talk to someone.

I could go on, but those are my top three gripes. I agree with CityGal who commented on my orginal post about waiting to go to your 20th reunion instead. In 20 years, more things are likely to change, people grow up a little more. I mean, c'mon, some people at my 10 year were still in school! For their Bachelor's.

Anyway, one thing though, I have to say part of me is glad I went. My best friend and I afterwards commented on how proud of ourselves we were for going. We braved the storm. We went in for the plunge. It was like we needed T-shirts that said in big blocky letters, "I SURVIVED."

I guess the lesson learned here is that if you already keep in touch with the ones you care about from high school, there's no point in going to your 10 year reunion unless for curiousity's sake, or to simply say, "I did it." You won't miss much if you don't go, except for that healthy dose of awkwardness that only high school can bring.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Show Me the Money!!

My resume has been floating around for a few weeks now without so much as a nibble. While a true job seeker probably wouldn’t be phased, especially not this early in the game, I am not a true job seeker. I actually have a job, I just happen to be disgruntled, disillusioned and dissatisfied. And since it doesn't seem that my dream employer has come across my resume yet, I should probably try to reassess my current situation and try to find a way to make it somewhat tolerable.

The fact of the matter is, this place is a veritable wonderland of opportunity. With people resigning left and right, gaping holes in staffing are just sitting out there waiting to be filed. New roles, new responsibilities and new occasions to retool my current position are cropping up all over the place. It’s a simple as . . . asking!

As the most senior member of the administrative staff, I’ve earned a Outlook folder of kudos and accolades a mile long. I know the inner workings of the company blindfolded and have been instrumental in many of the biggest deals that have come down over my six year tenure. So, it seems like no big task to saunter in the CEOs office and lay out a list of demands.

Not so. I’m mortified by the idea and apparently this is nothing new.

According to Joyce E.A. Russell in a Washington Post article , “many women just don't feel comfortable asking for what they want. Women don't negotiate as much as men do, and when they do, they don't ask for as much. Women are reluctant to bargain, ask for raises, promotions, better job opportunities, recognition for the good work we do -- even for more help at home.” That sounds about right to me because the very idea of asking for more makes me feel as though I’ll be seen as unappreciative and perhaps even a little egotistical, as if my hard won years of respect would instantly crumble and I’d be relegated to some dim corner reserved for “bad” employees and swift boated out. That puts me back at square one, still disgruntled and likely to make a fast getaway to the first company interested. Either way, I’m out!

Thankfully, Russell assures me that hope is not lost and that by applying some very practice negotiating tactics, I can gather enough nerve to make those crucial steps to the bargaining table and beyond.

I have a girlfriend who loves to say, “Chile, a closed mouth don’t get fed!” Never is this more true than in the workplace. Women still lag behind men in pay, top positions and promotions. Russell points out, “For women to get what they want, they need to ask and to be persistent. Don't immediately back down. As a woman, when you don't negotiate, you're already starting out behind your male peers and behind where you should have been. With every future raise and job offer, you'll already be behind, and you may never catch up. So how do you ask for what you want and get it?”

Here are a few tips that I’ve picked up for getting past the anxiety and successfully negotiating your way to career bliss:

· Do your homework: It may not be enough to point out how great your colleagues think you are. Extensive research will show your bosses that you really mean business. Determine your market value with help from the Web, professional associations, colleagues and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Get organized and determine your needs -- salary, benefits, vacation, travel, professional memberships, etc. Don’t hesitate to prepare handouts. Big, bold colorful but succinct tables, charts, graphs and bullet points will help you stay on track, give you a little extra confidence boost and solidify the official nature of the discussion. A pie chart can go along way with a busy executive!

· Put on your game face and a little lip gloss won’t hurt either: Russell points out that “what may work for men -- often being assertive and boasting when negotiating -- may not work for women. Arm yourself with information, ideas and resolve and bring along an arsenal of "friendly" non-threatening social mannerisms. While this sounds so unbelievably sexist, it’s the way of the world. May as well work it your advantage. Communicate a positive "let's-work-this-out-together" attitude. Humor helps, too.

· Put ‘em at ease: Be enthusiastic and show energy. Make it clear that you are excited and genuinely want to work there. Be able to show how you help improve an organization's bottom line (e.g., bringing new contacts, saving money, training employees). You need to make it easy for the other party to say "yes" in the negotiation.

· Have a Plan B: Before you head into a negotiation, make sure you have an alternate plan in place. Try to make that alternative as attractive as possible. This boosts your confidence and your leverage, but I say, don’t let the cat out of the bag until it’s obvious they’re not going for Plan A. You never want to show your hand prematurely or you can kiss what you really want goodbye.

What other tips and tricks can you suggest for getting your fair shake in negotiations at work?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Meeting Notes

Meeting Notes is a weekly feature. Here we will dish on tidbits, news, and important things we thinking Working Girls should know. So scroll down to hear what we think you should glean from this work week.
  • TV network Oxygen compiled info from a survey they took of 1600 social media users between the ages of 18-35 and found that two thirs of women surveyed use Facebook as a career networking tool. [The Register]
  • The United Nations general assembly has unamiously voted to approve UN Women. This off-shoot of the UN will focus completely on issues surrounding women of the world and will launch in January 2011. [Jezebel]
  • Unemployed women in the Netherlands are being offered a £1,150 fashion and beauty makeover and membership to a dating agency to help them find a wealthy husband. The theme is being offered by three councils in Friesland in the hopes that they will save on welfare payments if these women meet wealthy husbands. [Daily Mail]

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Let's Face It, Meeting Friends Outside of College Sucks

In college, I made most of my friends within the first week of being on campus. Whether it was through orientation, classes, or clubs, most the friends I still talk to on a daily/weekly basis I met fairly quickly and we became fast friends. Since most of my senior class moved to NYC after graduation, I had a built in social network. Parties, dinner dates, drinks after work were all with friends from college.

And then I moved to Chicago and while I had my family and friends from high school to keep me company, I found that I had less of a network that I had become accustomed to in NYC. I mean, there are only so many times you can go to dinner with your dad and my high school friends had their own networks to hang out with so some weekends I would be holed up in my apartment watching reruns of Roswell (don't judge). This is when I set about making more friends. And I quickly realized that making friends in a post-collegiate "real world" is hard work. It takes a lot of time and effort and it doesn't happy over night. Below are some tips that helped me make new friends and this works for people who have been relocated by a job, have recently moved to be closer to a boyfriend, or just people looking for a new group of friends in their hometown.

Social Networks
I have found that some of the girls I have become myself becoming closer and closer to are girls I met through blogging or Twitter. I got invited to my first blogger party by Jess. It was there that I met a slew of amazing bloggers (and Twitters) including Jamie, Jenn, and Allie. After only a few short months Jamie and I became close buds who went to cupcake shops together, saw movies about vampires together, and obsessing over awesome TV shows together. I realized that I loved meeting girls who loved the same things as me (like champagne and trying new restaurants!) so I even ended up hosting a party (with Jamie) for some bloggers and then even attended Bloggers in Sin City this past spring, which made my relationship with some of my new friends even stronger! Starting your own blog or connecting with people via Twitter is a great way to meet like-minded people.

My mom was always very much into being involved in the community. She was always involved at my grade school and high school by being on committees and doing volunteer work for women's boards. This of course instilled in me a want to do this as I got older so when I moved to Chicago I looked around for Junior Boards to be involved in which are not only a great way to meet friends, but also to network. I'm currently on a hospital junior board where I've met a few girls that I have drinks with now and then. It's easy to find a board to get involved in especially if you already have a cause that you are passionate about, but if you don't and you just want to help out the community do some research for junior boards in your area. Trust me, there will be a ton and I know Chicago even has a service night (almost like a trade show) where you can walk booth to booth and learn more about charities/boards in your area. Note: this is also a really great way to meet nice guys!

Join, join, join!
The best way to meet new friends is to be a joiner, which I kind of touched upon above. I personally think this is so important. When I first moved to Chicago, I started a book club with my friends (something I had always wanted to do!) and had them invite their friends and their friends and eventually our book club had 15 people in it and I only knew a handful of them. This was a great way to meet new people and a lot of the girls have become my friends through the book club. Other fun clubs to join are dinner clubs, cooking clubs, knitting clubs, church youth groups - and a lot of these are available through public libraries, YMCAs, park districts, etc. Don't be scared to go to a club solo either - the worst thing that can happen is that you don't meet someone!

One thing I definitely recommend is reconnecting with old acquaitances or old friends that you know live in your area. It's easy to find these things out by consulting Facebook. While I was living in New York, I got a few emails from girls I went to high school with who had just moved to town and wanted to meet up. One of those girls was one of my bff's from grade school and we ended up reconnecting and becoming close again. So you never know - put the invitation out there and you could end up meeting your new best friend! If you don't know someone who lives in the area already, asking your friends to set you up on blind friend dates is a good idea.

Think outside the box
Sometimes it's the least likely place where you meet a friend, so think outside the box! Attending lectures, college alumni meet-ups, seeking out local political events, networking events or going to book readings are great ways to meet people who will like the same things as you. I once went to a public Daily Candy event in NYC with WG1 and while waiting in line to get inside we got to talking with two girls behind us and while we didn't end up hanging out with them ever again, if we had put the effort in I think we could have left with two new friends.

Become a regular
I found this idea on a message board once and it struck me as a great idea. Find a bar, restaurant, or gym and become a regular. You can easily become friends with the staff just by being there. A bonus is becoming friends with a bartender or waiter who can sneak you free drinks or snacks.

Say yes!
The #1 rule when trying to make friends post-college is putting yourself out there. If a coworker invites you to a happy hour, GO! It never hurts to go to something you were invited to because like I said before, the worst thing is that you don't meet anyone or you feel awkward (and then you leave). So saying yes is imperative when trying to find new girl friends.

Don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and say yes to new experiences because you never know where they might lead you or who they will introduce you to!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Fashion . . . for Food!

As I mentioned a few months ago, in an effort to cut costs, I've kicked the eating out habit and stuck to brown baggin' my lunch to work. Doing the whole "eating in" thing at work is an art form. Its all about getting the appropriate mix of nutritious, delicious and filling items kept at the optimal temperature and eaten at the ideal time of the day. No easy task, believe me!

However, throw in a aesthetically pleasing tote to transport it all in and this isn't your grandmama's brown bag!

Anna Griffin offers cute reusable lunch totes in a variety of colors and patterns. Save the planet and increase the crave factor of an ordinary lunch all at once! Who needs to reuse those small bags collected from random malls stores to haul when you can lunch in style!

Etsy offers all sorts of eco-friendly retakes on that old zip-lock with their cloth sandwich bags. I could imagine sticking these handy little pouches right in with my laptop solo and heading to the office. Functionality meets fashion forward with the Aladdin Lunch and Go box, designed to be a grown up take on the kiddo box of yesteryear.

I couldn't help but mention this mini-lunch tin that I discovered on Amazon. It may be a little on the tween side but the "Cute but Psycho" emblazoned on the side is enough to make me decrease the portions in my lunch by half just to sit with that facing outward in our company break room!

Are you bringing lunch from home? What tote or tin works best for you?