Part Two: Something we don’t talk about – Women CEOs

Hi all,

This is the second installment of my review and insights about the Korn Ferry Institute’s report on women CEOs. If you didn’t read the first one, please do! I will ground us quickly by highlighting what I discussed previously. The last post examined what characteristics are most prominent in women CEOs according to the Korn Ferry Institute, and next up I will share with you how the traits previously outlined are the ingredients needed to become a CEO. The main question Korn Ferry poses though is, what values and interests or motivators, referred to as drivers, guided the women’s career decisions?

According to Korn Ferry the drive for these women CEOs was described in one word, challenge. Thriving on challenge, and having been less interested in competition was a huge factor for women CEOS. Korn Ferry found that routine job promotion is generally not enough to stake the thirst for challenge, and found that their interviewers stepped knowingly into less-than-desirable, ill-defined roles because they saw potential in these opportunities, like diamonds in the rough. Tell me, have you ever done that? I know that I have. I didn’t do it with the end potential that I wanted to be a CEO someday, but more for the potential that the opportunity would give me a skill I may have been missing, or teach me something I needed to learn. There have been times where I’ve been in a job that I wasn’t maybe crazy about, and kept telling myself that there would be a lesson or something I would gain from that experience no matter what. And, often times it doesn’t feel like that will be the case in the moment, but it always turns out that there is a lesson to learn in everything…whether big or small.

Now, to tackle the notion that women thrive on challenge and are less interested in competition. Korn Ferry also heard from their CEOs that sometimes they were so intensely focused on whatever challenges were before them that they neglected longer-term career planning and mastering the “political” aspects of the organization. A typical refrain they found was: “I was head-down, delivering results in my current role.” It is hard to not get caught up in that, especially if the thought of competition or playing office politics is not interesting. Korn Ferry found that they are largely disinterested in inside-the-company competition. They preferred to let their results speak for themselves. I have always been this way, but have also found that unless you have someone in your corner helping exhibit your good work, it can sometimes go unseen and not “speak for itself.” According to Korn Ferry, this challenge-centric mindset explains a striking observation from their interviews: 63% of the CEOs either didn’t mention organizational barriers or explicitly said they were not hindered by being a woman. In some cases, organizations were seamlessly facilitating their growth and grooming them for leadership. I guess I’m a little cynical, and find this surprising, but also somewhat comforting. Maybe a tide is turning a bit for women in the workforce?

Independence balanced with collaboration

Korn Ferry’s assessment also revealed higher-than-expected scores for a driver called independence. These scores also indicated another dynamic – these women were happy to get things done on their own, and overall Korn Ferry sees female CEOs exhibiting benchmark levels of collaboration, so this hasn’t impeded their desire to foster and lead teams, to build consensus or to share responsibility. Korn Ferry does explain however, that there is a cautionary flag here. Those who become overly autonomous in how they work can later find themselves without the support, networks, or advocacy that they need around them to become CEO and stay there. There’s that key again, support, networks and advocacy. Many of the women Korn Ferry interviewed had strong late-career sponsors who pushed their careers forward, but then discovered they didn’t have the broad support they needed for their agenda as CEO. Others found themselves blindsided by competitive executives, or without enough allies when they discovered others were waiting – or rooting – for them to fail. So, a little bit of politics and keeping your head up may be a better route to go in the long run?

So, then Korn Ferry posed the question, “why doesn’t such drive produce more female CEOs?” According to them, the fact that women must exhibit such a huge appetite for challenge to reach CEO speaks volumes about the systemic barriers many women still face. Their adaptations to that working environment, further, can harm their chances of success. So, there’s a fine line to toe here. According to Korn Ferry, we will never know, for instance, how many women didn’t become CEO because they were more independent than well-networked, or because their humility undermined how they were perceived, or because organizations didn’t recognize their drive. Those are very situational reasons and of course are hard to measure, but definitely something to make you think about. Finally, Korn Ferry discovered that multiple studies have documented that women are more likely than men to leave positions in which they are unsatisfied. That doesn’t mean work is difficult or unpleasant. The CEOs who were interviewed quit or turned down jobs when:

  • The company didn’t meet their standards for integrity
  • The role lacked a sense of larger purpose or
  • It was a place where people were treated very poorly

I think this is important to note. If it doesn’t feel right, morally or supporting a larger purpose, we will find something else to do or somewhere else to go. I have always believed, if you’re REALLY not happy…LEAVE! It does nothing for you to stick around when you are unhappy, and that goes for any situation!

So what type of things motivate women in the workforce? According to Korn Ferry, more are motivated by work-life balance. The participants in their interviews never shied away from hard work, and they took no shortcuts. But they did, on average, express more desire or work-life balance than Korn Ferry’s CEO benchmark. All of them were currently or had been married, and said they had supportive spouses, though some didn’t find that until a second marriage. According to Korn Ferry, being a CEO is not a one-person job, and this was acknowledged by the participants. A CEO’s partner has to “lean in” too. The partners of the women CEOs often took primary responsibility on the home front, managing the logistics and outsourcing of childcare, while choosing to stay home or take jobs with more flexibility. Some even said that their career affected what kind of mother they were. One said, for example, her children were resentful of her career commitments when they were young, but came to admire her accomplishments when they were older. I mean, I guess it’s nice that her children came to admire her eventually, but yikes – that kind of resentment is a bit scary if you ask me. According to Korn Ferry, many pointed out that being a mother added to their abilities as executive leaders and it gave them a particular grounding and sense of perspective, as well as gave them practice on patience and compassion, along with setting appropriate boundaries, creating clear expectations, and making unpopular decisions.

Korn Ferry also found that women are motivated by purpose  and creating a positive culture. Purpose and mission were central to their messages as leaders and working to create a more positive culture was a primary way those women carried out purpose and mission in their companies.

So as Korn Ferry does for every section, they outline key takeaways for women and for organizations. I want to continue to highlight them for you because I think if you take nothing else away from these installments, you takeaway from this section something that could be useful for you in the future.

Takeaways for organizations

  • Organizations need to re-calibrate how they recognize ambition.
  • The drive in high-achieving women may not manifest as corporate-ladder climbing or jockeying for promotion.
  • Men who might be motivated more by advancement could be more willing to take any promotion as long as it progresses their careers.
  • If women hesitate or turn it down, this can be misconstrued by the organization as a disinterest.
  • Organizations also have a big problem if women aren’t interested in the top jobs that are offered.
  • Sr. leadership and c-suite roles need to be described in a way that captures the challenge and opportunity they present, as well as what outcomes are possible and needed. This is what speaks to women’s sense of purpose and desire to contribute value and shape culture.

Takeaways for women

  • To navigate into leadership roles, women have to resist inclinations to be overly self-reliant, which can be part of that “head down” focus.
  • They need to create a strategic network, because without those relationships they don’t have influence on the things that matter to them.
  • Results don’t speak for themselves; some positioning and packaging is needed for people to notice.
  • Women should seek out not just difficult challenges, but also “high visibility” ones.
  • Negotiating with a partner or spouse as to who takes a big job and who manages the personal side of life is crucial. This can have implications very early on, even in the kind of person who chooses one chooses as a partner.

I hope you enjoyed this installment! Next up I will examine some of the major turning points in women CEO’s lives that impacted their road to CEO per Korn Ferry’s research.

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Part One: Something we don’t talk about – Women CEOs

A couple of months ago I was attending a conference where they had a panel that consisted of Women CEOs, specifically in the utility industry. The panel participants were also the same CEOs who had been interviewed for a Korn Ferry Institute research project titled Women CEOs Speak – strategies for the next generation of female executives and how companies can pave the road. This project was also supported by The Rockefeller Foundation.

Korn Ferry is the preeminent global people and organizational advisory firm. They help leaders, organizations, and societies succeed by realizing the full power and potential of people. Korn Ferry Institute is Korn Ferry’s research and analytics arm, and was established to share intelligence and expert point of views on talent and leadership. They do this through studies, books and a quarterly magazine, Briefings. They aim to increase understanding of how strategic talent decisions contribute to competitive advantage, growth and success. So, as you can imagine I knew immediately that they would have an interesting take on women CEOs (or lack-there-of).

What motivates a study like this? When roughly 94% of Fortune 1,000 CEOs are men you may ask yourself, “what qualities drive the 6% who are women in the most elite reaches of corporate leadership?” To find out, the Korn Ferry Institute studied 57 women who have been CEO – 38 currently and 19 previously – at Fortune 1,000 – listed companies and others of similar size. They analyzed structured interviews with all 57 women and the results of psychometric assessments taken by two-thirds of them. The Rockefeller Foundation, which funded the research, wants to change the astounding fact that only 6% of Fortune 500 CEOs were women in 2017. Re-read that again. Only 6% of Fortune 500 CEOs were women in 2017. I know I have written a series in the past about women in the workforce, and I try hard to not sound like a hell-bent feminist (not that there’s anything wrong if that’s how you describe yourself) but I try hard to support women’s rights but also not be so into it that I don’t have a realistic viewpoint of what is going on. I think this study does just that by taking a very hard look at what is keeping women CEOs from becoming a norm and not a “nice-to-have” at companies. The Rockefeller Foundation, has established a target through it’s 100 x 25 initiative which is to have 100 women leading Fortune 500 companies by 2025. Korn Ferry’s portion of that initiative, called the CEO Pipeline Project, seeks to learn from the women who have already succeeded at becoming CEOs, and what women in the workforce now can do to take the CEO path, and most importantly, what companies and organizations can do to help women succeed along the path to CEO.

I have a copy of the study and found it moving so much so that I wanted to share it here, along with my thoughts – especially given that I have never had a desire to be a CEO, let alone even manage people. Nonetheless, I still felt it was interesting and useful information to share. Also, I feel as if this holds a special place in my heart. When I was working at the utility, I was present for the announcement of the utility’s first female CEO. It wasn’t lost on me that I was witnessing history, and she was also part of this study. I hope you enjoy what I have to share and reflect on with this topic.

To ground this research, Korn Ferry gathered publicly available biographical data about all female CEOs in 2017 Fortune 1,000 companies and compared that to a parallel example of male CEOs who led companies of the same revenue size. Interestingly, when demographically compared, male and female CEOs look very similar, and while the differences are subtle, they definitely add up. Here is a quick comparison:

  • The women were, on average, four years older when they got their very first CEO appointment, though it is worth noting that in the study’s male sample many CEOs were their company’s founder.
  • Overall, the women accrued more diverse experience by working in a greater average number of senior roles, functions, companies and industries.
  • The fortune 1,000 data also reveal that female CEOs are not spread evenly across industries.
  • They are in greater numbers in consumer goods, utilities, and finance (particularly insurance), but less represented in industrial companies and the health and life sciences.

The next question Korn Ferry asked themselves to ground their research, was: “is 100 x 25 attainable?” The answer is yes, but the pace needs to accelerate. They found that in higher-revenue Fortune 500 companies, women held the CEO role at 32 companies in mid-2017, up from 12 just a decade earlier and two in 1997! Now, this next fact surprised me, especially in comparison to other countries…it currently takes 269 days on average to place a female CEO in the US – which is 30% longer than the 207 days to place a male CEO. When compared to Europe and Middle East markets, there is no such delay and women are placed 14% faster than men, and in Asia-Pacific where they placed women 22% more quickly. What Korn Ferry says this suggests is that boards of directors in the US still aren’t open to female CEOs as boards in other countries. So, what gives?

Before I dive a bit deeper, for those of you who have the analytic mind (not me), I will outline the Korn Ferry Institute’s research tools:

  • Korn Ferry conducted structured interviews with the 57 CEOs, asking about key events in each woman’s career progression, including pivoted experiences, set-backs, and factors that enabled or hindered her success. These were analyzed and coded to determine common themes.
  • Their assessment for executive leaders specifically measured:
    • Traits: A person’s inclinations and aptitudes, such as personality traits and intellectual capacity. Traits also include attributes such as assertiveness, risk-taking, optimism, and confidence.
    • Drivers: Deeply held values and internal motivators that guide a person’s actions and decisions. A desire for power, challenge, or work-life balance are things we categorize as drivers.
    • Competencies: The observable skills essential to management success, such as innovation and strategic vision.

Some of the main characteristics identified were personal fortitude and courage – or what they like to call “the right stuff.” That’s what female CEOs exhibited in their assessment scores, beginning with their traits. According to Korn Ferry, their mean score matched their CEO benchmark on 16 of 20 traits, including persistence, need for achievement, curiosity, focus, assertiveness, risk-taking, and empathy. I know, as a woman, that I have many of those characteristics myself, and they are among the characteristics about myself that I am most proud of, so it was no surprise to see those reflected in their study. The places in which women deviated from the benchmark were in humility, confidence, credibility and openness to difference.

I have always believed that how you are brought up and just your own personal makeup is identified early on in life. Korn Ferry’s study found similarly, that personal traits are not immutable, but they are established early in life and difficult to alter. So, the close alignment to the CEO benchmark suggests that these women had the style and mindset of a CEO early in their careers. I thought this was so interesting! So, remember when you hear someone say – that little girl will be a CEO someday…they just might be on to something!

Additionally, Korn Ferry found that humility and valuing others reign over confidence, ambition and drive growth out of early formative experiences, and their outlook is optimistic and fearless. I’ll break them down below:

Humility and valuing others reign over confidence

  • High humility scores indicate a lack of self-absorption and more importantly, an expressed appreciation of others.
  • These women are very willing to give credit to people and situations that contributed to their success.
  • The female CEOs repeatedly made note of people who’d helped and supported them.
  • Credibility is generally shorthand for delivering on your word, but in their assessment it also captures something better described as dutifulness or “good soldier” behavior.

These are so interesting to me. All of those characteristics described above are exactly what I like to see in a leader, and I know for a fact I have made gripes and complaints of a leader lacking in all of those areas. Why isn’t this the norm in all leaders? Maybe that’s the problem – it should be the norm, but it is hard to come by. Could there be a direct correlation between that and the lack of female leadership? Maybe!

Ambition and drive grow out of early formative experiences

  • In the interviews, they heard that these traits have deep roots.
  • Asked about “key events in your career progression that contributed to your development as a person or a leader,” many spoke first not of their career but of their childhood. In their interviews, 23% of the key events the CEOs chose to discuss were about personal experiences unrelated to work.
  • Parents instilled resilience, high expectations, and a strong work ethic in their daughters. Some CEOs had particularly difficult childhoods – a parent was ill or deceased, for example – and they had to take on responsibilities when quite young.
  • More than 40% of the CEOs earned undergraduate college degrees in science, math or engineering. This prevalence of STEM degrees may seem surprising, but similar rates are seen in male CEOs as well.
  • Another 19% studied business, economics, or finance, while 21% were in the arts and humanities.

Their outlook is optimistic and fearless

  • Generally speaking, the women CEOs were not at all cynical about the corporate world they entered.
  • Their traits scores and interviews both indicated that they are highly optimistic, trusting, sociable and empathetic.
  • The interviews underscored how much emphasis these women placed on being authentic and remaining true to themselves.
  • Compromising on their values – or on their vision – is not in their makeup, even if it would mean turning down some opportunities for advancement.
  • Some said they didn’t feel they could give their all to a goal, strategy, or company that they didn’t believe in.
  • These women seek input at critical stages, then solidly make up their mind. And these women are exceptionally focused on pursuing their own vision.

What I especially appreciate about this study, is that they highlight key takeaways from each section for women and then separately for organizations. As you can imagine, especially given the numbers Korn Ferry offered about the slowness in approving women CEOs, organizations and companies can still take a word of advice on how to cultivate and identify potential women CEOs. To give you a taste of how Korn Ferry offers key takeaways for each section, below I have listed the takeaways for the information just outlined.

Takeaways for organizations

  • The traits that made these women CEO material – curiosity, willingness to take risks, persistence, and a need for achievement – were reinforced early in their lives. But these traits are not rare among women, and can be further cultivated in the workplace.

Takeaways for Women

  • An education in science, math or engineering sets a strong foundation for becoming a business leader.
  • While confidence is important, tempering it with equally high levels of humility doesn’t seem to have hurt these CEO’s careers.
  • Women should also pay attention to the issue of openness to difference. Women who are in the minority in an office might presume they are sufficiently exposed to differing (in this case, male) points of view. But CEOs aggressively seek out others’ opinions as they shape their own strategic vision.

I hope you have found this first installment of the Korn Ferry Institute’s “Women CEOs Speak” interesting. To really give you a detailed idea about what characteristics are most prominent in women CEOs is a great way to ground the study and to kick off my series of posts. Next up I will share with you how the traits outlined by Korn Ferry in this blog post are the ingredients needed to become a CEO. The main question Korn Ferry poses though is, what values and interests or motivators, referred to as drivers, guided the women’s career decisions?

Let me know what you think about this blog post and anything else you’d like to share about female CEOs!

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Amazon Weekly Roundup

Hi all!

Here is a weekly Amazon round up for ya! I am indeed working on a post with a little more substance than this, but in the meantime I wanted to share some Amazon items I think are great deals and I may be interested in purchasing.

The first is these rubber Birkenstock dupes! I had an awesome girls trip a couple of months ago to San Diego and one of my girlfriends had the actual Birkenstock version of these and she loved them! So, here’s a version for even less.

rubber birks

Next up is the St. Tropez Applicator Mitt. I LOVE the St. Tropez self tanner foam – it really is the best, and I’m one of those stubborn people who didn’t buy the mitt along with the self tanner, but it really is a must. This is in my cart and I will be purchasing as I have a trip to Santa Barbara coming up soon and these pasty white legs will need some color, and preferably without messing up my manicure!

applicator mit

So, I have a water flosser and it’s the best! This one is a similar version to what I have, but actually more compact. I received one for Christmas last year and I’ve added it to my dental routine!

water flosser

I have been very interested in exploring the whole essential oil diffuser thing, and without breaking the bank I think this find from Amazon is a good choice. It’s in my cart as we speak, but may still do a little more research before I pull the trigger on it. Definitely interested though because I’m a huge candle person, so why not essential oils?

diffuser

Last but not least, Meyer’s hand soap is 15% off on Amazon right now. I love this stuff, and usually get it from Target, but it’s not always marked down at Target. Definitely always have a spare bottle in the cabinet for when I run out.

meyers handsoap

That’s all for this week. Like I said, I’m working on a really great blog series that I’m hoping to get launched in the next couple of weeks, and I have a Fall FabFitFun box to review as well!

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Old Navy Roundup

It’s been quiet around here lately, which is 100% my fault, so I thought I would do a little Old Navy roundup. I haven’t been to Old Navy in some time so it was nice to see what they had available. A few of the pieces I picked up, and some I didn’t but if I had an endless wardrobe I would have purchased them.

I tried to roundup pieces that I thought were time capsule worthy. So the distressed denim jacket is great to wear casually with anything, and great to wear with a cute jumpsuit or dress to dress it down a bit. Also, the d’orsay shoes that Old Navy carries are THE BEST! When I was commuting to work every day they were a staple in my wardrobe. Plus, they’re so reasonably priced that you get plenty of wears out of them. I also included the faux leather mule – it’s a total Madewell dupe and super cute. I have the Madewell version of them and love them, but if you are on the fence about wearing a mule then this is a good way to try it out!

To see some of the pieces I bought check out my IG account: Wishbonedreams

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FabFitFun Spring Box Review

I believe this is my sixth FabFitFun box. It’s $49.99 per quarter and you receive full-sized samples. I absolutely love it. I also receive a monthly BirchBox, but those are really just sample sized, so the flip side of this is if you really like something you got in your FabtFitFun box, the good news is you have the full sized product…the bad news is if you don’t like something then you’re either stuck with it, or on the flip side you can give it to a friend who might want or like it – which I have done in the past. I don’t have to keep it and figure out what to do with it if I don’t need it – I can give it as a gift to someone else who might love it.

Dove exfoliating body polish

I generally like Dove products. I’ve been using Dove deodorant for as long as I can remember – it’s the only thing that doesn’t irritate the skin under my arms. And, I think I would use more Dove products if I was a bigger fan of the way they smelled. I don’t think they smell bad per say, but I think it just doesn’t agree with me. Anyway, clearly that’s just me being a weirdo, but I wanted to definitely give the Dove exfoliating body polish a chance. Plus, anything to exfoliate my skin while we are in full on winter/spring things are blooming, etc. stage of the season. Couple of things: 1. The packaging was deceiving. FabFitFun is almost always full sized products – not sample size. So when I ripped open the packaging I was surprised to find that the packaging on the front – which looked like a cream jar – was a farce! I opened the back up to find a foil wrap to open next. I peeled that back and voila there was the product. So needless to say, I quickly realized I was going to need to use the entire thing in one shot (there was no way to securely close it after I opened it). 2. It is very grainy feeling. You know when you have the body washes or face wash that have the beads in them? Yeah, that’s what this felt like texture-wise. I’m not generally a fan of that, and I know that it is possible to have exfoliating cream that goes on smoothly (I use the skin exfoliate from European Wax Center). So, I had to make sure that any that hadn’t gone down the drain, or had ended up on the shower wall somehow was additionally rinsed because I could feel the exfoliating beads on the floor of the shower.

OK – enough about the packaging and how it felt. If I didn’t have those two gripes, oh and the smell (so basically change the whole thing! Hah just kidding) I would say it was a good product. My skin did noticeably feel softer when I got out of the shower, having done what I’m sure it was supposed to. I will also say that having an exfoliate that you can use in the shower makes for a lot of convenience (the one I use from European Wax Center you can only use on dry skin – however you can see a NOTICEABLE difference in that you are actually pulling up the dead skin – gross, I know). Anyway, if you’re looking for something that exfoliates pretty well and that you can use in the shower – and you don’t have all the other weird gripes I have – then I say go for it. I will personally not be purchasing that product.

57 Physique Massage Roller

This roller massage is a dream! My nieces think it’s hysterical and fun to use as well, but I really do enjoy it. I’ve been on a bit of workout hiatus but I’m looking forward to putting it to good use a day or two after a hard workout to workout some of soreness I always feel. Another great thing is that FabFitFun also includes a little newspaper/magazine that explains how to use the products in your box, which means for the massage roller they outlined a number of ways to massage specific parts of your body. Definitely need to file that one away!

Dermelect Cosmeceuticals Makeover

If I’m being totally honest, I probably won’t use for a long time. I get my nails done like clock work every 2-3 weeks, and I usually get gel manicures. However, there are times where I take a break (I think it’s good to take a break every once in a while and give your nails some time to air out), so when I’m taking that time I’ll explore using the dermelect cosmeceutical makeover. When I do I’ll let you know what I think!

Anderson Lilley Sunset Collection Candle: No 15 Fresh Linen Candle

I LOVE having candles in every room so when I saw there was a candle in my FabFitFun I was really excited to check it out. For me, a good candle smells clean and/or fresh (not like food or drinks bleh), and lasts a while! I will burn a candle all day long if I’m going to be in that room that long, so as you can imagine that means if it’s a bad candle it will burn very fast – which is frustrating. As a tip, I usually get my candles at HomeGoods, TJ-Maxx, or Marshalls – you can find HUGE candles that smell heavenly for under 15 bucks! And most importantly, they always seem to last a very long time – which makes me happy.

Anyway, I’m digressing a bit here. So, this candle smells SO good. It also came in this adorable brass colored tin container which I will have to figure out how to reuse at some point, and most importantly I have been able to burn this candle for several hours with minimum burnout. I’m excited to have this candle hang around for a while!

Free People Eye Mask

I took this with me while I was in Austin, Texas for work. I figured this would be the perfect place to use it with all the traveling and the reprocessed air that I would be taking in, which for some reason always makes my eyes puffy. It is a vegan leather eye mask that features a removable, non-toxic cooling insert to keep you feeling and looking refreshed. Luckily I had a mini fridge in my room so I was able to get the mask to cool a little bit and use it. I love it and will definitely use it going forward.

Ettika Day Dreamer Tassel Earrings

I’m 100% on the fence about these earrings. I realize that tassel earrings are really trendy right now, but I haven’t quite figured out how to style these. I’ve put them on a few times, but didn’t feel like it worked with my outfit and took them off. I will try again, and maybe it’s something that might look cute with a summer dress or something like that, but we aren’t quite into summer yet, so this will have to wait for a real review.

Rachel Pally Reversible Clutch

I love this purse. I don’t know how FabFitFun does it (I mean, I know I had to fill out a preferences form so they could get to know me and what I like), but I’m always so surprised at just how spot on they get my style. This purse was one of those things. I have loved bird of paradise plant. I just think it is so pretty, and just makes me smile when I see it. So, I was pleasantly surprised to see the reversible purse with a tropical pattern that included bird of paradise! Can’t wait to use it once the weather gets a little warmer and it feel more appropriate to carry (SO much rain in Northern California these days – though needed, it’s just been a lot over a couple of weeks).

ISH lip statement pallette 

Well…I did not like this lip selection, unfortunately. I tried every single one of the 12 options and they just didn’t look right with my skin. The lucky person who got their hands on this slightly used lip palette? My 6 year old niece who loves to play dress up. It made her day!

Korres Guava Body Butter

In complete honesty, I absolutely DO NOT need another lotion, BUT I do really like this one. It is a really good hydrating lotion and kept my legs soft all day. Also important to note, it smelled like vacation! What i mean is that it reminded me of Hawaii for some reason, and who doesn’t want that reminder?? Anyway, I recommend it and I’m pretty excited to continue to use every day after I shower.

Murad Skin Perfecting Lotion

I have to say, I really like this facial lotion. I’ve tried thicker lotion, thinner lotion, astringent type facial “lotion” so I was happy to find that this one was somewhere in the perfect middle of not too thick and not too runny. I like it a lot, and in general like Murad products so this was definitely a win-win. How things will go over time while using it, obviously I don’t know yet, but I do like it enough to continue to use it until the bottle is out.

Bando Hot stuff tumbler

So, this item was an add-on. FabFitFun has this great option for subscribers where they open up a time period where you can add-on additional items for a lower price – and this is also the time that you can choose some of your samples! Which I think is a great option as well. Anyway, depending on the time of year – for example at Christmas time I did some add-ons and gave them as Christmas gifts! Or, in cases where I think I may be in need of something and FabFitFun happens to have that item then I’ll add it on! I recently began working from home so the need for just one nice single coffee tumbler had come about. I had been thinking about getting rid of the crummy ones that I had been using every day for the past 10 years and purchasing one cute tumbler that I could use on the days that I was going to be traveling into the office. Queue the Bando hot stuff tumbler!

First impression is that I love the color. Also, it kept my coffee warm for the 45 minute drive I had into the office, also a plus! The only thing, and I think this was most definitely user error, was that I had pushed the lid shut, but didn’t twist the lid. So, the first few sips were spill-free, but then as I got closer to the middle/end of my coffee it started spilling down the front of me. Like I said, user error. Once I realized what I did wrong I haven’t had the same problem again. Bottom line is that I really like the tumbler and will be tossing all my other tumblers in the recyclce bin!

Whish body butter and wash

I just in general love the Whish brand. Their lotions always smell amazing, and a little goes a long way (which is good because Whish is not a cheap brand by any means). This was also an add-on for under $20 and having purchased Whish products in the past I knew that getting the body butter and wash as a bundle for that price was worth it. I’ve only used their lotion or body butter so I was excited to try the body wash. The body wash, along with the body butter, had a very clean scent to it. Not too strong, and not that of floral or sweet…just clean, which I like! The body wash, similarly to their lotions, a little went a long way. The body butter smelled the same as the body wash, and is thick enough that I felt like it was hydrating my skin – especially during these winter months when my skin is extremely dry. Again, a little goes a long way and I like that even though the lotion is thick it absorbed quickly enough that when I put on my leggings I didn’t feel like I was taking any of the lotion off – don’t you hate that? Anyway, I recommend the body butter and wash for sure!

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Dry Shampoo Round Up – My Recommendations

Many of my readers may know that I recently changed companies and my role is now almost strictly working from home, which is great! But what this has also brought to my attention is the need to not wash my hair as frequently as I used to. You may think eeww that’s gross, but in actuality it’s good to not wash your hair every day, and I was guilty of that most of the time. So, now that I’m working from home I find myself – yes showering every day – but not washing my hair as frequently. However, I battle having greasy or dirty looking hair after the end of day two, so I began the hunt for a good dry shampoo. Because I had no clue where to even start, I figured I would go through my endless number of samples I have in my laundry room closet, and wouldn’t you know, I had six dry shampoos to try! And so, it began.

Kevin Murphy – Fresh Hair

I am a Kevin Murphy user in general. It is the brand that the salon I go to carries and so it’s a product I’ve been using for a number of years. I have never been disappointed with a Kevin Murphy product, and I can safely say that I am still very satisfied! I received the dry shampoo as part of a kit – I think I had purchased a wash and rinse and the dry shampoo came with it. Anyway, I love it! Keeps my hair feeling dry and not oily, and was easy to style once I applied the dry shampoo. A plus, it smells fantastic – as does all Kevin Murphy products. I highly recommend it. Here is a link to it if you’d like to learn more: here

Oribe – Gold Lust Dry Shampoo

I am also a huge Oribe fan, and use their dry texturizing spray so I was very excited to see the sample for Gold Lust Dry Shampoo show up in one of my Birchbox orders. I have to say though, I was disappointed. It actually left my hair feeling more oily and  dirty. This is something I absolutely cannot have…especially if I already showered and chose not to wash my hair. It could simply have something to do with my hair personally etc., but for me it was a no. I have linked it here in case you’re interested in checking it out yourself.

Living Proof – Perfect Hair Day – Dry Shampoo

I loved this dry shampoo! I had never used Living Proof products – did you know that Target is carrying some of their product now too? Click here to check it out. They don’t carry the dry shampoo yet (I checked), but there are a few products. Anyway, I first saw this used in a tutorial by Brighton Keller. I love her blog and her IG account. I had been interested in exploring dry shampoos so when I saw Brighton’s tutorial on IG I was excited to see what she was using. Turned out she was using Living Proof, Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo! So, you can imagine my excitement when I found that I had it stashed in my box of samples! I loved it! I would say that it is a close tie with Kevin Murphy. It kept my hair feeling clean, not looking oily and smelled fantastic!

R+Co – Death Valley Dry Shampoo

I have to admit I hadn’t really used this product, and I’ve received a number of hair samples in my Birchboxes but hadn’t gotten around to using any of them. So, when I started looking through my box of samples for dry shampoo I was excited to give it a try. It can be found here. So, unfortunately I was not that impressed with this dry shampoo. For one, it was cold when it was applied, and stayed cold for a little bit which I found very strange and didn’t like the way it felt, and if didn’t make my hair feel clean. It smelled great, but didn’t do the job that Living Proof of Kevin Murphy had done. Again, it could just be my type of hair – very fine and prone to getting oily fast – so this is just me, but I will not be purchasing a full-size version of this.

amika – Perk Up Dry Shampoo

Next up was the amika – perk up dry shampoo which can be found here. Smelled great, and didn’t leave my hair looking oily, but it did leave it feeling softer than the Kevin Murphy and Living Proof dry shampoo did, which was off putting to me because super soft often relates to oily for me – especially with such fine hair. Anyway, it didn’t make my hair any oilier than it was, but I also didn’t feel like it kept it from looking that way. I have come to realize that when you spray the dry shampoo on your hair, often it’s best if you can actually see the product on your hair (i.e. sprays on as a white-ish color). I feel like that is a good marker that the dry shampoo will last and keep my hair from looking dirty. Anyway, if you don’t like it when dry shampoo makes your hair feel dry or look dry, then amika is probably for you. My hair felt extremely soft as opposed to a dryer feeling some of the other dry shampoos often give you.

Klorane – Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk

So, this dry shampoo came in my Fab Fit Fun box from I believe the winter box. I loved this (and even have it my hair now on day 3 of no washing). Klorane can be found here. Klorane claims that it’s dry shampoo absorbs oil in 25 seconds flat, and I believe this! Instantly my hair goes from looking dark and oil to refreshed. I love it. My only complaint is that it doesn’t really smell like anything, but for some people that may be desired. It adds a natural tint to your roots that surprisingly matches pretty spot on which I think is why it takes it from looking dirty to fresh and clean.

So, that is my dry shampoo roundup. I hope you found it helpful! I can say with confidence that I will be using Kevin Murphy and Klorane until I run out (they are full size products), and I already used all of the Living Proof sample, so when I’m fresh out of my existing dry shampoo I’ll have to decide which one to purchase. Let me know if you’ve tried any of these and what you think! I’m only one person, and a person with fine blonde hair so what worked for me may not work for all!

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Book Review Part Two: The Confidence Effect by Grace Killelea

This is part two of my book review of Grace Killelea’s “The Confidence Effect.” If yo haven’t read part one, definitely take some time to read through it. Where we left off was discussing Killelea’s 4Rs of Success. This second installment will discuss her take on understanding and mastering relationships and how important that is to the Confidence Effect.

We will start with relationships. According to Killelea, the first tool in moving from competence to confidence involves understanding and mastering the power of relationships. This is often an area people think they should navigate alone, but according to Killelea, the fact is that powerful relationships can greatly enhance and accelerate our ladder to success. I know that I keep saying I love the message Killelea is trying to convey, but folks…it’s so true! We often think that the work place is no place for relationships (and I’m not referring to romantic relationships), but legitimate connections with the people you work with. Killelea considers this “the power of relationships.” Our relationships are connected to our networking abilities, which she considers one of the “secret ingredients” to becoming confident to the core.

Many women form fun, lasting, and friendly relationships at work that don’t necessarily contribute to their growth as potential leaders but do promote their physical and emotional well-being. This is healthy and good. It enhances our experience at work. I most definitely can relate to this, and at times to a fault. I have a number of very special relationships I have made at a number of my previous places of work, and while they didn’t all necessarily benefit me in terms of promotion etc., they gave me an emotional sense of worth at work, which at times can be very lacking when it comes to your day-to-day activities and deadlines.  According to Killelea, these powerful relationships come in many different forms:

  • The team member who supports, challenges, nurtures, and enlightens you
  • The manager who drives you to excel
  • The peer who supports, encourages, and aids your desire for personal and professional growth
  • The mentor who continually questions and challenges your choices, often with a positive result
  • The people you trust who tell you the truth
  • The leader who inspires you
  • The powerful allies and sponsors who can open doors and provide you with opportunities

I have always been brought up to kill people with kindness…no matter what. I have even been criticized at work for being, “too nice.” But, you know what? People have nice things to say about me. I haven’t been labeled unapproachable or someone who always says “no.” That is extremely important to me, because it better reflects exactly who I am outside of work. Here is one of the main reasons why, because you never know – peers become managers, managers become leaders, and team members get promoted, shifted, downsized, or move on to different organizations or companies. According to Killelea, the larger and more powerful your network, the more dynamic, changing and powerful you become as you grow along with it. And, consequently, the fewer relationships you’ve fostered in and out of the workplace, the fewer resources you’ll be able to draw on in times of need.

The next topic is something I personally experience and believe is so important: mentors, sponsors, advocates, and champions. It’s important to note here that these are not one in the same, but indeed have different roles they play in your life. EVP and COO of Cox Communications, Jill Campbell, insists on the matter of mentors versus sponsors, “People talk a lot about having mentors. I think that’s important. But I think it’s equally important that you have a sponsor. Women tend to think that their work is going to get them there, but they’ve got to figure out somebody in the organization that is going to take notice of them and who says, ‘Wait a minute! What about Jean?'” According to Killelea, identify advocates and develop an authentic relationship with them. The key here for me is the word “authentic.” Don’t choose someone to be your sponsor because he or she is a director or a VP and can help you climb the latter. In actuality, that person probably won’t want to give you five minutes because 1. they are generally very busy people and 2. they will pick up on how un-authentic or authentic you truly are.

I have someone who began as an advocate for me while he was a director, and my boss, and who eventually became my mentor as he moved into a higher leadership level of VP. We established an authentic relationship that to this day means very much to me, and while he advocated and helped me move through my career, once he stepped into a busier and more demanding role he became my mentor and someone I could come to with work-related issues or tough decisions I knew I was going to have to make. He is that person who will ALWAYS give it to me straight. I came to him one day very upset because I had gotten some feedback that I felt was completely erroneous. He put it into perspective for me. While he didn’t agree that the feedback I received was 100% accurate, he did want me to think about it in a way of, “what if a tiny bit of it was true?” Then what? While I was surprised by it, I also understood what he was trying to do. Everyone needs someone like that in their professional life.

Killelea says that advocates are at tables that you are not, and they can open doors for you. They can speak on your behalf, and really fight a battle for you or get in front of you, when you would never have the opportunity or you don’t know the opportunities that exist. An example I have of the importance of an advocate was during a scary time where layoffs were happening. I lost all of my team during that layoff. Only two of us were left standing, and we were reorganized onto other teams. I was also brand new to that team (only about 3 months) so I felt even more vulnerable to losing my job than most. When I realized I was OK and I was staying I had to leave the office to get some air. I had never, and have yet to experience this since, but literally it felt like the air had been sucked out of the room. On my way out of the office to go for a walk around the block, I ran into that person I described above. He asked me if I was OK. I told him yes, but that I had lost all of my team and had been moved to a new team. He told me that when he saw the plan for layoffs the first thing he asked was if “Nikki was going to be OK.” He told me that if I had been on the layoff list he would have figured out a place for me on his team. That meant more to me than anything…especially given the day I had been having. That is an advocate (BTW he was still at the director level – remember, I mentioned that he moved from advocate to mentor for me over time).

Simply put by Killelea, relationships strengthen your network, and in turn, your network strengthens your organizational brand. Remember, all of your workplace behavior reflects on your brand. The stronger your brand, the stronger your confidence level – real and perceived. Killelea says to think of your brand as as the unwritten – but undeniable – “echo” that remains after you leave the room. So, ask yourself:

  • What is left behind for people to remember?
  • What is the impression that remains long after you’re gone?
  • How did you treat people?
  • What did you say?
  • How did you say it?
  • Whom did you say it to?
  • How was it received?

For women especially, how you treat people and how proficient you are in your current role is what really helps determine how strong – or weak – your personal brands may be. Killelea explains that a good place to start building those relationships is also through LinkedIn, which has become such an important platform to have as updated in real time as possible. Killelea also points out that many times women think they’re networking when, in fact, they’re not – so Killelea has a basic definition: IPO: Information, Power and Opportunity.

Information – Networking is first and foremost an information gathering – and giving exercise. If you’re socializing, great, but don’t call it networking. If you come away from a social, business, or marketing event and know nothing more than you did when you arrived, then you’re not networking. Collecting a handful of business cards is not networking.

Power – Power comes from knowledge, which is why all three of the IPO components are so vitally important to your networking activities.

Opportunity – too many women all think that opportunity will magically waltz into their cubicles and whisk them away to the corner office. They believe the world is “fair,” they will be promoted. Fact is, opportunity is waiting to be discovered around every corner, in every new relationship, and at every meeting.

Killelea says that one of the many misconceptions about networking is that it requires a stern, stiff, and well-rehearsed elevator speech with which to introduce or “sell” yourself. When in fact, IPO – information, power and opportunity – is the fuel that jump starts new information and cements new relationships. Be genuine and your authentic self and the rest will follow when it comes to networking, plus you’ll be more comfortable and not feel like you’re selling a version of yourself to someone.

Another section of the book I found useful was about delegation. Working hard is not the answer. For too many women, working hard seems to be the answer to everything, as if by doing everything, all at once, by ourselves, we can prove we’re worthy of that promotion, raise, or corner office. According to Killelea, in having this perspective we may overlook those team and subordinate relationships that can help us achieve more with less. Learning to delegate allows you the space and the time to lift your head among the crush of work to build your brand and network.

Something that strikes me, and I often see happen, and as Killelea points out, as we move into more senior roles, the work should become less tactical (operational) and more strategic (high-level leadership). This is true and all find and good unless you delegate and then quickly step in to micromanage. This happens I think frequently and unconsciously with women, however we have got to let the reins go! A good delegator, does just, delegates, and then if it looks like it’s going south and the person needs some help, then it’s time to step in and help right the situation. Help is the key word there, not yank it from that persons hands and take it over to fix it yourself. Fail fast, but give your team the chance to do it first. According to Killelea, true delegation relies on trust: trusting team members to do the job to your standards even when you’re not there to micromanage them every step of the way.

I could go on and on about how great this book is, but then you wouldn’t have to go read it yourself, so I’ll wrap things up. As I mentioned in my first installment of this review, I had picked the book up at a time where I don’t think I was in the right head space to receive it. I think that books such as Killelea’s really have to come to you at the right time, but I hope that just by reading this blog post you have a good taste of what the book has for you. It helped me think introspectively, as well as take a look at and examine how I may come off to others. I was able to take inventory of where I am now, how I got here and the people who helped me along the way. I encourage you to do yourself a favor and read it for yourself (and take notes), it’s well worth the time!

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