“Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans.” — John Lennon
I’m an INTJ with a capital “J”. I mean like a RIDICULOUSLY high “J”.
I am so well-planned and organized that even my “fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants plans” are scheduled.
I have spreadsheet for Thanksgiving dinner — what I need to buy, what goes in the oven when, my recipes are indexed & labeled — all done in July.
So when a dear friend asked me, “30 Days to Launch? What’s your plan?”, my immediate response was self-shocking.
“There is no plan. Sometimes you just have to follow your heart.”
Perhaps in the past I was too well-planned.
Dreams turned into an elaborate, well-crafted plan of attack, which exposed risks and challenges. Those realizations led to fear, doubt, and a million reasons why the dream seemed unattainable. And finally, there was convincing narrative of why I shouldn’t even start.
I have a hard drive full of dreams I never chased. I have a hard drive full of plans — business, content, lead generation — a whole lot of unpursued plans.
This time though, there is no plan. I have been making plans for 38 years.
Growing Pink Mentor Network has consumed every spare moment since February. While it continues to grow in size and outreach, it has not yet equated to financial gain.
At times, it feels like I’m “running on ice” — exerting a lot of energy but not getting anywhere.
However, today I choose to call it “conditioning”.
270 – 4:13AM Work Sessions;
136 Newsletters, Posts, and Images;
12 Women’s Empowerment Events;
3 Meetup Groups & 1 Facebook Group;
& Countless Vulnerable Voices Sharing Professional Stories of Success, Challenges, and Opportunity.
“Running on ice” makes builds strong legs and endless endurance. “Running on ice” is great practice. “Running on ice” is character-building. “Running on ice” gave me time to see, think, listen, feel.
I am impassioned. I am ready. Bring on the marathon.
I have been conditioning.
In the next 30 days, that woman will transform a feel-good quest for mentorship into the business of her dreams.
Why a 30-Day Launch Sprint?
Fear has barricaded this dream too long.
This girl has BIG dreams. Anything is possible in 30 days. Even BIG dreams are possible in 30 days.
I suppose I always knew that. But it took 2,368 women to ignite it.
I’m a dreamer.
I’m a dream chaser.
I’m a dream catcher.
I’m a woman.
[Insert roar here.]
Me too. Let’s begin together.
Opportunity or Challenge — Depends on Leadership
“Your talents and abilities will never be appreciated or respected here.”
… A CEO once told me.
She added, “You grow and develop people. We don’t do that here.”
She later apologized and blamed it on a “bad day”.
I accepted the apology, but never forgot the words. In fact, they shaped the narrative I collected for the rest of my tenure.
Of course she’s not listening… my opinion isn’t respected here. Why should I care about professional development? It’s not important here. Don’t speak up — it’s pointless. Gratitude is for other people. My talents are undeserving.
The self-talk wasn’t always true. But it was always a challenge.
It challenged my confidence. It challenged my motivation. It challenged my willingness to contribute.
“We trust you. You can figure this out. You always do.”
… Declared my first boss as he presented me with the most significant challenge of my early career.
Except back then, I didn’t see challenges. I only saw OPPORTUNITY.
Opportunity to advance. Opportunity to succeed. Opportunity to contribute. Just 100% pure, endless, foundation-building opportunity. And I jumped at the opportunity!
This is my shot! What an amazing opportunity. Wow, I can’t believe it…and can’t wait to get started. Of course, I CAN do this! I’ll just figure it out like I always do. I am so grateful for the opportunity.
Frankly, I still am.
I did solve that organizational challenge — and six more years of them with unwavering dedication, motivation, and confidence.
[tap, tap, tap]
“Is this thing on?”, asks an eager young leader.
Of course it is. It’s leadership.
Leadership is an unlimited stage & resounding microphone.
Take the stage with courage, respect, and honor. The stage is a privilege, never a right.
Use the microphone with authenticity and honesty. Speak thoughtfully and passionately. Your message shapes our narrative of you and your mission.
There are infinite stages, microphones, and audiences. But YOUR audience pays for YOUR show because they believe in YOUR PERFORMANCE.
Never take their attention for granted. Recognize it frequently. Earn it repeatedly. And appreciate it often.
This is YOUR STAGE. This is YOUR MICROPHONE.
Just remember the audience has the right to turn their backs at any time.
Use your stage and microphone wisely. Always.
“Carry-With-Me’s” From This Month’s Mentor Dinner
Three successful female entrepreneurs shared their stories of “GRIT TO GREATNESS” at this month’s mentor dinner. Here are some of my takeaways.
- Do what feels right to you. Not what other people think is right for you.
- Hustle hard. Just keep going.
- Feel good about where you are going.
- Make it fit.
- GRIT equals stick-to-it-iveness.
- Be resilient, inspired, and determined.
- Greatness takes stamina.
- As a businesswoman, mother, and wife; you are raising a career, child, and a marriage. Don’t forget about growing the marriage.
- Be careful of the stories you tell yourself.
- Grit is like sandpaper. Let it be your callous.
- Craft v. Business – Which one will you build? They are not the same.
- Tap into what you have — talents, abilities, network, knowledge.
- Make decisions that you not only can live with…but importantly, wouldn’t want to live without.
- We are more than the labels others give us.
In a room full of GRITTY women, I learned:
- GRIT comes in many shapes, sizes, and times on our lives. But it’s the stories of GRIT that inspire others to dig deeper, go harder, or just keep on keepin’ on.
- Every career requires GRIT. Every women has her own unique tale of GRIT.
- GRIT is raceless, classless, ageless, and genderless. GRIT is personal.
- GRITTY Women Get GRITTY Women. GRIT is a universal language of dogged perseverance and resolute tenacity.
- GRIT GETS IT DONE. BE UNAPOLOGETICALLY GRITTY.
What’s your personal definition of GRIT? What’s your GRITTY story? Who do you share it with? Who could benefit from your GRITTY lessons learned? How will you tell them?
Yeah. I’m asking YOU.
GRIT UP & GO, GIRL!
Professional development is a constant undertaking to evergreen learners. An evergreen learner will grow regardless of the season, role, manager or employer.
Early in my career, I waited for a directive to take a new course or apply a new skill. But over time, I’ve learned that I am an evergreen learner and that it’s best to take professional development into my own hands.
NEVER WAIT FOR PERMISSION TO GROW. LEARN SOMETHING NEW. THEN APPLY IT IN WAYS ONLY YOU CAN.
That said, I have also learned professional development is much easier when it’s encouraged or supported by management. Here are some questions you should get answered during the interview process if you are an evergreen learner.
10 Questions Every Evergreen Learner Should Ask a Potential Manager:
- Where do you find professional inspiration?
- What podcasts, blogs, or professional development organizations do you belong/subscribe to?
- Who are the thought leaders or industry experts you admire? Why?
- What books or authors have had the most influence on your career?
- What was the last skill you learned?
- What was the last skill you taught?
- When was the last time someone in your department was promoted? Tell me about that experience.
- What is your performance feedback strategy? How will I know am exceeding your expectations (…because I will!)?
- How do you expect this position to grow? What skills and knowledge may be needed 6 months from now? 1 year? 5 years?
- What is the professional development strategy for your employees? How do people here grow?
And for all you leaders out there…you best be able to answer these questions. The best talent demands it!
How to Start & What Happens If You Don’t
That was my Mom’s first Christmas as a mother. That stupid look on my face is me in awe of everything she did to prepare for the holiday.
She dressed everyone in this picture. She picked out all our presents. (I’m sure she went overboard.) She decorated the entire house inside & out. She baked cookies for neighbors and friends. She helped her mom and her mother-in-law without them asking.
She did it all that holiday…and has done the same for 38 years of holidays since, and every other day for that matter.
My Mom was born to be a mother. She basically raised her younger brother, my dad, and her own four kids.
Same dumb look on my face! — Again, I’m in awe of my Mom during the holidays. She is on the end fixing my brother’s collar. She can’t help herself — she is always helping one of us. (I love this picture.)
My mom is the most generous, thoughtful person I’ve ever met. It’s no wonder she has back pain — she’s been carrying babies and everyone else’s troubles since she was 10!
My mom is also the strongest woman I know. Even when the back pain slowed her down physically, it never touched her mentally.
She had her second back surgery a few months ago, and this time the recovery has been hindered by nerve damage to her legs. All of the sudden the woman who carried the weight of our entire family and a good portion of her community, can’t physically stand to carry her own.
I live across the country from her now, but would drop everything if she asked for help. My sisters live closer, and thankfully, are there to help.
But Mom doesn’t ask. She knows we are busy, and doesn’t want to be a bother.
Meanwhile across town, my Grandma struggles to get around in her walking cast. She broke her ankle doing something her two sons would have been more than happy to help her with.
Now, she is hobbling around doing more of those tasks because she doesn’t want to be a nuisance.
And closer to me, a dear friend recently moved herself and her daughter into an adorable new home — one carload and box at a time.
While the friends of both mother & daughter sat nearby…in their homes, totally ready, willing and able to help … if they had only received the call to help.
Women everywhere — all ages, stages, races, and wages — are failing to ask for help.
We are smart enough to know we need help. We are vocal enough to speak our minds. We are kind enough to offer a helping hand to both friends and strangers.
But yet, we struggle to put the three qualities together, and ask for help when we need it.
We don’t ask for help because we weren’t taught to ask for help.
The Independent Woman — It’s how we were raised.
We were taught to be strong.
Take care of yourself.
Depend on no one.
But with that mindset, we have also raised daughters who would rather struggle through it than ask for help.
The Ambitious Woman — It’s our culture.
Want more. Do more. Be more.
What you have is nice, but what she has is better.
Keep pushing. Take on more. More roles, titles, responsibilities.
Never settle. Keep pushing.
Only you control your own destiny.
The Nurturing Woman — It’s in our DNA.
We care for others. We help others. Selflessly, loyally, without question or expectation.
Give, give, give. Asking for nothing in return.
Mother, daughter, sister, wife, boss, friend…each role takes time, energy, and effort. Being everything to everyone — that’s who we were born to be.
The Thoughtful Woman — It’s the way we are conditioned.
“The mental load of one woman could OVERLOAD a hundred men.”
We carry our own baggage & dreams— as well as the struggles and ambitions of everyone we love — in our heads, on our shoulders, in our hearts.
We worry about dinner, homework, budgets, and others — all day, every day.
To the independent woman, recognize & be mindful of your own limitations. Asking for help is not a weakness. Rather, it’s self-awareness and wisdom.
To the ambitious woman, achievement & success scale when you bring others along. Asking for help is an invitation for others to join your mission.
To the nurturing woman, caregiving begins with oneself. Asking for help is your biggest leap towards self-care.
To the thoughtful woman, the sincerest forms of generosity are reciprocal. Asking for help welcomes those you love to do the same for you.
So what happens to the woman who doesn’t ask for help? She raises a daughter who doesn’t ask for help.
Just ask my mother’s daughter.
She is independent, ambitious, nurturing, thoughtful. Yet still, finds it quite hard to ask for help because that’s what her mother taught her.
If you have trouble asking for help, please “like ” this post.
If you come from generations of women and friends who are plagued with the same challenge, share this post. Not because the behavior is encouraged, but because you are there to help.
Better yet, what do you need help with today?
Maybe I can help.
“Be kind – to yourself and to others. You make memories every day, it’s your choice whether that is a good one or a bad one. Learn from everything.”
-Faith Drew, Ph.D., LMFT
Dr. Faith Drew may be the most put-together woman I have ever met. At the time we met several years ago, Faith was juggling a full-time job, private practice, successful marriage, tremendous Yelp presence, three chickens and an adorable certified-therapy dog … all while, looking gorgeous and rocking ridiculously high heels!
To doubt Faith is to challenge Faith, and this woman is always up for a challenge!
In the years we worked together, I witnessed Faith add order to the most chaotic situations. She has an innate ability to triage, organize, and implement systems and processes…that deliver sanity!
However, Faith also knows her own limits. She was the first person to introduce me to the importance of a “Mental Health Day” or “Fun Friday”. She is incredibly self-aware, understanding when and how to take care of herself. Such an admirable quality … to work hard, play hard, and still find time for self-care. This quality became even more important when she added “New Mom” to her ever-growing list of titles.
I have always admired…and frankly wondered, how one woman can do so much, so well. Faith is now dishing her secrets and more with the Pink Mentor Network.
Faith, thank you for sharing your story with us. I must admit that from the day we met almost six years ago, I have been totally impressed and inspired by your ambition, spirit, and energy.
You have been a Marriage & Family Therapist for many years. But oddly enough, your career didn’t start in this industry. Can you please share how it began, Dr. Drew?
Initially, I earned my bachelor’s degree in bilingual elementary education, specialization in Spanish. As a teacher, I didn’t have to teach during the summer. I would volunteer at a camp for children from abused and neglected homes. Through that camp experience, I knew I wanted to help families. Once I started graduate school and practicing as a clinician, I knew that I would work with people for the rest of my life. I specialized in couples therapy in 2014 and I haven’t looked back. I am honored to be with people at some of their most painful moments and help them discover hope and healing – that is rewarding.
Like many women, you wear numerous hats. What are your current professional roles?
Couples therapist (my passion), my bread & butter job is working as an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Director.
And what advice do you have for young women interested in clinical work? Do you recommend a career in this field?
Yes, I recommend this field to anyone. It would be good to have experience in a variety of settings: Private practice, non-profit, agencies. Many private practices would welcome administrative help, same with non-profits.
Your own career was “developmental”. You learned, and built from each professional experience. That’s a skill in itself. How do you think women build and utilize this skill in their own careers?
Be inspired by others. Find a role model, even if you don’t know that person personally (e.g., public figure). Keep learning. Be positive and look for opportunities – not to get something out of it, but because it’s the right thing to do and to make the world a better place.
So, Faith, you must have had some great teachers in your life. Tell us about the women you have learned the most from.
In my early college days, I worked at a golf course…with my mom as my manager. People may have thought me crazy…if I messed up at work, I’d surely hear about it at home. My mom has high expectations and being her daughter, I was even held at a higher standard.
That instilled a great work ethic in me – leave someplace better than you found it. I also wanted to work hard so my mom would be proud of me or that I could make her life easier. If I did a good job at the golf course, then perhaps when she came in the next day, she didn’t have to work as hard.
Second, my good friend, Dr. Nichole Morelock. She was a calm and strong leader. She displayed professionalism and poise. Her kindness drew you in and yet, you knew when she meant business. She struck a nice balance between being warm and sensitive, and being serious and everyone needs to get in line to get the job done.
Wow! I see so much of both those examples in you. That’s the brilliance of surrounding ourselves with EXTRAORDINARY women–there’s so much to learn and take with us. Love it!
So, tell us about what you are doing now?
I’m doing a research-based 2-day workshop, called Bringing Baby Home, that equips current & expectant parents to successfully navigate the transition to parenthood, a time that is typically marked by a decrease in relationship satisfaction on Oct. 21 & 22 at the Hilton Garden Inn of SouthPark.
Dr. Faith Drew, LMFT is a mother, wife, and business owner. She understands that being effective in those roles requires enormous work, energy, and self-care. Faith reminds and helps women pursue the latter through her own example and teachings.
“Always think about what a man in your situation would do,
and then do it — with grace and integrity.”
-Marina Lvova, Director of Business Development at Undertone
Marina Lvova is everything I struggle with — confident, fearless, and strong. I have known Marina for almost two years, and in that time she has traveled the world, found her calling, and marched her way up the corporate ladder.
Marina was my teammate in a pressure cooker course called Seth Godin’s altMBA program, where she nailed each challenge with her level-headed leadership and savvy marketing abilities. She also guided me through a visioning exercise, which paved the way to the Pink Mentor Network.
Marina is an unapologetic millennial businesswoman and leader. She has built an impressive and inspiring resume because of her age and gender. And now, she is teaching young professionals how to do the same.
Marina Lvova makes me hopeful and excited about the next generation of female business leaders. If they are anything like Marina, or get the opportunity to learn from Marina, this generation will be the most successful women executives in history. Now, that’s a vision to look forward to!
Marina recently shared with me her experiences and the path that brought her here.
Marina, I always dreamed of having a career like yours–a glamorous title and position at a New York City advertising organization. Tell us about your current role.
I am the Director of Business Development at Undertone, an ad tech company. My work consists mainly of figuring out how we can partner with other companies in the advertising space to fill gaps in our offering or make it more appealing to our clients.
In addition, I’m building a coaching business to support individuals and organizations looking to find their purpose. What I love about this work is the empowered environment it creates for clients. Coaching is all about partnership, and being able to incorporate equal parts cheerleading and tough love to help people grow is something I enjoy.
Tough love. Aww…I have experienced Marina’s “tough love” and am so much better for it. Where do you think this interest in coaching comes from? And what advice do you have for young professionals?
The most important connection I draw between my success in my day job and in my interest in coaching is intellectual curiosity. Being the one to ask “why” and “how could we do this better” has unlocked so many opportunities for me.
I encourage networking — not just collecting business cards, but really meeting with different folks in the industry and learning about their challenges — as a great source of information and growth.
Seth Godin is one of my favorite thought leaders for both advertising and business.
Agreed. Seth Godin’s altMBA program brought us together! Tell us about your education prior to joining Undertone. What did you learn from your college experience? What did college not prepare you for?
I went into college as an undecided major. I thought I’d major in Linguistics or Spanish for a while, but ended up switching to my university’s business school and graduated from Georgetown University with a major in Marketing and a minor in Spanish. I chose business because it was practical. And I did take a few classes that really prepared me for my first job as a sales planner.
The experience of college taught me about balancing ideology with practicality, balancing obligations with desires, and about maintaining an open mind no matter what your first impressions of people are.
What college doesn’t prepare you for is that, to be successful, you need to be in the learning mindset forever. It’s more about learning how to learn than learning anything specific.
I love that — a lifelong learning mindset! That’s something you & I definitely have in common. So what happened after college? What was your first “grown-up” job? And what did you learn from it?
Sales Planning Coordinator at Undertone
I learned the ins-and-outs of media planning. I learned media math. I learned how to write emails that helped me get what I needed. I learned the importance of interpersonal relationships with coworkers. I learned it was ok to be myself at work (swearing included).
Since I’m still at the same company, though with many years between the first job and today, I can honestly say it prepared me for the road ahead. It shaped my communication style, my management style, and my organization skills.
One of your many fascinating and admirable traits is the ability to establish work-life balance. Since I have known you, you have literally conquered the world via Remote Year where you lived and worked in a different country each month for a year. How have you established work-life balance?
I work for a company that values work-life balance. Being upfront and both asking for and expressing expectations has been helpful.
I have created boundaries for myself, including limiting when I am checking emails, signing off completely during vacation times, and turning off notifications. I have yet to miss something truly urgent and important, and I find most things can wait.
“No one will respect your boundaries if you don’t!”
I’ve also had the courage to ask for things I believed in, which is how I got to travel for a year while working remotely. I almost didn’t ask, and looking back, it was one of the most powerful experiences of my life!
Marina Lvova is busting millennial stereotypes, and paving a new path for businesswomen. She has taught me to fearlessly follow passion though her own example, and with the guidance of her “visioning exercise”.
Here I am completing the course last summer.
(Baxter was also planning for his future that evening.)
If you zoom in real close, you will see seeds of Pink Mentor Network on those post-its.
Marina helped plant them. She will do the same for you.
Marina will be facilitating Pink Mentor Network’s first-ever online mentoring session. She will be sharing her perspective and professional experiences as a millennial businesswoman, as well as sharing her “tough love” coaching style and extraordinary visioning talents. The session is called “Reverse Mentoring: Lessons from a Millennial Executive”.
For more information or to register, please visit https://pinkmentornetwork-reversementoring.eventbrite.com.