Viewing category ‘Career Talk’


Work meetings overload: A vent

Categories: Career Talk


Here’s what my typical workday has been like for the past several weeks:

Get into work by 9am (8:45 if the traffic fairies are nice 9:15 if they are in a bad mood). Run into my office, close the door, tune into a Pandora station and do work for an hour or so. (I never check email first thing in the morning. It is one of my favorite productivity tips and I’m not alone — check out Britt’s post about it at the Full Time, All the Time blog.)

At 10am the meeting marathon starts. If I’m lucky, I get out for lunch, but many times it’s a business or work-related lunch. Back to the office to continue the meeting marathon, that usually ends around 5pm. There are days when I literally have no time between meetings and I go from one to the other, my water bottle or tea cup and laptop in tow.

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Tough conversations at work: Do you shy away from them?

Categories: Career Talk, Money


This morning I had coffee with a friend and was telling her about the last few weeks at work and how they kicked my butt. It was a combination of a ton more work than usual, some changes that weren’t entirely smooth, and some tough conversations I’ve had to have with my colleagues and my boss(es). I recounted one of those tough conversations to my friend and she told me she was surprised how gutsy I was.

Gutsy? OK, I like being called gutsy, but here’s the thing: I didn’t think what I was doing was being gutsy. I didn’t question for a minute whether I should be having these conversations — it seemed like a normal thing to do. And I wonder if I were a guy if my friend would still call me gutsy.
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Is working selfish?

Categories: Balancing Act, Career Talk


I almost didn’t write this post because (1) I don’t want to stir up a stay-at-home vs working mom debate and (2) it’s the holiday season and I want to think good thoughts. But I can’t get it out of my mind so I’m going to share it with you guys.

The other day I was in a toy store, buying a few gifts for some upcoming birthday parties. As I was trying to figure out which mosaic set to get for one of my daughter’s friends, two women walked up and stopped near the same display. From what I overheard from their conversation — and OK, yes, I was overhearing actively because I got very curious — one of them was sending out her resume and looking for a job. She was going back to work after taking some time to stay home with her kid(s) and told her friend that she was nervous and unsure about making this change. Her friend asked her why and then I heard something I didn’t expect:

“I feel really selfish doing this… I feel selfish wanting to go and work and not stay at home any more.”

I’ve had or overheard or been part of dozens of conversations about going back to work after staying at home with the kids, many on this very blog and site. Like most decisions parents make, it’s a difficult, filled with lots of emotions of all kinds, and extremely personal for everyone. For some reason, hearing that this woman thought of her decision to go back to work as selfish really struck me.

Is working selfish when you’re a mom?
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How to not hate networking and conferences

Categories: Career Talk


I’m not sure there are a lot of careers in which you can succeed without doing at least some networking. (If you have one, I’d love to hear about it, actually.) In my case, every job I’ve had since college has required that I network a lot. And by networking I mean different things — conferences, business lunches, etc. — which all amount to something as basic as meeting and maintaining relationships with people in the same industry.

Here’s a confession: I used to dislike networking quite a bit. Well, not all of it, but particularly networking at conferences. You know the scene, right? A large room, lots of people milling about, some talking to each other, some checking their phones (or pretending to check their phones so they don’t look awkward just standing around), some actively working the room by introducing themselves to everyone in their way. If this scene has never intimidated you, you’re my hero. (Well, to be honest, I think you’re a bit odd, but still.) It took me a while to get comfortable in settings like these and to actually enjoy them.

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Hey, employers, listen up: Kids at work are a good thing!

Categories: Balancing Act, Career Talk


Last Thursday was Veteran’s Day here in the US, which meant that my six year-old didn’t have school. So I decided to bring her to work with me for the day. I’d just recently started my new gig and she hasn’t been to the office yet. I’ve brought her to my old job a bunch of times and she really enjoyed it (the fact that there was chocolate milk in the fridge, lots of walls on which you could draw, and many co-workers with cool puzzles on their desks definitely helped). She’d been asking to visit my new office so this seemed like a perfect plan.

Two of my co-workers also decided to bring their kids in so we ended up with five kids, ages five to nine, in our 70-person company office in one day. We have along office hallways and a bunch of Razor scooters which we use to get from one end to the other more efficiently so it wasn’t long until all five kids were scooting up and down. Then they played some ping pong. For about an hour or so (which was, to be honest, a lot longer than I thought it would be) they turned my office into a make-shift arts and crafts space (I’d grabbed some supplies at Target on the way to work). It was so fun and messy that even our CEO came over to take a photo.

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Keeping work at bay… when you are really enjoying it

Categories: Balancing Act, Career Talk, Your life


OK, guys, I’m going to say it here and get it on record:

I really dig my new gig.

I’m going on the record with this because while I am insanely energized by it, the work is completely overwhelming and it is easy to forget the good stuff and start complaining. So while I reserve my right to complain, the reality right now is that I’ve not enjoyed my work like this in a long, long while.

It feels awesome, right? Remember the last job — perhaps it’s the one you have right now — that you felt excited about and how energizing that feels. How while nothing is perfect and there are always issues and challenges and endless ups and downs, when you are into what you’re doing it all seems more bearable. That’s where I am right now.

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My little productivity tricks

Categories: Career Talk


For the last three weeks I have been on an in-between-jobs staycation. (More on this later.) This Monday I start my new gig (more on this later) and I feel a bit like a kid on the first day of school. I’m admittedly a bit nervous (more on this later) and excited. I am thinking about what I am going to wear. I even went to Target and bought some of my favorite notebooks and pens.

And in preparation for a job that promises to be as intense as any I’ve had, I’m also reminding myself about my favorite little tricks that help me stay productive. I thought I’d share them here and ask you guys if you have any to suggest. (Here’s my previous post on how to be more productive at work.)

  • Write down three (and only three) things you NEED to get done that day. It’s hard to pick just three things — most of us have a ton of stuff we have to do. But narrowing it down to three things that are absolutely positively must-accomplish helps me get focused and prioritize. I’ve been doing this for a while and it’s one of my favorite productivity tricks. Do I always get the three things done? No. But I rarely forget something really important, for work or home.
  • Get one thing done from your to-do list BEFORE you check your email in the morning. I loved, loved, loved Britt’s advice on this in her post at the Full Time, All the Time blog and I couldn’t agree more. Email can be a total time suck. It’s almost impossible to check it and not start replying or getting distracted. When I get something done before I open up my email window I guarantee you my entire day is more productive.
  • Take a walk at least few times each day. Once outside, if possible. Some days, I wake up early and take a quick 1/2 hour walk. When I can’t, I try to do this at night, after the kiddo is asleep and my husband is home. Even if you can’t get outside, get up and take a walk around the office at least a few times a day. I’m a huge believer that walking clears out your head (literally) and helps you focus better.

OK, your turn: What are some of your favorite productivity tricks?

Women-only events: Good idea or no-go?

Categories: Career Talk


I’ve recently been invited to two women-only professional events. I’m on the organizing committee for one other. And this weekend while catching up on my RSS feed reading I came upon this article in the Wall Street Journal, which, among other things, talked about whether a woman-only professional conference (TEDWomen, for example) is a good idea or just acts further to segregate women.

And all this got me thinking about whether women-only professional conferences and events are a good idea or less productive than they might seem.

If you want the truth, I’m pretty torn on this.

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American parents are unhappy, but is it our fault?

Categories: Balancing Act, Career Talk


If you’ve not yet read the New York Magazine article titled All Joy and No Fun: Why parents hate parenting, you should. It’s really well-written and talks about some interesting studies about parents. Many of the studies it cites indicate that having kids doesn’t actually make us happier. (I’ve written about this before and argued that parenting may not make us happier, but it’s amazing fulfilling and I think many parents would agree.)

But one of the studies the article talks about is about Scandinavian parents vs. parents in America. In Scandinavia parents can take a year (yes, a YEAR) off for parental leave, daycare of often subsidized, and there are lots of other support mechanisms to help parents juggle work and family. And guess what? According to the study mentioned in the article, parents in Scandinavia are happier.
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The art of the business trip (or how to survive one)

Categories: Balancing Act, Career Talk, Working Women Issues

1 Comment

Every three or four months I travel for work. Most times, I’m awake for an entire week.

I did very little work-related travel after my kiddo was born, up until about a year ago. And I have to be honest, going away on business was ROUGH the first few times, mostly because of that ugly monster called working mom guilt.┬áBut I’ve learned to (mostly) keep the guilt at bay because well, I don’t have a choice but not to travel, my husband (while he might have a tough week here and there) is a great dad and can totally handle it on the home front, and sometimes (if I am lucky) I can even squeeze in a little R&R while traveling.

I just got back from one of these week-long business trips and this one was brutal. Meetings from 7:30am til 6pm, without many breaks. Traveling to two separate cities. Socializing at night with colleagues whose company I enjoy but with whom I can’t entirely relax. A few other professional reasons that I don’t want to mention, but that added some stress and anxiety. Oh, and did I mention that my favorite hotel for these business trips, the one thing that makes me exhale at the end of a brutal day, was booked so I stayed somewhere not nearly as awesome? (Hi, I am Nataly and I am spoiled by good hotels I get to stay in because I work for a very large company.)

As I was settling into my seat to fly home, I thought about some things I should have done to help make this particular trip less of a killer that it was. Here are some ideas from my business travel experience, please add yours in the comments
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