All Articles Tagged "professional development"

When Doubt Creeps In: “Impostor Syndrome” Afflicts Even The Most Successful Among Us

April 9th, 2014 - By CAP
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Brian To/

Brian To/

People on top of their game have the rest of us thinking they’re moving and shaking with the greatest of confidence. But even the most successful among us have moments of doubt when they second guess themselves, their judgment, and their status. The term for this is “impostor syndrome” and Dr. Tara Kuther Ph. D. explains this phenomenon:

The impostor syndrome is feeling that one hasn’t earned his or her achievements – that the achievements are the result of luck. It is very common among high achieving persons, particularly women, who worry that some day they will be “found out” – that others will discover that they really do not know what they are doing. A professor who experiences the impostor syndrome may feel that he or she is faking it and worry that others know that they are really a phony and that their achievements are simply a matter of luck, not ability.

After all of her accomplishments, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg struggles with the thought of her accomplishments being unwarranted, despite being a tech leader (an area where women have a hard time excelling), an author, an executive, and founder of a group dedicated to the professional advancement of women. When I read this in her book Lean In it was comforting to know that someone in Sandberg’s position wrestled with similar feelings that I have faced throughout my career. As I have made my way through the corporate world every promotion, raise, and bonus has been heavily scrutinized by my worst critic: myself.

Many minorities experience the impostor syndrome, convinced that their achievements are only due to affirmative action. Many people who deal with this syndrome actually turn out to be pretty good employees, but just won’t take the credit for it.

Evidence of working women underselling themselves is everywhere. Studies show that female employees apologize more since they have a lower threshold for thinking they’ve committed an offense. They give themselves duller performance reviews, even when their supervisors rate them more highly than their male peers. A 2012 survey of thousands of political candidates revealed that “men were 60% more likely than women to say they were ‘very qualified’ to run for office,” according to Forbes.

The ironic part of all this sort of self-doubt is that most women don’t even apply for positions unless they’re certain they meet 100 percent of the prerequisites, while men tend to send in their resumes if they possess only 60 percent of the job qualifications.

Moreover, women fall into the trap of comparing themselves to others. With so few women in positions the further up you go, there’s the feeling that there’s only room for one or two. So what makes you more special than her? This kind of comparison, says Iyanla Vanzant is “an act of violence against the self.”

“Acutely aware of how hard we’re working to keep our head above water and fulfill expectations, we often mistakenly assume others are getting by more effortlessly. The reality is that many many people are stretched and struggling just like you,” says a separate Forbes article. “Perhaps not in the same way, but in their own way, with their own unique set of challenges, insecurities and internal struggles.”

With this in mind, you can clearly see how anyone suffering from imposter syndrome can miss out on career advancing opportunities, thinking they are undeserving of them. What I have learned is to just do whatever I do and own it.  Acting more confident will lead to actually feeling more confident, and affirm that you have worked hard and deserve everything that has come to you, and then some.

4 Reasons You’re Stuck In Your Personal & Professional Lives

March 28th, 2014 - By Kara Stevens
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Over the last month, I have had the opportunity to attend some of the most fulfilling and rewarding conferences. Last weekend, I was at the 6th Annual Get Radical Conference, an empowerment event founded by businesswoman Doreen Rainey.

Rainey challenged women to be honest about the root cause of their personal and professional inertia. I found the discussion rich and thought-provoking and wanted to share some of these nuggets with you.

Can you relate to any of the following reasons for why you can’t move towards the life that you want?

You love being busy: You love to talk about how full your plate is. You are doing this, you are doing that, but you really aren’t tending to your primary goals and objectives. The things on your plate are distractions. When thinking of ways to get unstuck, it is always important to remember that you control what comes on and what goes off your plate. Have the courage to choose what you need have the courageous to move it.

You suffer from the Bright, Shiny Object Syndrome (BSOS): When you have a case of BSOS, you move on to one thing before you finish the first. One year you are about #thatbloggerlife, the next year you want to sell real estate, and the third year you want to open a bakery. While we all have varied interests, make sure you are not abandoning one thing for the other when things start getting hard and the shine is not so bright anymore.

Your own opinion does not really matter to you (even though you say that it does). After a conversation with your best friend, your coworker, the bus driver, or your stylist, it’s not long before you are feeling meh about something you were so stoked about. When we value someone’s opinion more than our own, other people’s priorities become yours.

You are overthinking it: Nothing replaces action. Nothing. If you are hiding behind the need to do research and analysis, then you will never pull the trigger and get what you want out of life. You will never take the leap. You will never take the risk. What’s keeping you from the life that you want is your inability to make a decision. Make a decision and see how it goes. Even if the outcome isn’t ideal, at least you would have made a decision.

Connect with Kara @frugalfeminista. Learn more about The Frugal Feminista at

MN Business Tip Of The Day: Create Your Own Promotion

March 14th, 2014 - By Michelle Alerte
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For employees who find that their manager is in a similar age range and showing no signs of leaving anytime soon, you’ll need to think creatively to find ways to craft your own opportunities for upward movement. Here are some strategic steps to orchestrate your own push forward:

Identify the pain in your organization- Look at your company through a wide lens. What are the issues you see that you believe you can help to correct? Identify the ways you are uniquely suited to solve the problems from your current position.

Build a plan- Take the initiative to write a business plan for a new role, department, or service you could lead. Keep the role, department, or service in line with your company’s goals and be sure to expound upon how the addition will benefit them in the long-run.

Communicate with key players- Don’t suddenly burst on the scene with reams of papers stating the issues in the company or a new role you’ve cooked up. Instead be sure to speak with important people, with whom you are comfortable, letting your intentions to move up in the company be known. Gain their support in order to have additional collateral when presenting your ideas.

Although it will take persistence and creativity to spot an issue and come up with a viable solution that utilizes your various skills, if you are hungry for that shift, stay confident in your ability to make it happen. Keep in mind that your ideas may not result in an immediate promotion. You may work informally on the task at first, but stay encouraged. If the idea has value it will take off and you’ll be rewarded in the end.

The Shifting Definition Of Success: As Values Change, Shouldn’t Your Goals?

March 12th, 2014 - By Kara Stevens
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I have been to many a women’s conference where a central hot topic has been charging attendees with the task of defining success on their own terms. The logic goes as follows: once a woman identifies her own measures of success, she will live in accordance with them, and essentially have a happier, more fulfilled life.

I was at an event this weekend and had the pleasure of grappling with the concept—the act of defining success. I grappled with the concept because I was confused.

To be clear, I was not cognitively confused by the call to action. As women, we have to figure out what our values are, what our interests are, what our passions are, and then move in the direction of one, if not all of them.

Rather, I was confused by the rationale and validity of the exercise. I mean, how could I definitively know what success may mean for me five or 10 years in the future based on what I value now? Wouldn’t I be a different person?

At the conference, I stood behind a woman who appeared to be in her 40s who openly told me that she was voluntarily unemployed because she had yet to figure out what she wanted out of life. But I wondered if she were being fair to herself. Maybe she had outgrown her former measures of success and was in the process of identifying her new ones That is how measures of success roll. They evolve, predicated and are informed by experience.

In my 20s, I wanted to explore the world. So I did. My measure of success focused on getting as many stamps as I could on my passport.

When I got tired of travel and exploration, my measure of success became money and career. Period. I worked as a teacher and any other position that would bring me money to pay off debt, to buy stuff, and to prepare for my retirement. Money and career have been my measures of success for a while now, but I already feel my definition of success shifting.

Kara’s “Era of the Hustle” is coming to an end.

I am not the first to jump at opportunities to work overtime on the weekends anymore. Instead, I want more free time to pursue my personal interests, my entrepreneurial goals, and deepen my relationships with my family, current friends, and friends yet-to-be made.

And so goes the cycle.

I left the conference a little early. I had a chance to sit in a sushi spot, read, eat and people watch. After a little while, I spotted that same forty-something woman walking by with a companion engrossed in some type of conversation. It looked pretty deep. As she passed by, I wondered if any of those discussions helped her realize that she did not need a definite answer to that question. The meanings of success come and go and most definitely have expiration dates.

Kara is a life coach, motivational speaker, author, and founder of The Frugal Feminista, an online home created to inspire and inform women of color about financial empowerment, girl power, and “juicy” living. Connect with Kara @frugalfeminista. Learn more about The Frugal Feminista at

MN Business Tip Of The Day: Visit Your Neighbors

March 4th, 2014 - By Tonya Garcia
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Some of us operate like we have tunnel vision. You get to the office, turn on your computer, sit, work until day’s end, and go home. Repeat the following day.

Instead, take a moment every once in a while to say hello to your next door neighbor. You don’t have to talk about something every day. And hopefully, this isn’t a forced interaction where you’re bringing up the weather or what you’re eating for lunch each time. But you should take a moment to speak with the person (or people) in your vicinity about what’s happening on the job, a great book you read, or a movie you saw.

Speaking with your colleagues makes you accessible. When you’re accessible, you’re asked to participate in projects, you’re asked for your expertise and you’re invited to join in on different office activities. All of this paves the way for you to interact with people who might open doors to other opportunities, whether at the company you currently work for or with other outside interests and organizations.

Basically this is another form of networking. And as we’ve stressed here time and again, networking is an important part of the career development process.

So take a moment on your way to the water cooler to say hello to the person at the next desk over. It may be the start of something good.

How To Revamp Your Personal Brand During A Career Transition

February 18th, 2014 - By Blair Bedford
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A career transition can make it difficult to stay true to your personal brand. After years of building your brand around your experience and knowledge in a niche field, a career transition comes to shake up that foundation and possibly leave you starting from scratch.

Rebuilding your brand to tailor your new interests doesn’t have to require a whole new look. Here are a few ways to effectively revamp your brand and market yourself in preparation for your new career path.

9 Reasons It’s OK To Quit Your Job

February 17th, 2014 - By Candace Smith
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flappy-birdWhen the developer of the Flappy Bird game, Dong Nguyen, stated on his Twitter feed “I cannot take this anymore” and promptly took his popular game off the market, many gamers and non-gamers alike were left wondering why. How could such a successful person self-combust in this way? However, there are many valid reasons that a person could be driven away from the things that once made him/her an overnight sensation. Sometimes it’s okay to say no in order to maintain a sense of self and sanity. In fact, here are our nine reasons why.

MN Business Tip Of The Day: Personalize Your Path To Success

February 14th, 2014 - By Blair Bedford
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Does your path to success looking a little different from your counterpart’s? It can be difficult to concentrate on following your own path when the climb to the top for others may be as simple as networking or a college degree. But trying to follow in someone’s footsteps along their path to success may not be the best fit for you.

On the road to success, there are many routes. Figure out what it takes to make your career happen in your specific industry without negatively comparing yourself to others doing the same in a different way. Personalize your journey by talking to professionals in your field or paying close attention while applying to jobs. Do most of the jobs you’re looking for require years of experience or a graduate degree? Do you need to know someone to get a foothold in the industry? Taking notes without trying to mimic what you think might work will get you ahead in the way that’s right for you.

The speed bumps, road blocks and stop signs along that path are yours and yours alone, so embrace your individual journey.


MN Business Tip Of The Day: Tweet Your Way To The Top

January 31st, 2014 - By Michelle Alerte
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PiXXart / Shutterstock.comtwitter


Ask yourself, “Am I using Twitter efficiently?” While some use Twitter as a fun form of social media interaction and many more use it as a means of promoting a business, there is still room for those of us who fall somewhere in the middle.

Working at your 9-to-5 doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to use Twitter to give your career a nudge. One of the best things to do is begin following people within your industry: people in your upper-management team, co-workers, and even customers who patronize the company you work for. This will give you insight into the minds of those you serve as well as the people you work with each and every day.

Using will help you find high-profile people in your industry to also follow. Joining topic lists for your industry is another good idea to get aware of what is going on. Join in discussions about hot or trending topics for which you have a great deal of knowledge or passion for. Pepper your discussions with hashtags to allow others to easily find you and bring you to the forefront of searches. Tweet something fresh at least twice a day to remain part of the conversations going on within your industry. By fostering your presence online you can cultivate the image of being an expert in a particular area, which will go a long way toward propelling your career.  

MN Business Tip Of The Day: How Persistent Are You?

January 30th, 2014 - By Michelle Alerte
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It is a long-held belief that persistence is a key factor in making any dream a reality. And the basis of persistence is willpower.

Many people are ready to throw their dreams in the garbage at the first sign of opposition or misfortune. Being able to carry on despite opposition, from even your nearest and dearest, is what usually separates the 95 percent from the 5 percent.

The first question is: How much do you want it, really? Weak desire will naturally bring about weak results. Once you’re sure you’ve set your sights on what you truly want, you’re next step will be snapping out of mental inertia. Start by moving slowly, setting small goals that are easily achievable. Then increase your speed and the size of your goals until you’ve gained complete control over a habit of persistence.

Remember, no matter how many times you are knocked down, what counts is finally arriving at the goal or dream you’d set out to attain in the first place. Once there, no one asks how many times you fell. Instead the only words are, “Congratulations, you made it!”

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