Archive for September, 2010

C4W Member Profile: Jennifer “Jennie B” Fiechtl

September 29, 2010

What is your profession? Marketing Specialist at Coldwell Banker Commercial Atlantic International, Inc.

What do you enjoy doing outside of your career? I live to be Inspired and at nearly any moment outside of my work day you can find me in awe of inspiration or….writing, writing and more writing! Granted I do love reveling in life’s little pleasures, spending time with friends and reading as well, but all of it lends itself to being inspired and to my writing.  Sneaking away to a park for a few hours, roaming antique stores with girlfriends and picking up a classic for the uncountable time, offers endless opportunities to be inspired.  I love capturing it and translating through my writing whether it be for personal use, a potential essay idea or something for my Web site.

How long have you been a member of the Center for Women? I joined the Center for Women just under a year ago after attending a few different events.

What inspired you to become a member? I attended the Women in Business Conference in 2008. I left the Conference feeling absolutely refreshed and empowered.  After the conference, I met with some of the members on a one on one basis and developed close ties with these women, which convinced me the Center for Women was truly a great place for inspiring and empowering women to come together.

What kind of impact has the Center for Women had on you? I was new to the area and new to the idea of being a real woman as opposed to simply a college girl.  Through the Center for Women’s events, networks, members, and educational lectures I’ve grown stronger as an individual and a business woman – a grown up if you will – and I am incredibly grateful for the support they offer through all their outlets each and every day.

How has living day-to-day as a woman affected you? I absolutely love everything about being a woman! Well actually  – those times when you are stuck using a road side restroom and trying to juggle not falling over, not dropping anything and not ruining your clothes – I wouldn’t mind being a man in those situations – but that’s it.  Once I started to embrace all the different sides of being a woman and stopped trying to squeeze into a self-imposed box, things started going much more smoothly than ever before.

Yes I still get frustrated when others try to categorize me into a certain box – sweet, young, marketing girl, naïve, trouble maker (only on occasion), little sister, free spirit, receptionist, blogger, emotional, etc. etc. – and it may happen more often than I like, but I’ve learned to simply smile and laugh because no matter what, I know there’s a lot more to me than what they may perceive.

This feeling is something I want every woman to hold onto. More and more every day, I feel moved to encourage others in that process, helping them to learn how to embrace and love every little thing that comes with being a woman – the good, the bad, the heinously ugly – and take it all in and use it to make herself a better woman.

What kind of message would you like to send out to women who are trying to succeed in today’s economy? A woman’s touch should never be underestimated, so keep at it and don’t be afraid to get creative.  Frustrations may come and troubles may arise, but acknowledge them and then keep moving with your eyes focused on the prize!

And if that doesn’t work, happy hour with your girls never hurts, either.  😉

Telling Fear It’s “Game-On”

September 23, 2010

Guest blogger, Sharon Higgins, shares her story of overcoming fear of failure.

“I just don’t know if I want to do it again, Mom. I don’t know if I still have it.”

I glanced over at my 11 year old daughter in her new cheerleading uniform which she was wearing to school to promote the first big game of the season.   ”What? Why? You love tumbling,” I said.

We were in the carpool line and I had casually mentioned that I would re-enroll her in tumbling classes after football season. Isabella had taken gymnastics and tumbling lessons since she was in 3rd grade which led her to this grand moment in her life – middle school cheerleader.   When she first began her lessons, the only thing she brought to the gym floor was a wobbly cartwheel which she displayed with the pride of an Olympic athlete.  She was discouraged that her junior varsity status as a cheerleader didn’t require the gymnastic skills she had perfected over the years…so, why had she even bothered with it?

I said, “This is just the first step, when you are on Varsity there will be more opportunities for using your gymnastics skills.  Don’t worry.”  She shrugged and looked out the window.

I was puzzled.  During countless drives to and from the gym over the years, I had been a spectator to the nonstop chatter of Isabella and her friends exclaiming “I got my back handspring today!” or “I thought I lost my forward tuck, but I found it again!”   I asked my daughter why she wouldn’t want to continue, what changed?

“I’m afraid I’ve been away from it too long. I’m afraid of learning a new skill when I haven’t been using the ones I already know. I’m afraid if I try then I will get hurt – you know, like break something,” she said.

Oh.  I quickly pushed aside images of being in an emergency room with a full body cast being set on my child.  I acknowledged, that yes, there was a risk of injury in any sport but then said, “Isabella, there is always fear of failure in life. Even when you are a grown-up. The problem with fear is that it holds you back from the possibility of doing something really fabulous.”

When she hopped out of the car, I had to ask myself – should I be taking my own advice? What should I be doing right now that I’m sidestepping for fear of failure? Zing. Yup, I knew exactly where Fear was hanging around in my life.

My conversation with my daughter reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend a few weeks ago.  She was going back to the mainstream workforce after taking five years off to be at home with her young children.  She is a smart, accomplished woman with an amazing 20 year career as a director in school administration.  She said, “You doubt yourself and wonder, do I still have it? Can I still speak the same language?”  I am certain her fear has been echoed by many women in her same position.

So, how do you admonish the fears that prohibit you from jumping back into your career, taking the next step beyond your comfort zone or the big one – launching a whole new venture?  How do you gain the confidence to give Fear a strong game-time handshake and say, “Ok, you’re on! Bring it!”

1. Remember Where You Started – Like that wobbly cartwheel that was full of enthusiasm, often remembering where you started and why you wanted to do it in the first place can spark an urge to keep plugging ahead. It may sound silly, but read your resume and remind yourself of what you’ve already achieved.  (Yes, that was you who did all that.) Talk with a former colleague or old friend who remembers your instinctual drive and ambition when you first began.

Recapturing that old enthusiasm can be hard if you are bogged down with too many commitments. Is there something you are spending time doing that isn’t necessary at this point in your life?  Something that isn’t as valuable as what you need to do to achieve your goal? There are plenty of things that we CAN be doing…but that doesn’t mean that we SHOULD be doing them all right now.

2. Write it down –  Get out a piece of paper and make two columns,  “Rewards” and “Challenges.”  The Rewards are what you want to achieve.  Picture yourself in that space; I mean really imagine that. How does it feel?

Sometimes fears seem scarier in the scope of your imagination – especially when you are thinking about them at 3:00 a.m.  When you put it on paper, it becomes a task to overcome and often is a hill rather than a mountain. Analyze the real risk involved; not the roadblocks you have put up to avoid dealing with it. What are practical steps that you can immediately take to overcome the challenge? Is there a viable solution to this problem?  Make a plan and be disciplined in putting it into action for as long as it takes to accomplish the goal.

3. Network and connect– Use local networking groups and social media sites to get your feet wet again before taking the big plunge. When I decided to work 100% freelance, I made my business plan, set my daily schedule, ordered my business cards, arranged my desk the way I always wanted it to be and then I froze.  My only co-worker was a fat cat who slept all day.  I needed conversation to get my mind into the creative and beyond the task of just getting set up.  I logged onto Twitter and LinkedIn and immediately began searching for other freelance copywriters.  I wanted to know what they were saying and what they were working on. Plugging into those conversations can lead you to industry trends and new information that you don’t have time to unearth yourself.  Discussions on social media sites can get your mind back into the game.

I also joined networking groups in my local community such as Center for Women and East Cooper Entrepreneurial Women. Not only did I find others in my field as well as complimentary industries to my own, but I was easily able to showcase my business to others.  Discussing your business or new venture in a casual conversation is far less intimidating than speaking in front of room filled with people.    Never underestimate the power of conversation. You never know where it might lead or what doors it may open for you.

4. Read & Research– Just like my daughter returning to the gym to brush up on her acquired skills and giving her the opportunity to learn new ones, there is a universe of books, articles, magazines and blogs  to be read as well as workshops, webinars and classes that can be taken online or in a physical classroom.  Find a mentor who has already walked the path you are about to take.

5. There is nothing really to lose by taking a chance – When you get to this point then you can truly lead Fear out the door. Our hope when we embark on something new is that it will work out and we will live happily ever after with it.  Sometimes exploring an opportunity that we think we want shows us that it wasn’t indeed what we truly wanted after all.  But, we never would have known if we didn’t give it a try. (I know, that sounds like something a mom would say.)  Isabella thought cheerleading was the pay-off for all the years of gymnastics lessons.  As she explores cheerleading some more, her path might lead her to Varsity Captain or it might reveal to her that gymnastics was her real heart’s desire/true achievement all along.

The thing is while you were taking time off to do something different, you weren’t wasting time.  Chances are, you have been experiencing accomplishments…just in a different arena than you were used to seeing success.  I plan on telling my daughter that cheerleading hasn’t been all for not; she is learning team-building skills that she wasn’t getting from her tumbling classes.  When I look back to my resume from the first few years out of college, I have to laugh that I put “multi-tasker” down as one of strong attributes. I had no idea what it meant to be a true multi-tasker until I had three children, a husband, a house, volunteer commitments and a full-time job.  My friend who is going back to her career is probably a more understanding educator now that she has children of her own.

The means and methods to growing in our skills aren’t always cookie-cutter which fit neatly into a job description.  If we’ve been alert then we’ve been engaged and still “in-the-know” all along. Take confidence in that and push yourself to the next step. You’ve still got it!

Oh, and my own fear?  Actually writing an article on my blog.  I know, a writer who has a fear of blogging, huh?! I’ve been writing plenty of business material for clients and putting voice to other people’s messages, but putting my own thoughts out there?  Err, well, I’ve had plenty of  ‘reasons’  not to do that.  My sincere hope is that you’ve found this article helpful or, at the very least, mildly amusing.  I’ll take it! Either way, I thank you for lending eyes to it because you’ve helped me cross one of my fears off my list. Whew!!!

What’s next?  Bring it on!

Sharon Higgins is a freelance copywriter living in Charleston, South Carolina with her husband and three beautiful daughters. She writes social media & website content, advertising, promotional, sales & newsletters for an array of clients. Sharon is a member of Center for Women, ECEW, The Lowcountry Business Network, Virtual Business Solutions and an active volunteer for Lowcountry Orphan Relief. You can contact Sharon at

Marketing yourself gets the job

September 16, 2010
Virtual Resume & Letter

Image by Olivier Charavel via Flickr

By Dorothy Perrin Moore, a professor of business administration emeritus, The Citadel.

Q: I am a recent newcomer to Charleston. I feel that getting a job depends on who you know. But I don’t know many people. How can I get a job without contacts?

A: Four things: First, understand it is not about you. The approach, “Here I am, here is what I have done,” will not interest many recruiters. Anyone with a job opening is interested in what you can do for them.

Second, market your skill set. Your education, background and employment record will be important, but sending the same resume and cover letter to 50 different potential employers and following the same personal script at any resulting interviews only makes you one of the crowd. Take advantage of the job coaching sessions held by the Center for Women. Having a job coach review your resume will enable you to gain a fresh view of your accomplishments and transferable skills. The position you find may not be in the job field you just left.

Third, make any position you apply for your sole focus. Do some research to find out what the company is likely to want. Tailor your resume and cover letter to their position description and explain how hiring you will advance their interests.

Finally, create the networks you need. Who you know and who knows you is important. As a newcomer, attend professional meetings and events of all kinds. Get involved in community and social organizations and your church. Circulate. Talk to people. Volunteer. Keep busy and always be professional. (See below.)

Q: I keep reading that the way I dress and act and carry my body is critical to a successful job search. What does this mean?

A: Appearances count. Most people make up their minds about someone in the first 10 seconds. A friend, a specialist in interviews, recently told me, “When she came in for the interview, I knew she thought she was wearing appropriate clothes, but she wasn’t.”

Unfair because people don’t see the inner you? Perhaps, but that’s the way things work. Proper attire and the projection will effect not only every job interview but also every potential business and social encounter.

Classic works best. In attire, this means ankle-length, well-tailored slacks or a knee-length skirt that is not too tight, a blouse with sleeves below the elbow or at the wrist and is not see-through, tight or cleavage revealing. Go light on accessories. Avoid long hanging or big loop earrings, jangling bracelets and long painted fingernails. Professionally groom your hair. Wear shoes that enclose the toes. Avoid heels that can get caught in a grate, sidewalk or carpet. Sandals and flip-flops are out.

Remember the importance of the first 10 seconds. Practice pitching your voice low and speaking slowly and clearly. Shake hands firmly. A shrill, piercing voice, nervous laughter and a handshake like a bear or a fish will strongly impact that first impression.

Upset that projecting a professional appearance in your job search excludes piercings, tattoos, strangely colored cosmetics, miniskirts and the sexy clothes you see on TV? OK, go ahead and make a strong statement of your personal right to express yourself. Just understand that you will probably need an independent income for the duration of your job search.

First appeared in the Moxie section of The Post and Courier Friday, July 24, 2009.

Operation Beautiful: Join the Movement

September 14, 2010

Guest blogger and C4W intern, Sarah Andrews, shares her passion for girl empowerment.

  • 2 out of 5 women would trade 5 years of their life to be thin
  • The majority of women overestimate their own waist size by 30 % and their hip size by 16%
  • More women are suffering from anorexia or bulimia than are fighting breast cancer
  • Most American girls begin to diet when they are just 8 years old
  • Why are we are own worst enemies?
  • It’s time to face the facts: we have a serious body image crisis on our hands.

facts above taken from this video.

So, what are we going to do about this crisis?

One thing we can do is join Operation Beautiful.

It is a simple thing (post it notes) with poweful results (women feeling better about themselves!).

If you haven’t heard the buzz about this wonderful organization, check out the organization’s mission below:

The goal of the Operation Beautiful website is to end negative self-talk or “Fat Talk.” If this little blog only does one productive thing, I hope it helps readers realize how truly toxic negative self-talk is — it hurts you emotionally, spiritually, and physically.

Through my own experiences fighting Fat Talk, I’ve realized the power behind an anonymous act such as Operation Beautiful. When I post a note, I’m saying, “I CHOOSE to be positive!”

I began Operation Beautiful by leaving positive messages on the mirrors of public restrooms — at work, at the gym, at the grocery store. I scribble down whatever comes to mind — “You are beautiful!” or “You are amazing just the way you are!” My personal goal is to leave as many Operation Beautiful notes as I can. Maybe some people read them and just smile, but I bet some people are truly touched by the effort of a random stranger.

As if that wasn’t fabulous enough, the site has wonderful links to “Change the Way You See.”

Another cool thing is this was all started by a young woman (now only 26) named Caitlin.

Dealing with discouragement in the job-search process

September 9, 2010

By Barbara Poole, a master-certified coach and president of Success Builders Inc.

Q: I’m so discouraged. I’ve been looking for a job for months, but I can’t seem to get past first base with the employers I’m submitting applications to. Help!

A: Being in the job search process these days can definitely feel more like a marathon than a sprint. It’s an employer’s market right now and they can afford to be choosy and take their time filling positions. With an ample supply of applicants who have vast experience and are willing to take a cut in both salary and job level in order to land a position, it can be very discouraging to feel like you a swimming in a vast sea of competitors. Couple this with the very real economic pressures posed by being between jobs, and the impact on self-esteem that comes with transition, and you have all the ingredients for an emotionally challenging period of time – this, when you most feel the pressure to be upbeat and on top of your game.

While it is important to consider how you might redirect your job search, it is just as critical to deal with the psychological impact of a prolonged quest for employment. In fact, taking steps to ensure your own well-being may just be the most important element of your strategy right now, since you want to appear capable and confident for employers. Try these approaches to keeping your energy and your spirits up during this period of time:

1. Don’t take what happens in your job search personally. It can be very discouraging to be on the receiving end of what feels like an endless string of “no’s”, or worse yet, the lack of any kind of response to your applications. This is not about you; it’s largely about the circumstances of the job market right now. It’s important to remember that the search process is in many ways like the numbers game of sales. Rejection is just a part of the process, so don’t allow yourself to get too attached to any one opportunity. Give the application your best shot and then move on.

2. Build in rewards for yourself for the right activity as opposed to outcome. This is about identifying what you CAN control and letting go of what you can’t. In a tough market, it’s important to submit a sufficient number of applications and well-crafted resumes to harness the power of volume in your search. That’s the part you have control over. So acknowledge yourself for generating that activity and build in affordable little rewards for yourself like a bouquet of flowers from the market or the occasional Starbuck’s.

3. Take a time-out to do something playful and light. It’s difficult to make a full time enterprise of something that feels discouraging. Another way to reward yourself for generating sufficient job-search activity is to take a day off from the process now and then. Leave it all behind and go to the beach for the day, or take a bike ride to the park.

4. Step up your self-care. None of us runs well on empty, and it’s easy to feel depleted in the midst of a prolonged job search. It is really important during this period f time to eat well, get plenty of rest, and get good exercise and fresh air to protect your immune system and keep yourself in top form.

5. Lean into friends and loved ones.
There is nothing like the boost that community provides to lift your spirits when you’re feeling sad or frustrated. This is the time to lean into others for support, for a shoulder, or for a good belly laugh. Chances are you know someone else who shares your circumstances, so use this time as an opportunity to connect and be reminded that you are not alone.

Despite how discouraged you might feel, remember that slow and steady wins the race. Stay focused on what you can control, take very good care of yourself, and know that somewhere out there is a job with your name on it. In due time, you will find your way to it, and the frustrations of the job search process will be nothing more than a distant memory.

First appeared in the Moxie section of The Post and Courier Friday, October 9, 2009.

C4W Member Profile: Liz Mester

September 2, 2010

What is your profession? Director of Development at Wings for Kids

What do you enjoy doing outside of your career? I love to cook without recipes. I grew up in an Italian family where everyone gathered in the kitchen, had to eat a lot and where something was always cooking on the stove. I love LOVE to spend time with my friends, watch Law and Order SVU and walk the dog. My private hobby – writing letters to friends out of town. It’s a sacred ritual.

How long have you been a member of the Center for Women?
I was a member a few years ago and have recently rejoined. I can’t wait to get back involved and take advantage of the opportunities C4W offers on a weekly basis.

What inspired you to become a member? I have always been a fan of what the C4W does and the action they have taken to advocate on behalf of women in our city. When I initially joined C4W some years back, Jennet came and spoke to one of my College of Charleston classes and I was so inspired I wrote a check on the spot.

What kind of impact has the Center for Women had on you? As someone who works in development and advocates on behalf of kids – I understand well how close women and children affect each other and are responsible for each other. The Center for Women pushes women forward and out into the world with a lighter load. When there are stronger, more prepared women in our community, everyone benefits.

How has living day-to-day as a woman affected you? I have always been proud to be a young woman. I live very independently and feel accomplished because I can stand on my own two feet. I have worked hard to give myself a career – to be a woman of endless possibilities. My whole organization is run by women and our fearless leader is proof that women can do anything they set their minds to – no matter your age. So – everyday I think about being a woman and how I want the most that being a woman has to offer. I’m lucky – I have pretty good examples.

What kind of message would you like to send out to women who are trying to succeed in today’s economy?
I would say: Build a community of hope around you. Rely on good people to help you when you need it. Work hard and keep your eye on the prize.

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