Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Take a Stand!

At some point in every professional career everyone is forced to stand up and defend a decision that they have made. For me, one of those moments happened today. Without going into huge detail, a document was submitted without a vital piece of information that would have made it possible for me to pass that document through our system with a pay status. Instead the information was never submitted and once the service has been rendered it can't be. So I denied the document for payment and sent it on. When our audit department got it, they sent it back to me marked incorrect, even though to me it was still correct.

I'll stop there, because this is where the lesson really picks up at. In a situation like this you'll have almost no choice but to ask the person why they decided that you were incorrect. Be civil and polite but let the person know why you feel like you are correct. Don't ever tell them they're wrong - that will just put the person on the defensive and make them less willing to see things from your point of view. A good example would be:



PersonA,

I see where this document was marked incorrectly, but I'm not sure why. I thought that according to document1 it should have been processed by procedure1. Can you help me see where I'm misunderstanding this?

Thank you,

You




This makes them feel like you are looking for clarification on your own misunderstanding, which in some cases you may be. Of course it may be because you don't understand why they think something should be done that way, but we don't have to tell them that!

The most important thing in standing up for yourself at the office is to do it politely. You don't want to come across as aggressive and hostile - remember, you may be right, but they write your paycheck. Be nice, but be firm. I say this because there will be times when you may have to "escalate", going above that person's head to either your supervisor. Again - be civil and polite. Forward the email conversation you had with that person to the next level with your question and your explanation of why you did it the way you did OR the way it either doesn't make sense, or you feel that it could be done better.

Either way you are going to get a resolution. If you are indeed wrong, say thank you for the clarification and accept your error gracefully. Don't pout, don't whine, don't stomp out of the office or make a snarky remark. None of these things will make you look pretty or like an employee who needs to be kept around. If you smile and say thank you, print the resolution and hang it in your cubicle, and learn from your mistake you will look engaged and open to improvement which is exactly what your employer will want to see from you.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I owe how much?

Debt. It's a four letter word. It's soooo easy to get into and sooooo hard to get out of! However, with a little focus and understanding it'll be something you can tackle with no problem. No, really - you can do this, I promise!

First things first - check your credit report! Once a year every smart boy and girl should log on to http://www.annualcreditreport.com and give your credit a check-up. Look at everything - literally. All of your addresses that are listed, anything they say you own, any public records, negative items, and (most importantly) collection accounts - which they call potentially negative items. What I like to do is print screen (ctrl + print screen) those puppies and save them into my documents folder on my laptop. I give them a name consisting of the amount of debt on that report and the collection agency that I owe it to i.e. - "308.00 CMI Collections". I leave it there until I'm ready to pay it. Once it's paid I usually go buy a pair of shoes and a fro-yo and add on PAID in big capital letters at the end of the name. I love to look at that folder and see that beautiful list of PAID going down the side of my screen.

But before we get to the PAID stamp and the shoes and the fro-yo we have to acknowledge that that debt is there and it is our fault. I think I just heard your face fall. It's okay! Seriously - it really is okay. Yes, you messed up. You defaulted on a credit card or loan. You over drafted a bank account. You couldn't pay a hospital bill. Right now take responsibility for it. Say, out loud, "I created this debt but I will pay it off." Repeat it a few times, if you have to. Remember - here we're all about being "selfish" and knowing our self worth.

Now that you're armed with your credit report and all your individual debt pages and you have acknowledged that those debts are your responsibility, you've taken a giant step in becoming debt free. In the next few weeks we'll talk about ways to pay your debt off, which debts you should pay off first, and why you need to leave that credit card account open. And as always if you need any advice, please feel free to email me!

Balanced Life Program Week 2

Today I'm going to reveal Step 2 in the Balanced Life Program, but first I want to congratulate anyone who kept up with Step 1. I'm sure you're seeing the results by now - maybe a little less bloating in your face and stomach, healthier looking skin and hair, feeling less hungry and less tired. Feels good, doesn't it?

So - without further ado . . . Step 2: Take a multivitamin everyday. My favorite is the One a Day line. I currently take the Women's formula, but there is a formula for everyone, even kids! Vitamins are the building blocks of our bodies and part of the fuel that runs us each day. Making sure you're getting the proper amount of nutrients everyday can sometimes be difficult

I know these seem like small little baby steps and maybe you're chomping at the bit to get on to bigger things but the basis of being "selfish" is very important. Especially since women in particular are programmed to take care of everyone else and sacrifice their happiness to please. You were given (literal) baby steps to get this way and now I'm going to give you (figurative) baby steps to get back out!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Get Up and Go Girl!

Now that you know my number 1 rule - it's ok to be selfish - it's time to put that in practice. I want you to take a few weeks and start doing things for yourself. I don't mean going shopping whenever you want or blowing the world off for an hour a week, I mean taking time to really take care of yourself. Drinking enough water everyday, taking vitamins, working out - the things that you need to do to take care of yourself.

Here's the way I see things: You are a machine. Not in the gears, wheels, and blinking lights sense, but in the sense that you are your own production machine. You work, you go to school - everything you do is productive. You have a goal, you tackle it, you get it done. But if you're not taking care of yourself you won't be as sharp or motivated. As a perfect example, I barely slept last night and writing this article is much harder than it should be!!

As we all know, habits don't happen over night, so I want you to start slow. This week's goal: Drink your 64 ounces of water everyday. It really sounds harder than it is. I keep a 20 ounce bottle on my desk and every time I need to stretch my legs I go and refill it. I drink while I'm working and I try to always have the bottle with me.

I know it seems like a tiny little step, but you will be amazed how much it helps! Good luck!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Weekend Update

Since I've been sick and not feeling very creative this week, I thought I'd give reference to a few of my favorite ladies. New articles next week, promise.

Ms. Career Girl

Girls Get Real

Christine Hassler

Enjoy!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Five Things Every Girl Should Own

I wanted to do a top 5 list of my very own so I went to the almighty google to get some inspiration. What I found was nothing less than disappointing - almost downright disgusting. 10 things every girl should know about boys private parts, 42 things girls should do for guys, 10 things guys wish girls knew - ummm excuse me? Why all these girls should do for boys lists? And who wrote these things? That just gave me a headache!

Instead I want to do a top 5 things that every girl should own, but might not think about until it's too late.


1 - Jumper Cables - if you have a car, it's going to break down. Don't be left stranded waiting on someone to pull up who does have their own pair.

2 - Rubber Jar Opener - it almost eliminates the need for men in the kitchen and usually rings in at less than $2.

3 - Tool Set - screwdrivers, a hammer, a socket set, and a pair of pliers. You never know when you're going to need them, so it's just better to have them. On the same hand if you change your own oil make sure you have a hydraulic jack and two jackstands. My car almost fell on my face last year - NOT an enjoyable experience.

4 - A Mentor - I know. You probably hear it all the time, but it's true. 56% of female execs say that having a mentor was important to their career success and over 2/3 of those with mentors were promoted as opposed to only 49% of women who did not (stats from The Go-Getter Girl's Guide by Debra Shigley) I'll follow up with more on mentors in another post.

5 - A Great Pair of Stilettos - Ok yes I am girling out on this one, but it's completely true. Splurge (refer to my post Money Money Money Money) on a fantastic pair of well made heels - any color will do. When you put those babies on you will feel unstoppable!

Money Money Money Money

Today I want to talk to you about the love of my life and the bane of my existence . . . MONEY! Or more to the point we need to look at managing that money. Yes I know - I suck at it too. It's a learning process and one that you should start doing as soon as possible.

The first thing my mother taught me when I started working was how to open a checking and savings account, what my register was, and how to operate an ATM. She sat me down and showed me how to write a check and stressed the importance of immediately writing it into my register. Same with Visa Check Card purchases. Personally I feel that this is one of the most important talks that a parent needs to have with their child. Sex talk, drug talk - whatever (sarcasm, by the way). Being open and honest with the little rugrats is more important, but if you're going to freak out about it at least make sure you're covering all the monetary basics too. And by the way - if you don't know how to balance a checkbook learn it now. Comment or email me - I will help you!

A checking account in good standing, all balanced out and reconciled with your bank statement each month is a wonderful thing but let's not forget the accessories here! I don't mean bracelets and shoes - I'm talking about a savings account. I've never stepped into a bank that didn't offer them, so get one. Contribute whatever you can each month, but try to drop at least $10 per paycheck into it. You never know when that extra $50 is going to come in handy. Not to mention a savings account is your key to peace of mind. Unfortunate things happen. Tires explode going 70 mph. Jobs cut positions. Dogs get sick and so can you. Having a pillow there will help you avoid the adrenaline rush when something happens to you and you know for a fact you don't have the money to cover it. Believe me girls and boys - that is NOT a fun feeling. Ideally you want to save up a minimum of 3 months worth of your expenses. Aim for 8 if possible, but no matter what you do always try to have at least SOMETHING.

Now for the third and probably most neglected area of financial security - the credit score *dum dum dum* This is something that is still largely misunderstood by a majority of the population but it's also something that runs your life. Always know what your credit score is (try Credit Karma for free or MyFico for $15 per score) and get your free credit report every year to check for fraudulent charges and incorrect information. For this one go to Annual Credit Report - don't get scammed by that website with the singing slackers unless you have $30 to spare every month. And if you do put it into your savings account!

Last but certainly not least be smart about your spending. Identify the areas where you feel a splurge is necessary to project a professional appearance at work, or even a monthly massage to spoil yourself but there's no need to routinely spend $80 a pair on shoes or $90 on jeans.

Being Selfish Can Be Healthy

Remember when you were little and your mom would always tell you to share your toys and not be selfish? Yeah - me too. Twenty something years later I realized that I was still sharing my toys and not being selfish, even when I really should have been. I was run down, tired, sick all the time, and just all around cranky. And that's when it dawned on me - it IS okay to be selfish sometimes!

Think about your life now - about all the pressure put on you to be someone or something that you may not be. How much of your life do you devote to that? How much of your brainpower is involved in making someone else happy? How do you feel when you get home? I can probably guess because I remember doing exactly the same thing. I was a habitual people pleaser, everything from putting in extra hours at a job I hated to keeping my hair long for the boy I was dating (I hate having long hair, just for the record). Even after dealing with all of that stress and coming home at the end of the day mentally drained I didn't stop. It wasn't until several years later (sans the boy, obviously) that I realized how miserable I was. And that's when I stopped. I mean I stopped ALL of it. I stopped working late if I didn't want to. I chopped my hair back off to chin length. I stopped going out with my friends if I didn't want to and I started listening to my inner voice. You know the one I mean - the one that cringes when someone says "Let's go to the bar" or asks you if you're working on Saturday. I learned how to say No and how to spend a little more time making ME happy.

Now my job takes up a little more of my time, and I've recently gotten married but I never forget that even on those jam-packed, panic attack inducing weeks I need to take an hour or two to myself and go to the spa or to a bookstore. And I couldn't be happier with my routine.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Finding My Direction

I've been struggling to find a direction to take with my blog. I've already explained several posts back that I need a creative outlet. My 9 -5 is all numbers and logical calculations, weighing risks against cons, studying records and deciphering less than wonderful penmanship. My passion has always been listening to friends problems and sorting them out. Not to brag (of course!) but I've always been rather good at it, whether it be dressing friends for interviews, sticky romantic situations, or even meal ideas. And what better thing to do than to let all of that come out to hopefully help MORE people do what they want to do and not just what is expected of them. Of course from time to time I'll have a word on my industry news, but I have been doing what I do for 10 years.

I also intend on writing more frequently. The problem with 10 hour days (did I say 9 - 5? I meant 7:30 - 5:30) is that when you get home you have absolutely NO energy to do anything else. Even my cooking is taking a toll, something you will learn is very important and enjoyable to me.

That's all for tonight. Now back to watching Alice In Wonderland with my sister.