Posts Tagged ‘professional development’

posted by | on , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Professional Development Tips from the Workshops

At the First Annual DC EcoWomen Conference, we were addressed by speakers with words of empowerment, words that brought us all closer together. The keynote and closing speakers brought everyone into the same room to share their visions for us as key players in the path to equality.

But what made the conference so special to many people were the smaller, more intimate workshops throughout the day. Each EcoWomen had a personalized agenda to cater to her interests, which varied widely – from yoga in the workplace to green financial investing.

In creating a network of empowerment and equality for women, someone has to make the initial offer to help. So the attendees of the EcoWomen conference wanted to share what they learned in the workshops with all who couldn’t attend the conference. Read on to learn the best lessons and impressions of the day from those who want you to learn how to build your sustainable career.

Public Speaking

The public speaking workshop was both extremely engaging and comprehensive. Standing style, sitting style, tone, eye contact, dress, hand positions — Chris Janke covered it all, and we were encouraged to stand up and practice in real time. The world of our unconscious actions was made completely conscious, giving us the self-awareness and extra confidence that each of us was eager to find.

  • Take pauses and relate to your audience, move naturally.
  •  Colorful language and storytelling help people to remember what you’re saying.
  • People need to hear things 7-12 times to remember them. Repetition!
  • No matter what you are saying, when you slow down it sounds more important.
  • Flatness of delivery can result in no one remembering what you said. Spice it up!
  • Stand with one foot in front of other, and your weight in back foot. No swaying. Create a strong presence by dropping your shoulders back.
  • Seated on a panel? Choose your clothing wisely! Steer clear of wrap dresses, shirt dresses etc.

Beginning Financial Planning 

When you invest your money, you need a strategy of what you envision, what you want. Ask yourself:  What is your goal, 10 years out?  Don’t just focus on retirement! It’s time to start planning right now.

  • Make sure you have a financial equation that equals security.
  • The equation: Protection + Savings + Investing + Tax minimization = Security
  • For protection: consider disability insurance, life insurance (if you have children) and long term insurance.
  • For savings: Consider the money needed for an emergency. Know the financial situations of yourself, your spouse and even your parents in case something happens.
  • For investing: research 401k, IRA, and investment accounts. Base your investment strategy off of your risk tolerance (more stock is riskier, more bonds is safer).
  • Buy a money magazine! Or start with your own statements and break them down.
  • Find a professional to help.

Salary Negotiation

Negotiation is about more than money – it’s about taking care of yourself and family. Women ask for raises and promotions approximately 85% less than men do. You stand to lose as much as $1 million if you don’t negotiate!

  • Know how much you’re worth! Research salary ranges for the job, and check with your network.
  • Let employer mention a salary figure first. The party who puts a number on the table first is at the greater disadvantage.
  • Use a range if you have to say how much you want. Be clear if it includes benefits or not.
  • Be confident in selling your skills. Use other offers to your advantage. By the time you’re negotiating, they want you, so they’ll pay.
  • Say it! I’m worth it, I need more, I have to have… If you don’t ask and don’t make a case for yourself, no one else will.
  • Act like everyday is a performance review. Make yourself invaluable and indispensable.
  • Translate the work you did as something that made the boss and company look good. Bring it to your performance review.
  • If you can’t negotiate for hard cash, try asking for benefits (days off, bonuses, insurance, work from home, trainings, classes).

Keep an eye out for our Career Resources pages, where we will be posting more information from the conference workshops and more!

Thanks to EcoWomen Dawn Bickett and Jessica Lubetsky for providing their insights from the conference!

posted by | on , | Comments Off on Why You Should Care about This Thing Called ‘Professional Development’

We’ve all heard the phrase ‘Professional Development’ at work, at EcoWomen events, and just about everywhere you can think of.  To someone just starting out in a new job, it might not seem like a big deal.  Why be concerned with your professional development when you’ve finally secured yourself a job? If you’ve been in your job for awhile, why put in the effort to go above and beyond what’s required for your current job?

There’s a lot of good reasons why you should care, and why finding professional development opportunities can be helpful. Here are 5 reasons to work on professional growth :

  1.  You learn new skills. Learning new skills doesn’t just keep you up to date on the latest developments in your field, but it also can give you an edge if you decide to change positions.  Maybe that new management position is about to open up, and you just happened to have just taken a management course recently.  Edge acquired. Plus, learning new things can be fun, and can open up new possibilities for you.  Maybe that new skill or class opens you up to a new career path.
  2. Having a background in a lot of different areas makes you flexible.  Having transferable skills could mean being able to smoothly transition to a new position at your company if the company restructures, or it means being able to cast a wider net if looking for a new job.
  3. It can help you meet new people. Professional development doesn’t have to mean sitting in a training for 8 hours.  It can be volunteering with DC Ecowomen at Casey Trees, or shadowing a colleague.
  4. It’s an excuse to read all those books you’ve been meaning to read. Professional development can be reading new books on subjets related to your job.  Need some ideas on great books to try? Check out our Book Club resources.
  5. Practicing networking can help you feel more comfortable speaking up at work.  If  you’re an introvert like me, the worst thing in the world is talking to people.  But practicing talking to strangers at happy hours can help you feel more confident about your work and the things you’d like to do. Practice so you don’t feel afraid to speak up!

The most important thing to think about when thinking about professional development is to think about where you want to be. Then you can decide what would help you to get there, and what kinds of professional development you might want to look into.

What kinds of professional development are you looking for?

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The following is a cross-post from Penny Catterall’s blog Order Your Life. Penny presented the “Organizing Your Life” workshop at the DC EcoWomen Conference on May 18th, 2013.

I recently had the pleasure of giving a presentation on the topic of Eco-Friendly Office Organizing at the DC Ecowomen’s first all day conference in Silver Spring, MD.  It was so popular that I thought it would make a great topic for a blog post, as it is something that comes up more and more often in our society today.

Whether organizing your work or home office, the three main areas that most affect the environment are paper, plastic and electronics.  In the first part of this two-part post, I will be focusing on paper, the area that has the biggest impact both environmentally and organizationally.

First, a few startling statistics about paper:

  • According to the EPA, paper waste accounts for up to 40% of total waste produced in the United States each year, which adds up to 71.6 million tons of paper waste per year in the United States alone.
  • The paper industry is the 4th largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions among the United States manufacturing industries.
  • Worldwide consumption of paper has risen by 400% in the past 40 years leading to increase in deforestation, with 35% of harvested trees being used for paper manufacture.

Not only does paper have a hugely negative impact on our environment, but it also contributes the most to office disorganization.  We are all flooded with too much junk mail –  too many memos and printed emails, coupons, flyers – paper in all its forms.  When paper piles up, it is hard to see what’s important and focus on what really needs to be done.

The first and most important step in office organizing is to take a hard look at your paper and decide what really needs to be there and what doesn’t, and start reducing the influx of paper into your workspace. This will not only clear your mind and desktop, but will help the earth at the same time.

First, start by unsubscribing from catalogs, magazines, and mailing lists you don’t need or read that add unnecessarily to clutter. You can always go online to order things, and you can read your favorite magazines on line or on your tablet as well on apps like Flipboard.

There are some great free apps out there to help you unsubscribe from junk mail and catalogs – my favorite is PaperKarma, which works on both Apple and Android based products.  According to PaperKarma, each US household receives about 850 pieces of unwanted junk mail per year.  This adds up to more than 100 billion pieces of mail per year for the US, about 44% of which goes into landfills without even being opened!

The free PaperKarma app enables you to simply snap a picture of your unwanted mail, press “Send”, and get unsubscribed.  It works best for catalogs, magazines, credit card offers and yellow/white pages.  They do not sell or rent your information to anyone, and all webserver activity is done via SSL (strong encryption).

To opt out of all those pre-screened credit card and insurance offers that seem to constantly come in the mail, you can go to and while you’re at it, get yourself on the Do Not Call list for those pesky telemarketers who always seem to call during dinner.

Next, you need to think hard about what paper you yourself physically bring into your home or office.  Do you really need that flyer from Whole Foods, or can you take a picture of it on your smart phone to refer to later or look it up online?  Do you need to clip paper coupons, or is there a coupon app you can use instead?  CVS, Staples and most other major retailers all make their coupons available on apps these days. You can even snap photos of business cards with apps such asWorldCard Mobile which will then transfer the information directly into your address book. The less paper you bring in, the less visual and mental clutter you have.

Controlling paper outflow is also vitally important in organizing in the office.  You don’t want to create more paper to just put in piles or to have to file.  Think twice before printing, and try not to print temporary pieces of information like emails.  If it is an email you need to refer to later, flag it and look it up in your smartphone, or create email folders by topic and archive them there for future reference.

Instead of printing documents, save them as PDFs on an electronic folder on your hard drive.  You’ll end up saving on both paper and printer ink, which as we all know can really add up cost wise.

Another way to go paperless is to use cloud-based systems like Evernote to digitally capture all the bits of random information that you want to remember instead of writing it down on sticky notes or memo pads. You can scan, take photos or webclip everything from recipes, to travel plans, to useful household reference information, and save it directly into your Evernote account.

You can think of Evernote as an online bulletin board with virtually unlimited capacity and perfect organization capabilities. Evernote makes it so easy, that even if you don’t use their system of notebooks or tags, you can still find any note you entered by doing a search for any word that might be in that note.

Even with all the tips above, our use of paper is not going to disappear any time soon. So when you do use paper, you can reduce your impact on the environment by purchasing recycled paper. Paper made with 100% recycled content uses 44% less energy, 38% less greenhouse gas emissions, 50% less waste water, and of course, 100% less wood!

And for when you are done with your paper, make sure you have a recycling bin in your office – preferably right under your desk. It doesn’t have to be large or bulky, just something to separate paper from trash. And a cross cut shredder is key as well to shred anything with personal information on it. Shredded material can be recycled as well.

Penny Catterall offers professional organizing services for clients in the Washington DC Metro area.  If you missed her workshop on Saturday – “Organizing your Life” – check out her page on facebook!

posted by | on , , , | Comments Off on Women in the Workplace – Working for Equality

As we celebrate another International Women’s Day, we recognize the many strides of achievement women have made in this world to achieve equality. But one place where we are still far behind, even in our own country, is equality in the workplace.

I have always thought of myself as a pretty good negotiator. When I was younger, I would seek out the local flea markets while on vacation and bargain with the retailers. It was like a game. My prized possession was a single-person hammock was priced at $150, and I walked away with it for $25.

But research and time has proven that women still get the short end of the stick in nearly every aspect of the working world. Paid 77 cents to the male dollar, and holding only 22 percent of all senior management positions, there is still a glass ceiling in this country that prevents women from rising to levels equal to men. The authors of the book “Women Don’t Ask” explain that this arises from the trials and challenges women face with negotiations. Women don’t ask for what they want, and when they do, they ask for less.

There seems to be a simple solution to this dilemma, suggested clearly by the book’s title: simply ask! Just get out of your chair, march to your boss’s office, and ask for what you wants.

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. There are many social and cultural norms that may prevent a woman from asking for what she wants. What’s more, these norms also can negatively affect how she is perceived if she does ask. In the end, the average woman still ends up with less.

At the February bookclub, DC EcoWomen gathered at the ever-delightful Teaism to discuss this paradox.

We came up with several key messages and takeaways to remember.

1. Women need to recognize that the discrimination exists. It never occurs to most women that the starting salary at their first job is negotiable, or that if a promotion opens up they might have to ask instead of hoping their boss recognizes their talents. Do research, be upfront, and ask for what you want instead of hoping that you will get what you deserve.

2. Men need to recognize this, too. Too many dismiss gender discrimination because they don’t see it themselves. But much of this discrimination exists on a subconscious level.

3. Expectations are key. Many research studies have shown that people fulfill what they think is expected of them. If you are expected to do well, you probably will. If you are expected to fail, you are much more likely to do so.

4. Social gender norms are instilled even in early childhood. The expectations stem back to the chores, games, and mannerisms in childhood. When dividing up chores, girls are more likely to do housework – and not get paid – and boys are more likely to do outdoor tasks that they can even do for their neighbors for money. From the outset, many girls and boys are taught different things about the value of what they do.

5. Aggregate your assets. It is important to walk into a negotiation know what you are worth and be able to communicate that to your superior. It is also important to know for yourself, for self-confidence. One really intelligent suggestion that came from the bookclub is to create a “good-jobs folder” in your email account; every time someone sends you an email saying you did well, put it in that folder to reference later.

6. Feminine attributes have value in the workplace. One of the issues that arises when women do negotiate is the risk of seeming over-competitive and aggressive. To overcome this, it is often suggested that women ensure to be friendly, willing to negotiate, and be a team player. To emphasize that she cares about the good of the company, along with her self-interests. In my opinion, these traits are good, and are valuable for any gender.

7. Things are changing. At the end, the ladies felt hopeful. As more women excel in the workforce, there will be a gradual shift in values and norms. To reinforce positivity and work for the benefit of the whole can only have a positive impact in the workforce.

The flea market was a situation where I knew the rules, and was expected to haggle. So I did. Then if I walked away with a great deal, it was fantastic, and if not, it didn’t really matter – I had fun. Matters of business are not so clear, and often have more riding on the line than a hammock-chair. In this case, many things need to change.

The first step to social change is awareness. For now, women can learn about the social norms and use them to their advantage. They can recognize that they might be missing opportunities by not asking, and learn how to negotiate in a way that works for them.

Eventually, expectations will change until equality is the norm. It will take time, but time is always necessary to achieve something so valuable.

If you’re looking to educate yourself further, “Women Don’t Ask” co-author Sarah Laschever has a website of tools, education, and resources for women and negotiation. Check it out here: