Women tell me that wearing make up at work is a load of nonsense. Seven years ago I surveyed my database to discover what they thought of women who do wear make up and those who don’t. Overwhelmingly they said that women who don’t wear make up are lazy or gay. If you wear too much, caked on, then you are trying too hard. I’d like to think that this attitude has changed. Last week I posted the same question on Facebook. The post went viral. Women got very engaged and had a whole heap to say about it. One woman used make up to cover up her depression last year. It worked for her. Another loves how a little make up makes her feel. And yet another refuses to wear any make up for any occasion. There is no right or wrong here. What angered them was the expectation that they ‘should’ wear it. What I know for sure is that consistency with your brand is crucial. It communicates trust and reliability for your clients. 2016 research, from the University of Chicago and the University of California, has made the link between income level and grooming habits such as wearing make-up, styling hair and choice of clothing. It’s the first study to show that the “beauty premium can be actively cultivated”, and it examined nation-wide data of more than 14,000 participants. The “beauty premium” refers to the way physical attractiveness can increase income; a phenomena that has been shown in research time and time again. This study confirms the existence of the beauty premium, but says grooming also plays a part. In fact, salary differences between women of varying levels of attractiveness can be put down (almost always) to grooming habits. “We find that attractive individuals earn roughly 20 percent more than people of average attractiveness, but this gap is reduced when controlling for grooming, suggesting that the beauty premium can be actively cultivated,” the report states. I remain annoyed by the fact that as human beings we DO judge a book by its cover. I want to believe that misogyny and sexism in Australia does not exist, but it does. However, I am heartened by the research around grooming applying to both men and women. The corporate world is a sucker for a good looking employee. Fact. So, attractiveness matters. It’s proven by research. For over a decade now, I have been in the styling and personal branding business. I have styled clients in a way to serve them as individuals for their corporate roles and business and I have seen them promoted and earning more money. Their confidence increases. They achieve more. First impressions are crucial. Old research suggested that in the first seven seconds an impression is formed. I say it’s in the blink of an eye. Malcolm Gladwell writes about this in Blink. I don’t need seven seconds. So is it about make up or is it about good grooming? Let’s get back to your brand. What are your values? What do you stand for? What are you selling? We all sell something. Everyone is in sales. Do you look like the fee you charge? For both men and women there is no compromise around good grooming. Four elements for you to consider: Clothing - Clean and in good condition. Hair - Well groomed in a style that serves you. If you choose to colour your hair, attention to regrowth is not negotiable. You can have a hairline part colour done to save money. Alternative is to leave it natural. Going grey is cool by the way. A good hair stylist will help with this. Skin - Often overlooked. A simple daily regime of caring for your skin will make a difference. Despite what the skin care gurus tell you, there is no need to spend heaps on it. Accessories - Shoes, mobile phone, hand bag and jewellery in good condition. What I know for sure is that we do business with people we like and trust and consistency plays a role here. Being consistent with what YOU say your brand is. Personal Branding Board Room event for emerging female leaders in Collins Street, Melbourne 25 January 2017. If you are not being taken seriously, starved of feedback, inexperienced in leadership and have some doubt about your personal brand, this full day event is for you. Our team of experts will address leadership behaviours, linked in profile, branding headshot, styling and voice. Contact Helen 0409 324 248 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Today, one of my clients graduated. She completed a 6 month of leadership coaching intensive with the intention to regain her confidence, muscle up on saying 'no' and strengthen her assertive muscles. Sounds pretty simple eh? Like so many in the corporate space I have the absolute privilege to journey with, her confidence had hit rock bottom at the hands of a narcissist. She became powerless. This was a new way of being for her. She's a strong woman with a family and good friends. She has strong values and she knows what's important to her. She wants to model well for her children in this life time. We had some work to do. She was up for it. It wasn't an 'easy' journey. She's strong. She dislikes being held accountable, yet she's smart enough to know that her discomfort is part of the growth. A highly intelligent, strong leader. She was challenged and so was I. I could feel her pain. I've been there before. Holding the space and holding her accountable took me deep into her world. I became conscious of how easy it would be to have sympathy instead of empathy. I had to pull in the big guns for this woman. She had a red hot crack at blaming her husband for all that was going down at home. Cudos to this genius for catching on quick that it was about her and no one else. She is 100% responsible in her life for what happens with her. Full stop. BIG one! So, what happened during the six month period? She got annoyed with me holding her accountable for outcomes. I overstepped the mark and pushed the boundaries. We held fast. And this was where the metal hit the road. She got tired of the conversation and got into action. If there's one thing I know in the prime of my life, it's that human beings are at their best when they are in either of two states: 1. in action, and 2. doing stuff all. She chose action. She'd had enough of being in 'stuff all'. There is a time for both. She is present to the fact that she is more self aware of how she is feeling in any given moment, awake to when she is procrastinating and has choice around that, has the ability to say no (well practiced), is completing tasks, taking less things personally, sticking to timelines and has significantly increased timelines. How does she know? Feedback from her husband, kids, work colleagues, mentor and her leadership coach. I have observed this leader move from a place of powerlessness to a place of empowerment. I can see it in her eyes, I can hear it in her language. She is powerfully in a place of choosing instead of reacting. Cool eh? Job done. Leader empowered. Young lives impacted. Marriage stepped up a few notches. All because SHE had the courage to look at herself in the mirror and do the work. What work is there for you to do as we get ready to step into a new year of business? It's different for everyone. It's always impactful. I have two openings for leadership coaching this month and I'm looking for a leader who has the courage to take themselves on. Is it you?
For as long as I have known my Dad he has been a proud, well groomed, intelligent man. He makes no judgement on others, minds his business and is fiercely loyal to his family and friends. He's a down to earth, honest bloke who has had success gardening, golfing, working in printing & typesetting and raising a family. Our kids scored themselves one hell of a good grandfather. My brother and I hit the jackpot. As I was growing up, my girlfriends all wanted my Dad. I could not figure out why. I got it later. He represented for them, what they didn't have. Stability, reliability and loyalty. They could count on him. I kind of took that for granted as a kid. As we do, eh? Dad's got cancer, the melanoma kind. He's in palliative care now. I'm really present to the fact that my Dad has always been a strong solid bloke. Good grooming has always been important to him. Clean shaven, hair combed, shiny shoes and well pressed shirt. That's my Dad. Being in care comes with a loss of power. There's a lot he can't do anymore. He's in transition to the next phase now. He relies now on his wife of 54 years, my Mum to preserve his dignity. I'm constantly in awe of how she leads in this new phase of her life to love my Dad and do what needs to be done. She's a strong model of resilience and dignity. It's painful to visit someone you love who is in transition. What I know for sure is that we are spiritual beings having a human experience. Our body is merely a skin bag. It's not who we are. I remember viewing my grand father's body in the coffin. I got a fright. First dead body I'd seen. I was 14. My aunt assured me that it was not my Pop. That was just the house he used to live in. I got it. I go visit my Dad and don't see the skin bag he lives in. To me, my Dad is my Dad. That's all. On Sunday I showed him how my nails match my hair colour. That's the kind of thing I would normally do. Lol! I took a hairbrush from his bag and brushed his hair so it sat straight, like it always did. I like my Dad to look good. He likes it too. It's a small thing that makes a wee difference. I know it's really hard for some people to visit and that's ok. Grief impacts us all differently. He understands. He always has. It's painful to see my strong Dad fading before my eyes and I have chosen to be in a space of gratitude for what I've had for 50 years. It still hurts like hell, but I don't suffer while I'm in that space. Pain is inevitable. Suffering is an option. I've surrendered to what is now. There is nothing wrong. It is what it is. To retain one's dignity right to the end is a beautiful gift eh?
For three weeks in October I discovered the richness and culture of Morocco with my boyfriend Andrew. Bloody long way from Melbourne for an Intrepid tour and we did it. I love immersing in a diverse culture, the contrast of colour, food, scenery, hospitality and religion is exciting for me! We did a 14 day tour, the best of Morocco on a bus with 14 Aussies, Canadians, Poms and one American. I got present really quickly to the reality of self awareness. We took off on quite a hike in the Atlas Mountains. It was late afternoon. The air was crisp. It wasn't long before a small group of 5 broke off and steamed ahead up the mountain. Our tour leader was with them. The rest of us continued at a normal pace, and after awhile, the air was cooling, dusk was soon to fall and our tour guide was nowhere to be seen. One of our group was not well and the altitude was making things worse for her. As a group, we made a decision to head back down and try to find our accommodation. We became concerned about the lateness of the day and our mate who was not well. Ok, I admit ... I was frightened. Some time later, a local came running down the mountain after us urging us to follow him to our hotel in the village. The tour guide had sent him to lead us. We arrived exhausted and pretty cranky with him for leaving us without communicating. I had a fall. My knee hurt and I was tad grumpy by that stage. As I proceeded to address how it was for us in a calm, assertive manner, he made me wrong and everyone else. He had no comprehension of how his behaviour had impacted us. We felt that our safety had been compromised. He became defensive and angry. After he had time to process and think it through, he became even more defensive and made us wrong for a few more things as well. Not the smartest thing he could have done! This resulted in most of the group becoming quite passive. I heard a few of them say that the online review would be the time for feedback. It was. There was an onslaught of feedback. He didn't like it. He was shocked and upset by what came through. His complete lack of self awareness meant that he had no comprehension of the impact of his behaviour on his clients. None! What could he have done differently that may have produced a different result? What would you recommend? I'm curious!
This morning I attended a networking function in Melbourne with Business Women Australia and Jennifer Bryant. Nell Wilson spoke to us about First Impressions and FEEDBACK - how to give it and how to receive it effectively. Now, feedback is generally constructive. It can be an acknowledgement of what's working or feedback around what's not working. Nell used a two step approach: 1. What I noticed about you when we first met here this morning is (insert a strength or a positive you observed). 2. What might make a difference for you moving forward is (insert what they need to lose or gain that's not serving them). We went through this exercise with the intention of making a difference to each other via the feedback and it was extremely valuable. I noticed some were uncomfortable with acceptance of their strengths and made excuses or shrugged it off. Wow! I've been there. It's not a cool place to hang out. Who wants to do business with someone who is unsure of themselves? I don’t. So I want to add something to Nell's process. The missing piece for me is ‘Intention’. So I spoke up and shared a feedback experience I had a few months ago where a business colleague gave me some feedback. It came in the form of an aggressive phone call where he spoke over the top of me in an abusive tone and was followed up by an abusive text in capital letters. I put the phone down and noticed I was in shock and then went to a state of concern and empathy for him. Things must be tough to take that tone. This guy is under some immense pressure in his business. I felt it. Did I have aspects to own and be responsible for? You bet. I missed some detail and I owned it. He continued his tone. This was not a two way conversation. He was so pissed, he lost his listening skills (he is a damn fine listener). He gave me no room to move. It felt like a machine gun approach. He aimed, fired and shot me down. Get clear on your intention and outcome for the conversation. If it is your desire and intention to maintain good business relationships and move the conversation forward, consider tone, capitals with texting (we all know that's yelling!) and insert some listening to ensure it's a two way process. Your voice is not the only one in the conversation. One of the best pieces of feedback I ever got was from a respected coach and mentor last year, John Smallwood. He said 'Helen, you know you have a bit of smart ass about you at times, don't you?" I agreed. I knew about that. He had the courage to say it, there was no judgement and the intention was golden. He was raising awareness. His reply to my acknowledgement, "Cool, as long as you know." It was a gift. It gave me some clarity and consciousness around when I used it. I'm grateful to John for this feedback. I remember my mate Paul McCarthy after a presentation where a participant came to him and asked if he would like some feedback about what didn't work for her in his presentation. He replied with 'No, I am very particular about who I take feedback from'. She was horrified that he did not want her ten cents worth. I like Paul's style! If you intend for your feedback to land effectively, consider how it is given and allow space for a two way conversation. It's a dialogue, not a monologue. You can leave your heavy artillery behind. It has no place in effective communication. You are highly unlikely to get what you want. As for me, I'm open to feedback from those I trust and respect. I'm open to it when it's delivered with respect and truth and in a way I can hear it and respond. I've modelled Paul for years now. When unsolicited or aggressive feedback lands, like Paul I allow it to slide off like teflon! Do you have a feedback experience we can learn from?
One day I made a change. I parked my styling business for a while and I became a salaried employee. I was tired, over it. Life was happening. It all felt too much. So I reckoned a change was as good as a holiday right? Yeah right ........ I was excited. Learning new skills. Meeting brilliant new people. Hell I even discovered I was pretty good at this new craft. I was working hard and having fun, until my values were compromised. And oh boy, they were massively compromised. I got upset. I was triggered. I'm an advocate for JUSTICE, hence the work I do on a voluntary basis with TRY Australia. The business I worked in did not practice what they preached. Being an advocate for justice, and exercising my value of COURAGE, I stood up, spoke up and left. The next role I stepped into, a small family business. Once again I observed a values compromise. This time it was around FREEDOM. Staff silenced and not able to speak up. In a culture of control and blame, they feared for their jobs. Not one of them could tell me what the vision or values of the business were. Unaffected in the early weeks, I called it out for what it was. That was the beginning of my demise. COURAGE is in my top 3 values. I'm not afraid to say what needs to be said. You won't find me talking about you behind your back. I'll tell you straight and I'll let you know you may not like it. I had my very own Mark Bouris moment "You're Fired". I felt amazingly calm. I didn't argue (I have been famous for that). I didn't defend what I was accused of. None of it was true. I took the high ground and expressed gratitude for the experience. Why? Because I learned something valuable about myself that day. I am an entrepreneur. I contribute to something bigger than myself. I create. I learn. I grow. I do. I take risks. I'm focused. I feel overwhelming love for my clients and the people in my life. I'm intuitive and I learn by my mistakes. I know this because I have lived experience and evidence. My clients choose to work with me because of WHO I am and WHAT I bring. I embrace my flaws. I honour and respect every decision I have ever made and I have immense gratitude for those who have retrenched me, divorced me and fired me. I'm clear that I have some wisdom to share in this space and this is my journey. The mistake I made twice, was not doing my due diligence on the culture before signing up for the challenge. LinkedIn is a powerful platform to do this research. Finding past employees is not a difficult task. I lacked attention to detail when I got caught up in the excitement. I got the learning. Twice, I failed to take responsibility and take the necessary action sooner. I knew it was not working. Once again, I got the learning. I know who I am. Today marks my new beginning. I have great courage and I am free. I value what I bring to this life. Being locked out is far better than being locked in. My self belief is high, my courage has no boundaries and my passion is unlimited. If you are tired of settling for second best and need a coach with courage who will hold you fast to what you want in your life, I'm ready. Are you?
Ever done the same thing over and over again and wondered why you didn't get a different result from last time? Yeah, me too. Only this time, I've consistently done the same thing over and over for a whole month. Repetitive, boring, over and over and I'm getting results. I've discovered a pattern with me. I get bored doing the same thing over and over. I want change. I want the excitement of something different. I turned 50 this year and decided I would arrive fit and healthy for my 50th birthday. I hired a personal trainer and got strong. I have a healthy physical regime of spin classes, pilates and weights 6 days a week. Nailed it! The consistency of showing up every morning at the gym for 30-60 minutes a day was reaping results. I didn't realise it was working until I discovered my weights were increasing, the dial on the spin bike was up over 50 and I was consistently holding a plank for over 2 minutes when I could not even manage 30 seconds. I'm stoked. Now I've always worked out at the gym, participated in fun runs, commando training programs. I've always been active. And I've always eaten too much. I've consistently been 5-8 kilos overweight. I eat well. I'm a vegetarian, currently eating fish for the past 3 months. I just eat more than I need. I got educated on how to be a healthy vegetarian at Raw Satya in Windsor in Melbourne with Rosemarie Walmsley. Best thing ever. My blood tests each year are awesome. My GP can't believe how good my results are, year after year. So I came to the decision that the layer of fat covering my strong muscular body had to go. I did some research and commenced a 30 day nutritional cleanse. I took every item of clothing out of my wardrobe that was too small and put it on display. My bedroom had stuff everywhere! I consistently followed the program, did my bit of exercise, increased my water intake and hey presto ..... 4 kilos lighter! My personal trainer commented on the muscle definition she can now see in my back. I have a heap of clothing that is now too big and needs altering. Everything that was too small, now fits. Well, if I can do that in 30 days, what might be possible in another 30 days? What I've learned is that consistency works. I decided I'm more committed to my health and wellbeing, than I am to a glass of red wine or a packet of chocolate bullets (both treats I really, really love!). So, today marks the commencement of another 30 day nutritional cleanse. I'm committed to having the physical body that I really want - strong, fit and lean. I'll focus on what I want and consistently do what it is I need to do, one day at a time. No more, no less. I'm not bored with consistency. I'm bloody excited by it! Where could you use consistency to make an impact in your life?
What is it? It's sadness or displeasure caused by the non-fulfilment of one's hopes or expectations. My version: It's getting your hopes up and setting up for massive failure. Yesterday I got smacked down with a sledgehammer in disappointment. I wasn't ready. I was not expecting it. I made some plans. Set the action in place and I had all my ducks lined up in a row. Failure was not an option. And ..... my plan failed. My chest tightened up, I struggled to breathe. I was shattered. Utterly disappointed in myself, the system and everyone involved in the project. I became illogical, defensive, upset, judgemental and felt so alone in the world. Now I have a network of family and good friends that most people would envy. Yet I felt 'alone'. I blamed myself, made myself wrong for who I am and went on a fearless search of who to hold accountable. I sat with my hurt. I didn't like it. My preference would have been to drown it in gin and tonic. I didn't. I simply sat with it. And it hurt. By 9pm I was bloody exhausted from emotion, tears, conversation with a coach and my beloved. I was wrinkled like a prune for staying in a bubble bath too long. I did some damage with chocolate protein bars and felt sick overnight. Not the best sleep I've ever had. My coach helped me to process the disappointment. Without that objective contribution, I could have been bogged down in disappointment for days. Been there, done that. She did what a friend can never do. Friends go into sympathy or jump on the blame band wagon. Not useful. A coach gets real and gets results fast. The next morning when the alarm went off, I dragged my bones out of bed and hit the gym. The sun came up. I looked up towards the sky. I went to work and had some success. I made some more plans. I'm grateful for the experience. I have grown. I'm smart enough to know who to connect with and allow my wise ones to contribute to me. I have some resilience. Lesson learned. Big girl pants on. Forge ahead. Yep. It's a choice. We all have disappointment. Who are your trusted advisors? Do you have a person or two who will be a stand for you and short circuit your stuff so you can get on with your life? You know, the one who does not judge you and allows you to work through it? Who do you have?
When you make a difference to one life, you make a difference to a community. I found myself heavily distracted in tonight during yin yoga. I got to thinking about 'community'. When I joined my yoga studio in Carnegie, the welcome felt like red carpet had been rolled out. I did some classes in this dodgy looking studio that was formerly a brothel. I attended some workshops, joined in on some lectures and found myself part of a community. I am inspired by the awesomeness of the young people I have met here. If they are our future leaders, we are going to be ok. A new studio opened up in Templestowe, so I went to the opening night and took my friend Marie, who has now passed over from cancer. She was welcomed by this community as they patiently waited for her to slowly climb the stairs. Aimee (founder) made sure she was comfortable on a chair with a cushion. This beautiful community engaged with her. She felt so welcome. A community is a self organised network of people with shared values, goals, interests. It's what happens in a yoga studio, a church, a school and a neighborhood. It's where people look out for each other. They care. It's the 60 year old mother of five I met when our girls were 4 years old at kindergarten, offering to drive my parents to Peter Mac for Dad's treatment or take mum shopping. That's community. It's powerful. All these little things add up to change the world. There's a bit we can all do. I work in a building that houses a mental health service. They help people with mental health issues to integrate into communities. Sometimes, they hang around outside the front door smoking or talking to themselves. And we judge them. Because somehow, we got the golden ticket and think we are better. One in five Australians have fair dinkum mental health issues. No space for judgement. A caring community will show compassion and love. Ignorance has us judging. Radio personality Meshel Laurie experienced fat shaming by trolls on social media. She named and shamed them right back and regretted what she had done. She stated that "happy people with great lives don't fat shame strangers on social media. Sad, lonely, isolated people do." In future, she will show them compassion. She made a public apology on The Project, read by the show host. Cool eh? Reckon she has a rock solid sense of individuals in a community and how that plays out in the world. Big picture thinker she is.
Twenty five years ago, I worked as a business development manager for the ANZ Bank. In this role, I was fortunate to experience the best leadership ever. Rob Taggart lead by example. He was masterful in communication, strategic, funny, smart and fair. He managed up and down with ease. He was transparent. We all knew where we stood with him. He managed a team of business development managers, A type personalities. It could not have been easy. We sure made life tough for him. And there was nothing we would not have done for that man. We enjoyed success as a business and we had our fun and crappy moments along the way. This is life. What I learned from Rob Taggart 25 years ago is that we work as one team and respect and embrace our difference. Diversity rocks. He knew how to make team work with diverse cultures and personalities. I learned compassion. When someone in the team is being an ass, good chance it's coming from a space of fear. They need compassion and understanding, not an ear bashing. Rob taught me to find solutions and find a way to make things work. There will always be obstacles. He came to visit me in the Mercy maternity hospital just weeks after my daughter was born and I had been diagnosed with post natal depression. He asked me two questions: 'How are you?' and 'What do you need from me to be well?' He kept in contact and I was back at work within 8 months. It made a massive difference to my recovery. No judgement, just an open mind, a compassionate heart and a will to move forward. Our business succeeded. We did well. Rob was powerful. He didn't skite about how good he was. He didn't have to. His actions spoke louder than his words. Who he was being as a leader was incredibly powerful. Good leaders don't need to run their own monologue and bag on about how good they are. Good leaders don't talk behind people's backs. They have powerfully assertive conversations. They are not fearful. When he stuffed up, he openly cleaned it up. Rob's leadership style was transparent. I'd put money on the fact that his two daughters would rate him with top marks as a father. Thanks Rob. You made a difference here.