7 Ways to Face Down Your Fear of Failure and Come Out Stronger on the Other Side

Right now, there’s only ne thing holding you back from success at work. And that’s fear. Not of ghosts or clowns or spiders, but of messing up and falling flat on your face.

Regardless of what you do for a living or where you are on the ladder, here’s some advice/inspiration on how you can face your own fears—and come out stronger on the other side.

Read the full article here:  7 Ways to Face Down Your Fear of Failure and Come Out Stronger on the Other Side.

Message us here or via Twitter and let us know what you think!

 

How to Lead from the Front: Advice from a Marines Captain

Angie Morgan, Marines Captain and co-founder, Lead Star

Angie Morgan, Marines Caption and co-founder, Lead Star

Jessica recently attended a one-day leadership conference hosted by The Quorum Initiative, a selective group of high-level corporate women devoted to creating more opportunities for women in the workplace. At the event, amongst an impressive and smart group of women across industries–from finance and law to media and academia–she participated in an inspiring workshop given by Angie Morgan, a former Marines Officer and co-author of the book, Leading From the Front: No-Excuse Leadership Tactics for Women, along with fellow Marine Courtney Lynch, with whom Morgan also runs Lead Star, a leadership development consulting firm that has worked with companies from FedEx to 3M to Bank of America.

Morgan and Lynch were among the fewer than 1,000 female officers serving in the U.S. Marine Corps at the time — a scant one percent versus, for example, the U.S. Air Force, where nearly 20 percent of the officers are women — and she believes that the leadership training that she learned during her military service is transferable to the private sector, and can help anyone become a stronger and better leader. Below, Morgan shared with us some advice for how to lead from the front both in work – and in life.

JK: I imagine there’s a lot of fear and nervousness when entering the military for the first time, just as there is when you get a new job or position. How can fear stand in the way of success and how can you quell it in order to lead?

As you go through life, you get more comfortable with yourself and more reflective. I can easily recall that one of the biggest fears I had early on was the fear of failure. Up to that point in my life, everything had come pretty easily to me. I had good grades without studying too hard and did well at sports. In the Marines, I had to quickly learn a skill set that I wasn’t socialized learning and it was really challenging. I had never played with G.I. Joe or watched war movies growing up. When I started training, I was very overwhelmed and, on any given day, I felt like I was behind.

When there’s a fear of failure, your ego goes up and you start to get very defensive. I had excuses for my poor performance, but those weren’t helping me. What I had to come to terms with in order to succeed and get out of that place was absolute humility and an ability to ask for help. I never needed help before, so that was humbling. The fear of failure can influence your ego in unhealthy ways. Often you don’t want to raise your hand and ask for help because it makes you vulnerable.

That fear manifests itself in different ways in different people. For me, it was a lack of confidence; for others, it’s over-confidence.  Sometimes it’s even complacency, such as “I’m too afraid to fail so I’m not even going to try.”

In order to combat the fear, moments of self-appraisal are pretty helpful, such as “This is what you’ve done, this is how you’ve overcome this similar situation before.” That’s important for leaders to do. You have to remind yourself that you have the ability to influence your success and failure in pretty powerful and profound ways.

JK: If the Marines believe that everyone can be an effective leader, then who is following those leaders? In other words, can you be effective if you have all leaders? Or can those following a leader also be leaders and, if so, how?

In our society, we tend to see leaders as people who have positions of authority. In the Marine Corps, they teach you to have influence, and anyone can have influence. Someone can be a go-to person at any level. The Marine Corps teaches everyone to be a leader – they teach basic fundamental behaviors that influence outcomes and inspire others. Leadership can happen anywhere. Through Lead Star, we like to go to corporations and help them understand that leadership can be demonstrated at any level of the organization, especially among those who are individual contributors. What we like to do is start with professionals at an early stages of their career so they can develop their leadership skills well in advance of any promotion or managerial role. That way, they are prepared for the people responsibilities when they get to advance.

JK: With Millennials, they often want their superior’s job in six months or have tremendous confidence because they were told by their parents that they could do anything. At that age, how do you show leadership and not hubris?

For Gen Y, it’s important to have a mentor to help them understand that growth doesn’t have to be vertical but can be horizontal. Give them challenges and to help the develop their expertise and experiences – whether they want to start their own business, move into another role or move up. Most companies are faced with a significant percentage of their workforce getting near retirement age and the need to mentor younger employees. You can’t change the way the younger generation operates, so you need to embrace it. I think we’re going to see a lot more mentoring models out there, and it’s a good thing.

JK: I love your story in the book about making cold calls as a manager right along with your staff and how it inspired them and made them work harder. Why is it important as a leader to show that you are not above rolling up your sleeves? 

I’ve been to so many programs that teach leadership and often we gloss over two important qualities – trust and humility. Frequently people get promoted into managerial roles and think about their staffers, “You work for me,” but that’s not true – you really work for them. Sometimes the smallest things can have the most profound impact on your team’s performance or your employees’ performance. Even asking someone “How’s your day?” and sticking around for the answer can really help.

JK: In the book, you and your co-author Courtney give personal examples of when you had to give up or change things in your life in order to focus on succeeding in one area. How do you determine what to give up and how to maintain balance?

One of the things I like to do when I’m making decisions is really reflect upon my priorities and if something in front of me doesn’t fit it to one of my priorities, I say no. The “decision-making lane,” as I like to call it, allows me to stay on my path. In a perfect world, that works great. You can get comfortable doing everything but if you want to succeed at one thing, you have to narrow your focus. You can’t do everything well.

JK: In your workshop that I participated in at the HOW conference, you talked about three critical qualities of a leader: credibility, decisiveness and confidence.  Can you be a leader without all three?  If you lack in one of these areas but want to lead, how do you advise addressing that weakness?

There are many leadership qualities that are interdependent on one another. For example, if you’re confident, but indecisive, that will slow your team’s progress down. Or if you’re decisive, but lack confidence and can’t express this in your decisions, you’ll have a difficult time rallying people to support you. Leaders are well rounded and it’s important to know qualities associated with leadership behaviors so you know what needs to be developed.

JK: As a PR professional, my industry has to deal with crisis management on a daily basis and I love the phrase in your book used in the Marines – “aviate, navigate and communicate” – to handle a challenging situation. Can you explain the three steps?

Consider that you’re flying an airplane and you see the “red light” blinking, indicating an emergency. Your instincts are to panic and freeze, yet that won’t get your plane on the ground. You need to aviate – keep your plane in the air, so keep your hands on the control. Navigate – keep on attempting to get to a destination. Communicate – reach out to others to get the help you need, such as flight crew or air traffic control.

JK: You talk a lot about the importance of accountability in the Marines and in the real world and believe that effort and excuses don’t equal progress. Why is it so important? What if you have a team member who tries hard and takes responsibility for failures but just isn’t getting results?

We define a leader as someone who influences outcomes and inspires others. Results matter. While it’s important to take accountability for personal failures, they next step is identifying what you’re going to do about it to deliver a different, more positive result. An important part of being a leader is being credible – credibility is derived from your character and your competence. If you’re looking to influence others, your results will capture their attention.

If you’re purposefully committing yourself to developing your leadership skills, my guidance would be for you to start thinking about important leadership qualities and assess how good you are at expressing them. Then, after you’ve identified areas of improvement, make a commitment to yourself to pick three things that you’re going to focus on. When you’re intentional with your development, you end up surprising yourself with how quickly you can develop a specific skill or behavior.

How do you lead from the front?  Share with us here, on Facebook or Twitter.

Tips From the Trenches: Jodi Arnold of Eloquii

 “Be clear about your mission and your value proposition and don’t waiver from that.” — Jodi Arnold, creative director, ELOQUII

When we first heard the story about ELOQUII, we were wowed.

It had all the trappings of one of those Hollywood tales: the underdog bouncing back from seemingly insurmountable odds.  The plus-size women’s clothing store is truly a “comeback kid,” having been shuttered by its parent company but then resurrected as a stand-alone entity thanks to its vocal legion of fans.  Eager to learn more, we spoke with Jodi Arnold, the brand’s creative director, who was on board throughout the entire adventure.

Jodi is a fashionista of the first degree.  Years ago, armed with a degree in Fashion Design from Baylor University, the Birmingham, Alabama native made her way to New York City and into the various positions in the fashion industry.  Then, over a cup of mint tea in Paris in 1999, she made the decision to set out on her own and launched the press and retail favorite contemporary line, MINT Jodi Arnold.  Her next move came after a successful designer collaboration with The Limited; the company hired Jodi in 2011 as Vice President of Design for their then-new plus-size line, ELOQUII.  The rest, as they say, is history.

Here’s what Jodi has to share about her beloved brand, standing out from the crowd as well as bouncing back from career challenges:

JodiArnold_ColorYou’ve gone through ups and downs with ELOQUII. What were a few things you learned from the process? There are too many to name but first would be the power of being small and nimble in a manufacturing business. Second, go with your gut. The plus-size business was one that made so much sense, given our knowledge of the average woman’s shape, and we could not understand why no one was catering to her. Third, be very clear about your mission and your value proposition and don’t waiver from that.

 

What would you like the plus-size women of the world to take away from the story of ELOQUII?
I hope that plus-size women will be inspired by the passion it took to re-launch this brand for THEM and to finally give them the fashion choices they deserve. Everyone on the team passed up other lucrative job offers and took a risk to do what we really believed in.

 

 

So many companies make significant missteps with regard to their online/social media presence. How did ELOQUII successfully negotiate those waters?
We try to be as human as possible and do everything we can to ensure our customers are taken care of. They are our #1 priority. We also stay really nimble – as little pre-scheduled content as possible so that we’re able to react to current events, or even priority changes on site. If she follows us on social, she knows what is happening on the site at all times, and even a few exclusive deals she can’t find anywhere else. Thanks to our in-house social media expert, Sarah Conley, we are able to interact with and react to our fans at all times!

 

Courtesy of ELOQUII

Courtesy of ELOQUII

What advice do you have for businesses or brands looking to harness their fan base like ELOQUII did?
If you genuinely care about what your fans have to say, let them know! We do our best to respond to every question and comment, most of the time in under an hour. We’re not going to be able to make everyone happy, but we want her to know that her feedback has been heard and we’re trying to accommodate all of our customers in the best way that we can. If they want personal shopping advice, we’re happy to help guide them in the right direction. If they want us to offer a certain style in another color, we’re going to give it serious consideration. It’s that level of attention to detail that will bring her back to us time and time again.

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Lessons from the Media’s Most Powerful Women

This Monday, Jessica had the distinct pleasure of attending the Matrix Awards, the annual celebration of influential women in the media industry by New York Women in Communications (NYWICI), an organization on whose board she sits. But for many years prior to holding a board seat, she sat in the audience at this inspiring event, held in the 1,400-seat ballroom of New York City’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. The luncheon honored seven icons from across the media landscape–from television and film to magazines and advertising–who have achieved much success in their careers. The Matrix honorees, and their presenters (many of them men), included:

Queen Latifah, a 2014 Matrix Honorees, on the red carpet

Queen Latifah, a 2014 Matrix Honorees, on the red carpet

  • Wendy Clark, Senior Vice President, Global Sparkling Brand Center, Presented by Shelly Lazarus, Chairman Emeritus, Ogilvy & Mather
  • Queen Latifah, Musician, Award-Winning Actress, Record-Label President, Author, Entrepreneur, and Cover Girl, Presented by Mary J. Blige, Singer, Songwriter, Record Producer, Actress
  • Jane Mayer, Staff Writer, The New Yorker, Presented by David Remnick, Editor, The New Yorker
  • Cynthia McFadden, Senior Legal and Investigative Correspondent, NBC News
    Presented by Christiane Amanpour, Chief International Correspondent, CNN
  • Dyllan McGee, Founder and Executive Producer, MAKERS, Presented by Gloria Steinem, Writer, Organizer, Co-Founder Ms.
  • Eileen Naughton, Vice President, Global Accounts & Global Agencies, Google, Presented by David Gregory, Moderator, “Meet the Press”
  • Jonelle Procope, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Apollo Theater, Presented by Richard Parsons, Senior Advisor, Providence Equity LLC

These women shared their words of wisdom with the crowd and, since not everyone had the benefit of being there, I’m including the honorees’ and presenters’ best (tweetable!) nuggets below:

“Women can be bad-ass and beautiful.” — Jane Mayer

“No one’s journey is a straight path.” — Jonelle Procope

“I’ve been saying the word ‘improbable’ wrong all along. There’s a space between the ‘m’ and ‘p’: ‘I’m probable.'” — Wendy Clark

“There will never be post-feminism.” — Eileen Naughton

“Staying put is a bore.” — Cynthia McFadden (quoting her late friend Katherine Hepburn)

“If there’s a place in hell for women who don’t support each other, there’s a place in heaven for those who do.” — Gloria Steinem

“Focus on what matters; don’t get caught up in the minutiae.” — Dyllan McGee

“Great things come to those who show up fearlessly.” — Mary J. Blige

“Women need to lift each other up, not tear each other down.” — Queen Latifah

The two pillars of NYWICI–“the changing landscape of communications” and “helping women at every stage of their careers”–were on full display at the Matrix Awards and if this year’s honorees are any indication, there’s a bright future for women in media.

How Mentorship Can Help You Get Ahead

NYWICI Mentoring Panel

Sage advice being doled out at the “Fastest Way to the Top” NYWICI panel.

Last week, we attended a great panel hosted by New York Women in Communications (NYWICI) called “The Fastest Way to the Top,” where five successful women at all stages of their careers discussed the importance of finding mentors and sponsors along the way to support you, offer advice and help you reach that next level of achievement.

Moderated by Erica Hill, co-anchor of NBC’s Weekend Today, the lineup included Ellen Archer, ABC Entertainment‘s Head of East Coast Development, and her longtime mentor, iVillage co-founder Nancy Evans; as well as Stacy Martinet, Chief Marketing Officer, Mashable, and her mentor Denise Warren, Executive Vice President, Digital Products and Services Group, The New York Times.

While the women-focused event was peppered with references to Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, much of the wisdom imparted during the panel could apply to men too, though as Archer pointed out, “We as woman are very good at developing friendships and men are good at business relationships. It’s important for women to get out there and develop those relationships as well. We’re somehow not as good at it.”

Below, some of the best tips for how to choose a mentor, become one yourself and learn from the generation ahead of you and behind you:

 

What Does Mentorship Mean?

The best of mentoring is when you can send [the person] an email and say, “When can you talk today?” Don’t just walk up to someone and say, “Will you be my mentor?”- Nancy Evans

People took notice of me because I did a great job. I showed up early, I stayed late. How can you make the bar higher? How do you get people to notice you? As a mentee, you have to trust your mentors. – Denise Warren

I admired a woman who was open to people at all levels. She recognized me as a junior staffer and said, “You did a great job; it doesn’t matter how much experience you have.” – Stacy Martinet

Reverse mentoring is great — digital natives can teach older people a lot about technology and social media. – Ellen Archer

 


What Can We Learn from Twenty-Somethings?

I don’t view this younger generation as stereotypically feeling entitled, but I have encountered people who think their path up should be quicker than ours. I see that this generation wants to build their skills –whether social media or program management– and we want to help them do that. – Denise Warren

The norms are different now. I Snapchat and text with my team at Mashable. The fact that they don’t have as many hang-ups as we do is good but it’s about balance. Things move very fast now — there’s a list [that comes out] every week of “Top 10 People under 30” and they want to get on those lists. – Stacy Martinet

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Volunteering: How Helping Out Helps You Stand Out In the Workplace

Photo credit: www.careways.org.au

Last week was National Volunteer Week, an annual event that, since its inception in 1974, has raised awareness about the  growing role volunteerism plays in strengthening communities. But did you know that it can also help you stand out in a good way in the workplace?

LinkedIn recently shared that 1 million members have added charitable causes to their profiles and pointed out that over 60 percent of those members are Millennials who highlight their volunteer efforts as a part of their professional identity.

Some might argue that they can’t afford to work for free, but here are a few ways in which volunteering can help you land your dream gig:

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Tips From The Trenches: One-on-One with Valerie Insignares of Darden

“I believe every day your actions speak louder than any words you say.  In fact, what others say about you is often times more important than what you say about yourself.” – Valerie Insignares

We meet a lot of powerhouse women in our day-to-day lives — women who are making a name for themselves in their industries and beyond. So, when we recently connected with Valerie Insignares, SVP/Chief Restaurant Operations Officer at restaurant company Darden, we jumped at the chance to get her perspective on standing out in the workplace.

Insignares is impressive  — recognized within her company (which owns Red Lobster, Olive Garden and The Capital Grille, among other multi-location establishments) for her record-breaking guest count growth as well as for her role in establishing the supplier diversity initiative — she’s made the “most influential” lists for key industry publications as well as Hispanic Business. Add to that her other role as one of this nation’s 30 million working moms, and her list of accomplishments becomes even more inspiring.

With all on her plate (restaurant pun intended), we were honored that she found a few minutes to share her perspectives about serving up authenticity and quality no matter the role and why we should look to Missy Franklin for inspiration:

Why is it so important these days to stand out in the workplace?

I’ve been with Darden for 15 years now, and we’ve grown into the world’s largest full-service restaurant company with more than 180,000 employees and 2,000 restaurants. As the company has grown, the organization has become much more complex and the environment is much more global. In order to stand out, you need to be more than a functional expert. You need to be viewed as a business leader. The way to do that is to view your career as a learning journey: (to) take risks and roles that will broaden your perspective,  be committed to evolving your leadership, and be open to relocation. Many more opportunities will be open to you if you are!

As a leader, it’s equally important to be known for how you do things as it is for what you do.  It’s important to demonstrate personal balance and commitment to your family and community.  Luckily Darden is a place that places equal weight on both its business and its values.

 

What’s the best PR advice you’ve ever received?

Play to your strengths.  We all come from different places and have seen or worked through all kinds of personal and professional experiences.  Remember that you bring a unique perspective to the table as well as a unique set of skills. It’s up to you, however, to deliver tangible value to your employer by using these strengths. At the end of the day, doing good work using your unique strengths is your best PR plan.

 

What’s an example of when you’ve been your own best publicist?

As a leader, I believe every day your actions speak louder than any words you say. In fact, what others say about you is often times more important than what you say about yourself. Do you behave in way that is positive and energetic? Are you consistent?

 

What are your top networking tips?

Networking doesn’t have to be something you do in addition to your day job. As a working mother, I have little time outside of my day-to-day schedule of work, family and exercise. My advice is to work connections into your schedule. Make genuine connections with people in your company, industry and community, and keep those relationships going. Simply checking in with these connections a few times a year can help maintain a strong network. Also, keep your commitments. A quick cup of coffee is easy to reschedule when your calendar is full or you have a full inbox. But it’s important to realize we’re all busy, and you’ll be happy you honored their time and your commitment.

 

How important is it to break through the clutter when you’re trying to stand out—and what’s the best way to do so?

Sometimes you don’t need to break out in a big way; rather, you need to demonstrate leadership qualities and let the result speak for itself. A good leader coaches his or her team and smartly allocates his or her resources in the best interest of the business. Making a true difference is the best way to differentiate yourself.

 

What’s your best tip for how to get what you want at work?

A great start is to really know what you want!  So many people ask me for career advice and say they want to advance, but when I ask them where they are trying to go they aren’t clear. When you’re clear about the types of opportunities you would be open to — lateral, cross functional, relocations, etc.– you are more likely to be top-of-mind when the opportunities are created. You also need to be very willing to do or change what it takes to get there and be ready to say ‘yes’ when asked!

 

 What do you think is the best/worst recent example of managing your reputation?

I think a strong example of reputation management was seen with the United States Olympians in London. Athletes like Missy Franklin, the 17-year old swimmer who at such a young age is expected to carry herself with the composure of someone twice her age. I think we can all learn something about staying calm under pressure and performing to the best of our ability.

 

 What do you think is the biggest challenge facing recent graduates now – and how would you combat it?

There is a lot of pressure on youth to figure out what they want to be when they grow up before they’ve had enough experiences to really know the answer.  My message to youth is that you don’t have to have it all figured out… but do follow your passion!  If you set yourself up for success by taking advantage of educational or mentorship programs and always keep learning and working hard, you’ll carve out a path to success – and that success may look a lot different in the future than it looks now.

I love the restaurant industry! I grew up in Chicago, wanting to be a chef. I’ve lived in Kentucky, Texas, and now, Orlando.  I’ve progressed from the purchasing side of our business to leading restaurant operations. I couldn’t be happier, and to realize this happiness, I had to be open to course changes during my career journey. The restaurant industry is truly an industry of opportunity.

 

What skill or technique have you, yourself, used to get ahead or get a job? 

For me, it’s strategic thinking: working with teams to identify and prioritize the work that will matter most to our business and our people. In fact, I use the same skill as a working mom to understand the events I really can’t miss at my girls’ school — like Mother’s Day celebrations, for example!

 

Have other tips from the trenches?  Share with us here, on Facebook and Twitter.

Finding A Cure for O.S.D. – Obsessive Sharing Disorder

(via msnbc.com // Illustration: Kim Carney)O.S.D., or obsessive sharing disorder – that’s what author and coach Peggy Klaus calls people’s growing tendency to offer up too much personal information at work. In this past Sunday’s issue of The New York Times, she extrapolated that this over-sharing is likely an extension of online behavior or, alternatively, the need to connect in a disconnected world. Klaus points out: Since we spend so much time at work these days (likely as much if not  more time than at home), it’s no wonder we look to  forge close connections with co-workers — and that ultimately blurs the line between professional and personal boundaries.

So, is there a cure for this common ailment (particularly among the Gen Y set)?  Yes!

In “Be Your Own Best Publicist,” we address the challenges of managing your personal brand both on- and off-line.  So, here are some things to remember when considering whether to share or remain silent about your personal life:

  • Who do you think you’re talking to? Just like our recent post about griping about past employers online — think about what the right forum is to share personal information, whatever it entails. Probably not a good move to share your personal issues with a boss or client,  lest they think those distractions will hinder your ability to do the job. Even offering up those private thoughts or questionable choices to co-workers could significantly affect your trajectory at work, so consider your audience before plowing ahead. We recommend holding your tongue –and comments– until you’re outside the workplace (and with trusted friends or family), just to be safe.
  • Will it help or hinder?  Remember that nowadays, in particular, everything you say or post can and will be used “against” you. Whenever we are communicating with a client or a media person, we consider the impact of our words because once a statement or sentiment is out there, it’s impossible to take back (ahem, Congressman Akin!).  Ever try to hit the recall button on a email?  Exactly.  Consider your words carefully in advance. Ask yourself: Will what I say move the situation forward?  How will it color the way my conversation partner perceives me?
  • When in doubt, leave it out. Wondering whether you should share the story about your crazy weekend in the Hamptons or perhaps some details about a love affair gone wrong? Less is more — particularly in the workplace.  Editing yourself can be the hardest, yet most valuable skill you can learn whatever your career. We all need to hit the pause button once and a while. Consider your goals and key messages before blurting any old thing out. General rule of thumb: When in doubt — you got it — LEAVE IT OUT.

How do you deal those “suffering” from O.S.D. in your life?  Tell us here, on Facebook or on Twitter.


 

 

 

Life Lessons Learned from the Films Director John Hughes

This past Monday marked the three-year anniversary of the untimely death of 80s film director John Hughes. And, while many of us who grew up with his movies learned a lot about our personal lives, there are lessons that can translate to our professional efforts as well. Some of those include:

  • Don’t put anything in writing you wouldn’t want read. (Sixteen CandlesAs Samantha found out when she filled out the quiz that fell into the wrong (read: Mr. Right’s) hands, everything is on the record — and that is even more clear when you put something in writing (or post something online).  Sure, things turned out great for her (complete with birthday cake and happy ending) but most of us mere mortals need to be cognizant that everything we say, write and post can and will be used against us. In our speaking engagements and workshops for Be Your Own Best Publicist, we remind people not to put anything in writing you wouldn’t want your grandmother, boss or rabbi/priest/shaman/spiritual guide to read.
  • Help can come from the least likely of sources. (The Breakfast Club) A criminal…a princess…a brain…a jock…a basketcase….What started as a group of strangers turned into the ultimate powerful network by the end of the film. And what they learned as their detention day rolled on is that, despite their surface differences, they could rely on one another for advice (Claire giving Allison makeup tips), to help dodge a bullet (Bender distracts while the others get back to the library), for attention (Andy listens to Allison) and to communicate the message (Brian writes the pithy note that summarizes the film). In work, too, support can come from anywhere. Don’t dismiss the people who seem less powerful than you (i.e. security, mailroom workers, secretaries) because sometimes they’re the ones who can help you most. Be nice, lend a helping hand to others and be open to making connections wherever you go.

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NEWS WE CAN USE: Killer Heels & Killer Instinct are Not Mutually Exclusive

Can’t women in tech have killer heels and a killer instinct?

How much does what you wear in the workplace make a statement about your skills and accomplishments? It depends: While it doesn’t seem to have affected Mark Zuckerberg’s success (we doubt Facebook’s stock price has dropped as a result of his refusal to wear anything but hoodies and sandals), at the same time, when you’re a tech entrepreneur trying to attract funding, partners and press, paying attention to your appearance and wardrobe can contribute to an image of success.

In Be Your Own Best Publicist, we talk about dressing the part  and how what you wear can pose a hindrance -at worst, a barrier to entry. It’s like that old saying, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”

And, for many women in Silicon Valley, cultivating a personal style has at least earned them and their startups some good publicity, as evidenced by this recent New York Times Style section story on a new crop of women in the tech space who unabashedly dress up in designer clothes.

In the article, Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, 42, a former Google executive who now runs a video shopping site called Joyus, said: “Earlier in my career, if I had to choose between a skirt and being taken seriously, I would have chosen being taken seriously. But now I’m at a point in my career in the valley where I’m judged by what I’ve done.”

Considering that the tech world is typically on the cutting edge of what’s new and modern, it sounds a bit archaic to us that a woman who walks into a meeting with venture capitalists wearing a designer skirt wouldn’t be taken seriously. If it was a hot pink mini skirt, perhaps, but dressing professionally and having a signature style should make a positive impression on others and show that you’re polished, smart and can run circles around those male tech geeks in t-shirts and jeans — even if you’re wearing five-inch Louboutins.

How do you think clothing impacts perception of your abilities?  Tell us here, on Facebook or on Twitter.