The 3-Letter Word That Immediately Begins To Defrost The Learning-Something-New Brain Freeze

I love learning stuff. Fun stuff. Interesting stuff. Cool stuff. Exciting stuff. Not always useful but who-knew stuff.

I’m not a fan of learning boring stuff.

I was always told by others of authority that I didn’t apply myself, or it was too hard for me to learn, or I wasn’t good at “that” (whatever ‘that’ was I was trying to learn at the time). I knew a lot of critics.

I also don’t like to look stupid. I always thought everyone else got what was going on in classes and I was suffering silently.

I learned learning was hard. I adopted this and told myself this mantra. Learning is hard. Old dogs and new tricks don’t match up.

The problem with all this was my subconscious was listening.

Any time I attempted to try to learn something new, I would go back to that mantra “learning is hard” and my subconscious responded with “Okey-dokey, we’re going to make this hard since that’s what you want.”

Instead of a three-letter word, I had plenty of a four-letter one.

Then I stumbled upon NLP. Neuro-Linguistic Programming and discovered that all these years, the harshest critic of all was me.

I programmed myself to struggle against learning.

I’ll make a wager. If someone recorded the way you talk to yourself for a day then a week later replayed it to you and told you that’s how you talked to a stranger, you would be mortified. No way would you be so mean to another human being, especially someone you don’t know!

We’re mean to ourselves. Way. Too. Much.

But let’s get back to this learning thing (yet do reach out if you want help learning to talk nicer to yourself).

This one three-letter word makes all the difference. I’m proof. More than once.

While in the financial industry, in one year I earned my Series 7, 9, 10, 63, and 65.

Over a decade later, in one year I earned my NLP Practitioner and Coach Certification, as well as Emotional Intelligence Coaching and Confidence Coaching Certifications.

The one word that made the difference from struggling to succeeding is yet.

Try it out for size. Add it to the end of your sentence:

I don’t understand this….yet

I don’t know how to do this….yet

I can’t figure this out….yet

You’re allowing yourself a little emotional release of frustration while telling your brain that you will make it happen.

Try it the next time you are stuck on a problem or trying to learn something new and feel the difference that three letter word can make.

Then please, let me know how it works for you!


I help amazing people get career happy and companies stay true to brand.

Coaching: Career, Emotional Intelligence, Confidence, Business, Brand, Yoga

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All opinions and views expressed in this article are my own, unless attributed. They’re normally pretty spot-on (because I’m obsessive about career topics and communications). The humor sprinkled in is Mr. B approved, my dog, who thinks I’m hilarious (maybe because I’m his meal ticket?).

The hardest habit to break to stop having awkward conversations and really connect with people

There is one subconscious habit that wreaks havoc on all communication and connection. It is a double edge sword that we say to friends, colleagues, and even strangers. On one side it gives the receiver a level of uncomfortableness or regret. On the other we completely diminish ourselves or our value.

It was the hardest thing I had to learn to stop doing – and I still struggle with it today.

The way to stop doing this is simple, but not easy. It is something that you have to make a conscious decision every single time to do.


THE TASK: learning how to take a compliment.

THE PROBLEM: contradicting the compliment you were given. 

THE SOLUTION: learning to say “Thank you” without a trailer.


Let’s look at a couple of examples.

For me, it started innocently enough. Someone would compliment my shoes (I have a things for shoes).

Instead of saying thank you, I would say something like, “Oh thanks, I’ve had these for years” or “Oh thank you, I got them on sale…”

Ugh. Nothing like basically saying, “Hey, thanks for the compliment, but these (and by extension me) aren’t worth it.”

Here’s another example. Say I worked really hard on a project and my boss told me I did a great job.

My old natural reaction would be something like, “Thanks, it was nothing” Well, that’s a lie, I put a lot of work into that.

Or maybe I would say, “Thanks, hopefully it will make a difference.” Awesome, how about I completely undermine the effort and belief I have in my work and its impact?

My best friend and I made a pact to help each other stop this terrible, self-depreciating habit. Every day we would remind each other, “Just say thank you and shut up”.

Now that sounds a bit bold to be telling each other to shut up, but we were serious about it. Why? Because that little “innocent” habit shifts perception. How you perceive yourself and how others perceive you.

When you kill a compliment, you are telling the other person

  •  You don’t value yourself or your work
  •  You don’t feel you are worth recognizing
  •  You do subpar work
  •  You have low self-esteem and even less confidence

Do you know who else you are telling these things to? You. That’s right. You are telling yourself that you are not worth a compliment.

“Hey subconscious, please don’t let someone recognize me for something positive. I’m not worthy. I just want to melt into the corner.” No.

No. No. No.

It also makes people uncomfortable. When I give a compliment and the other person goes out of their way to counter it, it’s painful to hear. I want to hug them because it makes me think they have such low self-esteem that they need a hug.

But I can’t hug you through this article. So instead, I’m going to give you the advice my best friend gave me: Say thank you then shut up.

If it is too hard to not say anything after the thank you, try turning it back on them.

“Great shoes”

“Thank you. I love your jacket.”

“Great job on the project”

“Thank you, I appreciate you noticing.”

See how easy that is? One caveat – if you return with a compliment, be sincere. If you can’t find anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

I know this is hard, it took me decades to recognize then break it. I think I may start a support group, it’s that detrimental to you and that hard to break. But in the meantime, practice with your family and friends. Let them know you are working on this and ask them to help you.

You can do this.

Once you master it, you can help other people learn to do this.

Then there will be a wonderful collection of people around you who stop devaluing themselves and compliment each other.

Just imagine, people saying nice things, other people accepting it and returning the sentiment, and everyone feels good.

You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one…..

As a triple certified as a Professional Resume Writer, Career Coach and Social Media Brand Analyst I help amazing professionals get career happy.
Click here – – to find out more.

Be Like Them To Be Liked By Them


matching and mirroring for networking

Ah, networking. How we need thee and sometimes loath thee.

Imagine walking into a room and not knowing a single person. Do you feel your stomach tighten? Your nerves tingle? Does your breathing quicken and become shallower? Is that little voice in your head questioning how you are going to connect to someone, anyone?

Now imagine walking into a room full of strangers. But this time, you are confident that in a few minutes, you will be building rapport with anyone in that room.

Which scenario would you like better? I bet the second one. There is only a slight difference between the two scenarios. The key is deliberately applying something we do naturally.

Before we get to the key – let me frame our conversation with this basic fact: like attracts like. We are drawn to people like us or share similar traits, interests, habits or patterns.

I had a whole city full of demonstrations of this fact last weekend. Chief and I went to a concert. As we were walking around town before the show, we saw a lot of people wearing shirts with the band’s name on it. Lots of people. From 10-year-olds to 70-year-olds. Every shape, size, color imaginable of person – all wearing similar shirts. And each time they passed one another they interacted. With positive hand gestures and shouted out the band name or something related to the band.

There was a lot of bonding among strangers in that little town. All because they had something in common.

Like attracts like.

How does this benefit you in building rapport quickly when networking? And what is this thing we naturally do anyway?

Matching and Mirroring. These are two terms used in NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming). Basically, it is becoming in sync with the other person.

There is a subtle difference between the two and, just for fun, let’s add another element: Cross Over Mirroring. In terms of body language, the three can be very simply broken down as:

Mirroring is literally being a mirror to the other person. If they raise their right hand, you raise your left as though they are looking into a mirror.

Matching is copying their move. If they tilt their head to the left slightly, you tilt your head slightly to your left.

Cross Over Mirroring is when you match their movement with a different type of movement. If they are tapping their foot, you tap your finger.

We instinctually perform matching and mirroring. The next time you are talking to a friend or loved one, pay attention to how you are interacting. Are you leaning in after they lean in? Do you use hand gestures when you talk and they respond using similar hand gestures?

Yet when you are aware of the implication of matching and mirroring and apply it deliberately, you will quickly create a trust bridge. You will be emitting, and their brain will be receiving, a message that says, “Hey, there is no danger here, we are cool. We can build a connection because we are alike.”

It first starts with the handshake. Match their handshake. If they are a strong shaker, shake their hand firmly right back. If they are a soggy-sock shaker, use very little pressure. No matter how hard it is – fight the urge to squeeze a gentle shaker’s hand. It sets up a roadblock to building rapport.

I mentioned above breathing and speaking. If the person you are speaking with is a fast talker, speed up a bit to be more in sync with them. If they are a more deliberate talker, slow it down.

Matching their breathing can be trickier. You can notice their shoulders to get the sense of their timing, but that may be more than you are willing to tackle at first.

Start with the body language, speed and pitch of their voice. Build symmetry naturally.

Naturally – that is the caveat. We want to match and mirror – not mimic or monkey. What does this mean? Have you heard the phrase ‘monkey see, monkey do”? It means when someone makes a move you immediately make that move. And continue to do so. That is way too deliberate. It is annoying and you actually break the rapport.

Be aware and be subtle. Wait a couple beats to match or mirror. Make your movements gentle and natural so they are unaware of what you are doing.

The next time you walk into that room of unknowns, take a moment to scan and observe. Notice how someone stands, leans and gestures. Then you can approach them and confidently, discretely and quickly build rapport so there won’t be a stranger left in that room.

Did you notice the matching being done in the picture above? The two gentlemen each have a hand in their pocket. All three are holding their glasses in their right hand at the same plane. One gentleman is holding his glass higher near the rim, while the other two are holding theirs closer to the stem of the glass. It’s fun when you start looking a bit more closely, isn’t it?!




I do what I love: help professionals break out of a suffocating job existence and into a career that renews their brilliance.

I am triple certified as a Professional Resume Writer, Social Brand Analyst and Career Coach. My clients learn to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging personal branding as applied to LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.

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The Infestation of Fleas in Your Job Search


I have three dogs.  Three spoiled, indoor and office dogs.  If you call our office you might, just might, here a glimpse of them, although they are pretty well trained to know the sound of the phone triggers quiet time on their part.  That might just be the only way they are trained.


Being in the office every day and quite spoiled any other time, they see the great outdoors only to take care of nature calling and brisk walks in the neighborhood. In other words, these are not the hang outside all day kind of dogs.


I have not had a problem with fleas in years. 


Until this week. We are house sitting and in the evenings they have been enjoying the most beautiful backyard.  Of course they are forced to because I am greatly enjoying the overhanging trees, abundance of flowers, soothing sounds of the pond and many sightings of squirrels, hummingbirds, butterflies and more.  Forced because these spoiled little things will not go anywhere without me.


The other day I noticed one of my dogs scratching and doing the quick turns on his rear end with a quizzical look.  I did not think much of it because this is the same dog that gets frightened every time he passes gas.


He started scratching a bit more.  Then another one started scratching a little. Pretty soon it became a scratching party. About this time, while sitting outside, I happened to look down and noticed little black jumpy things lingering on my socks.  Uh oh.


As an over-analyzer, I immediately took to Google to learn all I could about these nasty little creatures.  Turns out, this beautiful yard is not only a heaven for me, but for fleas, too.  Awesome.  Off to the store I went – flea treatments for both the dogs and yard.  Yippee.


How on earth can such little jumpy things cause such distress?  Seriously, they are miniscule; and yet, wreaked havoc on my poor puppies – and me.


Now that we are comfortably enjoying some quiet time in the peaceful oasis, the connection to job searching hit me – doubt is fleas.


When first job searching you might start full of confidence, hope and positivity.  After sending out a resume or two the first flea jumps on: a flicker of doubt. It is easy to brush that one off and think it is your dogs getting werided out by his own farts, but then a bit more time passes and another couple fleas/doubts jump on board.


Things start to turn from a mild irritation Maybe they didn’t receive it to an annoying scratch I keep sending them out and not getting a response to a full on infestation Am I not good enough, am I over qualified, am I underqualified, I know I can do this – why are they ignoring me, I am getting responses to jobs I don’t want but nothing on the ones I do, am I too old, do I not have the right experience or education, what is wrong with me?


It is time to get the flea removal stuff.  And it stinks, but it is worth it.


First treatment – every time another flea/doubt jumps on or bites, recognize it and kill it immediately.  Am I not qualifiedsquash!of course I am!


Second treatment – look at your environment, this is your branding materials: your resume, networking communication, LinkedIn etc. Remove all fleas/doubt in those.  Make sure your resume is speaking to your value, not your duties.  What did you do, how did you do it, how did others benefit – this is the ROI of hiring you that potential investors (employers) want to see.


Third treatment – keep repeating the first treatment while reaching out to your network to convey what you are looking for in a way that they understand, identify for you and connect to you.  If they are not in your industry, do not confuse them with industry jargon. Ask for help and advice, yet use what feels right to you. Research ‘flea eradication’ and you will get a multitude of suggestions, but not everything is going to work for you.


Fourth treatment – stop trying to treat things that are not there.  Some products boasted that they killed certain other bugs – guess what, we don’t have them in this area.  Applying for jobs you do not want is a double whammy.  It feels twice as bad to get rejected for something you didn’t even want in the first place!


Fifth treatment – give yourself a flea bath, i.e., take time to relax and keep things in perspective.  Hiring is not always a one day deal.  There is a lot of time and money invested in finding quality candidates and it is during this process that time stands still.  Remember to relax, treat yourself and keep killing any stray fleas/doubts as soon as they pop up.


These little suckers do not start in a hoard, they build up to infestation just as doubt does.  Recognize it, treat it step by step and soon your confidence will be back and the right offer will be presented to you.


As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies, leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

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Why is Everyone Honking

DC TrafficIn less than six hours in DC I had a realization – there is a lot of honking going on here.

It did not matter where I was, walking or driving, there was a lot of honking.  The first couple of times I jumped and looked around, thinking I was perhaps jaywalking and they were taking that very seriously.  Even when driving I made sure I signaled, took off when the light changed and yet, still a lot of honking.

I do not think that I got honked at, but I started to try to figure out who was honking and why.  I am not used to all this honking.  The thing is, I could never figure it out, on either count.  Lots and lots of honking but no change in movement or traffic patterns.  Just honking.

I think people were honking just to be honking.  As though there used to be a reason to honk, but there is not anymore yet they got so used to honking that they just cannot help themselves from honking.  It is a honking explosion in our nation’s capital.

When I lead workshops I hear a lot of honking.

My job is not going anywhere, I do not like where I am, I want another opportunity, it is time for me to leave – a lot of honking to wanting to move on in a career or job.  But no movement.

We get used to honking about our jobs.  There are a couple of types of honking – the long, annoying ones and the short tap-tap honks.

They don’t appreciate me, they are holding me back, my coworkers are lazy or get all the credit, my boss is a jerk – those are the bad honks.  The honks that are long and laid out there as soon as the light turns green before you can even move your foot from the break.

People ignore those honks and quite frankly cringe when hearing them.  You are putting a wall around you with those honks not only alienating yourself at work, but with your network.

The short tap-tap honks are the polite “just a friendly reminder the light is green” honks.  These are the I want to get another position, but I am afraid to leave or try; I do not have the chance to grow in this position or company, my job is being merged into another and it is no longer satisfying.  These are the “I really want to change lanes but am stuck” honks.

When people hear you give these tap-taps they are probably encouraging.  Listen to them.  It is what you need.  If you do not head someone offering advice or assistance those tap-taps turn into long, annoying honks that no one will listen to any more.

The bottom line is this: we get used to honking so if you are looking for encouragement do not honk about it, just ask.  People will wave you into their lane if you just put your signal on and follow the road safety rules.  The honkers are not happy drivers, be a happy driver – stop honking and go after that new job or opportunity!


I hope you enjoyed this article and it provided value for you. If so, please click on the follow button so I may continue to share valuable content with you or the share buttons to share with your network.

I help people identify and set a path to achieve their career goals by using the V Formula:

Your Value + Your Voice = Visibility

Visibility is the leverage to move in, move up or move on in your career; expand your book of business or territory, grow your company and strengthen your team.


Lisa K. McDonald, Owner and Principal of Career Polish, Inc. is a favorite speaker and seminar facilitator at companies, professional organizations and colleges speaking to leadership, sales, teams, transitioning/downsized employees and networking groups about career mobility, personal branding, networking, creating executive presence and achieving career movement success. To find out more, visit Career Polish, Inc.

How to “Trick” Your Brain to Get It on Your Side

head and heart playing niceI am all about positive affirmations, looking on the bright side and seeing the opportunities in challenges.

My brain, on the other hand, is not always on the same page.

My name is Lisa, and I am an over-analyzer.

It is a blessing and a curse. For my business and my clients it is a quality that allows me to add a great deal of value in coaching and writing. For my personal relationships, it is cause for laughter and strange looks followed by, “are you kidding me?”

Welcome to my world.

When I get stuck in a rut or need a positive boost, it is natural for me to think of a positive affirmation or quote to inspire me.

The problem is, when I say things like, “I am going to do this!” that little voice in my head says, “No you are not.”

Then it gives me plenty of cold, hard facts or observations to prove its point. Darn realist.

It is very frustrating. Instead of buying into the affirmation, my head digs its heels in and makes what I am trying to get over worse because I am more focused on the problem by trying to fake my way into believing the positive.

If you understood that last sentence, you get my world.

Here is what I have found that works to hush that voice and gain acceptance and agreement with where I want to go.

I trick it.

I start far away and with statements that I know are true and that my brain will not argue and then lead it to the positive that I want to embrace.

Let’s give an example, something simple: I am working on a tiling project. I am no Bob Villa, but I can do some things around the house ok.

Beginning this project my thought was, “I’m going to rock this tiling”

Brain response was, “No you’re not, you’ve done this once before, really?” My brain is also a bit sarcastic, big surprise.

Time to implement the long way strategy:

I love my house, it is my home. (Brain agrees)
I like working around my house, making it truly my own space. (Brain agrees)
I have completed a lot of projects here. (Brain agrees)
Some of the projects were really challenging. (Brain agrees)
I didn’t know what I was doing when I started, but I was able to get a lot of resources to help me. (Brain agrees)
In the end, I was able to finish them and did them well. (Brain agrees)
When I put down the laminate, I had no idea what I was doing, but with some research and work, it turned out great. (Brain agrees)
Same thing when I built the bookcases, installed the ceiling fans and changed out the lighting in the bathroom and kitchen. (Brain agrees)
Those things all look really good. (Brain agrees)
I did a really good job, I am happy with them. (Brain agrees)
Based on the last tiling I did and the research I have done, this project isn’t nearly as bad as some of the others. (Brain agrees)
I don’t have a time crunch so I can relax when I do this one. (Brain agrees)
I think I can do this job. (Brain agrees)

By this time I have built up enough true (to my brain) statements that are positive and allow me to weave my way to the ultimate confidence or feeling I want to complete my task.

The next time you have a project, event, interview or opportunity and you try to force yourself into a positive head space, try taking the long way and see if your brain doesn’t get on board!

9 Ways to Exude Confidence When You Feel Like a Hot Mess Inside

confidenceConfidence is a beautiful thing; it emanates persuasion, inspiration and power.   It emits a presence about a person that others around them easily tune in to and react to positively.

It is a great attribute to have; however, it is not always consistent or present.  Everyone has doubts, fears, negative self-talk that interferes with their confidence.  Unfortunately, these things can happen when we need confidence the most.

Here are nine tips to help you exude confidence when you are feeling like a hot mess inside, focusing on internal and external factors.

Externally – Posture

It is a natural bodily reaction to want to shut down or curl up when we are feeling insecure.  This can include crossing your arms across your chest, slouching and lowering your head down.  The one move that I recommend will help straighten your posture, release tension and raise your head all in one.

The Shoulder Roll

In an exaggerated sweeping motion, while inhaling, lower your shoulders and bring together toward your chest, roll them up as though you are scrunching them up toward your ears, continue the roll toward your back squeezing your shoulder blades together and finally drop your shoulders with a little emphasis while tilting your head up about 20 degrees and exhaling in a short, forced, pushed of breath.

In doing this motion, you may not realize how tight your shoulders had become.  This allows you to tighten them a bit more and with the release breath and drop, it will allow you to relax while straightening your posture. 

Simply “standing up straight” may cause you to push your shoulders back, stick your chest out and add to the tension.  The rolling helps you achieve a more natural, confident straightness. 

If you do not feel it the first time, do it again until you do.

The head tilt forces you to raise your head at a higher degree than what you normally would hold your head.  After the exhale, your chin will lower, but not to the buried position it had started.

Hand Reset

After you complete the shoulder roll, shake our your hands.  A nice, short, vigorous shake to both of them at the same time.  Odds are if you are a hot mess inside, your hands are giving it away.  They could be clinched, buried in your pockets or fidgeting.  Shaking them out releases the tension, allows you to recognize any give away signs you were emitting and let them go back to a more natural state.


Think of something that creates an easy, mini-smile.  I saw a video of cute dogs and when I think of it, I unconsciously let out a little breath and smile.  I don’t want to think of something that makes me laugh for fear that I will have a big old goofy smile on my face that might make people wonder. 

You also do not want to force a smile.  This could come across like the Sheldon Cooper forced smile that is just frightening.  Instead, just something that makes you smile a bit.  It relaxes the muscles in your face and gives a pleasant, yet unobtrusive, impression to anyone walking up.

Fit and Flatter

Make sure you are wearing clothing for the occasion that both fit and flatter you.  When you look good, you feel good and it comes through.  I do not think there is an exam I have taken from college through my professional career in which I did not dress up to take. 

Internally – Attitude

This may sound trite, but it really is all about the attitude.  What you are thinking you are broadcasting.  Now is the time that you need to change the internal dialog.

Safe Word

Think of a word, one that you have a positive affiliation to and make it your safe word.  That way when your mind starts to wander down the negative or worrisome path you can immediately stop it in its tracks by saying to yourself the safe word.

I am a dog lover or otherwise known as the crazy dog lady.  When I start to get nervous or anxious, I say to myself, “Puppies!”  If not one is nearby I say it out loud.  Who can be negative when you think of puppies?  Not me!  Whatever will help you throw the train off the tracks.

Be Proud

Once you threw that train off that track, it is time to reroute it.  Think of something that you have accomplished that you are proud of, no matter how big or small.  I recently completed a project helping build a fence, gate, arbor and path for my garden.  It was a lot of hard work – I had the bruises, sore muscles and sun poisoning to prove it.  But the end result was exactly what I wanted and it is beautiful.  I think of this and am proud of myself for the work I put in, the team work, how much I learned and that it is complete.

Chose the Positive What If

It is easy to be waiting for an interview or to give a presentation and have our mind travel down the negative road.  We think about how we might say the wrong thing, come across in the wrong way, sweat too much, seem too anxious, talk too much, go down a rabbit hole unable to recover…and the list goes on where we create and walk ourselves through a whole scenario in which we completely bomb the interview or presentation.

It is easy to mind play the negative.  Try mind playing the positive: you speak eloquently, how the audience responds, you answer each question perfectly, you are relaxed and in charge.  Allow your mind to create the positive experience and see how it feels.

Build a Bubble

Imagine a little confidence bubble around yourself.  Some people are offset by other’s confidence, only because they are envious that they are not exuding it themselves.  This little bubble protects you from any negative reactions and allows you to keep your confidence intact.

It also isolates you from comparing yourself to anyone else.  If you are in the midst of an uncomfortably long wait, it is easy to start looking around and comparing yourself to those in your surroundings.  Your mind then might start to wander on the “should have’s”; I should have worn this, I should have done this, and on and on.  Your bubble is to keep your thoughts all about you and the confidence that you are exuding.

Create a Challenge

I am a very competitive person, sometimes this is a good thing and sometimes, well, not so much.  I am the type that if someone tells me I cannot do something, I find a way and then I go do it.  Challenges motivate me.  Before I give a presentation or facilitate a seminar, I create a challenge in my own mind. 

I can always pick out the one that does not want to be there.  My challenge is to get them to smile.  At least smile, then maybe get them to show a bit more interest.  If I am really good, get them engaged in conversation, in a positive way. 

During an interview the challenge could be to get the interviewer to nod positively after your responses.  Start with something small and when you make it happen, it will help maintain or increase your confidence.

Exuding confidence is within your power.  You would not be there if you did not have the ability to pull it off; believe in yourself, relax and allow it to come through. 


Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer


3 Things To Do To Move Forward In Your Career

confidenceAre you ready to take that next step in your career?  Whatever that may mean for you – a management or senior level position, a bigger producer, increase your own business as an owner – are you ready but do not know how?


Let me share the most powerful idea for you to implement in three easy steps to get you there:  be that position.


Well, that just sounds too easy doesn’t it?


And you may be asking, “Ok, Ms. Smarty, how do I be a position that I am not?”


I’m so glad you asked, because this is where the three steps come into play:


 Think like the position.

Speak like the position.

Act like the position.


The first thing you have to realize is if you cannot see yourself in this role then no one else will.  Period.  This is how you see yourself in the position and ultimately position yourself to take it over.



Let’s take for example you want to be a bigger producer or a manager.  From this moment on stop thinking in terms of your current role and start tackling everything you do with this question:


“How would a big producer/a manager think about this?”


If you have a lead you need to contact, how would a producer prepare for it, make the call and handle the discussion?  If there is a project at work that you are a part of – how would a manager approach the project, handle their part, communicate with other members and carry out their responsibilities?


Start thinking in terms of that position.


Plan your day as though you were in that position.  Set goals, make action plans and strategize from the perspective of that position.  It will take practice so you must commit to it every day with every task.



Start paying attention to how people in your desired position speak; not only to others but to themselves.  Study them and emulate them.


You probably are not going to hear a leader in their industry say, “Gee whiz, I wish I could do that, but I don’t know that I can.”


No sir, they are confident.  Take on their confidence.  If you do not have anyone around you that you can study and emulate then do some research.  LinkedIn is a great resource to find people who are in the position you want to be – go find them, talk to them and study them.


Start talking to yourself as this position.  Do you think big producers doubt their value or ability?  Stop doubting yours.


Start saying things to yourself like, “As a manager, this is how I am going to handle it.”  Or “As a top producer I am going to land that account.” You do not have to say it out loud, just to yourself to affirm your commitment of being that position.


Actually – do not say it out loud at first.  Because this is going to feel new to you and maybe a bit awkward and if someone else hears you they may instantly give you a look or make a comment.  You do not need the negativity or distraction.  Who cares what anyone else thinks – this is your goal – so do not give them an opportunity to squash it.



Years ago I worked downtown Indianapolis and the City Market was a thriving community, especially during lunch.  I was still in college and had an administrative job so I was pretty much a meek little bystander.


But, boy, I would love to go to the City Market to eat my lunch and watch.  I would watch all the business people coming and going.  I would watch how they carried themselves and interacted with others.  After some time I would learn who different people were and among them who was successful.


They all had some common characteristics.  They dressed the part – not saying $3,000 suits.  The were polished and professional looking like they could walk into a board room at any moment.


They carried themselves with confidence and self-assurance.  They seemed to flow.  I never saw them self-conscious about how they walked, what they were wearing or their personal space.


They were kind and open.  They smiled at the cashier, said hello to people passing by and even if not engaging did not put on the sense of walls.  They were comfortable with themselves and those around them.


Take pride in your appearance, you may not be able to afford a thousand dollar suit; however, you can wear nice, professional cloths and make sure they are pressed, appropriate and in top shape.


I once told an intern who wanted to start looking for a permanent position that it was time she wore big girl shoes.  She was adorable, young and age-stylish.  Meaning she wore what most young people wore at the time – one of those things being big, clunky platform shoes.


I told her to look around at the women who were in positions she wanted to be and notice how they dressed – starting with their shoes.  Then next day she went to a local store and bought three pairs of “grown up” shoes and came into my office for a review.


I had her walk around in them, seeing which ones felt more comfortable and to notice how she felt walking in them.  She decided on a conservative yet stylish pair of black pumps.  The next day she wore them to work – not changing anything else about her wardrobe – and received many compliments about how nice she looked.  She then began modifying her look to the professional side rather than the age-trendy side and people took notice.  When her appearance changed, she gained confidence and started acting the part.


When handling a conflict or situation at your current job take a moment to think about your desired position would handle it.  Would they stress out about something minor, would they be more collaborative, would they be more goal oriented or would they be more action oriented?  Start acting the part.


Once you think like the role you want, speak like that position and act like it then you  – and others – will see you as that role.  From there it will be the most easy and natural transition to owning that position.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW


Cocky Vs. Confident – An Interviewing Tip

apples and orangesYou are the best man for the job, you know it, they know it, we all know it – it is just a fact.


Yay you, now let’s make sure you actually get that job and don’t let the before mentioned statement ruin it for you.


How?  Be confident, not cocky.


Cocky is assuming broadcasting this statement; confident is performing this statement.


Cocky is being dismissive and arrogant, assuming that you need not put any work into the process.


Confident is being engaging and ensuring that you take the necessary steps to continue to position yourself in the position.


Cocky is responding to “do you have any questions” with “no, I know I can do this job.”


Confident is responding, “yes, I know I help the organization realize the goals that we discussed, what is your first priority that I can tackle?”


Cocky is thinking they are going to chase you down for the job and not following up because they were into you that much.


Confident is engaging in two-way communication – first.


Man or woman I think it is a pretty safe assumption to say across the board a confident person is attractive a cocky person is repulsive.


You may have garnered their attention and they are considering offering you that job and beginning a relationship; however, if you pull the cocky card and behave as though you are doing them a favor or they have to put in all the work you are going to be dropped like a hot potato.


No one wants to hire or be with someone who believes they are a gift.  People do want to engage with confident people who not only lead but contribute because it makes all around them better.


Cocky is an individual viewpoint; confidence is a shared vision.


No job is every “in the bag” without any effort on your part.  You may be the best candidate but you still have to prove yourself, that you are worthy of the risk they are taking on you.  If the job is worth it check the cocky at the door and take action in a confident manner showing you bring value, not just look pretty behind the desk.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW


Can You Keep It Up?

I saw a great quote this morning: “There is a fine line between confidence and cocky. Confidence can bring you many things, but cockiness can make you lose many things.”

I completely agree with this quote.  Sometimes it is necessary to step up the confidence to a bit of cocky; more often it is a matter of dialing back the cocky to confident.  And then there is the matter of consistency.

In job searching often it is necessary to become a bit braver than normal or comfortable.  Let’s face it – you are putting yourself out there and open to rejection every time you send out a resume, meet with a prospect or have an interview.  A thick skin is definitely needed.

Once you have some engagement then the confidence-cocky question comes into play.  It is a delicate dance that you must manage well.  You want the other party to know you are interested, but not desperate while wanting the other party to want you.  There is a whole host of balances during this time: appearing strong without overbearing; appearing confident without being cocky; engaged but without anxious; and controlled without being aloof.  It can become quite the mental work out!

In defining this balance and representing yourself during these times we often find that we are faking it until we make it.  Perhaps we are putting on a bit of bravado to help us secure the position.  There is nothing wrong with that – unless – this attribute is something that the other party sees as a definite strong point for you and expects you to engage in this manner for the tenure of your relationship.

Keep this point in mind when preparing for your interviews and talks.  Is this bravado something you are going to be able to maintain or are you going to turn into the church mouse as soon as you are assigned a desk?  It could be expected that the confidence gets toned down a bit once you start until you get your feet firmly planted; however a complete change in behavior will probably come across as quite a shock.  This could also lead the hiring manager to wonder what else is going to change about you.

Consistency is a wonderful thing, it lends to dependability.  My best friend and I can have a discussion about our day and when we are telling each other about certain events we pretty much know how the other is going to react.  If I need my butt kicked on a certain issue or a shoulder to cry on I know she will be the one to do it because she is nothing if not consistent.

On the other hand inconsistency leads to miscommunication, misunderstanding, confusion and frustration.  It’s like a boy who chases a girl and once he catches her he looses interest.  You can’t trust that kind of guy – so why on earth would you want to pay him to help build your business?

The best gauge to use is to step your game up a notch or two without becoming a completely different person.  Reach outside your comfort zone and box without leaping completely out of your own dimension.   This will allow you to be confident and once you have mastered it well in securing the position will make it easier to continue.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.