Chair Chat – It’s a Must Read

From the desk of Amanda Goyer, WBC Chair and the Director of Community Engagement, CAP COM Federal Credit Union.


Photo by Nadi Whatisdelirium on Unsplash

Navigating Through Unplanned Change

In January, the WBC kicked off our annual programming with a panel discussion surrounding change management and leading through transition. Our expert panelists provided great insight into how they have led their organizations through vast facets of change with stride. We heard about understanding the “why” behind change and how that makes the biggest impact across the organization, we talked about planning for change, growth, rebranding, new partnerships, collaborations, and integrations. What we didn’t get to speak about was unplanned change and how you navigate unchartered waters that you never thought you’d be swimming in.

My personal and professional goal for 2019 is to take risks and be unapologetically authentic. In doing so I will share a story with you that I have not shared publically. I’ll share a story of the biggest unplanned change in my life and how that has impacted me professionally. These impacts will be shared by others who have transitioned through unplanned changes but also may be relevant for those that haven’t as well.

March 13, 2016, my parents arrived at my house unannounced. My husband and I were in our kitchen feeding our 2-month-old son Roen. My parents walked in and they didn’t have to say anything, I knew right then that my brother was gone. The words they said “Al’s gone” are all I remember from that morning and seeing my baby boy Roen looking up at me with those big eyes and smile, not knowing the devastation that had just walked through the door. I try to paint the picture of that moment for a symbolic reason. As a leader, even when your world crumbles with unplanned change, what remains constant is the people looking up to you. I didn’t make the choice that day, but I eventually made the choice to pick myself up, and I’ve been living each day since with a new perspective, zest for life and a purpose that would make Al proud.

This unplanned change has made me a different person, I could have chosen to go one of two ways. I’m grateful I had the strength to choose the path I did, a path that has led to great personal and professional growth as a result of the pain my family and I endured and still carry each day.

Here’s What I Learned from Unplanned Change:


Today in the workplace, I frequently find myself taking a step back to look at the big picture. I focus more on the “why” behind what I do and that provides me with great perspective on the direction I need to follow. Prior in my professional life, I use to get hung up on the details, details that did not matter. “Did my voice shake during those welcome remarks? OMG, I haven’t replied to that email from so and so in 2 weeks, surely they think I’m a failure! My baby is sick again from daycare and I’m going to miss another day of work, I’m going to get fired! I can’t tell my coworker “that”, it will hurt their feelings…” and the list goes on.

Today in my professional world, I realize that I’m not a surgeon. The work I do, although meaningful, is not life or death. One of the wisest mentors I’ve ever known once said the most insulting thing to me, “You’re not as important as you think you are.” Although I was initially insulted, it’s something that always says with me and reminds me to be more gentle to myself, a little kinder, and a little looser on the reins. I know my worth, as does my mentor so she was not trying to diminish me as a person, she was simply saying, IT WILL BE OK, you don’t have to be everything to everyone.


What I’ve found, like many people I’m sure who have lost someone or gone through something significant, health diagnosis, etc. is that many people that have not been there don’t know how to talk to you! Suddenly, you’re being avoided like the plague, people are looking at you like you just walked out of the bathroom with your dress tucked into your underwear all the time!

Through this transition, I’m proud to say I’ve become an Empathetic Leader. I lead heart first, then head. I have the ability to put myself in the shoes of others because I’ve been through something so significant and I’m still standing. I have always been driven by my heart, but honestly tried to block that and instead solely focus on data to make decisions because that was “easier” to justify. Today, I’m more proud than ever to lead with my heart first in my decision-making processes. This does not mean that I’m only driven by emotion, it simply means I understand humans, I understand when we fall when we rise and the journey in between. This wisdom gained through this transition in my life, I believe has vastly expedited my professional trajectory.


Everyone has probably heard of the term “YOLO,” and it’s true, You Only Live Once. There is nothing like loss that makes the people left behind think about their purpose in life. I spent a lot of time reflecting on what I want to do and where I want to be. I feel a sense of focus and purpose. I have clear set goals in my mind for where I want to be in a year, and in five years. I’m not like some that write their goals in a journal or share them with too many others, but I can see those goals actualizing in my head when I think about them, I can see my future success because I’m purposeful with every big decision I make while allowing the little things to fade into the background. I tell my team all the time, let’s focus on the BIG ROCKS, these are what we need to move forward to make an impact, don’t get hung up on the little stuff and don’t deter from the path that leads to our purpose together. This focus enables our team to hit and exceed our goals time and again.


I know today, there is no time left to be afraid to take risks and harness your power (hence my 2019 goal to take risks and be unapologetically authentic)! It has taken time but I’m ready after 3 years to make good on a promise I’ve made to my brother and myself. The only direction is forward, no going back, no regrets. I’ve learned in my career so far that there is power in taking risks, and risks I’ve taken in my career have led to the greatest reward. Today my inner power both personally and professionally is fueled by the constant reminder that I got through the worst time of my life, I CAN DO ANYTHING. At work, I take risks in the fact that I’m not afraid to fail, and I have great leadership that believes in me. My team and I take risks every year when we develop new programs that have never been done before, programs that have given us both great local and national recognition and awards. My point is simple, you can’t be afraid to take risks, because if you don’t you may never reach your potential. If it’s not going to harm someone, tarnish you or your company’s reputation, or bring your budget into the red, TAKE THE RISK and REAP the REWARD.

As I conclude writing this, I can say, I’m living life the way Al would have wanted me to, glass half full. I try to remember from all the bad, comes a lot of good too. This unplanned change was the worst moment of my life, yet, what I’m realizing today, nearly 3 years later is how this transition has led me on a very focused path in this journey called life, a journey that is uniquely my own.


 Self-Assessment Questions:

  1. PERSPECTIVE: What is one thing you are consistently holding yourself accountable for? Is that “weight” worth it?
  2. EMPATHY: In working with people, do you commonly put yourself in their shoes? If not, consider the power of being an empathetic leader. (LINK HERE:
  3. PURPOSE: Do you feel like your job aligns with your purpose? If not, what is the step you are going to take to realign?
  4. POWER: What is the biggest planned or unplanned challenge you ever overcame? Celebrate that, and don’t forget it. Use that moment will power you through.

Chair Chat- Jackie’s Last Post – Lessons Learned from Great White Sharks

From the desk of Jackie Sheffer, 2018 Chair of the Women’s Business Council.

First and foremost I would like to thank my Vice Chair, Amanda Goyer, for standing with me over the past year to lead an amazing group of Women. Thank you to all of the committee co-chairs and committee members for all that you do to make the WBC a powerhouse of support for women in business in the Capital Region.

The mission the Women’s Business Council is to promote the role of women in the workplace at all levels, as business and community leaders and as team members, while providing support for those challenges and issues which are unique to women in business.

While the challenges in the workplace are different for each of us, what is more important to recognize is we can solve the challenges when we honor each and every one of us as the unique individuals we are.

I have spent the last year focusing inward and will continue this journey into next year. When starting this journey I was looking to fix myself. I will be ending the year and starting 2019 with focusing on my own uniqueness, focusing on supporting and nurturing it.

The things that have helped me move forward this year:

Getting a coach – life is hard, personal and business all run together, sometimes you need an outside voice to keep you out of your own head and see reality.

Dropping the ball – I have dropped the ball when it comes to reading books; I listen to books instead. For the past couple of years, I have had piles of books on my bedroom floor glaring at me each morning and evening reminding me of all that I have not accomplished. Since l started to listen, I have read six books and have taken action on what I have learned.

Finding a partner – finding someone who is not a co-worker, business partner or life partner to be an accountability partner. I recently spent a day with my partner working on our life plans for 2019, we have scheduled quarterly meetings to keep each other on track. It needs to be someone you can talk openly with, someone that has your back but will push you.

Turning it off – turning off the negative messages in my life that do not support my uniqueness.  This also means dealing with and working through FOMO (the fear of missing out). I just deleted all social media from my phone and will be signing off of Facebook tonight. I have faith that the things and people I need to know and be a part of will come to me or I will go to them.

What is up for 2019: I am looking to live a year of gratitude and peace. I have started a gratitude journal and look forward to working on my life plan.

I would like to leave you with a little of my uniqueness to start off your New Year.

The 5 life lessons I have learned from Great White Sharks:great-white-shark-wallpaper-6

Great Whites have to keep moving – always be looking forward to the next opportunity

Great Whites cannot swim backward – stay out of the past, be present

Great Whites take sample bites – try everything in life at least once

Great Whites typically hunt 1st thing in the morning or late afternoon – get the hard sh*t done first

Great Whites are always Great Whites – believe in who you are and always show the world the REAL YOU!

Thank you all for being a part of my life in 2018, I look forward to seeing you all next year.

A Special Thank You to Jackie Sheffer


As 2018 is coming to a close, the Capital Region Chamber and the Women’s Business Council would like to extend their sincerest gratitude to Jackie Sheffer, the 2018 Women’s Business Council Chair. We greatly appreciate all the hard work and dedication Jackie has made towards making the WBC a more engaging and welcoming place to all professionals in the Capital Region.

To show our thanks, the Women’s Business Council made a $100 donation towards the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, which happens to be a cause that Jackie is extremely passionate about. This donation will help assist local scientists in completing a first-of-its-kind Northwest Atlantic white shark population study, continue to work with Town, State and Federal officials to improve public safety, and expand our community outreach programs to inspire shark conservation.

Join us in thanking Jackie for all she has done for the Women’s Business Council!

Don’t forget! Tickets for the Women’s Business Council’s next program, Voices in the Crowd, are still available. This story-slam features local professional women sharing their unique stories to the crowd. You don’t want to miss this event.

Get your tickets here.



Chair Chat- Gender Lens Investing- What is it and how can you participate?



August 26th is Women’s Equality Day.  Women’s Equality Day commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, granting the right to vote to women.

The WBC Voice and the WBC Chair, Jackie Scheffer, decided to focus on Women’s Equality Day by going next-level and blogging about a new approach to investing; gender lens investing.

“We’re hearing more about gender lens investing today because there is a growing interest among consumers and investors to support gender equality as a fundamental human right,” Jackie VanderBrug, Investment Strategist in the Global Wealth and Investment Management Chief Investment Office (GWIM CIO) states.

“It’s not small, soft, and pink,” says Jackie VanderBrug. “It’s the deliberate integration of gender-based data into financial analysis, with the expectation of finding additional opportunities and uncovering and mitigating risks.”

Read on to find out how to enhance your investment returns. Gender Lens Investing


Chair Chat: Lesson Learned?


From the desk of Jackie Sheffer, WBC Chair

About 4 years ago a came up with what I call my life boxes, Family, Building my Business, Sharks and Running. I created these boxes to help me say no to things that were not important to me if they did not fit in one of my boxes. Creating the boxes felt like a big weight had been lifted off my shoulders, this exercise allowed me to remove myself from activities that were causing me stress.

Over the past several years I have revisited my boxes annually to write out goals and have felt pretty strong in some of my boxes. Sharks are in my philanthropy box.  My heart belongs to both Sharks and Girls. I have been volunteering with a running group for girls and with the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy.  Running is in my health box. I started running again and have my personal trainer scheduled on my calendar 3 times per week. I do not cancel my time with her, the time may move from a Monday to a Tuesday, but I see her 3 times per week.  Work is always front and center, family, who are they?

I feel that my work box is about to explode and my family box is empty. The first thing that may pop into one’s mind is a work-life balance. I believe in work-life integration and feel I need to take a step back and see where I am spending my time. Over the past weekend, I made a list of all the activities I do outside of my family box, along with the amount of time spent participating in these activities. I then made a spreadsheet of my 4 boxes and listed the activities in the box they represent.

Activities that do not fit in a box will have to go, I will then prioritize the remaining activities in their respective boxes, this may also require letting go of less critical activities.

More important I will review my boxes monthly to assist in maintaining a healthy level of activity in each box.  Going forward I will work on taking the following steps when deciding whether to take on a new activity:

  • Thank you for asking, can I get back to you tomorrow?
  • Which box does this activity fit in?
  • Where does this activity fit in the list of priorities currently within that box?
  • How much time will this new activity take?
  • Send a Thank you but No response as soon as possible.

I am not sure what I am afraid of when it comes to saying no? I believe that it is an honor when someone asks me to participate. Don’t I want to give it my all? Saying no today does not mean I have to say no tomorrow when the time is right and the yes fits into one of my life boxes.


Words: Take Back Your Power

Robbin Jorgensen’s talk early this month on the power of words has me thinking of two expressions that make me cringe each time I hear them.  My first thought is to abolish these expressions from my vocabulary but even that would give these expressions too much power. If we embrace these expressions as uniquely individual there’s no right or wrong; it’s what is meaningful to you and only you.

stones-in-perfect-balance_1048-2404The two expressions are “perfect” and “work-life balance.” I believe they have a powerful impact on each other and have been driving women crazy for decades.

Let me tackle “work-life balance” first. Recently I attended an event where a 30’s something woman stood up and asked the speaker how she obtained “work-life balance.” As a 50’s something woman I had hoped that by now we would see “work-life balance” as something that works differently for each of us and not something that can be replicated by someone else’s unique formula for balancing work and life.

Simon Sinek has the explanation of work-life balance that speaks to me. Simon states that if you are looking for balance there is an imbalance in your life. He equates balance with comfort. If you are comfortable at home, are you not comfortable at work? If you are comfortable with home and work, the perception of an imbalance no longer exists.

The definition of balance is a condition where different elements are equal or in correct proportions. Only you can define what equal or correct proportions are for your life. There is no secret sauce that works for everyone, you have to find your own sauce and enjoy it. My sauce is that I am comfortable at home and work and the line blurs between the two. There are still days, weeks or sometimes months that I feel uncomfortable with life. When this happens I stop and listen to what the universe is telling me and take back my power.

Now let me tackle “perfect.” The definition of perfect is having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be. When it comes to work-life or home life where do we get the definition of the elements, qualities or characteristics? They most often come from external sources such as society, our companies, our families and friends, or what we see on social media. How often do they come from within?

The world would be a different place if we strived to reach our own definition of “perfect.” It would help eliminate the self sabotage and we would not miss out on all the amazing things we accomplish everyday but fail to recognize because we have not lived up to someone else’s “perfect.”

My definition of “perfect” is to be the best, most kind and humble person that I can be on any given day. There are days that work gets everything from me and days that home life gets everything from me, on those days, life is in its correct proportion or “perfect” and I have my own “work-life balance.”

We Inspire Excellence Together

It’s amazing to me how this year has absolutely flown by. Last year at this time, I missed the “passing of the torch” and celebration of our Adopted Non-profit because I had just started my maternity leave. Knowing that we have an amazing Steering Committee at the WBC gave me the confidence to know I was leaving things in extremely capable hands during that time. 2017 kicked off the year with putting health and well-being first, especially for ourselves and our staff, to improving our BAT-ing average, to the Inclusion Revolution. We also have been inspired by this year’s Women of Excellence winners and our amazing Bold in Business author, Regina Calcaterra. Infused in each program was learning more about the programs and services offered by our Adopted Non-Profit, Whitney Young Health.

Our goal this year, was engagement, and I feel we have truly engaged more members of the Chamber in the Women’s Business Council than ever before. We’ve made sure members of the Schenectady and Albany-Colonie Chambers know that the Women’s Business Council is an extremely valuable added benefit of Chamber membership. Put all of this together, and 2017 truly exemplified our vision to inspire excellence together.

I am looking forward to 2018 and expanding on our accomplishments from 2017. As I pass my torch as Chair of the Women’s Business Council, I pleased to still be part of the 2018 Steering Committee.