Chair Chat- Managing Your Chaos

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From the desk of Amanda Goyer, Director of Community Engagement, Cap Com Federal Credit Union

Tips & Tricks for Managing Your Chaos

Everyone lives their own version of what they call a chaotic life. Look around as you walk through the office, travel through the airport, visit the grocery store, drop the kids off a daycare…whatever it be, the majority of people today live busy lives overflowing with chaos. Some say by choice, others say it’s just the pace of the world today. Either way, people manage their chaos differently. I’ll share what has worked for me (and trust me, it’s still a work in progress daily, but I’m learning fast).

Thinking about this topic as we lead up to our May WBC event and after recently returning from my second maternity leave is very timely. I’ve recently redefined my definition of “chaos” as we have added another member to our family, another major priority in my world while maintaining the day to day and trying to go above and beyond.

Here are some tips and tricks that I’ve learned from great mentors and experiences:

RESET YOUR EXPECTATIONS:

When I started my career, my relationship, my life as a homeowner, my expectations were FAR beyond where they are today, and I’m ok with that. As I’ve added more into my life, I’ve let go of control of other things along the way. Things that used to be “important” to me have ultimately had to take a back seat as I’ve added other priorities to my life. It’s ok to let go of some things and maybe you let go of them just for now or maybe for good.

The first step in managing your chaos is to manage your expectations realistically. I can do a lot, but I can’t be the super boss, super co-worker, super friend, super mom and super wife all in the same day. I find on days or weeks where I’m performing well in the office, I may not be as present at home, and I don’t mean that physically, but mentally my mind may be thinking of work while at home. I try not to do this, but the reality is, it happens. It goes the other way as well. If one of my boys is sick or my husband gives me a reality check (thank you for that!) my gears shift and my heart and head get grounded at home again where I deliver my full attention and energy to my family. It’s that work-life balance thing everyone talks about or the phrase everyone “hates” to hear! Whatever you want to call it, the fact is, no one can deliver 100% simultaneously in all aspects of life, and no one should be expected to.

MANAGE YOUR TIME-DON’T LET SOMEONE ELSE:

You need to take ownership and accountability for what you schedule and what you allow to take time in your life. Say NO if you cannot be fully present for a commitment, say YES if it’s a priority and/or something you truly want to do.

Are there recurring meetings on your calendar and what is occurring during those can actually occur over emails or with a quick call? Change them!

Person-to-Person meetings are very valuable, but if you already have a great relationship with the individual, can that same thing you were going to book an hour meeting for (and an additional 30-minute travel buffer before and after) be accomplished in a 15-30 minute conference call?

Do you have a corporate culture that supports a “No Meeting Monday” or “Flex Friday” schedule? If not, can you pave the way? For example, I started to block out Friday’s on my calendar as “Office Time”. Things got so hectic that people still booked over this time. Now, I book these Friday’s as “Out of Office” or “Private Appointment” and people respect that time and do not book on top of it. (Now the secret is out, but I usually am in the office on these days). Everyone needs days like this to feel productive, to feel purposeful no matter what level you are at in your career or company. Book time for yourself whether it’s to brainstorm, to execute or to just plain old catch up on email and paperwork.

DON’T LIVE BY EMAIL:

I’ve seen people constantly miss deadlines or avoid big-picture projects that will actually move the needle for their company because they are consumed by their email. Email=Chaos!

Unfortunately, we all get hundreds of emails a day, or a week depending on your role, the trick is how you manage this before the chaos takes over.

A friend of mine has an auto-reply that goes out once an email hits her inbox. It says, “Thank you for your email, I’m so appreciative you reached out and value what you have to say. I’m only checking email at 8:30am and 4:30pm and will reply to you during one of those timeframes. I’m doing this so I can be present with my clients throughout the day. If this is urgent you can contact “name, phone” in my office anytime throughout the day.” Genius!

I’m in the world of Public Relations so I may have emails that come in that are more urgent, what I do is check my email 3 times a day. Morning, lunch and an hour before departing for the day. When I say “check” I mean I scan them for urgent or important things. If it will take 1 minute, I’ll answer immediately, if it’s going to take longer, I’ll hold until that last hour of the day where I take more time to complete more in-depth responses. Otherwise, I’m fully invested in my team, community or bigger projects.

As much as people value a quick email reply, what will be more valued long term is your production and execution on projects that move the needle for your company and ultimately your career.

DO, DELEGATE OR DISSOLVE:

In your work and personal life, manage your chaos in 3 buckets:

  1. What will you do?
  2. What can be delegated to others?
  3. What can be dissolved or taken off your plate in the big scope of priorities?

People that often voice that they have too much chaos in their life, tend to be people that cannot make a decision, cannot let go of control or overcommit.

By breaking your chaos into these buckets it will enable you to continue on a forward trajectory. If you are feeling overwhelmed by your chaos, sit down for 5 minutes and list out these items. First tackle items to dissolve, that is easiest, then meet with those that you are delegating to, finally after both of those are complete you will have the headspace and motivation to move forward with what’s on your to-do list.

LOSE THE GUILT:

Last but certainly not least, DO NOT FEEL GUILTY. Chaos happens and it overflows when we overcommit because we feel guilty saying no or guilty that things that were once a priority are no longer. This is not something that comes easily, it’s something you have to work at each day. I find this especially true for women.

It’s OK to take time for you.

It’s OK to flex your schedule on a Friday afternoon if you’ve already been out at 3 morning or evening events this week.

It’s OK if you can’t reply to every single email each day.

It’s OK to leave the dishes in the sink, and leave the clothes in the dryer…for (several) days.

It’s OK to say no to birthday #2 this weekend.

It’s OK to order takeout again.

Lose the guilt, it can be paralyzing, and it’s certainly the #1 key, in my mind, to managing and being OK living a life of (beautiful) chaos!

 

 

 

 

Chair Chat: Announcing the “Friend of the WBC” Initiative

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From the desk of Amanda Goyer, Director of Community Engagement at CAP COM Federal Credit Union and Chair of the Women’s Business Council.

In honor of National Women’s History Month, the Women’s Business Council would like to share one of the innovative ways we are contributing to lift women up and empower them through our programming.

Over the past two years, the Women’s Business Council has been piloting a program that we call “Friend of the WBC.” I’m honored to share this collaborative effort and the impact that it has had on women (and men) during our pilot phase which we are proud to bring to light.

We Listened:  At the end of 2016, the WBC Steering Committee leadership hosted a strategic planning session where we focused on what we wanted to “Start” and what we wanted to “Stop.” The conversation was driven by survey responses we had obtained from our audiences throughout the year paired with analysis of what other programming, training and opportunities were currently being offered to women in our region. Finally, we identified where the gaps existed. One immediate area of improvement that our group recognized as a priority was the need to focus on diversity and inclusion, and this is an ongoing effort we continue to work toward. We knew that we had access to a pool of individuals that we were missing the mark on and could immediately fix. That is how we started brainstorming around what would become “Friend of the WBC.”

We Collaborated to Remove Barriers:  We worked to be more inclusive within our non-profit demographic. The WBC is known for our Adopted Non-Profit initiative where we partner with a non-profit organization in our region annually to help them raise awareness about their cause. Part of the benefit of being an Adopted Non-Profit partner is that you receive two complimentary tickets to each WBC program. We knew we could take this a step further, and through the power of collaboration, gain support to provide funding for more non-profit partners and their clients they serve to attend our programming, programming that is aimed at providing opportunity and education for women in business. We were halfway there, we had a plan in place to find individual “sponsors” to purchase tickets to eliminate the expense of our programming and enable 10 non-profit organizations and/or clients to attend each of our programs throughout the year as “Friends of the WBC.” We had a plan in place to provide these women access to professional business attire and to have WBC mentors greet these women and make them feel as comfortable as possible during events.

 We Conducted Research:  Initially, we were thinking of all of the ways this new initiative could benefit women in transition, women that were perhaps part of the services that some of our non-profit partners like the YWCA-GCR, Women’s Employment Resource Center (WERC), Mission Accomplished Transition Services, Schenectady City Mission, St. Paul’s Center, HATAS and beyond offer. We knew we could offer them access to networking, education and opportunity, but on the other side of the coin, we knew there would be barriers that we would have to address to make this fully accessible and comfortable.

That is when we invited Mike Saccocio, Executive Director/CEO of Schenectady City Mission in to review our thoughts. Mike addressed what we all needed to hear that morning and he flipped our thought process upside down. He said something along the lines of, “Stop thinking about how you will benefit them, and start thinking about how they will benefit you.” Our intentions were good, but I can tell you firsthand, I’m certain that the WBC has learned more from our “Friends of the WBC” than they have learned from us. These women (and men) have wisdom, perseverance, and strength beyond measure. Mike walked us through an exercise his team conducts with clients at the City Mission. They draw their “current state” and then they draw their “future state” and envision how their life can look ahead with the right support system, goals, and opportunities. That day, the WBC envisioned our future state and “The Friend of the WBC” came to life.

We Delivered:  Since 2016, we have had nearly 100 “Friends of the WBC” attend our programming. Tickets have been funded by the generosity of our WBC Steering Committee members and our networks. Women have shared with us that our programming gave them the courage to update their resume and start their job search. Other women have reported back that they are starting to take steps to move back into the workforce due to connections they made at our programming. Others have said simply, thank you for giving me this chance.

Our Mission:  The Friend of the Women’s Business Council (WBC) came from a place of wanting to reach out to, be more inclusive of and empower more women in the Capital Region. We recognize that not everyone can afford or access WBC programming- programming that is designed to inform, inspire and empower women in our community. The Friend of the WBC effort allows individuals and organizations to sponsor women motivated to move their careers to the next step, and thus remove a barrier for women who may not easily be able to access WBC programs.

We Want You! We share this with you in hopes that you too may want to partner with us to lift other women up through the Women’s Business Council! If you are interested in learning more about the program, please contact me directly! Thank you for your kind heart and support along this journey.

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.

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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:

PERSPECTIVE:

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.

EMPATHY:

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.

PURPOSE:

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.

POWER:

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: https://www.success.com/why-the-empathetic-leader-is-the-best-leader/)
  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

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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?

 

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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?

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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.