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Change is Neutral: Learn to Pivot to Advance in Your Profession

Inspired by this week’s Moms Making Six Figures Podcast with Alexandra Lundgren, a Financial Advisor with a wealth of knowledge and experience in the financial sector, who believes that change is both constant and out of our control.  What we can control is the perspective of change we bring into the boardroom, and rather than fear it, utilize it to our benefit.

Although change is constant, it doesn’t change the fact that for many of us, it is at the center of most of our difficult decisions and circumstances as largely controlled and stable adults.  And if the last year-and-a-half of being through the pandemic wringer has taught us anything, it’s that our work environment is no longer immune to sweeping change.  We used to fear mergers and acquisitions, now we’re facing a near literal collapse of the corporate ladder leaving employees in the limbo of what Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO, now calls a “jungle gym”.  Just as we learned to embrace and utilize change to our benefit in our personal life, we must bolster ourselves to remain both competitive and relevant in today’s work culture. Ultimately, our ability (or inability) to adapt determines our ability to advance.

  1. Standing Still in Uncertainty

Whenever a change occurs, we are faced with unfamiliar challenges causing us to feel anxious, apprehensive, and altogether uprooted.  Rather than swimming in the sea of unknowns, it is imperative that we take hold of what we do have control over—our perspective.  Worldwide recruiting experts, HAYS, suggests asking yourself the following questions:

  • Is your interpretation of the change you are facing rational, objective and based purely on the facts?
  • Can you challenge your interpretation with an opposing argument?
  • If so, what’s the alternative perspective of this situation?

If you can get to eye of the storm and pinpoint where your angst about the change is coming from, you are more apt to change your mindset, and begin taking the other steps necessary to move forward toward a productive outcome.

  1. Connection Through Discord

Whether you’re the instigator of change, or on the unenlightened receiving end of a structure’s upending, it is important for you and your employees to feel like you have connection over shared concerns and fostered relationships.  Forbes suggests granting space for personal conversations to process the stress and “adapt more quickly to change”.

  1. Speak Up! Communicate and Ask Questions

A major contributing factor to what the American Psychological Association has discovered about “organizational changes such as restructuring or new leadership [that] can lead to employees who overly stressed, have less trust in their employers, and have a greater desire to find new jobs” is the onslaught of secondary information.  Without directly communicating with those behind the change, it is easy to listen to the most trusted voice in the room—even if that trusted voice is speaking from a place of second hand information.  Instead, communicate your concerns to both your co-workers and supervisors, and ask specific and vague questions to address all of the “what if’s” bombarding you.  Be proactive in seeking out first hand knowledge to subdue your suspicions and skepticism.

  1. Resistance is Futile! (And Detrimental)

We cause ourselves more grief than is necessary in our clinging to  “the way things were” or “the way things have always been” by activating our Avoidance Coping powers.  The truth is that avoiding the change won’t help us cope at all because the change is occurring whether or not we embrace it.  Instead, and in the hopes of using the change to our benefit, we must practice active coping by tackling the problem head-on, “Recognizing and accepting change is one of the first steps toward managing it.”

  1. Change Through the Lens of a Growth Mindset

In order to harness change and its energy, we must change our perspective toward it.  When we take hold of our negative thoughts toward change and confront those thoughts with reality and positivity as a potential for growth, we begin to reframe our view.  We determine where our fears are stemming from, and we address them with a simply cost/benefit analysis.  For example, “additional responsibilities and the opportunity to manage your workload more independent could help to advance your career.”

Change is not the enemy, but our resistance to it certainly is.  Change becomes a direct reflection and amplifier of our greatest fears and insecurities; let’s utilize this opportunity to stand firmly grounded in the known and to embrace the opportunity of the unknown. No one achieved 6-figures by shutting the door on change, instead they answered it and found opportunity on the other side.

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Women Should Be Seen, and Heard

Inspired by this week’s Moms Making Six Figures Podcast episode with Sharon Faustina, CFO, who leapt into her own professional growth rather than remaining in her reliable position.  Sharon became proactive in championing herself and her skill set by emulating what her male counterparts were doing to receive promotions, ultimately saving herself by ‘getting unstuck’.

 If you’ve been around the sun for more than a few rotations, chances are you’ve seen a woman you love be passed over for a promotion, a pay raise, or a more prestigious title.  According to the data, there’s a high likelihood that as a career woman you’ve not only witnessed this happen to other women, but you’ve also found yourself in that same stuck position.  So what do we tell our friends, our daughters, ourselves about the value of our work when it isn’t recognized in the world?

The Status Quo

According to a 2019 report, Women in the Workplace, conducted by McKinsey & Company and Lean In, ceilings that were once shattered have begun to hinder working women once again.

  • From 2015 to 2019, there has been a 15 percent increase in the number of companies who have at least three women in their “C-Suite” (where chief executives and officers rub shoulders).
  • At the same time, 35% of companies surveyed in 2019 had only one female C-level executive, or none at all.
  • Women are underrepresented at every level, not just the top tiers. The problem with this lack of representation in the workplace is the “implication for the rest of a woman’s career”; fewer women in lower management positions means fewer women on the path to greater leadership positions that ultimately lead to those coveted C-Suite roles.
  • For every 100 men promoted, only 72 women receive a similar promotion.


Gender Bias

Women are every bit as ambitious as their male counterparts, comprising nearly half of the entry-level workforce, but they’re obviously hitting a roadblock between the beginnings of their careers and making the leap to the C-suite. Experts believe lingering gender bias is the main culprit.

  • In the same aforementioned Women in the Workplace report, authors identified an important linchpin, “Women are often hired and promoted based on past accomplishments, while men may be hired and promoted based on future potential,” the authors wrote.
  • Unconscious bias is still running rampant in workplace cultures. In the Forbes article, “Women in the Workplace: Why They Don’t Get Recognized as Much as Men”, contributor Maria Minor states it simply, “Some leaders still carry the assumption that males have more potential than a well-qualified woman. Even gender achievements are perceived differently.”
  • Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook and the founder of Lean In, identified the following prevalent bias still plaguing the workforce, particularly when women assert themselves and participate in negotiating their value, “We expect men to be assertive, look out for themselves, and lobby for more—so there’s little downside why they do it. But women must be communal and collaborative, nurturing, and giving, focused on the team and not themselves, lest they be viewed as self-absorbed.  So when a woman advocates for herself, people often see her unfavorably.”


Mentorship and Sponsorship

While we all recognize the importance of mentorship in our careers, there is a different kind of mentorship that men are more likely to encounter that gives them a significant upper hand in the workforce—sponsorship.

  • When the Harvard Business Review interviewed men and women regarding valuable career advice, the difference between male and female mentorship became clear, along with the outcomes, “Many women explain how mentoring relationships have helped them understand themselves, their preferred style of operating, and ways they might need to change as they move up the leadership pipeline. By contrast, men tell stories about how their bosses and informal mentors have helped them plan their moves and take charge in new roles, in addition to endorsing their authority publicly.”
  • According to The McKinsey and LeanIn study, women are not granted the same chances as men for support and guidance when it comes to the pursuit of their career opportunities; women are 24% less likely to be offered advice from a senior leader than men.


Thankless Tasks

In addition to bias and a lack of sponsorship holding women back in ‘reliable’ positions, women are often expected to, or they are ‘voluntold’ to take on tasks that are necessary to a company’s success but that are both thankless and, perhaps worse, viewed as “non-promotable”.

  • According to research, women are more likely to volunteer for “non-promotable” tasks than men, meaning they spend more time and energy getting selfless things done rather than focusing on getting new positions.
  • These tasks look different depending on your profession, but no profession is immune to such tasks. A study at the collegiate level reviewed 3,271 faculty members at a public university and found that while only 2.6% of men volunteered for the faculty senate committee, 7% of women did.  Simply put, women are more likely to take on a role that will not lead to a promotion.


Flipping the Script

How can we make the C-suite more accessible for women in the workforce and instill the confidence in the women in our lives (and in ourselves) that their work is both valuable and recognized?  According to CEO of The Female Quotient, Shelley Zalis, the solutions to this problem do exist, it’s just a matter of enacting them.

  • Accountability in our corporations | First, we must create specific plans to advance women in the workplace, including unconscious bias training, hiring, and promotion women fairly and providing equal access to sponsorship and mentorship opportunities. Further still, supervisors should begin to rotate and evenly assign responsibilities between all employees rather than relying on women to volunteer.
  • Know your value | Women are undeniably more prone to the fallout of Imposter Syndrome than men; both genders question their ability to take on new roles, but men simply step into those roles while women will second guess and over analyze their seat at the same table. If a man only possesses 6 of 10 skills identified as imperative to the position’s role, he will learn and enact the other 4; conversely, if a woman is missing even one skill, she’ll remove herself from the conversation altogether.  We have to value ourselves before we can expect others to recognize that same value.
  • Help each other | The lack of support and sponsorship that actually works is not a male or female issue; instead it is a leadership issue. Leaders should be focused on mapping out a pathway for all employees to advance rather than simply flooding the pipeline with more skilled individuals and no guidance. Businesses should be investing in intentional sponsorship programs following the example of Deutsche Bank, rather than relying on employees to seek out their own mentorship, that is often informal and benefits individuals on more of a personal level than a professional one.

Women bring a unique and powerful skill set and perspective to the workforce, that once recognized is irreplaceable.  We must advocate for our presence in the boardroom, and speak so as to solidify our place amongst the echelon of the C-suite.  Women should be seen and heard, their work and their worth is valuable and it cannot wait for another trip around the sun to be celebrated and compensated.

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Dream Jobs | Do They Really Exist?

Recently when discussing some frustrations surrounding a work place indiscretion and how it was handled (or more aptly how it was not handled) by the powers-that-be, my friend and colleague remarked, “I don’t go to work to have my needs met.”  Cue my existential crisis in response.

As I’ve continued to replay the conversation, I realize that now I could care less about the indiscretion or its lack of “public relations finessing”, instead I’m left in a mixed state of cognitive dissonance facing both the impending doom of the unknown and the refreshing optimism surrounding my career path. In one well-timed quip, my entire approach to my career progression, my work history and education, and my identity were called into question: who am I if the title I chased and achieved isn’t a cornerstone to my significance? As it turns out, on the heels of the pandemic, many of us are grappling with the same question: does a dream job actually exist?  And, if it doesn’t can we free ourselves by working to live rather than living to work, and stop relying on our work to meet our soul’s needs?

According to psychologists at Stanford University and Yale-NUS College, there is a reason so many of us are shaken when we recognize that the ‘dream job’ is just as fleeting, and just as much of a well constructed rhetorical gimmick as the ‘American Dream’.   We are thrown into the depths of existential despair in large part due to the years of planning, financial investment, and time spent (all, now perceived as lost) because we have hung our soul’s hopes and dreams on the ‘fixed’ hook of our dream career.  Instead, the report’s findings espouse a ‘growth’ mentality as the key to fulfillment; this mentality, combined with our resilience, allows us to adapt to an ever-changing work force and to “think innovatively about [our] industry.” When we become “overly narrow and committed to one area, that could prevent [us] from developing interests and expertise that [we] need” to bring different fields together.

But, the silver linings in abandoning the notion of “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” (you’ll also never have healthy boundaries, or an identity beyond your work either) abound.

Instead of holding a dream that centers upon our labor for someone else’s financial gain, we should be shaping our dream life, and pursuing a job that is the right fit for our current needs in that pursuit.  In short, our job should support and fund our dream life, instead of our ‘dream job’ becoming the origination and determinant of every aspect of our life beyond the boardroom.

When we can let our idealized perceptions of ‘the one’ go, we begin to recognize that finding fulfillment beyond our career, allows us to pursue benefits we may have never thought to consider —like working remotely, a flexible schedule, a better salary, an easier commute— the list is only limited by our own ‘need’ to have a job be paramount.  If we can view ourselves, and our contribution to the world as separate from our work, we can invest our passion in our soul’s desire and let work, be well, work.

Rather than shape our life around accommodating our dream job, what would happen if we turned the tables, and instead pursued a job that allowed us to attain our dream life?  Take note from the Career Contessa, and pursue your next step in your career like you would any other physiological need in your life (e.g. a house hunt): make a list of your negotiables, non-negotiables, and everything in between.  Address your wants, and needs, and determine your required and ideal salary (do your research!); consider the day-to-day of your job and what constitutes a must-have versus a nice-to-have.  And finally, begin making your list of ideal companies and industries that feel like the right fit for your life’s dream.

Our fulfillment of our soul’s desire and our significance in the world are not reliant on our job title.  When we pursue fulfillment beyond our work, when we work to live rather than live to work, we can grow professionally, and personally toward our life’s dream.  There is freedom in knowing we are in the driver’s seat, and that we can decide to change directions at any point.  Our colleagues may be talking about us around the water cooler one day, for our audacious pursuit of happiness beyond our ‘dream job’.

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Where Have All the Women Gone?

Inspired by the NBC News coverage of recent report findings published by Deloitte, in “Women @ Work: A global outlook”.

With viewership of Hulu’s most-watched original title, The Handmaid’s Tale, achieving record numbers following its season 4 premier nearly a month ago, it should come as no surprise that women are seeking an escape from their own overwhelming workloads –at home and on the job— via entertainment.  And yet, that ‘escape’ to a dystopian television series based on Atwood’s 1985 prophetic novel, that so closely mirrors the current state-of-affairs for women in the workforce, seems to be more cathartic than entertaining; the show and its themes giving voice to the ‘perfect storm’ awaiting women following the COVID-19 pandemic.  And while America is still a far cry from the fictional Gilead, the disappearance of women from the workforce is nothing short of distressing.

The Findings

Deloitte’s survey of over 5,000 women from 10 countries from November of 2020 to March of 2021, confirmed what any working mother has already endured throughout the pandemic: an increase in responsibilities at work and at home, taking a devastating toll on mental health and leading to burn out.

  • 8 in 10 women surveyed said their workloads had increased since the pandemic began, but so did their responsibilities at home.
  • Job satisfaction dropped by 29 points over the pandemic, “with women considering opting out of their workplaces –or the workforce entirely— in troublingly large numbers.”
  • More than half of the women surveyed are less optimistic about their careers than they were before the pandemic.
  • Overall, 57 percent of women plan to leave their workplaces in the next two years or less, while 21 percent say they will eave sooner than that, all citing lack of work-life balance.
  • Nearly 1 in 4 women are considering leaving the workforce altogether.

The Cost

The contribution of the female labor market over the past 125 years has been a major factor in America’s prosperity.  In fact, a recent study “estimates that increasing the female participation rate [in the American workforce] to that of men would raise our gross domestic product by 5 percent.”

However, women face significant obstacles in achieving their professional goals, made even more insurmountable by the pandemic.

  • The gap in earnings between women and men is still significant.
  • Women continue to be underrepresented in certain industries and occupations.
  • Too many women struggle to combine aspirations for work and family.
  • Further advancement has been hampered by barriers to equal opportunity and workplace rules and norms that fail to support a reasonable work-life balance.

According to Janet Yellen, a Distinguished Fellow in Residence with the Economic Studies Program at the Brookings Institution, “If these obstacles persist, we will squander the potential of many of our citizens and incur a substantial loss to the productive capacity of our economy at a time when the aging of the population and weak productivity growth are already weighing on economic growth.”

The Next Step

We cannot continue the devastating path we are on; the pandemic has wiped out the job gains women made over the past decade. Women now have an unemployment rate in the double digits, for the first time since data began being reported by gender in 1948, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Women’s unemployment in April of 2020 was nearly three points higher than men’s according to Labor Department rates reported by The Washington Post.

Kimberly Churches, CEO of the American Association of University Women believes we should focus our attention on bills and legislation that are focused on: pay equity, practices in the workplace on flexibility and on access to care—like the Paycheck Fairness Act and the FAMILY Act.

Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation believes we should focus our attention on the caregiving crisis, beginning with a national paid family and medical leave policy.  “We’re the only industrialized nation without one [a paid family and medical leave policy].  We also need federal action to stabilize the teetering childcare industry and to direct additional resources to long-term-care services and supports so that ill and aging adults have options besides relying on a mother or a daughter.”

Rachel Thomas, co-founder and CEO of believes that remote work, as long as it is embraced correctly, will be key in maintaining the presence of women in the workforce while legislation and cultural norms catch up to the disproportionate caregiving responsibilities falling on the shoulders of women, one of the major factors in nearly 2.2 million women completely dropping out of the workforce.

While the US is a far cry from Gilead, our workforce may not be.  With women leaving reluctantly to be “stuck at home mom’s”, employers must take action to preserve an essential asset to our economy.  And the solutions don’t require a revolution; nearly a quarter of the women surveyed by Deloitte say, “better child care/caregiving support, short-term sabbaticals and better resources to support their mental health are the top three things companies can do to keep them.”  It’s time to get American women back to work, with the proper supports to stay there.


Friday Spotlight: Michele Martin, Finance

Michele graduated with a BA from UCSB and quickly started her ascent up the corporate ladder. She quickly moved from accounting to marketing to managing top client accounts and developing software solutions to manage her own sales and support team. For the last 14 years of her career she specialized in business process automation, project management, application development, training, and database management for one of the largest providers of commercial real estate financing solutions. As the Assistant VP of Information Technology, it was normal, and fun, to work 50+ hours a week, be tethered to a phone and solve anything at any time. Fun UNTIL, she became a mom. While she truly enjoyed working and contributing to the family financially, she needed flexibility to schedule completely around her children. In search of that flexibility, her entrepreneurial spirit led her to start two businesses that demanded time and financial resources, but never delivered a decent return. After nearly 20 years in the corporate world it seemed impossible to replace a six figure income with the flexibility she so desperately desired.

The decision to join Moms Making Six Figures came after unplanned, life changing events happened in her life. Given her prior attempts to replace her six figure income she doubted this could deliver on the promise of flexibility and financial security. However, with hard work and consistency, she is happy to report that just a few years into this career change the income potential has become a reality. Thankful that she took that leap to try another career change, she now has the flexibility and income that seemed so elusive together. She still works hard, but but on her terms. Now she is there for school field trips, important school events, regular adventures with her kids, and she can even workout and enjoy life. She is proud of what she has accomplished these last few years, but credits working with a phenomenal team to achieve their ongoing goals together. It is that camaraderie where Michele finds her greatest joy being able to help, coach and mentor others transition focus from corporate back home to their families.

To contact Michele email her at


Home with your kids while earning an income? It’s possible.

Four years ago this month, the most amazing little boy entered our world and forever changed our lives.  I was a middle school science teacher and loved being in the classroom; it truly was my passion!  I always thought I’d be a working mom, but after Bryce was born, I struggled with going back to work because I didn’t want to miss anything in his life.  I eventually decided to go back because I had worked so hard for my degrees and teaching credential not to use them, plus I just couldn’t see myself not contributing financially to our family.  I told myself over and over that dropping Bryce off at home care would get easier, that I was so lucky to have holidays and summers off with him, but it just never got easier.  So, my husband and I decided that I’d finish off that semester, and then stay home with him.  I knew it was the best decision we could make for our family, but I really struggled with the idea of forfeiting my income stream and relying solely upon my husband.

I tried so many things over the last four years to generate income working from home.  I had my own accessory business, a direct sales company, plus so many other things, and none was ever as successful as I’d hoped or needed it to be.  One day, I was looking at work from home pages on Facebook, determined to find a way to create a meaningful income, no matter what it took.  That’s when I found my amazing business partner, Dana and her webpage, on which she lists different businesses that you can do from home.

I was on Dana’s sight one day and she had posted about an amazing opportunity she had found and had recently personally just gotten started.  I was very hesitant because I had just been burned by a direct sales company and I promised myself I was never doing that again.  But something about her post that day piqued my interest, so I checked out to make sure this was a legitimate home-based business.  I absolutely loved what I saw and was very intrigued!  After speaking with Dana, I felt very comfortable and confident with the company.  I had finally found something I could completely see fitting in with my family, since I was already focused on eliminating toxins in our home to protect the health of my children and husband.  The products are truly amazing!.

Moms Making Six Figures has completely changed our lives in such a short period of time!  At first, my husband and I talked about how life changing just $500 would be for us.  But in just 3 months, I’ve achieved Director 3 and earned $3,568.29!  And because I know it’s real, I see such an amazing future with this company (though it still blows my mind)!  I know I was very hesitant at first because of my past experiences, but I honestly believe God put this company before me at the perfect time.  I’m confident that I can succeed in this business and so I’m simply not afraid to put in the time and effort it takes, while still enjoying the flexibility to be with my boys and family.    And what I love best of all is that through this business, not only am I helping out my family financially, but I’m able to help other women achieve the same goals, and it’s very rewarding!