By Michelle Fox, Member Blog Contributor
When I was in second grade, I beat a boy to become the fastest person in my class. His name was Mike Schmidt. Mike and I would often compete during recess for fun. Sometimes he would win and sometimes I would. It was usually playful. When he would win he would shrug as if to say, “Of course I won, I’m a boy.” When I won our friends would tease that he just got beat by a girl. It was always fun, until it wasn’t.
Toward the end of the school year we had a Field Day. There were three-legged races, egg tosses and frisbee throws to compete in. None of these mattered as I woke up that morning focused on one thing: the 100-yard race.
On your marks…get set…go! Mike beat me off of the line. I could see him out of the corner of my left eye. I immediately turned my focus to the finish line. Our friends were cheering us both on. My adrenaline was racing. I pulled up to him and then proceeded to pass him at the half way mark.
Ten yards…five yards…finish line… I WON! I beat the fastest boy in our class. I felt an immediate sense of pride. He sulked and I sensed that I won something more than an athletic feat. I won a feeling of dominance. This sensation was intoxicating.
Not only did that win come with bragging rights at school, but it came with pride and adoration from my parents. As high achievers themselves, Mom and Dad expected me to be a high achiever as well. Their expectations came to fruition.
In my educational experience, I went on to win positions in Student Council, the National Honor Society, and the Spelling Bee Championship. Later I achieved Captain of the Varsity Cheerleading squad and the Colorado State record for the 100-meter dash in Track and Field.
For all of those achievements I was rewarded with praise, accolades and a propensity for assumed leadership. The message that I received was that my value came from my accomplishments.
That had a relatively positive impact as a child when my wins came easily. However, there are no longer blue ribbons and gold stars to encourage me to reach for more. I noticed that as my outward achievements waned over the years, my self-esteem plummeted as well. So now, where do I look for my accolades?
In my second act, I am being pushed to look at my wins in a different way. At the age of 47, it is now abundantly clear that there is a certain emptiness in outside validation. I have been rewarded in certain ways, but it has always been fleeting.
In my twenties I remember listening to Oprah proclaim that after she turned 40 she cared so much less about what others thought of her. “The best thing about growing older, you begin growing into more of yourself and more of who you are and were meant to be and stop living your life out of “ego” for other people.”
I held tight to those words as I so badly craved that kind of confidence. It appeared Oprah had a certain freedom that I wanted.
Fast forward to when I turned 40 and I got it! I learned to celebrate more intrinsic wins vs. outward accomplishments. I walked the dog at 5am. Check! I crossed off 4 of the 5 items on my to-do list for the day. Nicely done! I created a new delicious dish for dinner. Crushing it!
This journey of self-acceptance vs. outside validation is a work in progress. However, here are a few nuggets that have helped my self-confidence grow by leaps and bounds over time.
Yoga is the one constant that I can return to which balances out my body, my mind and my spirit. When I attend a class, I always have the option to play full-out or to retreat with no judgment. Yoga is a safe space where I get to practice appreciation for my body and for my life. I am the only one who has control over which part of me I want to explore in any moment.
Creativity, intuition, and community are all used to describe the divine feminine. I identify as female in a female body, so when I am moving through life in my female energy, I feel most alive and most myself. The divine masculine (assertiveness, linear planning, independence) is an equally beneficial energy in my experience, but I have to stay mindful of balancing this energy or I will feel depleted if I do not give the majority of my attention to the qualities of the divine feminine. Creating a dream board in the company of other women? Yes please!
Forgiveness. In my transition from achievement to acceptance, I have chosen to forgive the self-judgements that I carried about being less-than. I now know that I am exactly who and where I need to be. Winning a physical trophy pales in comparison to knowing that my value is derived from the love that I give and receive.
So now it is your turn to look in the mirror. Can you remember the first time in your life where you felt like a badass? Would you consider bringing more of that part of you into this new year?
I encourage you to look at new ways to celebrate YOU.
Did you get the kids to school on time this morning? Did you rock your proposal? Did you make someone smile on the elevator? It all counts! I would love to hear from you in the Comments.
One of the wonderful parts about being in this community is that we can celebrate each other. Please know that I am celebrating you – for all of the ways you are showing up in the world and me – for doing the same.
All of my love,
Michelle Fox is a mom to one and bonus mom to two, wife, friend, yogi, spiritual healer and occasional chef. She is also passionate about helping women build wealth through social media. You can find Michelle on socials @michellefoxlove or at www.michellefox.com.
By Barbara Brooks, Founder+CEO of SecondAct|Women | January 10, 2020
We want to help you get hired and collected some of the top recommendations from various recruiters and hiring managers. Turning them into action steps, we're hopeful these tips will land you your next big gig.
Action #1: Start with the end.
Get out a pen and paper and make a list of the kind of job aka career you'd like to have in your second act. What’s the position title, your role, the industry you would most enjoy boiled down to the companies you would like to work for.
Action #2: Create a strategy.
Organize your search by setting a few key goals. Then outline your strategy to get in front of the right people and activate your plan - scheduling weekly and daily activities to move the needle.
Action #3: Use your connections.
Sending resumes to career websites will do nothing for you. There are simply too many people using the same systems to find a job. Get that pen and paper out again add your network of colleagues, former business associates, and friends to find companies who are hiring or looking to hire soon. Don't leave startups out of your plan. They're wonderful places to find you next job and in some cases, you can carve out your own job description.
Action #4: Show off.
Make it known you’re tuned into the latest technology by starting a blog, talking up your use of a CRM or project management system; your favorite app or social media platform you use regularly for business. They need to know you know tech even if it's the basics.
If you have a blog even if it's posting blog-like information to your LinkedIn profile and it’s filled with relevant content, you’ll get major bonus points.
Action #5: Learn a new skill.
Don’t know much about a CRM or project management system like HubSpot, Slack, Teams, or Drive – or even the cloud? Or perhaps there’s another thing you’d like to learn more about what you're seeing come up on job descriptions, pick one and learn it. Now.
Action #6: Tighten up your resume and cover letter.
Sadly, that’s why we’re here battling age discrimination albeit illegal. Know your rights and the Dos and Don'ts to resume and cover letter writing. Remove references to your age from applications and resumes including the dates you graduated from high school, college or graduate school. Delete your early employment history and instead, focus on your skills and tangible contributions during interviews or simply go back 10 years and that's it.
Action #7: Have an elevator pitch.
You are a brand and brands have stories. Bundle your thirty-second statement into a quick synopsis featuring who you are, what you do, and what you want to do (as a job hunter). Your pitch will help introduce you to career and business connections in a more compelling manner.
Action #8: Send a thank you. Period.
In the end, it boils down this point, we're highly experienced in our careers, we have a proven list of accomplishments, elevated skill sets and connections through the roof. We've navigated some of our toughest times and have already been through the learning process. Because of this we require less training and possess the right skills. The folks at the helm of hiring need to know that our leadership and experience will fit in flawlessly within their company.
We’re continuing the conversation January 28th at a lively panel discussion with recruiters, hiring managers and career coaches. Think of this as one of your networking events from your list.
by Guadalupe Hirt
If you were to ask me if I have goals, I would unequivocally answer “of course!” But unlike my work wife, I’m not a plan girl. I’m not the type to sit and hash out my goals, meaning, I don’t create methodical plans or vision boards to get me from point A to B. I went from mid-woman on the totem pole at public relations agencies to entrepreneur and so I never really had to create goal plans. As an entrepreneur for the past 25 years, I simply just did what I needed to do to get me to my goal or to complete the project. Surprise or not surprise, this approach worked for me.
It wasn’t until I re-connected with Barbara to launch SecondAct|Women in February 2019 that she introduced me to this world of plans, smart goals and vision boards. I was like a deer in headlights bombarding her with questions that I’m sure tested her patience, but she somehow managed not to kill me since I’m here now writing this blog. As she talked me through the rationale, approach and we worked through our own plans like our business plan, marketing plan and PR plan, I started to get it.
Slowly, I began to understand the value and importance of putting idea to paper to give your goal the structure necessary to bring it to life AND to create a working guideline to keep you on track or watch out for that could derail progress. For example, as a two-woman show, there are only so many hours in the day and things we can humanly do before we keel over from exhaustion. Setting goals allows us to prioritize our tasks, focus on key initiatives versus trying to do everything at once. Mind blowing, I know! It’s not like this is rocket science, but when is the last time you said “yes” to a meeting or attended a networking event that did not serve you? We all do it, but when you have a better understanding of what the means to an end journey is to get to your goal, you learn to look at situations with a more focused lens and you learn to prioritize.
This single insight has been a huge personal and professional revelation. For too long I wanted to be everything to everyone and keep the peace, but I realized that we can create bigger impact and shorten the distance between point A and B by setting goals and keeping focused. I’m the first to admit, I’m still a work in progress and I’m so grateful for the patience my partner has had with me because learning this way of thinking and processing life is not easy. It takes time, tremendous flexibility and a willingness to pivot on a dime – which we’ve had to do plenty of times.
In short, I couldn’t think of a better year to fully embrace this new goal setting practice than this year since by the sheer number, 2020 is a year of clarity. And the only way to clarity is by sitting down, getting real with who you are, creating goals and then hashing out a plan to get there.
I'm rooting for goooooooal!
Get a start on your 2020 goal setting with this SMART Goals starter sheet and worksheet!
by Guadalupe Hirt
In five days, we will bid adieu to 2019 and welcome a new decade. Take the time to reflect on happenings that shaped your life this year – the good and the bad. Self-reflection is a means to observe and analyze oneself in order to grow as a person and understand who you are now and who you’d like to become. It’s an important step to remind us where we’ve been and then create the roadmap or vision board to turn action into inspired action – the greatest form of moving towards a fulfilling life.
Before you start your self-reflection journey, it is important to get into the right mindset. Below are a few simple tips to help you mentally reset and reflect with an authentic and compassionate heart.
Now that your mind and heart are in a positive state, it’s time to start your year in review. While there are many approaches to this next step, below are my top 15 questions you can use to jump start your thinking.
With answers in hand, you’re ready to create a plan or vision board to help you achieve your goals for 2020. On behalf of Barbara and I, a heartfelt thank you for joining us on this ride. We wish you much success next year and if we can help with anything, you know where to find us!
by Guadalupe Hirt
As the countdown to the end of year draws near, remember we aren’t just welcoming a new year, we are welcoming a new decade. Let that land for a little!
This year for me personally AND professionally, has been a year of tremendous trials and tribulations, but also of unfathomable successes and accomplishments. I could not have risen from my lowest of lows or celebrated the highest of highs without my family (of course), but this year in particular, I learned I could not have grown into the person I am right now, without the love and support of my SecondAct|Women tribe.
What is a tribe? For me, a tribe can be a person or a group of people that are unconditionally there for you and accept you as you are – no questions asked. They look out for you and are genuinely vested in your overall wellbeing. They bring out the best in you and you in them. What started as my beautiful and amazing tribe of 1 – aka #workwife Barbara Brooks – has since blossomed into a tribe of 1.5k+.
While I won’t deny that it has been a challenging year in many ways – financially, mentally and emotionally – I am amazed, humbled and inspired by the tribe you + we have created! From the genuine comments and engagement in our Facebook group, to the hugs and smiles exchanged at our social gatherings to the magic that unfolds at BizLifeCon, I can only think of one word to sum it all up – WOW! This tribe of once strangers turned SecondActers is a wonderful testament to the power and beauty that unfolds when women support other women and genuinely show up.
Since co-launching SecondAct|Women this year, I’ve learned that being part of a tribe of like-minded women is truly a gift. The saying “it takes a village” was created because we all need a village or a tribe to help us find our way in this world. A tribe to lift us up when we fall. A village to offer advice when we feel lost. A sisterhood that accepts us exactly the way we are – no questions asked. Can you go at it alone? Of course, but life is more fun with friends, just sayin’.
Here’s to finding your tribe and building beautiful connections!
Yeah, right. How can I be happy with all the pressures of the world on my shoulders – and this being my favorite time of the year damnit. But sometimes, it seems relentless and this week I went down. Down for the count in my mind and I’m coming up for air. Well, sort of.
This week it got dark for me and it’s taken me everything to fake smiles throughout the day only wishing to be home and in bed to sleep off my worries because Lord knows, there’s plenty of them. I had to even post about it on Facebook to our group just needing some sense of, “I’m not, alone am I,” and sadly, I’m not. The buck stops here after hearing from others. I’m choosing, or should I say, making myself get out of my mind bubble filled with negative thoughts and the ‘why me’ questions constantly nagging me. And guess what? Instead, I’m answering ‘why is this always happening to me’ right now with ‘because it’s a part of my story.”
Why am I sharing this with you? Because we’ve all been there and for me, transparency is who I am today with hopes that others going through the feeling of defeat know 1. they are not alone; 2. in due time, this too shall pass; and 3. there is sunshine on the other side. We simply have got to hang in there and when possible, lean on family, friends or this community of badass women making bold moves with an attitude of ‘I will survive’. (Or watch the Masked Singer, Real Housewives or 90 Day Fiancé – my go to LOL)
So, if you’ve been feeling the weight of career and life, reach out to someone. Only you can make the choice to move on, get over or and be happy. Just never. Ever. Give. Up.
Your homework assignment if you related is to… get to writing, as I did this morning, all the things to be grateful for. Do it. Do it now and you’ll be reminded of all the goodness in this world.
Barbara + Riley (My support pup. Wink.)
by Guadalupe Hirt
I’ve never thought of myself as special. In fact, I consider myself a plain Jane vanilla, or in my case plain Jane mocha kinda girl.
I’m that girl that’s gone through life blind to her own gifts. It’s not that I purposely turned a blind eye, it was just that I never saw them as gifts. When I co-founded SecondAct|Women, I was definitely nervous because I couldn’t see what I could bring to the table. Why would any of you want to hear me, let alone listen to me? I saw myself as an imposter. As someone that wasn’t qualified or prepared enough to represent all of you.
Have you ever sold yourself short?
Last July, I had my first Reiki session and it was transformative. For the first time in my life, I felt guided and seen. I began to 'see' my gifts and began to understand their value. I have since been working on letting go of beliefs that speak of lack, unworthiness and undermining. I chose to take off the judgment glasses that I had allowed society and others to put on me and for the first time in my life, I saw me.
It has been a long time coming and I’m still a work in progress, but in this year and a half, I’ve given myself permission to grow and it’s through this growth that I’ve stepped into owning my gifts. You see, we all have gifts to share. I may not be the most talented singer, and I didn’t discover some disease-curing drug, but I still have contributions and awesomeness to share. I just needed to get out of my own way and show up to everything I do authentically and with heart. That is all it takes to unlock and share your gifts ladies.
Along this journey, I’ve learned a few things that I wanted to share with you in hopes they will help you too.
Here’s some of my ‘you got this girl’ advice:
And last, but not least, even in our plain jane vanilla, chocolate or mocha, most ordinary state of being, remember you are extraordinary. Because you can’t spell extraordinary without ordinary.
Special shout out to Suzanne Wolf for this beautiful quote she shared in our Facebook group. It perfectly sums up what I (we) hope for you!
May you have the courage from this point forward to begin breaking patterns in your life that do not serve you. Give yourself permission to pause and reflect. And remember taking care of yourself doesn’t mean me first, it means me too.
Guadalupe Hirt, Oct. 17
These four women over 40 are among many that are changing the world... and you can too!
Michelle Obama was the first Black First Lady and her mission to combat childhood obesity introduced healthy eating and fitness programs and new restaurant polices that continue to have lasting effects.
Madonna is a seven-time Grammy Award winner who continues to push boundaries and make music in an age of division.
Sonia Sotomayor is the first Hispanic and Latina Justice to serve on the Supreme Court and was among the majority in landmark Supreme Court rulings focusing on healthcare and civil liberties.
Ellen DeGeneres was the first woman actress/TV personality to come out as openly gay on national television and she continues to be a pioneer in the fight for LGBTQ equal rights and visibility.
For starters, life is too short to sit on the sidelines. You need to look at each day as an opportunity to create impact and take control of you, your life, and your actions. So what are some tangible ways to be a force?
1. Don't just talk about change, do it. If you're like me, I'm sure there's at least two times a day when you see something that needs fixing. It might be something in your life, in your community or in the world. Instead of just "complaining" about it, "do something" about it.
2. Speak up. I have been in situations where I've heard people (sometimes friends) say things that I know (or hope) are not intended to be offensive, but are. Comments like "she is too confident" or "she should dress more her age." Comments like these, even when said in jest, are harmful. Take those moments to "educate" and help your friends understand why they shouldn't have said what they said.
3. Get your foot off the brake. If you see a need, opportunity or challenge, don't just wish it better, make it better. Consider what you can do to be part of the solution rather than the observation. Is that finding an organization to volunteer, proposing a community idea to your city, starting up your own company, etc. There is no "wrong way" to lend a helping hand.
4. Check yourself. Everyone is a work in progress. Be willing to hold the mirror to your own self and make a concerted effort to work towards change and self-improvement. Know that this isn't an instant process so if during this growth period, you find yourself overstepping your ground, be the bigger person and apologize.
Here's to making our world a better place one person at a time!
Since launching SecondAct|Women, we have had several conversations with women about working for or working with younger colleagues or bosses. There's a sense of curiosity and frustration, and many women are unsure of how to create a successful working relationship with millennials and Generation Z.
For the first time in history, there are five generations of employees working together in the United States, comprising members from the silent generation, baby boomers, Generation X, millennials, and now Generation Z. America’s labor force is more age-diverse than ever. As with anything in life, there are things we can do and things we can advocate for in our office to help bridge this "us vs. them" mentality. The reality is that if we can learn to work together and harness each generation’s principles, perspectives and strengths, we can help build a pretty powerful and respectful work environment for us and future generations.
So what can you do to be a generational change agent in the office and as a person?
In the office:
As a person:
Our panelists at Denver Startup Week shared business hacks that will not only make you look like you hired a marketing agency, but save you money and time.