Archives for the month of: March, 2014




I was on Facebook this weekend and saw a quote that changed the way I thought about nerves: “Unless you’re nervous, you’re not gonna do a good job.”

I love this quote.  It immediately made me think of a conversation I had with Karen this summer about what my future career looks like.  It more or less went like this:

Karen: “Are you comfortable speaking in front of people?”

Me: “No, but that means I’m going to end up doing a lot of it.”

Since public speaking makes me nervous I know it’s going to be a big part of my future career.  It’s just how I’ve perceived the universe working in my life.  It’s like some sort of cosmic challenge that’s begging to be conquered.

I read a great article on the topic of stage fright ( It suggests that if you’re not nervous before a performance you cannot achieve “the zone”, the natural ease and flow of a performance.  It advises to find a sweet spot of nervousness before performing because too little or too much can be debilitating.

Here’s what gets me about this: too little stage fright can be as bad as too much.  This got me really excited because it made me start thinking about nervousness and stage fright as necessary rather than a hindrance.

In light of that, the quote above makes me feel so much better.  If I stop thinking that nerves get in the way of communication but rather fuel it, I can focus them on what I’m actually communicating whether it’s a song, a presentation, or speech.  Nerves are the necessary fuel for my energy and enthusiasm, and by extension a successful overall message.

This all seems to be in conjunction with what I am learning from Brene Brown–that you can be scared and brave at the exact same time.  In fact, if you are completely comfortable, there’s a good chance you are not being brave at all.

Check out other articles/videos on this topic:

1. What Every Musician Ought to Know About Stage Fright:

2. How to Make Stress Your Friend:


Last week, I had a meeting with my supervisor and my manager. Because I’m fairly new, I don’t participate in the same annual review that every other employee does. Instead, I had a mini-review conducted by my supervisor and then we sat down to talk about my progress. The entire review went well, which helped calm my nerves, but then my manager talked about my confidence, and I how I could improve upon it. She said, based on how I carry myself, sometimes my professional image doesn’t match the work I produce. Meaning, I seem less confident when I really should express myself with more certainty. I was a little embarrassed to hear this, especially because I work hard, but she had a point and it made me think. I’ve always had a problem with shyness, which has turned into a lack of confidence, especially in more professional settings. I was the quiet one in class who would rather slip under the radar than raise my hand. Then, I became the quiet girl at my internships and jobs who did my work and went home. I always try to be very friendly and open with coworkers and whoever else I meet in the course of my day, but I think confidence in my abilities and work doesn’t show. My solution? Be active when it comes to my professional image. People notice. They notice what you wear, how you speak, and what you do, especially those who are directly involved with your work. I believe this also goes for people who are interviewing for a job, volunteer position, or the school of their dreams. The way you carry yourself is noticed by those around you.

I found a blog post that speaks directly to this topic browsing online last night titled “Why Professional Appearance Should Not Be Overlooked.” This post contains four valuable tips on how to dress and act professionally in the workplace. Tip number four is, in my opinion, one of the most important pieces of advice to people looking to exude confidence at work or on interviews. It’s crucial to pay attention to the way you interact with others in person and on the phone. Body language sometimes sends a stronger message than words. Make eye contact, make sure you have all the relevant information, or, if you don’t know something, know where to get the information. Take ownership of your image; in the long run, it will help you shine in your career.

Honestly, cultivating and maintaining a professional image was one of the most challenging aspects of starting my first full-time job. I’ve gotten used to being in school, where it’s important to be professional, but it’s a lot more informal than in a workplace. I’m learning new things every day and now I know it is so important to present myself in the way I’d like others to see me. I think this apples to my physical image, online image, and my social image. I’m sure I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: make the time and work to be the person you want to be.

Check out these related blog posts on this topic:
1. Why Professional Appearance Should Not Be Overlooked on The Magazine Blog
2. 10 Ways to Present Yourself more Professionally on Tech Republic
3. 10 Ways to Communicate Better at Work on On Careers (US News)



orange flower


Since the summer Karen has encouraged me to reach out to people in the working world.  To ask questions, listen to their story, and gain valuable information and connections (AKA an informational interview).  I have found this extremely helpful in building confidence with practicing listening as much as communicating my story, goals, and thoughts to whomever I am speaking.

I have found informational interviews extremely helpful in my job search.  For example, if I am interested in a specific company, I will try to find someone within that company who I can talk to.  This can be accomplished through LinkedIn, where it is very simple to type in a company into the search bar and see how you are connected.  If you’re not connected to anyone in the company and can’t get introduced to someone through someone you know, you can send someone inmail/email or a request to connect with a message introducing yourself and why you want to talk to them.  Don’t feel bad if you don’t get a response.  As Karen says, “Some will, some won’t, so what?! Next!”

These company specific informational interviews are like…but better.  You will not get this information on a company’s website.  Asking questions like this can be very enlightening: what is the culture like in the company?  Is it easy to find mentors?  What is a typical day like at your company?  (Pro tip: these are usually the same questions you would ask at the end of a job interview).

Informational interviews are not just for entry level job seekers like me looking to gain insight into a certain kind of company.  They can be broader in terms of checking out a certain industry or type of job or career path.  For example, if you’ve been working for a company for 20 years and are thinking about jumping into an entrepreneurial endeavor, it would be extremely advantageous for you to reach out and talk to as many entrepreneurs as you can.

As a last note, please take the books/articles that tell you exactly how to act on an informational interview with a grain of salt.  It’s not about doing everything right—it’s about being curious, connecting with people and getting some answers to give yourself some direction for your future.

I read a brief article last week about a problem that some psychology experts are calling a legitimate social anxiety–the fear of missing out (or FOMO). The author of the piece discussed situations, such as romantic relationships and friendships, in which a person may be suffering from FOMO. Then the author stated it’s possible to feel this way in your current job as well, especially if you’re not particularly satisfied in the position. I thought about this concept for a long time after I read that article because almost everybody I know has had that one job (or more) that falls short of expectations. What else can a person do if they’re unhappy except take the necessary steps to make themselves satisfied, professionally? Looking for another position or building your skill set are legitimate actions, and I don’t think it’s fair to assume that a person is suffering from a “social anxiety disorder” if they take these steps. I don’t believe that the article was making that conclusion necessarily, but I do think it made a lot of generalizations.

The identifying behavior for FOMO, as defined by the article, is constantly looking at social media or checking with friends to see if there’s something better, cooler, and more fun that you could be doing while you should be actively involved in your current social situation. This is extremely relevant, especially now in our smartphone-centered society. It seems as though almost everyone is on their phone while they’re out in social situations, so I’m not sure all of that behavior qualifies as social anxiety (especially when you think about it in terms of searching for a career). I’ve been told to continue improving myself and my skills and to keep an eye out for important opportunities that interest me, and I don’t think that type of behavior constitutes anything other than motivation and (good) ambition. I think what distinguishes a person dealing with FOMO (whether this is a real or imagined problem) from one who is motivated is how much time that person spends on certain activities. Even if your current job isn’t your dream job, I don’t believe you should slack off in your daily performance at that job; rather, you should give it your all so that you can be proud of your work. But, if you’re flaking off at work and compulsively looking for other opportunities (and not committing to anything long-term), that could be an indicator of FOMO.

A person should take pride in the work that they do and the legacy they’re creating. Maybe my current job is my lifelong career, maybe it isn’t. The only thing I can do in the meantime to make everything worthwhile is to do the best that I can in the position I am in. I wouldn’t expect anything less from myself because I’m my toughest critic. So, whether you’re “suffering” from FOMO or you’re unsatisfied with your career, current relationship, friendships, anything–take a step back and ask yourself why. Then take the necessary steps to achieve your desired outcome. No, it’s not as easy as it sounds, but I promise you the effort will be worth it in the end!


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