Career Advice: How To Toot Your Own Horn With Confidence

When I was a little girl, my mom explained to me that my job as a child was to be great in school.  The operative word in that sentence is JOB!  I got up every day and went to school the same way my parents got up every day and went to work.  So when review time came, or in my case report card time, my parents would allow me to post my latest report card on the refrigerator.  I was a straight A student who was proud of my hard work and my parents created a physical and mental space for me to express pride in accomplishments.  The refrigerator was a space in the home where everyone who visited could see what I have been up to.  My parents were proud of me and I was proud of myself.  That’s  a nice memory, but why does that matter now?   It was important to my development because it gave me the ok to toot my own horn and the space to do so.  In that space that my parents created, I learned how to share my success without realizing that that very practice could someday have negative repercussions.

Why Women Mute Their Accomplishments In The WorkplaceAtlanta Blogger, Danielle YB Vason, explains why Every Woman Should Know: How to Toot Her Own Horn with Confidence.

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I’m sure many of you can relate to that childhood memory….but how many of you can relate to the transition that many women experience.  Somewhere along the way, women are taught that sharing our own accomplishments often comes with declines in popularity and other professional ramifications.  In her book Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg recalls, “Jocelyn Goldfein, one of the engineering directors at Facebook held a meeting at Facebook where female engineers were encouraged to share the progress they had made on the products they were building.  SILENCE.  No one wanted to toot her own horn.  Who would want to speak up when self-promoting women are disliked?  Jocelyn changed her approach.  Instead of asking women to talk about themselves, she asked them to tell one another’s stories.  The exercise was communal, which put everyone at ease”.  Why can’t we be at ease talking about our own success?  Are we more at ease in our silence?  These are the questions that we rarely  think about but we must address.

Related Post: Best Career Advice I Ever Received: Don’t Give a Damn If They Like You

How to Toot Your Horn at Work with confidence

How To Toot Your Own Horn. Career Advice for Smart Millennial Women from blogger Danielle YB Vason of She Makes Cents

HOW TO TOOT YOUR HORN AT WORK WITH CONFIDENCE. Career tips for millennial women from Atlanta Blogger, Danielle YB Vason of She Makes Cents.

It’s funny, we get fed conflicting messages all the time with regard to the topic.  On one hand, we are told to “work in silence and let success make the noise”.  Again, why is there such an emphasis of to silence talk of one’s own accomplishments?  On the another hand,  we are told that “closed mouths don’t get fed”.  I’m not promoting cockiness in the workplace, but I am inviting women to be more confident in their achievements and ok sharing them.  I have experienced something very similar to the example of the quiet female engineers.  Women in the predominately female office were always shy to tell stories of success when asked for.  Again silence.  Below are a few examples of how to take the eek out of self-promotion.

Change Your Mind Set. If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?  The same question can go for you and your career.  You can do beautiful work in your perspective industry.  You can make strides in your field, but if no one knows about your successes that can leave the door open for others to take credit for your work, it keeps your reputation pigeon-holed, and often leaves money on the table.  If you can’t clearly, comfortably, and confidently share your career achievements in a professional setting you are also diminishing the worth of your work.  I once advised the owner of a design firm in Atlanta on the disadvantages of this very concept.  “You do beautiful work”, I said, “but it means nothing for you and the development of your brand if not one knows about it”.

Shoot A Brief Email. In theory, your boss wants the best for you because you succeeding makes them look good.  Try sending them an email to shine a light on a recent accomplishment.  For example, if you hit your sales goal for the month a little early, let them know.  If you found a more efficient way to do something in your industry, shoot your boss a brief email sharing your discovery.   Insider Tip: If you work on a team, make sure that you include EVERYONE who impacted the outcome.  You can break out what each person’s contribution was or you can group the win.  Whatever you do, do not take sole credit for a group effort.

Buy Your Name. Purchase your name as a domain and create a website or even a static page that works as a digital portfolio of your work. For example, at one point, my name was Danielle Boler, so my corresponding website should have been DanielleBoler.com.  In this space, which I recommend you update quarterly, you can allow your clients to post testimonials, you can share press that you have received, and post pictures of WOW projects that you developed. Obviously, the specifics of what you feature will depend on your industry and skill set.

Lean In.  Do you remember that example of the Facebook meeting when the female engineers were asked questions about their progress on the products they were building?  Well instead of echoing their silence, you should “lean in” and answer the call.  In fact, try to be the first person to answer this type of question.  In many instances, it is rare when bosses give you their undivided attention for you to share your achievements, so don’t waste their time and your opportunity with silence.  Going first presents you as a leader and I’m sure that once you begin sharing your success story, others will follow suit.

Toot Your Own Horn At She Makes Cents

The Biggest Mistake Women Make During Career Introductions

As an avid reader of the Cosmo, I have been a fan of Joanna Coles, former Editor-In-Chief, since her early days of at the magazine.  She expanded the content to career advice, finances, and other less traditional “Cosmo” topics making it my all around go to along with Forbes and Inc.  That’s right, I am a Cosmo girl.  My fan girl experience, with regards to Joanna, went to a level 10 when she liked and retweeted something I wrote back in 2014  about rock star women in business.  I felt like that was a small example of how supportive she is of women and their careers.  She is one of my celebrity mentors (in my mind) that I actually have never met but learn so much from.2

Career Advice from Joanna Coles

While watching episode 1 of So Cosmo, Joanna imparted her wisdom on a group of unsuspecting millennials visiting the Cosmo office.  During an introduction exchange between Joanna and the group, one woman introduced herself  by her first name only.  Joanna explains, “First rule of Joanne Coles, women in particular should always say both names [when introducing their selves].  Women always go, hi, I’m Julie.  You have to go hi, I’m Julie Thompson.  Men never ever worry about doing that.”  She further goes on to explain her rationale behind the “first rule of Joanna Coles” to relationship expert, Matthew Hussey, who overheard the exchange between Coles and the millennials.  “It is very important.  It’s my signature thing. Cause you think of yourself as Matthew Hussey, but if you were a girl you would just think of yourself as Matthew.”


Hello, I am….

In that moment, I replayed several instances when I introduced myself to clients as simply Danielle when my male counterpart would introduce himself first name last name.  While doing a little research about introductions, I found that when people properly introduce themselves by first name last name, the other people is more likely to rememer you and your name.  Remember my whole, Hi nice to meet you, I forgot your name already phase??  Perhaps this would have helped everyone back then.  What I like about the “first rule of Joanna Coles”,  is the expression of assertiveness  and dominance in the first introduction.   It’s like “leaning in” before anyone has even had time to make any judgements, good, bad, or indifferent, and letting them know you are  a boss chick in the room.  If this is the first rule of Joanna Coles, I can’t wait to see what else I learn from my celebrity mentor.She Makes Cents Logo

{Business Cents} How Your Memory Can Help You Stand Out

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Photo Credit:  Professional Women’s Business Network

I say that first impressions are everything but I would also  like to add that the little things matter too.  Let’s try a little experiment.  Raise your hand if you have experienced this statement:

Nice to meet you.  I’ve already forgotten your name.

Did YOU forget the name or was YOUR name the one forgotten?  I experience both sides of this example on what seems like a daily basis when meeting with new clients.  I’m embarrassed to admit that; however, I have made the ability to recall names or better yet face/name recognition on my priority list of things to work on.  Remembering someone’s name makes them feel important, shows you are engaged, and makes you more likeable.  Todd Smith, in a blog post entitled The Value of Remembering Names sums it up nicely in a series of questions that hits close to home.  “Have you ever met someone for the first time who hardly looked you in your eyes, said the standard nice to meet you greeting without any authenticity behind their words and couldn’t remember your name five seconds later? What impression did this person make on you?

How Your Memory Can Help You Stand Out

Apparently, you tend to hear your own name instead of others when you are introduced to a new person. It takes a conscious effort to hear the other person’s name and in the world of shortening attention spans, people who actually make the effort to learn the name of another person, stand out.  I am working on it and one thing that helps is using the person’s name when speaking about them.  Remember, you want to stand out in a positive way and doesn’t it feel great when people remember you?   Check out these 10 Simple Tricks to Remembering Names that can help you make your  first impression be a lasting one…. you know, the good kind.

What are your tricks for remembering someone’s name?

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What Salary Are You Looking For?

I talk about money every day and while the subject can be uncomfortable for some, I find it proactive and therefore worth the temporary discomfort.  To me, it is better to have “the talk” early with yourself, your family, and within your relationship because you are more likely to be successful when everyone is on the same page.  However, in my current job, I have found the subject of salary negotiations to be the hardest subject to bring up.  I kick myself every day for not engaging in salary negotiations BEFORE accepting the job, which is a mistake that research has shown is most made by women.

copy-of-how-to-answer-this-question-1In an article for Reader’s Digest, an unnamed HR professional from New  York admitted, “If we ask ‘What salary are looking for?’ say you’re flexible, or say it depends on the responsibilities of  the job.  Try not to name a salary unless we really push you, because that gives us a leg up in negotiation”.  I think this is excellent information because once you sign on the dotted lines, there is little room for renegotiating. 

What is your approach to salary negotiations?

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{Business Cents} Don’t Give A Damn If They Like You

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The respect of those you respect is worth more than the applause of the multitude. ”

— Arnold Glasow

They Like Me, They Really Like Me

Some of the best career advice I ever received came from a magazine. In an archived issue of Cosmopolitan, Mika Brzezinski, Cosmo columnist and co-host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, suggested that women concerned about being liked at work, “should not give a damn if they like you”. Work as Brzezinski adds, “is not a popularity contest. It is however a respect contest”. It wasn’t until I was sitting in a performance review that I started to understand what she meant by her advice. People can like you for the person that you are and the work that you do but that doesn’t always translate into promotions, benefits, or raises. Sitting there in that office, I was fighting an internal battle and my career was losing BIG TIME! My fear of not being liked was keeping me from confidently asking pertinent questions regarding career progression and compensation. Would they still like me if I challenged the status quo? To this day, I still get embarrassed knowing I was so worried about being liked at such an important career crossroad. I decided to write this, because I know I am not alone and that is evident in my research of women, business, and money.  I hope someone can learn from my experience.

Of course I want to be liked , everyone does, but not at the expense of losing sight of my financial and career goals. If you are a good person and you do exceptional work, then you shouldn’t have to worry about not being liked.  Oprah once told me (dreaming BIG…let me try that sentence again). I attended the commencement ceremony of my alma mater, Spelman College, where Oprah was the speaker. She told the women to, “let excellence be your brand”.  Others will respect you for being focus driven and being the best you can be, and hey, what’s not to like about that? 

What’s More Important in the Workplace?

Being Liked or Respected?

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{Business Cents} Preview to Like A Girl Series

Women in the WorkplaceLast week I posed the question to my female readers, are we [women] losing the corporate game because we are playing “like a girl”? This very question inspired our new Like a Girl series. What does it mean to do something “like a girl”, anyway? As I child, my parents reinforced the notion that I could do anything a boy could do; however, society emphasizes the phrase “like a girl” to describe someone as weak, soft, and less than. Over the next few weeks, we will tackle topics of women, business, and money while rejecting the crippling actions and societal impositions of this “like a girl” behavior. Together, we will redefine what it means to do something LIKE A GIRL…. better yet, LIKE A WOMAN!

When joining us for this discussion, do not forget to use hashtags #shemakescents and #LikeAGirl

Let’s Connect!

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{Business Cents} Public Resignations- Bad Business Move Or Branding Opportunity

If you haven’t heard of Marina Shifrin yet, you won’t be able to forget her after seeing her video that has gone viral since it was posted last week. Forget the two weeks notice,  Shifrin, 25, quit her job while “dancing” to the  song Gone by Kanye West.  For  almost two years I’ve sacrificed my relationships, time and energy for this job, in which my bosses only cared about the quantity and views of the videos they made,” explains Shifrin, former employee of a New Media Animation.  Some may consider it a bad business move to make a major career decision so publicly, but believe it or not, she has  received several job offers based off her creativity.  In some ways, the video will help to “brand” her.  Her chances of being hired are greater  if she choses an innovative career path like social media, but for the more traditional of companies, this could signal what many people refer to as “Millennial Entitlement”.   I would never have the guts to do something like this, but I she is on my rock star list at the moment.  Life is too short to waste doing something that makes you want to quit your job at 4:30am…alone in the office… via youtube.  Time is the only form of currency that you can’t get back, so spend your time doing something that makes you feel awesome! 

 …. and of course her former bosses have a responded with… another video.

Do You Think This Was A Bad Business Move?

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{Business Cents} Habits of Successful Business Women

I was going through some old papers when I came across my notes from the Spring 2006 Career Night hosted by my alma mater, Spelman College. The theme for the evening was “To, Work, To Live, To Love: A Conversation about Finding Passion and Balance in a Chaotic World”. In the midst of my note taking style, which looks like a cool info graph, was valuable information. Then I was absorbing information with the mindset that I would be an attorney in a large firm. Now, I can see how the advice from panelist Yolanda Bivens, Andrea Brown, and the ever inspiring Allegra Lawrence can apply to most industries.

Check out their tips!

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{Business Cents} Every Woman Should Have a Professional Mentor

I know that everyone can benefit from a mentor-mentee relationship; however, I believe it’s even more imperative that every woman has a professional mentor…and a good one at that!   While I know it is easy to assign that “role” to a public figure like Oprah, it is likely more beneficial to you and your career if you find someone who is actually willing to spend time with you.  It was about four years ago when I realized for myself how important this type of mentorship can be.  As I was transitioning careers, I decided to form a “dream team” of coincidentally women mentors.    My theory was that alone, each of them had an ability or network that the other did not, but together they formed a diverse and complete dream team.Professional Mentors and Why Every Career Woman Should Have One from Top Atlanta Blogger, Danielle YB Vason of She Makes Cents

Things to Consider When Finding Your Mentor

  • Does your mentor have the time to spend with you? This, in my opinion, is the most important.  I had a great dream team of movers and shakers, but it was also so very hard for some of them to squeeze me into their schedules.  Although the intentions are good, you aren’t gaining anything from this relationship if you aren’t even spending time with them.

  • Is this someone who will hold you accountable? For you to truly succeed, you need to have someone who is so concerned about your goals and career path, that they aren’t afraid to be bluntly honest, call you on your “stuff” and maybe even kick your butt, if needed. 

  • Are you learning tools that will help you get to where you want to be? The lessons may not always be explicit or intentional, but you have to be able to decipher how you can use what you are learning to thrive without compromising your character or integrity.

  • Are they respected in their field/company/community?  I learned the importance of this when I was conducting a cattle call of interviews on a panel with other choreographers in Atlanta.  A number of the young dancers assumed that their relationships with their mentors would help give them the extra edge.  So dancer after dancer took the “opportunity” to name drop not truly understanding the reputation of their mentors in the industry.  The lesson I learned: Just because your mentor is known, doesn’t mean that they are respected.  What Traits Do You Look for in A Career Mentor? from She Makes Cents

{Women, Money, & Cosmo} The Debt Crisis No One Is Talking About

My favorite professor and teacher of all things “deep”, Dr. Michelle S. Hite, once told me that when you are fully engaged in research, you will start to see inspiration everywhere. I was researching women and business, but more specifically the salaries gaps of women in business, when I found inspiration in an old “habit”. My name is Danielle and I am an admitted magazine junkie and Sunday evening… Cosmo was my latest hit. While reading the February LOVE issue, I came across a very informative article from Rachel White entitled The Debt Crisis No One Is Talking About! In it, White discusses the vicious financial cycle of women, higher education, and student loan debt. You see, it is easy to say that women have more debt. That’s a statement I hear all the time from men and women. It’s a blanketed generalization because the mind tends to lead one to the stereotype of women and financial incompetence not the FACT that more women now have more financial responsibilities. For example, women now outnumber men in college, which means women are more likely to start their careers in debt. In her article, White used a real life example of a woman by the name of Brenda Errichiello, who “found herself with a $947 monthly [student loan] bill and only a $27,000 annual salary”. In all, Errichiello ;graduated with a fabulous 3.9 GPA and $92,000 in debt. OMG, I thought to myself while reading this because Rachel White could have very well been telling my own story. I, like Errichiello, graduated with honors from Spelman College and thousands of dollars in debt before I even earned my first adult check.

What is Errichello to do?

She Makes CentsYou might be surprised by the answer. She had actually considered going back to school with the hope that more education means a better paying job, job security, and a bump up the corporate ladder. This is something I very well considered myself, getting back on the law school grind, but I had to remind myself that money doesn’t equal love and that hard work doesn’t always pay off in the currency of one’s choosing. Is this the epitome of spend more make more? This, SMC readers is that start of the Debt Crisis no one is talking about.

Things to Consider!

Women come out of the gate making less than our male counterparts for the same positions (18% less according to the article), are less likely to ask for raises at review time, have more student loans, and generally take maternity leave to start a family. How are we going to catch up? Why isn’t anyone talking about debt? According to White, it affects out relationships or lack thereof, career choices, and forces drastic decisions that hurt us even more in the end and if you follow SMC, you have read of other real life examples that support White’s point.

Do You Consider This A “Debt Crisis”?

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